C-3PO was originally activated on the Cybot Galactica foundry world of Affa in 112 BBY. His more well-known incarnation, however, was "born" on Tatooine around 32 BBY, when he was rebuilt by a young boy named Anakin Skywalker, who came upon the protocol droid's standard 3PO-series discarded and gutted head and chassis while in a Mos Espa street with friend Kitster Banai.
Later, Anakin decided to smuggle C-3PO home piece by piece. Kitster asked him what use the droid would have at home and Anakin told him that the droid would be used as a servant as a Cybot Galactica protocol droid. Anakin found that the droid's balance gyro was quite old dating back several decades. Anakin made the droid functional with scrounged and improvised parts; while Threepio boasted a standard protocol droid verbobrain and communicator module, it is unknown whether these parts originated with his chassis, or if they were acquired independently by Anakin. Threepio's wiring and construction were sound, but Anakin could not afford even the simplest of droid coverings.
Having originally designed him to help his mother, Shmi, Anakin carried Threepio along when he bartered with nearby Jawa traders. On one occasion Anakin came across a wounded Tusken Raider. Due to 3PO's fluency in millions of languages Anakin was able to nurse the Tusken Raider back to health, though the Tusken Raider was not fond of Threepio, and roared at him to "shut up" in his own language.
In 32 BBY C-3PO met his future partner, R2-D2, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, Queen Amidala of Naboo and Jar Jar Binks, whom he characterized as "odd." Threepio never knew he was "naked" before R2 mentioned it. He was extremely embarrassed by this, but Padmé remarked that the droid was perfect. C-3PO and R2-D2 formed a fast friendship, working together to perfect Anakin's podracer for the Boonta Eve Classic. The more experienced droid told Threepio of the danger of space travel, to which Threepio proclaimed that no one would get him to go on a starship.
Shortly afterwards, C-3PO became part of Anakin's pit crew during the Boonta Eve Classic, where he saw Anakin defeat Sebulba. Unfortunately, C-3PO and his master parted ways when Jinn freed the boy after winning a bet with Anakin's master, Watto. Before parting with his master, Anakin assured the droid that he would make sure Shmi didn't sell him and said his final goodbye.
In 22 BBY, Shmi was kidnapped by a group of Sandpeople. Sensing that his mother was in danger, Anakin traveled with Padmé to Tatooine where they reunited with Threepio. C-3PO recognized Anakin and Padmé instantly and presented them to Beru Whitesun, Owen, and Cliegg Lars. Once Anakin returned with his mother's lifeless body, C-3PO attended her small funeral in back of the Lars homestead.
After Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala's visit to Tatooine, C-3PO left with his old master at Owen's suggestion, who said it was what Shmi would have wanted. Threepio accompanied his master to the planet of Geonosis to rescue his Jedi Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Shortly afterwards, he followed R2 after the little droid disobeyed direct orders from Anakin. He found himself in a droid construction facility and, after being pushed onto one of the platforms by his "friend" R2, his head was taken off and temporarily attached to the torso of a B1 battle droid, while the head of the droid was placed onto Threepio's torso. Due to the combat droid's programming, Threepio reluctantly participated in the Battle of Geonosis where he was stopped by Kit Fisto. After being rescued by Artoo and reunited with his body, he, with the rest of the Republic, left Geonosis. Not long after, he became one of the three witnesses to Padmé and Anakin's marriage on Naboo.
C-3PO was given to Senator Amidala as a gift from her husband, Anakin Skywalker. C-3PO served as Senator Amidala's personal protocol droid for most of the Clone Wars. When on Naboo, Senator Amidala often assigned C-3PO to assist the Naboo Royal Council. Following the defense of Naboo and the bio-plague of Ohma-D'un by the Confederacy, Queen Jamillia appointed the droid to serve as liaison to the Jedi during that campaign. He was a reluctant participant in many adventures of the ex-Queen, including a rather hazardous mission during the Battle of Ilum, where his loyalty was essential in helping Jedi Master Yoda rescue fellow Jedi Luminara Unduli and Barriss Offee.
Often chastising his funny yet rude astromech companion, R2-D2, for being reckless, C-3PO finally earned what he had long desired: his coverings were upgraded from a dull gray to his final shiny bronzium coating due to his tenure as Amidala's servant. He also, in a meeting of the Loyalist Committee, became the first entity in the galaxy to address Supreme Chancellor Palpatine as "Your Majesty," perhaps anticipating his future elevation to Emperor. He also severely disapproved of combat droids, once demanding to "have a serious talk with their programmer."
Near the end of the Clone Wars, Threepio became concerned about Padmé and Anakin's behavior. He was aware of Padmé's pregnancy and the meetings she held with the Loyalist Committee, which included Bail Organa and Mon Mothma. After Skywalker and R2-D2 returned from Anakin's massacre of the Jedi, Threepio and R2 held a quiet discussion about Anakin, but he assured the little droid that he must have been stressed.
However, C-3PO became a witness to his maker's turn to the dark side of the Force when he accompanied Padmé to Mustafar. When Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi's duel moved to the interior of the facility on Mustafar, C-3PO and R2-D2 took it upon themselves to get the injured Senator aboard her cruiser. When Obi-Wan returned to the ship, C-3PO piloted it to the asteroid facility of Polis Massa and witnessed Padmé give birth to the Skywalker twins and die shortly afterwards. C-3PO and R2-D2 fell into the custody of Bail Organa, who ordered his memory wiped on the Tantive IV in order to protect the twins from the Emperor and their father, Anakin Skywalker, who had become the Sith Lord known as Darth Vader. After his memory was erased, Threepio would state that he had first worked with binary loadlifters. Unbeknownst to Threepio, he would later reunite with the Skywalker twins nearly two decades later.
Though he and R2-D2 were officially part of the droid complement of the Tantive IV for the next 19 years, C-3PO also served Alderaan's royal house, the House of Organa, on Alderaan on occasion. While accompanying them to the Emperor's Ball, he mistook his maker, now Darth Vader, for a new droid: he was reassigned as a preschool teacher for a year as punishment.
The droid duo's servitude of the Tantive IV was short lived, however. During a routine drill—supervised by Chief Petty Officer Corla Metonae—that involved the launching of the ship's escape pods, the Tantive IV was attacked by a pirate group from the Karthakk system. The Corvette was forced to flee, leaving its jettisoned pods behind. It was later discovered that C-3PO and his counterpart were aboard one of the abandoned pods. Bail Organa placed high priority on recovering the droids. Following this alarming event, C-3PO and R2-D2 began being traded around by various owners. They found themselves traveling the galaxy serving a series of different masters, such as Ambassador Zell of Majoor. One owner, a glitterstim smuggler, left the droids on Ingo. It was there that they were owned by Thall Joben and Jord Dusat. This got them involved in a speeder race against none other than bounty hunter Boba Fett. When the droids learned that their masters intended to decline a golden desirable opportunity because they refused to have droids' memories erased, they secretly left in an escape pod to allow the humans to avoid making that sacrifice After that, the two helped Jann Tosh and Mon Julpa restore the Tammuz-an monarchy. Later, Tosh, on his way to enroll in the Imperial Academy, left the droids on Manda. It was there that they got jobs at a hotel. From there they went to Biitu and were involved with the Great Heep. Mungo Baobab saved them from the Heep and took the droids back to Manda. Later, on Roon, Baobab found some Roonstones which C-3PO told him were etched with the ancient poem Dha Werda Verda. The Roonstone events even led to C-3PO competing in the Roon Colonial Games. When the droids went with Mungo to the Baobab Archives, however, they were separated from him and sold to a used technological goods trafficker.
When another owner, Governor Wena, put the droids up for auction, they ended up going to Hosk Station. Between there and Kalarba, the droids had a number of adventures with Nak Pitareeze and his family, Olag Greck, and Jace Forno. Though Nak would often disrespect him, Threepio nonetheless cared for the boy and his family. When Plag kidnapped Nak and forced him to fix his ships, Threepio and his counterpart came to the rescue and foiled Greck's plans. One time, Threepio fell out of a speeder and cracked his faceplate. The crude repair job he got afterward was two pieces of tape in the shape of an X. That X on his head led him to be mistaken for C-3PX, an extremely dangerous assassin droid who was wanted in seven systems. Some Hosk Arena promoters who thought Threepio was 3PX tried to make him fight in a droid death match. 3PX later sacrificed himself to save 3PO.
C-3PO and R2-D2 later went with a police droid named Unit Zed to Nar Shaddaa, where Jace Forno blasted off his left leg below the knee. However, the replacement leg that he got actually contained secret programming that overrode his regular personality. The "new" C-3PO led a droid rebellion against Boonda the Hutt. However, his original programming was later restored when R2-D2 replaced his "possessed" leg. After that, the two droids were owned by an Ithorian botanist named Zorneth and then a diplomat, Councilor Harthan.
Some other masters of the droids during this time included Stigrit Krax, Larka Nimondro, Prince Jagoda, Lott Kemp, Jost Ellon, Vik Idd and Nikki Idd, King Gokus, Van P. Quist, and Tyne. After all their many adventures, the droids finally returned to the Tantive IV. Serving the Rebel Alliance, the droids deactivated an Imperial defense system during the Battle of Wayland, allowing the Alliance Fleet to land on Fresia.
When the Tantive IV came under attack by Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer Devastator, C-3PO and R2-D2 were launched in an escape pod on the orders of Princess Leia Organa to deliver a secret message to Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi. On Tatooine, C-3PO and R2-D2 were captured by Jawas, taken into their Sandcrawler, and sold to Owen Lars. In the process of being sold, Threepio managed to convince Owen's nephew, Luke Skywalker, son of his creator Anakin Skywalker, to buy Artoo. He would be their forty-third master.
During a conversation with Luke, Threepio revealed to the lad that he and his counterpart were well acquainted with the rebellion against the Empire. While cleaning R2-D2, Luke stumbled across the hidden message from Princess Leia, though C-3PO claimed he had no idea whom she was and that it may have been old data. That night, R2-D2 made a daring escape from the homestead after Luke had removed his restraining bolt. C-3PO attempted to stop him but was unsuccessful. He would later join Luke in his search through the Jundland Wastes. When they did find R2, they were attacked by Tusken Raiders, causing C-3PO to stumble over and have his arm ripped off. Thankfully, Obi-Wan Kenobi had found them and assisted them back to his home, although C-3PO said that there was no need to risk themselves on his account.
Soon after being repaired and R2 showing Obi-Wan the message from Leia, they discovered the ruined Sandcrawler and Jawas who had sold him. Luke had sped off to discover that Owen and Beru Lars had been murdered by Imperial stormtroopers, leaving C-3PO and R2-D2 in Luke's care. After traveling to Mos Eisley while evading stormtroopers, C-3PO and R2-D2 escaped on the Millennium Falcon with Luke, Obi-Wan, the ship's captain Han Solo, and his first mate Chewbacca, with whom he would assist R2-D2 against in a game of dejarik. After hearing that Wookiees were known to rip peoples' arms out of their sockets when they lost, he gave R2-D2 one final piece of advice: "let the Wookiee win."
Threepio and his allies end up on the Death Star after it is found that their destination, the planet Aldreraan, no longer exists. The droids are left behind in a hangar control center while Luke and Han venture off to rescue the princess. Threepio has trouble with the comlink as the trio are endangered by a closing garbage compactor. R2 reverses the compactor, saving their lives, though Threepio thinks the worst has happened. The sacrifice of Obi-Wan allows the group to escape.
The set up with the Rebel Base on Yavin 4. When Threepio realizes that R2 is going with on the Death Star attack, he tells that he'd better make it back or his life would get boring. R2 suffers damage during the successful attack. Threepio offers to donate any of his parts that would be helpful in his repair. R2-D2 was repaired and looked good as new. It is unknown if C-3PO donated any of his parts.
Following the Battle of Yavin, C-3PO accompanied Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca and R2-D2 on numerous missions for the Alliance. On one such mission, Threepio and Luke encountered the bounty hunter Beilert Valance on Feriae Junction while they were looking for parts to repair Artoo. While exploring Junction City, Threepio and Luke met a man named Skinker who took them to his salvage yard. Unaware of Darth Vader's bounty on himself, Skywalker, and R2-D2, C-3PO and the others fell into a trap. Sensing a trap, Skywalker shoved C-3PO into Skinker's office and dove in after, and then sent the droid out the back way while he tried to hold off the bounty hunter. As Valance was about to deliver the final blow, C-3PO suddenly reappeared and placed himself in front of his master, willing to sacrifice himself to save Skywalker. The boy in turn, concerned for his droid's safety, tried to send him away. Valance, not understanding the droid's actions questioned Threepio. He answered "Certainly it's not widely accepted. But perhaps if it were, even being a cyborg might be easier to bear." Because of Threepio's selfless act, the bounty hunter left them, allowing C-3PO to pick up Skywalker's fallen lightsaber and carry him back to their ship.
During this time, 3PO served as interpreter for and worked with Leia Organa at the Rebels' ring base. He traveled with Luke Skywalker on a mission to Panna to rescue Han Solo for the first time. After arriving on Panna, Threepio and the others encountered the bounty hunter Boba Fett, who was also on the planet seeking to get information from Luke Skywalker about the Rebel Alliance.
C-3PO later related many of these events to Mistress Mnemos, an Alliance BRT Supercomputer, for historical preservation.
When the Alliance was transferred to the ice world of Hoth, C-3PO continued to work with Princess Leia on some personal matters such as drying out her clothes in the frozen environment. C-3PO was responsible for identifying the Empire's probot, alerting the Rebels to the Empire's awareness of their location. Things became worse when Luke Skywalker went missing on a scouting mission. After failing to pinpoint his exact location, Threepio could do little but wait until Han Solo returned with the latter. Fortunately, Skywalker was saved due to the efforts of Solo. Soon afterward in the Battle of Hoth, C-3PO escaped with Han Solo in the Millennium Falcon, while his partner joined Luke in his pursuit of the mysterious Yoda.
During this time, C-3PO and Han developed a strange relationship, with C-3PO quoting odds and Han defying them. Normally, Han would have simply shut C-3PO down but due to the mechanical failures on the Falcon, C-3PO was plugged into the ship and communicated with it to determine the problem (which Han took credit for). He would later comment that the Falcon had a most peculiar dialect. After a chase through the Hoth asteroid field, the Falcon escaped to Cloud City on Bespin. While exploring a room almost immediately after his arrival, C-3PO was blasted by a stormtrooper. Vader demanded his memory be retrieved and when he saw his parts, recognized his creation and ordered its destruction. However, after being gone for far too long, Chewbacca headed to the Ugnaught recycling facility where he found the dismembered droid. When Darth Vader revealed his presence to the group, Chewbacca was sent into a holding cell but, after an apparent change of heart from Vader (perhaps part of his resurgent paternal instinct), was permitted to rebuild the droid, which, much to the displeasure of C-3PO, was done poorly. Chewbacca carried the partially-rebuilt C-3PO on his back during Han Solo's encasement in carbonite.
With the help of the city's administrator, Lando Calrissian, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, and C-3PO were able to escape. Although Chewbacca upon instant release attempted to choke Lando for Han Solo's capture, C-3PO apologized for the enraged Wookiee's behavior, which he feared would be the end of him. Having C-3PO on Chewbacca's back was beneficial: when Boba Fett escaped the city with Han Solo, C-3PO notified them of pursuing stormtroopers. Finally, after a chase through the corridors of Cloud City, the group made it to the Millennium Falcon. R2-D2, whom they found after Luke Skywalker arrived to rescue them, unlocked the door to the landing pad under C-3PO's command. After successfully escaping Vader's flagship, the Executor, C-3PO was fully repaired by R2-D2.
Return of the Jedi
Shortly after escaping Imperials on Cloud City, C-3PO joined in the search for Solo. On one occasion, he and Artoo piloted Han's ship, the Millennium Falcon, and rescued Leia from Prince Xizor.
Roughly a year after escaping Cloud City, Luke commanded C-3PO and R2-D2 to deliver a message to Jabba the Hutt, the gangster who had the encased Han Solo in his palace. Unbeknownst to him, Luke had given the droids to Jabba as a ploy to gain entrance. C-3PO was placed as Jabba's replacement translator while R2-D2 served on his sail barge. C-3PO's first translation for the crime lord was of Boushh claiming the bounty for Chewbacca, whom he had on a chained leash. The meeting became intense when Boushh demanded 50,000 credits and in surprise, Jabba the Hutt smacked C-3PO who then noticed Boushh had a thermal detonator. Fortunately, C-3PO was undamaged and was able to negotiate the deal of 35,000 credits to Boushh (which came as a relief to the paranoid droid). While Boushh was discovered to be Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker infiltrated the palace and killed Jabba's pet rancor in a fierce duel. This angered Jabba and he transferred his court to the sail barge with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca as food for the Sarlacc, while Leia served as Jabba's slave. Just as Luke Skywalker was pushed off the plank, he bounded back up and R2-D2 tossed him his lightsaber. In the midst of the battle, C-3PO was attacked by Salacious B. Crumb, yanking one of his sensors out its socket. Salacious was forced off by R2-D2, which gave C-3PO and R2-D2 a chance to escape the sail barge. Making their way to the platform, R2-D2 pushed C-3PO off and rolled off himself into the sands of the Dune Sea. As the sail barge was burning, the two were quickly rescued and the group headed off planet to the Rebels' gathering on Home One. C-3PO accompanied the strike force to forest moon of Endor to disable the shield generator protecting the Death Star II. When he, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, and R2-D2 were captured by the Ewoks, they thought he was a prophesied god known as the Golden One. Though C-3PO claimed that pretending to be a deity was "against his programming", the droid was brought to Bright Tree Village as an honored guest at a banquet. Meanwhile, his companions were brought to the Ewok village as prisoners, intended to be the main course at a banquet honoring "the Golden One."
Despite the droid's reluctance, Luke Skywalker convinced C-3PO at the banquet to demand that the release of the prisoners. C-3PO told the Ewoks he'd bring down lightning and fire and wrath if his friends were not released. Skywalker then levitated the frightened droid above the clamoring crowd, "proving" to the Ewoks that the droid really did have "magic" powers. Later that night, C-3PO acted as a storyteller, explaining the history and intentions of the Rebels to the tribe. This gained sympathy from the Ewoks and convinced them to help the Rebels at the Battle of Endor.
C-3PO's part in the Battle of Endor was not yet complete, however. After infiltrating the shield bunker and being captured by Imperial forces, C-3PO began the Ewoks' assault on the Empire by calling over a group of stormtroopers with a false surrender. Chaos ensued as Ewoks jumped from hiding and attacked the Imperials, allowing for Han Solo and Leia to reach the bunker controls. When R2-D2 was forced to assist in infiltrating the bunker, C-3PO nevertheless followed, evading enemy fire. The battle ended with the Death Star II's destruction and the death of the Emperor. C-3PO was present at the celebration afterward.