Potential to rip off your arms if he lost a game of Dejarik aside, Chewbacca is one of the warmest characters in Star Wars. Han Solo’s partner in smuggling has carried around a quartered C-3PO, protected Luke Skywalker from the Empire’s clutches and even rescued Princess Leia from the original Death Star. So why didn’t he hug Leia in Star Wars: The Force Awakens after (spoilers ahoy!) Solo’s death?
Was it actually a mistake as director JJ Abrams has suggested? After all, we know that Chewbacca doesn’t mind a hug once in a while, even with Leia.
Or perhaps it was intentional? Bear with us… because, according to a theory from redditor cyborgcommando0, there’s a simple reason the two ignored each other:
Chewbacca is observing a Wookie mourning ritual
Okay, you’re going to need to think like a Wookie here: in their culture, if somebody dies you don’t want to touch anybody until you’ve had time to grieve privately. Remember after the battle of Kashyyyk how awkward it was crossing your fellow Wookie in a narrow corridor? This is why.
And Leia is close friends with Chewbacca. She knows about this ritual and therefore isn’t going to try and touch him. She wasn’t still angry at Chewbacca for forcing her to go to his grubby house for the Star Wars Holiday Special. By ignoring him she was showing she cared.
Ah, but didn’t Chewie carry Finn aboard the Millennium Falcon? That counts as touching.
Nice try, Padawan. You see Chewbacca was saving Finn, which would be preferable than mourning for him too. Chewbacca will break the mourning ritual if it means he can save lives.
Not convinced? Well, you might be right to be sceptical. JJ Abrams himself admitted that it was a slip up. Speaking to Slashfilm, the director said:
“That was probably one of the mistakes I made in [The Force Awakens]. My thinking at the time was that Chewbacca, despite the pain he was feeling, was focused on trying to save Finn and getting him taken care of. So I tried to have Chewbacca go off with him and focus on Rey, and then have Rey find Leia and Leia find Rey.”
So, the mistake is there if you want to call it that. Or you can label it a glorious show of Star Wars love. Your choice to make, it is.