- "Oh, yes, it's that bothersome coordinating droid again. Honestly, Artoo, it's so degrading that a droid with speech capability should be such an officious dullard!"
K-3PO (Kay-Threepio) was a white, older model 3PO-series protocol droid who became one of the most valued droids to serve the Alliance to Restore the Republic. K-3PO was originally owned by starfighter pilot Arhul Narra, who used K-3PO as a repository for his personal files while fighting for the Old Republic during the Clone Wars. When Narra later joined the Rebel Alliance, he maintained detailed records of his service with the Rebellion, which often included top-secret data that he kept only in shielded files within K-3PO. As K-3PO accumulated thousands of files over the years, the military tactics contained within began to seep into his comprehension circuits. Consequently, K-3PO became a tactical expert, and so Narra refrained from performing a memory wipe on his droid, whose military value increased every day. After an offhand remark K-3PO made to Narra during the Battle of Ton-Falk prior to the Battle of Yavin revealed a simple tactic that the Alliance exploited to defeat a sizable Imperial force, K-3PO became one of the few droids granted the honor of "recognition" by Alliance High Command. K-3PO served as the coordinator of all droids in High Command at the Alliance headquarters on Yavin 4, Thila, and finally Hoth, where he was placed in charge of the Echo Base droid pool. Although K-3PO was destroyed during the Battle of Hoth, his salvaged memory would later serve Rogue Squadron through the unit's protocol droid, M-3PO.
A white 3PO-series protocol droid, K-3PO, also called just "Kay," was manufactured by Cybot Galactica during the days of the Old Republic. K-3PO was originally the property of Arhul Narra, who fought for the Republic during the Clone Wars, using his protocol droid as a walking repository for his important files. When the veteran Narra later joined the Alliance to Restore the Republic as a starfighter pilot, eventually leading the legendary Renegade Flight and helping form the elite Rogue Squadron, units both attached to the roving Alliance High Command headquarters, K-3PO became a valuable military asset. A military junkie, Narra maintained detailed memoirs and records of the various missions and assignments during his service with the Alliance. Because these records often included top-secret Alliance data, Narra kept them only in shielded files within the memory banks of K-3PO.
As the years passed, Narra refrained from wiping K-3PO's memory, and not without reason. The wealth of military tactics installed within K-3PO unexpectedly began to absorb into his comprehension circuits. With the thousands of tactics and other files stored within K-3PO, the droid served Narra more as a tactical advisor than a protocol droid. In fact, during the Battle of Ton-Falk, prior to the Battle of Yavin, K-3PO made an offhand remark to Narra that revealed an ingeniously simple tactic that Narra and his forces exploited, leading to an Alliance victory. The resulting Imperial losses during the battle—two frigates and a Dreadnaught-class heavy cruiser—proved K-3PO's value.
Narra demanded that Alliance High Command "recognize" K-3PO's worth, a formal process by which droids were respected as individuals in their own right. After some initial disputes, High Command agreed, and, with at least two decades of military service, K-3PO became one of the few droids granted the Alliance honor of "recognition." High Command assigned K-3PO to the Support Services branch of the Alliance Military. K-3PO served as the coordinator droid for all droids in Alliance High Command, first at the Massassi Station on Yavin 4 and later at the temporary Thila outpost following the Battle of Yavin.
Echo Base service
K-3PO continued to serve High Command at Echo Base, the secret Alliance headquarters on the ice planet Hoth, by 3 ABY. As the coordinator in charge of Echo Base's droid pool, K-3PO became a fixture in the base's command center leading up to the Battle of Hoth, where he served as an advisor to base commander General Carlist Rieekan and Princess Leia Organa. K-3PO, along with Head Controller Toryn Farr, also operated Echo Base's v-150 anti-orbital ion cannon and monitored its systems.
During this time, K-3PO confronted the droids C-3PO and R2-D2, attempting to reassign the former to Echo Base's communications center and the latter to ice cavern-drilling operations. Taken aback, C-3PO protested, claiming that he and R2-D2 were personal aides to Commander Luke Skywalker and Princess Organa, and warned that he was on an errand for the princess and that she would deactivate K-3PO if he interfered. K-3PO eventually rescinded the order. At the conclusion of the confrontation, C-3PO remarked that he and R2-D2 had turned up the heating system in the princess's chambers after finding the room freezing cold, which K-3PO alarmingly warned would result in the melting of the cavern walls and potential damage. C-3PO and R2-D2 rushed off to correct their error.
K-3PO was present in the command center shortly thereafter, monitoring a tactical screen, when Han Solo announced his intentions to leave the Alliance for personal reasons. At some point, K-3PO detected a wampa in Echo Base's south corridor while on a late-night patrol, and he had to escape to call for help. Because the Rebels' tauntauns were irritated by ultrasonic frequencies emitted by certain droids, including himself, K-3PO was careful to keep his distance from them. Nevertheless, K-3PO suffered structural damage to his external frame when an obstinate tauntaun's tail swatted a hole through his right breast plating, damage that would never be repaired.
During the early stages of the Battle of Hoth, K-3PO occupied the command center as the Rebels fired off the opening shots of the engagement from Echo Base's planetary ion cannon. He proceeded to help coordinate the base's evacuation and maintained communication with the Rebels' escaping GR-75 medium transports to verify their sublight and hyperdrive engines were operational. K-3PO was destroyed during the battle when the command center was hit and left as a ruined hulk. Nevertheless, the droid's valuable programming and memory, and some of his circuitry, were salvaged and would later serve Rogue Squadron more directly through the unit's own protocol droid, M-3PO.
- "Artoo-Detoo and I are personal aides to Commander Skywalker and the Princess Leia Organa!…My counterpart and I were the ones who saved the Death Star plans!…"
"…Data not relevant."
- ―C-3PO and K-3PO
K-3PO was an older model protocol droid whose compiled military records of at least twenty years of service not only increased his military value daily but also made him a veritable tactical genius. His strategic and analytical abilities, and also his organizational prowess, earned him a position as the coordinator unit of all droids in Alliance High Command, serving at the Alliance headquarters as it moved from Yavin 4, to Thila, and finally Hoth.
K-3PO's original owner, Arhul Narra, neglected to regularly wipe the droid's mind, trusting K-3PO with the great responsibility of maintaining his stored tactics, plans, mission simulations and parameters, and much more, within his memory banks. As a result K-3PO never developed any sort of personality—outside of being uniquely logical, unemotional, and precise—and he spoke with a mechanical, lusterless voice. During their time together on Hoth, C-3PO came to disregard K-3PO for his meddling behavior, finding his complete lack of personality to be a disservice to droids with auditory abilities like himself. K-3PO likewise offered no regard for C-3PO's claims that he and R2-D2 were among the Heroes of Yavin. Nevertheless, C-3PO's condemnation of K-3PO as an "officious dullard" came unfairly, as K-3PO performed his duties well.
K-3PO's upper right chest was branded with red rank insignia. His features included two photoreceptors and two audio sensors, a broadband antenna receiver, AA-1 VerboBrain, TranLang III communications module equipped with over six million languages, and a vocabulator system capable of emitting an extraordinarily wide range of sound effects and an exact impersonation of voices, making K-3PO an expert interpreter. His expertise included knowledge in alien species, bureaucracy, cultures, military history, planetary systems, and naval tactics. K-3PO's skills proved particularly useful when the Alliance set up operations on alien planets.
Additionally, K-3PO was skilled in repairing multiple types of systems. He could diagnose and repair computer and starship systems. In this capacity, he utilized a scomp link to more easily speak with computers directly, a device that bridged his logic housing with the system's interface port. K-3PO also employed a comlink to broadcast announcements to Echo Base's troops; and a stentronic sensor pack, a compact, hand-held sensor array, which he used while patrolling the base to detect intruders and evaluate their potential threat.
Behind the scenes
K-3PO first appeared in the 1980 film Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back during three scenes in the Echo Base command center as an unidentified droid extra, played by Chris Parsons, who also played the film's droid bounty hunter 4-LOM. The July 1996 second edition of the West End Games sourcebook Galaxy Guide 3: The Empire Strikes Back identified a coordinating droid appearing in the 1983 radio adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back as "K-3PO," a droid attached to Alliance High Command. While Galaxy Guide 3 did not necessarily identify K-3PO as any droid appearing in the film, the November 1996 Hoth Limited expansion set of the Star Wars Customizable Card Game did identify K-3PO as the white protocol droid from The Empire Strikes Back.
The 1998 Star Wars Encyclopedia explains that the Alliance put K-3PO in charge of Echo Base's droid pool following the death of Commander Narra at the Battle of Derra IV, which takes place just days before the Battle of Hoth. However, this seems inconsistent with Galaxy Guide 3, which explains that K-3PO served as the Alliance High Command coordinator droid since his time on Yavin 4, a base last occupied by the Alliance in 0 ABY, three years prior to Narra's death. Given that K-3PO's service at Yavin 4 is also referenced in the 2004 article Who's Who in Echo Base from Star Wars Insider 74, this article assumes K-3PO's position as Echo Base droid-pool coordinator predates Narra's death.
The second edition of Galaxy Guide 3, explaining C-3PO and R2-D2's responsibilities while at Echo Base, states, "Threepio also had a role in the Alliance communications center, and Artoo helped with cavern drilling," a direct reference to K-3PO's reassignment orders from The Empire Strikes Back radio drama. However, in the radio drama, C-3PO successfully convinces K-3PO to retract the orders.
The Hoth Limited Star Wars Customizable Card Game expansion set includes an alternate card for the protocol droid R-3PO that mistakenly features an image of K-3PO, seen here, the same image that appears on the set's the K-3PO card. Despite the image error, the alternate card lists information respective to R-3PO.
Galaxy Guide 3 and the K-3PO Databank entry on StarWars.com list K-3PO's height at 1.67 meters. However, K-3PO's statistics from the Power of the Jedi toy line list the droid at 1.68 meters. Likewise, Galaxy Guide 3 identifies K-3PO as being fluent in over six million forms of communication, while Power of the Jedi claims more than eight million.
K-3PO makes a minor appearance in the second part of the manga comic Perfect Evil, where the droid is blown apart completely during the Imperial advancement upon Echo Base at the Battle of Hoth. Perfect Evil was published December 5, 2005 for Star Wars Manga: Black and Star Wars Manga: Silver. While initially the continuity status for Perfect Evil was fuzzy, author Daniel Wallace stated definitively in the article "We Need to Talk About Jar Jar," written in February 2012 for Star Wars Insider 131, that the stories included in the Star Wars: Manga series were non-canon.
- Rebel Force: Firefight
- Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back radio drama
- Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back (First appearance)
- Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back PhotoComic
- Star Wars: Tiny Death Star
- Perfect Evil
- LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance versions only)
- LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga
Notes and references
- The New Essential Chronology dates the Battle of Hoth to 3 ABY.
- Galaxy Guide 3: The Empire Strikes Back, Second Edition
- Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back
- Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back radio drama
- Star Wars: The Official Starships & Vehicles Collection 29 (Star Wars A–Z)
- "Who's Who in Echo Base" – Star Wars Insider 74
- The Empire Strikes Back: The National Public Radio Dramatization
- Star Wars Encyclopedia
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 12 (REG2, The Alliance Regroups)
- Star Wars Customizable Card Game – Hoth Limited (Card: K-3PO) (backup link)
- R-3PO alternate Star Wars Customizable Card Game card
- Perfect Evil
- "We Need to Talk About Jar Jar" – Star Wars Insider 131