Han Solo is introduced in Star Wars (1977), when he and his co-pilot Chewbacca accept a charter request to transport Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, C-3PO, and R2-D2 from Tatooine to Alderaan on their ship, the Millennium Falcon. Han owes crime lord Jabba the Hutt a great deal of money and has a price on his head. Bounty hunter Greedo tries to deliver Solo to Jabba, dead or alive, but after a failed attempt to extort the money as a bribe for letting him go, Han shoots first and kills Greedo. Han then prepares to leave Tatooine.
He and his passengers are attacked by Imperial stormtroopers, but escape by accelerating to light speed. When they arrive at Alderaan, however, they discover that the planet has been destroyed by the Empire. The Falcon is then captured and held within the Death Star, a moon-sized battle station constructed by the Empire. Han and company hide from detection inside the Falcon's smuggling bays, and infiltrate the station disguised as stormtroopers. They discover that Princess Leia Organa is a prisoner on board, and Luke convinces Han to help rescue her by promising him a huge reward. They rescue Leia and escape, though Obi-Wan is killed by Sith Lord Darth Vader.
After delivering Luke, Leia, C-3PO, and R2-D2 to the Rebel Alliance, Han and Chewbacca receive a payment for their services and prepare to leave. Luke asks Han to stay and help the Rebels attack the Death Star, but he refuses, not wanting to get involved. Han has a change of heart and returns to save Luke's life during the film's climactic battle scene, ultimately enabling Luke to destroy the Death Star. For his heroics, Han is presented with a medal of honor alongside Luke and Chewbacca.
The Empire Strikes Back
Three years later, Han is a colonel with the Rebel Alliance, and serving on the Rebels' base on the frozen planet of Hoth. While out on patrol with Luke, they witness a meteor strike the surface. Han returns to base while Luke decides to investigate. Han informs Leia that he must leave in order to clear his debt with Jabba the Hutt. Before he can depart, it is discovered that Luke has not returned from his reconnaissance. Han rides out alone into the frozen Hoth wastelands, soon finding Luke badly injured and near death from exposure. Using his friend's lightsaber, Han cuts open his tauntaun, providing Luke warmth while he builds a shelter until they can be rescued the next morning.
Later, Han and Chewbacca are sent out to investigate another meteor strike. They discover that the 'meteor' is actually an Imperial Probe Droid. The two succeed in destroying the probe, but not before the Empire is alerted to the location of the Rebel base.
When the Empire attacks, Han, Chewie, Leia, and C-3PO narrowly escape on board the Millennium Falcon. Han evades a squad of Imperial TIE fighters by flying through an asteroid field, and unwittingly flies into the mouth of a giant worm. Han and Leia fall in love during the long journey. They manage to hide from the Imperial fleet long enough to escape, but not entirely unnoticed. Bounty hunter Boba Fett secretly follows the Falcon during this getaway.
Han and company eventually end up at the Bespin system's Cloud City seeking repairs and shelter from his old friend Lando Calrissian, the city's administrator. However, Fett had arrived first and alerted the Empire. Lando betrays Han to the Empire, and Vader has Han tortured. Vader wishes to capture Luke by freezing him in carbonite, and subjects Han to the freezing process first to test its lethality. Han survives, and Fett leaves for Tatooine with his frozen body in tow to collect the bounty from Jabba.
Return of the Jedi
Han, still imprisoned in carbonite, is now Jabba's favorite decoration at his palace on Tatooine. Luke attempts a rescue operation aided by Leia, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2, and a repentant Lando, but they are caught. Jabba sentences Han and Luke to die in the Sarlaac Pit. Luke, Leia, and Han overpower their captors and Leia kills Jabba enabling their escape.
Retreating back to the Rebel Base, they discover that the Empire is building another Death Star which orbits the forest moon of Endor. Following his return, Han is made a general in the Rebel Alliance along with Leia. Reuniting with Luke after his return from Dagobah, Han leads the Rebels down to Endor to take down the force field surrounding the battle station, which is still under construction. With help from the native Ewoks, Han and his team destroy the Death Star's shield generator, allowing Lando and his strike force to destroy the Death Star. Han then reunites with Leia and Luke on Endor to celebrate the defeat of the Empire.
The Force Awakens
In The Force Awakens, set approximately 30 years after Return of the Jedi, Han has returned to his old life as a smuggler. Before the events of the film, he and Chewbacca had lost the Millennium Falcon to thieves, but they reclaim the ship after it takes off from the planet Jakku, piloted by the scavenger Rey and the renegade stormtrooper Finn. As mercenaries close in on them, Han takes the Falcon into light speed, and they get away.
When Han learns that Rey is looking for Luke, who disappeared years before, he takes them to Maz Kanata, who can deliver the droid BB-8 to the Resistance against the tyrannical First Order, the new version of the old Galactic Empire. They are forced to flee when First Order troops descend upon them. Han is impressed with Rey's piloting skills, and offers her a job on the Falcon. She declines his offer, but comes to think of him as a mentor and father figure. When Rey is kidnapped by the First Order, Han sees her being carried off by First Order commander Kylo Ren, whom Han seems to recognize.
Han and Finn meet with the Resistance, which is led by Leia, whom Han has not seen in many years. It is then revealed that Ren is their son, birth name Ben Solo, who trained as a Jedi under Luke. However, he was corrupted by the First Order's Supreme Leader Snoke, and turned to the dark side. As Kylo Ren, he betrayed the Republic and destroyed the Jedi – much like his grandfather, Darth Vader. Heartbroken by Ben's betrayal, Han and Leia separated, while Luke went into exile. Leia asks Han to find Ben and bring him home, convinced that there is still good in him.
Han and Chewbacca go with Finn to the First Order's battle station, Starkiller Base, to destroy the base and rescue Rey. There, he sees Ren walk onto the bridge above the reactor chasm. Han follows Ren onto the bridge, and calls out to him by his real name. Han pleads with him to abandon the dark side and come back with him, warning him that Snoke will kill him once he has taken control of the galaxy. Ren tells Han that he knows what he should do, but that he doesn't have the strength to do it, and asks Han to help him. Han agrees. After a moment, Ren ignites his lightsaber, stabbing and mortally wounding his father. Han looks into his son's eyes and touches his face before falling off the bridge to his death in the reactor.
A film featuring Han Solo before the events of the 1977 film was released on May 25, 2018. Actor Alden Ehrenreich portrays Han in the film, which also stars Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke, and Woody Harrelson. In the film, young Han is characterized to be an orphan on the planet Corellia. He and his lover, Qi'ra, attempt to escape from a criminal gang and bribe an Imperial officer with a stolen sample of coaxium, a powerful hyperspace fuel, in exchange for passage on an outgoing transport, but Qi'ra is apprehended before she can board. Han vows to return for her and joins the Imperial Navy as a flight cadet. He is given the surname "Solo" by the recruiting officer.
Three years later, Han has been expelled from the Imperial Flight Academy for insubordination. While serving as an infantryman during a battle, he encounters a gang of criminals posing as Imperial soldiers led by Tobias Beckett. He tries to blackmail them into taking him with them, but Beckett has him arrested for desertion and thrown into a pit to be fed to a beast – a Wookiee named Chewbacca. Able to speak Chewbacca's language, Han persuades him to work together to escape their confinement. In need of extra hands, Beckett rescues the two and enlists them in the gang's plot to steal a shipment of coaxium, which goes awry. Han and Chewbacca then accompany Beckett to explain their failure to Dryden Vos, a high-ranking crime boss in the Crimson Dawn syndicate and Beckett's boss. They also find Qi'ra, who is now Vos's top lieutenant. Han suggests a risky plan to steal unrefined coaxium from the mines on the planet Kessel; Vos approves but insists that Qi'ra accompany the team.
Qi'ra leads them to Lando Calrissian, an accomplished smuggler and pilot who she hopes will lend them his ship. Han challenges Lando to a game of sabacc, with the wager being Lando's ship. Lando cheats to win but agrees to join the mission in exchange for a share of the profits. The team boards his ship, the Millennium Falcon, and heads for Kessel. The theft is a success partly thanks to Han piloting the ship through a dangerous uncharted route, but Han and Qi'ra become sympathetic to the cause of the rebels who are trying to prevent the syndicates and the Galactic Empire from gaining greater domination over the galaxy. They try to trick Vos, but Beckett has already alerted him to the double-cross. Vos sends his guards to kill the rebels, but having anticipated Vos's strategy, Han warns the rebels who kill the guards instead, leaving Vos defenseless. Han then tries to take the coaxium, only for Beckett to betray Vos, escape with the coaxium and take Chewbacca hostage. Though pressured to kill Han in order to prove her loyalty to Vos, Qi'ra instead kills Vos and sends Han after Beckett before contacting Vos's superior, Maul.
Han catches up to Beckett and kills him, and he and Chewbacca turn the coaxium over to the rebels. Their leader, Enfys Nest, offers Han a chance to join them; when he declines, she gives him one vial of coaxium, enough to buy a ship of his own. Han and Chewbacca track down Lando, who abandoned them in the Falcon when confronted by the rebels earlier, and challenge him to a rematch in sabacc, once again wagering the ship. Han wins this time, having stolen the card Lando was using to cheat, and he and Chewbacca leave for Tatooine in the Falcon, where a gangster is putting together a crew for a heist.
Forces of Destiny
Han appeared in the Star Wars: Forces of Destiny Season 2 episode, "Tracker Trouble", where he was voiced by Kiff VandenHeuvel.
Han is a main character in the 2015 Star Wars comic series. Issue #6 introduces Sana Starros, an associate of Han's who has previously posed as his wife.
Star Wars: Han Solo is a five-issue mini-series focused on Han entering a race called the Dragon Void Rule.
The Star Wars Holiday Special
In the Star Wars Holiday Special, Han helps Chewbacca join his family on the Wookiee homeworld Kashyyyk. He faces Imperial forces on Kashyyyk, and later joins Luke, Leia, R2-D2, C-3PO, Chewbacca, and other Wookiees for their holiday, Life Day.
Novels and comics
In April 2014, most of the licensed Star Wars novels and comics produced since the originating 1977 film Star Wars were rebranded by Lucasfilm as Star Wars Legends and declared non-canon to the franchise.
Brian Daley wrote a series of novels (The Han Solo Adventures), first published in 1979, exploring Han Solo and Chewbecca's smuggling adventures, and Ann C. Crispin's The Han Solo Trilogy (1997–1998) further develops the character's backstory. Crispin's books depict Solo as a beggar and pickpocket throughout much of his youth. He becomes a pilot and, in the process of undermining a religious fraud, falls in love with Bria Tharen, who disappears before Solo joins the Imperial Navy. Solo loses his commission and is cashiered when he refuses an order to skin Chewbacca for commandeering a ship carrying Wookiee children destined for slavery; Chewbacca, in turn, swears a "life-debt" to Solo. The two become smugglers, and help repel an Imperial blockade of a Hutt moon. Solo soon thereafter wins the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian in a card tournament. Tharen, now a Rebel agent, reappears and asks for Solo, Chewbacca and Calrissian's help in attacking a slave colony. After succeeding, Tharen's troopers steal the smuggler's valuables to aid the Rebel Alliance. To compensate their losses, Solo and Chewbacca accept a smuggling job from Jabba the Hutt; but Imperial ships force the smugglers to jettison their cargo, invoking the debt Solo and Chewbacca owe the Hutt at the beginning of Star Wars.
Solo plays a central role in a couple of Star Wars stories set after Return of the Jedi. In The Courtship of Princess Leia (1995), he resigns his commission to pursue Leia, whom he eventually marries. Solo and Leia have three children: twins Jaina and Jacen and son Anakin. Han Solo was the general in command of the New Republic task force assigned to track down Imperial Warlord Zsinj and his forces, in the 1999 novel Solo Command. Chewbacca dies saving Anakin's life in Vector Prime (1999), sending Solo into a deep depression. In Star by Star (2001), Anakin dies as well, compounding Solo's despair. At the end of the series, however, Solo accepts the deaths of his son and his best friend, and reconciles with his family.
In the Legacy of the Force series, Jacen Solo becomes the Sith Lord Darth Caedus and plunges the galaxy into a bloody civil war. Solo disowns Jacen, but is still devastated by each new outrage his son commits. He and Leia adopt Allana (Jacen's daughter) after Jacen's death at Jaina’s hands in the novel Invincible.