Lando Calrissian: Unfairly Judged

I started thinking about Lando and his choice to betray Han.

Under those circumstances, can anyone really blame Lando? He had Darth Vader, the second most powerful being in the galaxy, as an uninvited guest making demands.

He showed up in force, certainly with a condition that Lando allow him to land unless he wanted Cloud City turned into a giant fireball.

Lando had to put the good of the many before the needs of the few, or the one. As I understand, my generation has accepted this as the logical maxim of our times.

If we accept that the “good of the many” outweighs all other considerations, I submit you must conclude that there is no wrong in his decision to betray Han.

Counter Arguments

Many would ask about Vader altering the deal at whim during progressive conversations. I agree this proves Vader’s untrustworthiness and highlights that you cannot make a deal with the Devil since he will always change the terms.

However, supplement this information with the idea that Vader may have felt the need to alter the deal because he could tell that Lando wasn’t fully committed. His emotional ties to his friends were threatening to overcome his rational sense to let the Empire have whomever it wanted.

Generational Hypocrisy

Lando had to weigh whether to warn his friend against his mandate to protect and preserve the lives of thousands. He had a commitment to protect the proletariat Ugnaughts whose labors powered the city.

If my generation has such a commitment to the idea that a minority weighed against the benefit of the many is no weight at all, then our collective anguish over Lando’s decision is hypocrisy at its finest.

Our collectivist moral structure dictates that Lando commits a great wrong when he reverses course and frees the hostages. These were renegades of the state, guilty of treason and sabotage.

Look at the great pandemonium and presumable loss of life that the people of Cloud City endured thanks to Lando changing his mind. It was already too late to save his friend, even.

Even Jim Kirk, in Star Trek III, risked only a small group of people to rescue their friend. In the process he arguably saved the galaxy by keeping the secrets of Genesis from a commander who wanted to use it as a weapon.

Lando instead leaves behind a people that had trusted him as their wise leader for his own sense of worth. He betrayed everyone on that floating city.

If we stay within what we preach as a generation, then Lando doesn’t go from heel to hero, he goes from saint to devil.

The Friendship Factor

What changes it for people is that he is Han’s friend. That’s what makes it wrong.

For someone like me, Lando is in the wrong not just because he’s Han’s friend. He’s wrong because he has chosen to betray someone at all.

Let’s remove Han from the equation. Say instead it’s a random person turning to Lando for help. The Empire asked for this person to be turned in for whatever reason.

They got no trial or due process, and it’s pretty well known what the Empire does with prisoners by that point. You don’t get the reputation as an authoritarian regime without earning it.

A regime like the Empire persecutes those who openly defy or disagree with it. It doesn’t kill everyone, but it leverages bureaucracy against any target of their wrath. They can impose mandates and reward only those who mind their place. Occasionally they can seek to obliterate a political/institutional foe as an example. Just ask Alderaan.

My point is that it should plant a seed of doubt in anyone’s mind about the wisdom of “turning over” someone to them. It shouldn’t make a difference if it’s Lando’s friend or not.

So I submit that the only reason the now–grown fans of the series even object to Lando’s betrayal is because it was their beloved Han Solo. This highlights the baseline of hypocrisy and exposes our general tendency toward selective outrage.


When Lando betrayed Han, it was wrong not because it was Han, but because it was wrong in principle. This idea of rationalizing the sacrifice of someone else for the sake of a perceived good is destructive.

If you think they’ve done something wrong, tell them you won’t shelter them. If necessary, call authorities. It’s not your job to enforce the whims of the state unless they give you a gun and a badge.

6 thoughts on “Lando Calrissian: Unfairly Judged

  1. Also I was thinking today while watching the movie, that when they try to land and don’t get a permission, Lando was trying to make them go away, like a last attempt to protect them, but Han kept asking for him over and over by name so he had to let them land to avoid further suspicions and help them later on. Later he ask to everybody in the city to evacuate, that was eventually going to happen but what better time that before the Empire had taken full control of the place.


    1. Interesting read on trying to make them go away. I know that the Cloud Cars told them not to deviate from their “present course” but always presumed it was so that the Super Star Destroyer could keep playing hide’n’seek on the other side of the planet or something. 🙂 But an overly aggressive defense, arguably, could have been an intentional warning sign; perhaps the “Han that Lando knew years ago” would have picked up on it, but once he landed, Han was locked in for the long haul. Interesting read!


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