I know that the reason Han Solo picked up Luke and Ben Kenobi as passengers was because he owed some money to Jabba (and for that was later put in Carbonite since he didn't pay - Bad Move, dude!).

But was it ever stated in the movies what he owned Jabba the money for?

3 Answers 3


TL;DR: It was hinted at in the movies, and then explained in detail later in EU books (more specifically, Rebel Dawn - the 3rd book in the Han Solo trilogy).

In A New Hope, Greedo, while infamously chatting with Solo before Han shot him first he tried to shoot Han, says:

Greedo: Jabba's through with you! He has no use 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?

It doesn't provide any more details. (There's a chance that the Special Edition Han + Jabba scene has more info, but I will just pretend the Special Edition never happened)

In Rebel Dawn, the exact back-story of this is shown.

Han is (near the end of the book) one of Jabba's best (and favorite) pilots.

Jabba tells him to deliver some Glitterstim.

In the process, during the Kessel run, he is ambushed by some Imperials and forced to dump the contraband in the Maw when he discovers that boarding is imminent, when - after a record-setting run that set the famous "12 parsecs" record - he gets OUT of the black hole region only to find a second Imperial patrol waiting for him.

"Chewie, we ain't gonna be able to outrun these Imps," Han said. "And we're out-gunned. But we've lost that guy on our tail, at least for the moment. I think if we can get far enough ahead, we should go ahead and dump the load just inside the Pit..."

He hopes to pick up the drugs later, but when he finally has a chance to return, there's no trace of the shipment.

The extra candy is that this specific backstory ALSO includes the infamous "12 Parsecs Kessel Run" retcon!

Now the last Imperial ship was falling behind... and the Falcon was nearly out of the Maw.

... Moments later they were safe in hyperspace. Han slumped back in his seat. ... As he sagged in his seat, Han noticed something.

... Hans eyes narrowed. "Hey, this is weird," he said. "It says we actually shortened the distance we traveled, not just the time. Less than twelve parsecs!"

Chewie growled skeptically and rapped on the distance gauge with hairy knuckles, commenting that Han's wild piloting must have caused a short and the gauge was off. "... But I did do it in under twelve parsecs ...." he thought stubbornly.

  • 10
    Way out! You're like the Slytherincess Light of Star Wars, just with less quotes :)
    – YHZ
    Commented Jan 21, 2012 at 23:34
  • 4
    +1 for a well-researched answer... and also for ignoring the Special Editions ;)
    – Andres F.
    Commented Jan 22, 2012 at 0:31
  • 4
    @YHZ -- He's the brains, sweetheart ;) (I can quote Star Wars too -- aren't you glad I stay over at HP?) -- :) Commented Jan 22, 2012 at 14:25
  • 10
    +1 solely for the strike-through "Han shot him first"
    – bitmask
    Commented Jan 22, 2012 at 16:10
  • Thankfully the extended universe is also not that canon, so I can still pretend that Han was just trying to pull a fast one on an unsuspecting farm boy and his old man (Obi-Wan, an actual experienced pilot himself, saw right through it.)
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 20:11

It's alluded to in the movie that Han had been smuggling cargo for Jabba, but had to jettison it when he thought he was going to be boarded by Imperial forces. The cost of the cargo is what he owed him.


DVK already posted the relevant quote from the conversation between Han and Greedo that appeared in the movie, but there is of course the controversial deleted scene where Han and Jabba meet. The original scene cast Jabba as a human, and was added back in later releases with a CGI Jabba taking his place. Whatever you may think about the scene, the script clarifies the point:

JABBA: Han, Han! If only you hadn't had to dump that shipment of spice...you understand I just can't make an exception. Where would I be if every pilot who smuggled for me dumped their shipment at the first sign of an Imperial starship? It's not good business.

HAN: You know, even I get boarded sometimes, Jabba. I had no choice, but I've got a charter now and I can pay you back, plus a little extra. I just need some more time.


From the original novel, which was alluded to in the movie, Han had dumped a shipment of "spice" while being pursued and eventually boarded by Imperials. Jabba wanted compensation (it's not like Lloyd's of London would have insured the shipment), and Han was pretty much broke except for his ship, which he persuaded Jabba to let him keep so he could work off the debt. Jabba agreed, obviously with some subtle hints as to his low level of patience.

It's unknown exactly what "spice" is in this universe, other than it was probably inspired by the Dune novels. It's likely just some sort of hallucinogenic plant-based drug, like marijuana or salvia, rather than having the "awareness spectrum" properties of the Dune universe.

  • 4
    Your answer not merely duplicates small parts of the others, but is wrong. It IS known which spice - it's covered in accepted answer. You should read others' answers before adding your own. Commented Feb 17, 2012 at 2:23
  • Upvoted as I believe that this is still a canon answer whereas the book quoted in the accepted answer is no longer canon. Commented Dec 30, 2016 at 10:43

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