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Star Wars: What Is A Nerf-Herder & Why Does Princess Leia Call Han Solo One?

World-building is essential for any science-fiction or fantasy franchise, and there are some hilarious places it can manifest. In "Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back," Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) calls Han Solo (Harrison Ford) a "stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf-herder." It's one of the best, sassiest lines Leia has ever had, which is really saying something. From that moment, a fantastic new insult was born, as fans wondered what exactly a nerf-herder was. 

While one might assume "nerf-herder" is some terrible thing equivalent to any number of earthly profanities, Leia was actually just recalling one of Han's one-time jobs. In the "Star Wars" #17 comic book, written by Jason Aaron with art from Leinil Francis Yu, Luke (Mark Hamill) and Han need some cash between the events of "A New Hope" and "Empire Strikes Back." They agree to a job transporting nerfs, which are similar to something like a cow or buffalo. They also stink to high heaven, so Han isn't exactly thrilled about the gig. In addition to the nerfs irritating Han, they're also illegal, which causes further problems in this adventure. 

Smuggling illegal nerfs is far from the most terrible thing Han Solo has done, but Leia's insult is a specific put-down toward him rather than a generic jab. She's reminding him of a humiliating job he had earlier, and of course, Han plays it off like being reminded he used to be a nerf-herder doesn't bother him by focusing on something else: "Who's scruffy-looking?"

Nerf-herder is far from the only Star Wars insult

With so many planets and cultures in the "Star Wars" universe, it makes sense that there would be wholly new sayings and phrases. It's rather odd Han Solo would say something like, "I'll see you in Hell," implying the concept of Hell exists in "Star Wars." It's better to simply have new sayings, and while nerf-herder may be specific to something Han did, there's no shortage of great insults and swears to find within the franchise. 

Leia once again zings Han in "The Empire Strikes Back" when she tells him, "I don't know where you get your delusions, laserbrain." Seeing as how "laserbrain" is used in tandem with being delusional, it's clearly meant to be an insult toward someone's intelligence. Young Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) picked up some naughty language when he says the Huttese word "sleemo," which roughly translates to "slimeball," in "The Phantom Menace." Even when "Star Wars" was bought out by family-friendly Disney, some new profanities entered the mix, such as "Dank farrik" coming up repeatedly throughout "The Mandalorian." It seems to be a general expletive, but it's a line on "The Mandalorian" that means more than you may realize.

Among all this, "nerf-herder" is arguably the most iconic insult in all of "Star Wars." Even if it means something specific to Han, there's the implication that one hangs around a bunch of smelly animals all the time, which come to think of it, sounds a bit elitist on Leia's part.