When most people think of iconic Star Wars heroes, names like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo immediately come to mind. The fourth name on that list changes depending on who you’re talking to, but more often than not, it’s Chewbacca the Wookiee whose name stays fresh in the minds of Star Wars fans young and old. This is all for good reason: Chewbacca’s heroics have spanned decades, ranging from the Clone Wars to the fall of Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens. Chewbacca’s technological prowess, physical power, keen judgment, and unwavering loyalty have made him into a legend that has altered the state of the galaxy through his actions. Chewie doesn’t get nearly enough credit. Here are some of his finest moments.
1. Escaping with Ahsoka
Captured by Trandoshan slavers and held prisoner on the planet Wasskah, Chewbacca befriended Jedi apprentice Ahsoka Tano when she and two younglings, Jinx and O-Mer, attacked his transport in an attempt to free everyone inside. After escaping the wreckage, Chewie (a technical expert in his own right) constructed a transmitter that, after what seemed like a failed attempt, hailed backup from Wookiee forces that allowed his group to survive and take down the slavers. Alongside Ahsoka, Chewie led an attack on the Trandoshan base before accompanying the young Jedi back to the Temple and wishing her goodbye.
2. Helping Yoda Flee
While Chewie’s run-in with the Jedi had been brief, it wasn’t his last encounter with them. In fact, Chewie assisted one of the most legendary Jedi Masters of all time, Yoda (as well as Jedi Master Luminara Unduli), during the Battle of Kashyyyk. On the front lines and determined to protect his homeworld, Chewbacca fought until the bitter end — but when Yoda’s clone commander, Gree, attempted to assassinate the Jedi Master after Order 66 was issued, Chewbacca helped assist with Yoda’s escape.
3. Rescue Aboard the Death Star
Rarely do we put ourselves into Chewbacca’s undoubtedly large, nonexistent shoes during the gang’s first heroic rescue aboard the Death Star, but think about it this way: after decades of experience on the battleground, Chewie’s keen intuition was ignored left and right by a group of kids who were in way over their heads. Despite opposing the dive into the garbage chute, Chewie still went through the mission with full commitment, and was already running in to fire up the Falcon amidst the devastation of Ben Kenobi’s death.
4. Destroying the Death Star
It may have gone down in history as Luke Skywalker’s victory, but without Han and Chewie, the destruction of the first Death Star may have never happened. The two-man crew dove in at that last minute after a change of heart, sending Darth Vader’s TIE fighter ricocheting off-course with just enough clearance for Luke to take that final shot. It’s not clear who officially made the decision to come back to the fray, but it isn’t a far stretch to assume that Chewbacca was definitely supportive of the idea.
5. The Rescue of C-3PO
This particular set of scenes deserves an honorable mention n some form, mostly because having Threepio, strapped to your back in pieces, and still able to vocalize his discomfort — well, that takes a certain kind of patience. But after the protocol droid went missing, Chewbacca took it upon himself to find and recover Threepio, heading into the depths of Cloud City to steal the droid back and present him to both Han and Leia. With Threepio’s distress, Chewbacca was the first to figure out that something smelled funny on Bespin, and it wasn’t just the gas.
6. Rescuing Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt
When Luke, Leia, Chewbacca, and Lando devised their plan to free the frozen Han Solo from Jabba’s palace on Tatooine, everyone had to take a fall in some way or another. Under the guise of being captured by the bounty hunter Boussh (secretly Leia) Chewbacca helped infiltrate Jabba’s stronghold and turn the tables on what was supposed to be his own execution. Chewbacca flung more than his fair share of adversaries into the Sarlaac pit that day, and he’d likely do it again if it meant bringing his friend back to safety.
7. Quick Thinking on Endor
While Chewie’s stomach may have gotten him into more trouble than he bargained for on Endor, the partnership between the Rebellion and the Ewoks may not have been forged without Chewbacca’s hunger. To make up for it, Chewbacca’s actions during the Battle of Endor are nothing short of incredible, with one particular highlight of the action standing out above the others: using the familiar terrain of Endor as his ally, Chewie ambushed an AT-ST walker from above and turned it on the surrounding Imperials, taking down countless enemies at once.
8. Taking Down Starkiller Base
Decades after the fall of the Empire (again, partially thanks to Chewie’s quick thinking on the ground during the Battle of Endor), Chewbacca had a personal hand in setting off the bombs that helped destroy Starkiller Base. Infiltrating the base alongside Han, Rey, and Finn, he and Han split up to set detonators in order to take down the base’s system-destroying weapon. This is where Han met his fatal end at the hands of Kylo Ren, and in a rush of emotion, Chewbacca blew his cover to shoot Kylo Ren before proceeding to take out every single stormtrooper in sight. Despite his heartbreak, Chewbacca arrived just in time to save Rey and Finn after a devastating battle with Ren, flying them back to safety with the Resistance.
While his adventures must now continue without his best friend, the Wookiee’s past achievements prove that everyone’s favorite Wookiee is going to keep fighting. Not only is Chewie one of the last remaining heroes of the Clone Wars era, but he’s also had a hand in keeping the Jedi alive, and anyone who can deal with Threepio complaining during a rescue deserves a few extra medals. With a new hero in the pilot’s seat of the Millennium Falcon, Chewie’s hard-earned wisdom remains as valuable an asset to the Star Wars saga as it was when he first met Obi-Wan Kenobi in that cantina so long ago.
Catrina Dennis is a writer and Star Wars die-hard. In her spare time, she tells stories, yells very loudly about soccer, and hosts a few very cool podcasts. Catch up with her on Twitter @ohcatrina.