Alright, look, everybody, shut up, shut up. This is important. I realized something big yesterday. BIG big. About Star Wars, and droids, and how painfully misguided so many people are. Yesterday, when I posted about Rogue One’s new astromech droid, C2-B5, it became clear how misguided people are about droid names. Let’s get this sorted out. Now.
The issue came up because that new droid that was announced as being in Rogue One is named C2-B5, and is visually quite clearly an R2-model astromech droid. I received a good amount of smug guff from readers, via comments and email, stating that I, the idiot, should have realized that this droid is, in fact, a C2-model droid, because it says so in the name, right there.
I maintain that this line of reasoning, that droids are named in this format: [model name]-[two (rarely three) letters and numbers] – is bullshit.
Droid names do not necessarily reflect the model of droid.
Consider this: C2-B5 looks exactly like an R2-model droid. Sure, perhaps there’s internal differences we can’t see, but, come on. In this fictitious universe, it’s expected and understood that what type of being a character is can be defined by how they look.
For everyone insisting that this droid is some new kind of “C2" astromech, (despite it clearly looking exactly like an R2 droid) because it has a different name, think about it this way: what if Rogue One was introducing a new character of a species named the Rectoids, and they looked like this:
Then everyone would say, wait wait wait. That’s a Wookiee. We know what goddamn Wookiees look like – what are you trying to pull?
How is that any different than seeing a droid that has all the visual traits of an R2, and insisting that it’s somehow something else, because it has a different name?
It’s not different.
That’s not what we have here in C2-B5. Are all these droids the same type? Of course not. If you’re suggesting that C2-B5 is a C2 droid, then it would somehow have to fit into that collection of droids. Which it doesn’t. And that’s okay. It’s okay because a droid’s name does not define its type.
I mean, sure, for some it happens to coincide: R2-D2 and R5-D4, for example. It’s likely even deliberate. But if the R2 is the type, and the D2 is the name, then that would imply that for each R-series droid, there would only be 1260 possible combinations of alphanumeric characters for unique names for each given model. That’s way, way, way too few. This can’t be how droids are named.
Plus, there’s many examples already of astromech droids with names that are clearly against their type. There’s G8-R3, an R5 droid that worked with R2-D2 on his old job doing repair work on the Naboo Royal Starship. Or take Obi-Wan’s old red droid, R4-P17. That droid was clearly not an R4 droid, which has a tall, truncated-cone head. R4-P17 displayed all the traits of an R2 droid.
Sure, maybe you could argue that it started as a normal R4, but had its head replaced, or some convoluted bullshit, but why would you? Once you accept that droid names do not have to be named based on the droid’s model, everything starts to make sense.
... droid names are usually fragments of much longer serial numbers. He uses G8-R3 as an example, speculating that his real name might have been something like “R5-X41238-G8-R3-3124-D2.”
That’s a different explanation than just saying that the names don’t equate with type, but it’s effectively stating the same thing: G8-R3 is an R5 droid despite his ‘G8' name.