Along with her twin brother Luke Skywalker, Leia was born from the tragic union of the fallen Jedi Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala just after the collapse of the Old Republic and Emperor Palpatine‘s rise to power. Anakin had turned to evil and become Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith and the Emperor’s servant, and Padme died shortly after giving birth. The infant twins were strong in the Force, so the surviving members of the Jedi Order ( Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi) decided that they must be split up and raised in secret, lest the Emperor learn of their existence and exploit their potential. Luke was sent to live with his aunt and uncle on Tatooine, while Leia was adopted by Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan.
Bail and his wife raised Leia as their own daughter and as a royal princess of their house. Even as a young girl, Leia always felt that she was quite different from the rest of her family. She often had the idea that she was missing someone who should have been very close to her, an early manifestation of her Force abilities unconsciously sensing the existence of her twin brother Luke.
Leia Organa grew to be an intelligent, headstrong, and fiery young woman with a natural gift for leadership and politics. She also proved adept at combat, developing a keen understanding of battle strategy and honing her blaster skills to the point where she almost never missed her target. At the mere age of eighteen she was elected as the youngest member of the Imperial Senate and became an outspoken opponent of Emperor Palpatine’s tyrannical regime. In secret, Leia helped found the underground resistance movement that eventually became known as the Rebel Alliance.
Princess Leia Organa was created by filmmaker George Lucas to be the leading female character of his groundbreaking science-fantasy film Star Wars in 1977. Leia became the heroine of the Galactic Civil War, as told in the classic Star Wars trilogy of films, and was also the main heroine of most of the non-cinematic stories that followed (told through novelizations and comic books). Leia was portrayed by actress Carrie Fisher in the films. In comic books, Leia made her debut in the official Marvel Comicsadaptation of the original movie, written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by artist Howard Chaykin.
Major Story Arcs
Episode IV: A New Hope
When Leia learned that the Emperor was constructing the Death Star, an enormous battle station capable of destroying entire planets, she spearheaded a daring plan to have the technical data of the Death Star stolen by Rebel spies operating within the Empire. She would then locate General Obi-Wan Kenobi, who had gone into hiding on Tatooine, and bring him back to Alderaan, where a strategy for attacking the Death Star could be formulated using the stolen data. Leia’s plan was initially successful in stealing the Death Star data tapes, but when her blockade runner arrived at Tatooine, it was intercepted and captured by an Imperial Star Destroyer commanded by Darth Vader. Leia hid the plans in the astromech droid R2-D2 just before being apprehended by Imperial stormtroopers. R2-D2 and his counterpart, C-3PO, managed to escape the doomed Rebel ship by using an escape pod and made their way to Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine. Leia was imprisoned on the very battle station she hoped to destroy, the Death Star, and tortured in an effort to make her reveal the location of the hidden Rebel base. But her will was strong and she refused to betray the Alliance, even when interrogated by Vader himself.
The commander of the Death Star, Grand Moff Tarkin, decided that another means of persuasion was necessary and ordered the Death Star to Leia’s homeworld of Alderaan, a planet that had long been a thorn in the Empire’s side due to its policy of peaceful resistance. Leia was brought to the bridge and told that if she did not reveal the Rebel location, Alderaan would be destroyed. At this point her resistance finally appeared to crumble and she confessed that the Rebel base was on the planet Dantooine. Tarkin ordered the Death Star to fire anyway, deeming Dantooine too remote to be an effective demonstration of the battle station’s power, and Alderaan was vaporized before Leia’s very eyes. Later, Tarkin learned that the Dantooine base had been abandoned for some time and ordered Leia terminated.
Leia was rescued from the Death Star and termination by an unlikely group of heroes led by Obi-Wan Kenobi. Among them was Luke Skywalker, the droids C-3PO and R2-D2 (still carrying the stolen data tapes), the smuggler captain Han Solo, and his Wookiee first mate Chewbacca. Kenobi allowed himself to be killed in a duel against his former pupil, Darth Vader, so the others could escape in Solo’s modest-yet-capable starship the Millenium Falcon. They blasted free of the Death Star and set course for Yavin IV, the actual location of the hidden Rebel base. Leia was the only one to realize that their escape had been too easy and that the Death Star must be tracking them.
On Yavin IV, the Rebels analyzed the Death Star data carried by R2-D2 and determined that the battle station had an exploitable weakness, though it would take a nearly impossible shot into a small thermal exhaust port in order to destroy it. The Death Star was now on its way and Leia and the other Rebel leaders assembled a desperate attack strategy. Luke decided to participate in the attack, but Han deemed it to be suicidal and departed after receiving compensation for Leia’s rescue. As Leia monitored the battle from the command center, a small fleet of Rebel X-Wing and Y-Wing starfighters launched themselves at the approaching Death Star. The strike force was quickly decimated by Imperial TIE fighters led by Darth Vader, until only Luke was left to carry out the attack plan. All seemed lost until Han unexpectedly returned in the Millenium Falcon, disrupting the pursuing TIE fighters just long enough for Luke (guided by the Force) to make the impossible shot. The Death Star was destroyed, and Leia presided over the Rebel victory ceremony.
The Battle of Yavin had been a stunning victory for the growing Rebellion, but the aftermath saw the Empire throw all of its vast resources into crushing it completely.
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Leia and the other Rebel leaders established a new command base on the remote ice world of Hoth, while the dreaded Imperial Starfleet, commanded by Darth Vader, searched for them by launching thousands of probe droids across the galaxy. Luck was not on the Rebel side as one of the probes landed on Hoth and revealed their location to Vader. Leia once again was forced to organize a desperate battle plan before the Empire arrived. The Imperial forces soon overwhelmed Rebel defenses, though the Rebels managed to hold out long enough to evacuate most of their equipment and personnel from the planet. Leia, overseeing the final stages of the evacuation, missed the last transport and narrowly escaped with Han, Chewbacca, and C-3PO on the Millenium Falcon, but the ship could not reach the safety of hyperspace due to a faulty hyperdrive. Han’s superior piloting skills evaded a furious Imperial pursuit long enough for the ship to take refuge in an asteroid field, where they tried to effect repairs.
Leia and Han had been acting as though they couldn’t stand each other up until that point, an animosity that concealed a strong mutual attraction. But her feelings for the smuggler finally surfaced and they shared their first kiss during this brief respite. Their budding romance was quickly put on hold, as the asteroid cave the Falcon was docked in turned out to be the throat and jaws of a gigantic Space Slug living inside the asteroid. Han flew the ship back out into space just before they were devoured, but unfortunately right into the path of an Imperial Star Destroyer. The hyperdrive still wouldn’t work, so Han pulled a desperate maneuver by feigning attack and latching the Falcon onto a blind spot of the Star Destroyer’s hull. The maneuver fooled the Imperials but not the bounty hunter Boba Fett, whom Vader had shrewdly hired to locate the Falcon. When the Falcon drifted away after the Imperial Fleet jettisoned their garbage, Boba Fett’s starship tracked them at a discreet distance.
Han flew the Falcon to Cloud City, a floating mining colony on the planet Bespin, with the hope that his old friend Lando Calrissian could fix the hyperdrive. Lando, the former owner of the Falcon and now the administrator of the city, took an immediate interest in Leia, who did not trust him despite Han’s assurances. Her instincts turned out to be well founded. After a warm welcome and a show of lavish hospitality, Lando turned the group over to Darth Vader and Boba Fett, who had arrived in the city just before the Falcondid. Leia was taken prisoner by the Empire and forced to watch as Han was frozen in carbonite. She proclaimed her love for Han, not knowing if she would see him alive again.
Leia also learned from Lando that they were merely the bait for a trap: Vader was more interested in capturing Luke Skywalker, and Luke was now on his way to Cloud City to rescue them. When he arrived, Leia screamed to him to turn back before she was dragged away by her captors. But Luke took the bait and wound up confronting a waiting Vader.
Lando, wracked by guilt, switched sides and had his security forces apprehend the Imperials guarding Leia and Chewbacca. The two were not grateful and Chewbacca nearly strangled Lando before he convinced them they could still save Han, who was being brought to Boba Fett’s ship for delivery to the crime lord Jabba the Hutt. They arrived a minute too late and Leia watched helplessly as Fett’s starship soared away.
Leia, Lando, and Chewbacca (carrying a dismembered C-3PO) fought their way through stormtroopers to the Falcon and met up with R2-D2, who had arrived on Cloud City with Luke. After they lifted off, Leia had a vision of Luke crying for help. She ordered the Falcon to turn back and spotted Luke hanging from a weather vane on the underside of the city, having gotten the worst of his duel with Vader. They pulled Luke aboard, but were immediately pursued by TIE Fighters and Vader’s Star Destroyer. The hyperdrive failed again, despite Lando’s claim that he had it fixed, and all seemed lost until R2-D2 performed an emergency repair and the Falcon rocketed to safety.
They rejoined the rest of the Rebel Fleet and Luke, who had lost a hand during his battle with Vader, had a new bionic hand attached. Leia could tell that Luke had been scarred more than just physically by the confrontation, but did not learn until much later what was troubling him.
While the Alliance regrouped from their defeat on Hoth, Leia and her friends made plans to rescue Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt. During this time Leia managed to acquire the armor of a recently deceased bounty hunter known as Boushh, and later used this identity to infiltrate Jabba’s palace on Tatooine.
Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
At first the rescue mission went according to plan, with Lando (posing as a guard-for-hire), R2-D2, and C-3PO all successfully infiltrating Jabba’s criminal organization. Leia, in disguise as Boushh, then brought Chewbacca into the palace as her ‘captive.’ Her tough bargaining skills impressed the Hutt and she was invited to stay. However her cover was soon compromised, and after unthawing Han from his carbonite prison, she was captured. Jabba, eager to humiliate the attractive young princess, forced her to wear the skimpy metal bikini of a slave girl and chained her to his throne.
Luke, now nearly a Jedi Knight, arrived and initially tried to bargain with Jabba for their release. The Hutt was unreceptive and attempted to have Luke fed to the Rancor, a fearsome monster that lived in a pit beneath the palace. Luke killed the Rancor in self-defense, and an outraged Jabba ordered Luke, Han, and Chewbacca fed to an even more fearsome monster in the Tatooine desert known as the Sarlacc. The prisoners were brought via Jabba’s sail barge to the Sarlacc’s lair, but Luke, with Lando and R2’s help, turned the tables on Jabba and counter-attacked. Leia chose that moment to strike, killing the lights inside Jabba’s barge and strangling Jabba with the chain that bound her. R2-D2 cut her loose and Leia helped destroy the barge by aiming its main laser cannon directly at the deck before Luke set it off. The victorious group commandeered a sand skiff and departed, leaving Jabba’s organization in smoking ruins.
Leia and her friends then returned to the gathering Rebel Fleet. There it was learned that the Emperor was building a new Death Star even more powerful than the original and without the previous weakness, so they had to attack before it was completed. To further the incentive to attack, the Emperor himself was due to arrive on the battle station. The new Death Star was protected by an energy shield generated from the nearby forest moon of Endor, so it was decided that Leia, Han, and Luke would lead the surface strike against the generator, while Lando, piloting the Millenium Falcon, led the starfighter assault against the Death Star itself.
Under the cover of a stolen Imperial shuttle the strike team was allowed to land on Endor, but once they deployed on the surface they were noticed by Imperial scout troopers. Leia and Luke chased the scouts through the forest on commandeered speeder bikes, with Leia getting separated from the others and crashing her bike. Though she survived the crash unharmed she was nearly captured by more Imperial scouts, but received unexpected help from an Ewok, a small furry native of Endor. Taking advantage of the distraction, Leia dispatched the scouts and was brought to the Ewok’s village as a friend.
The other strike team commanders had a less friendly encounter with the Ewoks, so Luke duped the primitive beings into thinking that C-3PO was some sort of god in order to get them freed. Leia was reunited with them and with the help of their new Ewok allies, the Rebels made plans to attack the Imperial bunker housing the shield generator. Leia sensed that Luke had a lot on his mind and confronted him during an interlude outside the village. She finally learned from him that Darth Vader, their greatest enemy, was actually Luke’s father, and she herself was Luke’s sister. Despite Leia’s strenuous objections, Luke insisted that he must face their father again because there was still good in him, and departed.
Leia and Han’s attempt on the shield generator went awry, as did the entire Rebel assault plan. The Emperor knew of the attack well beforehand and stationed a legion of troops around the bunker, where the Rebel strike team was quickly surrounded and captured. In space above Endor, the Rebel Fleet was being decimated by the combined firepower of the still protected and surprisingly operational Death Star and the Imperial Fleet. Just when all seemed lost, the native Ewoks attacked the Imperial troops in force, throwing them into disarray. After a pitched battle, during which Leia was wounded, the Rebels were able to break into the bunker and destroy the shield generator with detonators. Lando and the Rebel starfighters then successfully attacked the now-unprotected Death Star and destroyed it. With the Emperor dead, the remaining Imperial forces scattered.
Watching the battle station’s demise from below, Leia revealed to a very relieved Han that Luke was actually her brother and therefore not a rival love interest. Luke returned, having redeemed his father and become a fully-fledged Jedi Knight and the Alliance celebrated their decisive victory over the Empire.
The New Republic
The Battle of Endor marked the end of the Empire and the founding of the New Republic, of which Leia naturally became a prominent leader. But the scattered remnants of the former Empire would continue to plague the New Republic for some time, and Leia and the other heroes of the Rebellion had to remain ever vigilant.
Though most of Leia’s energies were devoted to matters of state, Luke trained her in the ways of the Force and she eventually became a powerful Jedi in her own right. She also married Han Solo and had three children: a daughter, Jaina, and two sons, Jacen and Anakin, themselves all strong in the Force.