For all the good Princess Leia Organa has done for the Star Wars galaxy, she hasn’t had it easy, that’s for damn sure. She’s sacrificed a lot to try to keep the peace, and it seems like every time she has one victory, something else happens to screw it up. This also includes her personal life, which, to be honest, has really never run smoothly.
She has lost children, a husband, and a brother; she has watched entire populations destroyed because of her defiance against the evil doers; she’s even nearly lost her life in any number of dangerous ways.
Today, we’ve collected some of the most terrible things that have happened to Leia over the years, from both the non-canon Star Wars Legends books and comics, to the well-known films and updated original canon.
Here are 20 awful things poor Leia has had to endure through the years.
20. INJURED BY DARTH VADER IN A LIGHTSABER FIGHT/SLAPPED BY LUKE
The Legends books, formerly known as the Extended Universe, started coming out right after A New Hope was released, with the first novel, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, being published in 1978. Written by Alan Dean Foster, the story follows Leia and Luke as they navigate a jungle planet in a race to retrieve a special gem before it lands in the hands of the evil Empire.
A number of crappy things happen to Leia in the book, but the worst is when she is severely injured by Darth Vader in a lightsaber fight after trying to defend Luke. Also, there’s the moment when her brother has to convince the Imperial soldiers Leia is his servant girl by slapping her. Not cool. She later admonishes Luke for hitting her, and they end up playfully rolling around in mud, making us all feel very uncomfortable. Even though they don’t know they are siblings yet, WE do, and it just kind of makes our skin crawl.
19. SENDS REBELS TO THEIR DEATHS ON VROGAS VAS
Marvel relaunched the Star Wars comic series in 2015 with brand new original stories that take place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. The crossover comic series Vader Down, for example, finds the legendary Sith Lord in a precarious situation.
The second chapter of the comic, “Darth Vader #13, Vader Down Part II,” Vader crash lands on the planet Vrogas Vas, which is also home to a Rebel base. Because he’s all by his lonesome, Leia et. al. deems him vulnerable, and so she sends in Rebel soliders to kill the evil Sith Lord once and for all. Except Vader proves to be way more powerful than they anticipated, and he ends up destroying everyone in his path, using the Dark side to its full effect. Unlike the small amount of the Force we see Vader use in A New Hope, this is the first time (in the timeline, anyway) we see how he can wield his powers for maximum destructiveness. Having sent all those men to a purposeless death has to affect Leia, big time.
18. KIDNAPPED BY HAN SOLO
In the 1994 Legends novel, The Courtship of Princess Leia, by Dave Wolverton, Darth Vader and the Empire are finally defeated. Leia has been named the head of the New Republic, but her relationship with Han is strained. In fact, Leia seriously contemplates a proposal from Prince Isolder, the son of Ta’a Chume, the current ruler of the Hapes Consortium. The marriage would be very advantageous for the Alliance, and it would provide them with some much needed support.
Well, this doesn’t sit well with Han at all. Beside himself with jealousy, he elects to abduct Leia against her will to try to win her heart. He takes her to Dathomir in a retooled Millennium Falcon, but instead of wooing her like he planned, they get caught up in another mission battling Imperial forces. After their adventure fighting side by side, the two realize how much they do love each other and marry. It just took a little kidnapping to make Leia see the light, that’s all.
17. PALPATINE’S SPIRIT ALMOST TAKES OVER HER UNBORN CHILD
In the comic series Dark Empire, Emperor Palpatine seems to be defeated — but wait, he is actually able to clone himself in order to continue his evil pursuits against the Jedi! Plot twist! Unfortunately, the clone bodies don’t seem to last very long, so Palpatine is looking to find a more permanent host.
When he discovers Leia is pregnant with her third child with Han Solo – and that unborn child, Anakin Solo, is already strong with the Force – Palpatine seeks to inject his “essence” into the kid while he’s still in Leia’s womb. Talk about invading one’s personal space. Palapatine almost accomplishes his task, but he is killed once and for all by Han’s blaster and the dying spirit of Empatojayos Brand, a veteran Jedi Knight who sacrifices himself by dragging Palpatine into oblivion and vanquishing him forever.
16. THE DEATH OF HER SON
In the Legends books, Anakin Solo is a bit of a tortured soul. He’s kind and loyal, and he has the Force running through him something fierce. But being named after his maternal grandfather leaves him uneasy as a kid, and he worries he’s going to become evil like his granddad. Leia and Han, along with his Uncle Luke, do what they can to allay his fears, and Anakin grows up to be a stalwart Jedi Knight.
In the 2001 novel Star by Star by Troy Denning, Anakin leads a team of Jedi to Myrkr in the Yuuzhan Vong war and ultimately sacrifices his life to save his friends and defeat a dangerous enemy. Leia had always said she felt bad about placing that “burden” on him by naming him Anakin, but she should have been proud to know he died with honor.
15. HER OTHER SON’S DARK FATE
Unfortunately, Leia’s eldest son, Jacen Solo, does not fare as well (or, at least as honorably), and she has to live with the fact that he turned to the Dark Side and then died for it. In the non-canon novels, Jacen starts out as a good kid, training with his Uncle Luke alongside his siblings — twin sister Jaina and little bro Anakin — at the Jedi Academy. He becomes a masterful Jedi Knight, but he is plagued by apocalyptic visions of the future (sound familiar?) and ends up succumbing to the darkness within because he believes it’s for the greater good.
After becoming Darth Caedus and seizing control of the Galactic Alliance, he tortures his former apprentice and cousin Ben Skywalker, among other such horrible things. His most evil act comes when he murders his aunt, Mara Jade Skywalker (Luke’s wife), after she tries to help him. This ultimately leads to his death, when his twin sister Jaina is forced to kill him in an epic lightsaber battle.
14. CAPTURED BY DARTH VADER
Along with the terrible things that happened to Princess Leia in the comics and Legends books, we delve into the Star Wars movies to take a look at some of her more unfortunate experiences there, starting with her being captured by Darth Vader for the first time.
As we all well know, at the beginning of A New Hope, Leia downloads the stolen plans she received on how to take down the Death Star (thanks to the exploits of Jyn Erso and her band of rebels in Rogue One) into droid R2-D2, just as Vader and the Stormtroopers are about to board her ship. R2 and C-3PO go off in search of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s help, while Leia is captured and brought to Vader. She greets him confidently, saying that she’d recognize “his foul stench” anywhere. She feigns ignorance to the whereabouts of the stolen plans, but Vader knows she’s lying and has more nefarious plans for her. They aren’t pleasant.
13. TORTURED BY DARTH VADER
Darth Vader uses a very nasty looking device called a mind probe on Leia to try and extract the whereabouts of the stolen plans and the Rebel base. According to Star Wars lore, the mind probe, designed by the Imperial Security Bureau, “would inject the prisoner with a mentally disabling chemical that would decrease the pain threshold, while also forcing the subject to remain conscious. IT-O would do a read on the body, detecting the most sensitive areas like the genitals, joints, neck and many other less obvious body parts. Occasionally, the prisoner’s vision may be obscured. A single torture session would usually last well over an hour.”
12. HER HOME PLANET GETS DESTROYED BY THE DEATH STAR
Oh, right. That. The evil Darth Vader ends up taking her to the Death Star to show her just how destructive it can be. Joining them in this demonstration of power is the Empire’s bigwig Grand Moff Tarkin, who orders the complete annihilation of Leia’s home planet, Alderaan, unless the Princess gives up the Rebels’ location. She finally acquiesces when faced with the possible loss of a billion people and tells them that the base they seek is on Dantooine.
Regardless of the information, Tarkin goes ahead and destroys Alderaan anyway with a single blast from the Death Star, while a pained Leia is forced to watch. In the non-canon books, this action backfires on Tarkin for going rogue and destroying Alderaan without authorization, which causes embarrassment for the Empire. Also, the thousands of Alderaanians who were not on the planet when it was destroyed immediately join the Rebellion in their great fight.
11. NEARLY GETS CRUSHED IN A TRASH COMPACTOR
While Leia is grateful to Luke, Han, and Chewbacca for attempting to rescue her from the Death Star, she wishes they had a better escape plan, or, more to the point, any plan whatsoever. As they engage in a firefight with the Stormtroopers and are seemingly trapped in a hallway, our take-charge girl blasts a hole into the wall and they (unknowingly) jump right into the ship’s trash compactor. This is also known as a garbage masher, a metal chamber whose walls would come together, compressing and crushing the garbage in the process.
Sure enough, the walls start to close in, recognizing refuse, and the four frantically look for something to stop it. Luke finally contacts C-3PO and R2-D2 and gets them to turn off the compactor just in time. Let’s just say, Leia is not amused with these “rescuers” – even if the boys are kind of cute.
10. ALMOST GETS EATEN BY A GIANT SPACE SLUG
Being on the run with Han in The Empire Strikes Back frustrates poor Leia to no end – but of course, this is also the adventure where they fall in love, so it turns out pretty good. Still, when the Millennium Falcon is chased by Imperial TIE fighters, and Han ends up hiding them in what they believe is a crater inside a large asteroid, something is fishy.
Turns out that the “crater” is actually an Exogorth, also known as a giant space slug that likes to live in asteroids and feed off minerals there, along with floating debris or even space ships, if one happens to buzz by. When Han fires off his blaster while inside, Mr. Exogorth doesn’t take too kindly to being blasted inside his belly. Leia, Han, and the rest barely escape the slug’s giant jaws.
9. HAN GETS ENCASED IN CARBONITE
This has to be one of the most heartbreaking moments of Leia’s life (at least on the big screen). Landing in Cloud City to seek safe haven under the protection of Han’s friend and resident head honcho, Lando Calrissian, they soon discover that they’ve walked into a trap. Darth Vader arrived in the city earlier on and forced Calrissian into betraying them.
While Leia and Chewie are taken into custody by the Imperial forces, Vader has made a side deal with the bounty hunter Boba Fett to take Han back to Jabba the Hutt. In fact, Jabba wants Han forever encased in carbonite so he can display the outlaw smuggler in his lair. As Han is lowered into the chamber, Leia — again being forced to watch by Vader — tells him she loves him, to which he replies with one of the best lines in the Star Wars canon: “I know.”
8. ENSLAVED BY JABBA THE HUTT
What an icky, nauseating feeling it must have been for Leia to be chained next to a giant, smelly, slobbery slug, wearing nothing but a bikini. We’re pretty sure everyone else watching this feels her pain – except for maybe the throngs of male fans who fantasize about Leia in that bikini. They were probably pretty okay with this one.
As it goes in The Return of the Jedi, Leia almost manages to rescue her love Han Solo, showing up at Jabba’s palace on Tatooine disguised as a bounty hunter. She manages to free Han from the carbonite, but is immediately caught by Jabba and subjugated to be a pretty plaything by his side. Unfortunately for Jabba, he doesn’t quite realize who he is dealing with. It’s incredibly satisfying to see Leia strangle the “Bloated One” with her own chains.
7. MURDEROUS EWOKS ATTEMPT TO SACRIFICE HER FRIENDS
Okay, so it’s fair to say the Ewoks are not very scary overall, and when Leia first encounters the lone Ewok, he’s super cuddly, totally cute, and he helps her. But as a collective, despite their teddy bear looks, the Ewoks are a formidable force. And while they, more or less, are accepting of Leia, they are not too fond of Han, Luke, or Chewbacca, who have come to rescue her. In fact, they want to sacrifice the boys to the god they think is C-3PO. It’s a pretty messy situation all around.
Leia unsuccessfully tries to intervene, but it takes Luke’s Force skills and C-3PO’s diplomatic programming to quell the Ewoks’ murderous intent and win them over. Given the group of troublemakers she typically runs with, you’d think Leia would be used to all of this by now.
6. FINDS OUT DARTH VADER IS HER FATHER AND LUKE IS HER BROTHER
A double whammy, to say the least. While Luke being her brother is actually a positive thing, a joining of two Force-like minds, Leia has to be cringing a little over the fact she a) kissed him in A New Hope and b) flirted with him big time in the early Legends books. Of course, she has always loved him, but still… she has to feel a little weird about it once she discovers he is her twin brother.
But knowing the man who destroyed her home world, killed so many of her Rebel forces, tortured her, and, well, generally did a ton of really bad things…to find out that that guy is her father has got to hurt. Granted, by the time she finds out the truth (as told to her by Luke), Vader has been redeemed, sacrificing his life to save his son and, in essence, becoming Anakin Skywalker once again. Still, it takes a whole lot of good will to be able to forgive someone like that. Leia is made of some strong stuff.
5. SEES HER POLITICAL CAREER RUINED FOR BEING DARTH VADER’S DAUGHTER
Oh, and by the way, being Darth Vader’s daughter basically kills her political career as well, according to the new set of canon material released in conjunction with the 2015 film The Force Awakens. In the 2016 novel Bloodline, Leia has become a senator, and even though times are peaceful, there is still much infighting within the New Republic. The Galactic Senate wants to elect a First Senator to bring a divided galaxy together, and Leia would be the perfect candidate, but many distrust her because of her bloodline to Vader and do not want her to hold such a powerful position.
Then, when a new outside threat (the First Order) begins to loom on the horizon, the New Republic refuses to recognize it. Leia decides enough is enough and leaves the Senate for good to become the general for the newly formed Resistance army. Buh-bye Galactic politics!
4. HER ONSCREEN SON IS A HOMICIDAL MANIAC
As we stated above, the Ben offspring in the Legends lore is a Skywalker, not a Solo, and he does not turn to the Dark side. It’s Jacen Solo who does, and so for The Force Awakens, it looks like they combined elements from the now non-canon novels to create Ben Solo, Leia and Han’s only son, who is ultimately swayed to evil by the Supreme Leader Snoke of the First Order and becomes the Force-ful Kylo Ren.
Kylo’s backstory, however, is far more sinister than his Legends counterpart. We learn that Leia has to watch Ben go off the rails after he joins Snoke and destroys his uncle Luke’s Jedi temple, killing all of those who were there training to become Jedi in a new effort to rebuild the Jedi Order. It’s hard to come back from that, but as we’ve seen her do with her father, Leia has the capacity to forgive and hope for the good in her son to return. Whether she feels the same way following the events in our #1 entry, however, remains to be seen.
3. ABANDONED BY HER BROTHER AND HUSBAND
Kylo’s actions also deeply affect Luke and Kylo’s dad, Han, basically driving them both off and leaving poor Leia on her own. First, Luke survives the attack and feels like it’s his fault Ben became Kylo, and so he goes into exile, presumably in search of the first Jedi Temple.
As for Han, he and Leia were having issues before their son went dangerously rogue. In the canon novel Aftermath: Empire’s End — which covers what happens between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens — Han is a bit bored with regular married life and yearns for his smuggling days, often going off on small adventures without Leia. Then their only son becomes the “Jedi killer.” This is a breaking point for Han, and he’s compelled to leave for good. He teams up again with Chewbacca to pursue his old way of life. Leia loses all three of the most important men in her life in one fell swoop.
2. WATCHES THE HOSNIAN SYSTEM DESTROYED BY FIRST ORDER
At this point, Leia must be pretty fed up with these evil men and their death weapons. As the First Order gains in power, they too create an instrument of genocide: Starkiller Base, which is a more advanced version of the Death Star capable of wiping out entire star systems. To show the Resistance who’s boss, General Hux convinces Snoke that if they annihilate the Hosnian system, which includes Hosnian Prime, the capital of the New Republic, along with part of the Republic starfleet, they would wipe out the government, thus rendering the Resistance powerless. Snoke agrees and bam! Hosnian is gone.
Leia is naturally devastated, but this action achieves the exact opposite of its intended effect, and the Resistance responds by destroying the Starkiller Base. Look, it’s probably a wise move to not mess with Leia.
1. LOSES THE LOVE OF HER LIFE FOR GOOD
Up to this point, Leia has had many trials and tribulations in life, but she’s also found love with Han Solo, and for awhile, they are happy together. Until they aren’t and he leaves. Still, in The Force Awakens, when they are reunited so many years later, the love is still palpable between them. That is until it’s snuffed out by their totally ungrateful son, Kylo Ren, who skewers his dad with a lightsaber. Thankfully, Leia is spared from having to watch her true love get murdered firsthand, but with her intuitive Force-like senses, she immediately feels his death. It’s hard enough for us to watch as viewers; we can’t imagine what went through Leia’s brain at that moment.
We’re sure this won’t be the last worst thing that happens to Leia. There’s still the next Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi, and the subsequent novels and comics to follow. One just hopes if she does finally meet her end, she’s reunited with Han forever, in peace.
Did we miss any of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad things that have happened to Leia over the years? Let us know in the comments.