When we first meet Princess Leia Organa the plucky princess is standing toe-to-toe with one of the most intimidating villains in movie history - Darth Vader. Her ship may have been taken hostage, many of her guards may have been killed, but that doesn't stop Leia from standing up what she believes in, even if that stance comes at great personal cost.
Later tortured, and forced to watch her homeworld of Alderaan destroyed by the Empire, the princess' will is not broken. It's her quick thinking that leads her and her would-be rescuers out of a the detention area. And it's her ingenuity in placing the stolen plans and message to Obi-Wan Kenobi inside a small astrotech droid that saves the entire Rebellion and leads to two of its greatest heroes, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, being brought into the fold.
In the next few years she would rescue the man she loves from the clutches of Jabba the Hutt and help lead the Rebellion to their final victory over the Emperor. As those who have continued to follow the character's adventures in the Expanded Star Wars Universe know, that's far from the end of her story.
Leia is one of the strongest and most vocal leaders of the New Republic, the democracy built after the fall of the Empire. She is even elected into the office of Chief of State.
She would give birth to three children, all of whom would grow up to powerful Jedi. First twins Jacen and Jaina, and later Anakin. The youngest son she would lose in The Yuuzhan Vong War to an alien race from outside the farthest reaches of the known galaxy. The older son would be even more painful as his path into the Dark Side would lead him to become a Dark Lord of the Sith that only his sister could eventually stop.
Despite the great successes and tragic failures of her life, Leia has never lost faith in her family or in her love of democracy. However, in her later years she would put her political career on hold to follow in here brother's footsteps and become a Jedi.
In the original trilogy Leia is played by Carrie Fisher with charm, guile, and a huge set of balls. Fisher provided the template for the character that writers of novels and comics have expanded on in the decades that have followed. To this day she, and her memorable golden bikini, remain one of most iconic heroic women of sci-fi/fantasy and one of its most awesome characters.