No relationship is more iconic in a galaxy far, far away than that of Han Solo and Leia Organa. Let’s look at their top moments from the Star Wars films.
Played perfectly by Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, Han and Leia have taken on life beyond Star Wars and been longtime staples of popular culture.
Their relationship wasn’t perfect and certainly had its flaws, but we’re here to celebrate them. While their relationship has been covered in countless Star Wars stories, we’re narrowing their top moments down solely to the films.
Let’s take a look at the best moments in the relationship of everyone’s favorite princess/general and scoundrel.
Photo Credit: Lucasfilm
1. “Into the garbage chute, flyboy!” (A New Hope)
After freeing Leia from her cell, Han, Luke, Chewbacca, and the princess found themselves cornered by Stormtroopers in the Death Star’s detention block. It’s in this scene that Han actually starts to know Leia. She’s not at all the damsel in distress he imagined.
She’s a take-charge woman, firing back at the Stormtroopers without hesitation and the only one able to figure a way out of their perilous situation.
After Leia and Chewbacca jump into the garbage chute–Han and Luke still shooting at Stormtroopers–Han shouts, “Wonderful girl. Either I’m going to kill her or I’m beginning to like her.”
That passionate admiration coupled with frustration would be felt by both Han and Leia throughout their relationship. This is the moment in which Han starts falling for her, though, admiring her spunky nature.
2. “I love you.” “I know.” (The Empire Strikes Back)
This is easily the most iconic moment in Han and Leia’s relationship. It speaks for itself, their kiss and those famous words a unified declaration of love in the face of evil and the chance they will never see one another again.
Solo: A Star Wars Story actually made this scene even more compelling, though. The film showed how as a younger man Han opened up and allowed himself to be emotionally vulnerable when it came to Qi’ra. She broke his heart and betrayed his trust and vulnerability, causing Han to wall off his emotions and become the cynical, jaded smuggler fans first met in A New Hope.
As such, Han’s “I know” response in The Empire Strikes Back is not just his cocky way of saying he loves her too, but rather a manifestation of his internal struggle to express his full emotions. Even though he does love Leia, he can’t bring himself to say those exact words because of how he’s walled himself off emotionally, something he trained himself to be too good at in the years following Qi’ra’s betrayal.
In light of this, Leia’s “I love you” speaks for both her feelings and Han’s. “I know” is confirmation of these shared feelings, which is actually an accomplishment considering how Han has buried his emotions.
3. “Someone who loves you.” (Return of the Jedi)
Star Wars has always excelled at bringing things full circle. This continued to be the case in Return of the Jedi where Leia risked a great deal to free Han from captivity, just as Han did in A New Hope.
Just as in A New Hope, the rescue played with Han’s expectations. He expected a starry eyed princess then, only to encounter a resourceful hero instead. Now in Return of the Jedi he thinks a masked bounty hunter has freed him, only to realize it’s the woman he loves and who loves him as well.
It was enough to free Han from carbonite, but not enough to escape Jabba the Hutt. Not long after Han and Leia would work with their friends to defeat Jabba and make their escape.
4. “I love you.” “I know.” (Return of the Jedi)
As time went on, Han and Leia became more and more of a team and formed a better dynamic. A moment that solidified this is during the Battle of Endor when Leia is wounded and she and Han are cornered by Stormtroopers. The Stormtroopers think Han and Leia are their captives. Han sees she’s concealing her blaster and is ready to fire back to which he says, “I love you” and she says, “I know.”
It is both cute and powerful to hear them echoing their famous declaration of love from The Empire Strikes Back, the roles now reversed. Here he is able to say what he felt in The Empire Strikes Back, now able to put it into words. Leia concealing her blaster and then taking down the Stormtroopers before they know what’s happening is exactly the kind of spunk and resourcefulness that made Han fall for Leia in the first place.
“I know” is Leia’s tongue-in-cheek way of confirming their shared feelings just as Han did in The Empire Strikes Back. Through Leia, Han was able to bring down the walls he created after Qi’ra.
5. “He’s my brother.” (Return of the Jedi)
This scene demonstrates how far Han has come. While he’d love to continue his relationship with Leia, he understands that she and Luke share a special bond. Hard as it might be, Han is now mature enough and ready to accept the possibility that she’d rather be with Luke.
Learning that Leia and Luke’s bond comes from being brother and sister and not a romantic connection is a relief for him, though. The trio doesn’t have to break up after all.
It’s in this moment that Han and Leia’s relationship is forever immortalized.
Photo Credit: Lucasfilm
6. Han and Leia reunion (The Force Awakens)
After many years apart in both real life and within the story, Han and Leia’s reunion is incredibly emotional for both fans and the characters. For both it brings a wave of nostalgia and memories. They don’t need to be spoken aloud, but the audience and characters can feel them just through John Williams’ music and the way Han and Leia interact.
Their son’s fall to the Dark Side drove them apart. In a way, Ben Solo is also responsible for bringing his parents back together. It’s because of their son’s quest to find the map to Luke that Han once again found himself a reluctant hero at the center of a galactic war, eventually bringing him to reunite with Leia–his wife and leader of the Resistance.
Photo Credit: Lucasfilm
7. Conversation about Ben Solo (The Force Awakens)
Han and Leia’s banter at the Resistance base feels so natural. They sound like the epitome of an old married couple while still sounding like classic Han and Leia. This makes them feel even more realistic than their passionate romance from the original trilogy.
Their banter turns serious as they discuss their son Ben Solo. To many characters in the Star Wars universe and to fans in real life, Han and Leia are larger-than-life figures. Their shared regrets concerning their son humanizes them even more, in this moment just parents trying to figure out how to put their child back on the right path.
Leia’s hope and her conviction that it’s not too late for Ben mirrors Luke’s attitude towards Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi. Their attitudes are so genuine and powerful to the point that it feels contagious. Han is able to feel it as well and this is what allows him to have the strength to face his son, even if it means dying so Ben can turn back to the Light.
Photo Credit: Lucasfilm
8. Final hug (The Force Awakens)
Even during a first viewing of The Force Awakens, there’s a palpable sense of finality in the final hug and conversation between Han and Leia.
If there was ever any doubt about Han and Leia loving one another, this scene puts those doubts to rest. Their final hug and words speak volumes of how deeply they care for and love one another. Their relationship was never perfect, but it was beautiful in its own way.
Unlike many relationships, Han and Leia’s relationship actually grew stronger over time in many ways as evidenced by the majority of these moments coming from Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens rather than the earlier films.
No matter which parts of Star Wars one prefers, though, there’s no denying that there’s no Star Wars without Han, Leia, and their iconic relationship.
What is your favorite moment of Han and Leia’s relationship? Let us know in the comments below!