When the rebels are planning to attack the Starkiller base, Finn seems to know a lot about the security.

And yet, later on, he mentions he was in the sanitation department.

His rank was similar to a Private in the modern army. Would we expect a private to know all the details of how a nuclear base (for example) is guarded? So how come Finn knows all those details?

  • 4
    A Janitor usually has access to all kinds of parts of the building, and may see things that your average Private would not
    – zipquincy
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 17:43
  • Well, for that matter, if Finn was just a janitor, why was he taking part in the raid on Jakku early in the story? I'm not convinced that "Sanitation" actually means "sweeping the floors". Perhaps more like "mopping up the opposition".
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 17:47
  • 2
    Finn wasn't in "sanitation". He wasn't even (from a certain point of view :) a "regular private". He was a first-rate cadet, 1% of his class, officer promotion material. The fact that cadets get to clean toilets is a reflection on First Order logistics, not Finn. scifi.stackexchange.com/a/113304/976 Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 17:57
  • @DVK want to make that into an answer? The fact he was a top cadet could explain why he knew so much about so many fields Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 18:01
  • 1
    "Sanitation" can cover a lot of territory, including the detection and removal of biological agents and chemical agents, or any other substance detrimental to the First Order. Presumably this could also include anything the First Order wanted it to... Including some sort of force detection/draining technology. Overall, too early to answer your question....
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 21:27

6 Answers 6


We don't know that he is "low ranking"

Finn is an odd trooper, or at least our conception of a trooper. He says he was "in sanitation", however he was part of a ground assault on an important mission. This could indicate that the First Order have a policy of having their entire work force combat ready, which would not be abnormal considering the rest of their depiction. That alone indicates that their training and duties are probably not specialized but multi-faceted. Well, multi-faceted in the strict confines of Starkiller given his lack of linguistics and basic ship mechanics.

More importantly, there are hints in the movie that he isn't just a basic grunt. While he's clearly no officer, he:

  1. Again, is one of the few (comparatively given the size of the standing force on Starkiller, although apparently the his entire class considered above average) chosen for an important mission.

  2. Is familiar with and is known by Captain Phasma. Apologies for the second hand citation (I'll shoot for an update later), but she mentions "FN-2187 has the potential to be one of the finest stormtroopers I have ever seen" in the novel. Out of all of the people on the base, Phasma seems to have an eye on Finn (although @DVK notes it might be an eye of suspicion). She probably doesn't ask for his blaster randomly but rather because she was actively keeping an eye on him during the raid.

In other words, Finn was an up and coming member of the First Order. Since his first instinct to take down the Starkiller (or more accurately, to find Rey) is to go right to Phasma, it likely that his understanding of the base comes directly from her.

  • This is slightly inaccurate re: Finn and Phasma :) Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 18:21
  • How do you mean? This is just based on observations from the movie and from I've heard about the novel. Willing to update or remove if you've got more.
    – joshbirk
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 18:22
  • (1) His entire class was chosen for Jakku. Not just Finn. (2) She WAS keeping an eye out for him but not for the reasons you think: she was concerned he was too soft-hearted, despite being excellent as a theoretical soldier in training Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 18:24
  • Gotya. While more specific, I'm not sure it contradicts the answer. His entire class is still a fairly small sample and I'm assuming they weren't chosen randomly (but if so, that would refute the point). Again, I'm not saying they were officers but if they were among the more elite of the troopers they have probably done and seen things the average trooper has not.
    – joshbirk
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 18:34
  • 1
    They were chosen because (1) Phasma considered the whole class aheead of average. Not because of unique engineering knowledge, but general ST training levels. (2) They were in a time crunch and needed new stormtroopers urgently; these guys were closest to graduation. Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 18:36

Finn does not know many details about the Starkiller Base,
He only knows the 'base'-ics.

The Starkiller base is the size of a planet, it would not be uncommon for anyone on it to know where major points of interest are, such as Central Command or a Thermal Oscillator, just like you know where Canada or Australia are on our planet.
Finn also mentions that he helped build it, and if he worked in sanitation he must have seen maps to get around to clean specific places.

He did not know how to disable the shields, he needed a higher up, Captain Phasma to disable the shields for him. So he did not know very many details regarding the base such as codes.
In the attack plan, the Resistance are talking about how they need to blow up the Thermal Oscillator, all Finn does is point to it and arbitrarily say there will be enemy fighters.

I think Finn just happened to know the right amount of information to help the Resistance, but no great amount of details above his rank.


I suspect that this is a case of lazy writing. I mean . . . the movie started out with the search for a map that could lead to Luke Skywalker and it became all about destroying the First Order's Starkiller base. To make matters worse, why would a character who had been taken and raised to become a stormtrooper, conveniently had a job as a sanitation janitor.

Or perhaps he was lying about being a janitor.

  • Haha. Yes, kidnap kids, spends years brainwashing them, then have them clean toilets! Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 9:38

Finn lies to the resistance about his knowledge of the base. When they arrive at the base, he explains he was in sanitation as the reason he doesn't know that much about the base. From here, the team comes up with an ad-hoc way to deal with the machine. Finn knows about large structures and their basic purpose and is able to say "Yeah, we got one of those." when asked directly about it.

Is there more to this story? Probably. But we don't know any of it yet.


Finn might be an example of how things are not always as they appear. He may have been placed there by another authority to test ethical conduct or valour of its team.


Most of it is from overhearing things. There are quite a few cases where he says as much in the novelization. A lot of the technical knowledge was gathered after the Resistance surveyed the planet.

He also was bluffing the resistance quite a bit in order to be able to land on the planet and save the Girl.

For example, he doesn't even know where the shield generator control room is until they find Phasma.

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