Boba Fett’s masked face has sparked the imagination of Star Wars fans for generations. Despite the fact that he has hardly any screen time across the entire saga and even fewer lines, this Man with No Name-like mercenary remains one of the most popular characters ever created by George Lucas, so much so that Boba Fett basically inspired a whole race of armor-clad warriors that remain a vital part of Star Wars lore today.
With The Mandalorian exploring an armor-clad bounty hunter with a quick trigger finger, the original Mandalorian is ready to rocket back into the public consciousness. Pedro Pascal’s Mandalorian isn’t the same character as Boba Fett, though: in fact, Fett’s lineage is rather unusual compared to the rest of the armored humans who bear that moniker. But both are lone warriors, and their helmet and armor still signify Mandalorian in a recognizable way.
To learn more about Boba Fett’s Mandalorian legacy, here are 10 facts you might not know about the character:
1. He debuted in the Star Wars Holiday Special as a cartoon character.
Despite Boba Fett’s more infamous introduction in The Empire Strikes Back‘s iconic lineup of bounty hunters, the character actually made his debut two years before the 1980 sequel in The Star Wars Holiday Special. A goofy variety show made for TV, it was one of the earliest (and most cringe-worthy) efforts to cash in on the popularity of Star Wars, and was also, technically, canon.
One of the most memorable sections of the Wookiee-centric holiday special is the animated segment where Boba Fett appeared, wielding a “tuning fork”-like rifle (now the Amban phase-pulse blaster) and riding a dinosaurian sea creature. In the story, Fett helps the Rebels, but ends up double-crossing them and reporting them to Darth Vader, a move which fits perfectly with his later role in The Empire Strikes Back.
Fun fact: the art of legendary French artist Moebius influenced the pastel color choice and overall look of the short.
2. Although originally a Mandalorian, Episode II changed his origin.
Before Attack of the Clones gave him a definitive backstory, Boba Fett’s origin story was a bit of a mystery. The general consensus in the days of the Original Trilogy was that Boba was a Mandalorian, a member of “a group of evil warriors defeated by the Jedi Knights during the Clone Wars,” according to the Empire novelization by Donald F. Glut. It was an easy assumption considering the armor he wore was inspired by concept art created by Joe Johnston depicting “supercommandos” from Mandalore.
But when Lucasfilm began publishing more Expanded Universe books and stories in the early ’90s, a novella written by Daniel Keys Moran titled “The Last One Standing” sought to give the bounty hunter a surprising new origin and identity. Moran’s story suggested that Boba Fett was actually a man named Jaster Mereel, a “Journeyman Protector” from Mandalore who’d committed treason.
This origin was later retconned in Episode II, of course. The Mereel character was folded into canon as the mentor and adoptive father of Jango Fett, Boba’s own dad, once Boba was revealed to be a clone created on the planet Kamino. In the end, Boba’s canon origin was a way for George Lucas to explain what exactly the infamous Clone Wars were.
3. He was the only unaltered clone.
Attack of the Clones set up several rules regarding the lab-created men who fought in the Clone Wars. Clones’ growth was artificially accelerated, giving them just a brief childhood before they had physically reached adulthood and were ready to fight. They were also equipped with an inhibitor chip that could be activated to change their behavior, the most extreme example of which is the command that started the slaughter of the Jedi.
Boba received neither modification. He’s physically identical to Jango Fett, with a normal growth span.
4. He watched his father get cut down by a Jedi in the Battle of Geonosis.
Boba Fett was raised from birth to be a bounty hunter, and his life does have its moments of pathos. In Attack of the Clones, the chaotic first battle of the Clone Wars on Geonosis was Fett’s first experience with tragedy. Jedi Master Mace Windu kills Jango Fett with little fanfare, deflecting the bounty hunter’s gunfire with his lightsaber and severing Jango’s head from his body. A grieving Boba picks up Jango Fett’s helmet and cradles it. Boba is too opportunistic to fully commit to vengeance (and vengeance doesn’t pay the bills), but this fosters in him an early grudge against the Jedi that persists throughout his life.
5. Boba almost dueled bounty hunter Cad Bane in The Clone Wars.
While The Clone Wars was cancelled after six seasons (but with a revival season set for 2020), behind-the-scenes stories of potential arcs that could have been have lived on. Boba Fett, for example, was supposed to be the focus of an unaired, unfinished episode.
At Celebration 2017, Lucasfilm showed a clip the episode intended as part of a four-episode arc. Boba Fett would have teamed up with the bounty hunter Cad Bane, who had known his father, and would have worn his classic green armor for the first time. The episode would have eventually seen Boba and Cad at odds, setting up an epic duel between the two.
6. He hunted Luke before The Empire Strikes Back.
Boba Fett has a much deeper history with Luke Skywalker than what we initially knew from the movies. In fact, the two first crossed paths years before their very brief shootout on Cloud City and longer duel in Return of the Jedi.
In the pages of Marvel’s Star Wars comic series, we learn that Darth Vader hired Boba Fett and a Wookiee bounty hunter named Black Krrsantan to find a “Rebel pilot” associated with a man named Obi-Wan Kenobi. Boba caught up with Luke in Obi-Wan’s hut on Tatooine, but Luke’s nascent Force abilities and some luck allowed him to hold his own against the bounty hunter. Although Boba didn’t capture Luke, he did bring Darth Vader valuable information: that Luke’s last name was Skywalker, forcing Vader to confront the idea that Luke was his son.
Yes, Boba Fett had a hand in revealing the saga’s most stunning twist.
7. In Legends canon, he eventually escaped the sarlacc pit.
Boba Fett fell to his death in Return of the Jedi, but the character’s popularity meant that creators were reluctant to remove him from the picture entirely. So it wasn’t long before the bounty hunter escaped the dreaded sarlacc pit. In Legends canon (the pre-Disney timeline), a deal with another one of the sarlacc’s victims and the strength of his armor allowed him to rocket back out of the beast’s maw, wounded but alive. Considering that no one had never escaped the sarlacc, this was a serious feat—and prevented him from the horrible fate of being digested for one thousand years.
According to the commentary track from the Return of the Jedi DVD, George Lucas considered adding a shot where Fett climbs out of the sarlacc. His original fate, Lucas, said, was not intended to hold as much weight in the Star Wars universe as it eventually did: “In the case of Boba Fett’s death, had I known he was gonna turn into such a popular character, I probably would’ve made it a little bit more exciting.”
8. Mark Hamill wanted Boba to be revealed as Luke’s mother.
From the very beginning, Boba’s masked appearance and mysterious swagger made him the perfect subject for fan theories. One of the most obscure and creative of the popular fan theories was that behind Fett’s mask was the face of Luke Skywalker’s mother.
Mark Hamill himself confirmed that he suggested this surprise twist to Lucas, which may have actually been the origin of the fan theory. The actor was trying to think of something that would top the reveal that Darth Vader was Luke’s father. He had no idea at the time that Lucas was preparing to add Princess Leia to the Skywalker family and reveal her relationship to Luke in Return of the Jedi.
9. Lucas almost made Boba Fett Anakin’s brother.
According to Star Wars editor Marcia Lucas in the book Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, the filmmaker considered revealing in the Prequels that Darth Vader and Boba Fett were brothers.
One can see where this idea might have come up in the many, many iterations of Star Wars scripts Lucas created. All along, he wanted to tell a story about family, about the ways the Skywalker family is broken and the ways it gets put back together. Looping Fett in would have added to that.
But Lucas also had an immutable idea about the tone of his story, and no matter how high-flying the space adventure got, some things were just too convoluted or too convenient. Boba Fett and Vader remained related only by their nefarious careers.
10. Lucas almost had Boba kill Mace Windu in Episode III.
Another avenue Lucas considered but did not take in the Prequels was for Boba Fett to have an expanded role in Revenge of the Sith. Although it was eventually cut due to the already expansive scale of the film, some concept art of the idea exists.
Fett would have been on a revenge quest, trying to track down Mace Windu and put an end to the man who killed his father. The art shows Fett, dressed in his classic armor, and a squad of clone troopers surrounding the doomed Jedi. In the final version, Mace’s death at Palpatine’s hands is key to Anakin Skywalker’s transformation into Darth Vader—another instance of Fett existing right on the margins of the film saga’s most important moments.