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Film / The Empire Strikes Back

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Darth Vader: The Force is with you, young Skywalker...but you are not a Jedi yet.note 

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....

Try to describe The Empire Strikes Back here.

No. Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.

The Empire Strikes Back note  is the sequel to A New Hope and the second film in the Star Wars original trilogy. It is directed by Irvin Kershner, with the screenplay by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan and the story by George Lucas. It was released on May 21st, 1980.

In the aftermath of the Death Star's destruction, the Empire has cracked down on the Rebel Alliance, forcing the ragtag resistance to go into hiding on the barren ice planet Hoth. After becoming lost in a blizzard while on patrol and nearly dying, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) sees a vision of his dead mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) instructing him to search for a legendary Jedi master named Yoda (Frank Oz).

Rescued by Han Solo (Harrison Ford), he recovers just in time for the Empire to discover and lay siege to their base. Upon evacuation, Han and Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) flee in the damaged and malfunctioning Millenium Falcon, struggling to stay ahead of the Imperial Navy, while Luke goes to train with the mysterious Yoda. Eventually, circumstances reunite the friends for a climactic confrontation with the Empire, including a showdown with Darth Vader (David Prowse, with voice dubbing by James Earl Jones) in which Luke learns a terrible truth...

The film also stars Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian, an old friend of Han's, Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker as C-3PO and R2-D2, and Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca.

The film is followed by Return of the Jedi.

Sir, the odds of reading all these tropes is approximately 3,720 to one:

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    Tropes A to B 
  • 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 initially states he cannot train Luke because he has no patience and is reckless.
    Yoda: This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away... To the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hm? What he was doing. Hmph. Adventure? Heh! Excitement? Heh! A Jedi craves not these things. You are reckless!
  • Advertised Extra:
    • Boba Fett. He was featured pretty heavily in marketing for the film, and his action figure was easily the most popular of the pre-release toys. In the film itself, however, Boba has only four lines, under two minutes of screen time, yet his overall effect on the plot is significant enough.
    • The 1995 VHS and Laserdisc cover spotlights a random Stormtrooper rather than any of the main characters.
  • 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.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: It's hard not to feel bad when Captain Needa dies, as he decided to take full responsibility for losing the Falcon despite knowing he would probably be killed (likely in order to prevent his whole ship from being destroyed by Vader in a fit of rage or something).
  • All There in the Manual: To get around the Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale issue, supplemental materials explain that the Millennium Falcon rode the back of the Avenger through at least one hyperspace jump, and more importantly 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 days or weeks rather than a few years (as well how Boba Fett and Vader were able to get there ahead of them). All of this was jossed decades later by The Last Jedi and The Mandalorian, which just lean on space not being as big in the Star Wars universe (as in the Raygun Gothic films that influenced the franchise), such that sublight travel between nearby star systems is reasonable, it just takes a much longer time than hyperspace (days or weeks instead of minutes and hours).
  • 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.
  • The Alleged Car: The Millennium Falcon. Oh it's definitely a Cool Ship, but in this movie the hyperdrive fails to work time and time again leading to nothing but headaches for her crew.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The film abruptly stops just after Lando and Chewie leave to find the now frozen Han, leaving Leia and the droids on the medical frigate with Luke as he's recuperating from his injuries from the duel with Vader. The audience wouldn't get a real resolution to the film until three years later with Return of the Jedi.
  • Anti-Villain: When the Falcon slips away from his Destroyer, Captain Needa instructs his men to prepare a shuttle. He knows Vader will kill him; he just wants to make sure the Sith Lord's wrath falls exclusively on him, or at least doesn't want to spend the rest of his life on the run as a deserter. Either way, it's a surprisingly honorable move.
  • The Apple Falls Far: Look closely when Luke falls out of the chute on Cloud City and clings to a weather vane; his severed 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 recovering.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Vader is revealed to be one to Luke himself.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Vader cuts off Luke's right hand in their duel. He gains an Artificial Limb at the end.
  • Armor-Piercing Response:
    • This exchange between Luke and Yoda after Yoda Force-lifts Luke's ship out of the swamp:
      Luke: I don't— I don't believe it.
      Yoda: That is why you fail.
    • Yoda delivers another one later on to Luke as he prepares to leave for Bespin to aid Han and Leia, in response to Luke angrily asking him if completing his training is worth potentially sacrificing the lives of his friends.
      Yoda: If you honor what they fight for? Yes.
  • 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. 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.
  • Asteroid Thicket: A Trope Codifier. While fleeing Imperial pursuit, the Millennium Falcon flies into the Hoth system's asteroid belt, which Han takes as an opportunity to lose his pursuers long enough to hide and make emergency repairs to the hyperdrive. The asteroid field is dense enough that the pursuing TIE fighters are shredded in minutes.
  • As You Know: Although it took 25 years before this was confirmed on screen, Yoda's "There is another" pronouncement to Obi-Wan qualifies in retrospect as the next film would reveal the "another" to be Leia, who is revealed to be Luke's twin sister. Revenge of the Sith confirms that this is information Obi-Wan already possesses.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Threepio, who misses Artoo's company, wanders off when he sees another droid that reminds him of R2-D2:
    C-3PO: That sounds like an R2 unit in there! I wonder if... Hello? How interesting.
    Stormtrooper: Who are you?
    C-3PO: Oh, my! I... I'm terribly sorry. I didn't mean to intrude. No, please don't get up. [the stormtrooper blasts C-3PO to pieces]
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: A subtle example: When the Falcon is hiding in the asteroid cave, Han talks to Leia and notices she is trembling with fear. Despite referring to himself as a "scoundrel" during the scene it is pretty obvious he is trying to comfort her.
  • Bad Boss: Vader personally Force-chokes two of his officers for their perceived incompetence (one of whom did have lapses of judgement), 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.
  • Badass Normal: Boba Fett is introduced in this episode. He's the one who leads the Empire to the Falcon after the entire Imperial Navy fumbles, and he's the first character who seems resistant to Darth Vader's ambiance of terror.
  • Baddie Flattery: Vader towards Luke during their duel on Bespin. Justified for several reasons: biggest one, Luke is Vader's son, next Luke, while inexperienced is able to use the force well enough and with such power that it would take a normal Jedi years of training to do the same, and lastly, Luke managed to hold his own against his father who has on occasion decimated groups of Jedi in less time than their fight.
  • 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. It's only the pale, extremely scarred back of his head, but that's more than enough.
  • 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.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Han and Leia spend most of the first two acts trading barbs, and Leia kisses Luke in sickbay pretty much just to annoy Han (although Luke doesn't seem to mind). Then they kiss while repairing the Falcon in the asteroid field, followed by an Anguished Declaration of Love from Leia as Han is about to be frozen in carbonite.
  • Bewildering Punishment: Han, Leia, and Chewie aren't told that Vader is torturing them to draw Luke.
  • Big Bad: Darth Vader; notably, this is the only film in the saga where he fully holds this rolenote , though the Emperor is the one who gives him the mission to find Luke.
  • Big Damn Kiss: In the carbon-freezing chamber. Part of one of the most famous "I love you" declarations in film.
  • Big Good: Yoda, a Jedi master who teaches Luke more about the Force.
  • Big "NO!":
    • The most famous one in the entire series, even counting the one ininvoked Revenge of the Sith, comes from Luke after he learns the truth about his father.
    • After Han is frozen, we get the Wookie version of the trope.
  • Big "SHUT UP!":
    • Leia to C-3PO after he's about to tell the odds for a second time.
    • Chewbacca also has a loud roar that is effectively this to C-3PO when he is berating Han for his plan of hiding from the Star Destroyer by parking ON it.
      C-3PO: No, I will NOT be quiet!
    • Chewbacca does it again while trying to repair the hyper drive. Lando urges him to hurry, leading to an angry roar.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Empire forces the Rebels to abandon their base, but fail to eliminate them. Han Solo is captured, tortured, and imprisoned in carbonite at the end, in the custody of Boba Fett, who intends to take him back to Tatooine and deliver him into the hands of Jabba the Hutt for the bounty on his head. Darth Vader defeats and cripples Luke Skywalker while also hurting his morale but he fails to convert him, and Vader's plan to topple the Emperor and take over the Empire fails. Likewise, Cloud City and Lando Calrissian are Neutral No Longer and by the end, the Rebels are ready to counter the Empire all over again, since none of them actually die in the film.
  • Blatant Lies: From Han, when Lando notices the box full of what's left of Threepio.
    Lando: Having trouble with your droid?
    Han: No. No problem, 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.
  • Book Ends: Luke begins and ends the movie hanging upside down, defenseless, and uses the Force to free himself in time for his friends to rescue him.
  • 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.
  • Braving the Blizzard: Luke Skywalker gets lost in a blizzard on an icy planet. Han Solo has to travel through the blizzard in order to find and rescue Luke.
  • Breakout Character: Boba Fett, famously, became incredibly popular and marketable after a subtle yet significant role in this film.
  • "Bringer of War" Music: Perhaps the most prominent example is the Imperial March, the main theme of the Empire in general and Darth Vader in particular.
  • 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.
  • The Bus Came Back: When viewed chronologically, this marks Yoda's fourth appearance, making this a return for the character after the ending of Revenge of the Sith wrote him out by exiling him to Dagobah.
  • 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).

    Tropes C to E 
  • Can't Default to Murder: When Vader is briefing the Bounty Hunters and states he wants them alive, he stresses to Boba Fett, "No disintegrations!" implying that Fett has previously disintegrated a target either Vader or the Empire had wanted brought in alive.
  • 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.
  • Carcass Sleeping Bag: The one everyone remembers, when Han keeps Luke from freezing to death on Hoth by hiding him in the body of his tauntaun.
  • 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!
  • Chase-Scene Obstacle Course: The Millennium Falcon is pursued by three Imperial cruisers and four TIE fighters. The Imperials steer the Falcon toward an Asteroid Thicket, aiming to limit their quarry's escape routes. Solo daringly steers into the asteroids, and the fighters give chase. Two fighters are lost to the asteroids, while the other two collide in a right-of-way bottleneck.
  • Citywide Evacuation: Lando issued an evacuation to the people of Cloud City before the Empire could send in more troops so that he, Leia, Chewie and the droids can easily escape from the city, too. This trope is given more emphasis in the special edition, in which Lando's announcement is intercut with crowd shots that didn't appear in the original version.
  • Cleanup Crew:
    • Some Imperial Navy troopers drag Needa's body away after Vader finished with him.
    • After C-3PO gets blasted, Chewie finds him in waste disposal on the verge of being destroyed. Some angry growling gets the workers to hand his various parts over.
  • 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.
  • 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 snow speeders' laser cannons, we suddenly learn that the speeders happen to be equipped with magnetic harpoons and tow cables, perfect for tripping giant mechanical beasts.
    • Luke escapes Hoth without any issues while the Millennium Falcon had to contend with three Star Destroyers.
  • 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.
  • 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 Marjorie Eaton 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.
  • Crapola Tech:
    • Han is about to be caught by the Empire, but he grinningly engages his uber-modified hyperdrive — which fails. Han's borderline-insane modifications rendered his ship one of the fastest in the entire galaxy when everything works properly... but also a lot more likely to not work properly. It fails again later, and a third time (see below).
    • Narrowly averted a third time, when the Millenium Falcon just had its hyperdrive repaired, and so Lando engages it — only to find that Darth Vader had it deactivated. (Fortunately, good ol' R2 knows this, and fixes it.)
  • Creator Cameo: Artist Ralph McQuarrie, who did the concept paintings for the original trilogy, appears in the background as a Rebel general.
  • Creepy Cave: As part of his Jedi training on Dagobah, Luke must enter a small but dark and thickly overgrown cave beneath a giant, gnarled tree, which has the property of manifesting intruders' deepest fears. He encounters a mirage of Darth Vader, whose head he cuts off only to discover his own face inside the helmet.
  • Cross-Cast Role: In the original cut of the film, the Emperor was portrayed by Marjorie Eaton, with chimpanzee eyes superimposed over her own and her voice dubbed over by Clive Revill.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: Calling it that was an understatement, at least to viewers at the time. In fact, the revelation likely made it the biggest twist in movie history.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
    • Despite being overwhelmed for the most part, Luke does manage to get in a couple of hits on Vader, although it must be kept in mind that Vader was trying to capture him rather than kill him. Towards the end of the fight, he nearly cuts Vader's right arm off, causing the Sith Lord to howl in agony and flail about for a few seconds, and had he not been so terrified of Vader, Luke could have exploited this opening and gone for a killing strike.
  • 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 is finally fixed, allowing the heroes to escape in time, much to everyone's complete surprise.
  • 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. In an interview with critic Leonard Maltin for a VHS reissue of the film, George Lucas explains that the middle act of a trilogy is usually the darker, bleaker chapter, setting up the dilemma that the final act solves.
  • 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.
  • Daylight Horror: The bright white Cloud City, where it's immediately apparent something is not right. Though its most sinister scenes take place in the darkly lit industrial areas underneath, the welcoming and futuristic interior of the city winds up being an unsettling location as the Empire infiltrates it and lays a trap for Luke using Han and Leia.
  • Deadpan Snarker: In a deleted scene, Leia gets back at Vader for the last time they interacted, pointing it out before her verbal snipe.
    Leia: I've enjoyed Lord Vader's "hospitality" before. What's the matter, Lord Vader? Have you gone so far beyond humanity that you no longer need to eat or drink?
  • 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.
  • Death Glare: Leia gives one to Lando as Vader, Boba Fett and the Stormtroopers ambush her, Han and Chewie. Knowing all along Lando couldn't be trusted, even when he explained the Empire had arrived before the Rebels and that he had no choice.
  • Defeated and Trophified: Han Solo was given this treatment, being frozen in carbonite and handed over to Jabba the Hutt, who keeps him as a trophy.
  • 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, whose closest friend you just handed over to Boba Fett to boot, probably was not wise, Lando.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: In the novelization by Don Glut, Needa is implied to have been executed via firing squad on Vader's order. Here, he's personally Force-choked by Vader himself.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: General Veers, who leads the Imperial assault on the Rebel Base. The boss wins.
  • 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.
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: The Millenium Falcon's legendary hyperdrive engine is on the fritz for the duration of the movie... right up to the end. Because of it, Han and company barely keep out of the Empire's clutches after fleeing from Hoth.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • The plot twist of Darth Vader really being Luke Skywalker's father becomes dramatic irony in hindsight, thanks to the Prequel trilogy.
    • Everything Vader does in this movie is to find and trap Luke, including pursuing the Millennium Falcon. However, due to events during the battle, Luke got stranded out in the field, so he ends up leaving Hoth after his friends and Vader do.
  • Dragon Ascendant: An out-of-universe example; while Vader is still subordinate to the Emperor, he goes from being a supporting antagonist in A New Hope to the Big Bad of this film.
  • Dress-O-Matic: Darth Vader's meditation chamber aboard the Executor includes a mechanism (a little bit like a "claw crane" arcade game) that lowers his helmet onto his head and locks it into place.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Emperor Palpatine's first appearance is in this film, briefly seen via hologram talking to Vader.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • Emperor Palpatine was originally played by Marjorie Eaton wearing a bizarre mask, rather than the more famous Ian McDiarmid who played the Emperor in the Prequel Trilogy and Return of the Jedi. This results in the Emperor having a very different look, often described as having "chimpanzee eyes".
    • While Yoda still spoke in his trademark reversed speech pattern, he spoke in normal sentence structure half as often. As the franchise progressed, he spoke almost entirely in Yoda Speak.
  • Electric Torture: In Cloud City, Han is strapped to a gurney and lowered over a device that appears to administer brief, intense electric shocks.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Veers tries to explain Ozzel's reasoning for his actions in the hope it will convince Vader to spare him. It doesn't.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Emperor Palpatine. For the last movie and a half, Darth Vader has been the most powerful and evil man in the galaxy, commanding his own fleet and executing officers who fail him, answerable to no one. Then, we see him go to his chamber and kneel before the Emperor. This gives us an idea how just how powerful the man that Vader calls "master" must be.
  • 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:
    Yoda: 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-3PO, 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.

    Tropes F to H 
  • Face Death with Dignity:
    • Needa knows exactly what is going to happen to him when he loses the Millennium Falcon. He displays no fear or dread, and he personally accepts 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.
  • Facepalm: Leia covers her brow with her hand after the Falcon's hyperdrive fails yet again.
  • Field Promotion: Piett.
    Darth Vader: You Are in Command Now, Admiral Piett.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: Lando tells Han he's just made a deal that will keep the Empire out of Cloud City forever. Cue Darth Vader.
  • 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.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the opening sequence, with Luke riding through the snow and Han complaining over the radio, the moment he declares his intention to go back to base, some notes from Leia's theme begin to play. Text says "Han wants to get out of the cold", subtext says "Han wants to be back with Leia".
    • The scene where Luke enters a cave on Dagobah and hallucinates about decapitating Darth Vader, and the helmet splitting open to reveal Luke's own face. In hindsight, it's a clear warning of where Luke might have gone; it's also a subtle hint to Vader being his father (i.e., there's a Skywalker behind the mask). 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.
    • When Lando asked Han, Leia and Chewie to have dinner with him, he was visibly concerned when he saw C-3PO got blasted. And was the one lingering back as they leave the room.
      Lando: Is there a problem with your droid?
    • Yoda's "Much anger in him. Like his father." line foreshadows Vader's reveal in the climax.
  • 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.
  • Forgot to Mind Their Head: When Yoda tells Obi-Wan's ghost that the impatient Luke isn't ready to be trained as a Jedi.
    Luke: I am ready! Ben, I can be a Jedi! Ben, tell him I'm ready— [bangs his head on Yoda's low ceiling]
  • 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.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Luke arrives on Bespin and tries to get the drop on Boba Fett escorting the frozen Han to Slave-1, you can briefly see Fett briefly turn his head and look down the hall as he walks across the hallway when Luke is spying on him. This explains why he's able to get the drop on Luke and shoot at him when he goes to intercept the procession a few moments later.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • Luke rolling his eyes when Han says to Leia: "I just think you can't bear to let a gorgeous guy like me out of your sight."
    • 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 of note, Needa's actor Michael Culver helps the two crewmen carry his "body".
    • Also, after the Falcon manages 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 seems to clue in on what happened when Vader walks past him.
  • Genius Bruiser: This film both emphasized not only how big of a badass Darth Vader really is, but how intelligent he is.
  • Genre Shift: Lucas told his writers to take inspiration from The Exorcist and as such Empire has a real horror film ambiance, including scary monsters like the Wampa, the Asteroid worm, as well as scary places like Dagobah swamp, and the Cloud City Freezing chamber. The sequence where Vader and Luke fight is full of jump scares, and floating objects.
  • 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.note 
    • Perhaps the most controversial change was Temuera Morrison overdubbing all of Jeremy Bulloch's lines as Boba Fett. Supporters argue that it makes the film tie in better with the prequel trilogy, while detractors dislike it for exactly that reason in addition to it being disrespectful to Bulloch's performance.
    • A Freeze-Frame Bonus, but a Starspeeder 3000 from Star Tours appears as a cameo in the Special Edition.
  • 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.
  • Going Down with the Ship: During the Battle of Hoth, Princess Leia stays inside the command room of Echo Base, while the base is already being invaded by Imperial troops and after plenty of Rebel troops have been evacuated. This causes her to be too late to evacuate on a Rebel transport ship when a corridor collapses and Han Solo takes her onboard the Millennium Falcon instead.
  • Grew a Spine: Luke, when he left Yoda's training to save Han and Leia.
  • Happy Ending Override: As the opening text says, 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.
  • Hate Sink: Admiral Kendal Ozzel is an incompetent Imperial officer who consistently hinders Darth Vader's efforts to find the Rebels through his contrarian personality. His clumsy tactics during the Battle of Hoth proves to be the final straw as Darth Vader unceremoniously chokes him to death to demonstrate the price of failure to the rest of the crew. Ancillary media and EU stories reveal that Ozzel came from a privileged family and only got his position through powerful connections as his superiors saw him to be unfit to be an efficient field commander, thus making his execution well-deserved.
  • Helmet-Mounted Sight: Boba Fett's helmet has an "antenna" with a black rectangle at the end that can be rotated 90 degrees to go over the visor. He's seen with it lowered while flying the Slave I, and The Mandalorian also shows that it's part of his jetpack missile's targeting system. In Bounty Hunter it's also used to scan for and mark bounties, complete with a list of crimes and value(s) for bringing in dead or alive.
  • 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.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Captain Needa willingly taking the full brunt of Vader's wrath to protect his crew.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The Millennium Falcon hides on the back of a Star Destroyer.
  • Hobbling the Giant: The rebels take out the AT AT Walkers by firing harpoons attached to tow cables around their legs, flying in circles until their legs are bound. When the AT AT Walkers try to continue moving forward despite the bindings, they topple over.
  • Hollywood Tactics: This article argues that the Empire is guilty of this during the Battle of Hoth. Notably, despite this, they still claim a decisive victory.
  • Honor Before Reason: Attempted when Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda reluctantly agree to let Luke go to rescue his friends, against their better judgment:
    Yoda: Stopped they must be; on this all depends. Only a fully trained Jedi Knight, with the Force as his ally, will conquer Vader and his Emperor. If you end your training now — if you choose the quick and easy path as Vader did — you will become an agent of evil.
    Obi-Wan Kenobi: Patience.
    Luke: And sacrifice Han and Leia?
    Yoda: If you honor what they fight for... yes!
  • 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.
    • Towards the end of the duel between Luke and Vader, Luke manages to land a glancing blow on Vader's shoulder, giving suggestion that Luke may still be able to turn the tide. Unfortunately, mere seconds later, Vader responds with cutting off Luke's hand.
  • Humongous Mecha: AT-ATs.
  • Hypocritical Humor: When Lando fakes anger at Han during their reunion, one of the things he jokingly calls him is "double-crossing". Lando later double-crosses Han, which in turn backfires against Lando when Vader reneges his earlier agreement and Leia, Chewie and the droids are not to leave Cloud City under the threat of making it a permanent Imperial outpost.

    Tropes I to M 
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Vader is clearly not even trying against Luke at first, and only begins to actually try when Luke manages to get a hit in with the coolant. The moment Luke lands an actual hit, Vader stops holding back and ends the fight in seconds.
  • 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 Know You Know I Know: Emperor Palpatine's sole appearance in the film is to inform Darth Vader that he's aware that Luke Skywalker is his son without directly saying it (mostly for the sake of hiding the big surprise from the audience, but also doing so since Vader dissociates himself from his past life as Anakin). However, Vader already knows this, as he mentions Luke by his surname before the invasion of Hoth, and Legends and canonical media alike make it clear that Vader had known for a while. The conversation plays out as a way for Palpatine to safeguard himself in order to ensure that Vader doesn't get any big ideas of getting his son to overthrow him, rather than Vader suddenly getting the idea that he could be a new Sith apprentice (which Vader was secretly already thinking about). Later Special Editions of the film expand the scene between Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader by having Vader pretend to be surprised that he has a son, given that last he knew -- at least to Palpatine's knowledge -- Anakin believed that his wife died before giving birth.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: During the torture scene, though not said directly.
    Leia: Vader wants us all dead.
    Lando: He doesn't want you at all! He's after someone called Skywalker!
    Han: Luke?
    Lando: Lord Vader has set a trap for him.
    Leia: And we're the bait!
  • Immune to Bullets:
    • The 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.
  • Implied Death Threat: Darth Vader to Lando, when the latter finally has enough and protests Vader's complete abuse of their original agreement. Vader's response has Lando's hand automatically finding his throat worriedly.
    Vader: Perhaps you feel you are being treated unfairly?
  • 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, who were True Companions but not yet aware of their mutual descent. 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-3PO 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).
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Yoda tells the ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi that he thinks Luke Skywalker is too impatient and isn't ready to be trained as a Jedi. Luke immediately protests that he is ready and can become a Jedi... while trying to get up, forgetting in his excitement about the low ceiling of Yoda's hut, and banging his head as a result.
    Yoda: Ready are you?
  • Insult Backfire: Leia calling Han a "scoundrel."
    Han: "Scoundrel"? I like the sound of that.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: C-3PO interrupts Han and Leia's First Kiss, a scene that, were the film not rated PG, may have gone further. Han is audibly infuriated when he responds to Threepio, and Leia quietly slips away while his back is turned.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • "It's not my fault!" is said by both Han and Lando when the hyperdrive fails to worknote 
    • Also, the dialogue between the Emperor and Darth Vader, with Darth Vader and Luke in the later Special Editions.
      The Emperor: I have no doubt, this boy is the offspring of Anakin Skywalker.
      Vader: [beat] How is that possible?
      The Emperor: Search your feelings, Lord Vader. You'll know it to be true.

      Vader: I am your father!
      Luke: [beat] No... No... That's not true! That's impossible!
      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.
  • 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!
  • Jump Scare:
    • Leia is surprised by the sudden appearance of a Mynock (a flying, barnacle-like pest) attaching itself to the Falcon's cockpit.
    • Overpowered by Darth Vader, Luke flees and seeks shelter in the lower infrastructure of Bespin, eerily silent save for the incessant hum of the generators... shattered by the snarling sudden breath of the Dark Warrior as his blood-red light-saber viciously hisses to life like a snake and comes within inches of shearing off Luke's head, restarting their duel.
    • The Limited Edition DVD release of 2006 (which paired the Special Edition with the original 1980 version) contains two within its DVD menus. The DVD plays different menu scenes at random. One is a view of an Imperial probe droid floating over the planet Hoth; click "Play Movie" and before the film begins a Wampa comes out of nowhere and dives at the viewer. A less startling one, another random menu, is a view of the Dagobah swamp; click "Play Movie" and R2-D2 shoots out of the swamp and towards the viewer.
  • Just Toying with Them: Vader's duel with Luke involves the former holding back considerably in order to nonlethally capture Luke or talk him into a peaceful surrender. The very second Luke actually manages to land a glancing blow Vader swiftly disarms and maims Luke in a few precise swings.
  • Kick the Dog: Darth Vader unsurprisingly has several:
    • He strangles Captain Needa despite him apologizing and taking full responsibility for his mistake, which just goes to show you how devoid of honor or mercy he is.
    • He forces Lando to betray Han Solo by holding Cloud City hostage. Later, he makes this even worse by reneging on his end of the deal.
    • His Cold-Blooded Torture of Han seems particularly cruel considering it wasn't to get information or anything, but solely to lure Luke into a trap.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Or rather, Ozzel lost all power of speech mid-sentence, dying a minute later:
    Admiral Ozzel: Lord Vader, the fleet has moved out of lightspeed and we're preparing to— *urk!*
  • Knew It All Along:
    C-3PO: Sir, I don't know where your ship learned to communicate, but it has the most peculiar dialect. I believe, sir, it says that the power coupling on the negative axis has been polarized. I'm afraid you'll have to replace it.
    Han: Well of course I'll have to replace it. [passing Chewie some cables] Here. And Chewie... [quietly, sheepishly, after C-3PO is out of earshot] ...I think we better replace the negative power coupling.
  • Lancer vs. Dragon: A hilariously one-sided version occurs when Han Solo, meeting Darth Vader face-to-face for the first time, immediately draws his blaster and fires on the Sith Lord. The "battle" lasts for around four seconds while Vader casually deflects Han's shots before using the Force to rip the blaster right out of Han's hand.
  • Leeroy Jenkins:
    • Luke qualifies when he ignores the advice of both Yoda and Obi-Wan to fly to Cloud City.
    • Admiral Ozzel as well, by jumping into the system right in the Rebels' faces, giving them time to activate their shield. Vader, naturally, permanently terminates Ozzel from command after that one.
  • 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 adaptation 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.
  • Love Triangle: Luke has a smug grin after Leia kisses him in a deliberate rejection of Han's advances. Turns out Han doesn't have to worry, even before a certain revelation in the next movie.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: The Trope Namer, though said trope name is a slight invokedmisquote (as detailed in the "Trivia" tab).
  • 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.
    Leia: Luke! Luke, don't, it's a trap! IT'S A TRAP!
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Harshly averted. While other films have depicted some surprisingly underwhelming reactions to lightsaber wounds and dismemberment by Jedi and Sith alike, (Dooku loses both hands in Revenge of the Sith, and barely gasps) Mark Hamill's performance as Luke, bloodcurdling scream and all, drives home just how painful losing your hand to a glorified plasma cutting torch feels.
  • The Man Behind the Man: While the word 'Empire' does imply an Emperor, this movie was the one that established that Palpatine was not just a powerless figurehead, but the ultimate villain of the series.
  • 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.
  • Meaningless Villain Victory: Imperial forces easily overran Echo Base, but other than the men and materiel lost in the holding action the Rebels escaped completely intact.
  • Melee Disarming: Vader rather easily disarms Luke early in their Cloud City duel, the first sign that maybe Luke's in a bit over his head here.
  • Men of Sherwood: The Cloud City guards are silent and unnamed characters, are armed less well than the stormtroopers and rebels, and work for a (at that point) morally dubious character. However, they take several Imperials prisoner without much trouble and help the heroes escape.
  • Mercy Kill: As revealed in the next film, Vader's Force chokes are intended to be this. For example, Captain Needa opted to confess his failure in the asteroid field to Vader directly because he knew with Vader, at least the worst he'll do to you is asphyxiate you without having to lay so much as a finger on you, and he'll spare your crew as well, which is more than can be said for the Emperor—and Vader, as he very strongly implies to Moff Jerjerrod the next year, appears to have counted on it.
  • Million to One Chance: C-3PO does this thrice, much to Han's increasing annoyance.
    • "Artoo says that the chances of survival are 725 to 1."
    • "Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately three thousand, seven hundred twenty to one!" "Never Tell Me the Odds!"
    • "Sir, the odds of surviving a direct assault on an Imperial Star Destroyer-" "Shut up!"
  • Missed Him by That Much: Played with, twice.
    • Early in the film, after the Imperials have won and are overrunning Echo Base, Darth Vader strides inside with his troops, seeking out his quarry (Luke, though he would likely have been pleased to obtain Leia too, either due to her importance to the Rebellion or to lure Luke as he does in the last third of the film). He arrives in the hangar... just in time to see the Falcon taking off. Except Luke isn't actually onboard (and with the Force, Vader likely realizes this), but he still demands the ship, surely already considering setting the aforementioned trap.
    • Then, near the end of the film, when Luke arrives on Cloud City, he just manages to see Leia and the others being escorted away as Imperial prisoners, and they see him; Leia warns him of the trap, but he isn't able to get to them in time (or realize exactly what she's warning him of—although thanks to Yoda and Obi-Wan, he already is aware of the possibility anyway). Meanwhile Lando also gets a glimpse of him, but still doesn't quite know who he is or why he's so important; he has to wait until the next film to learn this via working with Luke to rescue Han.
  • 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 occupying 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 being shot at by 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. It should be noted, though, that Luke never actually fires his blaster over the entire course of the film. He draws it when the stormtroopers start shooting at him, but he can never quite get a clear shot to return fire. By the next movie, he only ever uses a lightsaber.
  • Must Make Amends: After the deal falls apart, Lando tries his best to save the Rebels.
  • My Fist Forgives You: After Captain Needa has failed to apprehend the Millenium Falcon, he reports his failure to Darth Vader, who force-chokes him to death:
    Darth Vader: Apology accepted, Captain Needa.

    Tropes N to R 
  • 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.
  • Near-Villain Victory: The Battle of Hoth. The Rebels know full well they have no hope of winning, and the whole battle is basically just to buy time in order to evacuate as many people as possible. Furthermore, it's implied that if Admiral Ozzel hadn't ruined the ambush by coming out of hyperspace too close, and thus gave the rebels time to turn on the Deflector Shields, the Empire would have wiped them out entirely and that would be it.
  • Nerves of Steel: General Veers displays this by not showing the slightest hint of panic when Darth Vader turns to face him while raising his voice.
  • Never Tell Me the Odds!:
    • Early 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.
    • The 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.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Yoda Force-lifts Luke's ship out of the swamp. This then allows Luke to leave Dagobah before his training is complete.
    • An enraged Chewbacca choking Lando for his betrayal after he frees the Wookie and Leia (and with her encouragement). The strangulation prevents Lando from immediately revealing that there's still a chance to save Han before Boba Fett leaves Cloud City. The delay costs them dearly, as Fett is able to complete his final pre-flight checks and take off just as they reach the landing pad. Had our heroes arrived even a minute earlier, they might just have been able to forcibly board Slave I and retrieve Han.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • Admiral Ozzel's blunder in bringing in the Imperial Fleet so close to Hoth where the Rebels were located, in his hopes of a rapid strike that would catch them off guard. Instead, the Rebels immediately got the deflector shield up and running, forcing the Empire to come down by force and lose many troops in the process. Vader quickly pays him back for this foolish move.
    • Vader continuing to alter the agreement with Lando, causing him to finally betray him and help the heroes escape.
  • No-Harm Requirement: The film has Darth Vader convene a cadre of bounty hunters to capture the Heroes. "There will be a substantial reward for the one who finds the Millennium Falcon. You are free to use any methods necessary, but I want them alive. No disintegrations."
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Implied with Vader in Cloud City.
    Vader: We would be honoured if you would join us.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: When Vader addresses him, General Veers turns out to be 6 inches at most behind the Dark Lord.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Han's off-screen run-in with a bounty hunter on Ord Mantell convinces him to leave the rebels.
    • "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.
    • 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 Fett must have once shown up with a bag of ash and insisted it was the guy he'd been sent for.
  • 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.
  • No-Sell: When Han is invited to dinner with Vader, Han starts unloading his blaster at him. Vader very calmly absorbs the shots with his hands. Vader waits a few seconds before pulling the gun away, as if he was intentionally letting Han demonstrate how little he had to fear from a blaster.
  • 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.
    C-3PO: No, we're not interested in the hyperdrive on the Millennium Falcon. It's fixed!
  • "Not So Different" Remark: When Yoda refuses to train Luke because of his anger, the offscreen Obi-Wan replies, "Was I any different when you taught me?"
  • 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.
    • Also, Vader's "invitation" to dinner.
  • 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.
    • During the scene where Cloud City is evacuating and Lando and co. are running past them, you can briefly see a man running by carrying what is clearly an undisguised ice cream maker.
  • Off with His Head!: Luke defeats the vision of Darth Vader by severing his head. When the head rolls to the ground, the helmet blasts open, revealing Luke's own face.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The look on Hobbie's face when Leia reveals the escape plan from Hoth.
      Hobbie: Two fighters against a Star Destroyer?!
    • Every time the hyperdrive on the Millennium Falcon doesn't work.
    • Captain 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.
    • As a bonus, he gets to have this one twice, the second time when his memory reboots after he's found and reactivated:
      C-3PO: Stormtroopers? Here? We're in danger! I must tell the others! OH NO, I'VE BEEN SHOT!!
    • Han and Leia when they learn they're being used to bait Luke.
      Leia: Vader wants us all dead!
      Lando: He doesn't want you at all, he's after somebody called Skywalker.
      Han: Luke?!
    • Lando, when he finally realizes The Empire is not going to leave his city (or him) alone, even after he cooperated.
    • 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.
  • O.O.C. 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 snappy 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.
  • Played for Laughs: Han and Chewie's attempts to repair the Falcon. They may be great pilots, but they are mediocre mechanics at best. This includes an onscreen D.I.Y. Disaster where Han tells Chewie to power up a system that Han just repaired, and it proceeds to blow up in Han's face, causing him to frantically shout for Chewie to turn it off.
  • 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.
  • Post-Defeat Explosion Chain: Luke Skywalker manages to catch up to an Imperial AT-AT, and attach a magnetic grapple to its underside. Winching himself up next to the machine, Luke lightsabers away an access panel, then throws in an explosive charge. After uncoupling himself and falling to the snow, Luke sees a series of explosions lighting up the walker's interior that culminate in the command head exploding. The AT-AT legs buckle and it topples over.
  • Psychological Torment Zone: The cave on Dagobah forces Luke to face Darth Vader and then see his own face within Vader's mask, forcing Luke to question himself.
  • Pragmatic Villainy:
    • Vader has one moment when he keeps Boba Fett from simply shooting Chewie when the Wookiee is flailing about trying to prevent Han's doom. He may have been worried about damaging the freezing equipment, or just felt that cleaning Wookiee bits off the walls wouldn't be as satisfying as watching his heart break.
    • Before that, Boba Fett expresses concern that Han might not survive being frozen in carbonite—not because he's worried about Han's wellbeing, but because he needs the smuggler alive to collect the bounty on him. Vader placates Fett by assuring him that he will be compensated if Han dies.
  • 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 led 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.
    Han: Then I'll see you in hell!
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: Han has been captured, Luke has lost his hand and had a pretty nasty revelation, Vader tells Luke he will succumb to the dark side and Luke starts to believe him, 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 with Lando positioned to potentially take over the equivalent character role if Ford decided to not participate. Needless to say, The Bus Came Back.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Yoda gives Luke one for having always looked ahead to the future with little to no regard for his present surroundings.
  • 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.
    Vader: You are beaten! It is useless to resist! Don't let yourself be destroyed as Obi-Wan did!
  • Retcon: The entire "I Am Your Father" reveal was actually this, although only the eagle-eyed at the time of release would have noticed it. In A New Hope, as shot and first released, Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker are meant to be entirely separate characters. The franchise still being fairly young at the time gave Lucas & co. the latitude to pull this off, although it still makes a few parts of ANH odd as a result (as detailed on its page).
  • The Reveal: One of the most famous in film history: "Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father..."
  • Revolting Rescue: Han makes a temporary shelter for Luke by cutting open the belly of a recently-deceased tauntaun, and stuffing Luke into it while a more permanent two-person shelter is being built.
  • 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.
  • Right in Front of Me: Luke's patience is tested to the breaking point by a little troll who turns out to be Jedi Grand Master Yoda. Luke is nothing but respectful towards Master Yoda while talking about him (although the latter is a bit upset about the "great warrior" description), but his lack of patience with the apparent simpleton does nothing to impress.
  • Rule of Three:
    • C-3PO describing the ridiculous odds against whatever Han Solo's trying to do.
    • The Millennium Falcon failing to jump into hyperspace when needed.
    • Vader killing two subordinates for failing and sparing the third.
  • 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 Facepalm.
  • 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.

    Tropes S 
  • Sadistic Choice: See Deal with the Devil and An Offer You Can't Refuse.
  • Sapient Ship: When attempting to repair the Falcon, Han tells C-3PO to "talk to the ship" to find out what's wrong. Turns out he's being literal, as Threepio later comments that the ship's computer was rude to him. Depending on the continuity, this is either because the ship uses a cluster of droid brains to enhance its systems or due to L3-37's integration into the ship during the Kessel Run.
  • Scream Discretion Shot: The infamous torture scene. All we see are 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.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Vader consistently changes the deal the Empire had with Lando for his own ends. This does have the consequence of Lando realising the Empire has no intention of leaving Bespin unharmed and goads him to arrange an escape for the captive heroes.
    Vader: Calrissian, take the princess and the Wookie to my ship.
    Lando: You said they'd be left in the city under my supervision!
    Vader: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: When he realises the Empire has no intention of leaving Bespin untouched, Lando flees. He also broadcasts a warning to Cloud City of the Empire's intention to occupy the city, and most of its population opt to do likewise.
    Lando: Attention, this is Lando Calrissian. Attention. The Empire has taken control of the city; I advise everyone to leave before more Imperial troops arrive.
  • Second Chapter Cliffhanger: It ends with Han Solo being frozen in carbonite and captured by a new enemy and crime boss Jabba the Hutt (who is not strictly in league with The Empire) leaving us with just Luke and Leia's promise to rescue him. And perhaps the Trope Codifier for ending the second installment of a Two-Part Movie 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 
    • Also inverted. With the absence of the planet-destroying Death Star, the stakes are much lower than in the previous movie. After the Battle of Hoth, it's pretty much only the main characters who are in danger for the rest of the movie. This makes the film's conflict more personal.
  • Sequel Hook: Luke is left with the bombshell that Darth Vader is his father, Lando and Chewbacca set off to rescue Han, the identity of the other who could defeat Vader in Luke's stead hasn't been revealed, and Leia is showing signs of Force-Sensitivity.
  • Shame If Something Happened:
    • When Lando angrily complains that Vader is altering the terms of their arrangement, Vader retorts with the implication the Empire will occupy Bespin if Lando doesn't back down, and throw in killing Lando if he gets too irritating.
      Lando: That was never a condition of our agreement, nor was giving Han to this bounty hunter!
      Vader: Perhaps you think you're being treated unfairly...?
      Lando: No.
      Vader: Good! It would be unfortunate if I had to leave a garrison here.
    • There's also:
      Vader: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
  • Ship Sinking: Despite the kiss Leia gives Luke, the Luke-Leia ship that was established in A New Hope and later explored in the first sequel novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye as well as the Marvel comic book series, is sunk when it's established that Han and Leia are now a couple. And in all fairness, she kissed Luke mainly to annoy Han. (Three years later, Return of the Jedi would blow the Luke-Leia ship out of the water completely by establishing the two of them to be siblings.)
  • 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.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns:
    • R2 is left behind with Yoda when Luke travels alone into the Dark Side Cave on Dagobah, and is also separated from Luke on Cloud City before he confronts Vader.
    • Han being frozen and sent away to Jabba the Hutt.
  • 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:
    • Cloud City's design is ripped directly from one of the old Flash Gordon serials.
    • 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 "No. I am your father."
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Han gives one to Leia:
    Han: You like me because I'm a scoundrel.
    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). Justified for Bespin, which, as a gas giant, can really only have one terrain type (you know, gas).
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Prior to release, there was absolutely no mention of the character of Yoda in the promotional materials. George Lucas and company considered the character a massive risk in terms of creative execution, and felt that it was better to let the movie speak for itself rather than to hint at the character.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Han and Leia.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Despite the saga's idealistic tone, Empire is definitely one of the darkest Star Wars movies.
  • 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.
  • So Proud of You: A villainous example with Vader towards Luke. Several times during their duel, Luke has surprised Vader with his resourcefulness, ability, and power in the force. Since Vader was once a Jedi when the Order still had a large presence and is a trained force user with years of combat experience, Vader is most likely beaming with pride on the inside that his son could become so powerful in only a few months (over a year at best) when it would take other normal Jedi years to gain the same results.
    Vader: The force is with you, young Skywalker.
    Vader: Impressive. Most impressive.
    Vader: Obi-Wan has taught you well.
    Vader: You do not yet realize your importance.
  • 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 Mask: Han, Leia, and Chewie don face masks to check out the asteroid they're hiding in.
  • Space Suits Are Scuba Gear: In this case, they're face masks attached to an oxygen tank.
  • Speak Ill of the Dead: As Vader corners Luke in the climax:
    Vader: You are beaten. It is useless to resist. Don't let yourself be destroyed as Obi-Wan did.
  • Spiteful Suicide: The film has Luke Skywalker pretty much at a Walk the Plank moment after fighting Darth Vader and losing his right hand. Vader offers Luke a chance to join him and accede to the Dark Side of the Force. Rather than submit, Luke chooses to perish and allows himself to plummet into the near-bottomless shaft. Only the peculiarity of Cloud City's conduit system and a returning Millenium Falcon saves Luke from falling to his doom.
  • Spoiler Cover: Back in 1980, it was a major spoiler for the film's poster to show Han and Leia in a romantic pose. Up until the film's release, every aspect of the franchise — the first film, the first official sequel novel, the comics, etc. — had promoted Luke and Leia as the franchise's designated romantic pairing. Literally no one expected Han and Leia to become an Official Couple, so the poster stole a major surprise away. (It would not be until Return of the Jedi three years later that Lucas would reveal exactly why he sank the Luke and Leia ship.)
  • Standard Sci-Fi Army: The Battle of Hoth is the first pitched battle to be featured in the franchise. The Imperial Army utilizes AT-AT walkers as heavy armor, AT-ST walkers as support, and elite infantry, while the Rebels utilize light infantry, speeders for air cover, and light anti-vehicle turrets in defensive trenches. Though the Rebels do succeed in inflicting casualties, including taking down two walkers, the battle is hopelessly one-sided in favor of General Veers and Blizzard Force.
  • Standard Sci-Fi Fleet: While A New Hope made it clear how powerful Imperial Star Destroyers are, this is the first time we see a proper fleet in action. Death Squadron consists of five Star Destroyers which are commanded by Darth Vader's flagship Executor, a Super Star Destroyer that dwarfs the rest of the fleet. TIE Fighters and Bombers perform a combat air patrol as the fleet assembles, along with performing interception and area bombing missions.
  • 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).
  • Stealth Pun: C-3PO isolated the reverse power flux coupling in the Millenium Falcon before he interrupted Han and Leia's moment.
  • 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: A prime example, Yoda is.
  • Stumbling Upon the Lost Wizard: Luke crashes into Dagobah and just so happens to land right next to the grand Jedi master, Yoda. Luke doesn't even think that the little frog man he meets could be Yoda because he hadn't even begun to look for the guy yet!
  • Suggestive Collision:
    Leia: [after accidentally falling on Han's lap] Let go, please.
    Han: Don't get excited!
    Leia: Captain, being held by you isn't quite enough to get me excited.
    Han: Sorry, sweetheart. I haven't got time for anything else.
  • Swamps Are Evil: Played with: Yoda lives in a swamp, but there's also a cave that is strong in the dark side.

    Tropes T to Y 
  • Tactical Withdrawal: The Rebels are aware how hopelessly outmatched they are against a large and well-equipped Imperial walker detachment. The Battle of Hoth is a delaying action for the Rebel infantry to buy time for the rest of the base to escape. Once General Veers orders his infantry to debark, the Rebels retreat.
  • Taking the Bullet: Captain Needa sacrifices himself to a Force Choke to save his crew from Vader's wrath.
  • Taking You with Me: In the junior novelization when Vader orders Han to be placed in the carbonite pit, Chewbacca starts throwing stormtroopers off the platform and is contemplating just falling over the side and trying to drag as many stormtroopers with him as he can before Han talks him down.
  • Talk to the Fist: Han gives Lando one for turning his friends to the Empire.
    Han: You set us up real good, didn't ya? My [PUNCH] friend!
  • Tarot Motifs: Luke is often upside-down like The Hanged Man at key moments in his arc. Hanging from the ceiling in the Wampa cave, doing handstands on Dagobah when he sees a vision of Han and Leia, and dangling beneath Cloud City after learning the truth about Darth Vader and losing his hand. The card represents sacrifice, commitment to a purpose and a change in perspective, all of which tie into Luke's journey.
  • Tell Me About My Father: A variation. Luke mentions his father, and Yoda, still hiding his true identity, starts to talk about Anakin. Luke misses the hint, and just gets annoyed.
    Luke: How could you know 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: That is why you fail.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Unlike many examples of this trope, Obi-Wan actually literally can't interfere, rather than deciding to hold back for the sake of letting the hero learn a lesson or win on his own — as a Force spirit, he can't do anything to affect a lightsaber battle.
    Obi-Wan: If you choose to face Vader, you will do it alone. I cannot interfere.
    Luke: [solemnly] I understand.
  • Time Skip: Mirroring the gap between release dates, the film takes place three years after the events of A New Hope.
  • 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!
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: On Dagobah, R2 is eaten by a dragonsnake, only for it to spit him out because droids aren't comestible.
  • Training from Hell: Luke's training with Yoda is noticeably more difficult than his training under Obi-Wan, due to the time constraints and pressure enforced by the looming threat of Darth Vader. Heck, Yoda even lampshades it, when Luke says he's not afraid.
    Yoda: You will be. You will be.
  • Try and Follow: Han rushing into the asteroid field at full speed.
  • Turns Red: Vader against Luke in the finale of their duel on Bespin, hacking and swinging much more aggressively than the beginning of the duel. His aggressiveness actually leaves himself open enough for Luke to score a hit on him, which he promptly pays for. Not that Vader was in any danger of being defeated, but he simply decided to finish Luke by overwhelming him with sheer force.
  • Unbuilt Trope: While it is famous for being the darkest Star Wars film, it's important to note that Empire Strikes Back is the only Star Wars film without any major character deaths in both the OT, the PT, and the ST. What makes it dark is the introduction of horror film concepts, and the more psychological focus on the characters and situations. Fundamentally the film is still optimistic (Vader fails in capturing Luke and turning him to the dark side) and by the finale, even the film's main villain, Vader, thanks to the plot twist, becomes an empathetic figure.
  • Undressing the Unconscious: After Luke loses consciousness on the icy plains of Hoth, Han finds him, and keeps Luke warm until an Alliance patrol can ferry them back to base. Luke awakens in a medical tank having been undressed and put on some type of modesty diaper.
  • 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.
  • Violation of Common Sense: When the Millennium Falcon is being chased through an Asteroid Thicket Han suggests going closer to one of the really big ones. Leia is incredulous but it actually works because the TIE fighters are too scared to go close and the heroes are able to hide in a cave on the asteroid. Of course this comes with its own problems.
  • Volatile Second Tier Position: As Ozzel and Needa discover, Darth Vader expects a lot out of officers under his command.
  • We Can Rule Together: Vader offers this to Luke, up to the point he begs Luke to do so, arguing that a father and his son should rule the galaxy together, not fight each other to the death over it.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Admiral Ozzel barely lasts long into the movie before being strangled by Vader for his clumsy actions on Hoth.
  • Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Han and Leia, in spades.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Lando betraying his friend Han. Later he tries to save him and Leia from Vader by having Vader turn them over to himnote .
    Lando: I've done all I can do. I'm sorry I couldn't do better, but I have 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.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Vader has been searching for Luke behind Palpatine's back in the hopes that he can secretly get himself an apprentice before making his bid to usurp the Emperor. However, the Emperor finds out about Luke and orders Vader to destroy him. So Vader plays his last card to spare Luke's life from his master's wrath, suggesting to the Emperor that the boy could be converted to their side. It works, but now Vader is running against the clock as his master would be thinking of replacing him with his son.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: The look of sheer despair on Leia's face after seeing Boba Fett take off with Han.
  • You Are in Command Now: A Trope Namer from the same conversation that named the below. Vader promotes Captain Piett to the rank of admiral just as Admiral Ozzel's body hits the ground. Vader says the words in the Trope Namer when he promotes Piett.
  • You Are What You Hate: Implied with the cave of evil scene. Luke asks Yoda what he will face inside and Yoda replies "Only what you bring with you". In the cave Luke encounters what appears to be Darth Vader and manages to cut his head off, only for his mask to explode and reveal Luke's own face underneath.
  • You Have Failed Me:
    • Without Tarkin "holding his leash" as in the previous film, Vader force-chokes a couple of his subordinates to death, most notably Admiral Ozzel near the beginning of the movie:
      Vader: You have failed me for the last time, Admiral.
    • Captain Needa also receives this treatment after losing the Millennium Falcon. Rather than throw someone else under the bus, he decides to apologize to Vader personally, likely fully aware that it is a one-way trip. Vader, for his part, seems to actually respect this bravery by Needa even though Needa still gets executed for his failure.
    • Subverted with Piett. When the Millennium Falcon escapes the Imperials by jumping into lightspeed (despite his having just then assured Vader the hyperdrive had been deactivated by Imperial agents on Cloud City), the utter terror on his face is palpable. Vader merely steams in quiet fury for a moment, and slowly strides away leaving a dumbstruck bridge crew in his wake.
  • You Killed My Father: Famous subversion. From a certain point of view.
  • You Know Too Much: C-3PO barges into the wrong room on Cloud City and gets blasted by an unseen assailant. It's only when he's put back together that we discover he was shot by Imperial stormtroopers hiding there, but by then it's too late.
  • 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!"

"Luminous beings are we. Not this crude matter."

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


The Emperor

Darth Vader is but a lackey of the Emperor, the true ruler of the Galactic Empire.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / GreaterScopeVillain

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