False facts about Star Wars droids you always thought were true

Anakin, Luke, and Rey might be the heroes of the Star Wars saga, but the lovable droids are its heart and soul. The whole franchise begins not with various human leads, but with a line from a worried C-3PO. Without the heroic efforts of R2-D2, BB-8, K-2SO, and L3-37, the Galactic Empire — and later, the First Order — would run rampant across the galaxy. Star Wars' droids are cute and they're funny, but when push comes to shove they're just as formidable as Han, Leia, Finn, Poe, and the rest.

But while droids have perfect memories, humans do not. Sometimes, we misremember facts or pieces of trivia. Sometimes, these tidbits are about the droids themselves. Odds are you think some of the following facts are true. They're not, but that's okay. We're here to refresh your databanks and set the record straight. No need to short circuit. You're in good hands.

The Droids cartoon was a cheap cash-in

Thirty years later, it's easy to lump Star Wars: Droids in with other mid-'80s animated series like Transformers, G.I. Joe, and He-Man. The series, which debuted in 1985, has all the hallmarks of its toy-hawking peers. It stars two kid-friendly characters, C-3PO and R2-D2, who go on adventures with a rotating cast of characters, many of whom would make great action figures. It had all kinds of tie-in merchandise, including comic books and video games. Its opening sequence, which was written and performed by The Police's Stewart Copeland, is pure '80s cheese.

And yet, Droids wasn't supposed to be a money grab. In fact, George Lucas considered it the future of the Star Wars franchise. After Return of the Jedi, Lucas didn't know if he was going to make any more Star Wars movies, and hoped that Droids (and its counterpart, Ewoks) could keep the series alive. Producer Miki Herman said Lucas also wanted to "raise the standards of Saturday morning children's programming" by telling better stories, hiring better actors, and investing in high-quality animation.

As a result, Droids cost between $500,000 and $600,000 an episode and used more than twice as many animation cells as other shows, making it one of the most expensive animated series ever at the time. Ultimately, the push for quality is what killed it: Droids was simply too expensive to keep producing and was canceled after a single season.

A Star Wars droid appeared in The Incredibles

Star Wars fans will look anywhere for clues about what the future holds for their favorite series, including the credits of a completely different movie. In November 2004, a full eight years before Disney bought Lucasfilm and brought Pixar and Star Wars under a single corporate umbrella, The Incredibles hit theaters. At the time, Star Wars die-hards were eagerly anticipating the release of Revenge of the Sith the next summer. When they noticed a Lucasfilm trademark in The Incredibles' closing scroll, they thought they'd found an Episode III Easter egg — possibly in the form of a new character — in Pixar's superhero action-comedy.

They hadn't, and unfortunately, the truth is pretty boring. As Incredibles director Brad Bird explains, while The Incredibles has characters known as Omnidroids, they don't have anything to do with Star Wars. Since George Lucas came up with the term "droid," Pixar decided to ask for his approval, and Lucas gave the okay (which isn't too surprising given that Pixar started as a Lucasfilm subdivision). "No, there's no sneak," Bird says. "But God bless those fans. They're crazy."

As a side note, Lucasfilm trademarked the word "droid" in 2009, giving it full control of the word. Ever wonder why Lucasfilm's name pops up at the bottom of ads for Motorola smartphones? Now you know.

Kenny Baker reprised his role as R2-D2 for Revenge of the Sith

Sometimes, R2-D2 is done with animatronics, but sometimes there's a real person inside that robot suit. All those times that R2-D2 rocked back and forth excitedly? Those performances are the work of Kenny Baker, an actor who has appeared in Willow, Time Bandits, The Elephant Man, and Labyrinth. Baker returned to play R2-D2 for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, as well as all three installments of the Star Wars prequel trilogy — at least, that's what the end credits say.

While Baker's name appears alongside R2-D2's at the end of Revenge of the Sith, C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels told a Brazilian magazine that Baker didn't spend a single day filming on the Sith set. Despite their on-screen camaraderie Baker and Daniels didn't get along at all, so it's easy to assume that Daniels was simply sniping at his co-star — but in this case, Baker actually offered some supporting evidence. "I think a lot of it is footage he's already got of me in the robot from when we shot Attack Of The Clones and The Phantom Menace," Baker admitted.

Baker isn't in The Force Awakens, either, although Daniels' dismissive comments about Baker's contributions to that film aren't as fair. For Episode VII, Baker was only credited as a consultant and never got into costume, likely due to his failing health. (Baker passed away just a few months after Episode VII premiered.)

R5-D4 had a bad motivator

R5-D4 is a minor Star Wars character — the little droid only appeared in one scene and the most notable thing he did was blow up — but he had a big impact on the Galactic Civil War. Early on in Episode IV, Luke and his uncle are shopping for droids. They buy C-3PO and are about to walk away with R5-D4, too, but it malfunctions. "This R2 unit has a bad motivator," Luke explains, and C-3PO urges him to buy R2-D2 instead. The rest is history.

That's not what really happened, however. According to A Certain Point of View, a canonical collection of short stories that recount the events of A New Hope from supporting characters' perspectives, R5-D4 is a hero. In "The Red One" by Rae Carson‏, R5-D4 learns about R2-D2's mission after a brief conflict with the astromech droid, and intentionally sabotages himself to make sure Luke takes R2-D2 home instead. Later, after stormtroopers attack the Jawa sandcrawler, "Red" begins his journey across Tatooine's desert, hoping to join the Rebellion himself.

Now, A Certain Point of View lives up to its name, and not every narrator in the book is completely reliable. Still, there's no real reason to doubt the events of "The Red One," and it sure beats the alternative: In the pre-Disney days, one comic posited that R5-D4 (or "Skippy") had Force powers — yes, really — which he used to make sure that Luke bought R2-D2 instead.

The droids' names are also their serial numbers

By this point, R2-D2, C-3PO, and BB-8 are all iconic names, but they're not exactly normal. Most people assume — fairly — that they're also the droids' serial numbers, a theory supported by the way other characters will refer to droids using phrases like "that R2 unit" in Star Wars fiction.

But that doesn't hold up. At all. Over at Jalopnik, writer Jason Torchinsky did an in-depth investigation into Star Wars droids and discovered there's no real rhyme or reason behind their names. While droids do come in a variety of different and clearly defined categories — astromech droids help pilot starships, protocol droids translate languages and help explain local customs, and so on — their names don't always match. Droids that look identical have entirely different designations. Others have entirely different looks and functions but have names that are only one or two digits off from one another.

Pablo Hidalgo, a member of Lucasfilm's canon-policing Story Group, posits that droid names are actually excerpts of longer serial numbers. For example, in Star Wars Insider #58, Hidalgo says the prequel-era droid G8-R3 could've had a real name like "R5-X41238-G8-R3-3124-D2," but it's not clear if that explanation is canon. Obviously, this is the kind of thing that happens when you have a giant shared universe populated by multiple creators, but for now, it seems obvious that the real logic behind droids' names is what sounds coolest, nothing more.

R2-D2 is George Lucas' favorite character

R2-D2 saves the day a lot. In A New Hope, he holds the secret to destroying the Empire's moon-sized battle station, saving the Rebel Alliance in the process. In The Empire Strikes Back, he hacks Cloud City's security system, helping his friends escape Darth Vader's forces. He smuggles Luke's lightsaber into Jabba's palace in Return of the Jedi, saves Queen Amidala and her ship from certain destruction in The Phantom Menace, and fights off battle droids in Revenge of the Sith.

That's a big contrast to R2-D2's best buddy, C-3PO, who spends most of his time complaining. So why does R2-D2 get so many big, heroic moments? In a commentary track on the Revenge of the Sith DVD, George Lucas claimed R2-D2 is his favorite Star Wars character, which is why he made sure to give the plucky little droid a big moment in every one of his Star Wars films.

But that is a lie, and Lucas came clean in 2015. Lucas' actual favorite character isn't a droid. It's Jar Jar Binks. In hindsight, Lucas seems most proud of the prequel trilogy's technological advances, which includes Jar Jar, the first fully realized CG character in a live-action movie — but Lucas also just seems to think the Gungan is funny. When discussing Jar Jar's origins, Lucas noted the character was based on Disney's Goofy. "I love Goofy," Lucas says, "and I love Jar Jar."

BB-8 is a girl

If you're confused about BB-8's gender, don't blame yourself. It's not like you can tell if it's a boy or a girl just by looking, and in the lead-up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Lucasfilm's various representatives sent some decidedly mixed messages.

Before Episode VII arrived in theaters — but after the first trailer hit, which gave ample time for BB-8 to steal our hearts — the Telegraph reported that Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy referred to BB-8 on set as "she," and that some of the film's promotional materials hinted that BB-8 was a female. The Telegraph also quoted an anonymous source "close to the filmmakers" as saying that Disney and Lucasfilm wanted to "appeal to girls as much boys" by making The Force Awakens' breakout star one of them.

In the final film, however, Poe refers to BB-8 as a dude, as do most promotional materials. As far as we can tell, the story goes something like this: BB-8 started as female but became male sometime during production. At least, that's what Neal Scanlan, the head of The Force Awakens' creature shop, says. "BB-8 was female in our eyes. And then she became male. And that's all part of the evolution," Scanlan told EW. Scanlan refused to commit to that for sure — "I'm still not sure, dare I say, whether BB-8 is male or female," — but nearly four years later, the answer seems pretty clear.

Chopper's identity is a mystery

You may like the way Disney has handled the Star Wars franchise. You may not. Either way, one thing's certain: They're certainly getting the droids right. BB-8 became a superstar overnight. K-2SO and L3-37 stole practically every scene in Rogue One and Solo respectively. Resistance's Bucket is downright adorable, and Rebels' cantankerous and morally flexible astromech droid C1-10P — better known as Chopper — is far and away that series' best character.

Chopper is more than just a trouble-maker, though. He's also the key to one of Star Wars' best kept secrets. For almost the entirety of Star Wars Rebels' 75-episode run, Chopper was credited as "himself." That changed during the Star Wars Rebels finale. Blink and you'll miss it, but during the series' final credit sequence, the man who brought Chopper to life finally got his due — and he turned out to be none other than Dave Filoni, Rebels' co-creator and showrunner.

And how did Filoni end up playing C1-10P? Basically, when putting together the first Rebels animated short, Filoni's team ran out of time to cast anyone else. "I knew what a likable jerk was like and what I wanted him to be like," Filoni explains, so he jumped in and provided Chopper's voice. Later, Disney CEO Bob Iger said how much he liked Chopper, and Filoni was "stuck" with the part for good.

IG-88 will play a big role in The Mandalorian

The Mandalorian, the live-action Star Wars show set to premiere on Disney's new streaming service, Disney+, won't have many familiar faces. It's a new adventure that takes place on the outer reaches of Star Wars' galaxy far, far away. Still, thanks to some behind-the-scenes photos shared by Mandalorian creator Jon Favreau, fans thought they'd identified at least one classic Star Wars character in The Mandalorian's cast: IG-88, a vicious droid who makes a brief appearance in The Empire Strikes Back.

Favreau did nothing to dispel this notion. In fact, if anything, he supported that theory with another picture that implied that filmmaker Taika Waititi, who voiced the rocky revolutionary Korg in Thor: Ragnarok (which Waititi also directed), would be voicing the mechanical bounty hunter. Unfortunately, that's not quite right. After the first bit of Mandalorian footage screened for the audience at Star Wars Celebration 2019, Favreau told EW that the character is actually a different IG-series droid, IG-11.

The Mandalorian trailer, which sadly isn't available online, showed IG-11 mowing down a platoon of stormtroopers, so he's probably just as bloodthirsty as his big-screen cousin. While it's a shame that IG-88 won't be getting the spotlight he deserves, the Star Wars universe is a big place. If Lucasfilm, Disney, and Favreau want to tell some new stories, who's going to turn that down?

C-3PO is in every Star Wars movie

According to George Lucas, droids are the entire reason why Star Wars exists. In the 2014 book How Star Wars Conquered the Universe, the Star Wars creator said that, in his mind, R2-D2 is the narrator of the entire saga. If you think about it, that makes sense: R2-D2 and his constant companion, C-3PO, are present for almost every major event in Star Wars canon.

Accordingly, C-3PO and R2-D2 were in all six of Lucas' Star Wars movies, making them two of four characters to hold that honor (the others are Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader). When Disney took over Star Wars, it looked like that trend would continue. The two droids appeared in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, and had a quick cameo in Rogue One. As Solo approached, it looked like the trend would continue. Shortly before the movie came out, Mark Hamill revealed that Anthony Daniels had a cameo, leading many outlets to proclaim that C-3PO was in Han Solo's origin story, too.

Don't remember seeing him? It's not your fault. Despite the headlines, C-3PO isn't in Solo, although Anthony Daniels is. You know that Wookiee who shares a tender moment with Chewbacca during the uprising on Kessel? Yup, that's Daniels in a Wookiee suit. Daniels can claim he's the only actor to appear in every live-action Star Wars movie, but C-3PO's streak is broken — and unlike Threepio's red arm, there's no fixing this one.

BB-8 gave Finn the finger

To some people, BB-8 is a perfect angel who can do no wrong. To others, he's got a naughty streak. If you wonder which side you fall on, watch this scene, and then answer the big question: Did BB-8 give Finn a thumbs-up, or was the plucky little droid flipping the former stormtrooper off?

When watching the clip, you can see how it could go either way. BB-8 has just learned that Finn is lying about being part of the Resistance, and he's pretty rude to BB-8 when trying to get the droid to share the location of the Resistance base. They are not, at this point in time, particularly friendly. On the other hand, the gesture comes right after Finn flashes a thumbs-up of his own, and it'd be out of character for BB-8 to reply with so much sass.

Thankfully, this isn't a white-gold dress or blue-black dress situation. There is a real, definitive answer. As the Nerdy Bird reports, The Force Awakens novelization refers to BB-8's lighter-flick as a thumbs-up, while BB-8's puppet-masters refer to the beat as a "thumbs-up moment" in an interview with MTV. So, there you have it. Get your mind out of the gutter, folks. BB-8 is too good for you. You don't deserve him.