I feel like I should start off this list with a bit of a disclaimer: there is no way I could ever begin to know every single droid in the Star Wars universe.
With the 6 currently released films, novels, video games, and cartoon series combined, there are dozens upon dozens of letter and number combinations to memorize which, frankly, I don’t have time for.
But I will admit, the droids, along with the consistently futuristic Stormtroopers, are my favorite thing about Star Wars.
I think we all want to experience a world where robots think independently and live among us, but right now Star Wars is the closest thing.
I should also state that I am not including General Grievous on this list because he is part human (although he would rank pretty high).
13. IT-O Interrogator
Considering the function of this droid is torture, I’m a little let down with the fact that we only get a glimpse of it in A New Hope when it threatens Leia with a needle as the Empire is seeking the location of the Rebels. I wonder what other war crimes are built into that thing…
12. OG-9 Homing Spider Droid
Not sure why this is called a spider droid and not a crab droid considering it has 4 legs and not 8. And the fact that it’s called “OG” is a bit of cringe, like it’s subliminally supposed to mean that it’s the “ultimate MACK DADDY” of all droids. That’s prequel-era Lucas writing for you. Yikes.
11. WED Treadwell Droid
I’m fairly confident that this is just the prop guy’s old broken umbrella that he hot glued to the base of a vacuum.
10. Battle Droid – Army Droid
I really have a soft spot for good production design, concept design, and innovative ways to do robots in films. It’s one of the biggest things that Ralph McQuarrie brought us in the early days. And I feel like the design alone on the Battle Droids in the prequels is great. But it’s complete lack of impact on any events in the story, despite there being literally hundreds of them, is extremely frustrating. It’s as if we know if there is a Battle Droid on screen, no one will die. Thanks for the heads up, George!
9. Gonk Droid – Power Droid
This one is just for me. It’s probably the most useless droid in the film series given the fact that we only get a few glimpses of Gonk (GNK) on Tattooine in Episode IV and in Jabba's palace in 'Jedi'. That 70s era trash can with legs makes me chuckle almost every time. It is just so ridiculous, but I love it.
8. 2-1B – Medical Droid
The design for the surgeon droid in the Empire Strikes back is one of the best in all of Star Wars, and if it wasn’t for 2-1B, Luke wouldn’t have a new hand…or have someone watching him while he’s in a giant tube getting sewn up…or creepily stare at him and Leia when they meet after the Wampa attack. OK now that I’m saying it out loud this droid is way more terrifying than I remember. Can we get a spinoff slasher flick?
7. MSE-6 – Repair Droid
This is another one that is a personal favorite that might not be on other peoples “top” lists. Giving this droid any screen time at all is so random but oddly memorable as we only see it briefly on the Death Star flying by as the disguised Rebels prowl the halls. Also known as the Mouse droid, this little guy reminds me of a mini Jawa Sandcrawler. Do they sell a remote control one? Asking for a friend.
6. Probe Droid / Imperial Probe
I still hear that probe droid sound in my sleep. It’s like a mixture of a 56k modem and a Daft Punk vocoder . The probe droid is one of the first things we see in The Empire Strikes Back, and sets a mysterious tone on the picture as it scans the snow planet Hoth with its insect-like appearance and mannerisms. Those tentacle things that hang down still creep me out. It’s like a robotic flying squid that can shoot lasers at your face. Yeeesh.
5. IG-88 - Bounty Hunter
Would it be weird to say that I have had nightmares about this fictional robot from a movie that came out 35 years ago? IG-88 was one of the first indications that droids could be villainous in this universe when Darth Vader hires the droid, along with a bunch of other bounty hunters, to hunt down the Millennium Falcon. The evil droid is something that George Lucas would bring back multiple times in the prequels with very little pizazz or intimidation.
The droideka are simultaneously the most exciting and most disappointing thing about the Phantom Menace. I distinctly remember seeing them for the first time on screen in the first scene of Episode I and being filled with hope and excitement for the next THREE films. I mean, this was the first SCENE of the first film, and the droids were already this cool?!? Sadly, the droideka were both the most creatively designed droids of the prequels, but they served no purpose as well, with Jedi taking them down with ease. But those shields were pretty badass, right?
3. C3-P0 – Protocol Droid
Most people’s lists would probably rank C3P0 as the no-brainer number one. He speaks English, he offers a ton of comic relief, and he serves as the voice of reason when the rebels are heading into a rough situation. I always found Lucas’ use of Threepio uninspired after the original trilogy. I don’t think he should have been included in the prequels, and having Anakin be his creator was such an eye-roll and sad excuse to shoehorn him into 3 more movies. Let’s hope J.J. uses him correctly this time around.
2. BB-8 – Astromech Droid
I know it is unfair to rank BB-8 so high on this list by most fans’ standards, but BB-8 has already done more positive marketing in 6 months for the new trilogy of films than Ewan McGregor did in his 6 years of prequels. BB-8 is everywhere, and for good reason. The spherical design of the droid is both innovative and nostalgic, with an astromech head reminiscent of R2-D2 and a soccer ball base that hints at adventure yet-to-come. BB-8 is just so cool. I can’t wait to see what the next 3 films hold for the little guy.
1. R2-D2 – Astromech Droid
Artoo is, without question, the quintessential droid of the Star Wars universe. We meet other Astromech’s along the way (R5-D4 anyone?) but R2-D2 is the definitive. We somehow follow the emotions of this small robot character through every single Star Wars film and never once get tired of it. Along with Han Solo, R2 also ranks high on my list of characters I most want to see on screen. He serves as the primary MacGuffin of the story as we follow Artoo’s journey from “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi” to the final scenes of Episode III. The ingenious use of Sound FX to voice the droid was not only groundbreaking technologically, but served as a brilliant bit of comic-relief by sheer concept – and we somehow knew, and felt, everything R2 was saying.