As Star Wars is continuously revamped through the years, questions always arise around what is canon versus what is not. Also, new situations, such as R2-D2 coming out of lower power mode in The Force Awakens, make old questions pop back up for many fans. One of which is the following:
Can R2-D2 use the force? No. The force is an energy field that connects all living things within the Star Wars galaxy. R2-D2 is a droid, which means he is entirely mechanical and lacks any biological systems that would give him access to this energy field. While he is often around force-sensitive beings, such as Luke Skywalker, R2-D2 is not force-sensitive himself.
While we know that R2-D2 is merely incapable of being force-sensitive, there are quite a few other theories and facts that are good to know when talking about this subject.
What is the Force, and Why Can’t R2-D2 Use It?
The force is referenced in practically every Star Wars movie, comic, book, and show. In the original movie series, Obi-Wan Kenobi describes it to Luke Skywalker, saying, “It is an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.” While it is created and grows among living things, the force does connect everything, even inanimate objects, together.
So, as Luke begins to tune into the force through his training, he can feel where laser shots are going and deflect them accordingly without seeing them. Yoda also affirms this connection when training Luke when he says,
“Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship.”
This quote shows that the force does connect R2-D2, a mechanical thing like the ship, to everything in his surroundings. But the force can only be used by living things. Some beings, such as Luke and Anakin Skywalker, are much more force-sensitive than others. Those who are force-sensitive have used it throughout the saga to help them be at the right place at the right time, move large objects, change people’s minds, and heal wounds.
R2-D2 Does Have Some Similar Moments to Force Users
When comparing some of R2-D2’s feats to those of force users, it is obvious why many think R2-D2 could have force capabilities. In The Empire Strikes Back, R2-D2 can reactivate the hyperdrive on the Millennium Falcon at the perfect moment, allowing Luke and Leah to outrun Darth Vader just in time. R2-D2 often has impressively lucky timing for getting his masters out of a potentially deadly pinch.
In The Phantom Menace, R2-D2 manages to avoid getting hit while repairing the ship’s shield generator to get Padme, Anakin, and Obi-Wan out to survive for the rest of the series. While doing this, however, three other droids are taken out quickly and in succession. How does R2-D2 manage to survive? We must assume he is simply ridiculously lucky. Or, perhaps, a force user protected him with the force? As of now, we cannot honestly know.
Alternate Hypothesis: Force-Sensitive Users Can Enhance the Droids Around Them
If droids can indeed not use the force, then our best alternative to all of R2-D2’s lucky calls is that he is both incredibly programmed and is mastered by a Jedi. R2-D2 was programmed by the Royal Engineers of Naboo before assisting in the narrow escape from the Trade Federation. These brilliant minds may have been cranking out the universe’s most brilliant droids before these blockades all went down.
After escaping Naboo, Padme gifted R2-D2 to Anakin, who never wiped his memory. This allowed R2-D2 to continue to gather information, formulate and pull from different plans, and develop a unique and robust personality. As most droids’ memories were wiped often for confidentiality, this allowed R2-D2 to rise above his counterparts in intelligence.
So, his exceptional programming is paired with an unwiped memory, and then he is under the mastership of the universe’s most powerful family. Whether reporting to Anakin, Luke, or Leah, R2-D2 always had a strong force user nearby.
A clear example of Luke using the force with R2-D2 is when he, Han Solo, and Chewbacca are about to be executed to the Sarlacc pit under Jaba the Hutt’s orders. When Luke walks the plank, he gives the nod to R2-D2. With perfect precision and timing, R2-D2 launches Luke’s lightsaber for him to catch, and they manage to take down all the enemy forces. With this, we must give most credit to Luke for being the force user to pull it all together.
Are There Any Droids That Can Use the Force?
There is a legend of one droid being able to use the force: Skippy the Jedi droid. Skippy is the white and red R5 unit that is initially chosen by Luke and his uncle Owen when choosing droids. However, Skippy appears to blow his motivator, so C3PO recommends R2-D2 as another choice.
Legend has it that Skippy, after persuading Luke to choose him, sees a vision that shows the downfall of the rebellion if R2-D2 does not go with Luke. So, in a heroic effort, he decides to blow his top off to get Luke to choose R2-D2 instead. While this is a beautiful legend, a droid still cannot use the force.
What About General Grevious?
While he is a droid general, General Grevious has some biological parts, making him able to feel the force. From his constant cough during Revenge of the Sith to being killed by attacking his heart, he may have a more biological past. Non-canon lore tells that he was a Kaleesh warlord who was put into a droid’s body after nearing death during a ship crash.
So, with this example, there could be a small chance that at some point in R2-D2’s history, a biological component was added to him, giving him access to the force. However, nothing of that sort has been hinted at by the Star Wars canon or George Lucas himself. So, for now, R2-D2 is still only a droid, albeit, a very lucky one.
Is there a Chance of R2-D2 Having Midi-Chlorians to Use the Force?
Midi-chlorians are the microscopic life form that is found within all life forms in the Star Wars universe. Said to be a determiner of how force-sensitive one is, blood tests were often performed on padawans to estimate how powerful they were or could be. Anakin Skywalker, when tested, had the highest concentration ever seen before at 20,000. This led to the discovery that he was fathered by midi-chlorians and made him the Chosen One.
So, as midi-chlorians are found within every living thing in different amounts, could R2-D2 be injected with them to become force-sensitive? Theoretically, someone could extract midi-chlorians from a living thing, but it is debated where they would be put into R2-D2, as he does not have a bloodstream. Perhaps being inserted somewhere in his machinery would result in a similar effect to using the force, but again, that is not ours to say.
R2-D2 Can’t Use the Force, But He Sure Attracts Force Users
Even though R2-D2 himself cannot use the force, it can still be used upon him. While this may be a downfall of droids, R2-D2 proves himself repeatedly throughout his life that he is a force to be reckoned with. Perhaps a favorite character by many, R2-D2’s character is heartfelt, genius, and strong.