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Chewbacca, nicknamed Chewie, is a Wookiee character in the Star Wars franchise. In the series' narrative chronology, he appears in the films Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.


The character's creation as a "gentle, hairy, non-English-speaking co-pilot" was inspired by George Lucas seeing his own Alaskan Malamute dog sitting up on the passenger seat of his car. The dog, Indiana, also inspired the name of the lead character in another series of Lucas films, Indiana Jones.

He is best known as the first mate of Han Solo's ship, the Millennium Falcon, in the original Star Wars trilogy. He became Solo's first mate and constant companion when Han, then an Imperial Captain, was ordered to kill him because Chewbacca was a slave for the Empire. Han was decommissioned from the Imperial Navy, and later became a smuggler. Since he saved his life, Chewbacca owed a life debt to Han, meaning that he would serve Han for the rest of his life. According to Entertainment Weekly he is one of the "greatest sidekicks" in film history.

In all five appearances, he was portrayed by Peter Mayhew, who was chosen for his height — 7'3" at the time of filming. Mayhew wore numerous identical bulky fursuits for the role. During the filming of the original three films and the holiday special, the suits were made of a combination of yak hair and mohair. For production of Revenge of the Sith, the suit was made of more modern and comfortable materials, though this additional comfort was mostly unnecessary because Mayhew's filming only lasted for a day. Although the only part of Mayhew that could be seen in the suit were his blue eyes, fans easily recognized him even in costume by his distinctive gestures, and his coworkers said they were able to tell when a stand-in was taking his place.

Chewbacca's voice was created by the original films' sound designer, Ben Burtt, from a mix of recordings of walruses, camels, bears, lions, tigers and badgers in Burtt's personal library. The individual recordings were mixed at different ratios for Chewbacca's different utterances. One of the most prominent elements in the voice was a black bear from Happy Hollow Zoo in San Jose, Californiamarker named Tarik. Chewbacca is usually portrayed with an energized bowcaster, as with all Wookiees. Wookies are sometimes called "walking carpets" as an insult. Chewbacca is also sometimes shown with homing rockets, such as in Star Wars: Battlefront II.



In Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Chewbacca, along with Tarfful, fights in the Clone Wars when their planet, Kashyyyk, is invaded. They also help to get Jedi Master Yoda to safety, Chewbacca using his traditional weapon, the Bowcaster.

In Episode IV: A New Hope, Chewbacca is known for his epic war cry in the Battle of Tatooine. Han Solo accepts a charter to take Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and the droids C-3PO and R2-D2 to the planet Alderaan. When they find that the planet has been destroyed by the Death Star, however, the two mercenaries are drawn into the Rebel Alliance.

In Episodes V: The Empire Strikes Back and VI: Return of the Jedi, Chewbacca and Han Solo become important figures in the Alliance, and eventually help the Rebels defeat the Galactic Empire.

The Expanded Universe

The 1978 television program The Star Wars Holiday Special introduces Chewbacca's family: Mallatobuck, Attichitcuk, and Lumpawarrump. They live together on Kashyyyk. The Star Wars Holiday Special was filmed with a low budget, and consisted of a frame story in which Han and Chewbacca must prevent Darth Vader from spoiling Life Day, and get home to be with Chewbacca's family. Because of its low budget, inexperienced writers, and Lucas' remaining creatively 'hands-off', the Holiday Special ended up being nothing more than a tacky variety show/sitcom. It was therefore stricken from Star Wars canon by George Lucas, and aired only once.

Chewbacca's family also appears in some Star Wars books, most notably The Wookiee Storybook, The Black Fleet Crisis trilogy by Michael P. Kube-McDowell, and The Hutt Gambit and Rebel Dawn by A. C. Crispin. The latter also introduces other family members, including a sister named Kallabow and cousins named Dryanta and Jowdrrl.

Chewbacca was not awarded a medal with the other heroes at the end of "Episode IV: A New Hope". Being scanted of his medal in A New Hope led to an amusing award for the character in real life. Chewbacca is one of the few fictional characters to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the MTV Movie Awards. Because fans complained that he should have received a medal with Luke and Han at the end of A New Hope, MTV presented the award as a medal bestowed by Carrie Fisher. Peter Mayhew had voiced concern about Chewbacca being skipped in the original medal scene as well, but noted that Chewbacca does get the last line in the film as compensation.

The novel The Hutt Gambit explains that Chewbacca and Solo first meet when Solo, a lieutenant in the Imperial Navy, finds him unconscious aboard a slave ship. Solo's commanding officer orders him to skin Chewbacca, but Solo refuses and rescues the helpless prisoner. Upon regaining consciousness, Chewbacca swears a "life-debt" to Solo, and the two become business partners and best friends.

In Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, Chewbacca appears briefly at the Mos Eisley spaceport as an NPC, assisting Jaden Korr in disabling the tractor beams holding both the Millennium Falcon and the Raven's Claw captive.

In the book Heirs of the Force, part of the Young Jedi Knights series, Chewbacca has a nephew named Lowbacca who goes to the Jedi Academy.

In Ernie Fosselius' parody film Hardware Wars (in which common household items are used as props), the character is called "Chewchilla the Wookie Monster." It was merely an old Sesame Street "Cookie Monster" muppet, dyed brown. In his only scene, Chewchilla tries to eat the "bun" hair-do of Princess Ann-Droid (the "hairdo" being literal cinnamon buns).


The 1999 novel Vector Prime by R. A. Salvatore (the first in the New Jedi Order series) marks Chewbacca's last chronological appearance in the Star Wars universe. Chewbacca sacrifices his life to save Han's son Anakin from a collision between the planet Sernpidal and one of its moons.

Lumpawaroo and Lowbacca offer to assume Chewbacca's life debt to Solo. Han initially protests, but relents by the end of the series.

Lucasfilm followed Vector Prime with a four-issue comic book titled Star Wars: Chewbacca, in which C-3PO and R2-D2 travel the galaxy to collect the stories of beings who knew or met the Wookiee.


  1. Peter Mayhew Biography, at Screenrush. Accessed January 8, 2009.
  2. The Characters of Star Wars Star Wars Original Trilogy DVD Box Set: Bonus Materials
  3. Ben Schott, Schott's Miscellany Calendar 2009 (New York: Workman Publishing, 2008), March 21.
  4. Star Wars Databank | Chewbacca: Behind the Scenes
  5. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  6. Star Wars Episode IV
  7. Star Wars Episodes V & VI
  8. Star Wars Holiday Special FAQ
  9. Hutt Gambit
  10. Jedi Academy

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