Not all droids are cute and friendly like R2-D2 and BB-8…
In Star Wars, droids serve all kinds of roles, from simple laborers to highly skilled surgeons and battlefield generals. But some droids specialize in combat and mayhem. Deadly droids have their own gradations of lethality, from regular battle droids, whose strength lie in numbers (and not their aim), to killer soldier units working in teams, to assassin droids and droids repurposed for protection that brim with weapons and tactics. Here’s a handful of some of the deadliest droids ever to have their circuits activated in the galaxy far, far away.
As seen in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, K-2SO was a one-droid wrecking machine working for the Rebel Alliance. Originally starting service as a standard Imperial KX security droid, he had all the lethal characteristics of his series -- larger than human proportions, athletic agility, and the ability to use weapons or just pulverize enemies with his bare fists. Reprogrammed to work for the Rebellion, Kaytoo became a perfect insertion agent, able to blend in at Imperial installations, where KX enforcers often had autonomous roles. Once inside, he could carry out his own missions undetected, or turn the tables on unsuspecting stormtroopers in a fight. Kaytoo also served as a Cassian Andor’s co-pilot and helped in the liberation of Jyn Erso from Imperial custody and in attacks on Imperial forces on Jedha. On Scarif, he met a noble end, sacrificing himself to hold off stormtroopers at a choke point while giving Jyn and Cassian access to the data nodes that housed the Death Star plans. While not infiltrators like Kaytoo, regular KX security droids proved to be a challenge in combat even to lightsaber-wielding fighters like Cal Kestis, though they could have their programming overwritten by sneaky droids.
In a galaxy of organics still fearing droids after the Clone Wars, a few killer droids stood out near the top of the list of mechanical beings you never wanted to encounter unexpectedly -- models of the various IG series of assassin droids. Some of the earlier lines included the IG-RM bodyguard droids, some of which found work in the employ of others, like the smuggler Cikatro Vizago, and the IG-86 assassin droids, often employed by criminals like Ziro the Hutt. But the most feared of these droids was IG-88, who worked fully independently as an assassin and bounty hunter. First seen in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, IG-88 was one of the top bounty hunters in the galaxy, hired by Darth Vader to track down the Millennium Falcon after the Battle of Hoth. But before that job, he had already had run-ins with Q’ira, Leia Organa, and Sabine Wren. Carrying an arsenal of weapons including pulse cannons and a neural inhibitor, IG-88 also had a variety of built-in weapons such as a flamethrower and toxic gas dispensers.
3. and 4. 0-0-0 and BT-1
When it comes to deadly duos, 0-0-0 (Triple Zero) and BT-1 should be at the top of your list. Looking like an evil version of C-3PO and R2-D2, these sadistic droids began their partnership under the employ of Doctor Aphra and Darth Vader. First appearing in the third issue of the Star Wars: Darth Vader series by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca, these counterparts had a penchant for violence and destruction, whether to organics or to their fellow droids. Triple Zero was a dark silver protocol droid with red eyes, and had a built-in flamethrower and electric shock system. He enjoyed interrogations and once remarked that he had drained the blood of his former masters. Bee Tee may look like an ordinary astromech, but don’t let your guard down -- he destroyed his makers and went rogue before being brought under the control of Doctor Aphra. Able to travel with his own rocket boosters, he was literally a walking weapons factory, able to manufacture the ammunition needed for his array of weapons: blaster rifles, rocket launchers, and the ever-popular flamethrower.
5. Mister Bones
While ubiquitous in the Clone Wars, B1 battle droids became uncommon in the years that followed, as they were mostly shut down or decommissioned. But a generation later, one B1 battle droid got repurposed into a protector and friend. In Chuck Wendig’s Star Wars: Aftermath trilogy, the abandoned young Temmin “Snap” Wexley built Mister Bones on Akiva. Programmed with martial arts and acrobatic skills, Bones had a built-in vibroblade and wielded a blaster. Snap’s loyal companion was painted in a red and black skeleton design and wore actual bones on his head and shoulders. Often he would sing while “committing violence” and was later given additional joints for enhanced flexibility, and the ability to repair himself. Sadly, Mister Bones was destroyed in the Battle of Jakku after saving Temmin.
The IG-100 MagnaGuard was a bodyguard droid favored by General Grievous and other Separatist leaders during the Clone Wars. First seen in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith aboard the Invisible Hand, a pair of MagnaGuards were able to hold off Jedi Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Armed with lightsaber-blocking electrostaffs, these cloaked droids often worked in pairs to overpower their foes. One of their more resilient abilities was to be able to keep fighting after the loss of a limb or even their head. Also wielding rocket launchers and laser darts, and able to pilot their own starfighters, MagnaGuards clashed with Jedi several times during the war, including with Ahsoka Tano on Tatooine, Kit Fisto and Nahdar Vebb on a moon of Vassek, and even capturing Anakin Skywalker on Naboo. While deadly to many, MagnaGuards were no problem for Obi-Wan Kenobi, who defeated a foursome of them on Utapau with ease.
While many of the droids on this list were lethal in combat, the IT-O interrogation droid was a fearsome and deadly droid without having to even use a weapon. In her cell aboard the Death Star in Star Wars: A New Hope, Princess Leia was one of the few people who faced the menace of this methodical torturer and didn’t break. Not an easy thing to do, with the IT-O’s collection of tools for knocking down a victim’s physical and mental defenses: mind probes, bone fragmenters, influential drugs, flesh peelers, and electroshock probes. Both Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla suffered from interrogations from IT-O units. One IT-O was given a new mission by the New Republic in Alexander Freed’s Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron. Instead of interrogation, Ito was reprogrammed to be a therapist for Yrica Quell to help her through the trauma of participating in Operation Cinder, but was also used as a loyalty evaluator by her handler, Caern Adan.
The droideka, or destroyer droid, was a fearsome sight on the battlefield of the Clone Wars. Able to roll quickly into an area, the droideka could then deploy on three legs, power up its protective shield, and fire away with two twin blaster cannons. Originally appearing in Star Wars: Phantom Menace, destroyers proved to be more than Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi could handle aboard the Trade Federation ship. With shields capable to protecting it from almost all personal blaster fire, and rapid-fire blasters, it was a difficult enemy to counter, especially in small groups. Anakin Skywalker was able to destroy several in the Naboo hangar using a N-1 starfighter, but years later, realized that surrender was the only option when confronted by a group of them in the droid factory on Geonosis. Sometimes luck was a better factor than skill when destroying a droideka, as Jar Jar Binks did on the plains of Naboo -- accidentally having an entangled battle droid fire on the leg of a destroyer droid, causing it to fall over.
A look at this list reveals that IG droids made for some lethal mechanicals, and IG-11 was no exception. A bounty hunter, IG-11 showed his prowess using two blaster rifles simultaneously in separate directions during an impromptu team-up with Din Djarin on Arvala-7 in the first chapter of The Mandalorian. Assigned to kill the Child, the assassin droid didn’t foresee being shot and deactivated by Mando. His body was retrieved by Kuill, who repaired and reprogrammed him to help out around the Ugnaught’s vapor farm. When Din Djarin returned to Kuill with Cara Dune, the reformed IG droid offered them tea. But when Grogu was kidnapped by Imperial scout troopers on Nevarro and Kuill was killed, IG pulverized the troopers and rescued his charge. Traveling into town, IG-11 eliminated scores of stormtroopers, spinning his torso fully around to aim in all directions, all while carrying Grogu to relative safety. He would later make the ultimate sacrifice in an effort to save the Child and his friends.
Thousands of years before the Empire, one droid became the definitive murder machine of its age: HK-47. Appearing in the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic video game (now falling under the Legends banner), HK was an amoral killer who referred to organics as “meatbags.” Speaking in his own unique manner, the hunter-killer assassin droid felt himself superior to most lifeforms, except for his master, Revan. Appearing as a protocol droid and capable in thousands of languages, he was sometimes underestimated -- until his blaster rifle came out. He used a variety of weapons when confronting a Jedi opponent -- a sniper rifle when at a distance, and grenades, sonic weapons, rockets, mines, and poison gas -- all things that could not be deflected with a lightsaber. Almost a sociopath, he relished destruction and encouraged deadly behavior to his master. Despite his murderous tendencies, he became a hero of the Republic for his role in defeating Darth Malak and destroying the Star Forge.