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15 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Chewbacca

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Vote up the most surprising parts of Chewbacca's life.

Chewbacca is easily one of the most popular characters in the Star Wars franchise. He's been around since the very beginning and has subsequently appeared in both the prequel and sequel trilogies. Chewy was also a big part of Solo: A Star Wars Story. Because he's so popular, Chewie has been written about in numerous novels that have now been relegated to the realm of Star Wars Legends. While none of it remains canon, his popularity has helped carry over into canon following Disney's acquisition of the franchise.

Chewbacca is featured in numerous comic books and other media that have been released since the House of Mouse took over the franchise. Because of this, there has been a great deal of information about everyone's favorite Wookiee. That means there's plenty of info about the most popular alien in Star Wars canon (that doesn't come from the much-loathed Star Wars Holiday Special). Still, Chewbacca's family exists in canon (with some changes). There is a ton of information about his home planet of Kashyyyk and some details about Chewie's life after the original trilogy.

Despite Star Wars being one of the most exciting and impressive franchises of all time, there's still a lot the general fan base doesn't know about Chewbacca. This list takes a look at the lore from as many sources as possible to uncover the things you didn't know about the most popular Wookiee in the galaxy.

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  • 1
    112 VOTES

    Chewie's Name Is Russian In Origin

    Chewbacca may have been inspired by a real-life dog, but his name is another story. Still, the dog was his inspiration, so George Lucas wanted to keep that going by tapping into the Russian language. Chewbacca is somewhat similar to the Russian word for dog, "sobaka" (собака).

    Coming up with the word "Wookiee" wasn't something George Lucas had to really think about. Voice actor, Terry McGovern, had worked with Lucas previously on his debut film, THX-1138. While recording some voice-over work, he improvised the word, saying, "I think I just ran over a Wookiee."

    As it happens, Lucas's penchant for naming characters after random things he encountered didn't begin and end with Chewie. While editing American Graffiti, the movie's editor, Walter Murch, would say "R2, D2" when referring to the movie's dialogue tracks. The saying was shorthand for "reel two, dialogue two." Lucas liked it and decided to use it as a name for a droid.

    112 votes
  • 2
    140 VOTES

    Chewbacca Has Sharp Retractable Claws... All Wookiees Do!

    You don't ever get to see it in the movies, but all Wookiees have large retractable claws. Chewie never pops his claws in the movies because he doesn't wind up in a situation where he would need them.

    Wookiees come from the planet Kashyyyk, an arboreal planet. The giant trees of Kashyyyk are where the Wookiees make their homes. They evolved their sharp claws to be able to climb tall trees. They don't use them in combat for cultural reasons, as it is considered dishonorable.

    In the Legends comic book Chewbacca #1, Chewie is confronted by an albino Wookiee named Tojjevvuk (pictured). They get into an argument, and Tojjevvuk pops his claws. Chewie sees this and proclaims, "Claws are not to be used in a fight!" Malla then says, "It's dishonorable." 

    In Star Wars Legends, the taboo against using claws was established and was called "Madclaw." The name was given to anyone who dishonored themselves by clawing someone in combat. In Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, a Wookie named Zaalbar explains, "Our claws are tools, not weapons. To use them in battle is to become an animal. It is madness without honor."

    140 votes
  • 3
    100 VOTES

    Following The Liberation Of His Homeworld, Chewie Retired For A Time

    Once his homeworld was finally liberated from its Imperial oppressors, Chewbacca took some time for himself. After years apart, he was finally reunited with his family, and he wanted to spend time with them. During this period, Han Solo managed a shipping company and a series of racing championships called the Five Sabers, so he was busy doing his own thing.

    Still, Chewie kept in touch with his old friend, and he also kept in touch with Leia, who had taken a job as a New Republic senator. Chewie spent some time enjoying his retirement, but after a while, he rejoined Han Solo, who had gone back to what he did best: smuggling. It was through these adventures that Chewbacca and Han Solo met Rey and became members of the Resistance.

    100 votes
  • 4
    154 VOTES

    Chewbacca Is Married And Has A Child

    The movies never went into Chewbacca's home life and his family, which he does have. Chewie's wife is named Mallatobuck, and his son is called Lumpawaroo. Throughout much of the Imperial era, Chewie was enslaved by the Trandoshans. At the same time, Malla and Waroo were also enslaved but by the Galactic Empire, so they were separated. His wife and son remained on their home planet of Kashyyyk, but in an Imperial slave camp where they were separated. Waroo was forced to work at a labor camp apart from his mother.

    Chewbacca didn't see his family for a long time, and he was unable to return to his homeworld after getting caught up in the Rebellion against the Empire. Eventually, he and Han Solo managed to return to Kashyyyk, where they took part in the planet's liberation from the Empire. The campaign was long and difficult, but in the end, the Wookiees took back their planet. Finally, after several years, Chewie was able to reunite with Mallatobuck and Lumpawaroo.

    154 votes
  • 5
    117 VOTES

    Chewbacca Is Pretty Old In The Original Trilogy

    Chewbacca may not look it, but in 1977's A New Hope, he's already 200 years old. This is confirmed in Solo: A Star Wars Story when Chewie's age is revealed to be 190. Han's shock at this revelation was likely shared by much of the audience. Solo takes place in the year 10 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin), so when he first appeared on the silver screen, he would have been 200. While that's insanely old by human standards, Chewie is a Wookiee, and they have much longer life spans.

    Wookiees typically live for around 400 years, so throughout all of his appearances in the movies, Chewie is middle-aged... more or less. Because of their long lives, it's not uncommon for a Wookiee to go a long period of time without seeing their family. In Chewie's case, he was separated from his family throughout the entire Imperial era. While this seems like a long time to a human, it's not terribly long to a Wookiee.

    117 votes
  • 6
    107 VOTES

    Prior To The Disney Purchase Of Lucasfilm, Chewbacca Was Killed In 1999

    Prior To The Disney Purchase Of Lucasfilm, Chewbacca Was Killed In 1999
    Photo: Del Rey

    Long before Disney purchased the franchise, Chewbacca had a glorious demise. It came in the R.A. Salvatore novel, The New Jedi Order: Vector Prime, published in 1999. In the book, Chewie and Han are on a shipping mission to the planet Sernpidal. They find that the planet is in danger due to its moon, which will smash into the planet, wiping out everyone. 

    The pair decide to help out as much as possible, so they transport thousands of Sernpidal's citizens before the moonfall occurs. While they manage to save many people, Chewie is unable to escape due to him having to step in and save Anakin Solo, Han's son (there are a ton of different family members in what is now Legends). This leaves Chewie on the planet, and he perishes when the moon comes crashing down.

    Chewie's death leads to a rift between Han and his son, whom he blames for his friend's demise. He eventually accepts that it wasn't Anakin's fault, and they reconcile. The book doesn't go into it very much, but other Legends novels provide a bit more detail regarding Chewie's funeral and memorial tree. He lived a hero and died a hero, and to many, he was a legendary hero of the Wookiees and the rest of the galaxy. 

    107 votes