Film / The Empire Strikes Back
Darth Vader: Obi Wan never told you
what happened to your father.
Luke Skywalker: He told me enough!
He told me you killed him.
Darth Vader: No. I am your father.

It is a dark time for the
Rebellion. Although the Death
Star has been destroyed,
Imperial troops have driven the
Rebel forces from their hidden
base and pursued them across
the galaxy.

Evading the dreaded Imperial
Starfleet, a group of freedom
fighters led by Luke Skywalker
have established a new secret
base on the remote ice world
of Hoth.

The evil lord Darth Vader,
obsessed with finding young
Skywalker, has dispatched
thousands of remote probes into
the far reaches of space...

The Empire Strikes Back note  is the second film Star Wars original trilogy and fifth episode in the main Star Wars saga.

Released in 1980, after the surprise success of Star Wars made a sequel inevitable. Lucas's new story turned the series into a dramatic saga with the revelation that Darth Vader was Luke's father. Since making the last film had been so stressful, he had Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett write the script for The Empire Strikes Back and had Irvin Kershner direct it.

In the aftermath of the destruction of the Death Star, the Rebels have holed up in a remote location on the icy barren world of Hoth. Luke sees a vision of Obi-Wan instructing him to search for another surviving Jedi master named Yoda. The Empire discovers their base and weeds them out via a vicious assault. Upon evacuation, Han struggles to stay ahead of the pursuing imperial forces to protect Leia while Luke goes to train with Yoda. Each story pushes the characters to their limits both physically and emotionally, dealing with deceptive allies and Luke coming to understand some bitter truths in a showdown with Darth Vader.

Followed by Return of the Jedi.

Tropes Strike Back:

  • Actually, I Am Him: That last little conversation Luke and Vader had.
    • Yoda also does this to Luke, pretending to be a random hermit before revealing himself.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Chewie's reaction to Leia's insult.
    Leia: I don't know where you get your delusions laser-brain.
    -Chewie laughs-
    Han: Laugh it up fuzzball.
  • Adventure Rebuff: Yoda's initial response to Luke.
  • Aerial Canyon Chase: Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon do this during the famous asteroid chase scene. As Solo was noting, "They'd be crazy to follow us." Unfortunately, Darth Vader is quite a motivator for his troops and they dive in after him.
  • All There in the Manual: Supplemental materials explain that most midsize or larger spaceships have an emergency backup hyperdrive which serves basically the same purpose as a spare tire on a car. Compared to a normal hyperdrive, it's not nearly as fast and won't get you very far, but it's enough to at least limp to the nearest inhabited star system for repairs. Which is how the Millennium Falcon was able to travel from Hoth to Bespin in a few hours or days rather than a few years (as well how Boba Fett and Vader were able to get there ahead of them).
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The Empire storms the Rebel headquarters, based on the ice planet of Hoth, but fails to capture the main leaders.
  • Anti-Villain: Captain Needa.
  • The Apple Falls Far: Look closely when Luke falls out of the chute on Cloud City and clings to a weather vane; his hand can be seen falling into the atmosphere.
  • Apocalyptic Log: We hear what C3PO was thinking all the way up to when he was blasted. A rare example of the writer surviving.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Vader is revealed to be one to Luke himself.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Luke, who gains an Artificial Limb at the end.
  • Artistic License – Physics: The gravity on the asteroid they land on should be incredibly low. When they are in the Falcon, it can be explained as Artificial Gravity, but later they go outside to investigate and the gravity is still normal.
    • Even if it were a large asteroid, for example, Ceres only has 1/36 the gravity of earth.
    • Averted. When the Falcon somersaults into the hole, the hole can be seen moving sideways to meet up with it. When Han takes off after discovering what they're really inside of, he simply turns it around and they are already facing the exit, meaning they were parked (and walking on) the inner wall.
  • Aside Glance: When Threepio gets cut off by the door closing and believes Han left him behind deliberately.
    C-3PO: How typical.
  • Asshole Victim: Admiral Ozzel.
  • Asteroid Thicket: Possible Trope Codifier.
  • Badass: Darth Vader is a badass throughout the trilogy, but it is most pronounced in this film.
  • Badass Normal: Boba Fett, while operating with very cool technology, is just a normal human yet can still stand up to Vader and order Imperials around.
  • Bad Boss: Vader personally Force-chokes two of his officers for their perceived incompetence (one of them did have lapses of judgement, but the other arguably did not), being the Trope Namer for You Have Failed Me. And he sends several Star Destroyers into the asteroid field to look for the Millennium Falcon, causing at least one to suffer catastrophic damage.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Played with. The Empire crushes the rebels at Hoth, forcing the good guys to flee, but this doesn't defeat the Rebellion. Additionally, the good guys then get trapped in an asteroid field and then barely escape with their lives. Darth Vader defeats Luke in a lightsabre duel, cutting off his hand but Luke's virtue proves too strong to turn, and Han Solo is captured by Boba Fett and then frozen in carbonite to be taken to Jabba the Hutt. Are you wondering why this film is called The Empire Strikes Back, yet?
    • Ultimately subverted. The heroes don't win this one but the Empire doesn't exactly win either. Darth Vader's objective— capture or turn Luke— is an abysmal failure and, at most, the Empire uprooted the Rebel base at Hoth only for the Rebels to disappear into space again. Ironically, the trope is played straight only for Boba Fett and Jabba the Hutt, who isn't even in the movie.
  • Bald of Evil: The scene with Vader in his medical chamber is the first time the audience sees a glimpse of what he looks like underneath his helmet.
  • Batman Gambit: Vader wants Luke, but after the Hoth evacuation, he has no idea where to start looking for him. Instead, he pursues and captures Han and the others. While capturing them would be of value to the Empire regardless, Vader doesn't even have to bother sending out a villainous threat. He correctly anticipates Luke sensing their suffering through the Force and racing to the rescue.
    • Han’s plan to escape the Imperial fleet by attaching the Millennium Falcon to a star destroyer and waiting for the destroyer to release its garbage, which is standard Imperial procedure before going into light speed. The Falcon then floats away with the garbage. Boba Fett, however, foresees this plan and follows them.
  • Bewildering Punishment: Han, Leia, and Chewie aren't told that Vader is torturing them to draw Luke.
  • Big Bad: The only film where Vader holds this rolenote , though the Emperor is the one who gives him the mission to find Luke.
  • Big Damn Kiss: In the cargo bay. There's a reason it's one of the most famous kisses in cinematic history.
  • Big Budget Beef-Up: The first movie had a modest budget of 8 million (which bloated to 11 million because of reshoots), some obviously rushed and less frequent effects shots (a side effect of ILM just getting set up and facing soul-crushing deadlines while trying to get the films effects shots to work) and a B-movie look to it all around. Empire had three times the budget of the original film, and the entire film, from the amazing and more frequent effects shots to the stunning setwork, is much more ambitious in presentation and scope than what was possible before.
  • Big Good: Yoda
  • Big "NO!":
  • Big "Shut Up!": Leia to C-3PO after he's about to tell the odds for a second time.
  • Blatant Lies: When Lando notices the box full of what's left of Threepio. "Trouble with your droid?" "No. Why?"
  • Blunt "Yes"
    Yoda (to Luke as he is about to leave Dagobah): Stopped, they must be. On this all depends. Only a fully trained Jedi Knight will conquer Vader and his Emperor. If you end your training now; if you take the quick and easy path as Vader did, you will become an agent of evil.
    Obi-Wan (also to Luke): Patience!
    Luke: And sacrifice Han and Leia?!
    Yoda: If you honor what they fight for? Yes.
  • Bond One-Liner: Villainous example.
    Darth Vader: Apology accepted, Captain Needa.
  • Bottomless Pit: Subverted with the asteroid scene, when Han Solo decides to hide the Falcon inside a large dark chasm. Immediately combines with a realistic interpretation of three-dimensional space when the next shot is oriented upright, as if the pit were a horizontal tunnel. Even better, when they enter, the hole is seen moving sideways into position, implying that the astroid rotates. Sure enough, the escape scene shows that Han was parked (and even walked on) the inner wall: gravity was sideways.
  • Bounty Hunter: Vader hires some when the Imperial fleet loses track of the Falcon, including Boba Fett.
  • Breakout Character: Boba Fett, famously.
  • Broken Pedestal: Anakin Skywalker. His son used to think he was a noble Jedi Knight that died years ago at the hands of Darth Vader. Now he knows not only did he not die at Vader's hands, he is Vader.
    • It is implied that Obi-Wan becomes this to Luke once Luke learns the truth about his fathernote .
  • Brown Note: While in a cell in Cloud City, Chewie is tormented by a siren-like noise.
  • Buzz Job: After finding that the Millenium Falcon's hyperdrive is still inoperable, Han turns around and flies right at the Star Destroyer chasing them, buzzing the ship's bridge, making the captain and first officer duck, and then disappearing (actually clamping onto the back of the ship's command tower).
  • Can't Use Stairs: Averted in-story, but in full force in Real Life. Anthony Daniels couldn't use the stairs in the C3PO costume, and the filmmakers "cheated" by having the human characters walk down, the camera would lose 3PO for a second, and he'd rejoin them from behind once they passed the stairs.
  • Captain Obvious: 3PO says the asteroid the crew is on "might not be entirely stable", right after the ground shakes. Han calls him "the professor" right after that.
  • Carnival of Killers: The bounty hunters, including a slimy reptilian (Bossk), a cyclopean droid (IG-88), an insectoid droid (4-LOM), a creepy scuba suit-wearing bug (Zuckuss), an armor-clad and mysterious badass (Boba Fett), and a man in bandages (Dengar). At least one Imperial officer is incensed that he's been forced to allow them aboard his ship.
    Admiral Piett: Bounty hunters! We don't need their scum!
  • Cave Mouth: The crew of the Millennium Falcon confuse a space slug's mouth with an asteroid cave.
  • Cleanup Crew: Some Imperial Navy troopers drag Needa's body away after Vader finished with him.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Vader has Luke's friends tortured in Cloud City, and they are mystified why they are not asked any questions. In reality, Vader is just doing it to lure Luke to him.
  • Cool Starship: The Executor, a Super Star Destroyer that is miles long and Darth Vader's personal flagship. The regular Star Destroyers are absolutely dwarfed by it.
  • Comic Book Adaptation: Marvel Comics adapted the film as part of its ongoing Star Wars comic book, though it was also published separately as a graphic novel.
  • Constantly Curious: Luke Skywalker.
    Yoda: There is no "why." Nothing more I will teach you today. Clear your mind of questions.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • Han manages to find a wounded and exhausted Luke, on a huge ice planet, near nightfall.
    • When the AT-AT armor proves to be too strong for the snowspeeders' laser cannons, we suddenly learn that the speeders happen to be equipped with magnetic harpoons and tow cables, perfect for tripping giant mechanical beasts.
  • Continuity Lockout: While the opening crawl does explain the general events of what's going on and it's not too hard to follow the plot, this film does have a few plot points that would confuse newcomers who didn't watch A New Hope, such as the context of why Obi Wan appears to Luke as a ghost and Luke's initial training with him, and why Han leaving the rebellion to pay off his debt is such a problem with Leia.
  • Covers Always Lie: The 1997 re-release poster of the film gives a heavy amount of focus on the (Ian McDiarmid) Emperor. In the actual film, the Emperor is only in one scene, and the 1997 re-issue still retained the original version of the Emperor that was played by Elaine Baker and voiced by Clive Revill. It was not until the 2004 DVD release that the Ian McDiarmid version of the Emperor was added into the film.
  • Cryptic Conversation: Yoda and Obi-Wan's conversation about Luke's father on Dagobah makes a lot more sense when seen in view of the entire trilogy, as well as the There Is Another scene.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Battle of Hoth. A lot of Rebel soldiers and equipment lost, at the cost of two AT-ATs, an Imperial-class Star Destroyer (which was only disabled and not destroyed), and a few Snowtroopers.
    • Curb Stomp Cushion: The Rebels do manage to take out two AT-ATs, and a Star Destroyer is disabled, breaking the blockade around Hoth and allowing the Rebels to escape and regroup.
      • Although Spencer Ackerman of Wired argued, if Vader hadn't been so concerned with personally taking Luke, smarter Imperial tactics could have ended the Rebellion right then and there.
      • This argument however, was based largely on several incorrect assumptions regarding the Rebels' deflector shield.
    • The fight between Luke and Vader. Inexperienced Force-user vs. a Dark Lord of the Sith with decades of experience. As the fight continues it's clear Luke is hopelessly outmatched, even before Vader cuts his hand off. Worse, Vader is beating up Luke spiritually, taunting Luke to use his anger to defeat him and then, just as Luke is clinging for dear life over an abyss, reveals that he is Luke's father. By the time Luke is rescued by his friends fleeing Cloud City, he's both a physical and mental wreck.
  • Damage Control: Han and Chewbacca are shown trying to get a malfunctioning hyperdrive online while being pounded by Imperial Star Destroyers. In fact, they spend the entire film trying to get the thing to work. It takes a stopover at Cloud City to finally get it repaired, and even then it's sabotaged again to prevent their escape. It is only thanks to R2 that the hyperdrive's finally online could the heroes escape in time, much to everyone's complete surprise.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Even though Vader uses his leverage against Lando to keep Leia, Chewie, and the droids on Cloud City, he also has the sense to repair the hyperdrive of the Millennium Falcon but deactivate it, just in case they try to escape. As the hyperdrive is technically working perfectly, any hunt for problems will be a wild goose chase. Luckily for the rebels, R2 reactivates the hyperdrive just in time.
  • Darker and Edgier: Empire is noticeably darker in tone than its predecessor, clearly showing that destroying the Empire's most powerful superweapon hasn't taken them out of the fight — in fact, the Rebels spend most of the movie outgunned and on the run.
  • David Versus Goliath: Luke vs. Vader. Not only is Vader taller, he's also much more skilled and experienced with the Force. It's almost a Foregone Conclusion that Luke will lose.
  • Deal with the Devil: Sure the alternative might have been the Empire arresting and/or executing everyone on Cloud City, but seriously, how could you think that was going to turn out well, Lando?
    Vader: I am altering the deal. Pray I do not alter it further.
  • Defiant to the End: Even after Luke's hand has been cut off and he's at the mercy of Vader, he isn't willing to surrender and is edging out to the very edge of the platform he's on to get away from his enemy. And when he understands he can either go with Vader or fall - he chooses to fall.
  • Did Not Die That Way: Luke was told a slightly incorrect version of Anakin's passing by Obi-Wan in Star Wars. In this one, he learns the truth.
  • Didn't Think This Through: In retrospect, removing the binders from a VERY angry Wookie probably was not wise, Lando.
  • Disconnected by Death: During Vader's teleconference with the Star Destroyers' captains, one hologram image flickers and vanishes after the ship is struck by an asteroid.
    • "Imperial troops have entered the base. Imperial troops have entered [static]"
  • The Dog Bites Back: A subtle one. When Lando discovers that Vader was most likely not going to hold his end of the bargain after giving him Han Solo, he subtly contacts Lobot to orchestrate the Imperial boarding party's arrest by the security guards so he can get C-3PO, Leia, R2-D2, and Chewbacca out and hopefully save Han Solo.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: Trope Namer. Vader says this to Luke verbatim after he cuts Luke's hand off in their lightsaber duel.
  • Don't Think, Feel.: A core theme of Yoda's training.
  • Downer Ending: The Rebels are on the run, Han's been kidnapped, Luke's hand has been cut off, and his soul is profoundly shaken by Vader's claim to be his father, leaving the awful suspicion that his mentors Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda have lied to him.
    • It's also a bit of a Bittersweet Ending, as the Rebels have survived, Luke has not gone over to the Dark Side (which has deeply disappointed Vader), he and his friends escaped and the view of the galaxy signals that while this story is ending, the series continues — the fight will go on.
  • Dramatic Irony: The plot twist of Darth Vader really being Luke Skywalker's father becomes dramatic irony in hindsight, thanks to the Prequel trilogy.
  • Electric Torture: In Cloud City, Han is strapped to a gurney and lowered over a device that appears to administer brief, intense electric shocks.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Happens twice in the movie.
    • Princess Leia feels this way after Lando was forced by Darth Vader to conspire with him, so that Cloud City will not be invaded.
    • Luke himself gets this after learning that Darth Vader is his father and had fallen to The Dark Side.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Boba Fett is referred to only as "Bounty Hunter" by everyone in the film. It's only in the next film that he gets explicitly identified.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Empire strikes back in a big freaking way in this film. By the end of the film, the heroes have really got their work cut out for them.
  • Exposition of Immortality: Yoda already looks like he's seen his fair share of years; walking stick, not much hair, crotchety old man. And clearly, he's been around for a while if he was the Jedi Master who trained Obi-Wan Kenobi, himself no spring chicken by Episode IV. Nevertheless, a sense of his true age is held back until he turns around and says:
    "What know you of ready? For eight hundred years have I trained Jedi. My own counsel will I keep on who is to be trained."
  • Eye Lights Out: C-3P0, except it's when he's merely deactivated. Or when he's yelling at Chewie for fumbling around in his head with repairs after he got blasted apart.
  • Face Death with Dignity:
    • Needa knew exactly what was going to happen to him when he lost the Millennium Falcon. He displays no fear or dread, and he personally accepted responsibility to spare his men.
    • While he didn't know for sure he was facing death (and wasn't intended to die), Han faces the carbon freezing chamber with remarkable stoicism, and when Chewbacca goes berserk to try and save him Han actually stops him, reminding Chewbacca that he has to protect Leia in his place.
  • Face Palm: Leia after the Falcon's hyperdrive fails yet again.
  • Field Promotion: Piett.
    Darth Vader: You are in command now, Admiral Piett.
  • Flanderization: While in Episode IV, C-3PO clearly wasn't as brave as R2-D2 and could express fear, in the original film he was still capable of self-sacrifice, even urging Luke to abandon him after 3PO had been badly damaged by the Sand People. Later, when he was cornered onboard the Death Star by some Storm Troopers, he managed to successfully bluff his way past the Troopers ("They're madmen! If you hurry you might catch them."). He also felt grief for Luke and the others when he thought they were dying. In The Empire Strikes Back, he's Flanderized into a total coward, unable to think about anything but himself, and frantically advocating surrender when the Falcon is being chased by Imperial Destroyers.
  • Foiler Footage: Before the movie's premiere, the number of people who knew about The Reveal could be counted on one hand: George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Gary Kurtz, James Earl Jones, Mark Hamill and whatever editors Lucas trusted to see the scene. Even David Prowse, who had to say something during filming, was given the fake line "Obi-Wan killed your father." Urban Legends now abound of Harrison Ford turning to Hamill in the middle of the premiere and giving a Big "WHAT?!", as well as David Prowse leaning forward and telling George Lucas "Why didn't you tell me? I would have said it."
  • Foreshadowing: The scene where Luke enters a cave on Dagobah and hallucinates about decapitating Darth Vader, and Darth Vader's face changing into his own. In hindsight, it's a clear warning of where Luke might have gone. Vader's line, "Only your hatred can destroy me," is a foreshadowing of the final duel in Return of the Jedi.
    • Luke's ability to call to Leia through the Force also foreshadows an important reveal in the next movie.
    • Also, this dialogue between Obi-Wan and Yoda as Luke flies away from Dagobah:
    Yoda: Told you, I did. Reckless is he. Now, matters are worse.
    Obi-Wan: That boy was our last hope.
    Yoda: No. There is another.
  • Forgiveness Requires Death: Captain Needa apologizing to Darth Vader for losing sight of the Millenium Falcon is met with Vader accepting his apology...after executing Needa via Force-choke.
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: There are a lot of different plot threads to follow;
    • The Rebel Alliance moving to a dangerous new base after the Battle of Yavin and then fleeing the planet Hoth while suffering a crushing defeat from the Empire.
    • Luke Skywalker seeking out Yoda at the behest of Obi Wan and training under him.
    • Darth Vader obsessively seeking out Luke to capture him for the Emperor and to further his own ends.
    • Han trying to leave the Rebellion to pay off Jabba's debt before having to evade the Empire, which eventually gets him captured and tortured to lure Luke to Cloud City and frozen in carbonite to be delivered to Jabba by Boba Fett.
    • Lando selling out his friends to protect Cloud City, the consequences of it and his redemption.
  • Four-Star Badass: General Veers, one of the few Imperial officers shown to actually be competent in the movies.
  • Funny Background Event: Admiral Ozzel getting strangled as Vader talks to Captain Piett, who is officially promoted to Admiral once Ozzel drops dead. One of the technicians is completely unfazed by this.
    • After Captain Needa is strangled, the crewmen who were watching quickly and hurriedly get back to work as Darth Vader turns around.
    • Also, after the Falcon managed to jump to hyperspace and escape near the end of the movie, every officer on the star destroyer's bridge immediately stops whatever it is they are doing to prepare for the wrath of Darth Vader. All except one guy standing by the door who is nonchalantly typing into his handheld computer, and who only seemed to clue in on what happened when Vader walked past him.
  • Genius Bruiser: This film both emphasized not only how big of a Badass Darth Vader really is, but how intelligent he is.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: The big changes in the special editions include seeing more of the Wampa in the cave after Luke cuts himself free, along with some digitally inserted windows behind the characters to show more of Bespin.
    • It's worth noting that this is the least changed out of the original trilogy.
    • Most notable changes include replacing the original Emperor with Ian McDiarmid with new lines, and altering Vader's line "Bring my shuttle" to "Alert my Star Destroyer to prepare for my arrival" and intercutting the Falcon's escape with digital effects of a Lambda-class shuttle approaching the Executor and footage culled from Return of the Jedi to show the hangar landing. The latter is especially strange and serves no apparent purpose beyond extending the run time.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar
    Princess Leia: (after accidentally falling on Han's lap) Let go, please.
    Han Solo: Don't get excited!
    Princess Leia: Captain, being held by you isn't quite enough to get me excited.
    Han Solo: Sorry, sweetheart. I haven't got time for anything else.
    • As Chewbacca tweaks C-3PO's controls in an attempt to fix him:
    C-3PO: I quite like that. Do go on.
  • Giant Foot of Stomping: The AT-AT walkers.
  • Gilligan Cut: Upon approaching Dagobah, Luke assures R2 that it is perfectly safe for droids. As soon as they land, R2 falls into the swamp and is then swallowed by an underwater monster, who subsequently spits R2 out.
  • Greater Scope Villain: The Emperor is only seen in one scene, and disappears from the film afterwards, but him ordering Vader to locate Luke makes the rest of the movie happen.
  • Grew a Spine: Luke, when he left Yoda's training to save Han and Leia.
  • Happy Ending Override: The Rebel Alliance may have destroyed the Death Star in the first film, but the Empire drove them off of Yavin and are trying harder than ever to find and snuff out the rebellion, forcing the Rebels to hide in a desolate, barely habitable planet like Hoth.
  • Heroic BSOD: After Luke escapes from Vader and is rescued by Lando and the others in the Falcon, Luke has a major one. In the Falcon's cockpit as the heroes try to escape from Bespin, he's clearly filled with despair, whispering, "Ben, why didn't you tell me?" It doesn't help that he's just been through the trauma of losing his hand, and that Vader was using the Force to more or less "torture" Luke with the previous reveal of Vader being Luke's father.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The Millennium Falcon hides on the back of a Star Destroyer.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Heroic example - Yoda Force-lifts Luke's ship out of the swamp. This then allows Luke to leave Dagobah before his training is complete.
  • Hollywood Tactics: This article argues that the Empire is guilty of this during the Battle of Hoth.
  • Hope Spot: When Lando tells Leia that there's still a chance to save Han, they go running after Boba Fett but they're too late and arrive just in time to watch Slave I take off.
  • Humongous Mecha: AT-ATs.
  • Hypocritical Humor: When Lando fakes anger at Han during their reunion, one of the things he calls him is "Double-Crossing". Lando later double-crosses Han.
  • I Did What I Had to Do:
    Leia: You think that after what you did to Han we're gonna trust you?!
    (Chewie strangles Lando)
    Lando: I had no choice!
    C-3PO: What are you doing? Trust him! Trust him!
    Leia: Oh, we understand, don't we Chewie? He had no choice.
    Lando: I was just trying to help!
  • I Lied: Vader doesn't say it in these words to Lando, but he makes it rather clear.
  • Immune to Bullets:
    • AT-ATs. Luke even says, "That armor's too strong for blasters."
    • Darth Vader. When Han Solo shoots him, he stops the blaster bolts with his hand.
  • In a Single Bound: As Luke's Jedi training progresses, he learns to use new powers like the Force jump, which comes in handy during his fight with Vader.
  • Incest Subtext: A pair of Deleted Scenes for Luke and Leia are full of this. One UST laden scene has a near-kiss between Luke and Leia after Luke tries to confess something to her before being interrupted by C-3P0 and a second she gives him a short peck on the lips as she tends to him after he lost his hand.
  • Incompletely Trained: Luke runs off to save his friends before Yoda has finished training him (which Yoda notes in the next film).
  • Insult Backfire: Leia calling Han a "scoundrel."
    Han: "Scoundrel"? I like the sound of that.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: C-3PO interrupts Han and Leia when they kiss.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • "It's not my fault!" is said by both Han and Lando when the hyperdrive fails to work.
    • Also, the dialogue between the Emperor and Darth Vader, with Darth Vader and Lukenote .
    The Emperor: "I have no doubt, this boy is the offspring of Anakin Skywalker."
    Darth Vader: [beat] "How is that possible?"
    The Emperor: "Search your feelings, Lord Vader. You'll know it to be true."

    Darth Vader: "I am your father!"
    Luke: [beat] "No, that's not true! That's impossible!"
    Darth Vader: "Search your feelings. You know it to be true!"
  • Is That What He Told You?: Darth Vader telling Luke he's his father, contradicting what Obi-Wan had told Luke in the original film.
  • Jerkass: C-3PO ends up getting mild jerkass-type behavior after he is shot by stormtroopers. He makes the jump from innocently annoying towards Han and Leia to being occasionally outright obnoxious and a little rude towards Chewie (while being carried around on his back) and R2.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One:
    Leia: Why you...stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking...nerf-herder!!
    Han: Who's scruffy-lookin'?"
  • I Want Them Alive: "No disintegrations!"
    Boba Fett: As you wish.
  • I Warned You: C-3PO tries to tell them the hyperdrive is broken.
    C-3PO: Sir, uh, sir, might I suggest—
    Han: Shut him up or shut him down!

    Han: Prepare to make the jump to lightspeed.
    C-3PO: But sir!

    [after failing to go into lightspeed]
    Han: I think we're in trouble.
    C-3PO: If I may say so, sir, I noticed earlier the hyperdrive motivator has been damaged. It's impossible to go to lightspeed.
    Han: We're in trouble!
  • Koosh Bomb: Used for a frame or two at a time.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Darth Vader is Luke's father. The prequels have effectively made it a non-spoiler now.
    • The fact that the little green Muppet Luke encounters is Yoda. (Luke doesn't know this until partway through the scene.)
  • A Lesson In Defeat: Yoda sends Luke into the cave to experience the dark side of the Force. When he thinks he kills Vader, the mask explodes and reveals Luke's own face, showing that he could give into the dark side himself.
    • An alternative interpretation of the scene, supported by the radio adaption of Empire, is that Yoda is showing Luke what is holding him back, namely himself and his own attitudes. Yoda tells him explicitly that he won't need weapons, and that the only thing in the cave is what he takes with him.
    Luke: "My enemy's face... is my own."
  • Licensed Pinball Table: Released exclusively in Australia, oddly enough. Click here.
  • Limb-Sensation Fascination: Luke gets a new hand at the end. After being pricked with a needle to check pain sensation, he flexes his fingers a bit and clenches a fist while examining his bionic hand.
  • Little "No": Luke says this before it turns into a Big "NO!" after Vader reveals that he is Luke's father.
    • Chewie's reaction when they close the shield doors, locking Han outside, is somewhere between this and Big "NO!", in Wookie-speak.
  • Love Theme: "Han Solo and the Princess", prominently heard during Han and Leia's scene aboard the Falcon.
  • Lured into a Trap: Twice. The Millennium Falcon crew falls into one arranged by Boba Fett and Vader at Cloud City, and they are tortured in order to lure Luke via the Force. The second trap even features an early appearance of "It's a trap!" when Leia tries to warn Luke while being used as a human shield during a gunfight.
    "Luke! Luke, don't, it's a trap! IT'S A TRAP!"
  • Meaningful Echo: Lando's Ironic Echo (mentioned above) of Han's line also serves to show Leia, Chewie and the audience that there is more to Lando than the betrayal he was forced to make, that Han was right about him and Lando being so much alike, and that he is now in this together with the rest of the gang.
  • Million-to-One Chance: "Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately three thousand, seven hundred twenty to one!" "Never Tell Me the Odds!"
  • Missing Trailer Scene: In the middle of the theatrical trailer, C-3PO is seen tearing a sign off of a door, which did not appear in the final film. In the deleted scene, Threepio tears a warning sign off of a door which leads to a Wampa cave, which several stormtroopers open, then get attacked by the Wampa.
  • Mohs Scale of Violence Hardness: It rates a 4, due primarily to the vision of Darth Vader being decapitated, Han Solo being tortured, and Luke Skywalker getting his hand chopped off.
  • Moment Killer: Just as Han and Leia were into their first kiss, C-3PO bursts in, chattering about the reverse power flux couplings.
  • Moving the Goalposts: Lando tried to make a deal with Darth Vader, agreeing to help capture his old friend Han Solo and his companions in exchange for the Empire not killing everyone in his city. Vader kept altering the deal, because Lando realizes too late that he's completely powerless.
  • The Musketeer: It's not as obvious as other examples of this trope but Luke carries his blaster and lightsaber into battle together (mostly evident in the climax where goes from shooting Stormtroopers to dueling with Vader). It's the only movie in which he does this as well as the only time in the entire film franchise we see a Jedi or Sith doing it.
  • Must Make Amends: After the deal falls apart, Lando tries his best to save them.
  • Naval Blockade: When the Imperial fleet arrives over Hoth, they form a blockade to prevent Rebel ships from escaping, but they didn't seem to count on them having an ion cannon capable of disabling a Star Destroyer.
  • Never Tell Me the Odds: Trope Namer. Han tells C-3PO this when 3PO gives him the odds of surviving within an asteroid field. Later, Leia tells 3PO to shut up when tries to give the odds of surviving a direct attack on a Star Destroyer.
    • Earlier on Hoth, Han goes out into the cold to save Luke, despite the guards warning him about the likelihood of freezing to death. After Han leaves, R2-D2 gives the low odds of surviving overnight in the cold. But after the blast doors are closed, 3PO applies this trope to himself by noting that R2 has been known to make mistakes … from time to time.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: With Vader in Cloud City.
    Vader: We would be honoured if you would join us.
  • Noodle Incident: "That was a long time ago. I'm sure [Lando]'s forgotten all about that." It's helped by the fact that Han is the only one who can understand what Chewbacca is saying.
    Lando: Why you slimy, double-crossing, no-good swindler. You got a lot of guts coming here after what you pulled.
    • Han’s off-screen run-in with a bounty hunter convinces him to leave the rebels.
    • Also see I Want Them Alive above. The fact that Vader specifically waves his finger in Boba Fett's face when he says, "No disintegrations," implies that they've had this problem before.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Definitely shown during the lightsaber duel on Bespin. Why anyone would work there is anyone's guess. Railings seem to be very expensive to install or maintain.
  • Nothing Is Scarier:
    Luke: There's something not right, here... I feel cold. Death.
    Yoda: (points to a cave beneath a large tree) That place... is strong with the dark side of the Force. A domain of evil it is. In you must go.
    Luke: What's in there?
    Yoda: Only what you take with you.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: When on their way to save Han from the Bounty Hunter, R2-D2 links up with the city's central computer and learns about the purposefully deactivated hyperdrive on the Falcon. But when trying to alert his friends, C-3PO cuts in and changes the subject.
    "No, we're not interested in the hyperdrive on the Millennium Falcon. It's fixed!"
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: How Yoda first acts around Luke, to ascertain Luke's mental preparedness for Jedi training.
  • Obscured Special Effects: Only brief, partial glimpses of the Wampa are shown, as it let the guy portraying it just wear portions of a suit at a time. But for the Special Edition, Lucas decided to include shots showing the whole creature. Same thing with the aquatic creature that swallows and spits out R2-D2 on Dagobah.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Lando Calrissian had to turn Han and his friends in to the Empire, due to the alternative being to have Cloud City be attacked by the Empire and either occupied or worse, destroyed by them.
    Lando: I had no choice. They arrived right before you did. I'm sorry.
    Han: I'm sorry, too.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: Due to the scale necessary for the Star Destroyer's bridge model, ILM used an off-the-shelf Millennium Falcon model kit for the shot where the Falcon is hiding on the back of the bridge.
    • Both a potato and a shoe were used during the asteroid field scene. The shoe has a rumored story too - The rumor in question being that George Lucas asked the FX crew to redo the scene so many times that they got annoyed and one of them threw in their shoe. The potato can be seen in beginning of the scene in the top left corner.
  • Oh Crap!:
    • The look on Piett's face when the Falcon finally gets the hyperdrive fixed just before the Star Destroyer can lock on the tractor beam. He knows the price of failure: Vader Force-chokes you. Luckily for Piett, Vader is more disappointed than angry.
    • Cpt. Needa when they lose the Millennium Falcon (hiding on the Destroyer's surface itself), and realizing he has to own up to Vader that he let them get away.
    Needa: Get a shuttle ready. I shall assume full responsibility for losing them, and apologize to Lord Vader.
    *Gilligan Cut (much later) to Cpt. Needa dropping dead; his lifeless body is carried out of the room*
    Vader: Apology accepted, Captain Needa.
    • C-3PO, before he got blasted.
    Oh my. I am terribly sorry I didn't mean to intrude no-no-no please don't get up-- [*BLAST*] NO!
    ("Stormtroopers? Here? We're in danger! I must tell the others! OH NO, I'VE BEEN SHOT!!")
    • The look on Hobbie's face when Leia reveals the escape plan from Hoth.
    "Two fighters against a Star Destroyer?!"
    • Every time the hyperdrive on the Millennium Falcon doesn't work.
    • Lando, when he finally realized The Empire was not going to leave his city (or him) alone, even after he cooperated.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: The fact that Vader doesn't kill any of his subordinates after the Falcon escapes again is a huge surprise to his crew, whose faces shift from terrified to confused as he just walks away sadly.
    • The prim, proper and skittish C-3PO turns snippy and downright abusive towards Chewbacca in the second half of the movie.
  • Out of the Frying Pan: A rather protracted example: Han Solo flies into the asteroid field to escape the Imperial fleet. He does escape, but realizes the interior of the asteroid field is just as dangerous, so he lands in a cave on a larger asteroid. The cave turns out to be a space worm's mouth. Fleeing from that, Han winds up right back where he started, with the Imperial fleet pursuing him again.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Han pounding on the Falcon fixes a short in the systems.
  • Plummet Perspective: It's a long way down from Cloud City. If you know anything about gas giants, it's even worse, as there's really no bottom; you'd just keep falling until the atmospheric pressure crushes you.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Vader has one moment when he keeps Boba Fett from simply shooting Chewie when the wookie is flaying about trying to resist Han from being put into carbon freezing. Perhaps Vader simply didn't want the mess of a dead wookie to drag out of the chamber and was confident that Han could get Chewie to calm down and spare them the trouble.
  • Precision Crash: Luke goes to Dagobah to search for Yoda, and crash-lands into some random swamp - a short walk from Yoda's home.
    • It's possible that The Force lead him to that exact spot, though this is not mentioned in the film. In Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire, Luke himself ponders this possibility.
  • Precision F-Strike: During a conversation between Han and a rebel technician.
    Rebel technician (to Han): Your tauntaun will freeze before you reach the first marker.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Captain Needa and perhaps Admiral Piett as well.
  • Ray of Hope Ending: Han has been captured, Luke has lost his hand and had a pretty nasty revelation, the Rebels are on the run, but the heroes escape and are making it clear that they're not giving up, they are going to save Han and they are going to prevail. It might take a while but they will win.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Han was frozen in carbonite because Harrison Ford wasn't sure he wanted to appear in the next film, and so the character was Put on a Bus. Needless to say, The Bus Came Back.
    • Luke got bashed around by the wampa because Mark Hamill got in a car accident during the final part of filming the previous film (they even had to get an extra to play him in a landspeeder distance shot). Some of his scars in that scene are real because they hadn't had time to heal yet.
  • Red Shirt: Luke’s gunner, Dak, who tempts fate by saying he feels he can take on the Empire alone. Luke feels the same way. Guess who gets to actually do it …
  • Regretful Traitor: When the Empire arrives in Cloud City, Lando is forced to betray Han, Leia, and Chewie by having Han frozen in carbonite. He later makes up for what he did by giving Leia and Chewie time to escape.
  • Rescue Hug: While the Millenium Falcon is inside the asteroid, there's a sudden tremor. Princess Leia falls backward and Han Solo catches her. He doesn't let go immediately, and continues to hold her even after she gets uncomfortable and asks him to let go. They then have a bit of banter that's intended to foreshadow their growing attraction to each other.
  • Resistance Is Futile: Vader says a variant of this as he corners Luke near the end of their duel.
    "You are beaten! It is useless to resist! Don't let yourself be destroyed as Obi-Wan did!"
  • Retcon: Darth Vader was not planned to be Luke's father when Star Wars was made.
  • The Reveal: One of the most famous in film history: "Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father …"
  • Right Behind Me:
    Luke: (talking to R2) There's something familiar about this place. I don't know. I feel like—
    Yoda: Feel like what?
    Luke: (points his blaster) Like we're being watched.
  • Rule of Three: C-3PO describing the ridiculous odds against whatever Han Solo's trying to do. The Millennium Falcon failing to jump into hyperdrive when needed. Vader choking his subordinates for failing him.
  • Running Gag: Again, the hyperdrive on the Falcon failing. By the third time, Leia and Chewie just kinda look at each other, neither one of them surprised at all. Eventually, Chewie goes into a rage, and Leia just does a Face Palm.
  • Running the Blockade: Following the Battle of Hoth, Han Solo and Princess Leia have to get through an Imperial blockade aboard the Millennium Falcon, which is complicated by the fact that their hyperdrive is out of order.
  • Sadistic Choice: See Deal with the Devil and An Offer You Can't Refuse.
  • Scream Discretion Shot: The infamous torture scene. All we see are the the sparks and Han convulsing, but the worst of it is heard while Lando and Boba Fett are looking at each other, Lando being the most disgusted.
  • Screen Shake: After Han outmaneuvers the Avenger while escaping Hoth, Captain Needa and the bridge crew throw themselves against the wall as they collide with another Star Destroyer. However, one crewman walking off-screen seems completely unaffected by it.
  • Second Chapter Cliffhanger: Perhaps the Trope Maker for ending the second installment of a Two-Part Trilogy on a Cliffhanger.
  • Secret Test of Character: After being told by Obi-Wan Kenobi to go to Dagobah to find Yoda, a great Jedi Master, Luke heads there after helping the Rebellion evacuate from Hoth. However, the only sentient life he finds is a really small creature who has a habit of searching through his things, and speaking in riddles. Luke gets flustered when the creature seems to continue wasting his time in search of Yoda, who then reveals himself to be the Jedi Master he was searching for in the first place.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: The Imperial probe droid that discovers the Rebel base in the Hoth system has one, presumably to prevent anyone from capturing and identifying/analyzing it.
  • Sequel Escalation: The movie has more locales, more action, and features the first Luke/Vader lightsaber duel. While the Force in the first movie was vaguely defined telepathic and telekinetic powers, Empire shows the Force can also give you superhuman physical abilities and low-grade clairvoyance.note 
  • Sequel Hook: Luke is left with the bombshell that Darth Vader is his father, and Lando and Chewbacca set off to rescue Han.
  • Shipped in Shackles: Han Solo is frozen in carbonite for his trip to Jabba the Hutt. Vader plans to use the same procedure on Luke so he can be taken to the Emperor without escaping or fighting back.
  • Shoot the Messenger: Captain Needa was willing to be executed by Darth Vader for losing sight of the Millennium Falcon, rather than have anyone else take the blame.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To The Aeneid. Chewbacca carrying C-3PO on his back during their escape from cloud city is a clear reference to Aeneas carrying his father out of Troy.
    • The Walkers' attack on Hoth is handled like the Romans' battles with Carthaginian war elephants during the First Punic War.
    • The Official Encyclopedia states that the shot of Chewbacca holding C-3PO's head is a Shout-Out to the Alas, Poor Yorick moment of Hamlet. Intentional on director Irvin Kershner's part.
    • Han & Leia's pose in the movie's first release poster (as seen in this page's image) is a reference to Rhett & Scarlett's pose from the Gone with the Wind re-release poster.
  • Showdown at High Noon: The duel between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: When Luke accuses Vader of killing his father, Vader replies with a Wham Line.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Han gives one to Leia:
    Leia: I happen to like nice men.
    Han: I'm nice men.
    Leia: No you're not, you're—
  • Single-Biome Planet: Hoth (ice/snow) and Dagobah (swamp)
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Han and Leia.
  • Smug Snake: Admiral Ozzel is only in two scenes, but is clearly established as this. He blows off Captain Piett's correct assessment that the Rebels might be on Hoth, backtalking Vader in the process, and ignores his direct orders to launch a stealth attack. It goes over about as well as you'd expect with Vader in command.
  • Soul Brotha: Lando Calrissian, who gives Solo a run for his money in the charm and cool department (and puts the moves on Leia, who's uninterested).
  • Space Suits Are Scuba Gear: In this case, they're face masks attached to an oxygen tank.
  • The Starscream: In the climactic confrontation, Vader tempts Luke with the offer to join him and overthrow the Emperor together.
    Vader: Luke, you can destroy the Emperor. He has foreseen this. It is your destiny! Join me, and together, we can rule the galaxy as father and son!
  • Stealth in Space: Han's successful attempts at hiding from Star Destroyers (but not from cunning bounty hunters).
  • Stern Chase: The cat-and-mouse between the Falcon and the Imperial fleet.
  • Stock Ness Monster: The Dagobah sea creature that swallows R2
  • The Stool Pigeon: Lando Calrissian was forced by the Empire to sell out Han Solo and his friends to the Empire because they threatened total occupation/total annihilation of Cloud City if he didn't. In other words, he's closer to the Lacerated Larry type.
  • Strange-Syntax Speaker: Yoda, he definitely is.
  • Taking the Bullet: Captain Needa sacrifices himself to a Force Choke to save his crew from Vader's wrath.
  • Tell Me About My Father: A variation. Luke mentions his father, and Yoda, still pulling his crazy old man act, starts to talk about Anakin. Luke misses the hint, and just gets annoyed.
    Luke: How could you know about my father? You don't even know who I am.
  • That's No Moon!: The space worm masquerading as a harmless cave.
  • There Is No Try: Yoda's line to Luke Skywalker is the Trope Namer. His Force training of Luke actually subverts the very trope it names, as Luke fails to rise to the occasion of using the Force to move his sunken X-wing out of a lake. He gives up until Yoda demonstrates how badass he is by raising the X-wing out of the water.
    Luke: ...I don't believe it!
    Yoda: And that is why you fail.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself
    Obi-Wan: If you choose to face Vader, you will do it alone. I cannot interfere.
    Luke: (solemnly) I understand.
  • Too Smart for Strangers:
    C-3PO (conversing with R2-D2): Why didn't we just go into lightspeed? We can't? How would you know the hyperdrive has been deactivated?! The city's central computer told you? R2-D2, you know better than to trust a strange computer!
  • Training from Hell: Fond of it, Yoda is. And steal your lunch, he will. Heck, Yoda even lampshades it, when Luke says he's not afraid.
    "You will be. You will be."
  • Try and Follow: Han rushing into the asteroid field at full speed.
  • Unholy Ground: The cave. "That place is strong with the Dark Side of the Force."
  • Un Paused: C-3PO is damaged by Imperial stormtrooper fire. When he's repaired and reactivated, he replays what he was saying and thinking when he was attacked.
  • Villain Ball: Vader picks it up big-time on Bespin. Both Lando Calrissian and Boba Fett complain about Darth Vader's plan to freeze Han in carbonite, Lando because Han is his friend, Fett because he wants to collect Jabba's bounty on Han. Vader reassures Fett that the Empire will compensate Fett if Han dies, but coldly tells Lando that he is altering the deal. Now, consider the fact that Boba Fett is just one guy; Vader could kill him and have his body tossed off the side of Cloud City, and no one would care. For that matter, Vader could have tested the carbon-freezing process on Fett, and no one would have minded. Lando, by contrast, was the administrator of Cloud City and had a loyal security force at his command that he subsequently used to rescue Leia, Chewie, and Threepio, which of course led to the ruination of Vader's plans. If Vader had been thinking rationally, he would have realized very quickly that Lando was the one he needed to assuage, but Boba Fett he could ignore or even dispose of. So why did Vader do the opposite? Well, Fett was evil and Lando wasn't, so of course Vader would favor Fett, even though it was against his interest.
  • Villains Never Lie: Except when they do.
    Vader: "Calrissian, take the Princess and the wookie to my ship!"
    Lando: "But you said they would be left here under my supervision!"
    Vader: "I am altering the deal. Pray I do not alter it any further!"
  • We Can Rule Together: Vader offers this to Luke.
  • Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Han and Leia, in spades.
  • Wham Episode: Okay, even though it's not a secret any more, Vader being Luke's father was a huge shock when the movie came out. And all the rest of the stuff at the end. Also "There Is Another", which resulted in a lot of debate at the time. Han was a favorite candidate.
  • Wham Line: Vader's parental revelation, by now one of the most famous examples in cinema history.
    • "There Is Another."
    • "Perhaps you feel you are being treated unfairly...?" It was at this point that Lando realized Vader planned to continue to renege. On everything.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Lando betraying his friend Han.
    Lando: Right now, I've got my own problems.
    Han: Yeah, you're a real hero.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Han tries immediately. Vader simply blocks the shots with his hand, then Force-pulls the blaster away from Han.
  • You Are in Command Now: A Trope Namer from the same conversation that named the above. Vader promotes captain Piett to the rank of admiral just as admiral Ozzel's body hits the ground.
  • You Have Failed Me: The Trope Namer. Without Tarkin "holding his leash" as in the previous film, Vader force-chokes several of his subordinates to death.
  • You Killed My Father: Famous subversion. From A Certain Point of View.
  • You Need to Get Laid: Han drops a slightly more family-friendly version of this trope on Princess Leia at the beginning, rather angrily telling her "You could use a good kiss!"

Alternative Title(s): Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back