The Star Wars franchise hasn’t always boasted a consistent narrative, but one particular plot hole has become something of a sticking point within the fandom. It all hinges on R2-D2, of all characters: the beeping droid is one of the most prevalent in the Skywalker saga, appearing across nine films and crossing paths with nearly every major player. He’s observed a lot of history, and unlike his companion C-3PO, he’s managed to record and retain an intimate account of the Skywalker clan in his memory banks.
That’s what made his role in Star Wars’ original trilogy so confusing, at least in hindsight. R2 worked closely alongside Anakin and his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, throughout the Clone Wars, right up until Anakin fell to the dark side and became Darth Vader. But when he encounters Obi-Wan 19 years later on Tatooine, the erstwhile Jedi Master pretends not to recognize R2. Later, when Obi-Wan tells Luke Skywalker the story of his father, R2 doesn’t say a thing, even though Obi-Wan’s story is a blatant lie.
In A New Hope, Obi-Wan claims Anakin was slain by his fallen apprentice, Darth Vader. We don’t learn that Anakin and Darth Vader are the same man until Vader himself tells Luke the truth in The Empire Strikes Back. Obi-Wan didn’t fess up to his fib until Return of the Jedi, and it got even weirder upon the release of the prequels, which proved R2 was there all along and could have told Luke the truth at any time. So why didn’t he?
R2’s behavior, along with Obi-Wan’s, could easily be hand-waved away as one of many continuity errors sprinkled throughout the franchise. But a new fan theory manages to answer the question of R2’s silence without taking an unwarranted leap in logic. According to Redditor Pieten11, R2 never saw Anakin transition to Darth Vader outright, but he could have deduced as much from his showdown with Obi-Wan on Mustafar.
“Even if he doesn’t come to that specific conclusion, he still knows for a fact that Obi-Wan is being less than honest,” the theory reads. R2 might believe that Obi-Wan murdered Anakin, which makes the Jedi’s omission in A New Hope all the more egregious. It doesn’t help that Obi-Wan fails to mention that Leia is Luke’s twin sister. R2 knew Anakin and Padmé Amidala were expecting twins, and he was present for Luke and Leia’s birth. That implies his silence wasn’t a matter of memory loss, but a conscious choice borne of loyalty to Obi-Wan. Whatever Obi-Wan may have been thinking, R2 trusted that he had Luke’s best interests in mind.
The same goes for his impromptu reunion with Master Yoda in Empire Strikes Back. “R2 didn’t tell Luke who Yoda was [because] he saw that Yoda was testing him and didn’t want to interfere,” claims Pieten11. “Either way, R2 is no snitch. That’s why they didn’t wipe his memory.”
This may be a roundabout way to get around one of the saga’s more frustrating plot holes, but it certainly aligns with R2’s mischievous nature. Luke learns some hard lessons thanks to Obi-Wan and R2’s deception, but he may not have become the Jedi we know and love without them.