'Star Wars 9' Theory May Reveal C-3PO's True Allegiance to the Dark Side

Is Threepio actually a double agent working for Palpatine?

C-3PO has always been a loyal droid, fighting for the good guys throughout the Star Wars movies, but we all saw his eyes turn red in the D23 trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. That doesn’t bode well, and a new theory suggests that the beloved and bumbling protocol droid might have unknowingly been working for Emperor Palpatine the entire time.

Speculative spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker below.

The idea that C-3PO is working against the Resistance instead of with them is a bit shocking, but not impossible. How could that have happened? Well, for starters, everyone always glosses over the fact that C-3PO was created by Anakin Skywalker, though that doesn’t inherently make him bad. After all, Anakin didn’t always belong to the Dark side, and the droid was created before all of that happened.

C-3PO with his creator in 'The Phantom Menace.'
C-3PO with his creator in 'The Phantom Menace.'

Still, as a robot, C-3PO would likely follow whomever he’s programmed to follow. Threepio’s motherboard could have been altered somewhere along the way, reprogramming the droid to record everything the Rebellion/Resistance does and send it back to Emperor Palpatine and/or Darth Vader.

Redditor u/tehmpus theorizes that, through no fault of 3PO’s own, someone reprogrammed his functions and while everyone was distracted by the droid’s rambling, C-3PO was “secretly recording, saving, and eventually uploading everything he sees and hears subspace to a secret Sith location.”

C-3PO is a bumbling protocol droid in the Star Wars movies.
C-3PO bumbling may have been a distraction.

C-3PO could very well have been sending that information directly to Palpatine, which is how the Sith lord could’ve been keeping tabs on the events throughout the galaxy this whole time. Is this how Palpatine learned about Kylo Ren? Does C-3PO’s work alongside the Resistance mean Palps had his eye on Rey this whole time? Or, more interestingly, has he been using 3PO as a spy to find a way to come back?

Of course, this implies that Palpatine is alive. However, given the various theories and leaks about Palps splitting his essence and storing it in objects scattered across the galaxy, he might have been able to stay alive somehow. An alternate rumor is that he never died at all and spent decades repairing his body before reemerging to take over the galaxy.

The Force Awakens C-3PO and Leia
C-3PO and General Leia at the Resistance base in 'The Force Awakens'.

But there’s still one thing that doesn’t make any sense within the scope of this theory. When would C-3PO’s programming have been tampered with? Well, a new Star Wars comic may hold the answer. Marvel’s Star Wars #71, which takes place before the events of Empire Strikes Back, teased a reunion between C-3PO and his maker, Darth Vader. That meeting will most likely happen in the following issue, but it confirms that they crossed paths once again before Vader’s demise.

Now, imagine if Vader recognized his creation (and there’s no way he wouldn’t) and decided to shut the droid down and install a new program that would allow 3PO to spy on the Resistance. That could be why his eyes turned red in the D23 trailer. Could it have been the moment of activation? Additionally, C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels has teased that the droid would be important in The Rise of Skywalker.

The whole premise sounds far-fetched, but think about it: our phones, computers, and other devices all have the power to record and collect data on millions of people. Therefore, it’s not outside the realm of possibility to think that C-3PO may have been used for the same thing. And if it turns out that Threepio’s eyes turned red because he was just experiencing a hard reboot or something, then the joke’s on us.


Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters December 20, 2019.