IS C-3PO’s red arm in The Force Awakens the Star Wars Easter Egg we all failed to spot?

Is it part of the oldest Star Wars tradition?

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We thought we’d finally solved the mystery of C-3PO’s red arm in The Force Awakens a few weeks ago, when a brand-new Star Wars comic revealed that Anthony Daniels’ prissy protocol droid had picked it up from a nihilistic pal in a weird civil rights-themed adventure

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Done and dusted. Or so we thought – because one fan has now theorised that we all completely missed the point of C-3PO’s scarlet appendage, which may well go back to one of Star Wars’ earliest traditions.

Think back. Amid all its nostalgic glory and recreations of classic Star Wars scenes (from the Cantina and the assault on a planet-sized base to Poe’s message hidden in BB-8), what was the one thing missing?

The one element appearing at least once in more or less every Star Wars film to date, yet completely left out of this one? A reference so well-known and beloved that even Marvel films have started to include it in every movie?

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Yes, that’s right – there was no arm or hand severed in The Force Awakens, with even Kylo Ren’s defeat in battle resulting in a gnarly scar rather than the villain going hands-free.

It’s quite a puzzling absence in the film considering how tied in to the originals it otherwise is, which led redditor imnottaylor to wonder: was C-3PO’s offscreen severed arm a sly nod to this tendency in the previous films, and its replacement a callback to all the times Luke and Vader got their own new robo-hands?

We’ll probably never know sure if he’s right, but if he was it’s definitely one of the sneakiest Star Wars gags we’ve ever seen – hands down.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens is available on DVD now