C-3PO, the golden protocol droid in Star Wars, has received plenty of criticism throughout the decades, whether it be through online discussions, most-hated characters lists, or articles describing him as excrement. However, C-3PO’s critics may have missed some crucial details about the character that make him, frankly, awesome. Specifically, there are 3 aspects of the droid that should receive far more praise:
C-3PO is a perfect foil for other characters. His constant observing and fretting offers the audience a unique look at several characters in Star Wars: no one else remarks on their annoyance with Jar Jar Binks, but C-3PO’s dialogue hints at his own apprehension with him, suggesting others were probably not amused, either. “You know,” he says, “I find that Jar Jar creature to be a little odd.” Not only does C-3PO offer criticism here that could hint towards others’ opinions on Jar Jar, but his words throughout the films often incite comments that offer rare insights to the personality of other characters. Without C-3PO’s worrying and warning, the audience would never have Han’s line, “Never tell me the odds,” which clearly reinforces just how reckless and adventurous the smuggler was.
Along with dialogue, C-3PO’s actions, and other’s reactions to him, also provide greater looks into various characters. C-3PO shows how charitable Chewbacca is when the Wookie attempts to repair the droid on Cloud City—as soon as he wakes up, C-3PO realizes his head is backwards and shouts, “You flea-bitten furball! Only an overgrown mop-head like you would be stupid enough—” before Chewie shuts him off. However, despite the insults deriding his appearance, Chewbacca simply resumes repairing the robot and, when it’s time to move, carries the entire droid on his back. This instance is a rare one that few others could replicate to show just how loyal and dedicated Chewbacca was. Along with a wide variety of other actions and comments (from showing how eager Luke was to join the Rebellion against the Empire in Episode 4, to getting Leia to show her wariness when she asserts that Lando is “very friendly,” to displaying how calmly Luke helped convince the Ewoks of Threepio’s divinity) it seems that C-3PO has offered fans a uniquely in-depth look at the Star Wars galaxy.
- Dignified Accomplishments:
C-3PO actually accomplishes a lot throughout Star Wars. Admittedly, he makes plenty of mistakes, and gets himself into trouble in a droid factory, Cloud City, and Jabba’s palace. But he also lives through plenty of dangerous missions and situations—he escapes the clutches of a Star Destroyer, survives the deserts of Tatooine, discovers the Imperials on Cloud City, recognizes that the Rebels should trust Lando first, translates for Jabba himself, and becomes a god that recruits the species which helps bring down the Second Death Star.
Additionally, as C-3PO repeatedly aids the Rebellion in its fight against the Empire, he performs each of his actions with a sense of dignity. Throughout the movies, he is constantly berating others for their foolish mistakes and defending his own decisions and capabilities. Much like his worrying, this grounds C-3PO as a useful, believable character. He is neither an unstoppable force of power and will, nor a foolishly bumbling creature, but a being of fearful yet dignified action, setting himself apart from the overconfident and the odd that we don’t always revere. This basis of a character that both defends his actions and asserts his opinions with earnestness (though sometimes coupled with franticness) provides a character that the audience will both take seriously and respect when he finally comes through.
Many in the audience should easily relate to C-3PO. While I’d like to imagine strutting into Jabba’s Palace like Luke, calm and collected, I’d probably be more like Threepio, worrying over all the possibilities of pain and death ahead of me. After all, Jabba is one of the greatest crime lords in the galaxy; C-3PO’s actions are equivalent to approaching Al Capone or El Chapo in an elaborate scheme to steal one of the gangster’s most prized possessions—so it would only make sense for the droid to be on the verge of panic, failing to warn Luke of the Rancor’s pit and constantly fretting over the danger he was in. Resultantly, C-3PO’s innate worry for his own safety in a variety of life-threatening situations should strike a chord with many fans.
Because C-3PO often gives off a vibe of ineptitude or incompetence, he also contrasts the heroes of the story while showing a more realistic role to play. Without C-3PO, Han’s recklessness and Luke’s adventurism could appear almost commonplace within the Star Wars galaxy, as the person who fights against these brave characteristics is often the golden droid himself. Without him, we couldn’t fully appreciate the courage of the heroes or the hopelessness of the common folk. Perhaps this is why his character is so often criticized; C-3PO often shows normalcy. For an audience seeking fantastic tales involving mystical energy fields and a story of good triumphing evil, seeing a character with an ordinary—albeit disappointing—feeling of despair is disheartening. Strangely enough, because C-3PO is often a more flawed, human character than his human counterparts, we can perceive him as weak—when he’s actually providing someone we can relate to and someone to realistically contrast against the undying valor of those we want to become.
Despite C-3PO’s constant berating by some fans, it’s clear that he’s a reflective, accomplished, and relatable individual. While the Auralnauts’ rendition of him (see above) provides a fascinating (and hilarious) side of Threepio, his actions within the Star Wars films alone are enough to defend him as a useful and fantastic character.