1. Availability of other options: Given the size of the Imperial Fleet and the Super Star Destroyer alone that Darth Vader traveled on, there must have been some prisoners or disobedient stormtroopers or failed captains for Darth Vader to choose from. In addition, there could have been some non-compliant citizens or prisons in Cloud City itself to choose from. Therefore, why did Darth Vader choose specifically to put Boba Fett's bounty at risk instead of say, some anonymous character in the story?

  2. Respect for Boba Fett: It's clear that Vader has some level of respect for Boba Fett, so when Boba Fett says "He's worth a lot to me", couldn't Vader have said "We will use prisoner X instead, possibly Leia or Chewbacca", instead of "The Empire will compensate you for your loss"? Or even put Chewbacca in for pushing those stormtroopers around in protest before Han was frozen.

See here for the scene in question.

  • 41
    The man was taking liberties with his daughter. If it was me, I'd double dip Han in carbonite. Jan 5, 2015 at 8:12
  • 60
    The real reason? Harrison Ford did not sign a contract to do all of the movies, and was undecided as to whether he wanted to continue. So George Lucas put the character 'on ice' in case he did not return. Jan 5, 2015 at 8:28
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    @AndrewThompson: And wrote the character of Lando Calrissian, starring Billy Dee Williams, a previous candidate for Han Solo, as a replacement. Jan 5, 2015 at 9:17
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    vader simply wanted to do something that would distress lukes freinds enough to get him to cloud city. since he also had freezing luke in carbonite as an option, he decided to test it on out han, as han is completly expendable. Leia on the other hand is still an importent political hostage, and chewy probably is a decent hostage as well.
    – Himarm
    Jan 5, 2015 at 15:16
  • 1
    I figure it was a "welcome to the family!" greeting: he'd tortured Leia in A New Hope, then tortured her again, so torturing her boyfriend wasn't that much of a big deal, so he had to do something bigger. Cue evil laugh. Muahahaahaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
    – Mikasa
    Jul 18, 2015 at 17:20

6 Answers 6


Chewbacca is a Wookiee, and therefore testing the device on him would be pointless; his physiology is completely different from a human's.

Leia is female and much smaller in stature than Solo or Skywalker, so the test would not be as effective on her. She is more likely to die than Skywalker, so her death in the test would prove nothing, and be wasteful besides.

There is no evidence that Vader is the kind of person who bothers to take prisoners. He has a distinct, 'choke first, ask questions during the choking, then dispose of the corpse later' policy when it comes to interrogations. High-profile prisoners, such as Leia, seem to be the sole exception to this rule, and they would be too important to risk. From a film-making standpoint, there's also no reason for the audience to care about a random prisoner, even a Rebel.

Solo is roughly Skywalker's size and build, the same species, the same gender, already a prisoner, and already on his way to Jabba's the second Vader doesn't need him anymore. All that is at risk is a few hundred thousand credits extra thrown Fett's way if Solo dies. That's a very simple write-off.

EDIT: There's another issue I didn't think of. Luke can feel Han and Leia being tortured from light-years away. Vader suspects his son has this ability, but he doesn't know it for certain. There's no reason for Vader to assume that Luke has already detected his torture and is on his way. In fact, his initial decision to confine Leia and Chewbacca to Cloud City--presumably with a Star Destroyer or two hiding on the far side of the planet--would seem to imply that he was settling in for a long-term wait.

It is only after Solo is frozen that Vader changes his mind and orders Leia and Chewie taken to his ship; incidentally, they are taken on a route that leads Luke to stumble across the carbon freeze chamber. As they were already in the chamber when Vader made that decision, this is obviously an unnecessarily circuitous route, designed to lead Luke to Vader. This happens to coincide with Luke's arrival at Bespin.

Vader, in other words, was originally freezing Han not only with the intention of testing the carbon freeze for "the Emperor's prize," but also wanted to inflict a little extra torture on Solo for Luke to sense. Luke's arrival rendered the rest of the plan, to leave Leia and Chewie as bait while allowing the Empire, and probably Fett, to spread the word of their presence on Bespin far and wide, moot, so Vader abandoned it. He may also have intended a watch on Luke's arrival at Tatooine, in case he went after Han at Jabba's palace before coming to rescue Leia and Chewie. None of that mattered when Luke arrived at the planet during the test on Solo.

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    Perfect answer, although I don't imagine freezing Solo would inflict much torture on him. He was brave right to the end. Maybe the torture was directed at Leia. All that emotional distress was bound to call out to Luke. Jan 5, 2015 at 11:16
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    I see no evidence that Vader disposes of the bodies after they've been choked. That's what assistants are for.
    – Valorum
    Jan 5, 2015 at 11:39
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    @Richard: Technically, throwing a dead Rebel into a wall counts as disposing, since he's not dangling from your hand anymore. Jan 5, 2015 at 11:41
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    @ThePoopMachine: I don't know what you're talking about. I never make typoes. Seriously, I suspect my tablet auto-corrected that, but maybe it's my stuff up. I doubt it though, since I wouldn't put a space between the two names. Jan 5, 2015 at 15:21
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    I would also think that Leia, as one of the rebel leaders, might still prove valuable. Han, on the other hand, was completely expendable to Vader.
    – Omegacron
    Jan 5, 2015 at 16:21

Vader and Fett obviously have previous history with prisoners:

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.

BOBA FETT: As you wish.

Although current canon doesn't make a reference to what the incident was, it's plain that Fett had previously disintegrated someone who Vader didn't want disintegrated at some time in the past.

Bearing this in mind, the conversation in the carbon-freezing chamber makes sense: it's just Vader's petty revenge by way of taking a risk with someone Fett wanted alive.

This is also referred to in an earlier conversation between Fett and Vader (when Solo is being tortured):

BOBA FETT: He's no good to me dead.

VADER: He will not be permanently damaged.

  • 3
    This also fits his character as defined in the additional context of Ep 1-3 and Clone Wars. Anakin Skywalker doesn't analyze things out to the Nth degree; he's bold, insightful, impulsive and vindictive and will do whatever it takes to win. His total experience with family (mother and wife) is that more powerful men will use them to control you. So makes sense that he'd use Luke's friend in this way; perhaps Leia would have been his first choice but he couldn't resist the chance to get back at Boba.
    – Bryce
    Jan 6, 2015 at 10:27
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    I'm not sure personally that that first exchange implies previous personal history. I've always just assumed that its an MO and that bounties are usually done dead (by disintegration) rather than alive. If he had pissed him off in the past I can't imagine Vader being a second chance kind of guy...
    – Chris
    Jan 6, 2015 at 19:06
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    @Chris - if you re-watch the scene (youtube.com/…) you'll see that Vader is addressing Fett specifically (and even pointing at him and wagging his finger) when he says "no disintegration". I'm not sure if there's any other way to read that.
    – user8719
    Jan 7, 2015 at 12:17
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    @DarthSatan: My point is if Fett has a standard MO of disintegrating his targets then it is perfectly reasonable Vader would know about this and tell him not to use his standard MO. I suspect we will just have to agree to disagree on this one but I am not happy with the idea of Vader costing Fett the bounty as petty revenge. This is a dark lord of the sith, passive aggressive revenge just doesn't seem right. It occurs to me a compromise interpretation may be that he has disintegrated targets for other clients who didn't want it, causing vader to warn him against doing it for him...
    – Chris
    Jan 7, 2015 at 12:31
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    @Chris - he's also a whiny teenager with self-entitlement issues ;) - but you're right, we'll have to agree to disagree.
    – user8719
    Jan 7, 2015 at 13:02

Why put Boba Fett's bounty at risk, and possibly upset Jabba the Hutt? Darth Vader serves the Emperor, and nobody else, and he might like the opportunity to emphasize that. And risking Han Solo's death instead of handing him over to Fett and eventually Jabba the Hutt, might just do that.

Offering compensation to Boba Fett seems to contradict that, though. On the other hand, look at this from Jabba's point of view: he wants to make an example of Han Solo, to show what happens to smugglers who lose his cargo. Han dying in Vader's freeze test does not serve Jabba at all. So perhaps Vader respects Boba Fett enough to offer him compensation (he employed him after all; he might want to employ him again later), but he has no reason to please some crime boss who likes to style himself as some sort of small-time emperor. If Jabba wants something from the Empire, he should come groveling, and not blindly expect Vader to do what he wants.

  • 1
    This is not an answer, but a comment. Please don't write comments as answers. Jan 5, 2015 at 14:37
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    It's an answer to the question that was asked. If I'd written this as a comment, people would be totally justified in telling me not to write answers as comments.
    – mcv
    Jan 5, 2015 at 14:43
  • No, it's not. The question was why did Vader choose to test the carbonite on Han, not why he offered compensation to Fett. Jan 5, 2015 at 14:49
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    Also, I don't believe it's accurate to say "Han Dying does't not serve Jabba at all". Greedo was quite happy to blast Han to collect the bounty, which suggests Jabba put the bounty on Han, dead or alive. Jan 5, 2015 at 15:37
  • @MikeyMouse: I'm making sure auto-correct doesn't make you a Disney character again. I think Jabba had two separate bounties on Solo's head, one for him dead, and a larger bounty for Solo alive, presumably so he could "teach him some manners first," to quote noted Huttese gangster Gambol. The Legends canon seems to suggest this in Tales of the Bounty Hunters, where several different prices are quoted for Solo, though it is never outright stated. Jan 5, 2015 at 21:37

Well, how about this: When Han Solo put Vader out of action at the end of ANH, he was single-handedly responsible for both saving the Rebel Alliance from being wiped out and allowing the Death Star to be destroyed. I don't think it's a stretch to say Vader would have known about Han Solo's involvement, either through the force or having come upon the information through the Empire's Intelligence channels. In Vader's position, I believe Han solo would be the ideal candidate to test the carbonite freezing—the perfect candidate, one might say.


The reason Vader chose Han Solo is because it was revenge for Solo tripping up his ship just before the Death Star was destroyed, and also because Solo was extremely difficult to catch in a chase -- so freezing him and making him perfectly still must have been satisfying on some level.

  • Your point about revenge from the first Death Star is a clever point. But why didn't Vader test carbonite freezing on someone else and then freeze Solo after seeing that it worked? Then Vader would get revenge but wouldn't risk killing Solo.
    – Null
    Jan 6, 2015 at 16:39
  • Because it was the anguish and pain that Leia, Chewbacca, and Solo experienced before and after the freezing that drew Luke into Vader's trap. Also, Solo's life being at risk created a sense of danger that heightened Luke's need to help them and drive him to Cloud City.
    – Vanamali
    Jan 6, 2015 at 17:17
  • Vader would still get the effect of anguish/pain if he test-froze an anonymous character (as suggested by the asker) and then froze Solo. Vader could have tested the freezing on an anonymous character to verify that it wouldn't kill anyone, and then frozen Solo while making the Rebels believe he was testing it on him. Same sense of danger, but without the risk to Vader and Fett.
    – Null
    Jan 6, 2015 at 17:22
  • You have to also consider that it's a film and meant to be dramatic and create tension in the audience. Vader freezing an anonymous person wouldn't achieve that result. But since we are all emotionally connected to Han Solo, it does. Han Solo getting frozen is one of the defining moments of the whole Star Wars filmology. It's one of the dramatic ideas that makes it continue to resonate with audiences decades later. In fact, I would say that the entire Cloud City sequence is the most important thing that made Star Wars so great. After that, it was all downhill, in my opinion.
    – Vanamali
    Jan 6, 2015 at 18:26

I think I have a good reason. First Luke would be more likely to want to rescue his friend than a stormtrooper. Second like someone said before Chewbacca isn't even human. Pointless! Leia is a female. Also pointless! Andrew Thompson thank for that reason of Harrison Ford's contract thing. Fourth Bobba Fett wanted to collect the bounty placed on him. Who agrees?

  • 3
    This seems more like you're restating the answers above than providing an answer of your own.
    – Valorum
    Jan 9, 2015 at 20:07

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