But when we see him in The Force Awakens, he's back to being a crotchety asshole smuggler:
The practical effects included replacing laser guns with fingers.
It gives audiences a warm, buttery nostalgia blast, but think about it as if he was a real person for a moment. If you had a friend who was a drug dealer (because that's totally what Han was) and you lost touch for 30 years, only to run into him and find he's still at it, dressing the same and spending all his time with the same platonic semi-nude buddy, wouldn't that depress the shit out of you?
In the movie, we learn that he went back to smuggling after his son went full Damien, but we never saw any of that. All we got to see was a guy in his 70s acting exactly as he did in his 30s. Our childlike enjoyment came at the expense of the character's happiness.
Similarly, in the X-Files revival, Mulder will seemingly never get his shit together and stop obsessing over various conspiracy theories. He even gleefully moves back into the same shitty basement office he had 20 years ago! The place looks like an '80s sitcom about Hitler's bunker. This poor guy's been a "special agent" for decades, can't he get a fucking window by now?