This page contains unmarked spoilers. You Have Been Warned!
spaceships, striking from a hidden
base, have won their first victory
against the evil Galactic Empire.
During the battle, Rebel spies managed
to steal secret plans to the Empire's
ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an
armored space station with enough
power to destroy an entire planet.
Pursued by the Empire's sinister agents,
Princess Leia races home aboard her
starship, custodian of the stolen plans
that can save her people and restore
freedom to the galaxy...
These are the tropes you are looking for:
- 2-D Space: Seemingly done straight, with the Death Star trench run playing almost exactly like an Aerial Canyon Chase. But paying close attention to the briefing and wireframe demonstration, it's explained that the port is shielded from the top (making it less of a stupid design flaw) so they had to fly underneath and drop the torpedo at a 90 degree angle as they pass overhead (making it even more of a One In A Million Chance). It still doesn't explain why they enter the trench so much farther away rather than diving in much closer to the target.
- Later media justified the trench run. Turns out they did so to take cover from the heavy surface fire, as demonstrated in Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader, in which going above the trench will see you getting pelted by turbo laser fire.
- Achilles' Heel: The Death Star is a moon sized space station capable of destroying a planet, with only one significant weakness; a two meter wide exhaust port that leads directly to the station's reactor. Even then, the port is ray shielded, so only proton torpedoes have any chance of getting through, and it's still a very slim chance at best.
- Action Prologue: The very first scene of the film starts with the famous shot of the Star Destroyer chasing the Tantive IV.
- Activation Sequence: The Death Star needs about twenty seconds from "Commence primary ignition" until it fires its superlaser upon Alderaan.
- Actually, I Am Him: Ben Kenobi is also Obi-Wan Kenobi.Obi-Wan Kenobi: Of course I know him. He's me.
- Air-Vent Passageway: While it is generally regarded as the arch-Aerial Canyon Chase, the Death Star penetration scene is much of an Air Vent Passageway occurrence of The Infiltration, with plenty of Canyon Chase topping on it. The combination of the two tropes is precisely the trick that fools Darth Vader and gets Luke that Happy Ending.
- Airstrike Impossible: The Trench Run. Not only is the Trench guarded by heavy gun towers and TIE Fighters, but at the end of it all is a target so small, the only hopes of hitting it at all are via a targeting computer or The Force.
- All There in the Script: In the shooting script, right after Han makes his comment about the Kessel Run, the stage directions explicitly call for Obi-Wan to give Han an incredulous stare, implying he's pulling the tale out of his ass to impress some rubes. So the forty-year-old debate over "parsecs" is utterly meaningless, as the line was wrong on purpose. Rewatching the scene with this in mind, Sir Alec Guinness does indeed give Han an incredulous stare but—in a rarity for a Star Wars films—the acting was so subtle that nobody noticed it.
- And Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford share top billing, Peter Cushing comes next and Alec Guinness gets the "And" in the main cast. James Earl Jones may get "as the voice of Darth Vader"... but is lumped with all the other co-stars.
- And There Was Much Rejoicing: In response to the destruction of the Death Star and the slaughter of its entire crew: "Great shot, kid! That was one in a million!"
- Ascetic Aesthetic: Averted with the Millennium Falcon, played straight with the Star Destroyers.
- Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: Han charges headlong at the Stormtroopers as a diversionary tactic; he turns and runs after he ends up cornering them and forcing them to stand and fight (the special edition changes this to them running into a hangar full of troopers)
- Attack of the Monster Appendage: The Dianoga is a type 1. We only get to see its eyestalk and tentacle.
- Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: The reason for that scene where Luke discovers his aunt and uncle's horrifically charred remains (as well as the alien's arm being cut off in the cantina scene). However, George Lucas had no way of knowing at the time that standards would be tightened for G-rated movies within the next few years and that even if he did get a G rating back then, he might have gotten a PG rating in 1981 regardless. Averted in the UK, where the movie has always been rated U. Also from the other direction one of the many preferred explanations for Greedo shooting first.
- Bad-Guy Bar: The Mos Eisley cantina, where bounty hunters and smugglers hang out and Luke almost gets killed for no reason at all.
- Badass BoastObi-Wan Kenobi: If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
- Badass Bystander: The Y-Wing pilot, who was the only one to survive the assault on the Death Star aside from Luke, Han, and Wedge.
- Bar Brawl: When Kenobi tries to defuse that situation, the thug pulls a blaster on Kenobi. In response, Obi-Wan neatly lops his arm off with his saber and stands around for a few seconds with it lit with a look that screams, "Anyone else want to start something?"
- Bar Full of Aliens: The Mos Eisley cantina.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: When imprisoned on the Death Star, Vader turns up to interrogate Leia with a droid fairly bristling with syringes. As the the door closes on them, it's clear that she's about to be tortured for information. And yet the next time we see her, she looks perfectly fine, without so much as a puncture wound or a hair out of place.
- Before The Dark Times: Trope Namer, from Kenobi when lamenting the end of the Jedi and the old Republic.
- Big Bad: In contrast to the other films, Grand Moff Tarkin is given this role as he is in charge of the Death Star and, notionally, Darth Vader — note that Peter Cushing got very high billing for this movie, right behind the 3 main protagonists. Palpatine doesn't show up in the Original Trilogy until Episode V.
- Big Damn Heroes: Han Solo arriving Just in Time to save Luke from Vader and buy Luke the vital seconds needed to send the proton torpedoes into the Death Star's thermal exhaust port.
- Big "NO!": Luke has one as he sees Vader slice his wise mentor in two.
- Big "WHAT?!":
- Leia, after finding out that despite her (feigned) cooperation, Tarkin intends to destroy Alderaan anyway.
- Vader, in the Death Star trench when his wingman is suddenly taken out.
- Black and White Morality: The Rebel Alliance, Luke and co. are the good guys, and the Empire are the clear-cut bad guys, the trope played straight right down to the clothes worn by named characters. Han Solo starts off in a grey area, but even he ends up becoming a hero in the end.
- Blatant Lies: The whole, on a "diplomatic mission to Alderaan" thing in light of Rogue One. The film shows that the Tantive IV barely escaped the Battle of Scarif immediately preceding the opening scenes of this film, and in that battle they missed being boarded by Vader by seconds
- Bluffing the Authorities: After attacking the detention block on the Death Star, Han Solo tries to do this to an officer who calls over the intercom. He's unsuccessful.Han: Uh, we had a slight weapons malfunction, but, uh... everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine, we're all fine here now, thank you. [beat] How are you?
- Boarding Party: The Imperials blasting their way into the Rebel corvette at the start of A New Hope.
- Bottomless Pit: Which Luke and Leia swing over.
- Bowdlerise: The Special Editions subtly edit every moment someone gets shot with a blaster on-screen to make the effect less gruesome, and also edit the Greedo scene so that Han unambiguously shoots Greedo in self defense as opposed to killing him before he can even get off a shot.
- The Call Knows Where You Live: Luke's home being burnt down by stormtroopers.
- Call to Adventure: Delivered by Obi-Wan Kenobi:Obi-Wan: You must learn the ways of the Force, if you're to come with me to Alderaan.Luke: Alderaan? I'm not going to Alderaan, I've gotta get home — it's late, I'm in for it as it is!
- The Cameo: The Outrider taking off from Mos Eisley in the Special Edition.
- Can't Believe I Said That:
- Han Solo over the intercom: "How are you?" [cringes]
- Plus since it was improvised, either Harrison couldn't believe that was the best he could ad lib, or he felt Han would realize he was talking like an idiot.
- Casual Danger Dialogue: During the Detention Center Shooter, Han and Leia take some time to banter with each other while they're being shot at by a group of Stormtroopers.Han: "Can't get out that way!"Leia: "Looks like you managed to cut off our only escape route!"Han: "Maybe you'd like it back in your cell, your highness!" (blaster bolts whizzes past head)
- Celebrating the Heroes: In the final scene, Princess Leia presides over an awards ceremony where she presents Luke, Han, and Chewbacca with medals for their efforts in destroying the Death Star.
- Changed My Mind, Kid: Just when Vader is about to blast Luke down onto the Death Star surface, the Millennium Falcon makes a surprise intervention and blasts one of Vader's wingmen. Han returns after saying through the movie that he only cares about the prize at the end!Vader: "I have you now..." (explosion) "What?!"
- Chekhov's Skill:
- The development of Luke's Force sensitivity functions as this, as he increasingly learns to fight by instinct rather than by conscious thought. The culmination is his destruction of the Death Star.
- Luke is also established early on to be a skilled pilot, which allows him to join the attack on the Death Star even though he's never flown in combat before.
- Comic-Book Adaptation: Marvel Comics launched its long-running Star Wars comic with a six-issue adaptation of the film. The comic is notable for being based on an early edit of the film and as such has characters and scenes (including one featuring a humanoid Jabba the Hutt) not in the final movie. In 2013-2014, Dark Horse Comics released a miniseries titled The Star Wars, adapting an early version of Lucas' screenplay for A New Hope.
- Coming-of-Age Story: For Luke and Leia. Luke Skywalker leaves his home and family to begin his training as a Jedi Knight while Princess Leia has to prove herself as a successful leader. Later shown to be a mirror of their parents Anakin and Padmé.
- Commander Contrarian: General Tagge for the Empire ("Until this battle station is fully operational, we are vulnerable."). Unusually he's entirely right and the Empire would have been a lot better off listening to him.
- Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Leia, which leads to Well, Excuse Me, Princess! with Han.
- Contrived Coincidence: In the individual movie there is little problem with the fact Luke gains ownership of the droids, as he was just a farmboy along for the adventure with the Old Master. In the grand scheme of the saga, Vader being revealed as his father AND a prior owner of R2 starts to stretch things, in addition to the fact that Obi-Wan and Yoda anticipated Luke as a potential weapon to defeat Vader and the Emperor.
- Cover Identity Anomaly: When Han is impersonating a stormtrooper over the intercom, he can't come up with his operating number.
- Covers Always Lie
- Darth Vader's lightsaber has a guard on the original cover and film poster. The blade is also orange-ish in colour instead of pale red.
- There are also these◊ earlier◊ posters showing a much more muscular Mark Hamill, a sexier Carrie Fisher, the implication that they are lovers, and Luke raising a lightsaber as if he used it in battle. As it stands, Luke only uses a lightsaber during a training scene and doesn't pick it up again until the next movie. Also while this poster has all the elements for a classic Leg Cling, it averts it by giving the princess a strong independent pose.
- Create Your Own Hero: The Empire killing Luke's aunt and uncle, as well as Obi Wan telling Luke that Darth Vader killed his father, is what ends up convincing him to go with Obi Wan to Alderaan and learn to become a Jedi. From a retroactive standpoint, this becomes much more literal when it's revealed that Luke is Vader's son.
- Damsel out of Distress: Princess Leia is captured in the opening scene and remains a prisoner for a good deal of the movie. Then the trope is inverted (one could almost say deconstructed for the genre George Lucas was drawing from). True, Leia doesn't try to escape herself, but that's because she's imprisoned in a moon-sized battle station. When an opportunity does arise, she seizes it with both hands and takes charge of matters once it's obvious her so-called rescuers don't have a clue what they're doing."Somebody has to save our skins!"
- Danger Deadpan: Davish Krail (Gold Five) and Garven Dreis (Red Leader) both have their moments, especially during their trench runs. Krail not only has the infamous "Stay on target!", but also has the distinction that as he pulls out of the trench with Darth Vader closing on his tail, his Famous Last Words are a calm sitrep telling Dreis what he is going to face. However, Dreis is the more deadpan of the two, as exemplified when he calmly reports to Luke that he just lost an engine and Luke should begin his attack run while Vader is still shooting him up.Krail: They came from BEHIND--
- Deadly Deferred Conversation: In a deleted scene restored in the Special Edition, Luke runs into his old friend Biggs Darklighter before Red Squadron launches against the Death Star, with them promising to catch up afterwards. Biggs dies to Vader's guns during the final trench run.
- Defiant Captive: Leia takes none of Vader's crap and resists the mind probe.
- Defiant to the End: Leia refuses to give Tarkin and Vader any information about the Rebels, even after being tortured, orphaned, and threatened with death.
- Demoted to Extra: Biggs Darklighter got this because his aforementioned scenes with Luke were deleted. Luke does mention him by name, however — "Biggs was right, I'm never gonna get out of here!" The special edition reinserts their reunion just before the Battle of Yavin.
- Den of Iniquity: Mos Eisley is a dusty town filled with criminals stopping by to get a drink or to find a fight.
- Department of Redundancy Department: In the special edition, most of the lines from the Jabba scene are the same ones Han and Greedo had already traded in the cantina. The reason for this is that when the Jabba scene was originally cut, the lines were moved to the Greedo one. However, by the time the special edition came around and re-added the Jabba scene, Harrison Ford was too old to record different lines while he was reaching for the blaster.
- Didn't Think This Through: Luke only made plans to get into Leia's cell bay. He didn't think about how to escape. Lampshaded by both Leia and Han.Leia: "This is some rescue! You came in here, and you didn't have a plan for getting out?"Han (indicating Luke): "He's the brains, sweetheart!"
- Digital Destruction: The only DVD release of the original theatrical cut (released as limited edition extras) was a completely phoned in, raw transfer off of the 1993 laserdisc of the film, which had excessive grain, low contrast, serious aliasing, and motion smearing (Motion smearing is when moving objects are blurred and leave behind a trail of their own shape due to DVNR) — inexcusable, considering that a far better THX remastered transfer had been made and released of it in the past.
- Distinctive Appearances: The differences in color between the lightsabers, the stark contrast in starship designs, and the colors of the protagonists and antagonists are all designed to evoke a strong Good vs. Evil theme.
- Do a Barrel Roll: When Luke has a TIE Fighter on his tail, Wedge saves him with a flawlessly executed Thach Weave.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The ending scene for A New Hope. Don't even get us started on Triumph of the Will! Which, of course, has become rather memetic, given who the Empire is patterned after... and then that award ceremony happens. Whoops!note
- The Dog Shot First: Trope Namer. After the infamous scene in the Special Edition.
- Doing In the Scientist: Motti scorns the Force as bogus sorcery that can do nothing but scare people with its hype. He is promptly force choked by Darth Vader.
- Don't Think, Feel: Obi-Wan teaches Luke this aboard the Millennium Falcon.Obi-Wan: Remember, a Jedi feels the Force flowing through him.
Luke: You mean it controls your actions?
Obi-Wan: Partially, but it also obeys your commands.
Obi-Wan: Stretch out with your feelings.
- Doomed Hometown:
- Alderaan, Leia's home planet, is destroyed by the Death Star as a show of its power.
- The Lars homestead is attacked by Stormtroopers, who leave the burning corpses of the Lars out for the child they raised, Luke Skywalker, to find.
- Doomsday Device: The Death Star is a space station that can destroy planets with it's massive laser. Grand Moff Tarkin hopes to use it to eliminate the Rebellion and to scare the rest of the galaxy into submission.
- Draw Aggro: This is part of the Death Star battle plan. Red squadron would focus on the laser towers on the surface, to reduce fire on the Gold Squadron flying into the trench. Unfortunately Vader's skill as a TIE pilot mean it doesn't matter if the rest of the Death Star forces aren't focused on them.
- Dressing as the Enemy: Luke and Han "borrow" some Stormtrooper uniforms to sneak into the prison block on the Death Star.
- The Dulcinea Effect: Luke opts to rescue Leia on the strength of little more than her Hologram image.
- Early-Bird Cameo: While disguising as Stormtroopers, Luke and Han walk past a RA-7 Protocol Droid in the Death Star. It took almost 40 years in real life for that particular type of droid to have a role in the franchise.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Has its own page.
- Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The destruction of Alderaan, and later the Death Star itself.
- Easy Evangelism: Luke pretty much accepts everything that Obi-Wan tells him about his father, the Jedi and the Force without question, even though he's hearing about these details just now. This does help speed the story along of course. Luke's belief only starts stretching during Yoda's lessons in the next movie. Also downplayed in that Obi-Wan only starts training Luke on how to use the Force in any real detail after Luke has already seen a Jedi Mind Trick.
Luke also chews out Han for not believing in the Force, similar to how a religious person would chew out an atheist in real life for not having a faith in God, even though on Han's defense, there's no way an outlaw and smuggler like him who had more life experience without any direct involvement of the Force would've had a reason to believe it. Not to mention Han's not Force-sensitive himself.
- Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Age: Trope Namer, with Kenobi gushing about the lightsaber.
- Elite Mooks:
- The TIE fighter pilots that attack the Rebels in the finale are the personal squadron of Darth Vader, the Magic Knight who leads the villain's military efforts from the frontlines.
- Darth Vader's stormtroopers during the opening scene. At least they manage to hit someone and arrest the remaining rebels.
- Epic Fail: Greedo misses Han Solo at point blank range in the Special Editions, only to be immediately killed by the smuggler.
- Everything's Squishier with Cephalopods: The creature in the Trash Compactor, the Dianoga, is an Octopus-like creature, and is definitely of the threatening variety. You wouldn't know this from just watching the movie, though; its full body is only seen in Expanded Universe materials.
- Evil Is Not Well-Lit: The interior of the Death Star, the villains' secret base, is drab and monotone.
- Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: After Luke and Obi Wan find the remains of the Jawas that sold them R2 and Threepio, he realizes that the Stormtroopers search for the droids would end up leading them back to his relatives homestead."But that would lead them back... home!"
- Han Solo's "Traveling through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, boy!"
- Tarkin's "You're sure the homing beacon is secure aboard their ship?" almost qualifies as an As You Know.
- Obi-Wan's Info Dump about the Jedi Knights and the Force.
- Extremely Short Timespan: The movie seems to take place in the span of at least three days.
- Eye on a Stalk: The Dianoga has an eye on a stalk, which lets it see above the surface while the rest of its body remains submerged.
- Failsafe Failure: Including one of the most famous in all media:
- The Death Star, a battle station the size of a small moon, can be completely destroyed by a small fighter firing a couple of missiles down a thermal exhaust shaft that leads directly to the main reactor. Imperial designers apparently recognized the problem to the extent of ray shielding the shaft to protect it from blaster fire, but for some reason cannot stop projectiles. (Of course, the Empire can be forgiven for this, since you would have to be some kind of space wizard who is also a fighter pilot to actually hit a target that small.) Rogue One addresses the weakness: the film would retroactively reveal that the weakness was installed on purpose, and that a lot of bloodshed and grief went into making that little detail, and the discovery of it, possible.
- Basically all the doors on the Death Star. If you shoot out the control panels for them on one side, the controls on the other side no longer work either. This proves to be both a feature and a bug for Luke and Leia during their escape.
- Further demonstrating the Death Star's shoddy design, the tractor beam system has seven separate power junctions feeding it. This is apparently not for backup and failsafe purposes, as the disconnection of any one of the junctions will disable the entire system.
- False False Alarm: When attacking the prison section of the Death Star to recuse Leia, one of the guards trips the alarm. Solo tries to play it off as a false alarm but fails completely.
- Feeling Their Age: Obi-Wan, when asking Luke to join him, lamented that he was getting too old to go on these sort of adventures. A big part of his duel with Vader was being mocked that he was old and out of practice.
- Fighter-Launching Sequence: The ships launching for the battle of Yavin.
- Finger Poke of Doom: The first appearance of the Force choke used by Vader.
- Force-Choke: This is the first bad-guy Force power introduced in the series, and establishes in a big way that Darth Vader is much more than a brutal Imperial enforcer.
- The Force Is Strong with This One: Trope Namer. Vader seeing Luke's X-Wing wasn't so easy to hit.
- Forced to Watch: Leia is forced to watch Alderaan's destruction with all her friends and family still on the planet.
- Foreshadowing: As Luke introduces himself to R2 and Threepio, Threepio calls him "Sir Luke", hinting at Luke's eventual Jedi Knighthood.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- Although many of the X-wing models were reused throughout the final battle sequence (sometimes without respect to which ships are actually supposed to be on screen), if one looks closely they'll find that ILM built at least six unique models: Red Leader (Dreis)◊, Red Two (Wedge)◊, Red Three (Biggs)◊, Red Four (John D.)◊, Red Five (Luke)◊, and Red Six (Porkins)◊ all had unique markings.note
- If you look closely in some shots, you can see David Prowse's eyes through the Vader mask.
- Gambit Roulette: Darth Vader's ultimate plan to get the Rebel base's location, which Tarkin agreed to on the grounds that it demonstrated that Leia was of more use than he had anticipated, hinged on Luke and Han rescuing Leia and the tractor beam being disabled by the time they got back to the Millennium Falcon. He sent a pair of Stormtroopers into the Falcon to search for occupants, and the whole thing—Luke and Han attacking the Stormtroopers and Dressing as the Enemy, Chewie being the Trojan Prisoner, Obi-wan evading the Stormtroopers until the tractor beam was disabled, etc.—was improvised from there. Subverted in that from the perspective of a Force sensitive, there is no such thing as luck.
- Genre-Busting: Hoo boy, we have an adventure story with fairy tale and mythological elements, samurai melodrama, space fantasy, war movie, western and old fashioned science fiction elements all mashed up into one movie. By the way, the visual design evokes Putting on the Reich, cowboys in space, Ray Gun Gothic, and a dab of Crystal Spires and Togas, all while being the Trope Codifier for Used Future. The space combat scenes were created to evoke WWII dogfighting footage at its most heroic and the score hearkens back to much older war movies with bright, powerful orchestral music. Heck, The Dragon is in a costume that mixes samurai silhouettes with those of a Ray Gun Gothic villain.
- Genre Throwback: The whole movie is a big 70's love letter to Flash Gordon, war movies, westerns and B-movie serials of the old days of Hollywood.
- George Lucas Altered Version: In addition to making Han return fire on Greedo instead of shooting first, they added in a deleted scene of Han conversing with Jabba by the Falcon (who was originally portrayed as humanoid, making some awkward CG putting in the now famous giant slug, and Han calling Jabba a "wonderful human being") note . There is also a grand establishing shot of Mos Eisley as they drive in, a scene of Luke meeting his old friend Biggs Darklighter (though the early scene in which Biggs is introduced remains on the cutting room floor), an Epic Tracking Shot for the X-Wings as they prepare to engage the Death Star, and the Shistavanen Lak Sivrak as well as the Defel Arleil Schous were both replaced by Ketwol and Melas, a Pacithhip and a Sarkan respectively, for the Cantina scene.
- Good Colors, Evil Colors: Everything in this movie. Blue lightsabers are good, red is bad. The Imperial ships are black or white while the Rebel ships are grey and red. Even the laser bolts are different colors, with Rebels firing red and Imperials green (except small arms, which all shoot red bolts). The showdown between Vader and Obi-Wan also introduced the Jedi and Sith color scheme of black vs. brown robes which was maintained throughout all the films.
- Great Offscreen War: The Clone Wars, first mentioned in this movie and promptly never explained for the next twenty-five years. Beyond the fact that Obi-Wan and Luke's father both fought in it, we learn nothing about it in this film. Keep in mind that at the time, there was no plan for Star Wars to be a big franchise like it is today, so it was very likely that almost nobody among the crews and actors had any slightest idea what the Clone Wars was like. It didn't help that it never even got any more mention in the rest of the Original Trilogy, making it nothing more than a big fat Noodle Incident at the time.
- Greater-Scope Villain: The Emperor is a background figure who never appears nor does he intervene in the decisions taken. He's only mentioned almost in passing a couple of times through the film.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: Subverted, if not averted. The commander of the prison guards didn't buy the Trojan Prisoner plot Luke and Han tried to do with Chewbacca while they were Dressing as the Enemy. Not that it helped much....
- Guile Hero: If you think about it, pretty much every major character save for Chewbacca uses guile to screw somebody else over.
- R2: Tricks Luke into removing his restraining bolt so he can find Obi-Wan.
- Obi-Wan: Uses the Force to confuse Stormtroopers, and distracts Vader long enough for Luke and co to escape.
- Leia: Lies to Tarkin about where the Rebel base is.
- Luke: Convinces Han to rescue Leia because "she's rich". It turns out the Rebellion can pay Han, but Luke wouldn't have known that.
- Han: Shoots Greedo, pretends to be a Stormtrooper on the radio to buy them time ("We're all fine here now, thank you. How are you?")
- C-3PO: Pretends he and R2 are helpless Imperial droids victimised by Luke and co.
- Vader and Tarkin: Put a homing beacon on the Millennium Falcon to track it to the Rebel base.
- Guy in Back: R2D2 during the final battle. To add to the drama, he is badly damaged during the final trench run.
- Hero Killer: Darth Vader is infamous for killing numerous Jedi when the Empire began to rule, including Luke's father. Onscreen, he cements his status when he kills Obi-wan in a lightsaber duel and shoots down half-a-dozen pilots during the Battle of Yavin, including two squad leaders and Luke's childhood friend Biggs, while giving R2-D2 serious damage and nearly shooting down Luke before Han arrives in a Big Damn Heroes.
- The Hero's Journey: Hits pretty much every note, and Joseph Campbell was one of Lucas's many inspirations in developing the story.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Obi-Wan allows Vader to kill him so Luke will leave the Death Star. Since Obi-Wan knows he'll live on in the universe's afterlife, he decides to Go Out with a Smile.
- Heroism Incentive: Luke telling Han he could get a handsome reward for saving Princess Leia. It even got played with in various ways.Han: No reward is worth this.
- Hidden in Plain Sight: Essentially the Rebel plan during the Battle of Yavin. The X-Wings would distract the turrets while the slower Y-Wings, unnoticed in the confusion of the X-Wing attack, made their way to the Trench to attack the exhaust port. Unfortunately, Darth Vader is wise to that maneuver, ordering all TIE Fighters to take out the X-Wings, while his own squadron goes after the Y-Wings.
Admiral Motti: (to Vader) [Your belief in the force hasn't] given you clairvoyance enough to find the rebels' hidden fortre— (Vader silences him with a Force-Choke)
- To Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress, with the droids being the focus for much of the film, and also to Yojimbo, with the scene of the two braggarts at the cantina. Lucas' heavy use of frame wipes is also indebted to Kurosawa.
- The heart-wrenching scene where Luke rushes to the farm, only to find it already raided and his relatives dead harkens to an equally distressing scene in The Searchers.
- The confrontation between Kenobi against Ponda Baba and Cornelius Evazan in the cantina is straight out of Yojimbo, complete with the lingering shot on a severed arm.
- Much of the Death Star attack at the climax of A New Hope comes from The Dam Busters, down to the dialogue in places.
- The medal ceremony scene at the end of A New Hope is almost frame-for-frame out of the infamous Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will.
- A couple of the characters are homages bordering on Expy. Classical Hollywood aficionados will recognize Greedo's silky voice and bugged-out eyes, and Jabba moves smoothly like Sidney Greenstreet and has his placid expression. Harrison Ford's Han Solo has elements of Humphrey Bogart note as well.
- Honest John's Dealership: The droids sold by the Jawas are what they find around Tatooine, so defective droids like the R5 unit with the malfunctioning motivator end up getting sold to unsuspecting consumers.
- I Just Want to Be Special: The film begins with Luke saying that he wants to leave home to join the Rebellion, just like some of his friends. It's bittersweet when he gets his wish. He stated that he wanted to join the Imperial Academy (even despite the fact that Luke said he had a negative opinion of the Empire when talking to Obi-Wan), as he and Owen discussed at their dinner. Owen wouldn't allow him to, due to how much Luke was needed on the moisture farm and because he was a bit nervous that Luke would turn out like his father.Beru: Luke's just not a farmer, Owen. He has too much of his father in him.
Owen: That's what I'm afraid of.note
- I Lied: Tarkin threatens to destroy Alderaan unless Leia gives up the location of the Rebel base. When Leia tells him, he has Alderaan destroyed anyway. For her part, Leia lied about it being on Dantooine, at least currently.
- I Warned You:
- Han was initially against rescuing Leia.Han: (about their plan) This is not gonna work.
Luke: Why didn't you say so before?
Han: I did say so before!
[Luke shakes his head]
- After it comes out that she had lied about the location of the Rebel base, Vader reiterates to Tarkin that Leia would under almost no circumstances whatsoever deliberately share compromising information about the Rebellion with her captors.Tarkin: She lied! She LIED to us!
Vader: I told you she would never consciously betray the Rebellion, unless she thought she could destroy us in the process.
- Han was initially against rescuing Leia.
- Idiot Ball: The commander of the Star Destroyer doesn't fire on the escape pod leaving Leia's ship because there are no life signs onboard. The Star Wars Lore clearly establishes that droids are very common and perform a wide variety of significant tasks. As such, it is mind-boggling that a senior Imperial officer wouldn't consider the possibility that the pod might have droids onboard that might be important to the rebels. Though he does immediately tells Vader about this.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy:
- Averted and then played straight when the Imperials board the Tantive IV. The stormtroopers quickly mow through the rebels and send the remaining ones packing. But during the shootout, C-3PO and R2 pass through the hallway and narrowly miss the volley of lasers being shot between the imperials and the rebels. While this could be chalked up to them not being the targets of either side, the droids got really lucky they made it out intact.
- Justified during the Death Star escape, since the Empire needed Leia to lead them to the Rebel base. Even Leia is aware of this.
- Greedo, in the Special Edition, clearly is a graduate as he is somehow able to miss Han. At point-blank range. By more than the distance between them. With a laser.
- Implausible Deniability: Captain Antilles and Leia both try to insist that Tantive IV is on a diplomatic mission. Vader is having none of it and takes the ship captive. Probably since, according to Rogue One, in said battle he missed boarding their ship by about two seconds and also engaged their comrades in battle
- Indy Ploy:
- Played with, as Luke's spur-of-the-moment plan to get into the detention center starts to unravel when they just blindly shoot at the cameras and Han poorly makes an excuse over the intercom.
- Leia's ploy also works partly. Diving into the garbage chute gets them out of the firefight, but the droids have to save them from the compactor.
- Informed Ability: This is the film where Obi-Wan Kenobi infamously states, when pointing out blaster marks "Only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise." These would be the same Stormtroopers that can't seem to hit the broad side of a barn any time they're shown shooting at the heroes.
- Insecurity Camera: The cameras in the Death Star's cell block are pretty useless, since Luke and Han shoot them as soon as their cover is blown and a fight breaks out with the Imperial guards.
- It Began with a Twist of Fate: Don't forget about the time Luke Skywalker's uncle bought a couple of droids.
- It Was a Gift: Luke's lightsaber was originally his father's. Obi-Wan said his father wanted him to have it when he was old enough. Of course it may have been true From a Certain Point of View...
- Jedi Mind Trick: Not the Trope Namer, but this film showed the first example of Star Wars's Jedi Mind Trick, an ability where one uses the mystical energy field known as the Force to fool the weak-minded into doing as one says.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Uncle Owen may be frustrating Luke's dream of going to the Academy terribly, but considering the risk that Luke would surely be discovered by the Sith Lords and corrupted into their minion, you can see why Owen would be determined to prevent that.
- Just in Time: Han showing up at the Death Star fight and saving Luke from Vader.
- Kick the Dog:
Leia: [from a test shot] And you call yourselves humans.
- The destruction of Alderaan, a peaceful planet full of diplomats, firmly establishes the monstrous nature of Grand Moff Tarkin and the Empire as a whole.
- The Stormtroopers slaughtering the Jawas and then killing Owen and Beru. The film doesn't give any explanation for the massacres (especially since, unlike the Rebels from the opening, they're all basically no threat to the Empire), and makes it come off as the Empire just being incredibly ruthless.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: Davish Krail during the Trench Run. His Famous Last Words are a calm sitrep telling Garven Dreis what he is going to face: "They came...from behind—"
- Knight, Knave and Squire: Luke Skywalker is the Squire, with Obi-Wan and Han Solo as the Knight and Knave respectively. A key point in Luke's character development is when he rejects Han's pragmatism, leading to Han second-guessing his own beliefs.
- Laser-Guided Karma: In retaliation against the disturbance caused by the destruction of Alderaan and the slaughter of all of its inhabitants, the Force guides Luke's hands to fire the shots that destroy the Death Star and slaughter its entire crew.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Han Solo chasing after a group of retreating Storm Troopers. Followed by Solo running full tilt away from the same group of Storm Troopers when they turn around and start shooting at him again.
- Leitmotif: All over the place. John Williams held nothing back. The film introduces the themes for the Rebels, the Jedi, Princess Leia, and more. Even the Death Star itself has a cue to represent it. (Notably absent is Vader's theme, the ominous Imperial March, which doesn't appear until the next movie.)
- Let the Bully Win: Trope Namer. 3PO telling R2 to "let the Wookiee win".
- Let's Get Dangerous!: At first, Obi Wan seems to be little more than a wizened old man, who may have once been a warrior of the Clone Wars, but is now an old man who lives in a hovel. Then we get to the cantina scene, where said old man whips out a lightsaber, deflects blaster shots and lops a man's arm off. You can tell from the look on Luke's face, that's the moment when he starts to take the whole 'Jedi' thing seriously.
- A Light in the Distance: C-3PO, lost on Tatooine, sees light glinting off a Jawa sandcrawler and concludes that he's saved.
- Listing The Forms Of Degenerates: Obi-Wan does this when he says "Mos Eisley spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy."
- A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away...: Trope Namer. The introductory line of text before the opening crawl.
- Low Clearance: In a blooper they left in a stormtrooper hits his head on a door that didn't open quite enough.
- Magic Versus Science: Vader lectures Admiral Motti on this when the latter brags that the Death Star is the ultimate power in the universe."Don't be too proud of this technological terror you constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of The Force."
- Make It Look Like an Accident: The Jawas who sold R2-D2 and C-3PO to Owen and Beru Lars get slaughtered by Imperial Stormtroopers, who make it look like the Tusken Raiders were responsible by leaving gaderfii sticks and bantha tracks behind.
- Match Cut: The shot where R2 uploads the Death Star plans at the rebel base and whistles at the 3D schematics immediately cuts to the real Death Star heading for Yavin, in a similar position to where the plans were displayed on screen.
- Mentor Archetype: Obi-Wan Kenobi fills this role so well, the Trope was once named after him.
- Mentor's New Hope: Luke is being taught by Obi-Wan, who also taught Darth Vader before Vader went to the dark side.
- Metaphorically True: Tarkin orders Leia to divulge the location of the Rebel Alliance's base. She does, saying that it's on Dantooine. When Imperial ships arrive at the planet they find out that there was a Rebel base there... and it had just been abandoned. So Leia did divulge the location... just not the right one.
- A Million Is a Statistic: Averted with Alderaan, and the shock and horror various characters express at its destruction.
- Mission Briefing: Before the attack on the Death Star. Luke speaks up about how the impossible-seeming goal isn't really. The briefing also includes a complete Exposition Diagram commented by Mr. Exposition himself, projecting the plans of an Air-Vent Passageway out of R2-D2's memory on The Big Board.
- Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: The movie falls squarely on 1 (Science in Genre Only), due to its use of lasers that are identical to bullets, magic known as "the Force," and the unrealistic Laser Blade known as a "light saber."
- Mohs Scale of Violence Hardness: It rates a 4, due to Darth Vader cracking Captain Raymus Antilles' neck with his bare hand, Owen and Beru Lars' charred skeletons, some blood on alien Ponda Baba's severed arm, and other, lesser, acts of science-fiction-related violence.
- Motivational Kiss: Leia gives Luke a peck on the cheek "for luck" before he tries to swing over a precarious gap.
- Mythology Gag: The Special Edition remasters added an Early-Bird Cameo of the Outrider, Dash Rendar's ship in Shadows of the Empire, to the establishing shots of Mos Eisley.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Empire is clearly patterned after the Nazis. Their foot soldiers are called "stormtroopers", originally a Nazi term for the SA. Tarkin makes a comment about the "regional governors" governing the Empire directly; the German word for "regional governor" is Gauleiter, and this was in fact the Nazi system of government, with Germany divided into regions governed by Gauleiters appointed by Hitler. See also Putting on the Reich below.
- Neck Lift: Darth Vader grabs Raymus Antilles' neck and lifts him off his feet while interrogating him.
- Neck Snap: Darth Vader snaps the neck of Raymus Antilles when he refuses to cooperate.
- The Needs of the Many: Leia is forced into this situation, throwing the planet of Dantooine (which the Expanded Universe has established is an inhabited world, albeit a sparsely populated one) under the proverbial bus in hopes of it being destroyed by the Death Star instead of Alderaan when forced by Tarkin to choose between giving up the rebel base location or seeing her homeworld destroyed. She's far too trusting.
- Never My Fault:
Threepio: That malfunctioning twerp! This is all his fault! He tricked me into going this way. But he'll do no better.
- C-3PO while lost in the desert after refusing to take R2's route:
"Help! I think I'm melting! (to R2) This is all your fault."
- Later, after getting tangled up by wires following an attack from the TIE Fighters.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
Leia: Quick, we've got to get across! Find the controls that extend the bridge.
- Luke, while he and Leia are trying to escape the storm troopers aboard the Death Star.
Luke: (sighs) I think I just blasted it...
Han: We can't get out that way.
- Leia to Han. To Leia it's Han's first impression.
Leia: Looks like you've managed to cut off our only escape route.
Han: Maybe you'd like it back in your cell, your highness.
- No OSHA Compliance:
- The Death Star either fired their safety inspection team or have complete disregard for the safety of their staff, because the inside of the station is a giant death trap. You have massive chasms with very tiny bridges that can be retracted, and they have no railings or support at all. The tractor beam's power is controlled through a panel perched on a tower over a bottomless pit, and the catwalk to access the controls is about a foot wide. There are giant doors that slam shut in the blink of an eye. Their hangar bay has a giant, open elevator pit right next to where the ships would land. Heck, the superlaser cannon has two crew members perched on the itty bitty platform right next to the gigantic superlaser beam!
- The blast doors. These are quadruple-section doors that close in from the corners, leaving an increasingly-shrinking square in the middle. Yes, in the event of decompression or a firefight, these doors need to close quickly for the safety of the onboard personnel (and to prevent pesky intruders from escaping, natch). But if a body (organic or mechanic) gets caught in the opening and mulched by the doors, that's a whole lotta cleaning up involved, and that's if the doors don't jam from all that matter caught in them.
- Given Rogue One revealed that Galen Erso was the one responsible for the thermal exhaust port that ultimately lead to the destruction of the first Death Star, it's not entirely unreasonable he may have created other ways to get back at the Imperials for all the pain they caused him.
- Noodle Incident:
- The Clone Wars was mentioned only once in the original trilogy, as Luke learns more about Obi-Wan's past. It wasn't until the prequel trilogy and The Clone Wars animated series we'd learn more about it.
- Vader comments early on that there will be "no one to stop us this time." This was probably when the Rebels stole the plans in the first place, which would be depicted thirty-nine years later in Rogue One.
- Nothing Is Scarier:
- The dianoga in the trash compactor. We only see a couple tentacles and an eyestalk.
- Leia's session with the torture droid. After zooming in ominously on its wicked-looking syringe, the door shuts and we don't see what happens next.
- During the trench run, the guns at the end periodically stop firing at the fighters flying towards the exhaust port. This signals Darth Vader's arrival behind the fighters.
- Not in This for Your Revolution: Trope Namer. Han just helped save Leia for the reward, and decides to leave the Rebellion to destroy the Death Star without him.
- Not Too Dead to Save the Day: The spirit of Obi-Wan reminding Luke to "Use the Force!" (Not to mention, right after his death, getting Luke to run from the stormtroopers instead of battling them.)
- Obstacle Exposition: We have the briefing before the attack against the Death Star that clearly outlines their mission of hitting the exhaust port and everything that can possible stop them. This includes the need for tactical computers to make such a shot, and for good measure there was an unsuccessful attempt mid-way through the battle just so we know just how necessary a precise shot with the targeting computer is. Cue Luke turning off the targeting computer.
- Obviously Evil: The Empire. Right from the opening shot you can tell they're the bad guys, what with their cold, angular looking starships, the Stormtroopers with their perpetually frowning helmets, their ruthless leader who dresses entirely in black, and so on.
- Off-Model: The CGI Jabba the Hutt from the Special Edition looks different from the puppet used to portray Jabba in his first appearance in Return of the Jedi.
- Off-the-Shelf FX: The film had so many production problems, that many corners were cut to make the props and effects. The results made Star Wars one of the tentpole films for how kitbashing can be used to effectively add visual depth;
- All of the ships and the surface of the Death Star were made by kitbashing numerous model kits together to give a feeling of detail and grit the film's Used Future tone warranted. For example, the gap between the upper and lower shells of the Millennium Falcon is filled with the undersides of various trucks. This page gives a good idea towards the specifics of how kitbashing (greebling) was done regarding Star Wars props.
- The blasters in the film are real firearms (or models/props thereof) decorated with model part kits and whatnot, both for ease of editing (adding the energy bolts to the scenes, timed with the effects of the blank cartridges) and so the blasters actually looked like real weapons. Another reason was simple cost and supply. Even by the mid-1970s when the first movie was filmed, WWII-era weapons were still common and easily procured. Even more so, there were tons and tons of realistic plastic props of WWII weapons (particularly Nazi weapons) left over from 60s-era films or contemporary films (such as The Great Escape and The Dirty Dozen). This is why a vast majority of the weapons in the Star Wars universe are modeled closely after German firearms, even down to those used by the heroes such as Han's iconic blaster (modeled after a Mauser pistol). The most iconic Imperial weapon is modeled after a British firearm of the '60's and '70's, the Sterling sub-machine gun, likely as a result of needing large numbers of actually functioning weapons as described previously. It just so happened that at the time A New Hope was being filmed, the British Army was getting rid of most of its stock of Sterlings because sub-machine guns were falling out of favour as infantry weapons, and the rest is history. Also, using 'previous generation' weapons added to the Used Future feel of the series.
- The Lightsabers are built out of the flash from old cameras.
- In the faraway shots of Luke's landspeeder in the pre-Special Edition cuts, "Luke" and "Obi-Wan" were actually dolls from The Six Million Dollar Man.
- In the pre-1997 Star Wars Cantina scene, there is a wolf-like Shistavanen named Lak Sivrak, whose face is quite obviously a Halloween mask from a store. Sivrak was replaced with Ketwol, a member of the elephant-like Pacithhip species, for the Special Edition and subsequent cuts of the film.
- Offstage Villainy: The Empire as a whole. They do some remarkable nefarious acts with the Death Star, but we never hear much of how they affect the rest of the Galaxy. A deleted scene between Luke and Biggs explores this somewhat.
- Oh, Crap!:
Vader: "I have you now." *wingman goes boom* "What?!"
- When Vader is about to shoot Luke's X-wing.
- Luke: "But that would lead them back... home..."
- "That's no moon... That's a space station." "It's too big to be a space station."
- Han's getting the Falcon ready for takeoff from Mos Eisley when he suddenly hears "Stop that ship! Blast them!"
- In the finale of the film, Motti is utterly shocked when he realizes that the Rebels are going to destroy the Death Star. However, it's averted by Tarkin since he doesn't even realize the Death Star is about to blow up.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: During the first half of the film, Carrie Fisher uses a British accent, which eventually disappears for no reason. It is particularly noticeable in the scene where Tarkin is threatening to blow up Alderaan. (It's been suggested that she's actually mocking Tarkin by adopting his aristocratic accent.)
- Open the Door and See All the People: Han Solo running towards a room full of stormtroopers in the Special Edition.
- Orwellian Retcon:
- Since the 1997 Special Edition, each re-release has featured ever-more-extensive changes, such as Han's shooting of Greedo being changed to self-defense.
- A very subtle one: a few frames have been removed from almost every single blaster hit on a stormtrooper throughout the film in order to tone down the violence. A frame-by-frame comparison makes the difference very obvious - the frames where the bolt is shown hitting are removed in editing, less than a half-second of footage per hit. It is especially noticeable in the bridge-swinging sequence, where it happens frequently enough to noticeably rush the pacing of the scene. In the other films, very few stormtroopers are actually shot on-screen.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Vader shows great anger and urgency on board the Tantive IV, lashing out and physically choking Captain Antilles. This is in contrast to his calm demeanor and Tranquil Fury seen in the rest of the series. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story does something to rectify this: it turns out the boarding of Tantive IV took place after a few days of near continuous reverses and setbacks for the Imperials, most notably at Eadu and then the Battle of Scarif, at the latter he barely missed catching them and presumably has been giving chase since. So he has reason to be rather upset.
- Out of the Frying Pan: Twice during the escape from the Death Star. First, the heroes escape from a shootout with stormtroopers by diving into a chute, realizing too late that it leads to the interior of a garbage compactor—which not only has the squidlike dianoga monster, but also begins compacting with them inside. Later, Luke shoots a control panel to lock a door between him and some stormtroopers, then realizes immediately afterwards that this same panel controlled the extendable bridge. Thus, he's traded death by stormtrooper for death by bottomless chasm.
- Palette-Swapped Alien Food: While talking to his aunt and uncle about his future, Luke casually pours himself a glass of blue milk.
- Paying for the Action Scene: After Han Solo kills Greedo in the cantina, he pays the bartender for the mess.
- Physical Religion: Motti sneers at Vader's devotion to an "ancient religion", only to feel said religion's very real presence around his windpipe.
- Please, I Will Do Anything!: Invoked by Tarkin when he targets Alderaan with the Death Star to motivate Leia to give up the location of the rebel base. Of course, then he blows up Alderaan anyway. And Leia was lying anyway. The base she gives up had long-since been abandoned.Governor Tarkin: "You would prefer another target, a military target? Then name the system! I grow tired of asking this so it will be the last time: Where is the rebel base?
- Point Defenseless: Justified in that the Empire didn't think that fighters could possibly threaten the Death Star on their own, so their static defenses were designed to fight off capital ships. In fact, Tarkin is so arrogant about his station's invincibility that he doesn't bother scrambling the vast fighter fleet available to deal with the Rebels' fighters. Unfortunately, Darth Vader is not so stupid and had his personal squadron launch on his own authority with himself in the lead to deal with them.
- The Power of Legacy: Uncle Owen led Luke to believe Anakin was a navigator on a spice freighter, painting him as neither a hero nor a villain. Obi-Wan refrains from telling Luke about his father's true nature but tells him that his father was the "best star pilot in the galaxy".
- Precision F-Strike: During the following conversation between Han Solo and Obi-Wan Kenobi, which Obi-Wan handles pretty hilariously:Han: Even if I could take off, I'd never get past the tractor beam.Obi-Wan: Leave that to me.Han: Damn fool, I knew you'd say that.Obi-Wan: Who's the more foolish? The fool or the fool who follows him?
- A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Trope Namer. Obi-Wan describing Vader's past with him, although he doesn't tell the whole story.
- Pursued Protagonist: In the opening, Leia attempts to escape the evil Stormtroopers as they board her vessel. Unfortunately, their aim is too precise and they capture her.
- Putting on the Reich: The Empire is pattered after the Nazis, with officers dressed in a manner that recalls the SS. Interestingly, the Rebel ceremony that closes the film is also this, being a direct lift from a scene in Triumph of the Will.
- Raster Vision: Used here for the holograms. This is an early use of Raster Vision as an aesthetic - the crummy holograms fit in with the worn-out nature of the tech.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Part of the reason why Tarkin refuses to employ the Death Star's full contingent of fighters (leaving it to Darth Vader to send out his personal squadron) despite the fact that it would have crushed the Rebel attack in about five minutes is because they simply didn't have the time, money or visual effects expertise to depict large squadrons of fighters. By Return of the Jedi, however, that little problem had been taken care of.
- Reality Has No Subtitles: This occurs when the Sandpeople, Jawas, R2-D2, and almost everyone in the cantina talks in their alien languages and robotic sound effects.
- Reckless Gun Usage:
"Put that thing away, you're going to get us all killed!"
- Watch very closely as Luke Skywalker first ignites his lightsaber in Star Wars: A New Hope — he doesn't know how long the beam is and yet is pointing it at Obi-Wan.
- Han casually tries to blow open the door to the trash compactor, only for the laser to bounce all around the compactor with no cover for anyone.
- Refuge in Audacity: As it turns out, Leia's statements about a 'diplomatic mission' becomes this in light of Rogue One. Given that Vader had literally just witnessed the Tantive IV flee Scarif, it took serious balls to lie to his face. It doesn't work.
- Refusal of the Call: Both Luke and Han. The former when asked by Obi-Wan to come with him to Alderaan and the latter when plead to by Luke to help the Rebels destroy the Death Star.
- Reliably Unreliable Guns: Luke's gun jams when the dianoga attacks him.
- Rescue Introduction: Luke meets Leia by taking off his helmet and telling her he's going to rescue her. Subverted in that she ends up leading her own escape.Leia: This is some rescue!
- Retronym: When he made Star Wars, Lucas imagined that it would be Episode I in a series of films with the overall title The Adventures of Luke Skywalker. But while making The Empire Strikes Back (which was at first going to be Episode II of the series), he decided that he also wanted to do three prequel films. Since Luke obviously wouldn't be the hero of the prequels, Lucas needed a new name for the overall series. His solution? Star Wars, once just the chapter title of the first film, became the title of the entire saga. As a result, the subtitle A New Hope was retroactively tacked on to the first film, and it was now numbered Episode IV.
- Rewind, Replay, Repeat: R2-D2 starts to play Leia's holographic message for Kenobi and the short message loops as Luke asks his droids what it means."Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi! You're my only hope!"
- Ribcage Ridge: The Krayt dragon bones when C-3P0 and R2-D2 are walking through the desert.
- Right Man in the Wrong Place: Luke is not initially meant to be the one who destroys the Death Star, but as the battle goes on, every one of the Rebels' pilots is killed or disarmed, leaving first-time soldier Luke to save the day. Thankfully, Luke is attuned to the Force, which lets him make the one in a million shot at the Death Star's weak point.
- Sacrificial Planet: Grand Moff Tarkin uses the Death Star to destroy Alderaan to demonstrate the power of his station to the galaxy before setting his sights on the planet containing the main rebel base.
- Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: As pictured above, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker is depicted in one of the posters holding a blaster directly towards the audience.
- Serendipitous Survival: When R2-D2 runs off, Luke has to chase after him and hopefully get him back before anybody notices so he won't get in trouble. This, and the subsequent meeting with Obi-Wan Kenobi, delay Luke enough that he doesn't get home until long after the Stormtroopers looking for R2 and C-3PO have already raided it and murdered Owen and Beru.
- Sex Sells: One of the original posters features Luke and Leia wearing much more revealing outfits that neither of them actually wear in the movie, as well as making Mark Hamill significantly more muscular, and making Carrie Fisher significantly bustier.
- Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: At the end of Vader's & Kenobi's lightsaber duel Kenobi seemingly gives up and lets Vader slice him - but when he does so, we (and Vader) find his clothes empty. He Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence and left his clothes behind. (Vader even probes the robes with his toe, not expecting for it to happen.)
- Sherlock Scan: When he and Luke encounter the slain Jawas, Obi-Wan deduces from the blast marks and tracks in the sand that the obvious suspects of the crime were not the culprit, and that instead it was Imperial Stormtroopers who killed the Jawas and covered up the scene to make it look like Sand People did it.Luke: It looks like the Sandpeople did this, alright. Look, there's gaffi sticks, Bantha tracks. It's just, I never heard of them hit anything this big before.Obi-Wan Kenobi: They didn't, but we are meant to think they did. These tracks are side-by-side. Sandpeople always ride single file to hide their numbers.Luke: These are the same Jawas that sold us R2 and 3PO.Obi-Wan Kenobi: And these blast points, too accurate for Sandpeople. Only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise.
- Shoot Out the Lock:
- Subverted when Han tries this in the trash compactor, only to find that the lock (and the walls) are shielded and thus the laser blast simply bounces off. Luke even says he already tried it.
- Also inverted later, when Luke shoots a door's control panel to make it harder to open. This unwittingly keeps him and Leia from extending the bridge across. Luke also does this in the Death Star Hangar Bay, shooting a Blast Door control panel to immediately seal it shut, keeping Darth Vader from reaching them.
- Shout-Out: An imperial officer almost refers to the Rebel base as a "hidden fortress", though he's interrupted by Vader Force-choking him in the middle of the second word. The Hidden Fortress is a film which had a massive influence on A New Hope and successive Star Wars pictures.
- Show, Don't Tell:
- The opening shot, which establishes with visuals alone that the Empire is a massive, aggressive force bearing down on the small, fleeting Rebels.
- In the DVD commentary for the film, Lucas mentions that he distinguished Star Wars from other space and science fiction films by intentionally avoiding exposition about the universe Star Wars is set in, treating things that would be fantastic in our universe (I.e. Landspeeders, talking robots, spaceships) as mundane and trivial in their world, using this kind of symbolic storytelling as a way of connecting the audience with the galaxy of Star Wars.
- Sickening "Crunch!": When Vader snaps Captain Antilles' neck, which the sound crew accomplished by putting walnuts into the peels of an orange and squeezing them.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The film is firmly idealistic in tone.
- Sliding Scale of Plot Versus Characters: Falls into the "Equal Focus Between Plot and Characters" part of the scale.
- Sliding Scale of Realistic Versus Fantastic: The movie is squarely on the "Fantastic" end of the scale.
- Sliding Scale of Visuals Versus Dialogue: The film hits a sweet spot between both. The film is very dialogue heavy, but there's also a lot of strong visual storytelling going on at the same time.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Everything that transpires in the original Star Wars trilogy can be attributed to the actions of the gunner on the Star Destroyer at the beginning who decides not to shoot the pod that C-3PO and R2-D2 are in.
- Smart People Play Chess: R2-D2 and Chewbacca's dejarik game during the flight to Alderaan reinforces R2-D2's intelligence as a robot while making it clear the Chewbacca isn't just a brute.
- Sore Loser: Han mentions that Wookiees have been known to tear arms out of sockets when they lose.
- Space Is Noisy: Played straight, but given an unusually good justification in the novelization, though it only works for some of the scenes. Fighters like the X-wings (and Han would likely have done this for the Falcon as well) have a speaker system installed that simulates noise as an audible warning of an enemy's position so that the pilot doesn't have to constantly watch his display to see where an enemy fighter is.
- Spontaneous Crowd Formation: When Darth Vader and Obi-Wan face off, the Stormtroopers leave their posts guarding the Millennium Falcon to watch the duel. Luke's shouting at Obi-Wan's death snaps them out of it.
- Stab the Sky: One of the film's posters shows Luke holding his Laser Blade up towards the sky.
- Standard Establishing Spaceship Shot: The Star Destroyer flyby at the beginning. Heck if Star Wars didn't invent the trope, it certainly codified it.
- Stock Parodies: It's unlikely that there's a single scene in the movie that hasn't been parodied somewhere.
- Storming the Castle: The finale sees the main character and a ragtag group of freedom fighter attack on the evil empire's fully armed space station, the Death Star, to stop it from destroying the Rebel planet and everyone on it.
- Strolling Through the Chaos: Artoo and Threepio walk across a corridor, with Imperial Stormtroopers and Rebel Guards shooting at each other from opposite ends, and somehow aren't hit once.
- Stun Guns: The Imperials' stun weapons knock out Leia instantly.
- Supernatural Aid: Luke receiving the lightsaber from Obi-Wan is a textbook example.
- Supporting Protagonist: The first third of the movie was through the eyes of the droids.
- Tactical Withdrawal: When Wedge's ship is badly damaged during the trench run, Luke tells him to retreat rather than be a sitting duck. Considering Wedge's key involvement in later battles in the series, it proves to be a move that pays dividends for the Alliance in the long-term.
- Taking You with Me: The only thing that could convince Leia to give up the location of the Rebel base of her own volition. Basically, Vader believes she wouldn't even consider it unless it presented an opportunity to bait the Empire into slipping up and being met by a ferocious Rebel onslaught which could potentially wipe the floor of the Death Star with entire Imperial platoons.Vader: I told you she would never consciously betray the Rebellion, unless she thought she could destroy us in the process.
- Tell Me About My Father: Luke asks his newly found mentor to tell him about his father, Anakin Skywalker. The mentor tells Luke about Anakin's bravery as a Jedi Knight, excellent piloting skill, and deep friendship before informing Luke that the evil Darth Vader betrayed and killed Anakin.
- Tempting Fate:
"Oh, yeah, well, I guess you're too small to run away on me if I take this off."
- As Luke takes the restraining bolt off R2, he makes a comment about how R2-D2 is probably too small to escape, only for the robot to do just that overnight.
"I got a nice, easy charter. I'll pay you back, plus a little extra, I just need a little more time."
- Han when he's talking to Jabba the Hutt.
Vader: "I have you now..." <wingman's TIE fighter explodes as Han shoots it> "What?!"
- Tarkin rejects the opportunity to evacuate the Death Star because he wants to celebrate the Empire's victory."Evacuate? In our moment of triumph? I think you overestimate their chances."
- Darth Vader brags as he's about to shoot Luke's X-wing, only to find himself under fire from a spaceship that has just entered the battle.
- Terrifying Rescuer: Inverted: when Luke enters Leia's cell in a Stormtrooper uniform, she calmly starts some banter.
- Thank the Maker: Trope Namer. C3PO, happy about having an oil bath.
- That's No Moon!: Trope Namer. While flying through the rubble of a destroyed planet, the heroes see the Death Star, a man-made space station that resembles a planet. Han Solo initially identifies it as a moon, only for the wise old mentor to point out it's not the right size to be a moon.
- Theme Music Power-Up: Par for the course with the series, the main theme and/or Rebel theme plays during the shootout on the Death Star, the TIE fighter attack afterward, and the Battle of Yavin when Luke hears Obi-Wan tell how to destroy the station.
- Title Drop Chapter: While it was retroactively titled A New Hope in order to distinguish it from the name of the franchise itself, it was originally released and marketed as, and is still often colloquially referred to as, simply Star Wars.
- Too Dumb to Live: The guy on the Star Destroyer who didn't think it worth a single laser blast to play it safe and destroy a seemingly unoccupied escape pod, even though the entire reason for boarding the ship was to track down a missing set of Death Star plans that could easily have been stowed away in the pod (as indeed they were). He's technically to blame for the thousands of people presumably killed when Luke later blows the Death Star up.
- Torture Is Ineffective: An Imperial officer tries to warn Darth Vader about this ahead of time—"She'll die before she'll tell you anything!"—but the Sith Lord tries anyway. Leia withstands a session with a torture droid and a Force mind probe by Vader himself, and even when Tarkin threatens to blow up Alderaan she still gives them disinformation. Adding insult to injury, there isn't even any indication after her rescue of Leia suffering any negative after-effects from the so-called torture.
- Torture Technician: In order to break Princess Leia, the Empire brings in an ominous black droid with all types of needles to torture the princess for information.
- Tracking Device: The Imperials plant one on board the Millennium Falcon, which allows them to track the heroes to the Rebel base on Yavin IV.
- Transformation Sequence: The Rebels' X-Wing starfighters get their name as a result of this.Red Leader: Lock S-Foils into Attack Position.
- Trick-and-Follow Ploy:Leia: They let us go. It's the only explanation for the ease of our escape.
Han: Easy? You call that easy?
Leia: They're tracking us.
- The Rebels make the best of it by planning to make their attack on the Death Star as soon as it arrives.
- Tricked Into Escaping: Leia deduces that their escape from the Death Star was actually the aforementioned Trick-and-Follow Ploy by Tarkin, who is more interested in the rebel base than in the princess. A certain amount of resistance was provided for the sake of plausibility, but not as much as there should have been.
- Trojan Prisoner: Getting into the detention center by pretending Chewie is being transferred from another one.
- Turn Out Like His Father: Which provides some unintentional foreshadowingnote .Beru: Luke's just not a farmer, Owen. He has too much of his father in him.Owen: That's what I'm afraid of.
- Uniformity Exception: Luke-disguised-as-a-Stormtrooper is noticeably shorter than the average Stormtrooper - Leia remarks upon it before he takes his helmet off and tries to rescue her.
- Unit Confusion: A parsec is a unit of distance, not time. Though depending on the source, it may have been invoked.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: An Inverted Trope. The Imperial Officer that refuses to fire upon the escape pod containing the droids is basically what allows the titular "New Hope" to rise in the first place.
- Villain Has a Point: Or rather The Villain is Right in the wake of Rogue One. Vader had just seen the Tantive IV escape from a rebel attack, meaning he's completely right when he calls Leia a liar.
- Walk and Talk: Vader and Imperial officer Daine Jir have one aboard the captured Tantive IV.Daine Jir: Holding her is dangerous. If word of this gets out, it could generate sympathy for the Rebellion in the Senate.Vader: I have traced the Rebel spies to her. Now she is my only link to finding their secret base.Jir: She'll die before she'll tell you anything.Vader: Leave that to me. Send a distress signal, and inform the Senate that all on board were killed.
- The Walls Are Closing In: The trash compactor scene is a Shout-Out to the Death Traps from cliffhanger serials that George Lucas grew up with.
- Watching the Sunset: Luke watches his home planet's two suns set while wondering about his future as his Leitmotif plays.
- Watching Troy Burn: Tarkin admires as the Death Star's laser destroys the entire planet of Alderaan.
- Wave Motion Gun: The Death Star's main weapon, which causes an Earth-Shattering Kaboom.
- Weld the Lock: Luke shoots the control panel lock in order to keep the Stormtroopers from getting in. It turns out that the panel also controls the bridge. His makeshift lock doesn't hold for too long, either.
- Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Pretty much every interaction between Han and Leia.
- What a Piece of Junk: Trope Namer. How Luke describes the Millennium Falcon on first seeing it.
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- From the very beginning, when 3PO and R2 are seen during the attack on Leia's ship; the silver-plated protocol droid following close behind disappears into an airlock and is not seen again.
- We never do learn the fates of the few survivors captured aboard Tantive IV; however, knowing the Empire's nature, one doesn't need to think too hard about it. Though Vader does leave instructions to "Send a distress signal, then inform the Senate that all aboard were killed." Given that this is Darth Vader, yeah, we can probably puzzle out what happened next.
- Two Stormtroopers and the two Imperial technicians are never mentioned again after they're knocked out inside Millennium Falcon (with the two Stormtroopers get Mugged for Disguise). In the old Legends novelization, they were found and freed, but since that book isn't canon anymore, we can only assume the Falcon took off with four unconscious Imperials aboard, two of them in their underwear.
- It's not revealed whether Han and Chewie ever found that tracking device the Empire planted in the Millennium Falcon.
- Widescreen Shot: Plenty, from the opening crawl, to the first Star Destroyer, to the final celebration scene.
- Wing Man: For Luke's final trench run, Wedge and Biggs cover him against Darth Vader. Wedge's ship is crippled and he's forced to withdraw, and Biggs is killed shortly after.
- Would Be Rude to Say "Genocide": The Empire removes the Senate just before they destroy the populated planet Alderaan. Thus, no one is able to protest this atrocity. While they don't say outright that the upcoming demonstration of the Death Star's firepower is the reason why they removed the Senate, it sure is convenient timing.
- You Are in Command Now: Twice during the Battle of Yavin.
- After Tiree and Dutch are shot down, Davish Krail reports their destruction to Garven Dreis, who replies "I copy, Gold Leader," acknowledging that, as the sole survivor, Krail is now squadron leader. Unfortunately, Darth Vader shoots him down too just seconds later.
- Later, Dreis tells Luke to set up his attack run and once he goes down, there's a huge, meaningful cue in the score representing that Luke is now in command of the mission (or what's left of it).
- You Are Not Alone: Just when all seems lost during the final trench run with Luke being chased by Darth Vader with Artoo out of action, Luke suddenly hears Obi-Wan's voice out of nowhere, "Use the Force, Luke... Trust me."
- You Said You Would Let Them Go: Tarkin attempts to force Princess Leia into revealing the main Rebel Base by threatening to use the Death Star's superlaser on Alderaan as a demonstration of its power. She gives them the location (or so it seems). Unfortunately for her, Tarkin never said he would spare Alderaan if she gave up the information.
- Your Eyes Can Deceive You: Trope Namer. Obi-Wan's advice to Luke when training him is to ignore his physical senses and feel the metaphysical energy of the Force.
- Great shot, kid! That was one in a million!!