Star Wars’ relationship with droids has always been weird. Their portrayal has run the gamut from revolutionary to servant underclass, to killer foes and straight-laced allies. But no droid has ever felt more true to the ragtag heroic ethos of Star Wars than Hera Syndulla’s very own little freak, Chopper.
Don’t get me wrong, Star Wars’ wider media universe has long had droids that lean towards going goblin mode rather than the stiff-lipped comedic foils seen in the likes of C-3PO. R2-D2 of course started all that, and that was even before he was flying around with jet rockets in the prequels and setting his fellow droid-kin on fire. Knights of the Old Republic brought us the lovable-yet-petrifying, meatbag-crackin’ HK-47, and Marvel’s Star Wars comics gave us Dr. Aphra’s dark take on R2 and 3PO in Triple-Zero and BT, gleefully killer assassin droids. But there’s something about Chopper’s irascible personality across Rebels’ four seasons that raises him above the noise to be one of Star Wars’ most perfect agents of chaos.
Maybe it’s that Chopper is an asshole indiscriminately. His “friends” aboard the Ghost (save for Hera, he knows never to go too far there) and their foes in the Empire are always equal targets for him to be a dick to. Chopper’s only level of judgment when deciding to be a little shit—which is 100% of the time—is weighing whether he’s friendly enough with someone to play a prank on them, or whether he’s just going to straight up murder them. There isn’t a droid in Star Wars with an on-screen body count like Chop, who’s willingly electrocuted, charged, blasted, and exploded his way through Imperial forces in a manner that would make even Saw Gerrera think he might have gone a bit too far.
Maybe it’s that Chopper will also do his damn job on top of all that—sure, there’s times he gets frozen out of a system or incapacitated, but he’s also the one on the Ghost crew who fixes those problems to save the day, and still has the time on top of that to play jokes, talk shit, and yes, occasionally ice a Stormtrooper or two. He’s a professional that takes everything “seriously,” whether that’s getting a mission done or clowning on his allies. That’s the energy that makes Chopper so compelling in his chaos—it never feels like he’s doing things randomly or so erratically that you don’t know what you’re going to get with him. Chopper fully knows what he’s doing (being a dick), and will tell you exactly that in his gruff bleeps and blorps as he rolls away chuckling about it.
And it’s an energy I really hope we get to see maintained in Ahsoka. When Star Wars brings over a character from animation to live-action, there’s always a levelling off of some of their energy and exaggerations that is just part of the process of translating something from one medium to another. But even if it is an accepted part of that process, you still lose something. Trying to do that to Chopper is a fool’s endeavor—he needs that comic silliness, he can’t just look like Chopper and boop like Chopper. He’s gotta be annoying as hell. He’s gotta kill a few Imperial remnants just because he figured out a funny way to do it. Chopper can, and should, get away with murder in the way no one around him really can, without Star Wars asking questions of itself ethically that are maybe a little better suited to the political thriller vibes of Andor than they’re going to be in something like Ahsoka. He’s got no time for moral quandaries, he’s busy being a little robot shitstain.
As Ahsoka readies to tackle the tough project of bringing forward these Rebels characters to live-action, and into a time where they have grown up beyond the heroes we met in animation all those years ago, Chopper is arguably the one they need to get right the most. Let his chaos reign!
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