The Mandalorian’s new droid, R5-D4, has a long history in Star Wars that might surprise you

In the latest episode of The Mandalorian, “The Mines of Mandalore,” a new droid entered the picture, with Din Djarin getting an astromech from Peli Motto on Tatooine.

He initially journeyed to the planet in search of a memory chip for an IG droid, hoping to finish rebuilding IG-11. But that’s the rare part that even Peli and her Jawa companions can’t find, and she offers Djarin an astromech instead, R5-D4. Mando initially declines, but eventually he agrees to take the droid – much to the frightened droid’s dismay. R5 then helps Djarin scope out Mandalore to test the air quality, and later flies Grogu to Kalevala to solicit Bo-Katan’s help.

But you might be surprised to learn that R5-D4 actually has quite a long history in Star Wars, all stemming from one familiar moment in A New Hope.

In the original Star Wars film, Princess Leia Organa hides a secret transmission in R2-D2, and the droid heads off with C-3PO to the Tatooine surface in search of Obi-Wan Kenobi. The droids come into the possession of Luke Skywalker and his family, who purchase them from a group of Jawas, but R2 isn’t actually Uncle Owen’s first choice. Initially, Owen buys C-3PO and a different astromech: R5-D4. The droid malfunctions, leading to the fateful encounter between R2 and Luke that sets in motion the franchise as we know it.

In the anthology collection of short stories celebrating the 40th anniversary of A New Hope, From a Certain Point of View, there is a chapter devoted to R5’s point of view in which we learn that he actually caused his motivator to short-circuit intentionally. He was thrilled about finally being sold, but R2 pleaded with him about the importance of the mission, one on which the fate of the galaxy rested. The message got through to R5, who willingly sacrificed himself to let R2 go instead. The rest, of course, is history, but R5 would eventually find his way to the Rebellion himself. As Peli mentions in the episode, he fought for the Rebellion, after which he made his way back to Tatooine.

We’ve actually seen him a handful of times so far in the Mandoverse, playing minor roles, but now he’s traveling with Djarin and Grogu – and, true to form, he’s still a hero. Though he might be prone to fear, he steps up and helps when he’s needed most, such as flying Grogu off-world for help. The droid has been around as long as the Star Wars franchise has, and he’s finally getting a chance to shine.

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