Few characters in the entire Star Wars saga have had the lasting impact and far-reaching influence that Leia Organa of Alderaan has had. Better known in her later years as Senator Organa, or General Organa, Leia became one of the most iconic characters in the series from the instant she appeared on screen in A New Hope.
Even all these years later, Leia’s legacy is insurmountable. While newer female characters, such as Rey or Rose, will certainly have profound legacies of their own, Leia’s status as an icon is practically untouchable. Whether it comes to her portrayal in the films by the late Carrie Fisher, the expanded universe novels and comics, or the short-form animated series that tell her stories for a younger audience, Leia Organa remains one of the most consistently engaging and inspiring voices in the whole Skywalker saga.
Following Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, however, the expanded universe stories that had become so readily known about Leia’s life were all but entirely wiped away and replaced with a new canon. As a result, even the most eager Star Wars fan may be surprised to learn some of the things that the rebel leader was up to in the years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.
Here are 20 Things Only True Fans Know Leia Did Between Episodes VI And VII.
In Return of the Jedi, Leia serves the unlikely role of negotiator and mediator between the rebels and the Ewoks. Alongside C-3PO, who is actually able to converse in Ewokese, she proves herself to be a welcoming ally for the little furry, yet ferocious, creatures. As it turns out, her role with the Ewoks went further than the few adorable interactions shown in the film.
As revealed in the short, An Imperial Feast (part of the newly animated short series Forces of Destiny), which primarily spotlights adventures of the series’ female characters, Leia intervenes before the Ewoks can feast upon the Stormtroopers they’ve held captive; proving once again to be a voice of reason among the eager, but vicious, Ewok crowd.
The relationship between Han Solo and Leia Organa was always driven by passion and spur-of-the-moment admissions and actions. So really, it’s only entirely fitting that the unlikely couple wound up getting married right after the dust from the Battle of Endor had officially settled.
In Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath: Life Debt, Leia herself reflects on the ceremony: “It was right there on the Endor moon after everything. We had a small ceremony, just those we trusted. We didn't keep it private, but we didn't make it public either.” Her wedding likely would have been a much different, and much grander, affair had things gone differently in Leia’s life. But a quiet, personal ceremony surrounded only by their inner circle seems befitting of a rebel hero and her scoundrel.
In many ways, Leia is the unsung hero of the Star Wars universe, in large part due to all the work she did behind the scenes in order to ensure that the universe would keep on functioning. Following the defeat of the Empire at the Battle of Endor, and the fall of both Vader and the Emperor, Leia found herself sent to Naboo (her biological mother, Padmé Amidala’s, home world) with Lieutenant Shara Bey in order to seek support from the once super-powered planet.
As the Rebel Alliance looked to the future in crafting a new Republic, they would need to learn what had come before them, and what better place to look than the past experts themselves. Bey and Organa became very close during their adventure, something that would come into play many years later, as Leia forged a relationship with someone very close to Bey within the Resistance.
It’s a hazard of becoming a public figure: the inability to control the way in which your image is used, and what agenda takes claim of it. As Leia was arguably one of the most prominent heroes in all of the Rebel Alliance, it should come as no surprise that she quickly found herself used in many forms of information put forth by the fledgling Rebellion.
She would also find herself as the subject of many forms of misleading information later in her full-fledged political career, both positive and negative, as outlined in Claudia Gray’s novel Bloodline, which follows her descent from Senate life to the founding of the Resistance, following the spread of double-dealing within the political world.
Apparently, some things really do just run in the family, and for Leia, some things hold true to that regardless of whether you’re talking about the Organa or Amidala family. Just as with her parents before her, Leia found her way within serving the newly formed Galactic Senate.
Although occasionally quick tempered, Leia was often capable of being far more rational and forward thinking in political matters than most of her fellow senators. Both the Aftermath trilogy and Bloodline portray Leia as a revered, incredibly capable senator and political animal, and with the legacies of her adoptive father Bail Organa and her biological mother Padmé Amidala before her, it isn't hard to see why.
As was hinted during The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and outright revealed in The Last Jedi, Leia is incredibly strong with the Force, even if she herself subscribes to neither Jedi, Sith, nor First Order ideology. Her Force sensitivity is given particularly poignant prominence in the works of Chuck Wendig and Claudia Gray, which find Leia able to commune in some ways with her unborn son. She is also able to foretell images of his future based on what she senses in the Force.
At some times, she feels as though the future Ben Solo is an angel, a pulsing source of light that ebbs and flows with time. At other times, the darkness she feels is overwhelming. It is perhaps a clear precursor to the influence of Snoke, who would soon convert young Ben despite Leia’s awareness of it.
Chewbacca may have always been Han Solo’s best friend and partner in crime, but it was also clear early on that the kindhearted Wookiee had a real affection for Leia as well, and that those feelings were, eventually, returned. When Chewbacca and Han launched their campaign to liberate Chewie’s home planet of Kashyyyk from Imperial rule, Leia wasn’t far behind in joining the cause, even if she struggled to obtain authorized means of helping.
In fact, Leia often acted directly against the orders of Mon Mothma in order to help out her husband and dear friend, insisting that the safety of the Wookiees was paramount in any potential negotiations with the Empire. She wound up getting far more invested in the liberation fight than just a politician would have, which in turn, aided the successful liberation, but also cost her some standing in the world of the New Republic.
The wasteland planet of Jakku plays a key role in the seventh episode of the Star Wars saga, The Force Awakens. Yet, as the Expanded Universe reveals, Jakku actually has a much greater role in the history of the galaxy than simply being the junk planet where Rey was hidden away for much of her life. As it turns out, Jakku was the location of the battle that finally brought around the real, final end of the Empire’s reign of terror.
Despite still carrying Ben, Leia even played a key role in the Battle of Jakku, authorizing some of the early reconnaissance missions by Norra and Temmin Wexley to explore the planet where the Empire had been hiding.
Leia’s connection to the deciding Battle of Jakku goes much further than her actions in allowing it to come about. When the war with the Empire finally ended in an Imperial surrender, it was on that very day that Leia gave birth to Ben Solo, the child who would grow up to become the wayward Kylo Ren. If ever there were a more symbolic day for a character who would become torn between the light and dark to be born, we’ve yet to find it.
Similarly, Leia’s Force-attuned sensations would prove to be quite true, in the long run, as Ben would have a difficult, emotionally fraught childhood filled with countless dangers, manipulating influences, and unconventional living situations due to Han’s and Leia’s diametrically opposed career paths.
“I just never should have sent him away. That's when I lost him. That's when I lost you both.” That’s the way Leia vaguely describes whatever it was that led to Ben being sent away to train with Luke, and to Han distancing himself from their marriage. As it turns out, the reality of what transpired is even more upsetting and difficult to succinctly explain in a film scene than you would expect. Alan Dean Foster’s The Force Awakens novelization adaptation elucidates this history further.
Leia, apparently, didn’t trust Han to be able to offer an informed opinion on how to handle the problem of Ben’s growing powers and darkness because of his position as an outsider in relation to the Force. And so, she sent Ben off to train with Luke in order to try and save him, without really ever telling Han anything about what was going on with their son, as well as Snoke’s looming predatory influence.
It’s not easy to find yourself suddenly responsible for determining the future of a New Republic. And yet, that was the unenviable position Leia found herself in as a citizen of considerable prominence and power within the new Galactic Senate. Although political parties and factions weren’t officially recognized, Leia found herself becoming a member of the Populist party.
Contrary to their rivals in the Centrist party, the Populists believed that the power in the galaxy should remain with the people themselves, allowing planets to remain, in effect, sovereign states; meanwhile, the Centrists believed in bigger government oversight and military control. The Populists and Centrists would soon enough find themselves warring in many ways, with Leia playing a key role in many conflicts.
As can probably be deduced from its deceptively simple title, much of Bloodline by Claudia Gray is devoted to Leia making sense of her identity in the wake of the revelation of her biological family to the greater public. It also details the ways in which she is forced to reconcile that narrative with her own upbringing as part of the Organa family of Alderaan.
While much of the novel is devoted to Leia’s refusal to accept Darth Vader as her father, given her toxic history with the former Sith Lord, many of the true poignant moments come as a result of her memories of her father, Bail, and her work to ensure his legacy is remembered and given the respect it deserves.
By the time The Force Awakens takes place, Leia has seriously rejected being referred to, in any way, as someone resembling royalty. Although certain characters, such a Lor San Tekka, refer to her that way in nostalgic fondness, Leia has totally refused the titles and entitlements of being a royal member of the Elder Houses. As Bloodline reveals, though, she was very nearly not afforded the luxury of making this decision, as a technicality nearly resulted in her being forced back into the royal line of succession.
When the Supreme Governor of Birren, Lord Mellowyn, passed suddenly without leaving anything behind to suggest who his heir should be, Leia, as a relative of his through her adoption by the Organa family, found herself faced with the possibility of taking up the royal life once more. Of course, things soon worked out in her favor, allowing her to remain as a member of the Senate.
It's far and away one of the most iconic things Leia ever did in the original trilogy, not to mention one of the most badass of them all. In Return of the Jedi, Leia, who has long been kept as Jabba the Hutt’s slave girl, strangles the monstrous beast with her own chains, bringing an end to his slobbering reign of evil. It’s a moment that practically screams strength, particularly as it subverts all expectations for her behavior based on the attire she’s been forced to wear in that scene.
It should come as no surprise, then, given Jabba’s level of infamy throughout the galaxy, that Leia’s reputation as the one responsible for the crime lord’s demise spreads far and wide. In fact, it even earns her the remarkably empowering nickname “Huttslayer.”
In the formation of a new Galactic Senate, the Populist and Centrist party were forced to re-evaluate the past methodology for leading a Senate in order to learn from past mistakes. One of the proposals that was suggested by an especially nefarious member of the Centrist party would have introduced the position of First Senator in the place of the Chancellor position of old.
Leia, as a highly revered figure at the time the position, soon found herself tasked with running for the position, until her true lineage was publicly revealed and fundamentally prevented her candidacy for the role. As it would turn out, the position was not taken up, and so the information was introduced into the public sphere all for naught.
We’ve already discussed the fact that Leia had very little control over how her image was used in political campaigns, given her prominence as a rebel hero, senator, and so much more. But as Bloodline by Claudia Gray reveals, Leia even lost control of her own life story. A politically motivated slandering plot was undertaken by her opposition in the Centrist party, revealing to the public at large that she was the direct descendent of Darth Vader.
Leia had been an esteemed member of the Senate at this point, and understandably, this caused quite the shift in the public opinion of her. The novel is quite heart wrenching in its exploration of Leia’s struggle to reclaim the truth of her family, even if it’s a family she refuses, in many ways, to identify with.
As a direct consequence of Leia’s sordid family history, she was never able to reveal the truth about Darth Vader’s life as Anakin Skywalker to her own troubled son, Ben. Bloodline touches on her hesitance regarding the decision to tell him, as she had always worried that he was too young to understand it. As soon as the truth is made public, however, she tries to reach out to locate either Ben or Luke, but is ultimately unsuccessful.
What happened to Ben at this point remains ambiguous, as well as whether the reveal of Vader’s identity and his own connection to him played a key factor in him joining the dark side. But seeing as Ben would come to shape himself in his grandfather’s own image, it’s clear that Leia really missed the mark here by waiting as long as she did.
Following her total disillusionment with the way the Galactic Senate seemed to be working at the end of Bloodline, Leia made a bold, future-defining decision. Gathering a group of those she trusted most, including young upstarts Joph Seastriker and Korr Sella, Leia vowed to create a world that they would be proud of, that they would keep safe, and wouldn’t be filled with the inherent division and ugliness of the political sector.
As a result of her determination, she formed, alongside her group of friends and coworkers, the new Resistance, which has become such an integral part of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, before working her way up to General Organa.
Even when Han and Leia’s relationship was on good terms, prior to Ben’s fall to the dark side, it was clear that during the happier times, they weren’t ever going to live the conventional couple life. Leia lived a very grounded life as a senator, and eventually as the head of the Resistance. When she would travel, it was for a mission, and her absence would be for a set period of time. Han, however, remained defined by wanderlust and the need for adventure.
Whether it was his insatiable need for running jobs with Chewie and getting in touch with his scoundrel side, or training younger pilots for the Resistance, Han was almost always on the move. So, when Han and Leia unofficially began living truly separate lives following Ben’s fall to the Dark Side, it certainly wasn’t without any previous hints that this was the path they were meant to tread.
As we previously discussed, Leia developed a strong relationship with Lieutenant Shara Bey following the events that transpired during the Battle of Endor as the Rebellion sought to forge forward and build a new Republic. Shara Bey, of course, was married to a certain fighter by the name of Kes Dameron. As a result, the Star Wars universe gained the character of Poe Dameron.
Poe, many years after his mother’s bond was forged with Leia, would become one of Leia’s most trusted pilots during the formative years of the Resistance. Although occasionally testy with one another, their relationship was one built on a bedrock of respect and trust, just as Leia’s relationship with Shara had been.
What other facts do you know about Leia's history between films? Let us know in the comments!