The wait is finally over! With Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, in theaters everywhere, we now know more than ever about everyone’s favorite former stormtrooper, Finn. Unlike his bromantic partner, ace pilot Poe Dameron, both Finn and Rey’s pasts are still shrouded in a fair amount of mystery. While Poe’s backstory and adventures with the Resistance prior to The Force Awakens have been well documented, Finn and Rey’s exploits have been explored far less. In Rey’s case, this seems to be done to preserve the mystery of her origins for the films. With Finn, however, it seems unlikely that we’ll get many stories exploring his time as a stormtrooper because he didn’t do much outside of training and sanitation work.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any details about what FN-2187 was up too before he met the gang and joined the Rebels. We’ve dug through countless interviews with the creative team and every canonical story set in the extended universe that mentions Finn to give you a better picture of the man who betrayed the First Order. Today, we’re taking a look at 15 facts you probably never knew about Finn.
*This article does NOT contain spoilers for The Last Jedi*
15. HIS STORMTROOPER NUMBER IS A REFERENCE
Fans of Star Wars know that the films often leave Easter Eggs for eagle-eyed viewers and superfans to decode after they’ve left the theater. Finn’s stormtrooper code number, FN-2187, is one of the many nods to previous Star Wars films that were snuck into The Force Awakens. For starters, the code is a reference to Princess Leia’s holding cell on the original Death Star in A New Hope, Cell 2187.
Cell 2187 was itself a reference to the short film 21-87, directed by Arthur Lipsett. Star Wars creator George Lucas has said on multiple occasions that 21-87 inspired him to make his own short film Electronic Labyrinth: THX-1138 4EB as a student at the University of Southern California’s film school. Years later the short would be adapted into Lucas’ first feature film as a director, THX 1138.
14. HE WASN’T ALWAYS INTENDED TO BE A STORMTROOPER
According to Michael Arndt, one of the screenwriters for The Force Awakens, the idea that Finn should be a former stormtrooper was a throwaway comment made during a writer’s meeting. Arndt recalls the team struggling to decide on what kind of character they wanted their male lead to be, and that the writers were primarily toying with the idea of Finn being some kind of pirate or merchant marine.
Apparently frustrated by the team’s lack of imagination, long-time Star Wars writer Lawrence Kasdan was actually the one to make the suggestion. During an interview with CinemaBlend Arndt recalled Kassdan finally losing his cool with the team and saying something along the lines of, “You guys, you’re not thinking big. What if he’s a stormtrooper that ran away?”
13. HE WAS CALLED EIGHT-SEVEN BY HIS STORMTROOPER FRIENDS
We all know that before he abandoned the First Order, Finn served as a cadet underneath Captain Phasma alongside a group of other stormtroopers. These troopers were seemingly Finn’s closest friends in the First Order and in Greg Rucka’s YA novel Before the Awakening, we learn that the squad all had affectionate nicknames for each other.
All but one of Finn’s comrades took their nicknames from the Stromtrooper number they were assigned so Finn was known as “Eight-Seven.” FN-2199, who famously fought Finn during the assault on Takodana, was known as “Nines.” FN-2003, the Stormtrooper who wiped blood on Finn’s helmet during the battle on Jakku was called “Slip” due to his clumsiness. The only squad mate we don’t get a special moment with, FN-2000, was called “Zeroes.”
12. HE WAS AT THE TOP OF HIS CLASS
Despite the film making fun of Finn for his status as a space janitor, he was actually thought to be at the top of his class by Captain Phasma. Prior to his defection from the First Order, Finn was apparently considered Officer material by his superiors. In Before the Awakening we see Finn completing a number of training assignments with his squad and earns consistent praise from Phasma for his performance.
In a simulated fight against Republic Forces, Phasma informs Finn the he only shot his weapon 36 times while scoring 35 kills. He also successfully deployed an explosive to achieve the objective and take out six more hostiles while saving a fellow squad mate in the process. Phasma even goes as far as saying that his team should “take your example from FN-2187.”
11. HE WAS CALLED OUT BY PHASMA FOR HIS COMPASSION
Though he was praised for his consistently high performance, Phasma also noticed Finn’s compassion. During the training exercise we discussed earlier, Finn orders Nines and Zeroes to assist him in rescuing Slip who was pinned down in cover by enemy forces. After Finn successfully saves his teammate and completes the mission, Phasma congratulates the team before asking him to stay behind.
During their one-on-one Phasma tells Finn that next time he should leave weaker cadets behind as they’ll only weaken his group as a whole. Later on, the cadets are training with vibro-axes and Slip is injured. When sparring with Finn, Slip is easily defeated, but Finn goes out of his way to avoid hurting his friend. This earns him another scolding from Phasma and begins to sow seeds of doubt in the First Order.
10. HE WENT TO JAKKU BECAUSE HE SPARED A PRISONER
After these training incidents, Finn and his crew accompany Phasma on a mission to a mining colony in an asteroid field known located in the Outer Rim. Phasma tells her crew that they’re there to restore order after Republic Forces had sabotaged the mining operations and caused dissent among the workers. Upon arrival it becomes apparent the miners had simply been protesting the harsh working conditions they’d been placed under.
Phasma takes Finn and friends to a room full of negotiators and orders the troopers to execute them. Finn points his blaster at one of the negotiators, but simply couldn’t bring himself to take the shot. Despite his failure to follow orders, his team are made full-fledged stormtroopers after the mission and Phasma decides to deploy them to Jakku in hopes that seeing actual combat against their enemies would inspire Finn to become a true stormtrooper.
9. KYLO REN NOTICED HIM BEFORE HE DEFECTED
Alan Dean Foster’s cannonical novelization of The Force Awakens retells the events of the film (albeit with a few slight departures) from Finn’s perspective. One scene in particular shows that Kylo Ren may have noticed Finn’s doubts about the First Order before he defected. When the First Order burns down Lor San Tekka’s village on Jakku, Finn refuses to fire on the civilians and finds himself unable to move.
In that moment, Finn believes that Kylo knows he didn’t fire, and can sense the doubt in his heart. Though the moment only lasts a second, Finn is convinced he’s a dead man until Kylo releases him. This seems to explain why Kylo recognizes Finn as FN-2187 during their battle in the movie and also why he almost immediately knows that it was Finn who helped Poe escape.
8. JOHN BOYEGA AUDITIONED FOR THE ROLE NINE TIMES
According to Kathleen Kennedy, a producer on all post-Disney Star Wars films and acting President of Lucasfilm, John Boyega auditioned for the role of Finn a whopping nine times over the course of seven months. Director J.J. Abrams reportedly wanted to find unknown actors for all of the film’s original characters so that fans would be meeting them for the first time in these new roles.
Boyega had impressed Abrams in his acting debut in the 2011 British sci-fi movie Attack the Block and Kennedy said the actor had been at the top of their list from the beginning. Despite the fact that they went on a “massive search just to see who was out there” they continued to call Boyega back until finally giving him the role.
7. HE ALMOST HAD A BRITISH ACCENT
Surprisingly enough, the insane number of times Boyega was required to audition for the part wasn’t the only the challenge he faced while trying to land the role of Finn. Unlike his costar Daisy Ridley (who plays Rey), Boyega was asked to perform as Finn with an American accent.
This decision apparently came down from Abrams, who at some point during production decided that Boyega’s natural London accent wasn’t the right fit for the role. During an appearance on The Graham Norton Show to promote The Force Awakens with Ridley and Carrie Fischer (who plays Leia), Boyega revealed that they even went as far as doing some screen tests with his normal accent before Abrams made the call that Finn should sound more like an American.
6. HE’S 23 YEARS OLD
Though it’s never expressly stated how old Finn is, with a little basic math we can figure out that he’s supposed to be about 23 years old. Thanks to Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary we know that Finn was born in the year 11 ABY (or 3288 LY if you go by the Lothal Calendar).
According to Star Wars: Galactic Atlas, we also know that the Attack on Tuanul we see at the beginning of The Force Awakens takes place in 34 ABY (or 3311 LY) meaning that at the start of the film Finn should be about 23 years old. Since The Last Jedi picks up directly after the events of The Force Awakens the oldest he could be by this time is 24 (just one year younger than Boyega himself).
5. HE WAS MINIMIZED FOR THE FORCE AWAKENS CHINESE POSTER
Any movie buff can tell you that films often have multiple promotional posters created for different markets. So it should come as no surprise that the Chinese version of The Force Awakens poster was a bit different than its American counterpart. However, the poster came under fire from Western audiences because of what, or rather who, they decided to remove.
If you look at the side by side comparison we’ve got for you above you’ll immediately notice how much smaller and less centralized Finn is in the Chinese poster. Instead we see Leia, Han and BB-8 are bigger and more prominently displayed. Also absent from the Chinese version of the poster are Oscar Isaacs’ Poe Dameron, Lupita Nyong’o’s Maz Kanata and for some reason Chewbacca.
4. HE HAS A SOFT SPOT FOR ANIMALS
Finn’s sense of compassion and mercy extends beyond both human and sentient alien life, as evidenced by a comic story titled Pest Control from IDW’s canonical Star Wars Adventures #3. After a group of stormtroopers leave the First Order’s Finalizer ship to investigate the Outer Rim planet GUHL-JO387O, Finn is left behind to do some sanitation work.
GUHL-JO387O was known for having an extremely muddy surface, and while scrubbing mud off of some of the remaining Atmospheric Assault Landers, Finn discovers a cute little alien creature from the planet had somehow found its way aboard the Finalizer. Instead of reporting it and simply allowing the creature to be killed, Finn chased it around the entire ship until he finally caught and released it back on GUHL-JO387O’s surface.
3. HE ONCE HAD HIS HELMET STOLEN BY A MONKEY-LIZARD
However, not all of his interactions with alien creatures have gone quite so smoothly. In the preview issue of IDW’s series, Star Wars Adventures Ashcan, Finn and a squadron of stormtroopers found themselves deployed on an unnamed planet covered in lush jungles.While on patrol, a Kowakian monkey-lizard jumped on to Finn’s shoulders and stole his helmet.
He was so startled by the creature’s attack that he dropped his blaster as the monkey-lizard mocked him. Though this story comes from a comic aimed at young adults and the event is obviously being played for humor it’s interesting because it stands out from every other story about Finn before his time with the Resistance. From what we’ve seen across all of the supplemental material featuring Finn, this seems to be the only time Finn was portrayed as anything other than a weapons expert.
2. HE WAS TAKEN FROM HIS FAMILY AS A BABY
We know that Finn was one of many children kidnapped at a young age to be trained by Captain Phasma as a new generation of stormtroopers. However, when you consider that Finn has absolutely no memory of his life before the First Order we can actually do a pretty good job of figuring out approximately how old he was when he was taken from his family.
Babies can recognize their names as early as 5-7 months old and by the time they’re around two years old they know and can speak their names as well as those of family members. So unless the First Order is doing some kind of brainwashing to erase these children’s barely present memories (which is possible, but seems unlikely) we can surmise that Finn was no more than two years old when the First Order took him from his home.
1. HE WAS THE HEAD OF SANITATION ON STARKILLER BASE
Our final entry is another revelation from Rucka’s work with the character in Before the Awakening. As much as the films like to poke fun at Finn for being a sanitation worker, he was apparently pretty damn good at it. In fact, the book informs us that at one point Finn was actually in charge of all sanitation duties on the Starkiller Base.
Let that sink in for a second. Finn was in charge of sanitation duties for the entirety of a planet-sized super weapon. Sure, it’s unlikely the entirety of the planet was actually being used by the First Order, but when you consider how expensive this thing must have been to create and how important it was to the Order’s plans for galactic conquest it’s actually a pretty huge honor to be totally in charge of anything on the base.
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