The tide of the Galactic Civil War forever changed when Luke Skywalker blew up the Death Star. The galaxy recognized that the Empire was vulnerable and that the Rebellion actually stood a chance. Before settling on Hoth, though, many important events actually occurred between Star Wars: Episode IV -- A New Hope and Star Wars: Episode V -- The Empire Strikes Back. The Rebellion attempted to press their advantage by recruiting more allies to their cause and destroying key Imperial facilities. The Empire had to pick up the pieces of their devastating loss and prove to the galaxy that they were still in control.
At the heart of this time period are the original trilogy's core characters. Darth Vader must prove to the Emperor that he can still be his master's right-hand and the true enforcer of the Empire's will. He obsessively searches for the rebel pilot that blew up the Death Star while going to great lengths to reassert his position within the Empire. Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3PO continue to team up on missions to aid the Rebellion and continue the momentum in their fight against the Empire. While helping his friends and the Rebellion, Luke also tries to further his understanding and connection with the Force and the Jedi.
Here is Star Wars: 15 Things You Didn't Know Happened Between Episodes 4 And 5.
15 Luke And Darth Vader Had Their First Lightsaber Duel
Before their iconic duel in The Empire Strikes Back, Luke and Vader's lightsabers first clashed in the midst of an Imperial weapons factory. Located on the planet Cymoon 1, Luke was there to infiltrate and destroy the weapons factory alongside Leia, Han, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3PO. What they didn't count on was Vader arriving at the factory and threatening their whole operation. While adapting the plan, Luke crossed paths with Vader. Enraged by the memory of Vader striking down Obi-Wan and believing that Vader also killed his father, Luke foolishly engaged the Sith Lord in combat.
Unaware that Luke was his son or the rebel pilot who blew up the Death Star, Vader mocked Luke for the childish way he held his lightsaber and for the accusation of killing Luke's father.
Quickly disarming Luke and forcing him to the ground, Luke stood no chance against Vader. He was only saved by Vader's hesitation when he realized Luke's blue lightsaber had once been his own. During that hesitation, Han showed up in a stolen AT-AT and gave Luke the opportunity to escape.
14 Darth Vader Returned To Tatooine To Negotiate With Jabba The Hutt
Vulnerable and lacking resources in the aftermath of the Death Star's destruction, the Empire turned to Jabba the Hutt for help. Despite Anakin Skywalker's fervent hatred of sand, Vader returned to Tatooine to negotiate with Jabba on behalf of the Empire. A day before discussing these official arrangements, Vader met with Jabba alone and asked the crime lord to deploy two of his best bounty hunters to track down and bring him the name of the rebel pilot who blew up the Death Star. Jabba refused at first, but some of Vader's signature Force-choking convinced him otherwise. Surrounded by many Stormtroopers, Vader returned to Jabba's palace the following day to officially negotiate the terms for the Empire. A deal was struck and Jabba promised to supply the Empire with whatever resources they needed.
13 Han Pretended To Work For Jabba The Hutt In Order To Aid The Rebellion
Before Vader personally negotiated with Jabba on Tatooine, the Rebellion got in the way of the Empire's deal. Han posed as a representative of Jabba on Cymoon 1 as part of the plan to infiltrate and destroy the Imperial weapons factory. The plan worked until Vader's unexpected arrival. Regardless, it was a bold move on Han's part as he still had Jabba's price on his head at the time and the smuggler used his real name.
This proved Han's loyalty and devotion to a cause greater than himself as his name and association with the Rebellion was now known by the Empire.
He could've remained the anonymous pilot who showed up at the last minute to help the Rebellion destroy the Death Star. Instead, he embraced his role within the Rebellion and proved his true loyalties to Leia and Luke.
12 The Emperor Manipulated Darth Vader Into Believing He Would Be Replaced
Vader is in a position of prime power by the time of The Empire Strikes Back. After failing to retrieve the Death Star plans or prevent the Death Star from being destroyed, however, Vader found himself in a precarious position after A New Hope. Vader had to face consequences and prove he still had the power and resourcefulness to be worthy of the Emperor's right-hand position. The Emperor demoted Vader to serve under General Tagge, one of the members of Imperial High Command who had not been on the Death Star when it exploded. Moreover, the Emperor manipulated events so that Dr. Cylo, a ruthless scientist who helped Vader survive after his near-fatal wounds on Mustafar, would have one of his cybernetic-enhanced subjects replace Vader as the Emperor's apprentice and right-hand. Vader would have to handle Cylo, his subjects, General Tagge and much more to earn the powerful position held by the time of The Empire Strikes Back.
11 Luke Discovered Obi-Wan's Journals On Tatooine
With Obi-Wan gone and no Yoda in his life yet, Luke sought to learn as much as he could on his own about the Force and the Jedi. He returned to Tatooine and the home of Obi-Wan to find some of these answers. There he found Obi-Wan's journals. Luke barely managed to escape with the journals as Boba Fett tracked him down.
Fett was one of the bounty hunters Jabba had deployed at Vader's behest to locate the whereabouts and name of the rebel pilot who blew up the Death Star.
Luke did escape Fett's grasp with the journals. These journals not only provided Luke with more insight into the Force and the Jedi, but also into Obi-Wan's mindset during his years of exile and watching over Luke on Tatooine.
10 Luke Tried To Go To The Jedi Temple On Coruscant
In his quest to learn all he could about the Force and the Jedi, Luke yearned to go to the Jedi Temple located on Coruscant. Of course, this was a near-impossible task as Coruscant was the heart of Imperial territory and the home of Emperor Palpatine himself. It was also a futile task as the Emperor had turned the Jedi Temple into his Imperial Palace. Nevertheless, Luke was at least aware that he'd need help to get smuggled onto Coruscant, so he and R2-D2 traveled to Nar Shaddaa, the planet known as "the Smuggler's Moon." His plan didn't get much farther than that, though, as he was captured by Grakkus the Hutt, a crime lord obsessed with collecting relics of the Force and the Jedi.
9 Luke Was Forced To Fight To The Death In A Gladiator Pit
Grakkus the Hutt told Luke to open a Jedi holocron with the Force or be killed. Luke managed to not only open the holocron presented to him, but many of the other holocrons within Grakkus's collection as well. This affinity with the Force proved to Grakkus that Luke was the last Jedi in the galaxy.
As such, Luke would be put on display to fight to the death in Grakkus's gladiator-esque arena.
In order to stage the most epic fight possible, Grakkus brought in a massive beast from the mines of Mustafar known as Kongo the Disemboweler. The beast would wear lightsaber-resistant armor and like Luke was supposedly the last of his kind. This way, events could be staged so the last Jedi in the galaxy would die under the control of Grakkus the Hutt.
8 Leia, Han And Chewbacca Used Lightsabers
R2-D2 had accompanied Luke on his mission to the Smuggler's Moon and alerted his friends that Luke was in danger. They showed up to help save Luke from not only Kongo the Disemboweler in Grakkus the Hutt's arena, but also from Imperial troops that had arrived as well. Using lightsabers taken from Grakkus's collection, R2 supplied Leia, Han, and Chewbacca with lightsabers. They used the weapons to fight through the chaos that had erupted in the arena and help Luke escape. Part of what makes this moment so compelling is that it shows Leia using a lightsaber before knowing her strength in the Force or that she was related to Luke or Vader. Regardless, she handled the lightsaber well and helped her brother live to fight another day.
7 Chewbacca Tried To Take Out Darth Vader
When Vader first arrived on Cymoon 1, Chewbacca happened to be at a vantage point that unexpectedly provided a shot at Vader's position. Han urged Chewbacca not to take the shot as firing at Vader was practically suicidal and would alert the Empire to the presence of rebel forces. Leia felt differently, consumed by the memory of Vader's role in destroying her home planet Alderaan. Leia commanded Chewbacca to shoot and kill Vader. Chewbacca listened to Leia and took the shots.
Vader diverted the first shot with his lightsaber and used the Force to throw some Stormtroopers as human shields at the following shots.
Vader proceeded by collapsing the building Chewbacca shot from and the Wookie only narrowly escaped with his life. This is one time where Chewbacca actually should've listened to Han instead of Leia.
6 Darth Vader Amassed An Army Of Loyal Separatist-Era Droids
In order to combat Cylo, his cybernetic-enhanced subjects, and the other opponents in his way, Vader needed his own private army. He returned to the planet Geonosis to amass such an army. The Geonosians had been wiped out by the Empire at this point as part of the extensive efforts to prevent enemies from learning of the Death Star. Unbeknownst to the Empire, a Geonosian queen had survived the Empire's sterilization and attached herself to a Separatist-era droid foundry from the Clone Wars. Vader used his lightsaber to sever her from the foundry and took it for himself, now in possession of his private, completely loyal army that he could unleash on Cylo and his subjects. In fact, Vader used the army to later attack Cylo and his research base.
5 Leia Saved Refugees of Alderaan
Leia was not the only citizen of Alderaan not on the planet when it was destroyed by the Death Star. Other citizens of the planet were spread throughout the galaxy and suddenly became refugees as a result.
The Empire sought to hunt down and kill all these individuals so Alderaan would truly be exterminated.
With the help of Nien Nunb, Leia smuggled her fellow citizens of Alderaan out from under the Empire's nose and helped them find a new home. Though they wanted Leia to stay among them, she returned to the Rebellion to finish the fight against the Emperor so they would no longer have to live in fear of the Empire and their attempts to silence Alderaan forever. Through these efforts Leia was able to channel her grief that is somewhat glossed over in A New Hope while also helping Alderaan live on.
4 Leia Met Han's "Wife"
Han was never the kind of person to do things halfway and that included marrying a woman for the sake of a robbery. In reality, Han had once pretended to marry Sana Starros for a robbery they carried out. In his typical style, Han took off with all the money. Sana hunted Han across the galaxy to get revenge by taking advantage of the price on his head and eventually tracked down not only Han, but Leia as well. Realizing who Leia was and her significance to the Rebellion, Sana planned to turn Leia over to the Empire for a handsome reward. Han convinced Sana not to take this road as he was part of the Rebellion as well, and he would be imprisoned or killed along with Leia, meaning Sana wouldn't get any kind of reward from Jabba. Sana was in over her head and eventually relented. It wasn't until the end of the ordeal that Sana admitted to Leia that she and Han had never actually married one another. However, she did join the Rebellion and would go on to help Leia, Han and Luke in various capacities.
3 Luke, Leia and Han Met Saw Gerrera's Surviving Partisans On Jedha
The Death Star destroyed Jedha City, but the planet still survived. While Saw Gerrera died as a result of Jedha City's destruction, some of his Partisans escaped and carried on. Edrio "Two Tubes" also died, but his sibling Benthic "Two Tubes" survived and acted as leader of the Partisans in the aftermath of Saw's death.
Luke, Leia and Han traveled to Jedha in an attempt to get the Partisans to rejoin the Rebellion.
The Partisans initially rejected the offer as they still didn't think the Rebellion was strong enough or had the stomach to do what was necessary to combat the Empire. The two parties ended up working with each other to fight the Empire when they returned to Jedha to collect the planet's remaining store of kyber crystals. Through these experiences Luke learned about Jyn Erso and the invaluable sacrifices she and her team made during the events of Rogue One. He also learned a great deal more about the Force, the Jedi, and himself through Jedha's intimate connections and history with the Jedi and the Force.
2 Darth Vader Frequently Teamed Up With A Rogue Archaeologist
Vader required some unusual help to get back into the Emperor's good graces and he found it in the rogue female archaeologist Dr. Aphra. Her unique knowledge and resourcefulness made her a useful asset in Vader's mission to build the secret resources he needed. Aphra assisted Vader in acquiring the Separatist-era droid army from the foundry on Geonosis and with disabling many of his adversary Cylo's resources. Vader continued to use Aphra in secret, unofficial capacities. Together they erased evidence of Boba Fett tracking down Luke on Tatooine. She later partook in a mission with other bounty hunters to steal a massive amount of credits, though her true purpose was to steal the credits to help fund Vader's secret forces. He even enlisted her help in tracking down Luke Skywalker.
1 Darth Vader Found Out Luke Was His Son From Boba Fett
Even though Luke escaped Boba Fett on Tatooine, the bounty hunter did discover that his name was Skywalker. He brought the name to Vader and the name put all the pieces in place. The revelation made Vader not only realize that he had a son, but that his son was also the rebel pilot who blew up the Death Star and the individual who fought Vader with the blue lightsaber on Cymoon 1.
He had previously believed that Padme passed away before giving birth to any children.
Luke was the key to everything Vader was searching for, setting up his hunt for Luke and arguably the most iconic reveal in cinematic history in the final act of The Empire Strikes Back. While Boba Fett didn't realize the magnitude of his discovery, it is arguably his greatest contribution to a galaxy far, far away.
What events that happened between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back did we miss? Let us know in the comments below!