C-3PO ([si.ˈθɹi.pi.oʊ], nicknamed Threepio) is a fictional character from the Star Wars universe, who appears in both the original Star Wars films and the prequel trilogy. He is also a major character in the television show Star Wars: Droids, and appears frequently in the series' "Expanded Universe" of novels, comic books, and video games. C-3PO is one of the four characters to appear in all six of the Star Wars feature films, and the only character portrayed by the same actor in all six installments of the series. In all his various appearances, he is portrayed by Anthony Daniels.
C-3PO is a protocol droid designed to serve humans, and boasts that he is fluent "in over six million forms of communication." C-3PO is generally seen with his long-time counterpart, R2-D2, a small, quirky astromech droid. Threepio's main function as a protocol droid is to assist with etiquette, customs, and translation so that meetings of different cultures run smoothly. Together with his fellow droid R2-D2, Threepio played a vital and pivotal role in the Galaxy's history.
In Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, C-3PO and R2-D2 are aboard the Tantive IV when is attacked by Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer Devastator. C-3PO and R2-D2 are launched in an escape pod on the orders of Princess Leia Organa to deliver a secret message to Obi-Wan Kenobi. On Tatooine, C-3PO and R2-D2 are captured by Jawas, taken into their Sandcrawler, and sold to Owen Lars. In the process of being sold, C-3PO convinces Owen's nephew, Luke Skywalker, to buy R2.
During a conversation with Luke, C-3PO reveals that he and his counterpart are well acquainted with the Rebel Alliance and its fight against the Galactic Empire. While cleaning R2-D2, Luke stumbles across the hidden message from Princess Leia, although C-3PO claims he had no idea who she is and that it may be old data. That night, R2-D2 makes a daring escape from the homestead after Luke had removed his restraining bolt. C-3PO attempts to stop him but is unsuccessful. He later joins Luke in his search through the Jundland Wastes. When they find R2, they are attacked by Tusken Raiders, causing C-3PO to stumble over and have his arm ripped off. Obi-Wan Kenobi saves them and assists them back to his home. Soon after being repaired, R2 shows Obi-Wan the message from Leia. They discover the ruined Sandcrawler and Jawas who had sold him, and Luke speeds off to discover that Owen and his wife Beru have been murdered by Imperial stormtroopers, leaving C-3PO and R2-D2 in Luke's care. After traveling to Mos Eisley while evading stormtroopers, C-3PO and R2-D2 escape on the Millennium Falcon with Luke, Obi-Wan, the ship's captain Han Solo and his first mate, Chewbacca.
C-3PO and his allies end up on the Death Star after it is found that their destination, the planet Alderaan, no longer exists. The droids are left behind in a hangar control center while Luke and Han venture off to rescue the princess. Threepio has trouble with the comlink as the trio are endangered by a closing garbage compactor. R2 reverses the compactor, saving their lives, though C-3PO thinks the worst has happened. The group escapes after Obi-Wan sacrifices himself in a duel with Vader.
The set up with the Rebel Base on Yavin 4. When C-3PO realizes that R2 is going with on the Death Star attack, he says that he'd better take care of Luke — and of himself. When Artoo returns damaged, C-3PO offers to donate any of his parts that would be helpful in his repair. R2-D2 is repaired and looks good as new.
During this time, C-3PO and Han develop a strange relationship, with C-3PO quoting odds and Han defying them. Normally, Han would have simply shut C-3PO down but due to the mechanical failures on the Falcon, C-3PO is plugged into the ship and communicated with it to determine the problem. After a chase through the Hoth asteroid field, the Falcon escapes to Cloud City on Bespin.
While exploring a room after his arrival, C-3PO is blasted by a stormtrooper. In search of Threepio, Chewbacca heads to the Ugnaught recycling facility where he finds the dismembered droid. When Darth Vader reveals his presence to the group, Chewbacca is sent into a holding cell, but is permitted to rebuild the droid, which he does poorly. Chewbacca carries the partially-rebuilt C-3PO on his back during Han Solo's encasement in carbonite.
With the help of the city's administrator, Lando Calrissian, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, and C-3PO are able to escape. Although Chewbacca attempts to choke Lando for his betrayal, C-3PO apologizes for the enraged Wookiee's behavior, which he fears would be the end of him. Having C-3PO on Chewbacca's back is beneficial: when Boba Fett escapes the city with Han Solo, C-3PO notifies them of pursuing stormtroopers. Finally, after a chase through the corridors of Cloud City, the group makes it to the Millennium Falcon. R2-D2, whom they find after Luke Skywalker arrives to rescue them, unlocks the door to the landing pad under C-3PO's command. After successfully escaping Vader's flagship, the Executor, C-3PO is fully repaired by R2-D2.
Despite the droid's reluctance, Luke Skywalker convinces C-3PO at the banquet to demand that the release of the prisoners. C-3PO tells the Ewoks he'd bring down lightning and fire and wrath if his friends are not released. Luke then levitates the frightened droid above the clamoring crowd, "proving" to the Ewoks that the droid really does have "magic" powers. Later that night, C-3PO acts as a storyteller, explaining the history and intentions of the Rebels to the tribe. This gains sympathy from the Ewoks and convinces them to help the Rebels at the Battle of Endor.
After the Rebels infiltrate the shield bunker and are captured by Imperial forces, C-3PO begins the Ewoks' assault on the Empire by calling over a group of stormtroopers with a false surrender. Chaos ensues as Ewoks jumps from hiding and attacks the Imperials, allowing for Han Solo and Leia to reach the bunker controls. When R2-D2 ia forced to assist in infiltrating the bunker, C-3PO nevertheless follows, evading enemy fire. The battle ends with the Death Star's destruction and the death of the Emperor. C-3PO is present at the celebration afterward.
Having originally designed him to help his mother, Shmi, Anakin carries Threepio along when he barters with nearby Jawa traders. On one occasion Anakin comes across a wounded Tusken Raider. Due to 3PO's fluency in millions of languages, Anakin is able to nurse the Tusken Raider back to health, although the Tusken Raider is not fond of Threepio, and roars at him to "shut up" in his own language.
In The Phantom Menace, C-3PO meets his future partner, R2-D2, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, Queen Padmé Amidala of Naboo and Jar Jar Binks. C-3PO and R2-D2 form a fast friendship, working together to perfect Anakin's podracer for the Boonta Eve Classic. The more experienced droid tells Threepio of the danger of space travel, to which Threepio proclaims that no one would get him to go on a starship.
Shortly afterwards, C-3PO becomes part of Anakin's pit crew during the Boonta Eve Classic, where he sees Anakin defeat Sebulba. C-3PO and his master part ways when Qui-Gon frees the boy after winning a bet with Anakin's master, Watto. Before parting with his master, Anakin assures the droid that he would make sure Shmi didn't sell him and says his final goodbye.
After Anakin and Padmé's visit to Tatooine, C-3PO leaves with his old master at Owen's suggestion, as it was what Shmi would have wanted. Threepio accompanies his master to the planet Geonosis to rescue his Jedi Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Shortly afterward, he follows R2 after the little droid disobeys direct orders from Anakin. He finds himself in a droid construction facility and, after being pushed onto one of the platforms by R2, his head is taken off and temporarily attached to the torso of a battle droid, while the head of the droid is placed onto Threepio's torso. Due to the combat droid's programming, Threepio reluctantly participates in the film's climactic battle scene, where he is stopped by Kit Fisto. After being rescued by R2 and reunited with his body, he, with the rest of the main characters, leaves Geonosis. At the end of the film, he is one of the three witnesses to Padmé and Anakin's marriage on Naboo.
However, C-3PO becomes a witness to his maker's turn to the dark side of the Force when he accompanies Padmé to Mustafar and Anakin, now the Sith Lord Darth Vader, uses the Force to choke her into unconsciousness. When Obi-Wan's duel with Vader moves to the interior of the facility on Mustafar, C-3PO and R2-D2 take it upon themselves to get the injured Senator aboard her cruiser. When Obi-Wan returns to the ship, C-3PO pilots it to the asteroid facility of Polis Massa and witnesses Padmé give birth to the Skywalker twins, Luke and Leia, and die shortly afterwards. C-3PO and R2-D2 fall into the custody of Bail Organa, who orders his memory wiped on the Tantive IV in order to protect the twins from Palpatine and Vader, and the Empire that has taken over the galaxy.
In Clone Wars, C-3PO finally earns what he had long desired: his coverings are upgraded to a shiny bronzium coating due to his tenure as Padmé's servant. He also severely disapproves of combat droids, once demanding to "have a serious talk with their programmer."
During the Droids series, set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, C-3PO and R2-D2 are traded around to various masters. Highlights include an early encounter with bounty hunter Boba Fett, and a change in personality brought on by remodeling.
In The Courtship of Princess Leia, C-3PO is led to believe that Han Solo is actually the King of Corellia during Solo's competition with Isolder for Leia's hand in marriage. Threepio agrees to assist Solo in his efforts, as one of his functions is as a counselor droid, but is shocked when the Corellian kidnaps the princess and takes her to Dathomir. Threepio continues to present Han in the best possible light and writes a song for him entitled "The Virtues of King Han Solo". He surprises everyone when he performs the song, which he not only sings, but backs with the sound of a full symphony orchestra. He later discoveres that Solo's "royalty" is actually fake. After surviving the hazards of Dathomir and the Imperial occupation fleet, he is present at Han and Leia's wedding.
In Tatooine Ghost, C-3PO returns to Tatooine, where he helps Han and Leia in their search for an Alderaanian moss painting storing a valuable code. Here, Threepio reunites with Kitster Banai and Wald, childhood friends of Anakin Skywalker. With their help C-3PO and the others discover Shmi's diary and in it, valuable information on the man who became Darth Vader. After reading the diary, Leia remarks that the droid her grandmother described reminds her of Threepio. The code is eventually found and destroyed.
In Dark Force Rising, Threepio goes to Honoghr with Leia during the Thrawn Crisis during her quest with Khabarakh to discover what had caused the plight of the Noghri. Threepio is forced to hide with Leia and Chewbacca when Imperial forces arrive overhead, but later return with Leia to Coruscant, where she gives birth to Jaina and Jacen Solo. Threepio serves as caretaker for both the twins, and later Anakin Solo as well. In The Last Command, Lando reprograms Threepio to sound like Leia in order to hide from Imperials on Nkllon. However, the Empire, led by Grand Admiral Thrawn, sees through the deception. Threepio also accompanies Han, Lando, Artoo, Luke, Chewbacca, and Mara Jade to Wayland on a mission to destroy the Mount Tantiss storehouse. Thanks to Threepio and some Noghri, the party recruits aid from the local population and destroys the storehouse.
In Dark Apprentice, the Solo twins escape from Chewbacca's and Threepio's watch during a trip to a zoo on Coruscant and ended up in the planet's sub-levels. Distraught, Threepio frantically searches for them, but they had been found by King Onibald Daykim and are reunited with their parents.
In Empire's End, Threepio and Artoo are nearly destroyed after they spot an Imperial installing a homing beacon on the Millennium Falcon. They are saved due to the timely arrival of Han Solo and Chewbacca. The resurrected Palpatine and his fleet discover the Alliance's existence, leading C-3PO and the others to flee to Iziz, a city on the planet of Onderon. Palpatine eventually finds them, but Han Solo shoots him in the back. He is finally destroyed when Empatojayos Brand sacrifices himself to save Anakin.
In Planet of Twilight, Threepio and Artoo accompany Leia on a diplomatic mission to Nam Chorios but are unable to save her from being drugged and kidnapped. They also could not stop the Death Seed plague from being unleashed on the crew by Seti Ashgad and Dzym. Taking flight with one of the few surviving crew, the two flee in a small ship, but the crewman dies and they are stolen. Eventually rescued by Han and Lando, the two droids finally convey their message for help, though the sector is rife with chaos due to the plague.
In The Crystal Star, C-3PO accompanies Luke and Han Solo on their mission to Crseih Station to investigate rumors of a healing cult, and the possible existence of Jedi trainees. Instead of finding Jedi trainees, they find Waru, a creature from another dimension. Though astonished at first, Threepio and the others soon learn of Waru's alliance with Lord Hethrir and the kidnapping of the Solo children. Hethrir is destroyed following a confrontation with Leia, Han, and Luke while Waru returns to his dimension.
In addition to becoming the caretaker of the Solo children, C-3PO would also undertake several missions with his family and friends. In The Black Fleet Crisis, Threepio accompanies Lando Calrissian, R2-D2, and Lando's associate Lobot on a mission to investigate the mysteries of the runaway alien ship Teljkon Vagabond. After a long exploration of the ship's innards, and some minor damage to Threepio's circuitry, the team discovers that the ship actually contains the last vestiges of the Quella civilization.
In The New Rebellion, Threepio, along with Artoo and a young mechanic named Cole Fardreamer, is instrumental in stopping Kueller from regaining power by disabling the explosive devices he had placed in a large number of droids.
In Ambush at Corellia, Threepio accompanies the Solos on a vacation to Corellia. During the outbreak of the First Corellian Insurrection, Threepio and Chewbacca get Jaina, Jacen, and Anakin away from the burning Corona House. In Showdown at Centerpoint, Threepio accompanies Luke, Gaeriel Captison, Belindi Kalenda, and Lando to Centerpoint Station, and alerts them to the fact that the temperature inside Hollowtown is increasing to dangerously high levels. In Vision of the Future, C-3PO participates in Talon Karrde's expedition to the Kathol Sector to find Jorj Car'das, serving as a translator.
Daniels also performed the voice of C-3PO in the live-action segments of The Star Wars Holiday Special, while only voicing the character in the animated portion. He was also the voice of the character in the two Star Wars animated series Star Wars: Clone Wars and Star Wars: Droids, as well as in the radio drama adaptations of the three films of the original trilogy.
Daniels reprised C-3PO for the Disneyland ride Star Tours, which was co-created by George Lucas in 1987. He was videotaped while recording the dialogue, and this tape served as reference for the Imagineers to program the Audio-Animatronic C-3PO in the queue area. Daniels also donned the costume for certain video segments played before and after the simulator ride itself, and also portrayed an electronically disguised Ewok announcer heard in the queue area. Daniels also appeared in the C-3PO costume for various promotional materials for Star Tours, including the electronic press kit, a Disney special on Star Tours hosted by Gil Gerard, and various opening day skits. When Star Tours opened a bilingual version at Disneyland Paris, Daniels re-recorded C-3PO's dialogue in French, although none of his French movie voice actors included Daniels, but he does not voice the Tokyo version of C-3PO.
Daniels made several appearances as 3PO on numerous TV shows and commercials, most notably on a Star Wars-themed episode of The Donny and Marie Show in 1977, on a Star Wars-themed episode of The Muppet Show in 1980, and on three episodes of Sesame Street.
Daniels revealed that initially he did not agree to be cast as a robot he imagined to be just a mindless box on legs, as was the stereotypical robots in many of the science fiction stories of the time. He changed his mind after reading 3PO's part in the script and seeing a concept painting by Ralph McQuarrie.
In the Italian version of the original trilogy, C-3PO's name is changed to D-3BO. The original name was restored in the new trilogy. In the French version of the original trilogy, the name is Z-6PO, but the original name was restored in the new trilogy as well, like most characters (except for Darth Vader and a few others in France).