Princess Leia and her role in the Star Wars saga inspired generations with her wit, intellect, and fearlessness in the face of certain doom. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more iconic heroine in all of cinema, literature, and television. We all have Carrie Fisher to thank for her incredible portrayal of the character, which spanned nearly 40 years, who the world recently lost after suffering a heart attack.
Far from being a damsel in distress, Leia turned traditional tropes on their head, proving she could not only hold her own with Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, but often be more effective than the two combined. Time and time again, Leia surprised her on-screen counterparts, as well as audiences, with a quick comeback or surprise solution.
"I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board."
In the opening scene of Star Wars, Darth Vader mowed down a slew of Rebel troops to take Leia prisoner in hopes of her revealing the location of the Rebel base. After torturing her, Grand Moff Tarkin beckoned Leia in hopes of a real-life interrogation being more effective than a probe droid. Her response to the steely-eyed Imperial? She says Tarkin was "holding Vader's leash" and tells Tarkin he smells foul. In addition to her intense resolve, when faced with the choosing the destruction of her home planet of Alderaan or revealing the actual Rebel base, Leia misdirected Tarkin, proving her dedication to the Rebellion, no matter what the consequences.
[H/T YouTube/Marcela Zuniga]
"Aren't you a little short for a Stormtrooper?"
During an improvised rescue mission, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo snag Stromtrooper armor to infiltrate the Death Star's detention level. When Luke breaks into her cell, Leia proves it'll take more than intimidation to keep her down, as she immediately challenges Luke's masculinity by asking, "Aren't you a little short for a Stromtrooper?" This was merely a taste of Leia refusing to take guff from anyone, no matter what physical pain they could potentially put her through.
"Stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf herder!"
Tensions between Han and Leia clearly rose in the time between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, with Han being willing to stick around the Rebellion a little longer while also threatening to leave at any moment. After rescuing Luke from a Wampa, all ships were ordered to remain grounded due to threats from the Empire. Han had no problem implying Leia was behind the scheme to get him to stick around because of her romantic feelings for him, so she really let loose and put the egotistical smuggler in his place. She even went so far as to give Luke a kiss to get Han jealous, as clearly there was some romantic tension between all three at this point in the story. Han and Leia eventually embraced their feelings for one another throughout the course of the film, but whether Leia would fall for either hero this early on was anyone's guess.
[H/T YouTube/Master Shardful]
In Return of the Jedi, Leia embraced her skills of deception in hopes of rescuing Han from Jabba the Hutt. Sadly, the plan didn't work quite as expected and Leia was enslaved by the crime boss, along with Han, Chewie, and Luke being granted a death sentence. When Luke seized an opportunity to escape, thanks to some clever planning with R2-D2, Leia saw her chance to free herself from her captors, and despite being (barely) clothed in a gold bikini, Leia used the very chain meant to keep her at bay to wrap around Jabba's neck and strangle him. Leia never allowed a moment pass to wait for someone else to save her, she always knew her worth and sprung into action.
In The Empire Strikes Back, Leia confessed her love to Han Solo moments before he was encased in carbonite, and his tough exterior caused him to merely acknowledge the sentiment with, "I know." While Leia and Han were attempting to knock out the Death Star II's shields on the forest moon of Endor in Return of the Jedi, she took a blast to her shoulder, causing Han to run over and check on her. During his attempts to console her, two Stormtroopers snuck up behind Han, which is when Leia showed Han her blaster to let him know she was a step ahead of them. Mirroring the scene from the previous film, Han confessed, "I love you," allowing Leia to not only coyly reply, "I know," but also take out the Stormtroopers in two quick blasts, regardless of her injury.