Why doesn't Darth Vader recognize C-3PO?

  • Similar to this question:

    Why doesn't Owen Lars recognize C-3PO during ANH?

    There are a couple of occasions during the original trilogy (Episodes IV, V, VI) where Darth Vader and C-3PO encounter one another (specifically in The Empire Strikes Back). It's fairly clear as well that Darth Vader knows that C-3PO is a companion to his son Luke. Unlike Owen, it seem likely that Vader would learn, through the Force and/or through Imperial Intelligence reports what specific 3PO droid it is. So, is there an in-Universe answer to why he would not acknowledge that historical relationship?

    I think this may have been asked before but can't find it.

    Did Anakin put the gold shell on him? Besides, there are other 3PO droids (probably even more C-3POs)

    3PO Droids are like VW bugs. They all look alike.

    Why would the Empire know specifically which 3PO droid it is? He's never in actual custody of the Empire in any movie except when they are being held in Cloud City - by which point, C-3PO is already disassembled. Vader and 3PO are both in the same locations a few times, but they never actually interact.

    @APaleShadow as many as it takes. One for each combination of characters. "Why doesn't Chewbacca remember Yoda?" seems legitimate.

    The Actual reason is because in the early 80s, when the movies were made, George lucas had not yet decided that C-3P0 and Anakin Skywalker had a common past.

    Oh, I've got another one. Why doesn't R2-D2 reeducate C-3PO after C-3PO got his memory wiped? Doesn't R2-D2 think it would be useful to know things like that he was built by Vader?

    @apaleshadow if that's the bar for relevance here then how could anyone ask a question they didn't already know the answer too? maybe there IS an in-universe explanation -- how the hell would he know -- that's why he *asked*! (obviously "as many as it takes" answer was being a smartass, but there are some relavent ones)

    @APaleShadow "These questions add nothing useful to the site," some of these are questions asked by a *lot* of fans after watching the prequels. And as DavRobo demonstrated below, there are sometimes in-universe explanations.

    I've updated my answer with a canon source that directly answers the question.

  • DavRob60

    DavRob60 Correct answer

    8 years ago

    He does remember! See Thank the Maker:

    Finally, when he reflects that the droid may have ended up in this condition trying to escape an old master, he persuades his mother, though she makes him promise that he would be responsible for it. Shmi states that he may only be allowed to keep things if he takes care of them, or else he didn't deserve to have them.

    The Lieutenant then asks Vader if he should have the technicians examine it or have the Ugnaughts dismantle it. Before giving his answer, Vader shows a rare moment of reflection on his past, and touches C-3PO's head against his own. Vader tells the Lieutenant to give the droid to Chewbacca, having heard of the efforts Chewbacca made in order to retrieve the droid (Although he passes his actions off as giving the Wookiee the junk that he deserves). He then proceeds to the interrogation chamber, where he has an "appointment" with Han Solo.

    Vader Remembers

    This come from Star Wars Tales #6, for which the canon level is not clear.

    Issue #1 to Issue #20 were edited by Peet Janes (Issues 1 and 2) and Dave Land (Issues 3-20) and were labeled Infinities, placing them outside the canon (though this is not to say that the events depicted are permanently outside of the official continuity, just that they should not be considered canon unless or until they are endorsed by a canon source)

    It's also been speculated that in ESB when Chewie tries to forcibly free Han and Boba Fett draws his gun, Vader stops him because he's concerned that he might accidentally shoot C-3P0.

    I think that Star Wars Insider mentioned the same thing once when they talked about this comic, but I'm not up to digging through back issues :-)

    @Thunderforge That sounds very unlikely. He killed his wife, younglings, tried killing Obi Wan, etc. I somehow doubt Lucas (or anyone involved) had 3P0's origin story mapped out at the time of filming that scene. Seems like pure fan speculation, as you say.

    Vader allowing Chewie to rebuild C3PO is one of the few times he showed compassion. Ah, if only Obi-Wan and Yoda knew! They would see the good within him, and know he's not all consumed by the Dark Side.

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