All of the original Star Wars characters are lovable in their own way, but one particular gold-plated protocol droid has never been high on anyone's list of favorites. Watching the original trilogy, it often feels like poor Threepio has little to contribute to the saga's original rag-tag rebels. He's snarky, he's cynical, and he's forever getting on Han Solo's last damn nerve. And yet, one Redditor has blown fans' minds by posting a very detailed and compelling theory proving C-3PO is the most important Star Wars character.
The user begins their opening statement with this wise quote from Obi Wan: "Who's more foolish, the fool, or the fool who follows him?" They then go on to contextualize their C-3PO fan theory, reminding us of the character's perceived flaws. The Redditor cites an exhaustive amount of evidence from the canon to prove what C-3PO's function in the story is supposed to be - something we've all been missing for the past 40 or so years. Intrigued? Read on for the TL;DR version of this amazing theory.
The crux of Redditor/u/ajniggles's fan theory is the idea that a team like Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, and R2-D2 - each with wildly different personalities, strengths and weaknesses - needs some kind of manager; not a leader, not a hero - a manager. But, one who can do so without being detected or they'll reject him:
"Anyone who manages people knows that the more talented someone is, the larger their personality flaws and eccentricities tend to be. By observing and analyzing the behavior of the people around him and utilizing psychological algorithms, 3PO has all but mastered the art of injecting just the right line at the right time to achieve the optimal shift in mood, usually at his own expense. Combine that with the strategic expertise from years of involvement with Rebellion operations, and you have a perfect 'secret coach' for the Rebellion’s A-team, who can direct their action and optimize their team dynamic while appearing harmless and insignificant."
"Nudging" is a managerial tactic that requires precision, subtlety, and - above all else - secrecy. Fan theorist Redditor/u/ajniggles posits that there are no less than seven secret tactics C-3PO repeatedly uses over the course of the Star Wars saga to influence other character's decisions and shape the story's outcome.
- Interrupting and redirecting
- Incremental responses (and waiting before offering solutions)
- Reading the room
Redditor/u/ajniggles points out that in Return of the Jedi, C-3PO claims it's "against" his programming to "impersonate a deity" before immediately doing just that, and this is far from his first flagrantly dishonest moment. However, this doesn't mean the droid is up to no good - quite the opposite, in fact.
In A New Hope, he tells Luke he doesn't know who Princess Leia is when Luke sees the hologram of her, which we know is a lie because earlier he said to R2, "there'll be no escape for the princess this time." Why lie? Well, maybe he doesn't think revealing the identity of such an important player in the Rebellion to a random farm kid he just met is the best idea.
In The Empire Strikes Back, he claims to be able to navigate an asteroid field despite being just a protocol droid. "[This] motivates Han who says, "never tell me the odds" and takes it as a dare," the theorist claims. "3PO knew the asteroid field was their only viable option so he supported it in his unique reverse psychology way."
Giving a droid some personality doesn't hurt, but why would a clever kid like lil' Ani program a droid (whose sole purpose is to foster relationships) to be so annoying? Well, maybe he didn't. "When group emotions are going too far in any direction, 3PO cuts in loudly and enthusiastically to kill the emotional momentum and redirect it towards 'Irritation with 3PO,'" Redditor/u/ajniggles suggests.
The Redditor cites multiple instances in The Empire Strikes Back in which moments of heightened tension between the main group are relieved by 3PO "accidentally" interrupting and becoming the new target of aggression. That infamously comical moment when he prevents Leia and Han's first kiss on the Falcon? The theorist explains he does this deliberately because "if Han and Leia are all couple-y this early, they'll be irrational, unfocused, and less likely to survive."