For fans of Star Wars, there are often a lot of feelings involved. From favorite characters, duels, or whatnot, a lot of fans have strong feelings and ties to this galaxy of fictional things. And so, while a theory that might explain why R2-D2 doesn’t listen to Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back sounds fun at first, it might actually ruin your day.
Because it doesn’t just give a plausible explanation, it goes back to Revenge of the Sith and will probably break your heart.
A TikTok user pointed out that R2-D2 might not listen to Luke Skywalker’s command because of Anakin
In the original trilogy, R2-D2 is introduced alongside Princes Leia, when she delivers her iconic “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope,” speech. Then, throughout the movie, Luke is introduced to him when he comes to deliver the message to Ben Kenobi (aka still Obi-Wan).
As fans now know (but didn’t when they first came out), R2-D2 was Senator Padmé Amidala’s droid and C-3P0 was Anakin Skywalker’s. Once the two of them became a thing, they sort of switched off droids, and R2 went on missions with Anakin and C-3P0 became Padmé’s companion on Coruscant.
But in The Empire Strikes Back, and in most of the original trilogy, R2-D2 is a feisty little droid who really doesn’t listen or reports back to anyone. He’s helpful, of course, and does his job as an astromech droid, but when Luke tells him to stay with the ship on Dagobah when he goes to search for Master Yoda — along with virtually any other time in that movie — R2 completely disregards him.
The user on TikTok, @hiddenmoviedetails, actually has a compelling theory that might as well be canon for how well it fits as to why R2-D2 doesn’t listen to Luke, but did always seem to listen to Anakin (for the most part).
Anakin’s last command to R2-D2 was similar and turned out horribly for R2’s former master and friend
The user points out that the last time fans see someone give Artoo that command, on screen, was when Anakin did it in Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith. This is after he’s already pledged himself to Darth Sidious, become Vader and killed the younglings.
He’s turned to the Dark Side, yet R2-D2 has been with the ship the whole time he’s done his dark deeds — this is noted when C-3P0 asks R2 what’s going on, and Artoo doesn’t know because he didn’t see anything after Anakin comes back to see Padmé.
So when Anakin goes to Mustafar to finish Palpatine’s plans — get rid of the Separatist senators — he tells R2-D2 to “stay with the ship. Even though he’s only a droid, it seems like Artoo is a bit taken aback to be told to stay there again, but he listens.
As @hiddenmoviedetails notes, things go horribly wrong. Anakin never returns to this ship. Instead, Padmé comes and Obi-Wan intervenes and they have to rush off to Polis Massa to birth Luke and Leia. And Anakin doesn’t return with them.
It’s heartbreaking, especially if you’ve watched The Clone Wars. The bond R2-D2 and Anakin had was definitely more than a Jedi should have, according to the code. He was attached to him, and even halted whole missions to find him when R2 went missing. For R2 to never get a goodbye, and then have to live with the fact that, had he gone with, maybe things could have been different? They wouldn’t have (probably), but R2-D2 surely feels some type of way about it. Especially considering he never listens to that command again, coming from Anakin’s son, no less.
Even though R2-D2 doesn’t listen, he is integral to Luke’s missions and is the story keeper of ‘Star Wars’
And if you’re wondering if R2-D2 knows that Luke and Leia are Anakin’s kids, the short answer is yes. R2-D2 and C-3P0 were present for their birth, and knew Anakin and Padmé were together. However, C-3P0’s memory was wiped afterward, whereas Artoo’s was not.
So he knew that Leia and Luke were Anakin’s kids, but he didn’t really know what happened to Anakin on that lava planet.
Because R2-D2 essentially knows the story of all of Star Wars, there’s a theory that he’s the storyteller of the world. io9 reported a quote that George Lucas told animation director Rob Coleman about the “framing” of Star Wars’ story.
In the book How Star Wars Conquered the Universe by Chris Taylor, Lucas placed R2-D2 in the story for a specific reason.
“The entire story of Star Wars is actually being recounted to the keeper of the ‘Journal of the Whills’ — remember that? — a hundred years after the events of Return of the Jedi by none other than R2-D2,” Lucas said.
He is the only one that was there for everything that happened in all nine movies. Whether fans will see that Journals of the Whillis at some point is a mystery still, or if it will officially exists in Disney Star Wars canon one day.
But, whatever the case, R2-D2 is still a droid everyone loves. Whether or not he listens to commands or not.