The subject of this article concerns a fan topic in Star Wars culture.

Events, opinions, and individuals described in this article may not be present in an authorized source, or may not have canonically occurred in the Star Wars universe.

Leia holo

Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.

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"I don't know and I don't care."
―Harrison Ford, regarding who shot first[1]
Kelly and George

George Lucas wearing a "Han shot first" T-shirt

To say "Han shot first" is to refer to George Lucas' changes to the original trilogy. This phrase more specifically refers to a change made to the A New Hope Special Edition, in the scene involving the characters Han Solo and Greedo in the cantina. In the original version, after Greedo says, "I've been looking forward to this moment for a long time," Han replies, "Yes, I bet you have" and shoots Greedo under the table while Greedo is pointing a blaster at him. (Thus, Han didn't merely shoot first; he was the only one who fired.) The change was due to Lucas not wanting Han to come off as a cold-blooded killer, but rather acting in self-defense, with one rumor stating the scene, in its unaltered form, risked giving the entire Special Edition a PG-13 rating, thus limiting the audience for the theatrical run.

In the Special Edition, Greedo shoots at Han and misses, without explanation, from point-blank range, and then Han shoots him. Later, it was altered again to have Han and Greedo shooting at almost the same time (though Greedo still shoots first), with Han dodging out of the way of Greedo's shot.

The scene in various media[]

Greedo shoots first

Greedo's big miss in the 2004 DVD version of A New Hope

In the scripts[]

The January 15, 1976 script portrays the scene thus:

Yes, I'll bet you have.

Suddenly the slimy alien disappears in a blinding flash of light. Han pulls his smoking gun from beneath the table as the other patrons look on in bemused amazement. Han gets up and starts out of the cantina, flipping the bartender some coins as he leaves.

The March 15 version of the script is identical in this scene except that Greedo is referred to simply as "Alien."

In adaptations[]

In the novelization, this scene is vague. The book only says that "light and noise filled the little corner of the cantina"; it never specifies who shot first.

Greedo spoke Basic in the second issue of Marvel's comic adaptation. Han fired after Greedo threatened to kill him, but before Greedo could finish his next sentence.

In the Star Wars radio drama (1981), Han is the only one who shoots. After the blast is heard, Han says, "Rest in peace, Greedo! I can shoot just as well under a table as across one." This line is reused in the canon novel A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy[2]

Star Wars: Behind the Magic[]

One of the deleted scenes included in this CD-ROM is an alternate take of the cantina sequence, including the encounter between Greedo and Han. It is a black-and-white work print that lacks any added music or sound effects. Greedo speaks English with a Received Pronunciation accent, speaking his original lines as in the 1976 script. Han shoots him before he can fire a shot.

Behind the Magic plays this earlier cantina sequence side by side for comparison with the modified "Special Edition" version of the same scene from 1997, making it clear that Greedo shooting was added later.

In new canon[]

A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy contains the first retelling of this scene released following the decision to discontinue the Expanded Universe in favor of a new canon continuity. As described in the novel, Solo reaches for his blaster and slides it from the holster under the table as he is telling Greedo that he doesn't have the money with him. When Solo states "Over my dead body!," Greedo draws his own blaster, points it at Han's heart and replies, "That's the idea. I've been looking forward to killing you for a long time." Solo replies, "Yeah. I'll bet you have." The narration then says that "Greedo disappeared in a blinding flash of white light as Han pulled the trigger. The thump as Greedo's body slumped onto the table made the other cantina patrons look over." There is no mention of Greedo having fired a shot.[3] When asked regarding the matter in an interview slightly before the release of the title, the book's author, Alexandra Bracken, replied "Han, of course!"[4]

However, Star Wars: The Original Trilogy – A Graphic Novel, a 2016 graphic novelization of the films, depicts the scene as it's presented in the 2004 DVD version, with the two characters shooting at approximately the same time and Greedo's shot missing far wide and up. Star Wars: A New Hope Cinestory Comic, a similar title, depicts the scene the same way.

"The Luckless Rodian" is a story from the 40th-anniversary anthology From a Certain Point of View, presenting the events of the scene entirely from Greedo's point of view. Greedo is at no point said to have fired or even considered firing a weapon, and it is said that the last thing he saw was a flash of bright light and his last memory was of bitter injustice. When asked if this depiction made Episode IV's theatrical version the canonical version of the film, however, Lucasfilm Story Group's Matt Martin reiterated that the canon one is the revised version, as the nature of book included making various contradictions.[5]

When A New Hope was released in Disney+, The Walt Disney Company's streaming service, on November 12, 2019, a slight change was added to the scene. While the scene is practically the same from the revised version of 2004, Greedo seems to speak one last word with no current translation before shooting at Han. According to Vanity Fair, this change was made by Lucas himself prior to selling his company to Disney.[6]

George Lucas' reasons[]

As George Lucas stated subsequently over the years, he always intended Greedo to shoot first in the cantina scene. In the original version, he advised to leave the scene ambiguous, therefore the exchange of blaster fire between Han Solo and Greedo was shot in close-ups. However, Lucas didn't like the idea that the first thing Han Solo does in the film is gunning somebody down, becoming a cold-blooded killer, somebody he never wanted the character to be. Wide shots added in later releases of the film served to make the actual results of the encounter more obvious. As he explained, in classic showdowns the hero always fires second, in self defense, and the reading of the scene that Solo shot first, rooted in the audience's desire for Solo to be a killer, presented a bad example for younger viewers.[7][8][9]

In 2015, librarian Kristian Brown presented an early script of the original Star Wars movie, claiming that "based on the script, I can tell you 100%, Han shot first." However, according to Lucasfilm Publicity, the script looked to be a "fan-made" replica version of the real early script.[10]

Repercussions in Star Wars media[]

"I happen to like to shoot first, Rekkon. As opposed to shooting second."
―Han Solo[11]
  • Han said that he prefers shooting first, "as opposed to shooting second," in the novel Han Solo at Stars' End, which was published nearly seventeen years before the Special Editions were made.[11]
  • In the game Star Wars: Battlefront II it is possible, while playing as Solo, to hear the enemy troops exclaim, "It's Solo, and he's shooting first—that's not fair!"
  • At the end of the LEGO Star Wars: Revenge of the Brick mini-movie Greedo can be seen throwing darts in the cantina and, despite standing no more than two feet away, has missed the board with at least five darts, a possible tongue-in-cheek explanation for the unlikeliness of Greedo missing Han.
  • Aaron Allston, by way of his novel Legacy of the Force: Betrayal, has chimed in on the subject with a reference of his own. After a gun battle, when queried as to the status of her husband, Leia replies that he is fine. "Han shot first," she glibly explains.
  • In the story "A Hunter's Fate: Greedo's Tale" from the Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina anthology, Greedo's perspective is shown to be overconfident to the point that he seems to actually believe Han's words moments before his death, believing that he and Han may actually become friends after they iron out the transaction. Although his death is not shown from his perspective, it is heavily implied that Han shoots first.
  • Greedo appears as a minor character in the board game Star Wars: Epic Duels. His power attack is a card labeled "Desperate Shot": a decently powerful attack, but if it does not kill the target, then Greedo is immediately killed instead. It is the only card where an attacker's miss is automatically fatal.
  • In the 2012 mobile game Angry Birds Star Wars, one of the levels takes place on Tatooine. During an introductory slideshow in the Mos Eisly Cantina, Greedo spies on Solo, Chewbacca, Skywalker and Kenobi from a window. Solo then blasts Greedo.[12]
Im Han Solo - Han Shot First

Calrissian performing the "Han Shot First" dance move in Kinect Star Wars

  • In the 2012 game Kinect Star Wars, one of the dance moves that can be performed by Solo, as well as Lando Calrissian, during the song "I'm Han Solo" is called "Han Shot First".
  • Timothy Zahn's 2013 novel Scoundrels features a scene very similar to the interaction between Greedo and Han, with another bounty hunter in Greedo's place. Han does not shoot first, and the shot is missed due to intervention from Chewbacca.
  • In William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope, a non-canon retelling of the story of the original film in the style of William Shakespeare, the stage directions for the play state simply "They shoot, Greedo dies." This is then followed by Solo apologizing to the innkeeper and then stating as an aside: "And whether I shot first, I'll ne'er confess!" The audio edition of William Shakespeare's The Jedi Doth Return: Star Wars Part the Sixth includes a supposed conversation between Shakespeare and author Ian Doescher in which Shakespeare tells Doescher that he should have stated plainly that Han shot first. When asked about the matter directly for an "About the Author" for the series' official website, Doescher stated, "Han Solo, says me and every other true fan out there."[13]
  • In the 2015 EA Star Wars Battlefront Companion mobile game Base Command, the Han Solo hero unit has the First Strike perk, where he "Fires first in combat."
  • In the mobile phone game Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, Greedo's unique is called "Who Shot First?" and Han's unique is called "Shoots First."
  • At the end of the 2018 movie Solo: A Star Wars Story, in a confrontation between Han Solo and Beckett, Han shoots his opponent mid-sentence. Afterwards, Beckett admits that Solo made a "smart choice," as he had been about to shoot and kill him. Lawrence Kasdan who wrote the script of the movie with his son Jon Kasdan said about it that "There can be no question that Han shoots first." Kasdan Sr. thinks that Han indeed shot first as he expressed during an interview with StarWars.com.[15]
  • In The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special the time-space portal opens on Tatooine, dumping many characters from many eras on the desert. Among them were Greedo and two versions of Han Solo - old and young. Greedo expressed his bewilderment when he saw them. After that old Han Solo asked the young version of himself: "Do you wanna shoot first?", the young one replied: "After you" and they both shooting Greedo at the same time.[16]
  • In the Marvel comic issue Han Solo & Chewbacca 1, Han says to Greedo, "If you try to screw me over, double-cross me, do anything that gives me a bad feeling... I'll shoot first and ask questions later."
  • In LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, the quest which unlocks Greedo, entitled "Ma Klounkee Most Foul", is started by speaking to three Stormtroopers who are investigating the incident, and wanting to know who shot first. The player is required to speak with six witnesses who evenly claim that either Han or Greedo shot first. The Stormtroopers end the quest by stating they think the debate will never be resolved.
    • In the game's version of the scene, Han and Greedo engage in a quickdraw duel while ducking behind the table. Greedo and Han fire until they both run out of ammo, whereupon Han throws his blaster at Greedo's face, causing him to run off. The scene is placed before Han meets with Luke and Ben rather than after.


A New Hope producer Gary Kurtz feels that the change undermined the intention of the scene, which he states was to show how much of a mercenary Han Solo was; he had to shoot Greedo first or lose his life.[18] The actor of Han Solo, Harrison Ford, replied to the question about who shot first with apathy,[1] while the actor of Chewbacca, Peter Mayhew, simply responded with "Uughghhhgh uughghhhgh huuguughghg."[19]


Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 RedditLogo I am Harrison Harrison Ford. AMA. on Reddit by iamharrisonford (on April 13, 2014) (backup link)
  2. Star Wars radio drama
  3. A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy
  4. Alexandra Bracken on the Symbol, the Skeptic, and the Sponge by Jay Shah on Eleven-ThirtyEight (September 23, 2015) (archived from the original on March 31, 2019)
  5. TwitterLogo Matt Martin (@missingwords) on Twitter (August 27, 2018): "FACPOV has a lot of contradictions, that's sort of the nature of that project. But yeah, the latest film release is most accurate." (backup link)
  6. George Lucas Himself Gave Greedo the Last Word in Controversial New Star Wars Edit by Anthony Breznican on Vanity Fair (November 12, 2019) (archived from the original on January 16, 2020)
  7. YouTube Rewind: George Lucas 1997 press conference for "Star Wars: Special Edition" on the take2markTV YouTube channel (December 12, 2021) (backup link)
  8. 5 Questions With George Lucas: Controversial 'Star Wars' Changes, SOPA and 'Indiana Jones 5' by Alex Ben Block on The Hollywood Reporter (February 9, 2012) (archived from the original on August 19, 2020)
  9. The Star Wars Archives: Episodes I–III, 1999–2005
  10. Original Star Wars Script Found, Solves Long-Running Mystery by Melissa Locker on TIME (June 9, 2015) (archived from the original on February 12, 2020)
  11. 11.0 11.1 Han Solo at Stars' End
  12. Angry Birds Star Wars
  13. About the Author on William Shakespeare's Star Wars (archived from the original on March 14, 2020)
  14. Hunting for Han
  15. StarWars A Portrait Of The Scoundrel As A Young Man: Writers Lawrence And Jonathan Kasdan On Solo: A Star Wars Story on StarWars.com (backup link)
  16. The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special
  17. Han Solo & Chewbacca 10
  18. An Interview with Gary Kurtz by Ken P. on IGN (November 11, 2002) (archived from the original on April 26, 2012)
  19. RedditLogo I AMA Peter Mayhew, Chewbacca from the Star Wars Saga. Ask Me Almost Anything on Reddit by PeterMayhew (on September 2, 2013) (backup link)
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