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R-3PO (Ar-Threepio) was a 3PO-series protocol droid affiliated with the Alliance to Restore the Republic during the height of the Galactic Civil War. Known for his distinctive red coloring, a tattoo on his left posterior plating that read "Thank The Maker," and a moody disposition, R-3PO was stationed at the Alliance High Command's secret Echo Base on the remote ice world of Hoth by 3 ABY. After his original owner, a smuggler named Chaz, purposely left R-3PO at the base for the Rebels to deal with, Alliance Major Palo Torshan recommended he be used as an espionage droid to uncover Imperial spy droids. R-3PO successfully helped to foil several Imperial infiltration attempts while serving at the base and, subsequently, with High Command.


A flamboyant annoyance[]

R-3PO, or Ar-Threepio,[4] was a red-plated 3PO-series protocol droid of the Alliance to Restore the Republic during the Galactic Civil War. Originally the property of Chaz, one of the Rebellion's most notorious smugglers, R-3PO was "accidentally" left behind at the Alliance's secret Echo Base on the Outer Rim Territories ice planet Hoth, where he soon became a general annoyance because of his moody disposition.[3]

Knowing that the Galactic Empire typically made a habit of programming droids as spies in the hopes that they would eventually find their way into the Rebel Alliance, Echo Base's Major Palo Torshan, one of the top security personnel present, suggested that R-3PO be reprogrammed to combat the threat of Imperial espionage droids. R-3PO would be set loose among Echo Base's droid pool, ferreting out those droid spies. Additionally, Torshan recommended that R-3PO not be given a memory wipe and to leave his exterior skeleton its conspicuous red color—after all, he reasoned, who would suspect a flamboyant, temperamental protocol droid of doubling as a spy?[3]

Echo Base espionage droid[]

R-3PO served as a spy droid while at Echo Base.

The Alliance specially modified R-3PO to perform his espionage duty by detecting spies through careful observation of his peers.[4] Indeed, R-3PO proceeded to help foil several Imperial infiltration attempts during his service at Echo Base,[3] while no one suspected a thing,[5] a testament to Torshan's insight.[3] R-3PO's responsibilities on Hoth also included serving in the base's command center.[2]

In 3 ABY,[6] R-3PO was present in Echo Base's central hangar when Han Solo returned from a routine scouting mission of Hoth's external terrain with Rebel Commander Luke Skywalker. The droid was again present in the hangar days later during Princess Leia Organa's briefing of Rogue Squadron just prior to the Battle of Hoth.[7] Following his service at Echo Base, R-3PO earned an assignment to the Alliance High Command, where he continued to successfully uncover several Imperial infiltration attempts.[3]


R-3PO was the moodiest droid in Echo Base, a distinction that earned him the ire of those around him. His initial owner, the smuggler Chaz, intentionally left the droid behind for the Rebels to deal with after visiting Echo Base. R-3PO's recognizable red coloring, coupled with his moody persona, led Major Palo Torshan to believe that he would serve perfectly as an espionage droid within the base's droid pool.[3] R-3PO performed his espionage duties by carefully observing those around him with his[3] yellow[2] photoreceptors.[5] R-3PO lent his tactical expertise to the Echo Base command center as well.[2]

Typical of a protocol droid's responsibilities, R-3PO was designed to mediate the differences of the galaxy's wide range of cultures. He was programmed in etiquette and had a considerable ability to speak many different languages, which he used as an aide to diplomats, politicians, and other high-ranking officials.[8]

Aside from his flamboyant red coloring, R-3PO sported a tattoo on his left posterior plating, which read, "Thank The Maker."[9]

Behind the scenes[]

Character development[]

"Thank the Maker! This oil bath is going to feel so good."
―C-3PO's line from Star Wars: A New Hope, inspiring the tattoo worn by R-3PO[10]

R-3PO first appeared in the 1980 film Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, in two scenes within Echo Base's hangar, as one of several droid extras.[7] The droid was first identified by number on the "R-3PO (Ar-Threepio)" card as part of the November 1996 Hoth Limited expansion set of the Star Wars Customizable Card Game, in which his role within the base was defined.[9] R-3PO's backstory was slightly expanded upon by Josh Radke in the Star Wars Insider 74 article Who's Who in Echo Base.[3]

R-3PO's tattoo on his left rear, reading "Thank The Maker,"[9] serves as a tribute to the identical line spoken by C-3PO in the film Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope as he is being lowered into an oil bath.[10]


The alternate R-3PO Star Wars CCG card, featuring an image of K-3PO

The Hoth Limited SWCCG set includes an alternate card for R-3PO that mistakenly features an image of K-3PO, another Echo Base droid extra. The erroneous R-3PO card, which can be seen here, shows the identical image used for the set's K-3PO card, seen here.[11] Both R-3PO cards otherwise share identical character descriptions.[9][12]

A discrepancy exists regarding the exact presentation of R-3PO's tattoo. The Hoth Limited card, which first introduced the tattoo's existence, claims that each first word of the phrase is capitalized: "Thank The Maker."[9] However, the subsequent 1998 Star Wars Encyclopedia and Star Wars: Behind the Magic sources claim the tattoo reads, uncapitalized, "Thank the maker."[1][4] The 2008 The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia presents the entire text capitalized: "THANK THE MAKER,"[13] while the LEGO Star Wars Character Encyclopedia, released in 2011, presents the content in the following context: "R-3PO is thought to sport a tattoo on his left posterior that says 'Thank the Maker,' but there is no sign of it on his LEGO minifigure!", as the figure itself features plain hip and leg pieces.[5]


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