C-3PO Met A Gruesome End In Early Versions Of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Near the end of Irvin Kershner's 1980 space epic "Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back," the roguish Han Solo (Harrison Ford), the outspoken Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), the friendly wookiee Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and the persnickety droid C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) hide in the Cloud City mining colony on the planet Bespin, hoping to elude capture by the evil Empire. Han, who has been pursued throughout the film, assumes they'll be safe in Cloud City, as its Baron Administrator, a man named Lando (Billy Dee Williams), is an old friend and gambling buddy. Little do they know, however, that the Empire infiltrated Cloud City before them and Lando struck a bargain to avoid a permanent Imperial occupation.

Lando's betrayal is foreshadowed dramatically when C-3PO walks into a room on Cloud City and reacts fearfully to the individual inside. There is then a zapping sound of a blaster going off, sending C-3PO's smoking, severed head skittering across the floor. Luckily, C-3PO is a machine, so reassembling him is a relatively simple task (even if it's hard to tell which way round his head goes). For a moment, though, it appeared that the droid has been destroyed. The sight of the droid's disembodied head must have come as a shock to the young kids watching the film when it first hit theaters.

In the February 2000 issue of Star Wars Insider Magazine, though, it was revealed that C-3PO was originally meant to be disassembled even more severely. Rather than merely being shot, C-3PO was to face the evil warlock Darth Vader (David Prowse), and Vader was to ...

Well, have you seen Steven Spielberg's "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom?" Specifically the scene wherein Mola Ram (Amrish Puri) reaches into a man's chest and pulls out his still-beating heart?

Yeah, that.

Darth Vader gave C-3PO the Mola Ram treatment

Evidently, while the story for "The Empire Strikes Back" was still being brainstormed, there was going to be a version of the above scene that was more elaborate. Darth Vader was to capture the film's heroes and then be presented with the scattered remains of the friendly droid that a random Stormtrooper had shot. Darth Vader would then reach into C-3PO's blasted-apart torso and rip out his robotic heart. He would squeeze the heart in his fist, crushing it and killing C-3PO.

I'm guessing that, if that scene were included in "The Empire Strikes Back," then C-3PO would've not been present for its sequel, "Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi."

When "The Empire Strikes Back" came out in 1980, it was assumed that C-3PO was a mere protocol droid that someone had purchased long ago. In 1999, however, with the release of George Lucas' "Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace," it was revealed that C-3PO was built by a young enslaved boy named Anakin Skywalker, mostly as an engineering exercise. Anakin, as any "Star Wars" fan could tell you, grew up to become Darth Vader. It would've been a pretty bleak conceit, having Vader "kill" the droid he himself built as a child.

In the final film, C-3PO survived the ordeal and was reassembled properly. Indeed, he would go on to be in many more "Star Wars" films and TV shows, including his own animated series, "Droids," and eight additional movies, making C-3PO the most ubiquitous player across all of "Star Wars" media alongside his frequent companion, the droid R2-D2. Thanks to Disneyland rides, audiobooks, and video games, Anthony Daniels has participated in more "Star Wars" projects than any other actor.