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Luke Skywalker's Famous Bespin Outfit Actually Made Its First Appearance Before Empire Strikes Back

Like everything else in the original "Star Wars" trilogy, the costume design for the film franchise has become as iconic in pop culture as the movies themselves. Of course, there are obvious examples of this, such as Darth Vader's helmet and suit, the armor worn by Stormtroopers, and the robes worn by Jedi like Obi-Wan Kenobi. But, it's also pervasive down to the more mundane outfits worn by the characters, like Leia's diplomatic attire and Han Solo's space-cowboy duds, which are equally revered by "Star Wars" fans.

Imagine, then, the excitement when an average episode of "The Muppets Show" became a sneak peek of Luke Skywalker costume worn during a pivotal scene in "Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back." That's right: One of the most memorable costumes from the original "Star Wars" trilogy, Luke Skywalker's Bespin costume, did not make its debut in the movie. As franchise star Mark Hamill reminded fans on Twitter in 2019, it first appeared on a February 1980 episode of "The Muppets Show."

Mark Hamill wearing Luke Skywalker's Bespin outfit on TV was a big deal in 1980

The "Muppets Show" episode in question, "The Stars of Star Wars" (via IMDb), aired three months before the release of "The Empire Strikes Back." Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill appeared as both himself and his "Star Wars" character, in addition to androids R2D2 and C-3PO. Hamill wasn't wearing any of his outfits from "Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope." Instead, he came decked out in his best Bespin attire, the same costume he wears in his confrontational scene with Darth Vader in "The Empire Strikes Back" (via YouTube).

The beige jumpsuit Luke wears at the end of "Star Wars: Episode V" is the same one he wears when he travels to Bespin. In that suit, he encounters Darth Vader and engages in his very first lightsaber duel. We, of course, know that the scene ends with Luke getting his hand chopped off and Vader announcing that he is actually Luke's father (via YouTube). 

It's important to keep in mind the cultural context of "Star Wars" leading up to "The Empire Strikes Back." At that point in time, "A New Hope" was one of the most groundbreaking sci-fi films of all time. The buildup to the sequel was immense, and Luke Skywalker had become an object of admiration for kids everywhere. One can imagine that seeing Luke Skywalker appear on television in an entirely new get-up must have been truly special.