To make life marginally less terrible (and perhaps to encourage responsible social distancing during a global pandemic), Disney has added Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker to its streaming platform, a whole two months earlier than expected. Now, on May 4, the movie is officially available to stream on Disney+, and there is nothing stopping us from setting aside almost 25 consecutive hours to binge every single film in the Star Wars universe — with appropriate pauses to wash our hands, of course.
And while physical touch has quickly become taboo on coronavirus-infected Earth, the characters in a galaxy far, far away remain as touchy as ever. Amid all the light saber twirling, Star Wars has always leaned heavily into the gushy stuff. From the central trio of the original trilogy, to Anakin and Padmé, to Rey, Finn, Poe, et al., the Star Wars films are nearly as full of hugs, kisses, and kisses that probably should’ve been hugs as they are force battles and other space magic. Which brings me to the truly important task at hand: a ranking of the myriad affectionate embraces and significant touches of the Star Wars cinematic universe.
While I attempted to make this ranking as comprehensive as possible, I also decided to adhere to some restrictions: All hugs absolutely count. Same for kisses, even the ones where no one is wrapping their arms around anyone else. However, most hand-holding, shoulder-squeezing, friendly patting of heads, and other less meaningful body contact failed to make the cut. Likewise, I’ve excluded all the times when one character tenderly cradles the body of another character as they die (which happens … a lot). I’ve also consolidated some occurrences into single entries, because no one wants to read about the 11 separate times Anakin and Padmé hugged and/or kissed. Or, at least, I don’t want to write about them.
Behold, the best kisses, hugs, and significant embraces in the Star Wars universe, ranked.
40. Luke and Leia’s kisses in The Empire Strikes Back
We all remember the scene where Leia kisses Luke to make Han jealous, but there are actually two cringeworthy kisses in Empire, the second taking place after the Millennium Falcon rescues Luke from Cloud City, and mere minutes (hours? does it matter?) after Leia has told the now-frozen Han that she loves him. (Leia then proceeds to make all of this even weirder in Return of the Jedi by claiming she’s “always known” they were siblings.) Star Wars movies have never been planned; Star Wars knows only chaos.
39. Obi-Wan and Dexter Jettster’s hug in Attack of the Clones
Obi-Wan Kenobi, bearded gem of the prequel trilogy, gets exactly one (1) hug in the entirety of the Skywalker saga and it is from a four-armed diner owner named Dexter Jettster. I’m sure Dexter Jettster is very nice, but the fact that no one else gave this magnificent, hooded desert magician a hug in six movies is a crime.
38. Leia and Vanden Willard’s hug in A New Hope
Who is Vanden Willard? A New Hope doesn’t seem to care, and neither do I.
37. Luke and Leia’s kisses “for luck” in A New Hope
There is absolutely nothing wrong with kissing your brother on the cheek, so an embrace like this would be higher on the list if not for the escalation of kissing in the movie that follows (see above).
36. Rey’s good-bye hug with her mom in The Rise of Skywalker
This is a solid parent-child hug, but there are better parent-child hugs in Star Wars, featuring characters who have actual names and/or plotlines.
35. Padmé and child-Anakin’s hug in The Phantom Menace
This hug between a teenage Padmé Amidala and a 9-year-old Anakin Skywalker after he wins his pod race is totally fine, if entirely unmemorable. But when you remember that these two spend the very next movie constantly making bedroom eyes at one another and stealing steamy kisses, it feels a little weird, hence its low placement.
34. All of Qi’ra and Han’s kisses in Solo
Why Solo decided to give young Han a love interest instead of a best friend is beyond me. Emilia Clarke did everything she could to sell us on Qi’ra (who is great!), but at the end of the day, we all know Leia is the one, which makes it impossible to root for this pairing, no matter how likable Qi’ra is. Turn these kisses into hugs and this romance into a friendship that could’ve come back into play in later Star Wars movies, and this entry would have rocketed up the list.
33. Han and Chewie hugged by Ewoks in Return of the Jedi
Han and Chewie really don’t want to be hugged by adorable little murder-bears when they are welcomed into the Ewok tribe, but the Ewoks really want to give hugs, so they make it happen. Star Wars has lots more emotionally resonant embraces in its movies and those all outrank this one, but few are cuter.
32. Lyra and Jyn Erso’s hug in Rogue One
Lyra Erso barely gets more development than Rey’s mom, but she at least gets a name and a principled and emotional death, which is why her good-bye hug with her daughter ranks a few slots higher on the list.
31. Anakin and Shmi’s hugs in The Phantom Menace
Despite receiving significantly more screen time than other Star Wars moms, Shmi Skywalker spends the entirety of her time in Star Wars looking like someone just kicked her puppy. (I do not blame her; she’s had a very hard life.) It is too bad that she had to say good-bye to her miracle Force baby and his wealth of midi-chlorians in The Phantom Menace, though.
30. All of grown-up Anakin and Padmé’s kisses in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith
Look, the happy parts of Anakin and Padmé’s relationship are fine, if you forget about their inevitable end. Unfortunately, I cannot, which means that every time the two of them kiss (or inexplicably roll around on the ground together, as they do in Attack of the Clones), I’m thinking about how he’s ultimately going to Force-choke her until she passes out (while she’s pregnant, no less), and then she’s going to die of sadness. I realize there would be no Star Wars if these two never hooked up, but it probably would have been better for both of them if they hadn’t.
29. Chewie and a nameless Wookiee’s emotional forehead touch in Solo
It’s hard to know where to rank this tender moment between Chewbacca and a freed Wookiee slave he meets for only a few seconds at the Kessel spice mines. On the one hand, it’s the only interaction we get between Chewie and another member of his species over ten films, which gives it automatic weight. On the other, we don’t ever learn anything at all about this other Wookiee, or even what they say to one another before parting ways, making this moment more about the significance of Chewie choosing to go with Han over his own people, rather than any sort of personal relationship.
28. Finn and Rose’s kiss in The Last Jedi
It brings me absolutely no pleasure that Rose Tico appears only once on this list, and toward the bottom at that, but sadly, this is all Star Wars has given me to work with. My girl Rose put herself out there in a big way at the end of The Last Jedi, with her amazing line to Finn about “not fighting what we hate, [but] saving what we love,” and then throwing caution to the wind and kissing him, because she thought she was going to die and wanted to go out swinging for the fences.
But then she spends the rest of the movie unconscious, and in the next one Finn is like, “Hey, wanna come hang out as friends?” and Rose is like, “Nah, it’s cool, I’ve got some stuff to do around here anyway,” which is absolutely the thing you do if you’ve confessed your feelings to your major crush and he then turns around and pretends it never happened.
However, she then goes on to do nothing of real significance ever again. I’m sure we’ve all felt like our life was over after suffering a major embarrassment, but the fact that Rose’s moment with Finn effectively functions as the end of her Star Wars arc is just exceedingly uncool. Finn didn’t owe Rose a romantic relationship, but Star Wars definitely owes her some closure — or better yet, a solo adventure all her own.
27. Beckett and Val’s kiss in Solo
As one-off characters confined to the okay-est movie in the Star Wars cinematic canon, Beckett and Val also have one of the okay-est kisses on this list. It’s not particularly memorable or significant, nor is it objectionable in any way (other than in how it involves Val, and therefore reminds me that Val deserved so much better than her fate in Solo). It is merely pleasant and fine, and so it merits a pleasant and fine place on this list.
26. Han and Lando’s hug in Solo
It’s kind of clunky in its attempt to channel Han and Lando’s original hug in Empire — one of them is angry! The other is nervous! But wait, he’s not actually angry, he’s just kidding! Now they’re hugging! But even though it’s definitely pandering, it’s the sort of pandering that I can get behind.
25. Galen Erso and child Jyn’s hugs in Rogue One
Galen Erso hugs with his whole self, not in a creepy way, just in a loving dad way, and it’s great.
24. Leia and Holdo’s hand clasp of mutual respect in The Last Jedi
I’m making an exception to the “hand-holding doesn’t count as an embrace” rule for this truly excellent hand squeeze between two of Star Wars’ most powerful and dignified ladies. They both knew what was about to go down — with Leia going on to lead the scraps of the Resistance in a Hail Mary play against the First Order, and Holdo doing everything in her power to give them time to escape — and both handled their monumental burdens with grace and aplomb. A hug would’ve worked here, but the hand squeeze felt more fitting to the station of two women who each had Important Work To Do and needed to get on with it, while still recognizing the contribution of the other.
23. The Resistance celebration hugs in The Last Jedi
The celebration aboard the Millennium Falcon after the Battle of Crait is pretty mild as Star Wars after-parties go. Leia gets a hug from Chewie, and Poe hugs *checks notes* C’ai Threnalli, whom we don’t really see interact with anyone anywhere else in the films, but it still totally tracks with the established canon that Poe Is a Hugger. Between there being only one hug between central characters, and the generally dire state of the Resistance at the end of The Last Jedi, these hugs rank the lowest of the Star Wars post-battle hugfests.
22. Han and Leia’s first hug in the garbage in A New Hope
While Luke gets multiple good-luck kisses from Leia in A New Hope, Han gets a hug while dressed as a Stormtrooper and standing knee-deep in liquid garbage. (Why is it liquid? Do I even want to know?) As gross as it is, and as bad as Han says it smells, this is still a genuinely Good Hug, the first of many Good Embraces to come.
21. Han and Lando’s hug in The Empire Strikes Back
The hug that the Solo hug wished it could be, the magic of this hug rests entirely on Han’s bewildered expression and Lando’s gleeful laugh.
20. Leia and Chewie’s reunion hug in The Force Awakens
At first, Chewie stands at a respectful distance when Leia appears in The Force Awakens, allowing Han to get the initial greeting. But when it becomes clear that the former lovebirds are only going to make small talk about each other’s hair and clothing from ten feet away, Chewie decides he’s had enough and brushes past Han for a big, furry hug. And based on his derisive grunt toward Han as they break apart, he would like Han and Leia to get over their awkwardness and hug already.
19. The Resistance fighters’ pre- and post-battle hugs — and one significant kiss — in The Rise of Skywalker
There’s a lot of hugging before and after the Resistance makes their last stand against the Final Order, most of them between unnamed Resistance fighters, and one between Charlie from Lost and a giant yellow slug. It’s nice in the way that watching strangers reunite at the airport is nice, where we care, but not in a personal way. We do get a Poe-Finn hug, which is always a treat, and Chewie picks up Rose and swings her around like she’s 5, which is both the best Rose moment in the whole movie and also speaks to how there aren’t nearly enough Rose moments in the movie.
And then there’s that kiss between — checks notes again — Resistance Commander Larma D’Acy and pilot Wrobie Tyce, who receive all of two seconds of screen time, which it turns out is just enough time to displease literally the entire audience. For anyone hoping to finally see meaningful LGBTQ representation in a Star Wars movie, it felt tremendously like tokenism, only marginally better than nothing.
Taken as a whole, though, this collection of hugs is still mostly heartwarming and good, celebrating a hard-won victory after ten films of conflict. It had a staggering amount of unrealized potential, which keeps it from advancing higher in the rankings, but it’s still a significant enough moment in Star Wars to earn a spot in the top half of this list.
18. All of Finn and Rey’s hugs in The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker
Star Wars never quite figured out what it wanted Finn and Rey’s relationship to be: Are they best friends? Are they a slow-burn, will-they, won’t-they romance? Are they an awkward workplace crush? Still, their relationship amounted to some really good hugs, even if I still have no idea what they’re supposed to mean.
17. Lando and Chewie’s reunion hug in The Rise of Skywalker
The way Chewie excitedly elbows people out of his way so he can go hug Lando is so pure that it enables me to overlook the fact that in the previous movies, Chewie and Lando were, at best, fond acquaintances.
16. Han and Leia’s post-carbonite embrace in Return of the Jedi
Have you ever noticed that Jabba the Hutt’s entire retinue is just … hanging out behind a curtain, waiting to jump out and surprise Leia and Han the moment he’s defrosted? How long have they been back there? And why does Jabba’s fortress even have those little curtained alcoves — is this a regular thing, or does Jabba just like to throw a lot of surprise parties? None of this has anything to do with Han and Leia’s kiss, which is very romantic and nice.
15. Finn and Poe’s hug in The Force Awakens
The incredulous smile. The run. The meaningful eye contact. The way Poe calls Finn “buddy” and then tells him to keep his jacket and bites his lip. There’s just a lot going on here, and all of it is good.
14. Rey and Leia’s hugs in The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker
The first hug between Rey and Leia happens after Han dies, which Rey witnessed and Leia felt. The next time they see one another, they both just get it, and it’s sad and beautiful and powerful. Their second hug occurs when Rey is leaving to lead a mission to Pasaana, which is considerably less poignant, but considering that all of Carrie Fisher’s footage in The Rise of Skywalker is actually unused Force Awakens footage, these hugs are probably really the same hug, warranting equal placement on this list.
13. Han and Chewie’s dungeon hug in Return of the Jedi
Poor Han was just defrosted after being frozen for a year, he still can’t see, and then he’s suddenly aggressively cuddled by a distraught Wookiee, who does not care one single bit that Han is not in a particularly huggy mood. I love this hug.
12. Ben Solo and Rey’s kiss in The Rise of Skywalker
Okay, hear me out. There is nowhere on this list where this kiss could hang out entirely without controversy, but placing it up here, just shy of the top ten, is probably particularly contentious. After all, Kylo Ren spent two and a half movies being terrible to Rey. Even if we can put aside all of the murder (which we really shouldn’t), we’re still left with all of his gaslighting and emotional manipulation and attempts to kill her. “You’re nothing, but not to me,” is still a thing he actually said once, out loud, on purpose.
But — BUT! — Star Wars has always been an exaggerated story about the power of redemption, far beyond what we may condone in real life. Darth Vader committed literal genocide, but he still gets to be a Jedi Force Ghost at the end of Return of the Jedi because he was a non-terrible dad for like ten seconds. In the timeless words of John Mulaney, we don’t have time to unpack all of that, but it’s at least consistent that the Skywalker saga ends with the redemption of Anakin Skywalker’s grandson. Like his grandfather before him, the newly self-actualized Ben Solo gets to do One Good and Noble Thing before he dies.
And then Rey kisses him, finally acting on the mutual attraction that, let’s be real, has been there for a while now, even though it has always been decidedly unhealthy. Maybe she realizes he’s about to die and wants to get in one good smooch before the end, or maybe she doesn’t realize he’s about to die and is just carpe-ing that diem. Either way, there are two factors that play into ranking this kiss so high on this list: The first is that he dies immediately afterward, meaning we never have to deal with the discordant mess of Ben Solo’s Redemption playing out alongside Kylo Ren’s War Crimes. He and Rey get exactly one nice moment together, and then he gets absorbed into the Force before all the horrific things he’s done can come crashing down on both their heads. And the second is that gosh-darn adorable Ben Solo smile. If that kiss is what was necessary to get us to that smile, then for my money, it was worth it.
11. Han Solo’s gentle touching of Kylo Ren/Ben Solo’s face in The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker
You may be thinking, “Uh, Han is literally murdered in the first moment you mention here, right?” And yes, you’re right. The truth is, these moments are not on the list because of Kylo Ren, but because of Han Solo. Han made his entrance into Star Wars shooting first, and scoffing at the idea that he should ever care about anything more than he cares about himself. Yet when faced with his fallen son in The Force Awakens, he chooses to put himself directly in harm’s way, even if it means his death. Then, when he does die, his final act is to tenderly touch his son’s face, communicating that even after being stabbed with a light saber, he still loves him. That touch is worth a thousand hugs, even if, at the time, Kylo Ren isn’t willing to face what it means.
It comes back around in The Rise of Skywalker, when Ben visualizes the conversation he wishes he could have with his father. This time, when Han touches his face, Ben is ready to accept what his father was offering, uttering a choked up, “Dad,” to which Han answers, “I know.” The first time Han touches Kylo Ren’s face, it is an act of unconditional love, showing just how far Han has come since we first met him. The second time, the touch is just in Ben’s memory, but it shows that Han ultimately succeeded in his final mission, fulfilling the promise he made to Leia to bring their son home.
10. All of Luke and Leia’s platonic hugs in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi
We have reached the top ten, and what better pairing to kick off our finalists for Best Star Wars Embraces than our favorite Force twins, Luke and Leia? None of their individual hugs in the original trilogy feel particularly meaningful, but collectively, they help solidify the close relationship between the two Skywalker siblings, and drive home the theme of family — both found and biological — that runs throughout all of Star Wars.
9. All of Han and Leia’s incidental embraces in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi
Much like Luke and Leia’s hugs, Han and Leia’s little hugs and kisses help solidify one of the core relationships in Star Wars, but without the icky “we thought it would be cool to put them in a love triangle until we decided it would be cooler if they were siblings” undertones. None of these individual embraces (aside from the ones that are singled out elsewhere on this list) are particularly earth-shattering on their own, but as a whole, it’s only right and proper that the small romantic moments peppered throughout Han and Leia’s relationship get a spot in the top ten.
8. Luke, Leia, and Han’s celebratory hugs in A New Hope
The original central trio of Star Wars never gets a true group hug, but this is the one that comes closest. Luke first hugs Leia, then Luke hugs Han, then Han and Leia hug, then the three of them walk out of the hangar with their arms looped around one another’s shoulders like they’re the Monkees. It’s sweet and goofy and marks the first of what would turn out to be many Star Wars celebratory post-battle hugfests, so it deserves a place of honor.
7. Han and Leia’s good-bye hug in The Force Awakens
The nostalgia is strong with this one. The affectionate banter, the undeniable attraction, the flippancy belying defiant hope and bravery — these are the things that have always defined Han and Leia for generations of Star Wars fans. We didn’t get to see them reunited for long in The Force Awakens, but this one hug felt like it contained decades of memories.
6. All the hugs during the Ewok village Rebellion celebration in Return of the Jedi
Unlike the hug party at the end of The Rise of Skywalker, the group celebration at the end of Return of the Jedi gives most of its hugs to pairings of recognizable characters: Han and Lando, Chewie and Lando, Luke and Leia, Luke and Han, Han and Leia, Luke and Wedge. Actually being emotionally invested in all the people we see hugging is a definite plus when it comes to the effectiveness of the scene as a whole. Plus, Force Ghost Obi-Wan pats Force Ghost Yoda on the head like he’s a small child, which feels at least hug-adjacent, and adds to the overall awesomeness of this hug cluster.
5. Finn, Poe, and Rey’s final hug in The Rise of Skywalker
There are some issues with the final celebration scene in The Rise of Skywalker to be sure (see item No. 19), but this hug is not one of them. Finn and Rey have some good Star Wars hugs, and Finn and Poe have some good Star Wars hugs, but the three of them together have a truly great Star Wars hug. The way Rey and Poe hold hands around Finn’s back, the way they all start crying, the way it feels like it lasts forever because none of them are willing to let go. Complete and utter hug bliss.
4. Han and Leia’s first kiss in The Empire Strikes Back
The tension building up to this kiss is just scrumptious. It makes me want to reach into my TV screen and jam their faces together like dolls, screeching “JUST KISS ALREADY.”
3. Cassian Andor and Jyn Erso’s hug in Rogue One
This hug is a legit Star Wars miracle, because Star Wars likes to go for the kiss — and Cassian and Jyn had enough chemistry to put Walter White out of business — and yet they don’t kiss. Instead, they go for the hug, and it is sheer perfection. If I didn’t feel beholden to several decades of nostalgia, leading me to believe I am simply not allowed to pick a Rogue One moment as my top choice for this ranking, this could’ve easily been number one. At the very least, it is the best hug in the Star Wars films.
2. Luke and Leia’s forehead kiss in The Last Jedi
The only Luke and Leia kiss that counts. All the other ones need to go home and think about what they’ve done.
1. Han and Leia’s good-bye kiss in The Empire Strikes Back
“I love you.”
Was there ever any question about which moment would take the No. 1 spot on this list? You knew it had to be this one. Somehow, you’ve always known.