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In "Downfall of a Droid" (S01E06 of The Clone Wars), R2-D2 is captured by a Trandoshan trader, who puts a restraining bolt on him and puts him in a storage bay of sorts. However, R2-D2 simply nudges the restraining bolt off of himself by pushing it against the door frame, which then frees R2-D2 to roam the ship:

Animated GIF showing the bolt being slammed against the doorway to remove it.

If a restraining bolt is so easy to remove, then why isn't this technique more common? Is there an in-universe explanation to why most droids keep their restraining bolts on?

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    Maybe because Artoo has never had his memory erased, which the Trandoshan points out later. Artoo is too smart for a simple restraining bolt. This is just a guess with no source. – jacen.garriss Aug 10 '13 at 4:00
  • @jacen: That's what I was thinking, but it's not a particular sophisticated maneuver. It seems like the most obvious way for a droid without arms to remove the bolt. Something like C-3PO would probably just pry it off with their hands (how are they installed anyway?). – Lèse majesté Aug 10 '13 at 4:15
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    The restraining bolt probably stops droids from using direct methods to remove it, like appendages and small tools. In regards to installing it, I don't really know. This is yet another reason why I think Star Wars is a Space Opera and not true SciFi – jacen.garriss Aug 10 '13 at 4:17
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It is established in Timothy Zahn's books (specifically The Last Command) that some droids, security droids in particular, are actually immune to restraining bolts. Han and Chewbacca figuring out how to use a restraining bolt on a prison-guard droid (the bolt needs to be placed in one exact spot on the droid for it to work, which is so precise a task that they need Luke to use the Force to place the bolt)is actually a very important plot-point in this book.

It is possible that since R2-D2 saw military service that he was given upgrades to render him at least partially-immune to restraining bolt technology. As such, if he's left alone in a room he can use nearby materials (the door-frame) to pry off a bolt, but if he's being watched his owner, or the person who owns the restraining bolt, can freeze him if he attempts to do something unauthorised, as the Jawas do to him when he attempts to follow Threepio in A New Hope.

In another of Timothy Zahn's EU novels, Heir to the Empire, Talon Karrde's smugglers seem to anticipate this loophole in restraining bolt technology by actually placing Artoo in a restraint collar rather than a restraining bolt, which physically holds him in place so that he cannot move when there is no-one else in the room to release him. This raises the question of whether Karrde's people; are smart-enough to spot the upgrades; simply suspect them, or; are merely very cautious, smart people (this is known to be true, but may not be why they used a collar instead of a bolt). The alternative theory is that removing the bolt doesn't actually require any security upgrades, but is merely something that the average droid, as jacen.garriss says above, is not intelligent or experienced enough to figure out.

I would be inclined to ret-con the military upgrade feature I mentioned above myself if I were a Star Wars writer, because it would render the very concept of restraining bolts obsolete if they were easily removed by any droid.

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    But... If R2-D2 is immune to the effect of the bolt, why did he bother to remove it? One could speculate that the bolt paralyzes his treads and manipulators, but not his rotation or his will (as when a man is bound hand and foot, but his captors fail to notice that he can still writhe around and cut the ropes on a convenient jagged stone). This would imply either that the bolt was badly designed, or that R2 no longer matched his blueprints, neither of which was revealed to the audience. I suspect it was just bad writing. – Beta Aug 11 '13 at 1:35
  • Oh, obviously it was bad writing. Terrible wrting even, which is sadly where Star Wars has been heading for over a decade now, even in large swathes of the EU. I did say a work-around would be that he was only "partially-immune" to the bolt, rather than having a full-blown immunity to it, like a security droid would. – James Sheridan Aug 11 '13 at 2:50

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