Well, loyal readers, we’re finally closing out this particular Scoundrel Round-Up. Remember, if you think someone is missing from the list, let us know on the message boards and if there’s enough call for it, we’ll add other people. This list is just based on my somewhat limited sci-fi knowledge. I wouldn’t mind expanding my horizons to satisfy your requests. The scoundrel at number one isn’t going to be much of a surprise, but just because he’s the obvious choice doesn’t mean he’s the wrong one. The number one scoundrel is Han Solo because he’s just so perfectly scoundrel-y.
Han Solo first entered the pop culture consciousness in 1977 in Star Wars. Fun side note, while Harrison Ford eventually won the part, he was not George Lucas’s first choice. One of the people on the short list for the part was Nick Nolte, and man, would Star Wars have been different without the charisma Harrison Ford brought to the part. We first met Han Solo in the Mos Eisley cantina, trying to scam a little extra cash out of Luke and Obi-Wan for passage to Alderaan. Right away, we get a bit of scoundrel-y goodness. Han knows he’s a good pilot, but he couldn’t resist trying to get a little extra money out of desperate client just because he could. Sure, Han needed the money since he was still trying to pay off Jabba, but it was a bit skeevy of him to make the play he did on Obi-Wan. Shortly after meeting Luke and Obi-Wan, we got to see more Han Solo scoundrelness when he was confronted by one of Jabba’s thugs trying to collect on the money he owed Jabba. While Greedo was trying to intimidate him, Han surreptitiously unholstered his blaster under the table and, I’m going to put on my angry nerd hat and just say this once, HAN SHOT FIRST! To me, that made Han a way more interesting hero because he wasn’t totally a good guy. He operated in shades of gray. Han figured Greedo was going to try and kill him to collect Jabba’s bounty on his head so rather than give him the opportunity, he shot him first. Han did at least have the decency to wait until Greedo made an actual threat and considering Greedo had his blaster trained on him during their entire chat, I think Han was well within his rights to take the shot. George Lucas’s revisionism aside, Han shooting first really made it clear he was a scoundrel and not supposed to be the pure hero. A good myth needs good people of all types and Han was someone who was a good person, but unlike Luke and Obi-Wan, he didn’t always follow all the rules. Han would sort of get Luke and Obi-Wan to their destination, finding Alderaan destroyed by the Death Star. The Millennium Falcon was boarded by Imperials when it was brought aboard the Death Star, and it was Han’s quick thinking (and modifications to his ship that served his less-than-legal lifestyle) that helped them evade Imperial detection. While Obi-Wan went to shut down the tractor beam so they could escape, Luke learned that Princess Leia was being held there. Luke was all for going to rescue her, but Han took some more convincing. Like any good scoundrel, once the money was good enough, Han was more than willing to try and save her. The plan may not have worked out, but even after they were detected, Han tried to bluff their way out of trouble by calling a shootout with the detention level guards a “slight weapons malfunction.”
Han’s first meeting with Princess Leia was anything but cordial and he actually spent a lot of time antagonizing her, which I find kind of amusing. Eventually, Han, Luke, Leia and Chewie would escape the Death Star, but once Han delivered Leia and the Death Star plans to the Rebels, he was on his way. Like any good scoundrel, he didn’t see a profit to be made in the Rebellion and now that he got his reward money, he wanted to go pay Jabba back and save his skin. Luke gave him a pretty massive guilt trip before leaving, and Han did come back to save Luke at the Death Star, but it was a pretty big surprise. Returning to Yavin IV, Han cemented his ties with the Rebellion, and that led him into some pretty crazy adventures. Han was present on Hoth and was considered an important part of the Rebel military. However, an encounter with a bounty hunter on Ord Mantell spooked him into deciding to try and leave to pay off Jabba again. As he was about to go, though, the Imperials attacked and Han led Leia to the Falcon since she was cut off from the ship she was supposed to escape on. Once again, Han and Leia’s interactions were somewhat strained and Han was the one who understood the tension was mostly sexual, making the moves on her while they were hiding from Imperials in an asteroid cave because the Falcon needed more repairs before it could escape into hyperspace. The Falcon was too badly damaged to escape easily, though, and Han took a page from the scoundrel playbook and came up with a crazy plan that involved him charging the Falcon right at a pair of Star Destroyers and making them think the ship jumped into hyperspace when in actuality he took advantage of a sensor blindspot and hooked himself to the back of the Star Destroyer until it dumped its garbage before jumping to lightspeed itself. After some deliberation, Han realized the only safe port was on Bespin where Lando was administering Cloud City. Unfortunately, their relationship was still somewhat strained after Han won the Falcon from him in a high stakes game of sabacc (think space-poker).
For me, Cloud City is where we saw Han Solo at his most scoundrel-y. Han and company were captured by Imperials after Lando sold them out. Vader decided to use Han as his test subject for the modified carbonite freezing process. As he was being lowered into the chamber, possibly to his death, Leia yelled out “I love you.” In a move of badassery that has yet to be beaten, Han responded with “I know.” Behind the scenes stories say that was a Harrison Ford addition. He rightly didn’t think Han would respond with “I love you, too” as scripted and convinced director Irving Kershner into letting him try a take with “I know” and the rest is cinematic history. Han survived the freezing process and Boba Fett hauled him off to Jabba’s palace to collect on the impressive bounty the Hutt had placed on his head. Han spent the next while hanging out on Jabba’s wall until Luke came up with a wild (and really, if you look at it objectively, ridiculously overly complicated) plan to set him free. Back out in the world, Han rejoined with the Rebels and became a general and was placed in charge of leading a Rebel commando team tasked with taking down the shield beamed around the second Death Star. Of course, Han being Han, he didn’t initially tell any of the people who just saved his life that he was leading this mission. Still, they all joined him and the mission to Endor was complicated from the start. Luke and Leia got separated from the team and then, thanks to Chewie always thinking with his stomach, they were captured by Ewoks. Thankfully, Leia had met the Ewoks before them and, with some help from Luke and C-3P0, the Ewoks adopted them as part of their tribe and helped them fight the Imperials. Most military commanders would have ignored the possible contributions the Ewoks could make to the war effort, but Han’s tendency to think outside the box helped him realized they could be useful allies. They may not have much technology, but they knew their way around the area and they were very good at setting traps. Han and the Rebel strike team blew up the Endor bunker and collapsed the Death Star’s shields so the Rebels could destroy it and kill the Emperor.
That’s all we know of Han’s history since the canonical nature of the Expanded Universe is in flux, but again, I loved the Expanded Universe, so it’s canon to me. The Expanded Universe not only continued Han’s story beyond Return of the Jedi, but it also delved into what his life was like before joining up with the Rebels. Han was a smuggler at heart, but even before joining up with the Rebels, he tended to let his decent nature take him down into some unprofitable paths, like the time he ran afoul of the Malkite poisoners and wound up busting up a slaver ring. Any other scoundrel would have just let that slide, but Han hated slavery so much that he couldn’t let it stand. Heck, that’s how his relationship started with Chewbacca and how he wound up on the outside of the law to begin with. Chewie was an Imperial slave and Han couldn’t stand that so he freed him, along with other slaves being held there. Chewie then swore a Wookiee life debt to him for saving his life and the two became partners. In his early days associated with the Rebellion, he didn’t always stay terribly close to the Rebels. He would sometimes slip off for a while to run his own jobs on the side and considering how long Han was targeted by Jabba, it makes sense. Han still needed money. He wouldn’t act against Rebel interests, but being a freedom fighter really doesn’t pay well, so he needed some way of making money to pay off Jabba.
Following the events of Return of the Jedi, Han remained a vital part of the Rebel Alliance, but even though he was a general, his decidedly non-military nature tended to rub the Rebel High Command the wrong way. Han would resign and reaccept military commissions countless times during the intervening years. Of course, the biggest change in the Expanded Universe, which Disney decided to keep, was Han and Leia marrying. However, amusingly Leia got more in touch with her scoundrel side rather than “civilizing” Han a bit. Han did surprisingly well as a husband and father, but the death of Chewbacca did send him on a bit of a downward spiral and while spiraling, he really got back in touch with his scoundrel roots. Eventually, his mourning period would end and he rejoined the New Republic in their fight against the Yuuzhan Vong, but it was still a very rough patch for Han. However, worse things were yet to come. His oldest son, Jacen, became a very powerful Force user, but as time went on, he became corrupted by the dark side. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Jacen Solo had enough political and military backing the he essentially took over the government. His parents tried to stop him and Han and Leia were declared enemies of the state by their own son. Eventually, Jaina Solo was forced to kill her brother, but Jacen’s legacy was not over. During his time as leader of the New Republic, he hooked up with an old Jedi friend named Tenel Ka, who also happened to be the queen of a star system called Hapes, and the two had a child. Tenel Ka kept the pregnancy a secret even from Jacen, but eventually he learned that Allana was his child. Being the daughter of the most-hated man in the galaxy and of a queen whose power was tenuous because of her relationship with him who lived in a society where assassinations were a common method of political ascension, Tenel Ka decided it was necessary to hide Allana’s true parentage from the rest of the galaxy. She convinced Han and Leia to adopt their own granddaughter and raise her as their own under the guise of them adopting a child orphaned in the war their son caused. I didn’t think it was possible, but being an old man turned Han Solo into more of a scoundrel, and I find the current iteration of the character to be delightfully cantankerous.
Han Solo’s character fits the scoundrel archetype perfectly. Honestly, I see a bit of Han Solo in pretty much every other character on the list. Dash’s connections are pretty obvious, but even Starbuck and Riker have some Han Solo in them. Like most scoundrels, he’s incredibly charming. You either have to be charismatic or an absolute brute to survive as a scoundrel and Han went with charisma. I think part of that is a testament to how well Harrison Ford played the character. His look is also very scoundrel-y. He may not be an outright space pirate like Corsair, but he’s still definitely got a scoundrel vibe. His clothes are simple, but that’s all he needs to get through life. Like his ship, I see them being pretty well-worn because it’s just not something that Han needs to keep up with. He’d rather be spending his credits keeping his ship in the sky instead of following the latest fashions. Of course, where it’s clear he’s a scoundrel is his code of honor. Even before joining with the Rebels, he stood up to Imperials over the issue of slavery and that’s what put him out on the fringes of society. He was drummed out the Corellian military for those actions. Considering how well he fits the scoundrel archetype, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Han Solo comes in at number one on the Scoundrel Round-Up here at Sarcastibots.