Customizable Card Game

E-3PO: The Rude Protocol Droid

The moment in The Empire Strikes Back is brief but memorable, a short exchange between protocol droids. Having just landed on Cloud City, and meeting Lando Calrissian for the first time, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, and C-3PO follow Calrissian through the halls of the atmospheric metropolis. As they all turn a corner, a door on the right opens and standing before C-3PO is a droid that looks similar to him, another protocol droid: E-3PO (first identified by name in the Star Wars Customizable Card Game). Their conversation goes like this…

C-3PO: “Oh, nice to see a familiar face.”
E-3PO: “E chu ta.”
C-3PO: “How rude!”

And, yeah, that’s it. Like I said, the moment is brief, and as E-3PO walks-off, C-3PO goes on to get himself shot by stormtroopers. Where E-3PO goes once exiting the scene is unknown, this short appearance and one-liner being it’s singular moment to shine in the film, doing so by jumping on the C-3PO insult wagon. It is worth remembering that up to this point in The Empire Strikes Back, our favorite protocol droid has been the butt of a number of jokes in the movie, primarily due to his penchant for annoying those around him…especially Han Solo. I won’t list these moments as you should be familiar with them (if not, go watch the movie?), but with these moments in mind we can all pretty easily understand why C-3PO, when he literally comes face-to-face with another protocol droid, would say it is “nice to see a familiar face.” That E-3PO instead reacts by being rude is just fantaaaaaaaastic, a sign that C-3PO doesn’t just annoy his human allies, but instantaneously annoys other droids just by speaking. 

But what does this Huttese phrase which E-3PO levels, “E chu ta“, actually mean? More importantly, does it even matter? The basic fact is that it is clearly an insult, a form of Huttese curse, and it works even better without knowing what it “officially” means. The imagination is more than capable of filling in the blank. And since that’s the case, I will just offer what I like to believe the “rude” E-3PO is saying…

C-3PO: “Oh, nice to see a familiar face.”
E-3PO: “Eat shit.”
C-3PO: “How rude!”

You gotta admit that “E chu ta” does kinda sound like “Eat shit.” 😉

Check out these other posts about random protocol droids in Star Wars:

U-3PO: The Other Protocol Droid

K-3PO: The Dead Protocol Droid

U-3PO: The Other Protocol Droid

Knowing that I am fanatical in my love of Star Wars, a friend recently asked me a pretty unsurprising question about A New Hope. The question was this:

“What’s the name of the other protocol droid following R2-D2 and C-3PO at the beginning of A New Hope?”

Answer: U-3PO.

My friend then followed-up with a pretty obvious second question:

“What happened to U-3PO?”

Answer: Hell if I know.

Seriously, I have absolutely no idea. All I can tell you about the silver plated U-3PO beyond it’s name – which it officially received in the 1995 Star Wars Customizable Card Game – is that U-3PO follows the other two droids down a corridor in the Tantive IV before turning off into a different room. Then again, you could have figured that out yourself. What happened to U-3PO once it disappeared from view is a mystery. Admittedly, it is a mystery that has periodically popped into my mind. And if I had to take a guess, I would assume U-3PO was either “…sent to the spice mines of Kessel or smashed into who knows what!” Why? Well, honestly, if I have to explain it I’ll be taking the fun out of allowing you to figure it out for yourself (just re-watch the opening of A New Hope).

So the point is this: U-3PO is just the other protocol droid aboard the Tantive IV and has absolutely no bearing on the events of A New Hope. And yet, I will admit that I have always been intrigued that U-3PO is present in the film for those few brief seconds. It is certainly interesting to think about what happened to the protocol droid, and I hardly think some “canonical” answer is necessary. In this regard, the imagination is good enough for me.

But in closing, I will also say this: I find it equally interesting to imagine what role U-3PO could have played in the events of the film if it had stuck with R2-D2 and C-3PO. Who knows, maybe things would have been incredibly different if there had been three droids, and not two, wandering the barren wastelands of Tatooine.