Most Star Wars droids are designed to be adorable companions to the brave heroes. And yet, we can’t help but love when these cutesy robotic pals also turn out to be alarmingly efficient at killing people. It’s a legacy that’s been explored everywhere from the expanded universe to Rogue One — and these are our favourites.
The training droid and close companion of Galen Marek in The Force Unleashed video games, PROXY was designed to be the closest thing Marek had as a friend in his life as the apprentice of Darth Vader… and also his potential killer. As part of a training program set up by Vader — and despite also serving as Marek’s personal droid — PROXY was under explicit orders to murder Marek, forcing the young Force user to constantly be ready for attempts on his life… and giving him more than a little paranoia, presumably. How would you feel if your only friend and assistant was also ceaselessly plotting to hack you to bits?
And killing was most certainly what PROXY excelled at. Armed with his own lightsabers as well as prototype holo-emitters that allowed him to disguise himself as virtually anyone he wanted, PROXY could also learn and emulate anyone’s fighting style — and did so to repeatedly attempt to thwart his master at the worst possible times throughout The Force Unleashed. But hey, at least he did it with a chipper British tone and out of a misguided sense of care, right?
There is an element of cutesy charm to Star Wars droids. They’re either human enough to be relatable like C-3PO, or just cute little bundles of fun like BB-8. IG-88 is neither of those things. He’s one of the most robotic, alien looking droids in the Star Wars universe — spindly arms and that strange, tubular head. He’s imposing, as a lethal killer droid should be. And very good at killing people. After all, he is a bounty hunter. A droid intelligence experiment gone horribly wrong, all IG-88 knew from the moment of his creation was destruction and slaughter.
So how can he still be weirdly cute while being such a machine of mayhem? Because in the old expanded universe, IG-88 uploaded his consciousness into the computer mainframe of the Death Star II. What did one of the most bloodthirsty and efficient killer droids in the galaxy do with access to a fully armed and operational battle station? He messed around with Emperor Palpatine.
IG-88, in a display of power to the mightiest man in the Empire, fiddled with all the doors in the Emperor’s throne room, to show him who the real boss was. He annoyed Palpatine enough to get the Emperor to try to use the Force to open the doors in the Throne Room, to no avail. That is an admirable level of ballsiness, killer robot nature or otherwise. Alas, this moment was lost when the Expanded Universe was rendered null, as it was part of one of Dark Horse’s Tales of the Bounty Hunters series. But if Disney can bring Thrawn over…
4) Mr Bones
One of the stars of Chuck Wendig’s post-Return of the Jedi series of novels, Mr Bones is a former Battle Droid re-programmed by Temmin “Snap” Wexley to be his stalwart companion… and lethal bodyguard.
Mr Bones is petrifying — he’s decorated in the bones of dead animals that clink as he moves around, and one of his arms has been replaced with a giant retractable shiv. He’s even been repainted black and red, like a sadistic Darth Maul wannabe. He’s also basically insane in his protection of Temmin, frequently asking if people bothering the young man if he should “BEAT THEM TO A GREASY TREACLE-PASTE” in his robotic, sing-song voice. He happily hums tunes as he violently murders people.
Humming droid? Cute. Humming, murderous droid? NOT CUTE IN THE SLIGHTEST.
3 and 4) Triple Zero and BT
There is an awful lot to love in Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larocca’s sublime Darth Vader comic for Marvel, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a reader who doesn’t secretly think that the best part of the book is actually the sadistic Imperial answer to C-3PO and R2-D2.
Both companions of Vader’s smuggler accomplice in the series, Dr Aphra, 0-0-0 and BT-1 are cackling android sociopaths. Triple Zero is a heavily modified protocol droid embedded with a lethal personality matrix that basically makes him a flesh-hating, highly polite assassin that revels in murder. BT-1 is an Astromech-style droid armed to the teeth with highly explosive weaponry, and an equally vindictive desire to use it.
And yet, because they’re basically the killer versions of Artoo and Threepio, you can’t help but love their cheery, bumbling approach to murdering swathes of people and aliens over the course of Darth Vader. I mean, look at this:
Heavily inspired by Artoo, it’s hard to deny the Ghost crew’s trusty droid companion isn’t as cute as a robotic button. He’s short and stubby and barrels about the place bleeping and blooping to himself. His slightly abrasive personality gives him plenty of quirkiness.
But it’s hard to deny that Chopper is also one enormous arsehole of a droid. He’s incredibly vindictive to his enemies — and but sometimes also to his friends. He takes a lot of delight in beating the crap out of them or sending them plummeting from great, painful heights.
R2-D2 could be like that — if a lot more polite — so why is Chopper on this list and he’s not? Because Chopper is scarily ruthless when it comes to dealing with his fellow droids. He has no qualms about rendering Imperial droids into neat little piles of scrap. He’s guided massive star cruisers to crash into each other, presumably killing hundreds of people in the process. Hell, he even shoved a droid that was about to join the Rebels’ cell out of a ship in high-altitude, just to ensure his own place in the team.
We should be thankful that Chopper uses most of his psychopathic tendencies just to be a jerk to everyone. Otherwise he’d kill more people than a Death Star could.
If you say the words “loveable killer droid” to a diehard Star Wars fan, HK-47 is probably the first one to come to mind. One of the highlights of Bioware and Obsidian’s Knights of the Old Republic roleplaying games, HK-47 as an assassin droid constructed by the Sith Lord Darth Revan to hunt down and kill Jedi — or whoever Revan felt was a threat.
HK-47 was incredibly good at this, of course — he killed countless people in Revan’s name — and would go on to do so once again when he joined your party in the games. But he did it with a polite charm, prefacing all of his speech with an emotional state like “Mockery” or “Commentary” that no one could resist… even when he was calling all non-droid life “meatbags” as a term of endearment. He’d maniacally delight in any “Dark side” actions you took as a player, or be disappointed with “Light side” ones, or come out with quips like this… intriguing definition of love:
And we can’t help but love him for it.