We Need To Talk About Star Wars Droid Names Right Goddamn Now

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.

Also, there already are other droids in the greater Star Wars universe named C2-something. They look like this:


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.

As further proof that the common droid names don’t equate with type, look at what this Lucasfilm story guy had to speculate about G8-R3's name:

... 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.


I didn’t make up these R-series designations - R1 through R5 have been in every movie since the 1977 original, and an R0 type was added in The Force Awakens. The R6-R9 droids appear in a bunch of Star Wars-expanded universe stuff I admit I haven’t paid much attention to other than their droids.

It’s not like other astromech types other than the R-series don’t exist – they certainly do. Noted droid Chopper’s real name is C1-10P, and in that case I fully accept he’s a C1 droid, because visually it’s clear that it’s a completely different droid. The head looks similar to an R5, but that’s a whole different body design, so it may as well be a C1.


Same goes for BB-8: clearly a new astromech droid design, and I’m sure there’s a BB series out there. We’ve only seen one so far, so maybe it’s possible these are all named BB-integer? Does that mean BB-8 is only the 8th BB unit ever built? We just don’t know, because only one has been named.


The point of this absurd and painful geekrant is that to all of you motherfuckers who are insisting that, despite all logic and reason, this obvious R2 unit is some completely other kind of droid called a C2, you’re wrong.


Droid names aren’t as simple as we’d think. It’s not clear at all how they’re named, who names them, or what the rules are, except one rule: the model name does not necessarily have to be in the droid’s name. We’ve seen this rule disproven too many times.

While, sure, it’d be nice and easy if droids were named for their type; I think the truth is George Lucas never gave enough of a shit about it to really be methodical in naming them, which is why its seems so haphazard. Some got named by model, some didn’t. All this ends up meaning is that it is not a hard-and-fast rule that a droid’s name determines the model.


So, there you go. C2-B5 is an R2 model astromech droid. Maybe I’ll agree that a C2 droid is a badge-engineered droid built under a license from Industrial Automation, but that’s it.

If anyone has any problem with this, please meet me behind the gym for a fight with folding chairs.

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Jason Torchinsky

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)