Admiral Ackbar’s “IT’S A TRAP!” has become part of online discourse, but Star Wars originally intended to reference the line with another character.
As any fan will attest, Star Wars has had more than its fair share of memorable characters and quotes throughout the decades. Even characters with a handful of lines or a prominent appearance in the background of a scene have gone on to have a meaningful impact on the series when their own stories are fleshed out. Among these characters is Admiral Ackbar, the Mon Calamari Rebel leader who has long since transcended his original paltry screen time thanks to one memorable quote.
Admiral Ackbar’s moment in the sun came at the climax of Return of the Jedi. With the Second Death Star nearing completion, the Rebel Alliance launches a full scale assault to destroy the planet-killing space station. Unbeknownst to the Rebellion, the Empire is not only aware of the planned attack, but they’re counting on it. As the Rebel fleet under Ackbar’s command exit hyperspace and begin their operation, Emperor Palpatine’s intentions are made clear: much of the Imperial fleet is lying in wait, the shield protecting the Death Star was quite operational when they arrived, and most horrifyingly the partially built station’s primary weapon is fully operational. Realizing what they’ve stumbled into, Admiral Ackbar shares his now iconic observation: “It’s a trap!”
Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca’s Darth Vader (2015) introduced a very different Mon Calamari – the Imperial-aligned Commander Karbin. Karbin’s position of authority high in the military hierarchy not only mirrored that of Ackbar, but his other chief influence, General Grievous. One of the individuals put forth as a possible replacement for Darth Vader through the Cylo Directive, Karbin’s organic body had been replaced with an upgraded frame modeled after that of the infamous Separatist general. Though it resulted in his own demise, Commander Karbin made a play to not only destroy Darth Vader but capture Luke Skywalker in the process, intending to secure his position as the Emperor’s new number two. However, Gillen shared in author’s notes to the collected series that Commander Karbin executing his plans was intended to include a major callback. The original script reads:
And we reveal on COMMANDER KARBIN flanked by his bodyguards. Behind him there’s Imperial vessels flying around him. There’s troop transports down there too, plus Imperial Shuttles landing. Some are disgorging more stormtroopers into the mists. This is more force than the Rebels are going to be able to deal with, even if they hadn’t been slaughtered by Vader. Things look bad. KARBIN: IT’S A TRAP.
Star Wars’ “It’s a Trap” Flipped
Gillen adds that it “absolutely should have been cut due to it shattering the atmosphere of the universe,” but admits it still elicited a smile. Much of this still played out the same: Commander Karbin stands in a triumphant pose, lightsaber in hand, the full might of the Empire at his back. Originally, Karbin would have mirrored his Mon Calamari counterpart, but rather than observe the trap they fell into, he would’ve announced the trap he’d just sprung on both Vader and the Rebels. Instead, Karbin makes an original statement prematurely declaring his own victory. Interestingly, while this line was cut for being too self-referential, a similar instance managed to slip into final print to Gillen’s surprise. The Indiana Jones-inspired Dr. Aphra, upon acquiring the Triple Zero Matrix, mirrors her chief influence by declaring “It belongs in an armory!”
Star Wars is rarely afraid of referencing its own history with the re-uses of famous quotes and nods to memorable moments. However, the General Grievous inspired Mon Calamari was already a venture into absurdity, and the serious nature of the conflict demanded Karbin’s “IT’S A TRAP!” never make it to print – fun though it would have been.