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Luke: She's rich.

Han Solo: [interested] Rich?

Luke: Rich, powerful. Listen, if you were to rescue her, the reward would be...

Han Solo: What?

Luke: Well, more wealth than you can imagine!

Han Solo: I don't know, I can imagine quite a bit.

Aaaand... the cynical, hard-bitten, seen-all-sorts-of-treachery, experienced smuggler Han Solo conveniently fails to notice that Princess of just-blown-to-bits Alderaan is no longer is powerful or rich, being that her "fiefdom" got destroyed and the Rebellion is dirt poor (which he knows quite well, after his ex-gf swindled him and his smuggler buddies out of money to fund that same Rebellion).

Is there any canon explanation for why he got conned by a naïve farmer kid?

An obvious explanation could be that he didn't know Leia was a princess of Alderaan... but she wasn't a nobody Princess Vespa - she was an Imperial Senator.

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He used The Force? (Latent abilities?) – Dave Nay Feb 22 '14 at 14:32
I can't possibly imagine that in a galaxy-spanning society - especially one where her home would be a likely target of Imperial lockdown, that she - or anyone with half a brain would keep all of her assets in one place or even on one planet. Just because her planet was blown up, doesn't mean she wouldn't have credits either in off-world accounts or hidden elsewhere. – phantom42 Feb 22 '14 at 14:35
What con? She's just inherited a gazillion space dollars from her dead relatives. .. – Richard Feb 22 '14 at 14:49
"You needn't worry about your reward. If money is all you love, then that's what you'll receive." -Leia Organa, ANH. Doesn't seem to be much of a con. – ApproachingDarknessFish Feb 23 '14 at 4:31
"Were not just doing this for money... were doing it for a shit load of money!" – Mazura May 30 '14 at 0:16

5 Answers 5

up vote 20 down vote accepted

Prior to its untimely demise, Alderaan was a center of commerce and culture in the Core Worlds. It had a long and rich history, it was a famed tourist destination, and it was a strong presence in the Senate. Leia was well-known as the youngest Senator in history, and it's entirely conceivable that Han would have at least heard of her.

That sort of political power doesn't come without at least some degree of material wealth, and much of it would have been off-world. Leia or her family owned or controlled more wealth than Han dreamed of (and he can dream of a lot). Even including his ship, his total net worth was significantly lower than Leia's, even after Alderaan's destruction. He had every reason to expect she could have paid him a handsome reward.

He was also desperate for money. He owed Jabba money, 10,000 or more credits. That's almost enough to buy a small ship. He also had operating expenses - ships need parts, fuel, and supplies. Oxygen scrubbers need changing, engines need grease, etc. To keep flying, he needed cash. He was in dire need and the money he had so far gotten for the trip (a paltry 2 thousand, since they never reached Alderaan to get the remaining 15) were going to barely cover his expenses, let alone debts.

Given that his life was already in extreme danger (trapped on the Death Star) and his future looked bleak (no way to pay Jabba) he was willing to take the chance. He didn't get played by Luke, Luke just reminded him of a fact that he, in his melancholy state, had forgotten: there was still a chance to get paid and save his hide. And it wasn't really that much more dangerous to go to a prison area (where the guards were worried about escape, not break-ins) rather than staying in a conquered guard tower (where shift changes or random security sweeps could occur without notice, and they'd be immediately suspect).

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I'm almost certain some of the (now non-canon) EU books made reference to "long lost relatives" trying to claim family wealth... – Clockwork-Muse May 23 '14 at 13:49
Also, remember, he did get paid. – Daniel Bingham May 23 '14 at 14:37
The biggest part to me was that it was a fairly good deal until they showed up and found out alderaan was destroyed... but at that point there was no backing out because immediatly after that they get stuck on the death star. So while he may have thought aww sht there goes my money it was already to late as the empire had him trapped. – Himarm Aug 14 '14 at 21:00

How is it a con? The situation played out exactly as described: they rescued the princess, and Han got a handsome payoff (we see him loading boxes of cash as he prepares to leave Yavin).

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Because Luke had absolutely no idea whether Leia was really rich and powerful when he was talking to Han. Also, Han was paid out of Alliance funds, NOT by Leia. – DVK Feb 22 '14 at 16:32
I agree with this. Even if he knew her home planet had been destroyed, it was hardly likely that Princess (and Senator) Leia was penniless. – Richard Feb 22 '14 at 16:34
@Richard - Luke didn't have a clue she was a Senator. – DVK Feb 22 '14 at 18:12
@DVK - Perhaps the midichlorians told him... – Richard Feb 22 '14 at 18:21
Not sure why it matters she is a Senator when she is already a princess - and that is right there in the title. And even if Leia was penniless, royalty does not exist in a vacuum - having potentially the last, or one of the last remaining Alderaan nobles on your starship is going to be worth something. If Leia couldn't pay him, a guy with Han's connections could find someone who would (in exchange for Leia herself). Luke would really only be conning Han if Leia wasn't a princess. – joshbirk Feb 22 '14 at 18:29

Han didn't get conned by a naif farmer kid. He got persuaded by a powerful force-sensitive who honestly believed what he was saying, with whom he was already in cahoots.

  1. Luke wasn't trying to con, he was offering a sincere argument. Being cynical and hard-bitten, Han would know how to tell the difference between the two.
  2. Luke's father was astonishingly powerful, and having some amount of the same predisposition to the force is the only explanation for how Luke ever managed to best Vader at all. That surely helped in the persuasion, just as it helped him nail womp-rats back home.
  3. The hardest part IRL of pulling a con is putting on a convincing demeanor, and suppressing all of the subconcious ways your mind betrays the fact that you're lying. Luke didn't have to do that, which gives him a leg up in being believed by Han.
  4. Considering that by the time of this conversation they were already in the Death Star, it wasn't a large risk to go to a different highly-secured part of the highly-secured military installation they were already in. Not being next to their ship for a bit would also likely help avoid the imperial patrols.
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If that word pops up more, I'll really have to look it up. (I thought it was a misspelling at first.) – Mr Lister Feb 23 '14 at 10:33
@MrLister: naif: naive or unsophisticated. – Jeff May 22 '14 at 16:01

Also... although Han is wit and cunning, he is often drawn by it's "hero role" passions.

It's not Luke who tricks him into the job, it's the story, the legend writting in it's head wich made him accept the job.

Han is driven by some type of "unknown palladin paradigma"... he will try to run with the money when things heaten up, but on the end he always do the right thing. He maybe think of itself as a burglar, but he's in fact, a hero.

So the idea of rescuing a princess automatically sparks in his mind translating a boring and dangerous mission into a heroic crusade. He was only cheated by it's heroic nature.

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It's more than that. This isn't a con in any sort of way, as that isn't who Luke is. My Dad talked about it once with me when I asked about it and this is what he told me: "He's not a Scoundrel. Not really, and anybody who claims to be one isn't one for long. It's a taxing existence. It takes something out of you. In the case of Han it was Hope. That's why he's so cynical. He's burned his bridges with the Empire. He's got a bounty on his head from his own employers because he had to do what he had to do to stay alive. On top of that, he's broke, the Falcon's broke and the only friend he's got is Chewie. So in truth, what he saw in Luke is hope. This is kid who hasn't been beaten down in life as much as him. Who's still got somekind of innocence left in him. That's why he decided to stick with him. Why he asked him to come along with him when he was about to join in what was basically a suicide mission. And why he decided to come back and help him when he could've taken off with what he had. He's a scoundrel because he's been forced to be one. What he needs is someone to remind him who he once was and what he could become again. A New Hope in a way." There you go.

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