Princess Leia is still a beloved character, but Carrie Fisher’s most memorable performance was herself.

Carrie Fisher’s performance in Star Wars earned her a famous Hollywood legend, but her reaction to challenges in life provided her longevity.

There aren’t many real icons.

“Iconic” is a term that is flung about recklessly, becoming synonymous with any adjective that denotes renown and loses its fundamental meaning as being something that inspires unfaltering, unthinking loyalty.

On the other hand, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia is a perfect match.

When every film and television program is a spin-off, sequel, or remake these days, unique mass-entertainment acts have become much more uncommon. Particularly special characters surpassing their specific media and becoming etched in the pop-cultural vocabulary are even rarer.

Fisher’s Princess Leia Organa—a brilliant, rebellious damsel in trouble who may have required rescue on a few occasions. After acting in George Lucas’ Star Wars trilogy, Fisher, who died five years ago, became one of the most well-known persons on the planet. Those wits and bravery stopped her from ever becoming too troubled a portion of our history as a nation with 1977’s Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

There were no highly contagious memes 45 years ago when numerous cinematic fake stories were formed and vigorously investigated. Yet, thanks in part to Leia, her dual hairdo, her famed gold swimsuit scene, and her ascension to the Imperial Senate, Star Wars achieved icon recognition with its reduced popularity.

After Fisher’s untimely death in December 2016, the type of magic that only occurs in movies was necessary to maintain Leia in two more Star Wars films after her victorious return to power as a veteran rebel commander in 2015’s Episode VII: The Force Awakens. She eventually featured in just enough video to be used in two more films. To convincingly incorporate Leia into Episode VIII: The Last Jedi and Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, beyond just artificial lighting was required.

The efficiency of the latest contributions to the film series is still up for discussion. (And, if you’ve been left out, the emotional and sentimental heaviness of her last performance in the last three will move you.) Still, in terms of the original Lucas-directed trilogy, Fisher alone makes Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi worth watching regardless as to whether you give a damn about sci-fi, space, or intergalactic warfare spanning generations.

After a small role in Shampoo, she was just 19 when she filmed the original Star Wars, her second film. Fisher had a compelling presence that outshone any story weaknesses and turned what might have been throwaway banter into capital-M Moments for any other performer.

She didn’t seem to work alone. Four decades later, Leia’s connection with Harrison Ford’s Han Solo—which she disclosed in her last book was also being played out off-camera—remains palpable.