You don't have to be a sci-fi enthusiast to know Han Solo. Played to perfection by Harrison Ford, the cocky, cynical starpilot has been a defining film hero ever since his first appearance in A New Hope. For the uninitiated, the character of Han Solo in the Star Wars series is introduced as a smuggler, and later goes on to become a rebel fighter against the Galactic Empire – alongside fan favourite Chewbacca, of course. 

In commemoration of the upcoming seventh episode The Force Awakens, we're throwing it back to five of Harrison Ford's finest moments in the series.

1. "I love you." "I know."
It's been quoted, misquoted, and swooned over to no end: The famous moment when, in The Empire Strikes Back, Leia says those big three words. Han's response? "I know." If Ford had followed the script, the original answer would have been a predictable "I love you too," but the actor felt that such a reply wouldn't do justice to the character. Cue his famous ad-libbed response – one certainly befitting of the classic space cowboy.

2. When Han Solo and Princess Leia kissed for the first time.
The romantic pinnacle of any big budget Hollywood film is the inevitable kiss between two (usually attractive) leads. There's something special about this one, though, between the archetypal bad boy and the strong-headed princess – even if the locking of lips was interrupted by the oblivious C-3PO.

Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, and Anthony Daniels as C-3PO

3. When Han shot first...or did he?
The moment when Han Solo shoots down bounty hunter Greedo in A New Hope has become a topic of fiery fan debate. Whether Han or Greedo fired the first shot has been regarded as key to understanding Ford's character; if he did, it would make him a "cold-blooded killer," in the words of director George Lucas. Yet it's Ford's response to Han's moral dilemma that makes this a classic moment of his: "I don't know and I don't care."

4. When Han saves Luke Skywalker
On the icy planet of Hoth, it's a scene of reckless bravery as Han Solo ventures into sub-zero temperatures to save Luke Skywalker. What makes this moment special? It shows the soft side to the notoriously hardy, badass rebel the series was always familiar with.

Luke Skywalker

5. When Han and the crew plunge down a trash chute
In A New Hope, Han, Luke, and Leia are given no choice but to find an escape from enemy shooters...into a trash compactor. It's a classic gag, and one that Ford manages to nail with his snarky delivery: "A really wonderful idea! What an incredible smell you've discovered!" It might be juvenile in its humour, but it's a scene that reminds us all that even the loftiest of heroes can find themselves knocked down a peg.

For last week's #ThrowbackThursday, click here.