Follow TV Tropes


Fridge / The Empire Strikes Back

Go To

Fridge Brilliance:

  • When Han is tortured by the Empire on Cloud City, he says "They never even asked me any questions." When I saw the movie as a kid, I thought they were just being mean, because that's what Bad Guys do. Years later when re-watching, I realized that the purpose for the torture was to create psychic bait for Luke. Because he saw visions of the future while he was still on Dagobah, we've already seen him respond to what's happening to them now!
    • This is even more brilliant when you take Attack of the Clones into account. Anakin was lured to Tatooine by visions of his mother's pain and had a serious encounter with the Dark Side because of her death moments after he found her. Seeing Anakin look back and use his own psychological impetus to try to capture and turn Luke is rather chilling.
    • There's a secondary purpose as well: they were testing how well Han Solo could endure the pain of being encased in carbonite. In the novelization, when Boba Fett is complaining that he wants Han Solo alive (because Jabba will pay double if he is), Darth Vader tells him "His pain is considerable, bounty hunter, but he will not be harmed." He also later indicates that he was testing the process on Han Solo first because he planned to use it on Luke Skywalker as well, but wanted to make absolutely certain it wouldn't kill him; meaning he already thought it highly likely Han Solo would survive, but wanted to see the proof in a field test.
  • Advertisement:
  • "If you leave now, help them you could ... but you would destroy all for which they have fought and suffered." Yoda was speaking literally - if Luke had started to leave right that instant, he might have beaten Han and Leia to Bespin and fallen right into Darth Vader's trap before they arrived, preventing their torture, but making things even worse for the Rebellion. Instead, the next time we see Luke on Dagobah, he's telling Yoda "I can't get that vision out of my head" as he's packing up ... he's had time for it to keep bothering him. Yoda's warning made Luke hesitate, and that little bit of delay was enough to shift things to a slightly less-bad future.
  • How does Darth Vader for sure know the Rebels are on Hoth? He feels his son's presence via The Force. This continues in Return of the Jedi where he figures out the Rebels landing on Endor because his son is with them.
    • He may have also felt Leia's presence as well, given that she's also Force-sensitive and that Luke was out in the field at the time of the Imperials' arrival while she was back at the base. Vader could have mistaken his daughter's Force signature for that of his son, especially since he was unaware that he had a second child.
  • Yoda acts like a childish goofball when he first encounters Luke. Looking back, he probably put up that front to get a better feeling if Luke was Jedi material, and keep Luke from suspecting who he was indeed the Jedi Master he was seeking.
    • As Yoda is cooking a meal for himself and Luke, Luke is impatiently asking why they can't go see Yoda now (Yoda had not yet revealed his identity). Yoda says "For the Jedi, it is time to eat as well." So, he meant "Yoda" was about to have dinner... which he was.
    • In light of the Prequel films, Yoda's teachings to Luke seem odd or hypocritical, given the arrogant streak the Jedi had in those films. But if you stop and think about it, it makes sense. Yoda needed to see if Luke was serious about stopping the Emperor, not revenge. Anakin was a dreamer, had a lot of fear and worried about his friends and family, look where that got him. Arrogance blinded the Jedi to a Sith lord right in front of them. Lastly, a master of the Dark Side can turn your anger, fear, hate, or even your love against you. Yoda's Training from Hell was for Luke's mind and heart as much as the Force.
      • It also impresses on the viewer how pivotal Luke's own choices will be for the rest of the story. Yoda has already witnessed a man of Luke's power fall to the dark side and wreak utter havoc, and so has the audience if the films are watched in order. That Luke's journey roughly mirrors his father's is a persistent reminder of exactly what he could become if he fails. Yoda isn't just frustrated with the situation - he's downright afraid of what will come of his training Luke.
  • In interviews, screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan admitted that he hated writing for C-3PO because there was nothing for him to do in the story. Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) also complained that because he wasn't interacting with Artoo as much in the second film, he spent most of the time as a nag to the heroes and essentially being The Load. It would seem that Threepio had a completely useless role in TESB. However when you get to Return of the Jedi you realize it was very important for Threepio to be there to witness the events of the past two movies because he ends up relating it all later to the Ewoks on Endor! His storytelling by the fire to all the Ewoks about Luke and company's heroic adventures is what makes the Ewoks decide to help the Rebels, which is what leads to victory in the Battle of Endor and the destruction of the Second Death Star! —Fastbak
    • In essence, C-3PO is far from useless; he's the party's bard, which means he might be useless in a fight, but is a master communicator.
  • This situation was even mocked by Family Guy. At the end of Empire Strikes Back, Lando and Chewie are in the Millennium Falcon and Lando is inexplicably wearing Han's clothes. Then it hit me. All of Lando's clothes are still back on Cloud City! And it's not like there's so much as a K-Mart in the rebel fleet. Lando has nothing to wear except Han's clothes. - The One True Hammer
    • Well, the conversation with Han and Lando in their first meeting reveals that the Falcon was once Lando's ship. Because of that, it's likely that it was HAN who was wearing Lando's old clothing and Lando is only now reclaiming them.
    • Ah... no. Someone buys my house or car from me, I take my stuff out of it first. Buying my house does not include my furniture and clothes unless it's specifically part of the deal. Buying my car doesn't entitle you to my CD collection. Stealing my car, maybe, but Han won it in a game. Lando had plenty of time to remove his belongings (if there were any at the time) from inside. In this case, I'd agree with the original post, Lando was wearing Han's clothes simply because he hadn't had time to pack or pick up anything else. From how he's been portrayed in the EU, I'd wager that one of his first tasks upon leaving the Rebel fleet was to go get him some more stylish outfits.
      • BUUUUUUUUT... what if Lando accidentally left one of his old outfits somewhere in the Falcon and Han's been wearing it for the longest time? He was a bit younger then, so he probably wasn't that good at the laundry. My guess is that it was hidden behind or on the side of the Millennium Falcon's washer or dryer, if it has one.
      • AND... he didn't sell the Falcon to Han. He lost it playing cards.
  • Along the Lando-Cloud City line, something occurred to me today about the Millennium Falcon's approach to Bespin. Vader & Boba Fett are already there, and Lando knows they plan on arresting Han & company as soon as they arrive. He can't tell them to go away because the Empire will massacre Cloud City, so he tries to have his sentries scare them off with a "misunderstanding." That way, it just looks like the Falcon got spooked & went elsewhere, and Lando can stick to the "Han Solo? I haven't seen that guy in years" story he probably (honestly) gave Vader when he first arrived. When Han doesn't get the hint, Lando has no choice but to hand him over.
  • A rather small instance, but Vader is pursuing the Millennium Falcon intently for most of the movie. Although later on we see that he wanted to apprehend Luke's friends to draw him in via using a connection through the Force to show them that they were in danger, he mentions clearly at an earlier point when they're hiding in the asteroid field that "They're still here." Generally, Jedi or Sith are the most sensitive to other Force users or those sensitive to the Force, so it is entirely plausible that Vader may have been sensing Leia, or thought that he was sensing Luke when it was Leia, instead (you know, considering that they're twins and all).
  • When Lando first sees Leia in her Bespin gown, he grins and says "You look absolutely beautiful. You truly belong with us among the clouds." Now Leia is an attractive woman but that outfit actually makes her less so! It does nothing to show her figure or reveal any skin. Her hairstyle isn't helping, either. Lando is laying on the charm before he sells them all out to Darth Vader.
    • There's also the possibility of foreshadowing here. "You truly belong with us among the clouds"...Think about it, where would you find clouds? The sky. Walking among the clouds, since that's how the group gets around for the most part. Sky...walking...Skywalker...
      • At the time of their arrival, Lando's deal with Vader was for Leia and Chewbacca to stay on Cloud City as permanent "guests." He could have been attempting flattery to make her imprisonment not seem so bad.
  • The famous "I love you"/"I know". While an awesome line, it seems a little cruel of Han not to say "I love you" back to Leia, given he might die in a few seconds. Turns out he was giving her an out. If he did die, she could one day move on and possibly justify that Han never loved her back. If he lives (which he does), then he can say it back properly (which he does).
  • As You Know, Darth Vader's use of "thy" in "What is thy bidding, my master?" was intended to evoke an old form of English. For those of us who actually know older English, it may sound strange coming from a servant to a master. But some have argued that Vader's offer to Luke that We Can Rule Together was sincere, and if that's the case, that was the point; Darth Vader did not really respect his master and intended to take over the Empire with Luke at his side.
    • It was sincere! The Sith Rule of Two obliges the Apprentice to kill their Master and take their place. Vader had always suffered from the limitations imposed by his dependency on cybernetics and his life support suit. He was basically semi-crippled, despite being extremely powerful, and wouldn't stand a chance against the Emperor in a fair fight. That said, he had a lot of reasons to hate the Emperor and want him dead. When his son suddenly became a factor, the possibility of actually killing Palpatine became real.
  • Speaking of Vader's relationship with Palpatine, it may seem a little strange seeing Darth Vader order literally everyone in his presence after acting as subordinate to Tarkin in the last movie. However, him now being the Emperor's right hand makes perfect sense! With the Grand Moff and a good deal of the high-ranking officers dead, Vader now is the most powerful and influential over who's left.
    • Vader didn't have a clear position in the chain of command at the time besides "owns the Devastator, a few fighters besides those of the Devastator and a legion of Stormtroopers and speaks for the Emperor", while Tarkin had one that included the "speaks for the Emperor" bit. They were effectively the same rank but Vader's wasn't official, and they were on the Death Star (Tarkin's flagship) to boot-militarily, he was subordinate to him. But only to him, as Motti learned the hard way.
    • The simplest explanation is that Vader has discretion to do just about whatever he wants, but defers to Tarkin because he respects him. The Clone Wars series went to some pains to establish a relationship between them.
      • Further, the only time we see Vader actually seem to obey someone other than Palpatine is when Tarkin says "This bickering is pointless. Vader, release him." It's perfectly reasonable that Vader would acquiesce because he agreed with the sentiment and didn't care enough about torturing or killing someone he saw as irrelevant to get into a whole thing over it.
  • Vader not only stops Boba Fett from shooting Chewie when he attacks some Stormtroopers in a vain attempt to help Han, but shortly after that, he decrees that Lando is to deliver him and the princess to his ship. Now it's true that he's taking custody of two criminals who pose a direct threat to the Empire, but Chewie is carrying the partially re-assembled C-3pO. In addition to Luke, he's also trying to get back his last living friend, and... well, droids are easy to reprogram.
  • The reason Darth Vader appeared in the Dark Side hollow on Dagobah is because Luke brought his weapons with him. That determined the context. If he had heeded Yoda and left his weapons, the link between him and Vader probably would have revealed in a far more subtle and less disturbing context.
  • The only thing that saved Lando from being choked to death was that Chewbacca knew they had to move, and NOW, to have any chance of getting Han back. Otherwise, Chewie would have throttled him to death.
  • Vader was toying with Luke for pretty much the entire duel: he was just feeling out Luke's abilities. However, Luke DOES hit him in the back of the shoulder (Vader even grunts in pain) right before Vader cuts off Luke's hand. De-handing his son was done in a moment of anger.
    • Yep. Vader could probably have killed Luke at any time during that duel if he really wanted to, but he didn't, as Luke points out to him when they meet again on Endor. If you look at the fight, you'll notice Vader seems to be holding back at first, waiting for Luke to attack him first and trying to intimidate him by taunting him and throwing stuff at him. It's only the last part where they duel on the walkway that Vader decides to stop screwing around and aggressively attacks Luke until he's disarmed.
  • Ben obviously could have answered when Luke called him after the Bespin Duel. But he didn't. Perhaps he had given up on him entirely... OR... this was a back-up plan devised by him and Yoda after Luke left, so he would discover the link to Leia on his own.
    • Ben could have answered, but why? He's a Force ghost; he couldn't have helped Luke in any way there. That's why he said "I cannot interfere" in the duel: what good is an incorporeal spirit in a fight?
      • "Interfere" is a curious word choice. It implies that Kenobi does have the power to directly (tactically) affect the confrontation they're discussing, but cannot because it would undermine his and Yoda's plan at a strategic level. It was necessary for Luke to face Vader alone.
    • That, or perhaps Obi-Wan was simply ashamed for having deceived Luke and/or failing a Skywalker apprentice yet again...
  • Noticed the way R2 started beeping like crazy when he and Luke first encountered Yoda? Before the prequels, it seems as though R2 was saying "What the hell is that thing?!", but after seeing that R2 had encounters with Yoda before, it's now "Yoda, it's you! How've you been? We need your help!"
    • Artoo's initial behavior toward Yoda fits, too. He was probably annoyed or even exasperated that Yoda was apparently not taking him and Luke seriously. Artoo was undoubtedly fully aware that they had no time to waste and didn't understand why Yoda, whom he knew very well and knew to be a reliable, valuable ally, wasn't being at all helpful.
  • When Vader's presence on Bespin is revealed in Empire Strikes Back, the reveal happens in act 2 of the movie, which is itself act 2 of the trilogy. Because The Dragon can't be stopped in act 2 of... well, anything, blocking Han's blaster shots with his bare hand doesn't even require the Force. At this point in the story, he's surrounded by an invulnerable shield made entirely of narrative superstructure.
  • When Vader assuages Boba Fett's concern that Han Solo might not survive being encased in carbonite, he does so simply by telling him "The Empire will compensate you if he dies." Considering that Boba Fett hadn't actually mentioned what Jabba's price was, he could probably have set it as high as he wanted when billing the Empire for compensation. (Tales From Jabba's Palace indicates he ultimately got a higher price for Solo in carbonite from Jabba than he would have gotten for him dead or alive, and that Jabba had a habit of reneging on his promised bounties and trying to haggle for a much lower payout upon delivery; hence Leia-as-Boushh having to threaten him with a thermal detonator to get Jabba to pay a reasonable price for Chewbacca in Return of the Jedi.)
  • Vader didn't seem terribly concerned that Han might not survive the carbon freezing process. Given that he had personal experience with being frozen in carbonite during the Clone Wars, he probably figured that Han would be just fine.
    • Yes, his real concern was that the facility seemed questionable. He specifically says so when he describes it as "crude".
    • And even if Han didn't survive, he was just some Rebel smuggler. Even his middling level in the Rebel leadership at this point makes his death acceptable to Vader as a valid win.
  • Why did Lando order the evacuation of Cloud City? Was it only so they could escape the tightening clutches of the Empire while they still could, or was it to make it harder for the Imperial troops to stop the heroes' escape by giving them a chance to slip out amongst the confusion of the general evacuation?
  • This is the only movie where Luke carries a "blade" and a blaster. It also symbolizes how Luke's torn between two worlds: The Rebellion hero, and the Jedi. When he chooses to take the Jedi route, when fighting Vader, he goes from "blade and blaster" to just using his lightsaber. In A New Hope he mostly used the blaster, and in Return of the Jedi, only the lightsaber.
    • Notably, Luke never actually fires his blaster over the course of the entire film. He only draws it thrice: (once against the snake monster on Dagobah, once against Yoda (before realizing who he was), and once against the Imperials/Boba Fett escorting Han and Leia away from Vader). Luke's already well on the path to being a Jedi, favoring his lightsaber.
  • Every time we see Luke training under Yoda, he fails a test:
    • Looking for a "great warrior," Luke fails to recognize Yoda when they first meet.
    • Luke ignores Yoda's suggestion not to take any weapons into the cave.
    • Luke can't conceive of how the Force could lift a heavy X-Wing, and fails.
    • When his Force sense tells him his friends are in danger, Luke doesn't listen to Yoda or Obi-Wan's warning that it's a trap and that he's unprepared.
  • Watch Yoda's face (and ears) when Luke attempts to raise the X-Wing from the swamp. Yoda knows full well Luke's lineage and huge Force potential, so believes Luke can do it, even early on in his training. But Luke causes the ship to rise so swiftly and near-effortlessly that even Yoda is shocked. Skywalker is so powerful and naturally in tune with the Force that he has the capability to pull off a very difficult Force feat WITHOUT ACTIVELY TRYING. It's only when Luke starts to doubt he can accomplish it (note that his eyes are closed) that he falters and the fighter sinks. Luke Skywalker's bond with the Force is so strong that it works for him despite his disbelief. It's like Palpatine (before his reveal as Sidious) tells Anakin in Attack of the Clones: "Soon you will learn to trust your feelings- then you will be invincible."
  • It's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, but notice that Luke activates his lightsaber before Vader in the movie's final showdown. It serves as a perfect highlight of his impatience, aggression, and continued flirtations with the dark side.
  • While not really touched upon, Luke directly deceives his Rebel allies when he tells them he'll meet them at the rendezvous point while knowing full well he plans to go to Dagobah. It's kind of a dick move (and in real life would count as going AWOL in wartime, a deadly serious crime) and foreshadows that Luke might not be as Jedi as he thinks.
    • Of course, Luke does keep his promise, meeting them at the rendezvous... having lost his starfighter, light saber, and hand compliments of his detour-related misadventures. This might go towards partly explaining why he doesn't fly in the space battle in the third film, instead signing on with Han Solo's ground mission. Where he strikes off on his own personal mission again. Luke might have the makings of a great Jedi Knight, but he's just not a reliable Rebel soldier. It only gets worse in the Sequel Trilogy, where Luke has gone off on his own yet again, leaving his sister in the lurch leading the Resistance against the First Order alone.
    • Then again, seeing as how Vader can detect Luke, leading the Empire to the Rebels, it's probably for the best.
  • In their lightsaber confrontation, Luke holds his weapon firmly in both hands while Vader starts off one-handed until he springs the carbonite trap. He's so overconfident that he doesn't think overcoming Luke might require much effort.
  • When Luke sees his own face after defeating the vision of Darth Vader in the cave, it serves as a warning of the temptations of the Dark Side, but it also foreshadows Luke's family relationship with Vader.
  • Admiral Piett has quite a bit of Hypercompetent Sidekick about him. When Vader orders him to extrapolate all flight paths the Falcon could have taken and warn the fleets near those paths to be on search and destroy missions, Piett says, "Alert all commands; deploy the fleet" the moment Vader left. He had already surmised that would be what was needed, had planned his own orders, and was merely awaiting for Vader's approval to execute. No wonder Vader likes him!
  • C-3PO at one point comments on how the Falcon's on-board computer system has "a most peculiar dialect" and terrible manners. Those who watched Solo will know that it's L3-37's personality poking through.
  • The Millenium Falcon, famous starship that she is, is frequently described in-universe as a piece of junk. Shortly after flying out of the asteroid field, Han attaches the Falcon on the side of a Star Destroyer, and temporarily escapes the Imperial fleet by waiting for them to jettison all their scrap before going into hyperspace, detaching from the Destroyer, and drifting a piece of junk.
  • Pay attention to when Han is frozen in carbonite; Vader turns his gaze for one moment to watch one of the Ugnaughts activate the freezing process. Which is how Vader knows exactly which controls to use the Force on during his duel with Luke in the chamber.
  • Ozzel is irritated when Piett reports the probe droid's findings on Hoth. It's likely that at this point, the search has gone on long enough that Ozzel is growing tired of sending the fleet to search every system that has the remotest possibility of harboring Rebels.
  • When Piett reports the probe droid's findings from Hoth, Vader walks over and asks Piett about it directly. He then draws a conclusion, gives orders, and leaves. Ozzel's input is completely ignored, almost as if Vader values Piett's assessment over Ozzel's blustering. It would seem that Vader had chosen Piett as his successor long before Ozzel's execution.
  • After Vader orders the ship to the Hoth System and leaves, the admiral gives Captain Piett a Death Glare. Ozzel is likely incensed that Piett went over his head in announcing his findings to Vader, essentially eliminating his involvement entirely.
  • Luke, Leia and Co. ultimately escape from Darth Vader because R2-D2, upon discovering that the hyperdrive on the Millenium Falcon had been deactivated, simply turned it back on, allowing them to escape. Many fans ask: "Why didn't Vader just destroy, or at least seriously disable the Falcon altogether?". This Troper theorizes that Vader knew that if the heroes did manage to escape detention on Cloud City, the first thing they would do is rush to the smuggling freighter, and if they got to the landing platform and saw Han's ship reduced to a smoking ruin, or with any immediately noticeable signs of damage or tampering, they would simply take another ship, and Vader's forces would have no idea which one they're fleeing in. This way, they flee in an immediately identifiable ship that the Imperial fleet can snap up in a tractor beam before they realize why they aren't getting away. But Vader didn't count on the happenstance of R2 chatting with the city's computer...
  • During Luke's fight with Vader, Vader pleads with Luke to surrender, rather than letting himself be destroyed as Obi-Wan has. Vader hasn't quite figured out that he didn't exactly kill Obi-Wan, and he has effectively just undercut his own threat against Luke, who knows there are alternatives to fighting. Luke Takes a Third Option and takes a Leap of Faith, escaping Vader and narrowly surviving the fall to be rescued by Leia and company.
  • Way back at the start of the film comes a confusing moment in a triumphant one: "Why did throwing a thermal detonator into the AT-ATs "stomach" cause its head to explode?" The answer is actually rather easy to spot when one notices that there are multiple explosions before the head explosion. Luke used that thermal detonator in order to detonate the walker's munitions, leading to a chain reaction that brought the whole thing down.

Fridge Horror:

  • Luke's lightsaber. It was Anakin's, and Obi-Wan took it after cutting off his three remaining organic limbs and leaving him for dead, burning on the bank of a river of lava. Suddenly, Luke shows up on Bespin, grim determination on his face, and ignites that lightsaber, intending to finish what Obi-Wan started. How utterly furious must Vader be not only to see that blade again, but to have it in the hands of his son, who is presumably there to assassinate him?
    • In the same line of thought, slicing Luke's hand holding that lightsaber away is vengeance by proxy upon Obi-Wan, who did the same on him back on Mustafar.
  • Luke didn't drop off the Bespin catwalk to escape Vader. He was committing suicide.
    • Just before that, Vader said, "Come with me. It is the only way." Luke's action was to show him, no — he had another option.
    • He might not have been explicitly trying to commit suicide. More likely he just decided that taking his chances by falling off the catwalk was better than letting himself be captured by Vader. If he jumped, he reasoned, he might survive and escape, and if he didn't survive, then Vader still wouldn't get him alive. So either way, Vader loses.
    • It's also possible he was sucked into that tube by telekinesis rather than technology.
  • The carbonite facilities that Vader describes as "crude" lack OSHA Compliance because they can. The employees are the small Ughnauts, refugees from the Anoat System, a planetary system that went bankrupt and entered anarchy so horrible that the Empire refuses to touch it because it's just not worth the effort. Plus, the facilities operate outside of any governing body, excusing them from worker protection laws. Lando has the humans who probably have chemistry or business degrees doing the white-collared jobs with comfy office chairs, and the jobless unskilled foreigners who don't speak Basic doing the manual labor without safety precautions. Pretty shady for a place that seems so utopian.
  • The bridge crew on those Star Destroyers must be traumatized by their commanding officers frequently getting executed in front of them, and even worse, their bodies are just left laying on the floor for an indefinite amount of time.
    • The EU indicates that a lot of Imperial offices and crewers with upwardly-mobile aspirations saw service about the Executor, Vader's personal Super Star Destroyer, as quick route to a "My-Boss-Just-Got-Force-Choked" promotion. And probably requesting an immediate transfer, if they have any sense.
    • The old EU also stated that junior officers and lesser crewmen had betting pools going over how long a new officer would last before Vader killed them. For anyone not directly in the line-of-succession, the whole thing wasn't traumatic, it was just entertainment. Which just makes it worse.
  • The novelization of the film explains that Han is still fully conscious while frozen. As horrifying as that is on it's own, consider that Han also had no idea of knowing what happened to his friends until they rescued him. He knew everything was a trap set for Luke, and even if that was to make sure Luke was in Vader's custody, unharmed, Han could have never known why or what for, or what would happen after the fact.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: