Princess Leia will get a heartfelt send-off this year in The Rise of Skywalker, the culmination of Disney’s Star Wars sequel trilogy and the Skywalker saga as a whole. Carrie Fisher sadly passed away between filming Episodes VIII and IX, so there won’t be any new footage in the movie, but some unused takes from The Force Awakens will be utilized to ensure that the iconic character – and the iconic actress who played her for 40 years – will get a fitting tribute. And there will, of course, still be her past adventures to continue to rewatch.
10 “Aren’t you a little short for a Stormtrooper?”
At the beginning of A New Hope, Darth Vader boarded the Tantive IV command ship and abducted Princess Leia. She was taken aboard the Death Star and forced to watch her home planet get destroyed before being locked in a holding cell. Meanwhile, Luke, Han, Chewie, and Obi-Wan have been sneaking onto the space station, so it’s not long before Luke finds Leia’s cell. Ostensibly, this is a damsel-in-distress situation where a female character is depending on a man to rescue her. But Leia keeps a level head and remains indifferent to her captors. When her savior enters the cell in Stormtrooper armor, she doesn’t swoon over him – she says, “Aren’t you a little short for a Stormtrooper?”
9 Calling Han a “nerf herder”
Leia and Han have one of the most complicated relationships in the Star Wars saga. It’s not a typical “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl” Hollywood cliché. Initially, Han and Leia are indifferent towards each other. She hates his roguish nature and lack of heroism, while he hates the fact that she’s royalty. However, over the course of The Empire Strikes Back – and later in Return of the Jedi – they fall in love. But before all that, when they’re at the Rebel base on Hoth before the Empire arrives, she calls him a “stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder.”
8 Passing the Bechdel test in one sentence
Despite the fact that it technically has a female lead, Star Wars: The Force Awakens would not pass the Bechdel test – the famous test to determine if women are properly represented in movies – if it wasn’t for six words uttered by General Leia.
Right as Rey is about the set off on her mission to find Luke, Leia tells her, “May the Force be with you.” Leia has just lost Han at this point, so she’s not feeling particularly great, but as always, she’s holding onto any semblance of hope she can muster. In this case, it’s the promise that she’ll be reunited with her long-lost twin brother.
7 Her Force flight
One of the many things that Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi was controversial for was Leia’s space flight, which some fans saw as an inconsistency in the mythology of the Force. But as far as Leia’s character development goes, it was a pretty great scene. Leia is a direct descendant of the Skywalker bloodline. If her father can use the Force and her twin brother can use the Force and her son can use the Force, then why can’t she use the Force? If she hadn’t used it by her fifth movie, then it needed to be something spectacular – and flying through space after being blown out the side of a ship into the vacuum of space is pretty spectacular.
6 Insulting Grand Moff Tarkin
After Princess Leia is first brought onto the Death Star, she refuses to show any signs of being scared. That’s the mark of a courageous person. When Darth Vader is towering over her, she doesn’t show – or even feel, it seems – any fear. And when she’s brought in front of Grand Moff Tarkin, Vader’s right-hand man, who also towers over her (although not to the same degree), she insults him: “I recognized your foul stench when I was brought aboard.” Most people, when standing in front of the foreboding Darth Vader, would cower and tell him whatever he wanted to know, but not Leia.
5 Her first appearance in The Force Awakens
On the whole, The Force Awakens was criticized for rehashing the plot of A New Hope, which is such a shame, because the best and most memorable parts of The Force Awakens are the ones that don’t mirror plot points from George Lucas’ 1977 masterpiece. Namely, when the Resistance arrives at Maz Kanata’s castle to help protect it from the First Order and, in the aftermath of the combat, Princess Leia – or, as she’s now known, General Leia, emerges from her ship. It’s the first time she’s seen Han in years, and the look they give each other is as heartwarming as it is tragic.
4 Firing at Stormtroopers on the Death Star
Even though it’s technically Luke Skywalker and Han Solo who come to Princess Leia’s rescue on the Death Star, she’s the one who gets them out of there. They cut off the only escape route, which Leia points out to them, proving she doesn’t really care that they “saved” her, because they didn’t really save her.
It’s more of an ongoing situation where they all save each other a couple of times. She declares, “Somebody has to save our skins,” before returning fire to all the Stormtroopers that have blocked them in and directing her new friends down the garbage chute.
3 “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”
When Darth Vader comes aboard Tantive IV, Princess Leia doesn’t panic. Her mind doesn’t go blank. She knows exactly what to do. She records a message onto R2-D2’s memory drive asking Obi-Wan Kenobi for help. Then, she gets R2-D2 into an escape pod with C-3PO and sends them to Tatooine. It would take them a while to find Obi-Wan – getting captured by the Jawas and then sold to a moisture farmer whose live-in nephew happened to be an old acquaintance of Obi-Wan – but the plan worked out perfectly and led to the Rebel Alliance’s success, all thanks to Leia’s quick thinking.
2 Her final moment with Han
Mark Hamill has expressed his disappointment that Luke Skywalker never got to share a final moment with Han Solo before his death in The Force Awakens, because Luke didn’t appear until the very end. But thankfully, Leia did get a last moment with Han. At the Resistance’s base of operations, before Han headed to Starkiller Base in the hopes of bringing his and Leia’s son back from the Dark Side (in retrospect, a tragically futile, yet worthwhile effort), she gave him a hug. It was one of the most instantly memorable moments in the movie, and the emotion from the scene comes from the earnest chemistry shared by Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford.
1 Strangling Jabba the Hutt
We catch up with the Rebels at the beginning of Return of the Jedi as they all separately infiltrate Jabba the Hutt’s palace on Tatooine to try to save Han from being hung on Jabba’s wall, frozen in carbonite. Leia arrives and backs down Jabba with a hand grenade. She eventually gets captured and is forced to wear a bikini and gets shackled up as a slave. However, later in the movie, she gets retribution. During the skirmish over the Great Pit of Carkoon, while Luke, Han, Lando, and Chewie are all down on a smaller skiff fighting the guards, she wraps her chains around Jabba’s neck and strangles him. This Hutt was a fearsome gangland kingpin, and Leia killed him.