Of all the new breakout characters featured in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the strangest, least expected star was the stormtrooper who has become known as TR-8R. That’s the moniker the Internet gave the First Order foot soldier that calls John Boyega’s Finn, "Traitor," and then throws down with him. As it turns, however, he has a real name, a nickname, and…red hair?
Potential Star Wars: The Force Awakens spoilers lurk beyond this point. Tread lightly.
We recently learned a little bit about TR-8R’s backstory, which is something we haven’t had about most stormtroopers in the past, but now we know even more. According to the official Star Wars website, the soldier who inspired a thousand viral memes is actually named FN-2199. His friends, among which number Finn used to be counted, call him Nines for short. He is even pictured in the background of a piece of concept art without his helmet, which shows that he has a shock of bright red head.
Nines shows up during the scene where the First Order arrives at Maz Kanata’s cantina on Takodana, and when he sees Finn, he bellows at him, whips out his Z6 riot control baton, and the two come to blows. It’s easy enough to pass this off as one dedicated soldier being pissed off that another deserted and went AWOL, but there’s much more to the story.
In the book Before the Awakening, it is revealed that Finn, previously designated FN-2187, and Nines served together as part of a four-man squad. Working together in such a manner, it sounds like they must have become fairly close, which would certainly explain why he recognizes Finn so quickly, as well as why he’s so butt hurt about it. It isn’t just that a soldier deserted, but he lost a friend, too.
It was actually another member of their crew that played a part in Finn’s decision to leave. The stormtrooper who dies on Jakku in the early going, the one that smears his own blood across Finn’s mask, was named Slip, and was part of their team. Watching his friend die in combat is what compelled Finn to abandon ship.
Not only does this illustrate just how detailed the stories in the Star Wars universe truly are, it helps add a whole other dimension to the stormtroopers. For the most part, they’ve been little more than faceless canon fodder in the saga, but Star Wars: The Force Awakens has gone to great lengths in order to humanize them, to give them feelings and emotions and their own individual personalities and stories like never before.
It’ll be interesting to see if this develops as we move towards Star Wars: Episode VIII, and many have already expressed the hope that FN-2199, Nines, TR-8R, or whatever you want to call him, survived getting shot and will show up in the future. It could provide an interesting wrinkle for Finn’s narrative moving forward.