Welcome to The StarWars.com 10, a feature where StarWars.com’s editorial staff huddles to discuss — in committee — various topics relating to a galaxy far, far away. Today we’re looking at the galaxy’s top mechanical pals and terrors.
Droids are an essential part of Star Wars. From overweight globs of grease to clankers, they’re omnipresent throughout the galaxy and impact events big and small. Their designs are varied — sometimes weird, sometimes cool, always interesting — and as characters, they’re as important to the story as any Jedi, Rebel, or Sith. Put simply, if you take droids out of Star Wars, it’s not Star Wars anymore. For this list, we focused on droids from the Star Wars films and Star Wars: The Clone Wars (sorry, Chopper), ranking them on overall impact on the saga, personality (where appropriate), and cool factor.
10. AZI-3, The Clone Wars
AZI-3 was the unlikely breakout star of the Lost Missions’ Order 66 arc, evolving from a by-the-books medical droid to a risk-taking sidekick. Assigned to the case of clone trooper Tup’s mysterious murder of a Jedi, AZI-3 uncovers a terrible secret — that all clones have a hidden artificial brain tumor. According to the cloners, the tumors are meant to keep troopers docile if need be; in reality, they’re triggers that will force them to slaughter Jedi. AZI-3 risks all to help another clone, Fives, on his search for the truth. First he’s reluctant and nervous, later brave and daring, helping Fives evade detention and performing an unauthorized surgery to remove the clone’s tumor. As if that’s not enough, he transforms into a very-cool speeder-bike-like mode that hovers over water. AZI-3 is the perfect example of a droid having personality and courage that extend beyond its programming.
9. 2-1B Surgical Droid, the Star Wars films and The Clone Wars
The 2-1B surgical droid is one of Star Wars‘ most well-known service droids, and seems to specialize in Skywalker repair. It treats Luke in the bacta tank on Hoth, provides the young Jedi’s cybernetic hand, and also performs the surgery to save Anakin after his duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi. The model is also present in The Clone Wars, assisting injured clones and Jedi, and its immediately recognizable face is one of the more unique droid designs.
8. Buzz Droid, Revenge of the Sith and The Clone Wars
Maybe the creepiest droids in Star Wars, buzz droids latch onto vehicles, shut them down, and/or tear them apart, while chattering and swarming like insects. As seen in Revenge of the Sith‘s thrilling opening sequence, the mechanical menaces attack Obi-Wan’s starfighter, ripping the dome off R4-P17 and damaging the Jedi’s ship. While they have a weak spot, buzz droids are an inventive form of weaponry — and incredibly effective.
7. IG-88, The Empire Strikes Back
One of the select bounty hunters chosen by Darth Vader to find the Millennium Falcon, IG-88 is among of the galaxy’s deadliest droids. Despite his limited screen time in The Empire Strikes Back, IG-88 made a big impact. With frightening red eyes and a disturbingly quiet demeanor, IG-88 was one of Star Wars‘ first villainous droids and showed that not all robotic beings serve a human master.
6. Battle Droid, the Star Wars films and The Clone Wars
They’re goofy, inept, and lightsabers slice through them with ease. But battle droids play a huge role in Star Wars. The primary military force of the Separatists, they’re a symbol of aggression and corruption that foreshadows the clone troopers and by extension, stormtroopers. While battle droids are often used as comic relief, they still make for a genuine threat as a legion of mass-produced, heartless war machines.
5. Probe Droid, The Empire Strikes Back
With its spider-like legs, retractable antennae, and large “eyes,” the probe droid is a perfect representation of Imperial tyranny. First seen in The Empire Strikes Back, it’s easily dispatched throughout the galaxy, giving the Empire eyes and ears in every star system. The fact that a probe droid self destructs upon enemy engagement only adds to its intrinsic dread: if it blows up, you know you’ve been spotted.
4. Droideka, the Star Wars films and The Clone Wars
Jedi can handle battle droids without breaking a sweat; droidekas, not so much. With a frightening insect-like form, they generate their own impenetrable shields, fire heavy twin blasters, and march fearlessly toward their targets. While their lack of agility can be exploited with a well-placed droid popper, droidekas are designed to destroy — and they’re very good at what they do.
3. Huyang, The Clone Wars
Introduced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Huyang has become one of the saga’s most popular — and significant — droids. Ancient and wise, Huyang has assisted Jedi in the construction of their first lightsabers for centuries. Toiling away in the training vessel Crucible, he maintains countless parts needed to build Jedi weapons and helps younglings design hilts that are right for them — see his suggestion that Gungi, a Wookiee, incorporate wood into his lightsaber.
2. C-3PO, the Star Wars films and The Clone Wars
He’s been called a “mindless philosopher,” “golden rod,” and (sarcastically) “the professor.” Yet C-3PO has one of the greatest legacies of not just any droid, but any character in Star Wars. He has a real inner strength and heart, which proves to be integral to some of the galaxy’s most important events, from delivering Leia’s secret message to Obi-Wan Kenobi to rescuing Han Solo. Threepio volunteered to give his own parts to a severely damaged Artoo, created diversions on the Death Star and on Endor to help his friends, and his first thought upon seeing a stormtrooper in Cloud City was to warn his companions. Not bad for a droid that’s programmed only for etiquette and protocol. Plus, he gets bonus points for being an Ewok god.
1. R2-D2, the Star Wars films and The Clone Wars
R2-D2 is like no other droid: he’s simultaneously a sidekick, a leader, and a hero. Check out just a few of the bullet points from his amazing resume: saving the Naboo Royal Starship where every other astromech fails; destroying two super battle droids; taking stolen Death Star plans to Tatooine; and doing the ultimate under-cover act in Jabba’s Palace. Artoo is filled with hidden compartments and fun gadgets, adding a bit of mystery to him, and his overall design still feels original and iconic. In addition, Artoo is the most human of all droids. He gets excited, he gets sad, he can be frightened, and he can be brave. But no matter what he’s feeling, Artoo is always loyal, utterly selfless, and willing to take charge when he has to. Would we want anyone else in the back of our X-wing? Not on your life.
That’s it. What do you think? Did we nail it? Are we out of our minds? Did we overlook something? Let us know in the comments — and check out the video version of this list — below!