As part of Lucasfilm’s strategy to strain the fragile human hearts preparing for the end of Star Wars (until a new movie in the series comes in 2022), the studio has found yet another weak spot it hadn’t already prodded: the possible death of C-3PO, the lanky, lovable gold-plated droid who’s been with the franchise since A New Hope.
The final trailer for December’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the ninth film in the series, sets up the possible demise of our favorite gentleman droid. In a quick scene, C-3PO exhibits peculiar behavior that catches the eye of top gun heartthrob Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). Poe asks what 3PO is doing, to which we get a heartbreaking answer.
“Taking one last look, sir,” 3PO responds. “At my friends.”
3PO’s final glance at his friends, like he’s never going to see them again, is arguably the most emotional part of the trailer. (And this is a trailer that includes a voiceover from the late Carrie Fisher and was released on Fisher’s birthday.) It’s an unexpected jolt of tenderness from a character that has, since his big-screen introduction in 1977’s A New Hope, more or less played the series scold — it’s both a shocking bit of dialogue and a realization that this is really the end of the Star Wars universe and characters we love. Harder still, it’s a possible goodbye to one of the last remaining characters from the very first film, from back in 1977.
Why people think 3PO is going to die
The most obvious reason why people believe 3PO is going to bite the dust is those final words. The droid wants one last look at his friends before what seems to be their final battle together. As the final movie in this phase of Star Wars, the one that puts an end to the 11 films of Skywalker-related story, 3PO could just be sharing the audience’s sentiment. But there’s a deeper poignancy to his words.
Along with his droid life partner R2-D2 and loyal Wookiee warrior Chewbacca, C-3PO is one of the last remaining heroes from the very first Star Wars film. If there was a time for him to say goodbye, it would be in Rise of Skywalker.
Having spent as many as 42 years getting to know, love, and rely on C-3PO’s neurotic comic relief and undying friendship, longtime Star Wars fans are understandably anxious about if C-3PO will make it out unscathed.
if y’all think a grown ass man like myself will be crying if C-3PO, a gold robot butler, dies in the next Star Wars, you are goddamn correct— aaah! real monstars (@MamoudouNDiaye) October 22, 2019
If C-3PO dies, I’m going to lose it.— Hays Carlyon (@HaysCarlyon) October 23, 2019
3PO can't die, y'all. There's no fucking way I'll be able to handle this in public.— Myke C-Town Ⓥ (@mykectown) October 22, 2019
C-3PO isn’t built for battle (or mortal combat), but that could change in The Rise of Skywalker
While one might argue that 3PO is more of a companion droid than a battle droid — his most valuable skill is translating R2-D2’s beeps and boops, though he’s strong enough to toss dead jawa bodies into bonfires — there’s a major hint that the gold-plated droid will be running into battle.
Another moment in the trailer shows a little creature named Babu Frik is working on 3PO. Frik, according to Polygon, was first revealed in toy version during the Triple Force Friday livestream last month, and is said to be an Anzellan droidsmith who can fix and possibly upgrade any droid in the galaxy. The idea behind their appearance is that 3PO is maybe being upgraded for battle, and thus is going to be on the front lines, even though he’s not a tried and true war machine.
Bolstering this idea is a previous trailer from D23, in which 3PO has strangely red eyes. Anything that’s red in Star Wars, particularly light sabers, usually indicates that it is evil. But in this case, 3PO’s red eyes could be part of Frik’s upgrade.
For fans’ sakes, hopefully Frik is as good at his job as Star War lore says he is. There may be one thing challenging all of these theories, however: Lucasfilm wouldn’t spoil the character death in a trailer.
Han Solo’s death in The Force Awakens and Luke’s sacrifice in The Last Jedi were both surprises, Solo’s death especially shocking, because it happened in the first film of the trilogy, in which the character played a huge part — setting expectations for our classic heroes’ survival going forward. With its penchant for surprise and shock, a major death like C-3PO’s ostensibly wouldn’t be foreshadowed in a trailer, right?
We’ll all find out in a little less than two months when The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20, 2019.