In Return of the Jedi, C-3PO tells Luke it’s against his programming to impersonate a deity, but is it against Anthony Daniels’ programming to spoil The Rise of Skywalker? If we take Daniels at his word, the beloved protocol droid C-3PO will survive the events of Episode IX without dying. But is this all an elaborate ruse? Could Daniels be telling the truth about C-3PO and lying at the same time?
Daniels’ new memoir — I Am C-3PO — debuted Tuesday and offers a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the Star Wars saga looked from inside his droid mask. And although Daniels is a little cranky at times, this book is clearly an officially licensed Star War product. It’s not a messy tell-all, and despite some of the rough edges (he talks a little shit about George Lucas) the book is just as sanitized as C-3PO after an oil bath. In an interview with the magazine Star Wars Insider (excerpted on Star Wars.com) he even admits that writing his memoir wasn’t really something he decided to do. “It wasn’t my idea at all. The publisher asked me. They asked for 40,000 words, and that sounded manageable.” Why mention this? Well, it’s not like Daniels’ memoir has the kind of unwieldy, artistic quality of say, one of the memoirs written by Carrie Fisher. In other words, you get the sense that, on some level, Lucasfilm was looking over his shoulder.
Which leads to the big question: Did Anthony Daniels really just confirm that C-3PO won’t die in The Rise of Skywalker? According to readers on Reddit who got the book early, Daniels apparently asked J.J. Abrams if C-3PO should have a “fitting end” in The Rise of Skywalker and Abrams said: “Not on my watch.” Then, speaking to The Radio Times, Daniels said: “He is too good of a character, too big of a character, to die with me. And Disney paid a lot of money for him! You know what I mean? They’ve got to get their money back somehow.”
This specific quote is a little bit of a riddle. On the one hand, you could say Daniels has confirmed that C-3PO dies in Rise of Skywalker. “Too big of a character to die with me” and “get their money back,” could mean that C-3PO does die and that Daniels is speculating that Disney will resurrect the character in some way, shape or form in the future. But then again, there’s the stuff from the memoir that implies that J.J. Abrams did not want to kill-off C-3PO. And, of course, you could read the Radio Times quote the other way: Daniels is saying C-3PO is too big to die.
But, if C-3PO really isn’t going to die in The Rise of Skywalker, does that mean Anthony Daniels has ruined some of the tension in the movie? I mean, in the last big trailer, C-3PO says “goodbye” to his friends. So, are we’re supposed to be a little bit worried about him, right? If Daisy Ridley had told everyone not to worry about Rey turning to the Dark Side of the Force after the D23 trailer, I think we would have all been annoyed.
That is, unless Anthony Daniels is lying and telling the truth at the same time. Here are three reasons why C-3PO will “die” and one reason why he won’t.
C-3PO will get his memory wiped
The biggest rumored plot-point seems to suggest that C-3PO will be reprogrammed by a droidsmith named Babu Frik, and that this reprogramming will effectively “kill him.” On some level, this has happened before; in Revenge of the Sith, C-3PO’s memory was completely erased.
C-3PO will be destroyed, but his memory will be transferred
If C-3PO doesn’t get his memory erased, this whole droidsmith stuff could have a different meaning. What if C-3PO’s basic program is removed from his body and supplanted with a different one? This would allow the body of C-3PO to “die” while his mind (soul?) lived on. If anything like happened, there’s actually a precedent for this in most recently-released Star Wars movie. In Solo: A Star Wars Story, L3-37 was destroyed, but her memory was implanted into the computer of the Millennium Falcon.
C-3PO will be destroyed AND get his memory wiped
But, if Daniels is lying, all of this stuff could happen. C-3PO’s program could be rewritten and then, you know, his golden body could get dismembered. When you consider how much droid-body-horror C-3PO has already experienced in the saga, it’s kind of insane that he is still “alive.”
Then again, Daniels could be telling the truth: the story of C-3PO may continue long after we’re all dead. After all, C-3PO outlived his original masters in the prequels, so there’s little to stop the character from appearing in Star Wars movies well into the future.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is out everywhere on December 20, 2019.