George Lucas had other ideas. He wanted to complete Han's story arc. George must have felt a better story would be told if Han and Leia lived happily ever after. Or maybe he felt someone needed to party with the overgrown living teddy bears on Endor. Or perhaps this was George's way of making sure everyone knew he was the boss. Regardless the reason, Chewie's best friend lived on to help the Rebel Alliance and kiss the girl at the end.
Every body won.
Except Harrison Ford who never got the epic death scene he always wanted.
Then news came out that there would be more Star Wars films. Location scouting, casting, and various aspects of pre-production began. Fans started to speculate whether or not the original cast would return. Around this time, rumors spread that Harrison Ford would only return to the franchise if the script included the death of Han Solo.
In case you are not already aware, Harrison is a member of the cast for The Force Awakens. Does this mean the film's creators are going to kill him off? Maybe. Draw your own conclusions. The typical movie attendee won't know for sure until tomorrow evening at the earliest. (And if anyone spoils it before I see it for myself, I will feed you to a sarlacc.)
What follows is pure conjecture - the wishes of an optimistic fan. If you are looking for spoilers, you will not find them here.
This isn't the spoiler you're looking for.
If Disney does bring a final breath to Han Solo's life, they better do it right. If you think there is no possibility that it could go wrong, you haven't seen the prequels. What could go wrong? Plenty.
If he dies of old age, fans will be confused. Han isn't Yoda.
If he is murdered during a conversation with a smuggler, fans will protest because we all know that Han shoots first.
If he is simply shot in the middle of battle or perishes while crashing the Millennium Falcon, fans will cry foul as our hero deserves better.
If he is accidentally killed by an oddball comedic relief character, fans will forever insist J.J. Abrams's initials stand for Jar Jar.
If Han Solo must die, then he needs to go out on a high note. He must fall in honor, or fans will be let down. It is the only way Harrison Ford can get his wish that will be satisfying for fans.
If I had been a screenwriter for The Force Awakens, here is what I would have done.
Han, Leia, and Chewie are on a mission to rescue Luke. At first, it seems success is theirs but they are surprised by Kylo Ren and his acolytes who had been hiding to ambush the heroes. Cornered and under heavy fire, the group sees only one possible way out. Someone needs to provide cover fire so the remaining members of the group can escape the the awaiting Millennium Falcon. Unfortunately, such an action would be suicidal as there would be no opportunity for that person to follow the others.
Han volunteers, telling his friends that he would willingly give his life in exchange for theirs. "This is something that I should have done years ago," he explains. Then he looks at Luke. The two men hug each other and Han says, "May the Force be with you."
After Han unholsters his blaster, he pauses one last time and turns toward Leia.
"I love you," he says.
"I know," she replies.
Han smiles then ducks around the corner and begins firing upon the Knights of Ren. He takes a couple of hits but remains standing, determined to take as many foes down with him as possible. Luke, Leia, and Chewie make a run for safety on board the Millennium Falcon. Leia looks back at Han once more, just in time to see him struck by a slash from Rylo's lightsaber.
With tears in her eyes, Leia whispers to herself, "I know." Then she climbs into the Falcon and the trio fly off to join Rey and Fin.
That would be the most noble way to kill off a character. It would be reminiscent of Obi-Wan's sacrifice in Episode IV and echo the biblical adage "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." Han's death (if there is one) will probably not happen in such a fashion. But wouldn't it be awesome if it did?
*Image source HERE