In Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader instructs a group of bounty hunters:

VADER: ...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 disintegration.

As he says “No disintegrations…”, he specifically points at Boba Fett.

“No disintegrations.”

Why does he give this warning to him in particular? Has he used disintegration in the past?


Disney canon

UPDATE: As of 2017, this was addressed in Disney canon novel "Star Wars: From A Certain Point of View" (a collection of short stories). In "Added Muscle" story by Paul Dini, we learn that it was a blowback from an earlier episode when Fett crisped some rebel spies and Vader didn't like that fact and refused to pay:

... I picked up trooper buzz that Vader was looking for a couple of runaway droids. Figured I’d collect the bounty and square myself with the headman at the same time. He’s still got a mad on over those rebel spies I crisped on Coruscant. Idiots came at me with ion disruptors. What, they thought I wouldn’t carry a weapon accelerator? Flash, boom, three tiny ash piles. Tried to collect and Lord “No Disintegrations!” refused to pay without bodies. My word’s not good enough, apparently. ...

... Betting the third ran with the droids. I’ll hunt around after I’m done here. Vader may triple the bounty if I bring him the fugitive along with the droids. Yeah, I know, intact corpse, “no disintegrations.”

Original answer:

The clarification was because the "dead" part of "dead or alive" would be faster and easier for Fett, and therefore without specific instructions that the bounty should be alive he'd go for the "dead" option.

"disintegration" was just a figure of speech - Fett would have likely just blown up the Falcon, which would presumably disintegrate the bodies.

|improve this answer|||||
  • Also, because at one point Fett wielded a weapon called "The Disintegrator". – Daniel Bingham Mar 30 '12 at 13:45
  • It is an interesting twist that in the movie Vader seems to imply that Boba Fett was unreliable but in the EU Fett is the most respected because of his reliability. Though do I think Vader just dislikes the Fett. – Chad Mar 30 '12 at 14:48
  • 2
    @Chad - Vader strongly disliked ALL bounty hunters - he was a firm eliver of "law and order" thing and they were a lot more on the criminal side of the universe than he was comfortable with (Source: EU, especially Boba Fett trilogy). Also, I never said it implied "unreliable" - if you give a contractor vague instructions, he will execute them as he sees fit. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Mar 30 '12 at 14:51
  • @DVK - It was more a comment on the movie than your answer. Which I think is good. – Chad Mar 30 '12 at 15:18
  • Nice update! Congrats on finding a 'canon' source. That said, this is definitely retroactive canon. – Jeff Oct 10 '17 at 13:29

Presumably Boba Fett had previously claimed (or attempted to claim) a 'Dead or Alive' bounty on a person he had killed via disintegration. It's likely that he had no proof other than a visual record (at most) of this, and thus had difficulty collecting or proving to the client (contextually likely to be Vader or the Empire) that the deed had been done.

The Star Wars universe does have many forms of disintegration. They don't feature heavily in the movies or the EU books, but they exist and are referenced in several places.

Vader was simply reiterating to Fett that he needed to deliver Solo alive, and referencing a time when he had difficulty collecting on a bounty to drive the point home.

Edit: Also, that line was subtly used to point out that, even amongst the bounty hunters, Boba Fett in particular is a badass - Vader takes special notice of him and has dealt with him in the past.

|improve this answer|||||
  • I am pretty sure he was looking for Luke and Leia not Han. – Chad Mar 30 '12 at 14:45
  • 10
    @Chad: He's referring to the Falcon, which he knows to be Han's ship. He knows Luke isn't with them, but wants to use them as bait for Luke. – Jeff Mar 30 '12 at 14:52
  • 2
    There are also Disruptor weapons in the Star Wars EU, that are capable of disintegrating a target. – Xantec Mar 30 '12 at 15:08
  • 2
    nice little bit of dialog to add "history" to the universe. – zipquincy Dec 16 '14 at 21:10
  • 2
    +1 for nice answer in general, but especially for that last point! – Gunnar Södergren Dec 17 '14 at 8:56

I thought it was a joke. Lucas was implying that Boba Fett is famous for his brutality. Having Vader say this was a good way to introduce that fact to the viewer and at the same time have the viewer wonder how violent and capable exactly Fett was, if even Lord Vader had to calm him down.

Vader later does something similar when he stops Fett from immediately firing at Chewbacca when Solo is being frozen. I thought both were hints that Fett was a bit violent even for Vader's standards.

|improve this answer|||||

Star Wars Disruptor Weapons are pretty much Disintegrator rays. Remember the Sniper from Jedi Outcast/Academy? That thing literally turns it's targets into heaps of ash.

|improve this answer|||||

He probably figured that Boba Fett would be more likely to disintegrate the FALCON. Maybe because of his reputation?

|improve this answer|||||
  • Is there any canon evidence of Fett ever completely disintegrating an entire ship? – phantom42 Jan 9 '15 at 20:01
  • @phantom42 Even if he never actually did it, it could still be part of his reputation. Facts are stupid things, as Ronald Reagan (may have) once said. – KSmarts Jan 9 '15 at 20:46

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.