Did you spot the white and red astromech droid rolling around Chalmun’s Cantina in The Mandalorian? Dave Filoni later confirmed that it was actually R5-D4, the droid that Luke Skywalker calls “red” in A New Hope. Often called “Arfive,” the droid appears in all three seasons of The Mandalorian and in The Book of Boba Fett. From its origins in the Original Trilogy to its most recent appearances in The Mandalorian, we answer who is R5-D4 and explain its role in the Star Wars Universe.
Who Is R5-D4 in The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett?
R5-D4 first appears in The Mandalorian in “Chapter 5: The Gunslinger.” The droid originally appeared in A New Hope.
While just a brief cameo, the droid has telltale burns and oil stains on its dome from where it exploded. It is unclear who owned the droid at this point in time.
However, it wasn’t until the Disney Gallery that Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau confirmed the droid was actually Arfive. The droid has since become a fan favorite, appearing in both seasons two and three.
In Season Two, Arfive is owned by Amy Sedaris’ character Peli Motto. Motto operated Hanger 3-5, where Din Djarin frequently lands. Arfive appears again in Peli Motto’s hanger in The Book of Boba Fett.
In Season Three, Din Djarin visits Peli Motto in search of parts to repair IG-11. Instead, she sells him Arfive as a navigator and copilot.
In “Chapter 21: The Pirate,” we learn that Carson Teva flew with Arfive at some point while they were with the Rebel Alliance.
So far, Luke Skywalker has not encountered Arfive in either Disney+ series, but it is still a possibility.
Who Is R5-D4 in Star Wars?
R5-D4 is a white and red astromech droid that first appeared in A New Hope in 1977. The droid first appears aboard the Jawa sandcrawler, shortly after R2-D2 is captured.
When the Jawas arrive at the Lars homestead, they sell the droid to Luke Skywalker’s uncle, Owen Lars. Luke calls out to the droid, asking it to follow him. However, the droid’s head explodes after only a few meters. As a result, Uncle Owen buys R2-D2 instead.
Shortly before the explosion, you can see the Jawas tinkering with the droid. Notorious scavengers, it is unclear if they were trying to patch the droid up or cause it to malfunction.
The scene is also notable for Luke’s famous line, “This R2 unit has a bad motivator, look!” The phrase “bad motivator” late becomes the name for an IPA brewed by Sierra Nevada exclusively for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
It is also worth noting that Luke mistakenly calls Arfive an R2 unit despite the droid being an R5 series astromech.
While the event is pivotal to the plot of A New Hope, the Arfive played little significance of its own.
Arfive Beyond A New Hope
R5-D4 was included in the second set of original Kenner Star Wars action figures. Since its toy debut in 1978, Arfive has appeared in many subsequent Star Wars toy lines.
In 2002, R5 also makes a brief cameo wandering the streets on Tatooine in Attack of the Clones.
The 2015 canon reference book Ultimate Star Wars verifies that R5 eventually joined the Rebel Alliance but does not clarify the exact details.
Published for the 40th Anniversary of A New Hope, Arfive gets a backstory in the 2017 anthology collection From a Certain Point of View.
Written by Rae Carson, the short story “The Red One” details R5-D4’s life as a prisoner aboard the Jawa’s sandcrawler. Shortly after being captured by the Jawa’s, R2-D2 attempts to disable R5.
R2 explains his secret mission, but is unable to convince R5 to help him. However, R5 ultimately decides to help R2. He causes a malfunction that makes it appear he has a bad motivator.
Who Was Arfive in Star Wars Legends?
The Star Wars Legends universe offered a similar backstory for R5 as Rae Carson’s short story.
The R5 series was notoriously faulty, frequently malfunctioning. As a result, R5-D4 went through a series of owners before ending up on the Jawa’s sandcrawler on Tatooine.
Still, Arfive dreamed of finding a reliable owner and purpose. However, his plans were interrupted by R2-D2.
Obsessed with his secret mission for Princess Leia Organa, R2-D2 sabotages Arfive to ensure he escapes the Jawas and locates Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Arfive eventually ended up with Rebel Alliance historian and spy Voren Na’al. Na’al repaired and upgraded R5-D4, turning it into an intelligence droid for the Alliance.
While not canon, even within the Legends timeline, the comic short story “Skippy the Jedi Droid” indicates that R5 is actually a Force-sensitive droid named Skippy.
Due to its Force-sensitivity, Arfive short circuits so R2-D2 can complete its mission.
Is R5-D4 Hondo Ohnaka’s Droid in The Clone Wars?
Although both droids are frequently called Arfive, R5-D4 is not the same as Hondo’s droid. However, both droids are R5 series astromechs and appear to share white and red coloring.
Hondo Ohnaka’s droid R5-P8 appears in several episodes of The Clone Wars. It is also still working with Hondo as of 34 ABY, appearing with him in Galaxy’s Edge.
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