In retrospect, Vader's whole plan to encase Luke in carbonite seems like a big waste of time:

Vader didn't even know if the carbon-freezing thing would even work safely on humans when he arrived on Bespin (Lando tells Vader that the procedure "might kill [Luke]"). He then goes through all the trouble to test it on Han Solo to make sure it is safe, despite continued protest from Lando and Fett.

So here is my question: why did Vader feel it necessary to have Luke encased in carbonite for the duration of his journey to the Emperor? Why not just put him in some max-security cell on his Super Star Destroyer instead?

  • For the record, taunting your opponent is a known Sith fighting style known as Dun Moch, an attempt to sow doubt in their mind.
    – Valorum
    Jan 8, 2015 at 9:47
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    @Richard - There's a quip about a Sith style known as "retcon" in there, somewhere. Jan 8, 2015 at 16:42
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    @Richard: And I thought it was just me that didn't know wtf he was asking. Jan 8, 2015 at 17:25
  • Hey guys; sorry about my rather awkward first question: I've reformatted it to make it clearer by narrowing the question itself. Jan 8, 2015 at 18:59
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    @TheVerySpecialK - Have you ever heard Luke's incessant bitching and moaning? The guy never shuts up. He is constantly whining about power converters, wanting to join the academy, not liking his blue milk, being crushed in a trash compactor, Obi Wan not telling him stuff, etc. I'm with Vader on this one- it would be impossible to have a pleasant trip from Bespin to the Emperor's palace if Luke was awake and babbling endlessly about how unhappy he is the whole time. Vader would kill Luke, show up with Luke's corpse, riddled with light saber holes, and the Emperor would be furious.
    – Wad Cheber
    Jun 21, 2015 at 0:16

5 Answers 5


Based solely on what we see in the films, I'd say it's because it's the only way to safely transport a hostile Jedi. "Safety" in this instance refers both to the crew's safety, and to Luke's. Here are the various problems I would see with non-Carbonite plans:

  1. Keeping him awake-- Persuasion: Since Jedi are capable of influencing humans, Vader would have to keep the entire crew outside of Persuasion range, and we don't quite know what that is.
  2. Keeping him awake-- Suicide: Vader witnessed Obi-Wan essentially commit suicide, with a cryptic threat that it would make him "more powerful", so he can't risk Luke getting any clever ideas about making himself "one with the force" if left unattended.
  3. Tranquilizers-- Meditation: We know that Jedi can still use the Force while unconscious (in the form of prophetic dreams), and it's feasible to believe that a Jedi in a meditative state could still move objects or influence non-sensitive humans. Because of this, knockout drugs may be unreliable (and I don't believe we've seen such tranquilizers in the films).
  4. Stunners-- Naming all his kids "George": A blaster set to stun would work for an indeterminate amount of time, and would have to be continually re-applied (directly to the forehead) for the duration of the trip. We don't know what sort of side effects this would cause, but I don't imagine repeatedly rendering someone unconscious with a high-energy discharge is good for their brain, but I am not a doctor.
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    I don't know about the fourth point. Isn't there also a daughter named Georgette?
    – KSmarts
    Jan 8, 2015 at 22:06
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    There was, but Disney made her non-canon.
    – Liesmith
    Jan 8, 2015 at 22:06
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    Thanks, I'm glad it was what you were looking for, and you're right about Vader being in a bit of a bind if the process failed. I'm guessing he would use one of the riskier methods if necessary, but that's just an assumption on my part. I think it's also very likely that Vader would only consider the process a failure if Luke was killed or suffered brain-damage. Anything less (including the loss of his eyesight and all of his extremities), wouldn't be an issue for someone he planned on turning to the dark side...he'd just slap him in a robo-suit.
    – Liesmith
    Jan 8, 2015 at 22:51
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    @TylerH, if he'd defended himself and died anyway, then I'd agree. However, he chose to let himself be killed after making a vague threat about becoming "more powerful than you can imagine". He was demonstrating that he not only viewed death as no big deal, but even viewed it as an advantage.
    – Liesmith
    Jul 28, 2015 at 19:54
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    I would think there might be a 5 - Preparation vs Surprise. Luke traveling aboard a ship while conscious has time to mentally prepare to meet the Emperor; a Luke flash-frozen in Carbonite and released in front of the Emperor as had not chance to prepare for such a meeting mentally, and thus is forced to react to the situation on the fly (not to mention the detrimental effects of thawing out, as seen when Han was thawed out).
    – RDFozz
    Jul 17, 2017 at 21:35

Quite simply, he wanted to keep Luke from being dangerous while being transported to the Emperor. Given that Luke was capable of using the force, that's a sure-fire way to transport Luke as a prisoner, with no risk to Luke and/or the other Crew, including Vader, there's no knowing if he would prematurely wake up in transport from tranquilizers or drugs, plus he could probably break out of shackles, steal Vader's lightsaber, hijack the ship, etc. Vader wasn't going to take any chances with Luke.


A cell is far too easy to escape for someone who has half an idea where the controls are and any basic telekinetic ability, and that seems to be the first trick any Jedi learns.

Given that most Jedi are dead, even if there was an easy way to imprison one it wouldn't be nearby or readily available. Putting Luke in a stasis was the most practical option, and the carbon freezer the easiest to get him to.

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    Controls? I would weld it shut.
    – Joshua
    Feb 23, 2015 at 22:20

Perhaps Vader actually planned to take Luke away from the Emperor and train him so they could overthrow him.

Vader surely didn't want his son to be killed or injured which could have happened if Luke were surrounded by hundreds of stormtroopers or even Boba Fett.

I think it would be really interesting to see what Return of the Jedi would have been like if The Empire Strikes Back had ended with both Luke and Han frozen in carbonite. I think Obi-wan would have appeared to Leia, and she would have been trained as a Jedi.

Luke may have faced Vader in front of the Emperor with similar results, but Leia would have had a much more difficult time rescuing Han without Luke.

It sure is fun to think about!


I just have one problem with this entire thing. They are acts like he doesn't already knows if it's possible. But in the Star Wars the Clone Wars animated series there was an episode where Obi-Wan and Anakin Skywalker with a batch of clones were frozen in carbonite in order to sneak past a separatist scanner that could pick up life readings. After their Droid I think it was R2 brought them back to Consciousness they then broke two prisoners one of whom is Tarkin out of the prison in order to get them offworld to secure hyperspace Lanes or something like that. Now I don't remember if everything in Clone Wars the long-running animated series is canon but if it was you would think later would not be playing so aloof. Or more likely Vader remembered how much it hurt was still angry at Han Solo and decided that putting him through that discomfort when not only remove him from the equation of being able to rescues Luke this time but the same time as small bit of Revenge for having had his tail shut off at the Death Star

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    He does it to test the equipment, not to see if it's actually possible.
    – Valorum
    Dec 20, 2017 at 13:31
  • This seems to be another question.
    – Edlothiad
    Dec 20, 2017 at 13:34

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