This question asks: Why did Darth Vader choose to take shots from Han Solo?

I want to know, why did Han shoot first? Did he even know that the mysterious black armour clad figure was a villain? Or was he still using his cold-blooded instincts as he did against Greedo?

  • 3
    As a former Imperial pilot & smuggler who makes it his business to avoid Imperial "entanglements", I'm pretty sure Han would recognize a celebrity of the Empire like Darth Vader. A better question would be "When did Han find out Darth Vader was his father-in-law?"
    – Omegacron
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 17:52

4 Answers 4


Well at the end of "A New Hope" Han like Luke saw Vader kill Obi-Wan so when he sees this same figure again he thinks I can't beat this guy with a blade so might as well shoot him. I think this split-second reaction has everything to do with his years of being a smuggler when you see someone who means you harm you shoot first and ask questions later.

Edit: I found this link to the the fight between Vader and Kenobi you see at about the 3 minute mark that Han and Luke start shooting at the Storm troopers that were watching Vader's fight. You also see Han telling Luke to shoot the door as he can see reinforcements coming down the hallway including Vader.

  • Ahh, I couldn't recall if or when Han had seen him.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 15:14
  • 24
    Han always shoots first doesn't he...
    – NominSim
    Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 15:21
  • 3
    @NominSim - dang right he does!
    – Mark Allen
    Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 22:48

Vader was a figure head and chief boogie man of the Emperor. Everyone knew of him... I suspect some doubted his existence and more doubted his powers until they found themselves unable to breathe.

That said his armor was quite similar to that of the storm-troopers. So even if Han did not see him before the fact that he was accompanied by storm-troopers, and looked similar, was probably a good clue that he was a bad guy.

  • "That said his armor was quite similar to that of the storm-troopers." - Vader, Stormtrooper ... I think that statement needs some further explanations. Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 15:25
  • The Navy command didn't seem too impressed with him, even after the force choke. They only sent 2 Tie fighters out with him to face the attack.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 23:37

Also, Han was a member of the Imperial Navy. He saved Chewbacca from slavery. He was discharged from the military and went into smuggling. While I do not recall him knowing who Darth Vader was in the books, I would assume that the Sith Lords would have been at least identifiable by their military.

  • Upvoted, but I don't think that's canon
    – Gaius
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 6:30

I'd have expected Vader to be pretty infamous.

Perhaps Han didn't recognise him immediately, but when prompted realised that this guy was the black-clad Imperial assassin who's fond of swords that he'd heard about from other smugglers some years back. He'd never paid much attention to that idea, since most of the Imperials he'd ever met were boorish bureaucratic slugs.

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