In 2016, lost Carrie Fisher. Among her many amazing contributions to the world was giving us Princess Leia. Mark Hamill put it best in his tribute to her: “the world was pre-programmed to accept a storybook damsel-in-distress who cowers as the men save her, but Carrie Fisher shattered that mold." He talked about the toughness of Princess Leia, saying "She was so take-charge that she made Harrison Ford and me look like a couple of chumps”. He said that for Leia there was “a relatability that was effortlessly empowering: "“I don’t need a guy to be fulfilled in this world or any other.”
Indeed, Leia is one of the most memorable sci-fi heroines out there for good reason. She’s funny, she’s tough and she can kick tons of ass, much like Carrie Fisher herself. Star Wars would not have been Star Wars at all without her. So in honor of both Carrie Fisher and Princess Leia, let’s take a look at some of her most amazing moments throughout the Star Wars films:
'You came in that thing? You’re braver than I thought' and 'you stuck up half-witted scruffy looking nerf herder'
Han gets repeatedly owned by Leia and that might just be part of why he loves her. She continues the time-honored tradition of trashing his ride. “You came in that thing?” she says, looking at the scappy little ship. She then turns to Han and sarcastically commends him. “You’re braver than I thought.” While Han had a comeback when Luke called the Falcon "a piece of junk", Han can’t come up with a response to that. When it came to ragging on the Millenium Falcon, Leia did it better than anyone else. Later on when the ship won’t start, she sarcastically asks “Would it help if I got out and pushed?” Han is so frustrated he can’t think of a comeback other than “it might!” Whether the target is a person or ship, Leia dishes out the sickest burns.
You also can’t talk about Leia without remembering that she dished out one of the most iconic insults in film. There’s just something wonderfully quotable about the word salad Leia flung at Han…it flows so poetically. "You stuck up, half-witted scruffy looking nerf herder!" What even IS a nerf herder? Well, those of us familiar with supplementary material know that nerfs are basically space cows. Really SMELLY space cows. So Leia was probably implying something about Han’s stench when she called him that. But Han seemed to only have a problem with two of Leia’s barbed words, replying grumpily “who’s scruffy looking?” He’ll cop to the rest of it, but he must defend his handsome face.
'Aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?'
What does Leia do the first time Luke busts into rescue Leia? Hit him with an amazing zinger about his height. What’s even more amazing is it’s probable she thought she was talking to an actual Stormtrooper while unarmed, but simply put her hand on her hip and stretched out on her prison bed like she was being interrupted during a nap by some annoying kid. Even when she’s being held prisoner, Leia acts like she’s in charge.
“Into the garbage chute, flyboy”
And of course Leia wouldn’t be Leia if she didn’t take control of even her own rescue. “I don’t know who you are or where you came from but from now on, you’ll do as I say, okay?” Luke and Han may have come to save her, but well, they’re kind of out of their depth and Leia knows it. They came into rescue her, but they have no idea how to get out. Leia’s response to their distress is beautiful. She whips out a gun, does some shooting and fearlessly comes up with an escape plan. “Someone has to save our skins. Into the garbage chute, flyboy”.
And with that, she dives right in the trash. She really is up for anything. And so the rescuers become the rescued. Of course, they do run into some trouble in the garbage, but Leia’s plan was still better than anyone else’s, especially considering she had no time to come up with it. Imagine what she could have done with a little prep time.
Sassing the Big Bads
Not many people would have the guts to sass Darth Vader, but from her first scene with him Leia proved she was intimidated by no one, no matter how menacing their theme-song was. “Only you could be so bold,” she spat at Darth Vader and she insisted that she was only on a diplomatic mission. This is even more amazing now that Rogue One made it clear that Vader had just literally watched Leia’s ship flee the space battle with the stolen plans and she knew this. Telling such an obvious lie right to Vader’s face is basically mocking him and that’s just badass.
Leia really let Grand Moff Tarkin have it, too. Leia is about the be executed and what does she say? Governor Tarkin, I should have expected to find you holding Vader's leash. I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board.” She also demonstrates her complete confidence the dark side will never truly win, telling him, “The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”
Enduring Darth Vader's Torture
Leia is probably one of the most accomplished characters in the Star Wars saga when it comes to not giving in. She withstood an interrogation from Darth Vader himself without giving anything away. There’s no way Vader didn’t try to use the Force against her to get information and that interrogation droid injected her with SOMETHING nasty…was it truth serum? It’s unclear, but what is clear later is no matter what Vader did to Leia, it was impossible to get her to expose any rebel secrets. That’s an amazing level of toughness and loyalty to the cause.
The Dantooine Fakeout
Unable to get Leia to give up through torture, Tarkin threatens to blow up her home planet instead. But even that is not enough to get the princess to betray the rebellion. Instead she cleverly buys time and lies that the rebel base was on Dantooine, though in actuality the rebellion had abandoned that planet a while ago. It’s just as well because it didn’t matter what Leia said, Tarkin was going to blow up Alderaan either way. It’s a good thing Leia was too saavy to fall for his gambit.
In fact, she out-gambitted him. He mocks her for being too trusting, but then is absolutely floored when he realizes Leia lied to him. Vader isn’t that surprised though. “I told you she’d never consciously betray the rebellion,” he says. Maybe on some level he felt kind of proud of his daughter at that moment. I know I would be.
Saving Han and Getting Her Own 'I Know'
The “I love you” “I know” exchange is iconic, but the reprise of it is just as great. Leia’s always one to get the last word in, so of course she gave Han a taste of his own medicine…while saving his butt. When the two of them get cornered at the battle of Endor, Han doesn’t know what to do. But Leia whips out a concealed blaster, prompting Han to exclaim “I love you”. And her response is ,of course, “I know.” Then she takes out two Stormtroopers with perfect shooting…despite the fact she was wounded earlier.
Now that’s romance!
Killing Jabba the Hutt
A lot of fans remember the scene with Princess Leia in chains and a gold bikini as something that tickled their pubescent fantasies, but both I and Carrie Fisher preferred to remember it as the moment when she killed Jabba the Hutt, stangling him with the very chains he used to bind her. That’s what happens when you take Leia prisoner and objectify her, folks, so remember that part when you fantasize. Instead of remembering that moment as “Slave Leia”, some fans would prefer to call it “Leia the Huttslayer.” Fisher says her take on the bikini is “a giant slug captured me and forced me to wear that stupid outfit, and then I killed him because I didn’t like it. And then I took it off.”
Saving Luke with the Force
Leia never had any training or instruction in using the Force, so the fact she was able to tap into it enough to save Luke’s bacon is beyond impressive. She not only hears Luke’s cry for help, she’s talented enough to pinpoint his location and guide his rescue. Consider how much work it takes to master the Force…and Leia was able to do this without even really knowing what the deal is. Luke would have been dead if it weren’t for his sister being talented, force-sensitive, saavy and intuitive. If only we could have seen more of her Force-related abilities. She could have been an incredible Jedi if she wanted.
Here Comes the General
When the Dark Side resurged, both Lukeand Han bailed. But Leia never gave up, even when her own son joined the enemy. She rallied her own resistance and fearlessly fought this new threat, causing the new Order all sorts of trouble. She traded in the Princess title for General and became the world’s only hope. She didn’t need Luke or Han to keep fighting and leading, which is what she does best. But she also didn’t give up on her family, believing firmly she would find her brother and also that she could persuade her son to come home. The Force Awakens cemented that of the heroes, Leia has the strongest will, determination and dedication to her cause.
Do you have any to add? Tell us in the comments.