In the first act of The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker is attacked and captured by a large bipedal creature called a wampa that hangs him unconscious from the roof of its lair in anticipation, it seems, of eating him. Luke awakens, retrieves his light saber, frees himself, and chops off the creature’s arm. He then runs out of the cave onto the icy wastes of Hoth and nearly freezes to death.

Why? Why does he run out of the cave? He still has the light saber. Killing the wampa would have been trivial (it may have been dying from exsanguination already). The cave was sheltered, comparatively warm, potentially contained food. And yet he flees. Help me understand.

  • 18
    That the Wampa will die from exsanguination soon is highly unlikely. Lightsabers tend to cauterize wounds they inflict. On the other side it may experience a shock from loosing the limb and die from it.
    – EarlGrey
    Sep 27, 2017 at 10:54
  • 4
    @EarlGrey In Star Wars Legends (what had been canon before Disney bought it), the Wampa did live, and was actually encountered again by Luke Skywalker when he visited Hoth again. I believe it was in Children of the Jedi. Sep 27, 2017 at 18:27
  • 2
    @bubbajake00 Okay, so the Wampa didn't die from exsanguination, either ^^
    – EarlGrey
    Sep 28, 2017 at 7:44
  • 4
    The wampa survived
    – user13267
    Sep 28, 2017 at 10:50
  • Because Han hadn't shot it first, like poor Greedo. Sep 28, 2017 at 12:10

1 Answer 1


Four reasons:

  1. The wampa might not have been alone (remember, the Rebels didn't know much about life on the planet, having only recently arrived, and Luke likely would have had no idea if wampas were solitary or not). He didn't want to find out.

  2. In order to be rescued, Luke would have to be found. Being in a cave means he won't easily be found.

  3. Luke is injured and cold. He is disoriented, and probably not thinking entirely straight.

  4. He was possibly being guided by the force - he did have a force vision shortly after (props to Robobear)

  • 5
    Also, Jedi don't kill if they can avoid it.
    – JollyJoker
    Sep 27, 2017 at 7:25
  • 4
    "no idea there was any life on the planet"... which begs the question of how it came to be named.
    – Simba
    Sep 27, 2017 at 10:11
  • 14
    The rebels didn't have "no idea there was any life on the planet". They're riding around on tauntauns, which are native to Hoth. Sep 27, 2017 at 12:21
  • 18
    In a deleted scene C-3PO tears a warning sign off a door as they're leaving, and then some stormtroopers open the door only to have a wampa grab one of them. So the rebels knew about the wampas - they had captured one.
    – Rob Watts
    Sep 27, 2017 at 16:30
  • 5
    I would also add that he was having visions of Ben Kenobi, and may have been responding to promptings from the Force concerning what he was doing.
    – RoboBear
    Sep 27, 2017 at 22:15

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