Poor Chewbacca. Of all the characters in the Star Wars canon, perhaps none have been as overlooked as Han Solo’s right-hand Wookie. Since his introduction, Chewie has played an integral part in the galaxy far, far away – but what does he get for all his work? Nothing. That’s right, a whole lot of Bantha fodder.
After heroically blowing up the Death Star, Han and Luke proudly received their Medals of Yavin at the end of A New Hope. Then there was Chewie, the galaxy’s most famous Wookiee, standing off to the side like some two-bit mercenary. Someone must have missed a meeting. He rode shotgun in the Millennium Falcon after all.
Since his original snubbing, fans far and wide have chronicled the potential reasons why Chewbacca didn’t receive a medal. Some theories are crazier than others, but all nonetheless provide insight into one of science fiction’s most divisive topics.
Coming from the creator himself, George Lucas has explained over the years that Wookie’s don’t put too much stock in awards or accolades. In Chewie’s mind, he didn’t help save the day because he would get anything out of it – but because it was the right thing to do. Helping the Rebel Alliance was what needed to be done, and so Chewbacca did the darn thing.
Another theory is a little simpler, and a lot less fun. Maybe the filmmakers just forgot. It’s possible, and don’t shoot the messenger on this one, that the people who made Star Wars just didn’t see any sense in giving the giant walking carpet a medal.
Not to mention the fact that Peter Mayhew, the British actor responsible for bringing Chewbacca to life, was over seven feet tall. So it might have been tough for Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) to get her arms around that beanstalk of a Brit.
Chewie has gotten his credit over time though, on-screen and off. At the 1997 MTV Movie Awards, Carrie Fisher finally presented Chewbacca with his medal after he received a lifetime achievement at the ceremony. A sort of tongue-in-cheek presentation that fans had been wanting for 20 years.
When the Skywalker Saga came to a close in 2019, Chewie was recognized again at the end of The Rise of Skywalker when Maz Kanata gave her Wookiee friend the medal that belonged to his closest confidant — Han Solo.
There’s even a fringe theory circulating that Chewbacca was a covert rebel agent all along. It basically figures that Chewie began working for the Rebel Alliance at the end of Revenge of the Sith, and continued into the Original Trilogy. If bringing down The Empire was part of the job description, who needs a medal? Check out the full theory here. It’s a doozy, and we’re 99.9% sure isn’t true, but why not dream a little?
Regardless it’s safe to say that Chewbacca eventually got the credit he deserved. If anything else, proving that the big-hearted fuzzball deserves all our love and then some.