Top 10 Reasons Han Solo Needed to Die In Empire Strikes Back


If you ask most people what they love about Star Wars, then invariably you will get to the lovable rogue Han Solo, the smuggler with the heart of gold who definitely shot Greedo first. However, if you ask most people about the scenes that they loved Solo in, then the discussion will pretty much stop with his carbonite would-be grave in Empire Strikes Back.

Harrison Ford himself was all for the character dying in Empire. After a bit of review, Ford was absolutely correct, for more reasons than he himself would ever realize.

10. Han Solo’s Death May Have Meant More Indiana Jones


Han Solo is a great supporting character in a science fiction franchise. Henry “Indiana” Jones Jr. is  great lead character in an action franchise. Raiders of the Lost Ark came out a year after Empire Strikes Back. Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom came out a year after Return of the Jedi. Ford’s continued involvement with Star Wars was actually a delay to a Jones sequel.

Granted, Temple of Doom was a huge hit in 1984. Without Ford’s dual involvement though, Lucasfilm could have kept on track with both franchises at the same time. After Spielberg was not able to direct Jedi due to Lucas’ problems with the Director’s Guild, Ford’s exit from the Star Wars franchise would have led to full energy being devoted to a Jones sequel sooner.

Timing is critical in sequel releases. Generally, two years will retain the level of gross better than three. Temple of Doom was a huge hit, but it still lost nearly $60 million off of the gross of Raiders. If Doom had been released in 1983 and grossed over $200 million domestically like Raiders did, do you really think that it would take another five years to release Last Crusade? That would seem entirely unlikely. With a potential half billion domestic gross in 1983, Lucasfilm alone would have been the dominant film company of the 1980’s. That could have potentially meant more Indiana Jones AND more Star Wars.

9. His Death Would Have Inspired the Rebellion to Arms


 As Batman once pointed out to Superman, “The last thing that you did to really inspire people, was die.” Rebellions need rallying points. The Boston Massacre needed “Crispus Attucks – the first man to die for freedom.” Which headline do you think would pump up the populace more: “Aging War Hero Barely Survives Valiant Battle Against Hutt” or “Hero of Death Star Assault Tortured and Killed by Merciless Monster?” At that point, you can put Solo’s face on a poster. Solo’s death would become a “Remember the Alamo” moment. Solo the Smuggler would not have been nearly as important to the Rebellion as Solo The Martyr.

8. Losing Han Solo Made Everyone Better


What happened after it was thought that Han was lost? Everyone became a better person. Chewbacca had a renewed sense of purpose to protect the Princess. Luke realized that he truly did need to complete his training. Lando stopped being such a self-absorbed ass. Leia now had the image of a lost noble love to inspire her. Even the droids had managed to find their courage. In A New Hope, these were a bunch of beings essentially forced to work together, and it luckily turned out alright. By the end of Empire, they had truly become a family. As we will see very shortly, that family feeling only lasts as long as Han stays away.

7. Episode VII will be Little More than a Glorified Cameo


Most of the casting news about Episode VII focuses on people who were not even born when Jedi came out. Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, and Mark Hamill might not even have firm contracts for Episode VII yet. They are not going to be the focus of the new trilogy, especially Ford.

If the plan was always for later chapters to not focus much on Solo anyway, then why not let his death become one of the more unforgettable moments in the trilogy? Hell, what if Harrison Ford is not even in the next trilogy? How lame would it be if you have to come up with a death for Solo that isn’t even on  film? Even worse, what if you are left with a situation where Solo does re-appear, but they can’t sign Ford and have to re-cast the character? All this could have been easily avoided by committing carbonite murder when the opportunity arose.

6. Harrison Ford’s Heart isn’t in the Character


In the 1980’s, Harrison Ford appeared on the Tonight Show and made a statement which shocked millions. He said that he had absolutely no interest in ever playing Han Solo again. This was absolutely incomprehensible to many — how could anyone not want to be in Star Wars? As it turns out, Solo’s carbonite situation was the result of Ford having only signed a two-picture deal, rather than a three-picture deal like everyone else. Ford was actually all for killing off the character in Empire, feeling that it did in fact give the character more gravitas.

And you do not want to force Harrison Ford into doing something he hates. Have you seen Ford scowl his way through movies that he clearly does not want to be in? Statistically, you did not watch Cowboys and Aliens, but Ford looked like he was being cattle-prodded through the entire experience. Harrison Ford has become, in many respects, like Marlon Brando in his later year. Sure, he continued to star in movies, but how many times did Brando actually “act” towards the end? Exactly.

5. Han Solo had Become a Detriment to the Mission


One of the truly important facets of leading a successful rebellion against the Empire was the ability to remain somewhat inconspicuous. This is increasingly difficult when people are looking for one of your generals for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with said rebellion.

Han Solo himself realized this very fact at the beginning of Empire, and at some point, he should have been allowed to just settle his debts with Jabba the Hutt and move on. The fact that Solo increasingly hung out with the upper echelons of the Rebels made him even more of a liability should Solo have ever gotten caught. Which is exactly what happened, obviously. The higher that Solo rose in the Rebel hierarchy, the more dangerous and precarious his position became, not only to himself but also to the cause that he came to believe in. No one around him would admit it, but for the purposes of continued secrecy, Solo’s death would have been a great help. What can you say? It’s war and in war, people die.

4. Han Solo Kept Getting Caught


Han Solo got boarded by the Imperials and had to dump his cargo. He got caught in a tractor beam on the first Death Star. He got caught in Cloud City. Let’s face it; this guy is terrible at avoiding capture. It was only Greedo’s incompetence (and Solo shooting first) that he wasn’t caught before he ever started the mission.

Even after Solo is unfrozen, he gets caught twice more in the same movie. First, the cannibalistic furballs we know and tolerate as “Ewoks” trap him and put him on a stick. After that, Solo gets caught again by the Imperials running the shield station. Has no one else noticed what a big theme “rescuing Han” seems to become throughout these movies? Without the Ewoks, Han’s tactical leadership of that commando unit would have managed to get the whole unit captured without ever firing a shot. This failure nearly cost the Rebels their entire cause. It’s cruel to say but, had Han died, a more competent leader would have probably been appointed for the mission. And by “more competent leader,” we mean “anyone.”

3. Han Solo’s Continued Life Threatened the Rebellion


Han Solo’s detrimental effects thanks to his own continued existence did not stop once he was frozen. As a matter of fact, that particular fact led to the greatest danger to the Rebellion yet. Rescuing Solo from carbonite served absolutely no tactical purpose to the Rebellion.

As a matter of fact, the entire mission nearly doomed them without the Empire actually firing a shot. In a move that we can only surmise was the intense desire of a horny princess, her boyfriend’s rescue took precedence over the mission to destroy the Death Star. The rescue mission itself was foolhardy enough, putting their best resources (such as your only Jedi,) for the purpose of saving a smuggler whose greatest contribution thus far has been a ship that they know how to fly.

Also, Solo was not in any actual danger. He was frozen in carbonite and would have remained there for years. Jabba did not try and feed Solo to the Sarlaac Pit until after he was unfrozen in the rescue attempt. Most everyone who was actually important in destroying the second Death Star could have been killed at Jabba’s Palace. Why on Tattooine would you not wait until after the Death Star was destroyed before focusing on the release of a single hostage who wasn’t in any real danger?

2. Han and Leia were Terrible Parents


Pop quiz. What do you get when you combine all the Force-sensitive power in the universe with the DNA of a lying smuggler who happens to have a shoot-first mentality? Simple: you get Jacen Solo, AKA Darth Caedus. Extended Universe or no, the Solos wound up being proud parents of a Sith Lord, who both killed extended family and plotted against the galaxy.

Luke had it right when he immediately said “no” to a princess like Leia and a guy like him. Every generation of the Skywalker family faces temptation from the Dark Side. Knowing this, Leia still managed to reproduce multiple times with a known criminal. At the very least, there should have been a lot more care by Han and Leia in their children’s development. From the beginning, they seemed more intent on shipping them off to Uncle Luke to be trained in the Jedi arts than raising them. Solo himself seems to fade in later years to a remorseful background character. After a Universe-shattering tragedy that was his son Anakin’s death, Solo himself might have wondered if he (and everyone else) would have been better off with him dead.

1. Indiana Jones V


There is a rumor going around that Harrison Ford is attempting to tie his participation in Episode VII into a green light for Indiana Jones V. But why not just make the damn thing, Han or not? There were a lot of negatives about Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but the profit margin was not one of them. Skull grossed over $300 million, and that is not even taking into account the international grosses.

Remember what we said about the Temple of Doom delay? Imagine if you had to have Episode VII in the can before you ever even started on Indy V. That would mean that we are talking at least 2016, and then waiting for Spielberg’s schedule to clear. By this time, Harrison Ford would literally be the 100-year-old Indy from The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, complete with eye patch. Do we really need a glorified cameo that badly?

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  1. The problem with the murder of Hans Solo, is that is may have alienated the fans who went to the movies to see the Holy 3 back in the day. I don’t know anyone my age (54), that can tolerate what happened to Hans. What a shame. Also, I thought the movie part showed how unbelievably skilled an actor Ford is, to hit the character SPOT ON, after all these years. What a job Ford did!!!!! He deserves an Oscar for what he did, even though its not a traditional serious part like the academy loves.

  2. Charles Campbell on

    Chewbacca is my favorite character. A loyal friend to Han when Han refused to kill him on orders from Jabba the Hut.

  3. David Smith on

    He wouldn’t have been killed by Jabba. The whole reason he was being put in carbonite is because Vadar wanted to test it on solo first. It was meant to keep Luke under control so he could deliver him to the emperor. So he would have been killed as a guinea pig in an experiment conducted by the empire.

  4. This article is surprisingly filled with poor grammar, spelling ( it’s rogue…rouge is makeup), and logic. “Extended Universe or no, the Solos wound up being proud parents of a Sith Lord”. It sounds like you’re saying regardless of the extended universe the Solos gave birth to a Sith Lord. That’s some twisted logic, considering that character, those events, and indeed that ENTIRE story line comes from the extended universe. Without the EU there are no “Solos”. I have no problem with the premise of the article…Solo’s death would have taken the series in a different and interesting direction. But for Pete’s sake could you think your points through so that they make sense and please get someone to read your work before you publish it to check for errors?

    • Shell Harris on

      Our editors aren’t perfect, luckily we have readers who help us out. Han Solo is no longer wearing makeup.

  5. Why would Han Solo’s death at the hands of a crime boss to whom he owed money inspire the Rebels????

  6. Comic Book Nerd on

    I agree.

    Han Solo was better off dead. He got into a lot of trouble and constantly put the Princess in harm’s way. Her death would’ve been a crushing blow to the rebellion, yet he:
    – Flies her into an asteroid field (almost getting eaten)
    – Leads her into a trap set by the Empire
    – Is the reason she becomes a gangster’s slave

    He was an amazing character and served a purpose but his character would’ve transcended legend status had he died.

  7. Who dat in ninja on

    Considering that the script written focusing on younger characters has been reportedly tossed in order to do a last hurrah for the original cast, your article is as inaccurate as it is depressing. I hear what you’re saying but without Han in Jedi we wouldn’t have gotten the great action set piece where Luke slices through hordes of mercenaries and henchmen and…there is little sense trying to reason with Monday morning quarter back fanboys looking to rewrite history in their own image. Let’s just say that we should all be glad that a Hanless reality only exists in your head and that there wasn’t release of the film that sent home a generation of little kids depressed because they’re favorite scoundrel just died. That would have made for some pretty effed up action figure play times. Little boys and girls getting all morose before busting out in tears over their Kenner figures sending their parents rushing into the room and assuring them that Lando is “almost as cool”.
    I’m sure there are many avenues for you to post your stacks of sans Han Solo fan fic where you can meet equally passionate like minded individuals. Perhaps you can form some sort of cult. You could start a commune and have nightly plays where you act out further Star Wars adventures where Leia grows old and lonely and Chewbacca sobs over his best friend’s dead body before getting himself killed in a rage fueled rampage in the cloud city. Perhaps you upload your productions to the prestigious YouTube service where you will gain the respect of uppity basement dwellers busy sewing Game of Thrones cosplay for their pets while subscribing to your feed. At that moment, when you have the love and attention of the vocal revisionist fans (ironically they often damn Jedi and voice how they would change it while bemoaning the alterations Lucas has made in rereleases) you will know you have found your people. You will be ready to shuffle off of this mortal coil, ready to ascend to a higher, pure Han Solo free plane of existence. Or whatever. By the way Indy at 100 will still kick asses. It’ll be fine.