Han shot first
"Han shot first" is a phrase used by Star Wars fans to refer to a controversial change made to a scene in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, in which Han Solo is confronted by the bounty hunter Greedo at the Mos Eisley Cantina. The initial change was made to the 1997 Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition re-release.
Han owes money to galactic crime lord Jabba the Hutt for dumping some cargo that he was supposed to smuggle for Jabba, and Greedo has come to take Han to Jabba. During the course of the conversation, Han mentions that he has the money, and Greedo offers to accept the money in exchange for letting Han go. Han and Greedo sit opposite each other at a table and hold an ominous conversation while Greedo aims his blaster at Han. During their conversation and unbeknownst to Greedo, Han stealthily readies his own blaster beneath the table.
Han says, "Even I get boarded sometimes. Do you think I had a choice?" Greedo answers, "You can tell that to Jabba. He may only take your ship." Han replies, "Over my dead body." Greedo tells Han, "That's the idea. I've been looking forward to this for a long time," and Han replies, "Yeah, I'll bet you have." In the original theatrical version of the film, the camera immediately cuts back to Greedo being covered by a cloud of smoke while the sound of a blaster shot is heard. The camera then cuts to the reaction of the bar patrons before returning to the shooting to show Greedo's smoking corpse slumped over the table. The scene was modified for the 1997 re-release with an extra shot inserted before the smoke cloud (composed from the same shot used to show Greedo's death) of Han and Greedo each visibly firing at each other, with Greedo firing earlier by nearly a full second and missing Han at point-blank range (less than two meters away). Thus, the phrase "Han shot first" is a retort to director George Lucas' explicit cinematic assertion that "Greedo shot first."
Controversies, further changes and Lucas' response
The alteration of the scene was disagreeable to a number of longtime fans of the series, provoking some to create an online petition demanding that the changes be retracted. The primary objection to the revision is that it alters Han's initially morally ambiguous character, making his later transition from anti-hero to hero less meaningful. Since the 1997 Special Editions, there have been two DVD releases. In the 2004 DVD release, the disputed scene was altered again. In this version, Greedo still shoots before Han does and still misses at close range, but the timing is altered so the shots are fired at nearly the same time and to depict Han "dodging" the shot (digital manipulation is used to "lean" the character to one side).
The 2006 DVD had two versions—the 2004 changes and the original theatrical version. The theatrical version features no changes, including Han shooting first. When announcing the dual-version DVDs, Lucasfilm noted that the scene was included by saying: "...and yes, [viewers] see Han Solo shoot first."
In a 2012 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Lucas altered his previous statements by announcing that Greedo had always shot first, stating that a combination of bad close-up shots and the audiences' inaccurate perception of the Han Solo character was what actually caused all the confusion. Lucas stated
"The controversy over who shot first, Greedo or Han Solo, in Episode IV, what I did was try to clean up the confusion, but obviously it upset people because they wanted Solo to be a cold-blooded killer, but he actually isn’t. It had been done in all close-ups and it was confusing about who did what to whom. I put a little wider shot in there that made it clear that Greedo is the one who shot first, but everyone wanted to think that Han shot first, because they wanted to think that he actually just gunned him down." 
Despite this claim from Lucas, drafts of the original shooting script on the internet make no mention of Greedo shooting at all, only Han.
Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca in the original series, was asked in a Reddit AMA, "Mr Mayhew. Did Han really shoot first ? You were there. You saw it first hand. The truth needs to come out !" His response was "uughghhhgh uughghhhgh huuguughghg."
- Howell, Peter, "At last, Han shot first", Toronto Star, May 12, 2006
- Tocci, Jason, "The Well-Dressed Geek: Media Appropriation and Subcultural Style", Massachusetts Institute of Technology, April 29, 2007
- "Han Shoots First". hanshootsfirst.org. Retrieved 2006-12-03.
- Sagers, Aaron, "An unbelievable day in the life of Jack Bauer", The Morning Call, February 15, 2006
- "This September: Original Unaltered Trilogy on DVD". starwars.com. May 3, 2006. Archived from the original on July 1, 2008. Retrieved December 3, 2006.
- "More Changes to STAR WARS Include Blinking Ewoks and Different Cut of Greedo Shooting First". collider.com. 2011-09-01. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
- "5 Questions With George Lucas: Controversial 'Star Wars' Changes, SOPA and 'Indiana Jones 5'".