By now we all know the origin of C-3PO from his creation by Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. In the film, Anakin collected parts and built the protocol droid to help his mother (Shmi Skywalker) around the house. Anakin didn’t quite finish him before he left on his big adventure, leaving the droid complete, but with no “coverings”.
In the followup film Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Anakin revisits his home planet of Tatooine and finds a now “covered” C-3PO helping out on the moisture farm of Cliegg Lars.
This is considered canon now. It may surprise you to find out though, that George Lucas had a different idea about C-3PO’s origin way back in 1977. While preparing for an upcoming sequel to Star Wars: A New Hope, Lucas talked with Lucasfilm’s then Director of Publications Carol Titelman about story ideas for the main cast of characters (at that time Luke, Han, Leia, and C-3PO). Lucas role-played the character of C-3PO for the notes…
I’m about 112 years old and have had about forty-three masters. I was made in a robotic factory on the planet Affa, which is one of the Outland Regions in the third sector of the Galactic Empire.
“Before I was assigned to the court of Alderaan, roughly twenty years ago, I was in one of the sub-embassies in the Granicus system. I was working in the embassy for one of the third liaison officers at that time. That’s where I really started out. It was a good thirty-seven years before I was actually transferred into protocol. When I started in the embassy, I was one of twelve hundred interpreter droids. I was in the Outland area and there were a lot of strange planets being amassed into the Republic. There was actually a very attrition rate out there, too, because of the strange climates. Many of the droids would fall apart very rapidly. I was lucky to be totally reassembled by a young boy working for a junk dealer. After several years I gained new coverings and became as good as new.”
While this is different from the origin that we got on the big screen, the similarities are still there. The young boy in the story above, was turned into Anakin Skywalker, who also worked for a junk dealer (Watto). However, the 112 years old part went away, along with the back story before Anakin.
It is still great to see that some of the same ideas were there from the beginning, and it is always great to get history lessons about our favorite galaxy far, far away…