Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

TK-421: The Stormtrooper Whose Gay Love Affair Secretly Changed Star Wars Forever

For the most part, Stormtroopers are background players in the "Star Wars" franchise. Sure, occasionally, someone like Finn (John Boyega) will come along and be given a personality and transformative arc, but these examples are few and far between. Still, the rare instances of Stormtroopers capturing fans' imaginations can be traced back to the franchise's earliest years, and one, in particular, has a brief feel-good romantic backstory that sadly ends in obliteration.

TK-421 (Stephen Bayley) is one of the most popular Stormtroopers among fans of the galaxy far, far away. He's mentioned by name in "Star Wars: A New Hope" when his commanding officer questions him about departing his Death Star post. As such, TK-421 is given some type of identity beyond that of a faceless soldier. However, the wider lore reveals that he had a secret romantic relationship with a high-ranking Imperial officer, which almost boosted his career prospects. With that in mind, let's dig into the story of TK-421 and detail its sweet moments and tragic ending.

One story implies that TK-421 got with Tarkin

In "Star Wars: A New Hope," TK-421 and one of his Stormtrooper colleagues are ambushed by Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) while guarding the Millenium Falcon on the Death Star. Their suits are then stolen so that Han and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) can sneak onto the Galactic Empire's space station undetected and carry out their heroic mission to destroy it. But why was TK-421 guarding this spot in the first place?

In Glen Weldon's short story "Of MSE-6 and Men," from the anthology collection "Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View," it's revealed that TK-421 is tired of his current gig on the Death Star and wants to move to Coruscant. Until that materializes, though, he's given a new role guarding the captured Millennium Falcon by his new Imperial lover, seemingly under the assumption that the gig will be drama-free, while setting up the scenario we see in the movie. Of course, "A New Hope" proves that his new role is worse than his previous one, as TK-421 is one of many Stormtroopers who ultimately perish on the space station after the Rebels destroy it.

The Imperial officer isn't mentioned by name in the story. However, it's heavily implied that he's Wilhuff Tarkin, the Eriaduan who was most famously portrayed by Peter Cushing on the screen. The topic of who the high-ranking officer is has been debated at length by fans on Reddit, with many concluding that Tarkin is the one who stole TK-421's heart. If that's the case, it would seem that the cold-hearted baddie isn't as heartless as most "Star Wars" media makes him out to be.