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Wookiees (/ˈwʊkz/) are fictional hirsute humanoids in the Star Wars universe. They come from the planet Kashyyyk and are taller and stronger than most humans. The most prominent Wookiee is Chewbacca, co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon alongside Han Solo.

Wookiee (1877760045).jpg
Home worldKashyyyk
DistinctionsBrown, white, or black fur
LanguageShyriiwook, Xaczik



According to an interview with creator George Lucas, the inspiration for the Wookiee was Lucas' dog, Indiana (whose name is used in the Lucas-inspired Indiana Jones movies). "He was the prototype for the Wookiee. He always sat beside me in the car. He was big, a big bear of a dog."[1] During the climactic chase scene in THX 1138, one of the robotic cops, voiced by actor Terry McGovern, improvises: "I think I ran over a Wookiee back there", and thus the word was born. Wookey was the surname of a friend of Terry's, Ralph Wookey, and Terry thought it would be a funny in-joke to include his friend's name in the soundtrack for THX-1138.[2][3]

In one episode of Animal Planet's series Animal Icons, focusing on the creation of Star Wars figures, it was revealed that the Wookiees were also based on orangutans and lemurs, which are long-haired creatures that live in a hot forest climate.[citation needed] The net effect in terms of the Wookiees' appearance is a marked resemblance to descriptions of the legendary Sasquatch of the Pacific Northwest.


Physical characteristicsEdit

Adult Wookiees are typically taller than most humans, averaging 2.1 meters (6 feet 11 inches).[4] They possess enormous strength; Solo states that a Wookiee can pull a man's arms out of his sockets if angered or slighted, and in books and comics no humanoid species is shown to equal a Wookiee in pure strength. Wookiees have a keen sense of smell, are fully covered with a thick coat of hair, have good hand–eye coordination, and are shown to be excellent marksmen. Wookiees have been shown in many diverse environments, such as those of Hoth, Tatooine and Endor, never wearing any protective clothing or showing any signs of discomfort. Wookiees have a lifespan of several hundred years.[4]


Wookiees are devoted, loyal friends and are very distrustful of strangers.[4] Life debt is sacred to them.

Despite a fearsome appearance and temperamental disposition, Wookiees are very intelligent and are very adept at handling advanced technology. Chewbacca is co-pilot of and performs maintenance on the Millennium Falcon, and also possesses a working knowledge of robotics, managing to haphazardly reassemble C-3PO after he was destroyed by Imperial Stormtroopers in The Empire Strikes Back. Wookiees are fast learners; Chewbacca commandeers an Imperial AT-ST during the Battle of Endor and is shown effectively maneuvering the vehicle and operating its weapons systems.

Wookiees greatly value morality, courage, compassion, and loyalty. A sacred and ancient Wookiee tradition is that of the honor family. An honor family comprises a Wookiee's closest friends and companions. These family members pledge a commitment to lay down their lives for one another, as well as members of any honor families these individuals may have. Like the similarly sacred Wookiee life debt, Wookiees are willing to extend this tradition to members outside their species. Chewbacca considered Han Solo, Leia Organa Solo, their children, and Luke Skywalker part of his honor family.[4]

Wookiees have an understanding of Star Wars– universe warfare and fought alongside Republic forces during the Clone Wars. Wookiees were betrayed and enslaved shortly after that conflict.

Some Wookiees are sensitive to the Force. One such Wookiee is Lowbacca, Chewbacca's nephew, from the book series Young Jedi Knights.

Some Wookiees are also prominent and successful bounty hunters, such as Black Krrsantan, due to their strength and ferocity.


The Wookiee language is Shyriiwook. Wookiees are capable of understanding Galactic Basic, but generally none are able to speak it because of the structure of Wookiee vocal cords. In the original Star Wars trilogy, it seems that Chewbacca can understand humans. His human partner, Han Solo, also shows knowledge of Shyriiwook, or can at least understand Chewbacca; in Solo it is shown that Han does indeed have the ability to speak Shyriiwook at a rudimentary level. In the Star Wars expanded universe novels, Chewbacca builds a miniature translator droid ("Em Teedee") for his nephew Lowbacca when he later begins training as a Jedi, to facilitate communications with his fellow students.


In the Star Wars films, Chewbacca carries a bowcaster, the traditional weapon developed and used by Wookiees. Bowcasters launch quarrels, which are crossbow bolts that through magnetic propulsion appear as elongated blaster bolts due to their velocity. The propulsion technique gives the quarrels extremely high stopping power. Chewbacca in particular is shown to be an excellent shot, killing a Stormtrooper who was attempting to escape on a speeder bike in Return of the Jedi. The spring that powers the bowcaster is extremely hard to pull back; humans are generally incapable of cocking a bowcaster, although Han Solo was seen to do so.[5]

Home worldEdit

In Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith the Wookiees live in the lush forests and giant jungles on the planet of Kashyyyk, where they originated. They live in villages among the giant wroshyr trees. George Lucas has said that he originally planned Yavin IV, home of the rebel base in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, to be the Wookiee home planet,[4] but subsequent rewrites changed this to Kashyyyk instead, and it was ultimately shown on screen as the setting for a battle in Episode III.[6] In the video game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Kashyyyk is one of the planets which may be traveled to. It shows the Wookiees' homes in the treetops while the ground level is filled with deadly creatures and mysteries. Kashyyyk first appeared onscreen in Star Wars Holiday Special.

Kashyyyk is a world enveloped in immense forests and beaches. Inland, the trees are so tall and dense that a layered ecosystem has evolved within its branches. The closer one gets to the forest floor, the more dangerous and primeval the environment becomes. Wookiees inhabit the upper levels of the forest, having built their massive cities within the interwoven canopy. The Wookiee city of Thikkiiana was one of the key manufacturers of sophisticated computer components in the New Republic.[4]

Notable WookieesEdit

Chewbacca is the loyal friend and first mate of Han Solo, and serves as co-pilot on Solo's spaceship, the Millennium Falcon. Gungi is a male Wookiee who is training to be a Jedi. Gungi appears in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Gungi was trained by Ahsoka Tano and was in the top of his class. Lowbacca is a Jedi knight and the nephew of Chewbacca. He studied at Luke Skywalker's Jedi Praxeum and was a companion of Jaina Solo. He wielded a bronze-bladed lightsaber.

Cultural impactEdit

"Let the Wookiee win" (LTWW[7]) is a phrase from A New Hope. When Chewbacca is upset after losing a chess-like game against R2-D2, Han Solo says "It's not wise to upset a Wookiee. They're known to pull people's arms out of their sockets when they lose".[8] In response C-3PO says "I suggest a new strategy, R2: let the Wookiee win".[9][10] It has been interpreted to mean: "In trivial disputes, let the person who cares more have their way."[9] It can also be interpreted as advice to avoid arguments, especially those with shallow motivation such as to appear more intelligent than one's opponent.[10] The phrase and the attitude it expresses have been criticized as potentially justifying the enabling of an abuser.[11]


  1. ^ "STAR WARS: 10 things about Chewbacca you probably didn't know".
  2. ^ "The Complete Conceptual History of Chewbacca". Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  3. ^ Folk, Bill. "Star Wars". Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Star Wars: Databank|Wookiee". Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-11-11.
  5. ^ Star Wars Roleplaying Game (Second Edition, Expanded & Revised ed.). West End Games. 1996. ISBN 0-87431-435-6.
  6. ^ "Wookiee". Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  7. ^ FoxTales: Behind the Scenes at Fox Software, Kerry Nietz, Hentzenwerke, 2004, page 170
  8. ^ Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope – quote condensed and paraphrased.
  9. ^ a b "Is It Easy Being Green?": Writing the New College Application Essay, Justin Nevin, Sourcebooks Inc., Sep 18, 2014, page 18
  10. ^ a b The 12 Principles of Pyong'hwa: Pathways and Perspectives for More Peace and Tranquility in Life, Steev Ramsdell, Balboa Press, 2012 ,page 194
  11. ^ Conflict: From Theory to Action, Roxane Salyer Lulofs, Dudley D. Cahn, Allyn and Bacon, 2000, page 30

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