Star Wars: The Best Droids in the Galaxy
With The Rise of Skywalker now in theaters, we reflect on the best droids in Star Wars history
The Disney era of Star Wars is full of fantastic new droids, including BB-8, Rogue One‘s K-2SO, and L3-37 from Solo: A Star Wars Story. And these are just a few of the many droids that have made the galaxy far, far away such a fun place to visit over and over again. So here’s to the astromechs, the protocol droids, the medical droids, and the assassin droids that have been whirring and clanking their way into fans’ hearts since that first opening scrawl so many years ago.
Join us as we take a look back and thank the Maker for the 30 greatest droids of the Star Wars saga!
Yeah, U-3PO barely appeared in the original Star Wars, but this silver protocol droid needs to make this list because it is one of the first characters introduced in the entire Star Wars saga. After the Star Destroyer catches Princess Leia’s blockade runner, the film cuts to C-3PO, R2-D2, and good ol’ U-3PO making a run for it. Artoo and Threepio of course go on to forge their own legacy, but U-3PO simply walks out of the shot.
Imagine if U-3PO stuck around with its droid comrades. There would have been three droids going on the greatest adventure of all time. But U-3PO had business elsewhere and wandered off camera, leaving the other two droids to become the most beloved mechanized beings in the galaxy.
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The Legends Expanded Universe later revealed that U-3PO was an Imperial agent that reported the blockade runner’s whereabouts to Darth Vader’s men, but most EU canon has been wiped away since Star Wars was sold to Disney. So it’s a brand new day for U-3PO, one of the three droids that fans first laid eyes on. U we hardly knew U.
Look at this freaky looking thing. It’s like a psychotic version of C-3PO. This droid obviously has so many issues. You can clearly spot CZ-3 on the streets of Mos Eisely, aimlessly shambling about in the original Star Wars. You can also see a similar droid aboard the Jawa’s Sandcrawler, mindlessly rocking back and forth. A CZ droid is also clearly seen in Jabba’s Palace in Return of the Jedi, plodding around as if looking for a small, helpless creature to dismember. But other than its evil clown look, why did we include such an obscure droid on our list?
The main reason is because CZ-3 is played by none other than Anthony Daniels, as the famed actor who brought C-3PO to life pulled double droid duty on the set of the original Star Wars. That’s just all sorts of cool.
The pre-Disney backstory of this droid is pretty rich. Legend has it that CZ-3 worked for Jabba the Hutt. When CZ-3 got loose, Jabba sent bounty hunters to find the strange looking automaton. When viewers see CZ-3 in Star Wars, it is on the run from Jabba’s hunters. Pretty neat right?
The story gets even deeper, revealing that the CZ aboard the Sandcrawler was CZ-3’s “twin brother.” When the CZs crashed on Tatooine, they were separated, and CZ-1 was dismantled and taken by the Jawas. Maybe that’s why CZ-3 looks so odd and disturbed, maybe his mind snapped after being separated from his “twin.” Maybe there’s a Tomax and Xamot thing going on here – when CZ-1 is being tortured by Jawas, CZ-3 feels the pain.
How the heck did this take such a dark turn, I just really wanted to tell you that Anthony Daniels played CZ-3 and now I’m pondering familial droid bonds and the nature of droid pain. I need to lie down.
Raise your hands if you had the old school Kenner FX-7 action figure! That thing must have cost Kenner a small fortune to sculpt and tool, what with the countless articulated arms and incredible detailing. That seems like an awful lot of effort for a droid that appeared in The Empire Strikes Back for like 2.7 seconds. But those brief ticks of the second hand were pivotal because it was FX-7 that helped nurse Luke Skywalker back to health after the savior of the galaxy was ripped to noodles by the Wampa.
FX-7 would pop up again later, helping to build Luke’s robotic hand, and if you have your pause button handy, you can spy FX-7 during the Rebel briefing in Return of the Jedi. It seems FX-7 helped patch Rebels back together throughout most of the Original Trilogy. So thanks FX-7, you and your ridiculously playable action figure are remembered fondly.
We include 8D8 on this list because the skeletal torture droid showed us one thing in his brief appearance in Return of the Jedi – that droids feel actual pain and that’s all sorts of messed up. 8D8 is a droid that specializes in torturing other droids and can be seen in the background when R2 and 3PO are led into Jabba’s droid dungeon. 8D8 is busy torturing a flailing Power Droid with a branding iron. As the Power Droid’s feet are burnt, the poor boxy robot lets out a wail of agony. You know what this means? This means that some sentient being programmed droids to think they have nerve endings! How messed up is that? Building beings that are forced to endure the illusion of bodily pain. And the ghoulish 8D8 specializes in that pain, and for that screwed up reason this obscure droid makes our list.
26. Torture Droid
So somewhere there was a droid inventor or technician or whatever and he or she said, “Hey, I’m going to create a floaty ball designed for torture!” and the torture droid was born. This roly-poly ball of pain was first seen in the original Star Wars, as it slowly approached Princess Leia with a hypodermic needle filled with drugs that would no doubt cause the bun-headed Rebel no end of agony.
This little droid is probably the vilest automaton in the entire saga because its entire function is to find ways to cause as much pain as possible. And think about this, considering there are countless races running around the Star Wars Universe, this little torture droid must be programmed with billions of forms of bodily torture. How does one torture an Ewok? The torture droid knows.
Another obscure droid made into an action figure by Kenner. The toy in question was named “Death Star Droid” even though the robot never appeared on the Death Star in the original Star Wars! 3B6-RA-7 actually appeared on the Jawa Sandcrawler. He was like the cranky old man of droiddom, as he sat there and muttered derisively to himself about the other droids that were captured by the Jawas. You have to assume 3B6-RA-7 was kind of a dick because the Jawas don’t even attempt to sell him to Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. They just leave him in the Sandcrawler the same way you leave your crazy uncle in the car because you don’t want him causing a scene in Target.
Anyway, a black RA unit can be seen aboard the Death Star, so there’s your “Death Star Droid,” but this silver clad cranky pants made his home on the Sandcrawler no matter what Kenner tells you. Fans of a certain age had this droid as an action figure, and his after school battles with C-3PO are the stuff of legend.
These spider-like murder machines were like Jedi kryptonite. Think about it, during all three prequels, no matter what threat popped up, the Jedi were ready. Giant space monsters? No problem! Vast armies of Battle Droids? A walk in the park. Swarms of droid starfighters? Pish-posh! Sith? A mere distraction. But when the destroyer droids rolled into battle, you’d have Jedi peeing themselves left and right.
The destroyer droids, or Droidekas as they were known for some inexplicable reason, were ray shielded and had rapid fire canons that, for some reason, completely befuddled all Jedi. Like, why can’t the Jedi just levitate them or force push them off a cliff or something? Because the destroyers delivered insta-death to anything wearing a bathrobe, they make our list.
23. Probe Droid
First seen in The Empire Strikes Back. Probe droids are used by the Empire to search remote regions of the galaxy for any signs of Rebel activity. These octopus-like spies are distinctive because of their unique and creepy language. Who can forget the ominous message sent from Hoth that alerted Darth Vader to the presence of the hidden Rebel base? Think about it, if not for the probe droid, the events of Empire never would have occurred. The Probe also looks badass but really isn’t because it self-destructs the second it is engaged in combat. So here’s to the probe droid – awesome-looking, integral to the Original Trilogy, and kind of a weeny.
22. Midwife droid
Ooba indeed. Why wouldn’t there be an OBGYN droid? A midwife droid first appeared in Revenge of the Sith and participated in the single-most important moment in Star Wars history – the birth of Luke Skywalker and Leia. I guess there should be a droid for every single function in the galaxy.
The midwife droid certainly looks equipped to deliver some babies. I mean, it has a baby scooper and everything… As disturbing as the design of this droid might be, it did deliver two humans that saved the galaxy, so welcome to the list, you medical nightmare.
21. Power Droid
Who doesn’t love a Gonk? Also known as GNK power droids, Gonks are the walking batteries of the Star Wars galaxy. Power droids have a wonderfully simplistic design – they are basically just boxes with feet. It’s also kind of mind-blowing that for its original Star Wars action figure line, Kenner never made a Moff Tarkin or a Wedge Antilles, but it sure made a power droid. Millions of kids all over America usedtheir adorable little clicky power droids to power up X-wings and Millennium Falcons. Ah, those were the days.
Of course, the most famous Gonk was the one aboard the Jawa Sandcrawler. These little boxes of electric juice could be seen in every Rebel base, aboard both Death Stars, and on the streets of Mos Eisley. The design and function of these little squares must have been perfect because power droids were all over the Prequels, and they were even unchanged in the future world of The Force Awakens. A power droid can also be seen in Rogue One,and I was probably way happier about that than I should have been. But it just goes to show how lovable the Gonks really are.
And we come to our first modern era droid! GA-97 was an unassuming servant droid that took care of the customers of Maz Kanata’s castle. But GA-97 was also part of a network of spies that worked for the Resistance. If not for GA-97, the First Order would have found and captured Rey, Finn, Han, Chewie, and BB-8. It was GA-97’s message that alerted the Resistance and allowed Poe Dameron and his crew to make the save. I can only hope that we see GA-97 again as the new trilogy barrels forward because the idea of a hidden ring of droid spies is just too cool for school.
19. WED Treadwell Droid
Poor Treadwell, he was destined for greater things. In a scene cut from the original Star Wars, Luke Skywalker was repairing a water vaporator side by side with his trusty Treadwell droid, and during the repair Luke uses his binoculars to spy a battle between a Star Destroyer and a blockade runner. What’s important about this scene is that it was supposed to be the first time audiences met Luke – and Treadwell was there! But alas, Treadwell’s moment of glory was left on the cutting room floor.
There are still Treadwells all over the Original Trilogy, though. The same Treadwell that was cut can be seen on the Lars homestead while another Treadwell is in the Jawas’ droid lineup. Han Solo famously reprimands a cute little Treadwell in The Empire Strikes Back, and more of these multi-armed repair droids can be seen all over Echo base.
Treadwells are the Swiss army knives of the Star Wars Universe, multi-purpose mechanics that can fix anything. Sadly, the Treadwells can’t fix their own legacy because what was meant to be their moment of glory was discarded by George Lucas himself. The Maker giveth and the Maker taketh away.
This holodroid was Galen Marek’s faithful companion during The Force Unleashed video game series. PROXY’s main ability — and what makes him unique to the other droids on this list — allowed him to change his appearance to anything he desired. Thanks to advanced hologram tech, he could disguise himself as any number of people. He even turned himself into Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul so that Marek could refine his lightsaber skills. PROXY allowed for some pretty neat cameos in the game.
Introduced in Attack of the Clones, R4-P17 was the trusted astromech that served with Obi-Wan Kenobi during the Clone Wars. R4 accompanied Obi-Wan to Geonosis and helped his Jedi Master in battle against Jango Fett and Slave I. R4 also sent the message to Coruscant that informed the Jedi that Obi-Wan had been captured by Count Dooku and the Separatists.
Sadly, R4-P17 was destroyed by Buzz Droids during the Battle of Coruscant. What a sad exit for a droid that played such a pivotal role in the fate of the galaxy during the days of the Republic. Which is why it’s all sorts of screwed up that in the original Star Wars, Obi-Wan claims that he doesn’t remember owning a droid. Dude, R4-P17 sent the message that saved your ass when a bunch of bugs were going to sacrifice you in a gladiator arena. How can Obi-Wan not remember his wingman in battle against Jango Fett? That’s some insensitive selective memory there, Kenobi.
“Ah good, new acquisitions.” EV-9D9 was a rather goofy looking droid, what with the flappy mouth and spindly limbs, but somehow the presence of Jabba’s head torture droid was still pretty darn fearsome. EV-9D9 gave C-3PO and R2-D2 their marching orders after the iconic robot pals were captured by Jabba the Hutt.
As all Star Wars fans know, EV-9D9 placed 3PO in Jabba’s court as an interpreter and R2 on Jabba’s sail barge as a waiter – and thus sealed Jabba’s fate. Think about it, if skinny EV-9D9 had given R2 a job in the boiler room or cleaning up Rancor turds, R2 would never have been able to shoot Luke’s lightsaber over to his master. Jabba was killed and his criminal empire destroyed because of EV-9D9’s bad job placement. That’s some really destructive HR work right there.
15. Mouse Droid
The mouse droid was a puny little rolly bot that had the droid poop scared out of it by Chewbacca. It seems like the Empire relied on mouse droids for many mundane tasks. These little droids can be seen all over both Death Stars and aboard many Star Destroyers leading squadrons of stormtroopers to their assigned positions. It’s kind of cool that George Lucas thought of little details like mouse droids. It just made the Star Wars galaxy seem more functional and lived in. Plus, mouse droids are really cute.
How many mouse droids do you think blew up along with the two Death Stars? Tens of thousands probably. Poor things! And how come the Rebels didn’t use them? Do you think the Rebels had cat droids to counter the Imperial mouse droids? Like some intergalactic Tom and Jerry action? What were we talking about again?
At last, a bounty hunter – we DO need their scum. 4-LOM was part of Darth Vader’s famous lineup that was charged with hunting down the Millennium Flacon. For real, is there a more intimidating designed droid in the Star Wars saga? You have a 3PO unit body combined with a bug-eyed alien head and a big honking blaster rifle that looks like it could fillet a Dewback in a single shot.
In the Expanded Universe, 4-LOM has often been paired up with his fellow bug-eyed bounty hunter Zuckuss, and the duo have become quite an infamous pair of scoundrels across novels, video games, and comics. Sadly, we never got to see 4-LOM in action on the big screen, but now that every inch of the Star Wars saga is going to be explored by Disney, we may yet see this most fearsome droid killing machines collect some bounties in the most violent ways possible.
The original murder droid, HK-47 is everyone’s beloved, organic-hating “Hunter-Killer” assassin droid from Knights of the Old Republic. HK was built by Darth Revan, a Dark Lord of the Sith, and used to eliminate his enemies across the galaxy. This loyal droid used his unimposing appearance to get close to his targets and eliminate them.
Besides being an agent of the Sith, he also worked for the Mandalorians, the Hutts, and later even commanded his own army of assassin droids. He also enjoyed calling organics “meatbags.” It’s no wonder why fans love this spunky and extremely quotable assassin droid.
2-1B seems to live to repair Luke Skywalker. With the help of fellow medical droid FX-7, 2-1B nursed Luke back to health after the Rebel hero got Wampa’d, and also helped the savior of the galaxy after Luke got his hand chopped off by Darth Vader. So within the two-hour and change run time of The Empire Strikes Back, 2-1B put Luke back together twice.
You know what, with the rate that hands get severed in Star Wars, 2-1B must be sewing on bionic hands day and night. It’s really a cottage industry in the galaxy far, far away. 2-1B can also be seen in Return of the Jedi, no doubt prepping to replace lost limbs after the Battle of Endor. Let’s raise a glass of blue milk to 2-1B because without this medical droid there would be fewer high fives across the galaxy.
11. Battle Droids
Yeah, we know that these dopey clankers make your typical stormtrooper look like Jason Bourne, but the battle droids of the Trade Federation were pretty vital to Star Wars history. The battle droids made up the bulk of the Separatist army that fought the Republic in the Clone Wars. They were the constant cannon fodder used by Darth Sidious in his secret bid to take over the Republic.
They may not have been able to hit the broad side of a Super Destroyer, but without them, Palpatine would never have had the pawns he needed to build his Empire. And even though they kind of sucked, battle droids have a really cool design and they used some pretty boss war tech. From the flying STAPs, to those sick tanks, to the rolling fortresses and personal carriers, the battle droids were certainly well-equipped losers. Roger, roger.
Just imagine if Uncle Owen and Luke Skywalker had purchased R5-D4 instead of R2-D2. The stormtroopers would have found R2 after slaughtering the Jawas and the Death Star would have taken out the Rebel Base on Yavin easy-peasy. But thankfully, R5-D4 had a bad motivator and broke down just as Uncle Owen was ready to lay down his hard-earned space dollars on the little red and white astromech. R5-D4 may have been faulty (or lazy), but his little droid nervous breakdown saved the galaxy.
The hell with Ultron, IG-88 is an assassin droid to truly fear. Only seen for a few seconds in the aforementioned bounty hunter line up from Empire Strikes Back, IG-88 continues to inspire Expanded Universe stories because he’s just that fearsome. All sharp edges and stabby bits, IG-88 is made for killing. It’s too bad that we never got to see IG-88 in action in Empire, but we have certainly experienced the full armed and operational badassery of the assassin droid in plenty of novels and comics.
One memorable short story in the Tales of the Bounty Hunters anthology saw multiple copies of IG-88 try to bring about a droid rebellion. One of the IGs even downloaded himself into the second Death Star right before it was destroyed by the Rebellion. That could have gone very badly for organics. But alas, that’s all part of Legends canon now.
We did get to see another member of his brethren, though, in The Mandalorian on Disney+, where the title character comes into contact with the relentless (although not terribly bright) IG-11 in the first episode of the series.
Triple Zero’s deadly partner in crime, this “blastromech” droid has enough firepower to take down an entire Imperial base — or a helpless village full of civilians. Beetee is equipped with rockets, blasters, explosives, and pretty much everything else you can think of. Together with Triple Zero, they make a dynamic duo that you don’t want to run into at your local cantina.
Triple Zero is C-3PO if he were keen on murdering humans and then draining them of blood to power his makeshift battle droid army which he planned to use to overthrow his Imperial masters. First introduced in the pages of Marvel’s Darth Vader comic book series, this protocol droid specializes in etiquette, customs, translation, and…torture.
The secret behind 0-0-0’s reign of terror is the Triple Zero protocol personality matrix, which is designed to turn a droid into an assassin. With the help of archaeologist Doctor Aphra, 0-0-0 came to life and became every organic’s worst nightmare.
Listen, I’m an Original Trilogy guy with a heaping helping of love for the Sequel Trilogy, so a droid from the TV shows would have to be pretty special to make it. Chopper is just that darn special. This little astromech is like the pissed off old man of the Star Wars universe. Chopper gets the job done every single time but grumbles the entire way there. This droid is one of the highlights of Star Wars Rebels and has helped his rag tag band of freedom fighters out of countless jams. Plus, Chopper is more than a bit homicidal, so he has that going for him.
K-2SO is the droid that steals the show in Rogue One. At first, K-2SO seems to be Rogue One comic relief, but by act two of the first Star Wars Story, K-2SO proves to be the most proactive droid in the Star Wars saga. K-2SO doesn’t wait around for stuff to happen to him, oh no, K-2SO happens to stuff – which usually involves lots of explosions.
K-2SO used to be an Imperial enforcer droid, but he was reprogrammed by the Rebellion and now is one of the most loyal Rebels in the galaxy. And believe me, this tall drink of destruction sees plenty of action in Rogue One, as no Imperial is safe when K-2SO has blasters a blazing. There’s a reason K-2SO jumped so far on our list just days after the droid’s Star Wars debut, and that reason is this droid’s nobility and agency – and ability to rain down utter destruction on any Imperial unlucky enough to get in his way.
People feared that BB-8 would become the Jar Jar Binks of the new Star Wars era. But that is far from the case. Hey, he’s aggressively cute, but BB-8 is a capable little guy that serves the Resistance loyally. BB-8 played an integral role in finding Luke Skywalker and helped make sure that Finn, Rey, and Poe survived each and every encounter with the First Order.
BB-8 is a unique astromech, a spherical droid that speaks to the wonder of physics. Think about it: BB-8 isn’t animated, Lucasfilm actually built this awesome little robot. BB-8 brings any scene he is in to life because the little prop has charisma and character. BB-8 won Rey’s heart and the hearts of SW fans that originally dismissed the soccer ball robot for being too cute. BB-8 is way more than just adorableness with a circumference, he is now a major part of the story of a galaxy far, far away.
There are few droids like L3-37 in the galaxy far, far away. Lando’s companion droid is more than just a servant. In fact, she’s quite the opposite: a droid who believes in equal rights for both organics and synthetics. During Solo: A Star Wars Story, she rallied other droids to break free from their oppressors and become the individuals they were always meant to be. Indeed, L3 is more of a friend (and romantic interest?) to Lando and she lets everyone else know it.
Her politics aren’t the only thing that make L3 unique, though. She’s also self-made droid, as in she’s modified herself through the years. That’s why L3 looks like she’s been built out of scrap droid parts. She actually has! Her head looks like it once belonged to a BB unit while her torso looks like it’s built out of astromech droid parts. No other droid in the galaxy displays the same amount of individuality.
You didn’t think our top two would be anyone but the droid hearts and souls of the Star Wars universe, did you? Think of our next two entries as 1 and 1A because you can’t begin talking about Star Wars without talking about C-3PO and R2-D2.
C-3PO was at the center of just about every major Star Wars event. He escaped with the plans to the original Death Star and accompanied his Rebel friends to the fully armed and operational battle station where the hapless droid witnessed the death of Obi-Wan Kenobi. He was there on Yavin when Luke Skywalker blew up the Death Star, and he was there when Han Solo was frozen. He was on Endor when the Empire fell and, before his memory was wiped, he bravely served the Republic in the Clone Wars and was present when Anakin Skywalker began his dark transition to Darth Vader.
C-3PO is the sad clown of Star Wars – he is a polite, unassuming innocent that forever finds himself swept up into adventures beyond his comprehension. C-3PO just wants to serve in matters of protocol and linguistics, but he is constantly being swept away on epic missions to free the galaxy.
The all-purpose mechanic, adventurer, super computer, and rolling arsenal of Star Wars, and proof that judging something by its size you should not. R2-D2 defines the Star Wars universe. He is a piece of technology with a personality and a spirit of pure bravery.
R2 is loyal to a fault to all his companions. Whether it be in the era of the Old Republic, the Empire era, or thirty years after the Battle of Endor, R2 will do anything to assure victory for the humans he serves. R2 is so much more than a cold and emotionless machine. Just think, R2 shut down because he lost his master Luke Skywalker. Because of Luke’s disappearance, R2 had a profound existential crisis and went into a spiritual coma, until the next generation of heroes needed his guidance once again.
Thanks to R2, Luke was found because R2 always gets the job done. Whether it’s repairing the Millennium Falcon’s hyperdrive or using a fire extinguisher to help his friends escape an occupied Cloud City, R2 always has a plan. R2 is a top notch co-pilot, an awesome little spy, and a spirited warrior. His friendship with his robotic life mate C-3PO is the stuff of galactic legend. It’s safe to say that without R2-D2 there would be no Star Wars.