- "This... this could be good, G7. Very good, for both of us. I play this right, I could get us that transfer to Coruscant. And if I play this very right, I could get us... anything. How to play it, though, that's the question. My next move is crucial, G7. I can't come on too strong, because he wants to be in control, that much is clear. And he's certainly not being coy about his intentions."
- ―TK-421, telling MSE-6-G735Y about his holomessage from Wilhuff Tarkin
TK-421 was the designation of an Imperial stormtrooper who was stationed on the Death Star in 0 BBY. Initially working in the Sector AA-345 Maintenance Unit alongside the MSE-6 series repair droid MSE-6-G735Y, he hoped he could be transferred to Coruscant and enter the droid on the racing circuit there.
TK-421 caught the attention of Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin through an accidental holorecording of himself without his helmet that was displayed due to MSE-6-G735Y crashing into Tarkin and malfunctioning. When Tarkin sent a message back for TK-421 to report to his officer's quarters to repair his aqualeisure unit, TK-421 understood Tarkin's implied intentions and saw an opportunity for himself and his droid to advance. Tarkin and TK-421 began a clandestine intimate relationship that progressed quickly. TK-421 was promoted to station security, a position that Tarkin believed would be safe, and the stormtrooper hoped he and his droid would soon be relocated to Tarkin's apartment on Coruscant.
Alongside TK-710, TK-421's first security assignment was to guard the Millennium Falcon in Docking Bay 327 after the Death Star captured it. The stormtroopers were tricked by Han Solo into the boarding the light freighter and were killed. TK-421's stormtrooper armor became a disguise used by Luke Skywalker to rescue Princess Leia Organa. Tarkin vowed to MSE-6-G735Y that he would avenge the droid's master by eliminating the Rebel Alliance, but shortly afterward, the Death Star was destroyed.
A man and his mouse droid
- TK-421: "That was quick, G7. Fastest mouse droid in the fleet. It's those new rotors I put in, I'm telling you. You know what: We should get you on a racing circuit. Would you like that?"
09:12.15... BIOFORM QUERY"would you like that"
LOGGED. RESPONSE REQUIRED, AFFIRMATIVE:
- MSE-6-G735Y: «Beepbeep.»
- ―TK-421 and MSE-6-G735Y
In 0 BBY, the Imperial stormtrooper with the designation TK-421 was stationed on the Death Star, where he worked in the Maintenance Unit of Sector AA-345. The MSE-6 series repair droid MSE-6-G735Y, which he called "G7," assisted him by delivering supplies and equipment to different sectors of the station. TK-421 considered G7 the fastest mouse droid in the Imperial fleet and promised G7 that if his transfer was approved, they would go together and enter the racing circuit on Coruscant. Although he appreciated the aesthetic aspects of the Death Star, he felt trapped there by the rigorous routines, the lack of downtime, and his armor, especially his helmet.
On one occassion, he complained to the droid about the helmet's effects on his complexion, such as giving him a pimple on his chin that he compared in size to a Kowakian monkey-lizard. When he told G7 to look at his skin, he inadvertently issued an order to activate its holorecorder. The droid thus recorded the stormtrooper with his helmet off and face on display, which was against regulations.
Catching the Grand Moff's eye
- [accent slipping] "It's lovely. Coruscant fiberweave, isn't it?"
"...It is indeed. I see there's more to you than meets the eye, trooper."
[natural voice] "Ooh, it feels so nice between my toes! That's quality, you can tell, that's craftsmanship!...Uh. Um." [faux accent] "Where kin ah set down mah armor, sir? While ah work?"
"On the chair next to the bed, trooper....That's veermok hide, by the way. Nasty creatures."
[faux accent] "Golly! Very impressive, sir!"
- ―TK-421 and Wilhuff Tarkin, in the latter's quarters
Not long afterward, TK-421 sent G7 to deliver a HypnoHypodermal Injector Needle C-7R to an IT-O interrogator droid in Detention Block AA-23; the droid was used by Darth Vader in his interrogation of the imprisoned Princess Leia Organa. In G7's haste to leave, it collided with Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, whom the droid recognized as having security level Alpha One but could not identify by name. The collision injured Tarkin and damaged G7's holorecorder matrix, causing it to inadvertently display the holorecording of TK-421. After admiring the stormtrooper's appearance, Tarkin told G7 to play back the entire message, which the droid was obliged to obey as an Alpha-One-level clearance superseded all of its known commands and subroutines. However, G7's damage rendered it unable to comply and in need of maintenance. Tarkin told his colleague Lieutenant Blagg that he would personally deal with the trooper responsible for the droid, then ordered G7 to report to his quarters in Sector GM1-A and enter into sleep mode.
After Tarkin repaired G7, he sent the MSE-6 unit back to TK-421 with a holomessage that indicated his interest in the stormtrooper, and an invitation to visit his quarters to repair his aqualeisure unit. TK-421 felt flattered that he had caught someone's eye, telling G7 that, if he played the situation right, he could get them a transfer to Coruscant or anything else they wanted. Recognizing he was dealing with an officer who had Academy experience, TK-421 affected naivete and a backwater accent as he recorded his response, saying he would report to Tarkin's quarters after he showered with the antibacterial nanofoam Tarkin had sent him. He sent G7 ahead to deliver his message.
Upon arriving at Tarkin's quarters, TK-421 thanked him for repairing G7. Tarkin invited him inside, but required him to first remove his armor to avoid tracking grease or other residue on the new carpet, which TK-421 recognized as Coruscant fiberweave and complimented. Tarkin pointed out a chair made with veermok hide; he had extensive experience hunting veermoks on his homeworld, Eriadu. He told TK-421 to go about his business in the aqualeisure unit while he prepared for a meeting with the Joint Chiefs, and reminded G7 to execute Imperial Protocol Alpha One to delete all records regarding the encounter.
Several cycles later, the Death Star remained in the Alderaan system after Tarkin ordered the destruction of the rebel-affiliated planet Alderaan, Princess Organa's homeworld, as a display of the Empire's power. During that cycle, TK-421 awakened G7 and told the droid not to worry about its memory gaps. He confided in the droid that they needed to maintain secrecy because everything occuring on the battle station relied upon Tarkin, whom he described as having an icy exterior with other people that was dropped when they were alone together. TK-421 said he made Tarkin laugh when they were together, and that G7 was better off not witnessing certain events or keeping them in its memory. With his security level raised to Beta and his transfer to a comfortable position in station security on the 300 level, TK-421 had hopes that he and G7 would continue their advancement to an assignment in Tarkin's personal detail; after that, they would move to Coruscant, where G7 would enter the droid racing circuit and TK-421 would live in Tarkin's penthouse overlooking the Imperial Palace.
TK-421 was stopped from speaking further when he received a transmission via his helmet's built-in comlink ordering him to guard a captured light freighter. He sent G7 to Tarkin's quarters while he reported for his first assignment on guard duty in Docking Bay 327.
Death and brief legacy
- "Hey, down there! Could you give us a hand with this?"
- ―Han Solo lures TK-710 and TK-421 onto the Millennium Falcon
The YT-1300 light freighter known as the Millennium Falcon had been captured with a tractor beam when it arrived in the system. TK-421 was ordered to guard the starship while a scanning crew determined if anyone was aboard. He stood to the left of the entry ramp while fellow stormtrooper TK-710 was on its right. Shortly after the scanning crew entered the ship, there was a thump from inside that only drew a brief turn of the stormtroopers' heads before they again faced away from the ship. When a voice within the ship called out to them, it was not surprising to the stormtroopers since they had noticed the crew's difficulty with maneuvering the equipment. TK-421 moved to the foot of the ramp and peered up it. The voice asked for assistance, and TK-421 nodded towards TK-710 to follow behind him. They had just reached the top of the ramp when a blaster fired two shots. Han Solo, the captain of the ship, had tricked them.
Accounts differed as to whether the stormtroopers were taken entirely unawares when Solo shot them or if they had attempted to draw their blasters when they were outdrawn by Solo. Luke Skywalker joined Solo in removing the troopers' sets of armor to use as disguises, with Skywalker wearing TK-421's armor as they infiltrated the station with the Wookiee co-pilot Chewbacca and Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi to rescue Princess Leia Organa. Lieutenant Treidum, who was stationed in the docking bay control room, noticed that TK-421 was missing. When Treidum attempted to contact the stormtrooper and asked why he was not at his post, Skywalker emerged from the ship in TK-421's armor and pretended the helmet had a malfunction that interfered with the transmission.
At some point before leaving the Death Star, the rebels placed TK-421's dead body in a crawl space, where it was later found. After learning of TK-421's death, the stormtrooper TD-110 privately observed that they had not known each other well, but TK-421 had been strong and did not deserve that fate.
G7 was awakened from sleep mode by Tarkin after the Battle of Yavin had commenced, and was informed by Tarkin that TK-421 had been murdered by rebels. Tarkin admitted that he had envisioned plans for them together, and vowed that he would soon avenge TK-421 by annihilating the last of the Rebellion with the battle station's awesome destructive power. He invited G7 to witness the imminent destruction of Yavin 4 on the command bridge, but the droid did not arrive due to being caught in an explosion. Seconds afterward, the entire Death Star was blown up by Luke Skywalker, killing Tarkin and destroying MSE-6-G735Y.
Personality and traits
- "We're trapped on this station, G7. That's the truth of it. Oh, don't get me wrong: sure, aesthetically? It's great here. Clean lines, nice soothing gray color palette, and the lighting's, like, seriously flattering. When I was stationed on Lasan, they were all about overhead lighting. Ucch. Can you imagine?"
- ―TK-421, to MSE-6-G735Y
TK-421 was a human male who was 1.847 meters in height. According to stormtrooper TK-450, it was obvious that TK-421 had personally programmed MSE-6-G735Y because the droid stopped recording TK-450 while he was still talking, a behavior that TK-450 compared to TK-421 ignoring what he did not want to hear. TK-450 also thought the other trooper spent more time talking to droids than other beings. TK-421 was indeed fond of G7, and frequently confided in it about his feelings and his wishes for a future where he would paint racing stripes on the droid and enter it into a racing circuit. Though he was not eloquent, he talked at length to the droid. In his discussions with G7, he spoke of them as a pair advancing together. TK-450 mistakenly believed that TK-421 would be unable to stand up to the intimidating attention of someone like Major General Cassio Tagge, Darth Vader, or Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin.
TK-421 appreciated the aesthetics and engineering of the Death Star, particularly its distinctive lighting that was installed in the walls rather than overhead. He preferred the Death Star to his previous station on Lasan, a planet that was besieged by the Empire, where the overhead lighting made everything look depressingly sallow. One of his plans for life on Coruscant involved installing lighting of the same style as the Death Star's. His recognition of the craftmanship of Tarkin's Coruscant fiberweave carpeting caused him to temporarily drop his feigned accent.
According to Luke Skywalker, TK-421's jumpsuit smelled like the Death Star had served a spicy lunch that day. TK-421's aesthetic concerns included his personal appearance and the image he projected of himself. After receiving his short-lived promotion to station security, TK-421 told G7 that the benefits included ordering people around and carrying a blaster rifle. He described it as "very butch," a characteristic that he thought he did not possess but should display when he responded to Tarkin's initial holomessage. Although TK-421 pretended to be less experienced and knowledgable in their encounters, Tarkin considered it a game between them and noticed TK-421's cleverness. They were each envisioning a future together before their deaths.
Skills and abilities
Based on a single holomessage, TK-421 successfully calculated behaviors that would appeal to Tarkin in order to secure advancements in his station that the Grand Moff had the power to grant. That included adopting a persona and performing an accent that he characterized as a "backwater, rough-around-the-edges military grunt," but his natural voice had a higher pitch.
- "I hate having to wear this helmet all the time. I mean, it's so so so so bad for the skin, G7, you have no idea."
- ―TK-421, to MSE-6-G735Y
TK-421 wore white plastoid stormtrooper armor over a black body glove and carried an E-11 blaster rifle while on duty in Docking Bay 327, a weapon that was not ordinarily assigned to him. He hated how the requirement to always wear his helmet had negatively affected his complexion. On his utility belt, he carried a tool kit, blaster power cell containers, and a grappling hook attached to a fibercord reel, the latter of which proved useful to Skywalker when he and Organa needed to swing across a chasm.
Behind the scenes
- "Well, basically it's just luck. We were sent as a group. We were sent along to be stormtroopers. For me, I was lucky to stand in the right place at the right time when they wanted two people to stand at the bottom of the ramp up to the Millennium Falcon, and from that, yeah, I just did whatever I was told, basically."
- ―Stephen Bayley, on how he became the extra who portrayed TK-421
TK-421 first appeared in the 1977 original trilogy film, Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope. The stormtrooper standing to the left of the Millennium Falcon's ramp, rather than the one on the right, was identified as TK-421 in October 2002 on a trading card from the A New Hope expansion set of Wizards of the Coast's Star Wars Trading Card Game. Although not credited in the film itself, some stormtrooper extras such as Stephen Bayley have since been acknowledged, with Bayley attending fan conventions as TK-421's performer. During the production of A New Hope, then called simply Star Wars, the Death Star hangar set was built on sound stage 3 of Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, England. The scene that TK-421 appeared in, scene number 81, was filmed sometime between May 19 and June 1, 1976. According to Bayley, he was selected on the day of filming when extras were needed to portray the two stormtroopers guarding the Millennium Falcon.
In the 2017 anthology From a Certain Point of View, which highlighted minor and background characters from A New Hope, TK-421 was one of the major characters in the short story "Of MSE-6 and Men," written by Glen Weldon and told from MSE-6-G735Y's point of view. TK-421 was also mentioned post-mortem in "Bump" by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker.
The idea of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo dressing up stormtroopers was introduced in the second draft of the Star Wars script that was dated January 28, 1975. The stormtrooper whose armor Luke wore had the designation "TX-four-one-two" in the fourth draft dated January 15, 1976, and "TX-421" in the revised fourth draft shooting script dated March 15. The stormtrooper's designation changed again to "THX 1138" in the November 12 novelization by Alan Dean Foster as a reference to George Lucas and Walter Murch's 1971 film, THX 1138.
In A New Hope, TK-421 goes off-camera when he enters the Millennium Falcon, with his fate implied by sound effects. The sounds were originally scripted as a "quick round of gunfire" in the fourth draft, and became a "large crashing sound" in the revised fourth draft. In the Legends continuity, another set of stormtroopers entered the ship during the garbage compactor scene; TK-421 was found shot along with his fellow guard and the unconscious scanning crew, and all were taken to the sick bay before perishing in the Death Star's destruction. The canon continuity junior novelization A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy, written by Alexandra Bracken and published in 2015, depicts Han Solo setting his blaster to stun before shooting TK-421. Other canon young-readers adaptations likewise state or imply that TK-421 was knocked unconscious. In "Of MSE-6 and Men" and "Bump" however, TK-421 is already dead prior to the Death Star's destruction.
Artist Chris Trevas painted "The Folly of TK-421," which was featured and sold as a print at Celebration Anaheim, an official Star Wars convention held on April 16–19, 2015. It depicts Han Solo pressing his blaster to the unarmored armpit of one stormtrooper while Chewbacca disarms and grapples with the other aboard the Millennium Falcon. Trevas said of his painting, "It's a scene we only hear but never see in A New Hope. Luckily for Luke, TK-421 was well prepared with a belt comlink and grappling hook."
The "TK-421" designation later inspired the naming conventions used by the 501st Legion fan costuming organization that was founded in April 1997. The legion's name in turn became an official part of Star Wars with Timothy Zahn's Survivor's Quest and Fool's Bargain in 2004.
- Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope (First appearance)
- "Of MSE-6 and Men"—From a Certain Point of View
- "Bump"—From a Certain Point of View (Mentioned only)
- From a Certain Point of View audiobook
- Episode IV: A New Hope Read-Along Storybook and CD
- Star Wars: Heroes Path
- A New Hope - The Film Novel (as T.K.F. 821)
- Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (Studio Fun International)
- A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy
- A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy audiobook
- Star Wars: A New Hope junior novelization
- The Rise of a Hero
- Star Wars: A New Hope Cinestory Comic
- "Trapped in the Death Star"—5-Minute Star Wars Stories Strike Back
- Star Wars: A New Hope Graphic Novel Adaptation
- The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight
- Star Wars LINE Webtoon
- Star Wars: The Original Trilogy – A Graphic Novel
- The Odyssey of Star Wars: An Epic Poem
- Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side! (Mentioned only)
- Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side! audiobook (Mentioned only)
- William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope
- LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales – "Mission to Mos Eisley" (In flashback(s))
- LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
- Star Wars Made Easy (Picture only)
- Star Wars: Stormtroopers: Beyond the Armor
- Star Wars: Geektionary: The Galaxy from A - Z
- YT-1300 Millennium Falcon Owners' Workshop Manual
- Star Wars Insider: The Original Trilogy
- Star Wars: Who's Who in the Galaxy: Character Storybook (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars: Book of Lists (Indirect mention only)
- "The Rise of the Rebellion and the Battle of Yavin" – Star Wars Encyclopedia