Anthony Daniels’ C-3PO is probably one of the most beloved characters in Star Wars, and it was revealed in The Phantom Menace that he was actually built by a young Anakin Skywalker. We’ve never really thought much about droid names in the Star Wars universe, but there’s actually a sad backstory as to how 3PO got his name.
This trivia bit comes from the Star Wars Holocron on Twitter:
Did you know? Anakin included the number “3” in C-3PO’s name as a reference to the droid being the third member of the family, after Anakin himself and his mother pic.twitter.com/7kZ3cUtTLy— Star Wars Holocron (@sw_holocron) February 12, 2019
Of course, it’s very possible that George Lucas wasn’t thinking about that when he named C-3PO in A New Hope, but the expanded universe always finds fun ways to give meaning to even the smallest things. At best, Lucas probably settled for C-3PO because it was phonetically catchy—much like R2-D2.
While some may think that Vader building 3PO was one of the missteps of the prequels, the expanded universe still manages to draw a lot of emotions from it. Besides this little bit about the ‘3’ meaning he was the third member of the Skywalker family, there was also a comic where Vader reminisces about his mother when he finds a dismantled 3PO in Cloud City.
3PO will be making a return in Star Wars Episode IX, but we don’t have any idea what kind of part he’ll play in the story. When it comes to him, he’s usually just comic relief, but there are still a lot of moments where there’s more to him than meets the eye. Heck, he’s seen the rise and fall of the Galactic Republic and has been working long enough to see the First Order take over. You got to give him some props.
Star Wars Episode IX comes out Dec. 20.