Carrie Fisher turns 58 today, and what a day it is! The actress has overcome a lot in real life, reflecting the absolute badassery of her on-screen persona as Princess Leia Organa in the original Star Wars trilogy.
Though the Expanded Universe has been cut from canon, one of the most incredible things about Leia's characterization within the books and comics was the fact that, while pregnant with two powerful force-sensitive twins, Leia not only ran the New Republic and continued her Jedi training, but also climbed trees with Wookies and piloted her way out of extremely deadly situations -- by herself.
But, since the EU has now been deemed The Legends Collection, let's focus on Leia's incredible heroics in what we still know for certain as canon: The Original Trilogy. Time to celebrate our favorite princess!
Killing Jabba the Hut
Let's be real, here - that elaborate escape plan formed by Luke, Lando and Leia wasn't something that happened last minute. They knew what they were doing, they knew they were going to get captured, and when Leia saw that she was close enough to take out a creature that easily weighed a couple tons more than she did, she took it. Leia literally choked Jabba to death during the commotion of the outside battle that her brother was fighting.
We're talking about a crime lord who has probably survived years of multiple assassination attempts by high-profile bounty hunters, guys. Leia did it in seconds. Rad as heck, much?
Taking No BS from Tarkin
Pressed up against Vader's cold, armored chest, Leia still manages to snark her way into Tarkin's ego, a costly move that ends up with her home planet of Alderaan (technically) getting completely destroyed for the sake of the Rebellion. It may appear truly stupid in retrospect, but Leia's unrelenting devotion to the cause of the Rebellion shines through so viciously here that you can just see the kind of leader she's about to become.
Plus, by the time Tarkin decides to show off the power of the Dic-- I mean, Death Star-- Leia has already spirited away the core plans to the Empire's greatest weapon via R2-D2, and remains unafraid while sandwiched in between two villains that could easily have her killed in seconds.
Blasting Stormtroopers While Injured
For some reason, many people within the Star Wars universe - most famously Stormtroopers themselves - are pretty bad shots. Yet, every time she's shown shooting a blaster, Leia hits her target.
One of the most important of these instances is one where Leia saves Han Solo in Return of the Jedi: after being injured and slumping against a wall outside of their enemies' defense hold, Han crouches over her in concern while Leia, looking over his shoulder, whips out a blaster and takes out two stormtroopers behind him. This also shows how similarly the two of them think; a quick look at Leia tells Han exactly what she has planned.
That simple move allows Han and her friends the time they need to get into the hold, and shows Leia in place of so many charming movie heroes. He didn't do it openly (because he's Han Freakin' Solo), but you can see the swoon in Han's eyes.
Dream girl status, y'all.
Command and Cool It
This could really reflect almost any moment where we see Leia in action: from her befriending the otherwise hostile-but-adorable Ewoks on Endor by sharing food and stories (something her Jedi brother couldn't do) to commanding an entire fleet of pilots on a mission that destroys the original Death Star, Leia's top-level diplomacy is never, ever questioned, and she keeps her head through everything, including Han's torture and freezing.
Granted, Leia never lived the life of a conventional princess: the only life she's known is one under the skyward explosions of ongoing war. Leia was practically raised for battle, and her mother's brave spirit of command shines through in everything she does.
The Endor Chase
While she eventually abandons her speeder bike, it's Leia that understands the direness of the situation when Han's "real quiet-like" plan is put in jeopardy as the Empire discovers them on Endor. Without hesitation, she hops a speeder bike after them to pursue the soldiers, and is joined by her brother Luke in a scene that shows the twins demonstrating their force-sensitive simpatico.
It's almost never implied that Leia is an expert pilot or has more-than-standard training in piloting, but rather accepted by the fandom that her force-sensitive ability and guidance from her brother in this scene leads to her exceptional navigational skills in an otherwise extremely dangerous forest to fly through. While her enemy rides straight through the trees, Leia loops through the forest to catch up and outsmart them on their own stolen speeder bikes.
More important than her navigational skills, though, is her dedication to the mission: she'd rather risk her life chasing down the enemy than let them get close to tattling on the Rebels.
There are many, many other moments where Leia shines through on both a non-violent and action-packed scale, but these are just a few of my favorites, because they demonstrate her key role in Star Wars. Luke is the hero, but he'd be dead without his friends because of the important roles they play in the storyline - and more than anything, this includes his sister, whose level headedness is never challenged by the Dark Side in the films.
In fact, one of my favorite things about these films is that everyone needs saving at some point: whether it's Leia, Luke, or Han, all of the big three have saved each other's skins, and they're an unstoppable force because of that devotion.
So to you, Carrie Fisher, I wish an extremely happy birthday; thanks for showing me what the term 'Princess' can really mean.
What's your favorite Leia moment, either from the original films or the Expanded Universe? Let me know down below!