Just when we hoped 2016 was done taking so much, it proves that it’s not done yet. Carrie Fisher, who suffered a heart attack on a plane home from London on Friday, died today. She was an author, screenwriter, script doctor, and actress—and of course her most famous role was, and will always be, Princess Leia.
These days, with more female superheroes and action stars, it might get lost just how groundbreaking Princess Leia was as a character in the mid-70s, the days in which princess was synonymous with Disney princess. We all know the Disney princess formula—princess leaves home; princess faces challenges; princess fails challenges; prince saves princess. And then we meet Princess Leia; yeah, she’s a princess, but she’s on a ship of freedom fighters, she’s captured, tortured, and still ends up saving the day when her own rescue is botched. And Fisher played her with humor, toughness, and beauty. She was the right actress in the right role, and while the “slave Leia” costume might have turned heads, it was her intelligence and presence that kept them turned (and she was one hell of a badass in that costume, too, strangling her captor in it).
To most sci-fi fans, Carrie Fisher was our princess, far more than any real princess. Her leaving us would have been sad at any time, but at only 60 years old, and as part of such a sad parade of iconic figures leaving us this year, makes it even tougher.
Goodbye, my princess; thank you for being part of sparking my imagination, and showing me as a young boy that girls can kick ass too.