Star Wars has given us a lot to love over the years. Epic space battles, beautiful friendships, mythic retellings, and a complicated father-son dynamic. But it also gave us one of cinema’s all-time great romances in the form of Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa. The two met in the first film, A New Hope, and sparks flew right away. Their coupling blossomed into a love story that’s still unfolding, as the saga expands across mediums. A lot of their legacy is thanks to the intense chemistry between Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, who tended to all of that sexual tension offscreen, as well. But it’s also thanks to George Lucas‘s expansive world that played with archetypes and expectations.
Let’s take a look back at some of the best moments between Han and Leia throughout Star Wars film history.
13. “You think a princess and a guy like me…?”
From the moment they met, there was a spark between the renegade scoundrel and the rebellious princess. He was drawn to her feisty spirit and she to his swashbuckling charm. But Han also harbored some insecurities about being good enough for Leia. That led to this memorable piece of dialogue between Han and Luke in A New Hope.
Luke: So, what do you think of her, Han?
Han: I’m trying not to, kid.
Han: Still, she’s got a lot of spirit. I don’t know, what do you think? You think a princess and a guy like me–
Sorry Luke, but you were wrong, and this moment nicely sets up what would become the bickering but loving relationship between the pair going forward.
12. “He’s my brother.”
Poor Han spent a decent chunk of Return of the Jedi fearing that Leia was actually in love with Luke and not him. But she clears that all up right near the end, when she confirms that her love for Luke is more… familial. “He’s my brother,” she laughs, before planting one on her true love. It’s a happy scene that closes out their love story in the original trilogy.
11. “Who’s scruffy looking?”
The Empire Strikes Back is chocked full of important, ship-worthy Han/Leia moments, and this moment of banter – right before Leia kisses Luke to “prove” she isn’t interested in Han – is a highlight that sets the tone for the rest of the film. It also gives us some of the most quotable moments in all of Star Wars.
10. “No one is ever really gone.”
Han is tragically murdered by his son, Kylo Ren, in The Force Awakens, but his presence still lingers in several key scenes in the next film, The Last Jedi. He’s most prominent in this moment near the end of the film, when a Force-projection of Luke arrives at the Resistance base on Crait and reunites with Leia. Before he confronts his evil nephew, he reminds his sister that “no one is ever really gone” and hands her Han’s signature gold dice – right as John William’s “Han Solo and the Princess” theme kicks in. It’s there to remind us that Han is still a part of Leia, and still a part of this story, even when he isn’t physically there.
9. “New jacket.”
The Force Awakens leads us to believe that Han and Leia separated around the time they realized their son was turning to the Dark Side. It’s a heartbreaking notion, but a very real one, to see these people that we love so broken. That’s part of what makes this reunion scene so sweet. After some years apart, they fall right back into old habits, lovingly mocking each other – and are interrupted by C-3PO, same as always.
8. “You could use a good kiss!”
This early scene in Empire says so much while saying so little. We understand right away that in the time between A New Hope and now, Han and Leia have become more than friends, but she’s struggling to commit and he’s willing to run back to Jabba if she won’t confess her feelings. Leia’s pride – and rank – make her hesitant, but Han continues to nudge at her. The chemistry between Carrie and Harrison is so palpable in this scene, you’re practically screaming “KISS!” at the screen. (Luckily, it doesn’t take long before they do.)
7. Han’s wink.
It’s a tiny – but iconic – moment that shows how blatantly Han wears his romantic heart on his sleeve, and sets up what will become the trilogy’s big love story in the next film. And Leia’s flushed look immediately after tells us that she’s going to have a hard time resisting this scoundrel.
6. “If you see our son, bring him home.”
This is the last time Han and Leia ever see each other, and it seems pretty clear that they know that. Han is off to Starkiller Base to close the power shields so that it might be destroyed, but Leia has one extra request: bring their son, Ben, back home. Their teary embrace is gut-wrenching stuff when you know it’s the end of the rope for these two, their story marred by tragedy. But it’s an emotionally thorough end, and Han’s final act is noble not just for the earnest attempt to save his son, but for attempting to grant his wife’s final wish.
5. Head kiss on Bespin.
This is admittedly one of those moments gets by on pure adorability. Han’s subtle kiss, followed by the tender placement of his hand on Leia’s cheek speaks to the knowing love these two share. Plus, the height difference still makes us weak.
4. “I love you.” “I know.”
This is probably the most famous scene these two share, and for good reason. Harrison Ford ad-libbed the line that would become so iconic couples engrave it on their wedding rings. But the exchange is also narratively fulfilling. Han spends most of Empire trying to get Leia to admit her feelings for him. Just as he goes into carbonite, she finally does. His response, then, is perfect. He’s known it all along, and is proud to finally hear her say it.
And an honorable mention goes to Leia for flipping this moment on Han in Return of the Jedi.
3. “Hold me.”
Shortly after Luke gives Leia a double whammy – that not only is she his sister, but that they’re also the children of Darth Vader – she’s understandably distraught. Han appears out of the shadows to ask what’s going on, and Leia guards her new secret from him. He gets mad and is about to walk away, before checking himself and apologizing. Leia’s simple response: “Hold me.” And he does. It’s another subtle moment, but it shows the deeply established trust these two have.
2. “Someone who loves you.”
Leia sneaks into Jabba’s castle disguised as the bounty hunter Boushh to save Han. After freeing him from his carbonite prison, she reveals herself to him, and he knows right away that his love has come to save the day. Leia gets a slew of heroic moments in Return of the Jedi, but this is her most profound, and it’s great for flipping the script in that quintessential Star Wars way: Han is the damsel in distress and Leia is the knight in shining armor.
1. “My hands are dirty, too.”
Let’s face it. This is one of the all-time great onscreen kisses. In any genre, of any film, ever, period. Not only because it’s the first time these two share such an intimate moment, but because the ingredients are all perfect: insane chemistry between the actors, payoff from the previous film, and intimate, character-driven dialogue that gets right to the heart of the matter.
Leia: Stop that.
Han: Stop what?
Leia: Stop that! My hands are dirty.
Han: My hands are dirty too. What are you afraid of?
Han: You’re trembling.
Leia: I’m not trembling.
Han: You like me because I’m a scoundrel. There aren’t enough scoundrels in your life.
Leia: I happen to like nice men.
Han: I’m a nice man.
Leia: No you’re not. You’re—
Of course Threepio interrupts and throws the moment off, but not before we’re treated to a smoldering smooch that still makes us swoon all of these years later.
Those are our picks for best Han and Leia moments, but what about you? Let us know your favorite in the comments!
Images: Lucasfilm LTD / 20th Century Fox/Disney