11

As we know from the seemingly endless retcons of the Han Solo versus Greedo scene in Star Wars (1977) — regardless of who shot first — Greedo seemed to be fine with killing Han to collect the bounty on Han:

Greedo threatens Han in the Cantina

Greedo says this after Han says, “Over my dead body.” So Greedo’s response clearly confirms he’s fine with killing Han to reach his bounty hunting goal.

Then we get to the The Empire Strikes Back (1980). Han has to leave the Rebel Alliance because of a bounty hunter he ran into on Ord Mantell. Okay, that makes sense…

But then a little bit later in the film we see Darth Vader assembling a group of bounty hunters on the Executor to personally instruct and direct them on finding the Millennium Falcon and its passengers. As quoted in the script Vader says the following; bold emphasis is mine:

…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 disintegrations.

“No disintegrations.”

Okay, so what just happened on the bridge of the Executor?

  • Did Darth Vader just do a “hostile takeover” of the bounty Jabba had in place?
  • Did he simply offer more for Solo being captured alive to — effectively — remove the risk of him being randomly killed by a bounty hunter?
  • Did Jabba the Hutt in some “Honor amongst theives…” mindset simply back off from his bounty because Vader is Vader and you just don’t want to mess with him?

Heck, Boba Fett clearly says this to Vader in Cloud City:

“What if he doesn’t survive… He’s worth a lot to me…”

What?!? So Greedo could kill Solo and get a bounty, but Boba Fett needed him alive? Was Boba Fett just hoping to get more of a reward for a live capture?

I know this might read as multiple questions, but the overall question is simply this:

Did the terms of the bounty on Han Solo change between “Star Wars” (1977) and “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980)? Or are all of these discrepancies explained by basic underworld politics and improvisation on the part of all parties?


Looking for in-universe, canonical explanations; not armchair speculation and theories. If none (currently) exist, legends explanation would suffice. Regardless, please provide references and context.

  • 2
    Greedo never fired a shot. For all we know his blaster could have been set to stun. – Jack Nov 28 '19 at 3:46
  • @Jack True! And that is why I am posting this question. – JakeGould Nov 28 '19 at 3:50
  • 4
    I just figured that when Han fails to pay him off again after ANH, Jabba is so pissed off that making an example of Han isn't enough, Jabba wants to personally kill him. :) – DavidW Nov 28 '19 at 4:42
  • @DavidW Yes, could be… But I would like to know if there is any in-universe explanation as to what happened. My assumption is Darth Vader would have known about the bounty on Han and called all of these bounty hunters to his ship to basically say, “Look, Jabba wants him dead… I want him alive and I will pay more…” But then you think about Boba Fett’s concern about the carbonite freezing and it’s like… “Wait… Boba Fett now cares about his bounty being alive or dead?” Thus this question. – JakeGould Nov 28 '19 at 4:45
  • 2
    @JakeGould, Vader wasn't setting bounty for Han Solo, he wanted to get Millennium Falcon, the ship that had the Alderaan princess that gave him a lot of troubles previously. And some kid that made him feel strange, and that kid was hanging with his ex-master. Han was so unimportant, so he was used as a guinea pig later. – user28434 Nov 28 '19 at 12:03
15

Jabba the Hutt and Darth Vader are after different members of the same party.

While Darth Vader may bear a slight grudge against the crew of the Millennium Falcon for interfering with his shot in A New Hope and for being rebel scum in general, he is not after them.
Darth Vader is after his son, Luke Skywalker. Whether Lord Vader believes Luke to be on the Millennium Falcon or not, he needs Luke's friends, who are aboard the Millennium Falcon, to set a trap.

DARTH VADER: "You are free to use any methods necessary, but I want them alive. No disintegrations."

Jabba the Hutt on the other hand, wants Han Solo and Chewbacca, since they owe him a large sum of money. To recoup his losses, he will want them alive, but to set an example to other smugglers in his service, they're still of use to him if dead.

JABBA: "Han, I can't make exceptions. What if everyone who smuggled for me dropped their cargo at the first sign of an Imperial starship? It's not good business."
[...]
JABBA: "But if you fail me again, I'll put a price on your head so big, you won't be able to go near a civilized system."

Perhaps their bounties are set at different levels for dead vs alive.

Greedo seems trigger happy.

GREEDO: "Going somewhere, Solo?"
HAN SOLO: "Yes, Greedo, as a matter of fact I was just going to see your boss. Tell Jabba that I've got his money."
GREEDO: "It's too late, you should have paid him when you had the chance. Jabba's put a price on your head so large every bounty hunter in the galaxy will be looking for you. I'm lucky I found you first."
HAN SOLO: "Yeah, but this time I've got the money."
GREEDO: "If you give it to me, I might forget I found you."
HAN SOLO: "I don't have it with me. Tell Jabba--"
GREEDO: "Jabba's through with you. He has no time for smugglers who drop their shipments at the first sign of an Imperial cruiser."
HAN SOLO: "Even I get boarded sometimes. Do you think I had a choice?"
GREEDO: "You can tell that to Jabba. He may only take your ship."
HAN SOLO: "Over my dead body."
GREEDO: "That's the idea. I've been looking forward to this for a long time."
HAN SOLO: "Yes, I'll bet you have."

Here we see Greedo shifting between bringing Han Solo to Jabba to collect his bounty, to taking the money from Han instead (and perhaps still trying to collect the bounty afterwards), to just getting over the hassle by shooting Han. Greedo may have been looking forward to shooting him because of a personal grudge, or maybe just because he thought him a cocky (insert epithet here).

Boba Fett is strictly business.

Boba Fett just needs Han Solo and Chewbacca to collect their bounties. Darth Vader's remark was unnecessary. He seems to need Han Solo alive.

BOBA FETT: "What if he doesn't survive? He's worth a lot to me."
DARTH VADER: "The Empire will compensate you if he dies. Put him in!"

Since it was already established that Jabba's bounty can still be collected with the dead bodies of Han and Chewie, it follows that the bounty must be higher if alive (for which Boba Fett would be compensated if Han died).

Also note that Darth Vader didn't particularly care about Han Solo; Vader sees him as an expendable test subject for the carbon-freezing chamber.

TL;DR:

  • Jabba the Hutt wants Han Solo and Chewbacca, dead or alive.
  • Darth Vader wants Luke Skywalker and needs his friends alive to set a trap.
  • Both have issued competing — but not incompatible — bounties on their heads.
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8

I think there are a couple of things going on here which make for a somewhat complicated situation.

It was personal

In the conversation Greedo makes it clear that he is to take Han back to Jabba.

Han Solo: Even I get boarded sometimes. Do you think I had a choice?

Greedo: You can tell that to Jabba. He may only take your ship.

Star Wars: A New Hope

However, when he goes to kill Han he makes it clear that it was a personal matter over some sort of grudge and he wanted to kill Han. It's not clear if he still would have gotten a bounty here or if it didn't matter and he just wanted the satisfaction of killing him.

Han Solo: Over my dead body.

Greedo: That's the idea. I've been looking forward to killing you for a long time.

Han Solo: Yes, I'll bet you have.

Star Wars: A New Hope

It wasn't a Solo mission

When Vader hires the bounty hunters he's after all aboard the Falcon not just Solo. On top of that he is rewarding them with a "substantial reward" which I would assume would be larger than what Jabba is offering for just Han. Even if Jabba's bounty "so large that every bounty hunter in the galaxy will be looking for you." Vader is after Han and the rest aboard and wants them alive and has a good group of bounty hunters willing to take it up. It's clear there's a large reward coming.

Darth 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 disintegrations.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

And of course he's Darth Vader, I doubt once he'd collected them there they'd end up refusing him.

Bounties on bounties on bounties

Darth Vader's bounty is to capture the Falcon and those on board which includes Han. Any sane minded bounty hunter would take that contract up and then take Jabba's up because they work hand in hand together. Han isn't worth much to Vader but he is worth something to Boba and Jabba and so that is why he wants him alive.

Boba Fett: What if he doesn't survive… He's worth a lot to me...

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

They're not Jabba's staff

Bounty hunters don't necessarily work for Jabba, they've just taken up the contract because of how lucrative it will be for them. It wasn't that Vader took over Jabba's bounty or Jabba stood aside, they both had competing (and hand-in-hand) bounties up at the same time. It's just that as explained above it makes most sense to take up Vader's then Jabba's bounty.

Greedo: It's too late. You should have paid him when you had the chance. Jabba's put a price on your head, so large that every bounty hunter in the galaxy will be looking for you. I'm lucky I found you first.

Star Wars: A New Hope

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5

In the added scene in Star Wars: A New Hope where Solo and Jabba talk outside the Falcon, Jabba accepts the offer of repayment for the lost shipment (plus 15%) and allows Solo to leave for Alderaan. He also threatens Solo with an even worse bounty if he should fail to return and pay.

[Han arrives at Docking Bay 94 and sees a familiar face]

Jabba the Hutt: [in Huttese] Solo! Come out of there, Solo! Solo!!

Han Solo: Right here, Jabba. [Jabba and his henchmen turn around to see Han and Chewbacca] I've been waiting for you.

Jabba: Have you now.

Han: You didn't think I was gonna run, did you?

Jabba: Han, my boy, you disappoint me. Why haven't you paid me? And why did you fry poor Greedo?

Han: Look, Jabba, next time you wanna talk to me, come see me yourself. Don't send one of these twerps.

Jabba: Han, I can't make exceptions. What if everyone who smuggled for me dropped their cargo at the first sign of an Imperial starship? It's not good for business.

Han: Look, Jabba, even I get boarded sometimes. [accidentally steps on Jabba's tail] Did you think I had a choice? But I got a nice easy charter now; I'll pay you back, plus a little extra. I just need a little more time.

Jabba: Han, my boy, you're the best smuggler I ever hired. So, for an extra twenty percent...

Han: Fifteen, Jabba, and don't push it.

Jabba: Okay, fifteen percent. But if you fail me again, I'll put a price on your head so big, you won't be able to go near a civilized system.

Han: Jabba, you're a wonderful human being.

Jabba: [orders minions] Come on. [Jabba's gang leaves with bounty hunter Boba Fett following behind.]

So, the bounty that Boba Fett is seeking to claim in The Empire Strikes Back is an entirely different bounty from the one Greedo was trying to collect.

Vader’s bounty on Han and the other occupants is parallel to Jabba’s bounty - and the other answers already deal with this part.

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  • Fantastic new answer! Considering that newly added scene is canon now, these details are great. Methanols for updating the answer with script soecifics. – JakeGould Nov 29 '19 at 21:02
-2

As I remember The Empire Strikes Back happens about 3 years after Star Wars, and possibly Jabba the Hutt changed the terms of the bounty on Han Solo during that time.

Perhaps Jabba originally offered a bounty for Solo's death, but later decided he didn't want Han Solo to die a quick death but wanting him alive to torture to death, and then when Han was delivered frozen in Carbonite Jabba decided to keep him that way as a wall decoration and a warning to others.

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  • Sorry, but I am am looking for in-universe, canonical explanations; not armchair speculation and theories. If none (currently) exist, legends explanation would suffice. Regardless, please provide references and context. – JakeGould Nov 28 '19 at 16:01

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