The electric baton-swinging riot control trooper dubbed "TR-8R" by fans has become one of The Force Awakens' biggest memes — and Lucasfilm is taking notice. Earlier today, they revealed that some of the theories going around concerning TR-8R's backstory are in fact true.
In a post on the official Star Wars website, Lucasfilm revealed that our beloved TR-8R is actually a stormtrooper with the designation FN-2199. He is, in fact, a character who was introduced in Greg Rucka's book Before The Awakening in which Finn's background as a stormtrooper was explored in more depth.
That's him in the background on the left. Yes, he's a ginger.
In Rucka's novel, Finn served and trained with four other troopers: FN-2199 who was also known as "Nines", another nicknamed "Zero" and the last one "Slip". So what nickname did Finn's trooper buddies call him by during their training? Actually he never got one, because no one actually liked him that much. Before The Awakening reveals that, contrary to most of what we see in The Force Awakens, Finn actually showed a lot of promise as a stormtrooper — the only problem was that he cared too much.
Finn was always looking out for Slip, whose nickname came from his tendency to slip up more often than not, and Zero and Nines (along with Captain Phasma) hated it. Slip was actually in the film as well as, you guessed it, the trooper who dies in the beginning, leaving his bloodied handprint on Finn's helmet. Well, that part hasn't been officially confirmed, but it's a pretty sure guess.
Lucasfilm also revealed the people behind FN-2199's portrayal in the movie. His voice — all one line of it — was provided by David Accord, a Skywalker Sound editor who's worked on both the prequels and the Star Wars animates series'. The man in the actual suit was one Liang Yang, a stunt performer who's been involved in all of your favourite action movies without you even realising. Oh and that ridiculous anti-lightsaber baton also has an official name — it's called a Z6 baton and it's used in riot control, though you have to wonder what kind of riots the First Order is dealing with that they need a lightsaber-impervious weapon to stop them.
TR-8R — sorry, Nines — being the trooper who instantly and angrily recognises Finn as a traitor now makes much more sense in the scheme of things, while also adding a whole new layer to Finn's story. Now if only they could make a movie that managed to include these interesting details organically, without forcing you to go out and buy fifteen tie-in novels and comics...
Although FN-2199 was quite brutally taken down by Chewy's bowcaster, Lucasfilm has suggested that there's a possibility he may come back — just like Boba Fett's assumed death was eventually retconned, thanks to his unexpected popularity among fans. "Let’s hope we haven’t seen the last of Nines," the blog post hints. "Or TR-8R. Who wouldn’t want to see round two... and all the memes it could inspire?"