One of the most recognizable (and possibly the snarkiest) robots in pop culture, R2-D2 is a true staple in Star Wars lore. He appears in almost every Star Wars movie ever made (even with a cameo in Rogue One), and the story never would have worked without him. From the beginning of the Skywalker saga to its epic end, he remains a hero unlike any other.
And that's just one of many reasons fans of the franchise scratch their heads when he reunites with Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope. Despite years of adventures together, the Jedi doesn't appear to recognize the droid at all. It makes no sense ... or does it?
Why doesn't Obi-Wan recognize R2-D2 in 'A New Hope'?
Obi-Wan's now famous "Hello there!" line marks the beginning of his decades-long presence in the Star Wars franchise. When A New Hope (then just called Star Wars) first released in 1977, this was also the first time he presumably met both Luke Skywalker and sassy astromech droid R2-D2.
As more stories have released since, audiences now know this was not, in fact, his initial introduction to either party. He first met R2-D2 way back in The Phantom Menace, and 2022's Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney+ revealed he briefly met Luke when the boy was much younger.
So if Obi-Wan and R2 met before, why did the former act like he was just meeting the droid for the first time?
There are two possible answers to this question — one "real world" answer and the other a much more fun "in-universe" fan theory. Practically, when A New Hope was written, the other stories contradicting any of the events in that movie didn't exist yet. In George Lucas's head, it's very possible Obi-Wan had actually never met R2 prior to their joint presence on Tatooine.
Only later, as other movies were released, did such circumstances change.
However, there are Star Wars fan theories suggesting Obi-Wan pretended not to know R2 on purpose. He hid himself away on the planet with the sole purpose of protecting Luke, and during that first meeting, he was still trying to shield the boy from harm. Not letting on that he and R2 fought in the Clone Wars together prevented him from learning the truth about his bloodline too soon.
Obi-Wan technically didn't lie to Luke when they first met.
It's the "I don't remember ever owning a droid" line that trips viewers up. But Obi-Wan technically isn't lying when he says it ... from a certain point of view, that is.
Obi-Wan never technically owned R2-D2 or any droid in the prequels. R2 belonged to Padmé Amidala before she gifted him to Anakin Skywalker, and after the war, both R2 and C-3PO became the property of Bail Organa. Obi-Wan knew him, but never owned him.
But Obi-Wan stretched the truth in many ways with Luke, knowing he wasn't prepared for the full story of Anakin's fall to the dark side at the time. All of Luke's life, Obi-Wan did everything in his power to protect him, even after the Jedi Master became one with the Force.