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HomeArticlesLobot – Who in the Galaxy is That? – by Pariah Burke

Lobot – Who in the Galaxy is That? – by Pariah Burke

Appearing onscreen first—and only—in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back as Lando Calrissian’s executive assistant in Cloud City, Lobo has since been fleshed out into a 3-dimensional character with an interesting history as Calrissian’s version of Chewbacca.

There’s an entire galaxy of characters and adventures beyond Luke, Leia, Han, Rey, Finn, Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and the other faces that dominate the Star Wars films. Who in the Galaxy is That? profiles individual characters from the Star Wars universe—from the films, book, comics, and games. From favorite supporting characters to interesting creatures lurking in the background, if you’ve ever asked “hey, who’s that?” Who in the Galaxy is That? strives to tell you.

Lobot

Lobot leads the Cloud City Bespin Wing Guardsmen to greet the Millenium Falcon in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Courtesy LucasFilm/Disney.

Appearing onscreen first—and only—in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back Canon as Lando Calrissian’s executive assistant in Cloud City, Lobo has since been fleshed out into a 3-dimensional character with an interesting history as Calrissian’s version of Chewbacca.

When heroes Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa, Chewbacca, and C-3PO take refuge from the Empire amid the bucolic cloudscape of Bespin’s Cloud City, they find Solo’s “old buddy” Lando Calrissian in charge of the Tibanna gas mining colony that Cloud City comprises. Ever at Calrissian’s side, silently effecting the Baron Administrator’s directives and managing top-level operations, is a human whose bald pate is ringed with a blinking cybernetic halo.

Fans—especially young fans—are instantly curious about the character. Is he a human? Is a he droid made to look human? Is he a combination of both? Some later viewers wonders if the device was similar to the visor worn by Georgi Laforge in Star Trek the Next Generation.

Lando Calrissian activates Lobot from his wrist communicator. Courtesy LucasFilm/Disney.

The other characters’ lack of fascination with Lobot made him all the more interesting to fans. Like so many other fantastic elements of Star Wars, Lobot was treated as commonplace and unremarkable, which piqued viewers’ interest and made them want him remarked upon. Also like so many components of the Star Wars films, Lobot’s genesis was a mixture of inspiration, expedience, snark, and budget.

Lobot is never named in the dialog of The Empire Strikes Back, though his name appears in the credits and on the action figure Kenner released current with the film debut. Originally, he is listed in the script merely as “Lando’s Aide” and “Aide.” He is given the name Lobot late in production as a tongue-in-cheek nod to his origin story; Lando’s aide was lobotomized. The lobotomy that granted the character his cybernetic implant also cancelled out his previously significant spoken dialog, rendering the character a mute. Because his scripted lines were largely throwaway responses to Calrissian, filmmakers did, indeed, throw them away, as they did several of Lobot’s would-be memorable scenes.

Several death scenes for Lobot were filmed and discarded because, as Lobot actor John Hollis stated, filmmakers “were very wary about showing people die.” That attitude is consistent with the switch from filming the character dying to his being captured. “Men in white masks… carted me off,” Hollis said of one scene. The one that was released as a deleted scene from The Empire Strikes Back shows Lobot sneaking around Cloud City before being arrested by Imperial Stormtroopers.

Lobot is arrested by Stormtroopers in a deleted scene from Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Courtesy LucasFilm/Disney.

As interesting as Lobot’s production story is, the character’s in-canon history is more compelling.

Lobot’s brain was connected directly to Cloud City’s computer network. This connection is what enables him to open and close sliding doors and summon the blue-clad Bespin Wing Guardsmen in The Empire Strikes Back. It’s also this connection that enables Lando to activate and summon Lobot with a cadre of Guardsmen double-crossing the Empire with a four-button wrist piece communique about.

Before becoming the creature whose name is a contraction of “lobotomized” and “robot,” Lobot was born in Cloud City. Where he goes from there differs between the old and the new narratives.

Lobot turns the tables on the Imperials and frees Lando Calrissian and company. Courtesy LucasFilm/Disney.

Star Wars Legends ne Expanded Universe tells us that Lobot was once a human who, as a young man, was convicting of thievery. Electing community service over imprisonment unfortunately was the worse choice. The youthful offender was lobotomized and implanted with an AJ^6 cyborg construct or Lobot-Tech headgear. The headgear connected him to the city’s central network, and thus the convicted youth began an intended life-sentence of community service during which he would control “issues of bureaucracy, law enforcement, computer programming and repair, and security, as well as the communication systems, repulsorlifts, and life-support systems.” He fulfilled this role through Calrissian’s administration as well as occupation by the Empire and Zorba the Hutt following Calrissian’s abandonment of his post.

In the new Canon, told largely through the Marvel Comics series LandoCanon, we discover an alternate history for the efficient aide-de-camp.

In this new history, it’s the Empire that implants the AJ^6 cyborg construct as a condition of Lobot’s voluntary employment. The result is the same reduction of personality in exchange for enhanced cerebral processing and productivity. Lobot uses his new ability to run battlefield simulations for the Empire before leaving its employ to join smuggler Lando Calrissian as his First Mate aboard the Millennium Falcon.

Lobot’s story incontinues in the Marvel comic Lando. Courtesy Marvel Comics.

Some time after Calrissian loses the Millennium Falcon in a game of sabacc, the pair find themselves embroiled in a complicated, multi-part scam involving a crime boss, Imperial Moff, partners whom Calrissian had harmed in the past, and the theft of Emperor Palpatine’s personal yacht. After a double-cross, a space battle, and an infiltration, Lobot is severely wounded. As a result of the injury, his implants attempt to take over his brain; it’s all the wounded man can do to fight them back and maintain control of his own mind. Ultimately, he loses that battle, sacrificing his personality to save the lives of Calrissian and another friend.

Lobot remains with Calrissian, following him to Bespin as Chief Administrative Aide when Calrissian assumes leadership of the mining colony as Baron Administrator.

Imperial occupation of Cloud City ends shortly after the Emperor is killed at Endor and Cloud City falls under the rule of Zorba the Hutt. Lobot continues his service running day-to-day operations of the colony but also secretly feeding intelligence to Calrissian, now a general of the New Republic.

Lobot’s AJ^6 cyborg construct or Lobot-Tech headgear. Courtesy LucasFilm/Disney.

What in the Galaxy are those Symbols?

Throughout Who in the Galaxy is That? profiles you may encounter one or more of the following symbols.

Here’s what they mean:

Canon
Sources and media cited as canon contain information that is officially part of the Star Wars film universe, which also includes non-film media such as books, comic books, games, and more. This means the information is officially part of the history of Star Wars that appears in the films. It came from, or may appear within or influence, the events of a Star Wars film.
Legends
Following Return of the Jedi, George Lucas stated that he would not make other Star Wars movies. He then opened Star Wars to other creators and media. Carefully overseen by Lucas’s company, Lucas Arts, hundreds of new Star Wars novels, comic books and graphic novels, video games, and television shows were created to expand the Star Wars universe and tell stories in all directions—from thousands of years before Luke Skywalker was born to thousands of years after, from filling in the histories of the greatest Star Wars legends to bringing life to every background alien in the Cantina scene. This was the Star Wars Expanded Universe, and it was all canon until new Star Wars films were once again possible. Disney and Lucas Arts then found themselves penned in by the massive amount of material from other creators and projects. They simply couldn’t make Episode VII and beyond because every moment in the lives of the major characters of Han, Luke, Leia, and others had already been chronicled in the Expanded Universe, and very little of that could easily be translated to feature films easily followed by, and appealing to, the many different types of Star Wars fans who loved the Original Trilogy. As a result, a large portion of the formerly-canon Expanded Universe stories were declared non-canon, unofficial in terms of the film continuity. The stories still exist and continue to expand, but now in an alternate reality called Star Wars Legends while other new stories are created alongside them within the universe of the films.
Fandom-Created
Though rare, you’ll see this symbol appear from time-to-time in Who in the Galaxy is That? Star Wars fans are many and varied, and they like to create their own movies, stories, comics, artwork, and more based in the Star Wars universe. Occasionally, a fan-created work is so good and becomes so popular that it gains super star status all on its own. When such rarities relate to the characters profiled in Who in the Galaxy is That?, they are identified by the Fandom-Created symbol.

Suggest a Character to Profile

Have you ever wondered, “who in the galaxy is that?” Tell us in the comments who you’ve wondered about in the Star Wars universe of films, books, comics, games, and even toys. If you know the character’s name, tell us, but if you don’t know a name, tell us where we can find the character that has piqued your curiosity. Something like “the third bounty hunter from the left in the Star Destroyer scene in Empire Strikes Back” works quite well in directing us to who you’re thinking about. Whomever you wonder about, we might just profile in Who in the Galaxy is That?

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