‘Star Wars’ Continues To Fail Its Droids

I want Star Wars to treat droids as real characters and not just props or pets.

Droids in Star Wars are some of the franchise’s most iconic characters, from their colors to their sound design to their general shape. On the whole, droids have been seen as metaphors for slaves, for the working class, and for many other marginalized groups. Yet droids’ autonomy is rarely respected and their place in the galaxy’s social/economic hierarchy is rarely questioned.

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Droids on The Mandalorian

Season three, episode six (“Guns for Hire”) of The Mandalorian introduces us to the near-Utopian planet of Plazir-15. After suffering greatly at the hands of the Empire, the small outer-rim world is now a thriving democracy where no one has to work. All the labor is done by refurbished Imperial/Separatist droids, some of whom are beginning to “malfunction.”

I admit, I got my hopes up, thinking that the episode would be a little more like Andor and would demonstrate how this world’s prosperity came at the cost of the droids, their working class. While I enjoyed the wacky Clone Wars-esque investigation plot, it did feel that the episode was only scratching the surface of the droids’ role in Star Wars.

The droids are seen as so essential to the planet’s society that even when they are malfunctioning, the citizens choose to keep them working so their society can continue without interruption. I could write a whole article about the connections to burnout in many essential working-class jobs.

The droids have their own bar, somewhat reminiscent of how marginalized people have had to make their own safe spaces, especially in segregated societies.

The episode does point out that Din Djarin’s distrust of droids can work against him, with the droids showing concern that they will all be deactivated if the attacks continue—just as a marginalized group can often be scapegoated for the actions of an individual, which can be used as an excuse to further marginalize them.

Still, the story is ultimately only concerned with how this will affect the human/living characters. When the villain is revealed, he doesn’t threaten Din Djarin and Bo-Katan with deactivating the droids who helped catch him, but with turning the droids on the city. We never see the droids’ reaction to this or get much payoff for their assistance.

Droids across Star Wars media

As I said before, the role of droids in Star Wars has only really been explored in a handful of media.

Solo showed L3 as a droids’ rights advocate, going so far as to start a droid rebellion that then turned into a slave rebellion, linking the plight of droids with that of slaves. But many felt the movie itself portrays L3 unsympathetically, making her into a bad parody of a ‘social justice warrior.’ After she ‘dies,’ she’s then put into the Falcon where her autonomy is stripped completely and without much care from the other characters. Lando then bets the Falcon—and by extension, what’s left of L3—away without thinking.

Andor showed how poor B2EMO was devalued and seen as property rather than as a member of the Andor family, with someone literally using him as a table while they clear out Maarva’s home. At the same time, B2EMO being disrespected by the Empire was what started the Ferrix riot.

The Clone Wars had multiple arcs with droids in leading roles, and even showed the downsides of Jedi thinking that droids are just tools and not individuals. For all his faults, Anakin’s attachment to R2-D2 does end up saving the galaxy.

Rebels had Chopper be treated as a full crew member and one of the surest ways to get on Hera Syndulla’s bad side was to mess with her droid.

But many other pieces of Star Wars media completely sidestep the implication of droids being treated as property. Rise of Skywalker was particularly egregious with C-3PO being frequently disrespected and having his memory banks forcibly worked on.

The droids deserve so much more

Star Wars can and should be doing more for their droids. The franchise started with C-3PO and R2-D2 as our perspective characters. The fact that they are (usually) well-treated does not discount the fact that they could be sold or memory-wiped at any moment.

Basically, I want to see more droid rebellions. I want to see rebel clones interact with rebel battle droids on The Bad Batch. (Yes, I know they did in Rebels, but they could do so much more than a fake battle.) I want to see a group that smuggles droids out of abusive situations, droids that argue for their own sentience, droids that wonder about their role in the galaxy and if they can ever have a connection to the Force that drives all.

I want Star Wars to treat droids as real characters and not just props or pets.

(Featured Image: Lucasfilm/Disney)


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Author
Kimberly Terasaki
Kimberly Terasaki is a contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She has been writing articles for them since 2018, going on 5 years of working with this amazing team. Her interests include Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Horror, intersectional feminism, and fanfiction; some are interests she has held for decades, while others are more recent hobbies. She liked Ahsoka Tano before it was cool, will fight you about Rey being a “Mary Sue,” and is a Kamala Khan stan.