This is quite popular.. C3P0 had a memory wipe, but R2-D2 never had a memory wipe.

This question is from out-of-universe perspective. Why did Lucas choose to do this after Prequel Trilogy? What did he try to make compatible with the Original Trilogy? What would have been different if R2-D2 had memory wipe and C3P0 never had memory wipe, or both had memory wipe, or memory wipe thing wasn't even mentioned?

My question is asking from out-of-universe perspective. What was in Lucas's mind? Was it going to make the plot compatible with the Original Trilogy? So, it isn't duplicate of this question: Why was C3PO's memory wiped, but not R2D2's?

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    Because R2-D2 isn't a blabber mouth like C3PO is? Remember at the beginning of A New Hope, just after landing on Tatooine (sp), C3PO says to his counterpart, "*Mission, what mission?", referring to transporting the plans of the Death Star. Princess Leah knew she could trust R2-D2, but also knew since C3PO was a Protocol droid, he couldn't keep his mouth shut (figuratively). Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 12:19
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    Because he's on a mission. If you wipe his memory, he's not going to know what the mission is ... besides not being a blabber mouth like C3PO, R2 cannot be understood by most beings. He wouldn't let something inadvertently slip, and if he did, nobody would understand him. There is no real need to wipe his memory. C3PO is a whole different story. Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 12:56
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    Because R2-D2 was a secret agent for the rebellion. Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 13:34
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    @SS Look at behind the scenes here starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Ancient_Order_of_the_Whills I think Lucas still liked the idea that R2D2 was the story teller. Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 17:05
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    @JeremyFrench If you have an answer, track down a mod in chat or flag it for attention and mention that you have one.
    – phantom42
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 17:23

5 Answers 5


R2-D2 relays the story to the Whills, so cannot have his memory wiped.

In The Annotated Screenplays for the original trilogy George Lucas says

Originally, I was trying to have the story be told by somebody else (an immortal being known as a Whill); there was somebody watching this whole story and recording it, somebody probably wiser than the mortal players in the actual events. I eventually dropped this idea, and the concepts behind the Whills turned into the Force. But the Whills became part of this massive amount of notes, quotes, background information that I used for the scripts; the stories were actually taken from the Journal of the Whills."

So it would seem that the idea was of the Whills was forgotten.

However in the The Making of Star Wars Revenge of the Sith it seems the idea was resurrected as it indicates that

The events surrounding the life of several members of the Skywalker family were recorded in the Journal by a Keeper of the Whills, after an interview with the Astromech droid R2-D2 one hundred years after the Battle of Endor.

I don't own either book so I am only reporting what is on Wookieepedia, but you may find there is more detail in The Making of Star Wars Revenge of the Sith.


This is just an impression, no canon reference from Lucas himself.

The two droid serve mainly as a linking artifact between the first set of movies and the second and help the viewer relate and keep the whole plot together.

There are no major hero characters between the first set of movies and the second set and thus it is very difficult for the viewer to connect the story because of a lack of emotional connection between the movies. Obiwan dies at the start of episode iv, none of the other characters are there in the previous movies except for Vader who is a villain and arguably not someone the audience will bond with.

More so, from the story point of view no character apart from Yoda can be alive and part of the story and Yoda can't play a major part at the risk, you can't make Yoda an action hero without ruining the wise charm of the character.

That motivate the inclusion of the androids on the prequels in the first part. They are the only characters that you CAN include, plus they work pretty well (specially R2D2) in terms of merchandising and sympathy from the viewers. From a simple story telling point of view their unique reason to be is to act as a link for a story that spans longer than a lifespan.

With that in place you have to then make sacrifices. It would have been easier (from a consistency point of view) to just not have the droids, but once you include them you need to decide how you're going to solve the consistency issues without ruining the emotional connection with the audience.

Wiping both droids memories would have been logical but would have ruined that connection so Lucas had to sacrifice a little consistency. R2 had already been defined to be more secretive than C3PO and capable of maintaining a secret (i.e. The deathstar plans), it has proven loyalty on previous films and it doesn't speak the common language so it doesn't break consistency as hard as letting C3PO keep its memory.

Finally all merchandising and previous screenings show that R2 is the droid people bond to, whereas C3PO is just a comical relieve character, so, with all that taken into account, not wiping R2 memory is the logical choice.


A lot of the ending to Revenge of the Sith was intended to parallel A New Hope. Luke is taken to a familiar Tatooine farm, Obi Wan puts on his hermit clothing and walks into the desert, construction of the Death Star begins, and Anakin is fully unveiled as Darth Vader.

Throughout A New Hope, C3PO is bumbling and clueless, while R2D2 is stubbornly holding a secret of great importance regarding Obi-Wan Kenobi and the twins. By allowing R2 to retain his knowledge, Lucas might have intended to mirror their characterizations and relationship at the beginning of the series.

Storywise, the only difference I can think of might be that it could help explain why Leia chose that specific astromech droid to go after Obi-Wan Kenobi. Perhaps Bail told her that R2 could be trusted with massively important secrets.


The answer comes down to the relative value of the droids.

During all 6 movies we very rarely come across other protocol droids, but many astromechs are on screen. In one scene, R2D2 is repairing a ship in flight mid battle with a few other droids all of which are destroyed. Astromechs were also present in most fighters, of which most were destroyed on screen.

Astromechs are low value grunt workers who are are frequently destroyed on screen, and I would assume would be treated as such by the people they were assigned to.

The flippancy with which Bail Organa gave the order to wipe C3POs memory shows how little he valued the robots individuality. To him, it was a tool, and a tool that had vital information unnecessary to its function. Why bother wiping the Astromechs memory when it shows little communication skill and will probably be destroyed at some point soon.

No doubt Bail Organa instructed R2D2 (and other droids) into innumerable hazardous situations between Episodes 3 and 4 with as much concern as he has for any other tool.


For the C-3PO wipe, all you have to do is look at the character himself. He's a walking doomsayer, always pessimistic about the way things are. ("We were made to suffer. It's our lot in life." - C-3PO) Now, by the end of the prequel trilogy, he's sure to know Anakin, his maker, has become Darth Vader. From his character's point of view, he may come to wonder if he's evil himself. Or as others pointed out in comments, he may just blurt out that Vader is Anakin. That's just my theory. However, Wookieepedia has a comment about how it was done to keep Leia's lineage a secret.

As for why R2-D2 wasn't wiped, I've always wondered that myself. Some speculate that Artoo had knowledge of Republic ships. Or clearly he knows how to STFU.

Sadly, I was unable to find anything from Lucas himself on this. But it would be great if he would some day let us know.

It's quite possible that he was simply trying to "fix" the "why don't Threepio and Artoo remember Obi-Wan" issue. In which case he should have had Artoo's memory wiped as well. As to why he didn't, I can't attest to that. I can't see how it makes the plot compatible between the trilogies. In fact, I think all it really does is make us ask "what's so special about Artoo?"

I tried to find something from Lucas himself on this, but came up empty. Doesn't mean it doesn't exist, though.

  • I am asking from out-of-universe perspective..
    – user931
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 14:31
  • 2
    Sometime the best out-of-universe perspective is the in-universe perspective. With a lack of specific comment from Lucas, a solid in-universe reason can indicate what Lucas may have thought of R2.
    – phantom42
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 14:35
  • Expanded the answer a bit.
    – PiousVenom
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 14:42

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