I was noticing that the two famous droids from Star Wars, C-3PO and R2-D2 have a four character alphanumeric name. Now, these are just two of so many droids out there, but I was wondering, in the Star Wars universe - do all droids have a four character alphanumeric name? If not, does the length or having an alphanumeric name as opposed to purely digits or characters have any significance?

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    The droid bounty hunter is named IG-88.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 3:19
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    related, possible dupe: How many R2 droid units were there according to canon? - the answers explain that in the EU, at least, there are R2 droids with longer names.
    – phantom42
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 3:28
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    @phantom42 your linked question is appreciated. As this question is twofold in that I ask that, if there are longer names, as we now know there are, is there any significance to the length of that name Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 3:29
  • The sadistic head of Jabba's droid pool who greets C-3PO and R2-D2 in Return of the Jedi and assigns them to their jobs, is a droid named EV-9D9.
    – SQB
    Commented Jul 26, 2015 at 17:13
  • Found canon answer. Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 22:34

3 Answers 3



Disney canon

We have at least one droid whose 4-letter title was just a fragment of a real long designation:

Cassian had killed K-2SO (whose true designation was far longer and far grander, rich with meaning and history that described his factory of origin, the date and time of his initialization, and more) and brought him back both smaller and larger than he had been. K-2SO did not mourn for his old self, but there were times he grew wistful over what he had been.
("Rogue One" official novelization by Alexander Freed, Chapter 19)

Pre-disney canon

Pablo Hidalgo (Internet Content Provider for starwars.com) answered this conclusively in Q&A in Star Wars Insider #58 (Page 97)

He said that 4-letter robot names are just fragments of long serial numbers. And some droids don't even have a shorter 4-letter name for some, who instead get a real nickname (e.g. Corran Horn's Wistler).

enter image description here

Please note that the canonical status of Star Wars Insider information is questionable in new Disney canon, but Pablo Hidalgo is still pre-eminent canon expert at Lucasfilm Story Group, and as such the fact that a nearly identical fact was included in a canon novel probably means that the overall general rule also remain canonical.

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    This needs more upvotes. I was going to ask how the 3-5 character convention can account for the millions or billions of droids in the galaxy, but here's the answer right here. Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 16:36


The Force Awakens will feature a droid named BB-8.

enter image description here

Also, according to this answer, there was an R2 unit named R2-Z13.

As for the length of a name, I can find no information to suggest that it signifies anything special.

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    I'm not going to answer this one, so I'll just tell you: The surgical droid is called 2-1B. I'm trying to find some explanation of why droids have the names they do.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 3:24
  • @WadCheber : Thanks. I couldn't find anything meaningful on in-universe significance of droid names. I actually did a search on this in the past, too.
    – Praxis
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 3:29
  • There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to droid names. Astromech droids Protocol droids
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 3:31
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    Also, I already hate BB-8 for trying to steal R2-D2's thunder.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 3:34


There are many counter-examples. One of the most plentiful droid types in the galaxy is the B1 battle droid. Their predecessors were the OOM-series battle droid. In an earlier question just a few hours ago I identified an RIC-920 general labor droid. Some droids, such as the droideka, don't appear to have any numbers in their name.

The only significance to R2-D2's name is that he belongs to the R series (specifically R2 series) astromech droid. C-3PO is a droid from the 3PO series.

Droid names are usually derived in part from the droid series (e.g. R2 and 3PO) to help identify the function and capabilities of the droid (e.g. "B" in B1 is probably to indicate that it is a battle droid). The series name can have a variable number of characters (likely depending on how many related droid series there are). On the other hand, more unique droids like the droidekas do not need a series name for identification. Characters which are not part of the series sometimes identify a sub-series (e.g. the B2 super battle droid vs. the B1, and the E-3PO is from the 3PO line but is distinct from C-3PO droids). Longer droid names are probably used in order to avoid name conflicts with previous droid models.

Droid names appear to be assigned similarly to, say, real-world firearms (and probably for a similar reason). For example, M-series firearms often denote American firearms, numbers indicate different firearm models (e.g. M16 vs. M4), and other characters indicate different versions of a particular firearm model (e.g. M16A1 vs. M16A3). On the other hand, modern German firearms usually start with "G" (e.g. the G36, which has its own sub-variants like the G36C and G36K). Most Russian assault rifles start with AK, with the number usually denoting the year it entered service (e.g. AK-47 vs. AK-74), but not always (e.g. AN-94). You get the idea...

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    Russian models are named after their inventors. A stands for automatic riffle, and K for Kalashnikov and N for Nikonov. So models starting with AK were all designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov.
    – Davor
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 9:07
  • Do you think droidekas have a number that is less widely known?
    – ThruGog
    Commented Jul 25, 2015 at 1:38
  • @ThruGog I don't think so; I've looked around a bit but I can't find any alphanumeric name for them.
    – Null
    Commented Jul 25, 2015 at 2:39

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