Let me just come out there and say it: I don’t like R2-D2. I just don’t. I don’t mind Threepio at all and I love Anthony Daniels, but he’s not my favorite. No, for my favorite, I’m going to have to go a little E.U. for this. And because information is so limited, I feel justified in giving you two droids tied for my favorite with a brief summary of each. My favorite droid is . . .
If you didn’t recognize him, shame on you! He is one of two robot bounty hunters seen in Empire Strikes Back, and, yes, I did consider IG-88 for a favorite as well, but I’ve always just felt too much triumph when Boba Fett destroys him to justify his being a favorite. What can you say about a droid who achieved self-awareness, made four of himself, and attempted to wipe out all carbon-based life in the galaxy? Back to 4-LOM. A LOM-series protocol droid, he was originally assigned to a luxury liner as a translator. The ship herself altered his programming so he would steal from passengers, and thus began his life of crime. 4-LOM just loves money, and his career has been all about the acquisition thereof. Working for Jabba the Hutt, his programming was altered further, and he became a bounty hunter.
His partner is the Gand Zuckuss, and the two have a strong friendship. They were hired by Vader to help capture Han Solo, though they later attempted to rescue him. With a wide and varied career, some highlights suggested in short stories and comic books, 4-LOM is a master thief, bounty hunter, and renaissance droid whose enduring friendship with Zuckuss has endured nearly fatal injuries and sicknesses for them both. He’s good people, man.
I’m really going EU on you now. I talked to you about Michael Reeves’ miniseries (here and here), and while that series desperately fell off at the end, the characters he introduced in Shadow Hunter hold up.
I5 was a standard model protocol droid used for the care of some rich children who routinely tortured him — things like ordering him to jump off buildings — until he could no longer handle it. Lorn Pavan was a dispirited former employee of the Jedi Temple, thrown out and forcibly separated from his son after the toddler showed Force aptitude. Lorn helped I5 achieve sentience and freedom, and the two worked as partners on Coruscant.
On a mission to find Lorn’s son Jax, I5 meanders across the galaxy and through nearly half a dozen of Reeves’ books, some better than others. Luke Skywalker may say of Artoo “I’ve never heard of such devotion in a droid before,” when Artoo is lying about his origins, but I5 is the real deal. Boldly asserting his status as a free, intelligent individual, not to be owned by anyone, I5 questions what it means to be, well, “human” (i.e. sentient) and even figures out a way to program himself “drunk.” He’s clever, intelligent, loyal, and I enjoyed the trip even if Reeves let the whole series fall on its backside.
I notice both of these droids have unique partnerships with their sentient friends. Yeah, maybe I have a type when it comes to droids.