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Heartwarming / The Empire Strikes Back

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You need more scoundrels in your life.
  • Han Solo and Princess Leia.
    Leia: I love you!
    Han: I know.
    • Han has been upfront about his feelings the whole movie, and he's been pestering Leia to admit she reciprocates, but when she finally does, he isn't exultant or loving. He is serious and sincere, reassuring her that he knows. She lost everyone she knew and loved in the last movie, and it must be difficult for her to move on and admit she loves other people now. Validating Leia's feelings is more important to Han in his (presumed) last moments than any romantic declaration.
    • Just before he's put into carbon freeze, Han stops Chewbacca from fighting (and dying) in his defense, and orders him to take care of Leia for him, giving him a purpose to live for. Had Han really died then and there, he couldn't have planned better Last Words to two of the most important people in his life.
  • Han facing the odds of a hideous death by freezing on Hoth in order to find Luke.
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  • A minor one, but the droid that was watching over Luke's recovery tells him to take care of himself as he's gearing up to go.
  • Luke's hug with Chewbacca, Chewie follows this by giving Luke a Bear Hug from behind.
    • Likewise, the farewell between Han and Luke. If you (like many) are marathoning the Original Trilogy, then not very long ago you saw Han selfishly packing up his reward before the Battle of Yavin and Luke seeing him off with ill-concealed scorn. Today, these Fire-Forged Friends say goodbye with real affection.
      • And they're sparse with words. Luke doesn't thank Han for saving his life (risking Han's own life in the process), Han doesn't mention it and doesn't give Luke any great last words. They just smile at each other and tell each other to be careful. They don't need to state how they feel, they both know it.
    • And of course C-3PO's farewell to R2-D2, telling him to take care of Master Luke, then quietly adding, "...and do take care of yourself."
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  • Han making his way through the collapsing Echo Base to find Leia, because he had heard the command center had been hit and he knew she'd be there.
    Leia: You've got your clearance to leave!
    Han: [crawling over rubble to her] Don't worry, I'll leave. First I'm gonna get you to your ship!
  • Captain Needa volunteering to take the blame for their failure, so his men may live. Even an organization as sinister as The Galactic Empire was not without at least one stand-up guy.
    • General Veers also makes a small nervous attempt to defend Admiral Ozzel after his unstealthy blunder, seemingly knowing Vader's plans for him.
  • Leia warns Luke about the impending trap, even after being captured and tortured, while being used as a Human Shield in the middle of a gunfight.
  • A minor one, but Vader persuading The Emperor to try to get Luke to join them. Seems like a minor task for the Sith, but he was doing everything he can to make sure his son was safe. When Palpatine implied he might try to have him killed as a threat to The Empire, you could tell by a slight change in tone, that Vader had some concern over Luke, just by this line.
    Vader: He's just a boy; Obi-Wan can no longer help him.
    • Related is Vader's plea to Luke: Don't Make Me Destroy You. In his own distorted way, he wants to be a family again. A family that rules a galaxy with an iron fist and brutally crushes any threats to their despotic regime, but nonetheless a family. Similarly, his talk about "ending this destructive conflict" gives the impression that he feels some regret for the loss of life, on both sides, that the war has caused.
      • Fridge Brilliance kicks in when you realise, of course Vader has some measure of regret for the cost of war. It's his second one, after all. And how many friends and brothers and fellow soldiers did Anakin see die during the Clone Wars? He doesn't just know of the cost of war, he's LIVED it. It's buried deep, but he's still in there, somewhere.
  • The Big Damn Kiss. Yes, Leia, you really do like him because he's a scoundrel.
    • Another interpretation is equally heartwarming — when Han said that line to Leia, she said that she "happen[s] to like nice men." Now Han is growing out of the charming but amoral guy he was at first, so this could be Leia acknowledging that he is a "nice man."
    • Also notice despite calling himself a "scoundrel" hes actually being nice (i.e he notices she's scared and is trying to make her feel better.)
  • This one moment in the Millennium Falcon: 3PO points out the power coupling on the negative axis must be replaced, Han aggressively retorts his advise, but as he goes to Chewie, he whispers 3PO's info; indicating he wasn't wrong. This makes it one of the moments where he's actually useful.
  • Vader allows Chewbacca to rebuild C-3PO. It's really Heartwarming in Hindsight considering that he built C-3PO in the first place. Clearly, Anakin Skywalker isn't as dead as Vader believed.
    • Later, when Boba Fett readies his blaster to take a shot at Chewbacca, Vader actually stops the bounty hunter from taking the shot.
    • Even more heartwarming when you see this, even though the comic is possibly no longer canon. Someone please add this scene into the next Re-release.
  • When the first transport gets away, all the Rebels in Echo Base cheer. These aren't just Red Shirts, the Rebellion cares about each other genuinely and profoundly.
  • Again on Hoth with an AT-AT approaching Luke took a second to check if his copilot was still alive before bailing out to avoid getting crushed. Of course ideally you want to bring the dead back for burial but war doesn't always allow for that. Even with a very nasty death on the line though Luke did the right thing and made sure that the other person in that Snow Speeder was definitely dead before leaving him behind.
  • After The Reveal in The Empire Strikes Back Vader's actions take on a different light; he's not the Evil Overlord trying to destroy The Hero, but a father desperate to get his son back.
    • Especially after you factor in Revenge of the Sith, Vader's spent the last twenty years believing he killed Luke along with Padme.
    • "Only your hatred can destroy me". Well, no father wants his son hating him, is it?
  • Seeing Yoda laughing, goofing around, and offering to take Luke in and feed him, even if the foolish persona was only an act to test his patience. After you've seen how stoic and detached the Jedi could be in the prequels, it's nice to watch the biggest curmudgeon of them all show a little playfulness and simple generosity.
  • A retroactive one: Rogue 1's sacrifice was not forgotten, as a squadron of elite badasses led by no less than Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles themselves are continuing the fight in their name.
    • Also noteworthy: even though Luke occupies the first position in the squadron, nobody calls him Rogue One - they call him Rogue Leader. There can only be one Rogue One.
  • After they escape from the Star Destroyer's radar when it dumps its trash, Leia remarks: "You have your moments. Not many of them, but you do have them," to Han, and kisses him on the cheek. His tiny smile says it all.
  • The Bitter Sweet Ending: After the heroes have been put through the ringer and Han has been taken, we see that our heroes are not beaten yet. Luke has been given a new prosthetic hand, Lando and Chewie set off to find Han, and we see that the Rebels were successful in escaping and regrouping, with Luke, Leia, C-3PO, and R2-D2 looking out a viewport at the massed Rebel Fleet, the biggest force of good guys we've seen in the franchise up to this point.
    • From his hospital bed, Luke tells Lando, "I'll meet you on Tatooine." It's very clear that, even after getting beaten, Luke will not turn away from his friends. As soon as he's recovered from his injuries, rescuing Han is Priority One. (Reportedly, the original script had Luke decide to let others save Han, while he went back to his Jedi training. Director Irvin Kershner, however, felt audiences would hate Luke for not going to Han's aid, so the script was changed so Luke would go to Han's rescue first.)
  • Not believing Lando's Heel–Face Turn, Chewie proceeds to strangle him, with Leia's approval; C3-PO is the one to shout, "Trust him! Trust him!"
  • After the release of Solo, Lando encountering the Millennium Falcon again after so many years is given new levels of heartwarming context. His comments to Han of "What have you done to my ship?", followed up by "That ship's saved my life quite a few times! She's the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy!" are especially poignant, when you consider that the consciousness of his trusted first mate, L3-37, was been integrated into the Falcon's systems after her destruction. And at the end, when the Rebels escape, Lando, despite the dire circumstances, has to feel elated to finally be reunited with his beloved ship and, by extension, L3.
  • The scene where Leia is briefing some Red Shirts at the beginning of the Battle Of Hoth. Even when one of them expresses doubt she doesn't get mad or tell him to shut up, but instead reassures him it will work. Which just shows how much she cares about even the low ranking people.
  • Lando didn't hold against Han even when he punched him, understanding what Han's feeling so he let it slide. He even stopped his guards from restraining Han.
    • What gets Han so riled up to the point of attacking Lando was the revelation that his and Leia's capture was all just a set-up to lure Luke into a trap. Never mind the torture and the seeming betrayal that he was just put through, Han's biggest concern and cause of anger is the fact that he and Leia are being used as bait by the bad guys to hurt Luke.
  • Dak asking Luke "Feeling alright sir?" before they both takeoff for battle on Hoth. It's a short, but sweet moment to see them bond like this, especially considering that Luke has just recently recovered from his Wampa attack.


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