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Star Wars: What Does BB-8 Stand For?

Star Wars character names are just as fascinating to dig into as the lively backstories of those who inhabit the galaxy far, far away. And few characters in Star Wars media are as lively as BB-8. Playing a significant role in the sequel trilogy and appearing in shows like "Forces of Destiny" and "Star Wars Resistance," it's safe to say that the adorable droid is one of the most beloved Star Wars characters introduced since Disney acquired Lucasfilm.

So, what went into BB-8's moniker? Similar to R2-D2's name, in the Star Wars universe, BB-8's name references his classification as a BB-series astromech droid. The real-world origins of his name relate to his physicality. In a 2015 interview with Entertainment Weekly, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" director J.J. Abrams shut down rumors that the droid's name took inspiration from his longtime producing partner Bryan Burk. The filmmaker explained, "I named him BB-8 because it was almost onomatopoeia. It was sort of how he looked to me, with the 8, obviously, and then the 2 B's."

The "2 B's" Abrams refers to are balls, which inspired the character's shape and design that he initially sketched on a napkin (later refined by concept designer Christian Alzmann). As a result, "Ball-Bot" is what stuck for the soon-to-be fan-favorite droid. 

BB-8 almost had a very different name

Fans may not agree about everything regarding Disney's many changes to the Star Wars universe, but it's hard to argue against BB-8 being the best name for the sequel trilogy's lovable flagship droid. Even without J.J. Abrams' explanation, it's easy to draw clear comparisons between BB-8's design and a soccer ball, adding to the character's widespread appeal. But believe it or not, the seemingly perfect name was not his initial title. 

In a 2018 interview with Endor Express, creature design and effects veteran Neal Scanlan talked about his extensive work on "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and "Star Wars: The Last Jedi." When asked how soon he and his team conjure up names for their imaginative creations, he shared that they are initially more concerned with nailing down the personalities and designs. This was the case for BB-8, who had a surprisingly simple name at first. "BB-8, for instance, started out as Snow Girl or Globe at one time — there were four or five names for BB-8," Scanlan said. "BB-8 didn't come until VERY, very late, and that's probably for very good reasons as he's such an important character."

It's unlikely that a name like Snow Girl would do the droid much justice, perhaps hurting its chances of becoming a fan favorite. Let's be glad that the Force was with J.J. Abrams and company, and they made the change.