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Stories behind the minor characters in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars fans love a good backstory. In the old Expanded Universe, every minor character in every scene had an elaborate and thrilling story to tell, from droids all the way down to the heartless little pig guys who worked the freezing chambers on Bespin. There are no boring characters when it comes to George Lucas' brainchild, so with so many small guests in The Force Awakens and not nearly enough time to tell their stories, who should we be paying attention to? Here are a few minor characters and what we know about their off-screen lives thanks to the new generation of in-continuity novels, behind-the-scenes books, action figure packages, and the endless online writings of dedicated Star Wars fanatics.

Maz Kanata

The bespectacled smuggler is obviously ancient, but Star Wars lore says that she's at least a thousand years old. That makes her the oldest known living figure in the galaxy, aside from possibly Snoke, and that's very important. She's watched the Empire rise and fall, and knows the secrets of the ancient Jedi. While she's not a Jedi herself, she believes in the fight against the Dark Side, and she's also sensitive to the Force, which she'd apparently used to track down the fabled Skywalker lightsaber, presumably so another Chosen One would eventually be drawn to it in the storage unit at her castle.

Captain Phasma

It's not completely clear in The Force Awakens, but the mysterious Captain Phasma serves under Supreme Leader Snoke on equal footing with General Hux and Kylo Ren. Behind the scenes, Phasma was responsible for assembling and training her elite unit, memorizing each Stormtrooper's strengths, weaknesses, and serial numbers. Notably, her reflective armor is actually coated by the remains of Palpatine's old ship, showing that Starkiller Base had more than one villain who liked relics of dead Sith. Maybe Hux has Governor Tarkin's burnt-up undies on under his officer duds, too. Also, Phasma will be returning in Episode VIII, so she didn't actually die in that trash compactor after all.

Lor San Tekka

The old man in the desert at the beginning of The Force Awakens doesn't survive past the first few minutes of the film, but official Star Wars literature reveals that he was an explorer, as well as a member of the Church of the Force, a secret collective that formed during the worst of the Empire years when Jedi beliefs were outright illegal. Tekka was instrumental in helping a post-Endor Luke discover parts of Jedi lore which had been hidden or destroyed by the Empire, presumably also guiding him towards the first Jedi Temple, where we finally see the older Luke in exile.

FN-2199

Affectionately known online as TR-8R, FN-2199 is the Stormtrooper who whips out a Z6 Riot Control Baton on Finn outside of Maz Kanata's castle, calling Finn a traitor and nearly killing him in battle before Han Solo pops off a bowcaster shot, saving Finn. Finn and 2199 were actually good friends back at Phasma's Stormtrooper academy, with 2199 going by the nickname "Nines." The book Before the Awakening, though intended for children, details the friendship between Finn and Nines in greater detail, as well as their training, which explains how Finn could hold his own with a lightsaber. Also, Nines is a redhead, just because.

Snap Wexley

Temmin "Snap" Wexley comes from a line of traitors to the Empire. His father was arrested for being a secret Rebel agent, and his mother abandoned him on their hostile home planet of Akiva so that she could join the Rebels as a pilot herself. Temmin became an angry kid who played nerdy board games and turned harmless Droids into killing machines until his mom returned home a few years later, when the pair were subsequently attacked by a vicious gangster and rescued by a pair of Rebel allies. Snap eventually joined the Resistance, grew a beard, and the rest is history.

Unkar Plutt

Plutt is the junkboss of Jakku, which sounds like a terrible job to have, but is probably the highest honor possible on a terrible planet like that. Fan speculation says that Rey was left with Plutt along with the Millennium Falcon as payment for some long-term babysitting duties, but official Star Wars sources haven't commented on that yet. In an unreleased scene, Plutt follows Rey to Kanata's castle and confronts her about stealing the Falcon, prompting Chewie to rip off Plutt's arm for the indignity. If Plutt survived the ordeal, well...he'll probably still be Jakku's equivalent of Watto, because Star Wars is nothing but desert junk planets.

Constable Zuvio

The mystery of Constable Zuvio runs deep. While the character has been prominently featured in coloring books, junior novelizations, and two different action figures, the guy never really appears in The Force Awakens. Even though Zuvio's scenes were completely cut, he still has more of a backstory than most of the film's mysteries: he's an extremely honorable guy who keeps order at the Niima Outpost where Rey hangs out, he's adept with both a staff and a gun, he wears a Kyuzo war helmet and salvaged armor, and no one knows why he has more collectibles than Captain Phasma, who actually gets to speak in the film.

The Guavian Death Gang and Bala-Tik

After borrowing 50,000 credits from the Guavian Death Gang, Han Solo is confronted on board his freighter by the Gang and their scrawny leader, Bala-Tik, as well as the Gang's rivals, the Kanjiklub. The Gang's red-masked soldiers are actually all cyborgs who have exchanged their humanity for robot parts, really good wi-fi, space-steroids, and a second heart to handle all of the extra junk. Bala-Tik only serves as a negotiator for the gang, so he was allowed to keep his human head, even though he has a cybernetic leg hidden in his pants.

Kanjiklub and Tasu Leech

Kanjiklub, the other space scoundrels who were looking for revenge on Han Solo, is comprised of slaves who escaped from Hutt clutches on Nar Kanji, using improvised and scavenged weaponry, as opposed to the hi-tech armory of their rivals, the Guavian Death Gang. Their leader, Tasu Leech, carries a gun called a "Huttsplitter," which does exactly what it sounds like. Taking advantage of Hutt infighting, Kanjiklub defeated their planet's invasive Hutts and branched out into space. We'd really like to see some of those Hutts get split. It probably looks like a macaroni salad in there.