- "This is a rescue, I'm helping you escape. Can you fly a TIE fighter?"
- ―FN-2187 to Poe Dameron
Shortly after the First Order's invasion of the sacred village of Tuanul on the desert planet Jakku, Commander Poe Dameron was locked up on the Finalizer by Kylo Ren. There, he was tortured and interrogated by the latter for information about what he did with the map to Jedi Master Luke Skywalker.
Stormtrooper FN-2187, who had just decided to desert the First Order, later helped Poe Dameron escape. After sneaking through several chambers, the two stole a TIE fighter, though they learned too late that it was connected to a wire. Thanisson informed his colonel that they were trying to escape, but it was too late. Other stormtroopers began firing at it, but they did not succeed in bringing it down, as it fired on the observation tower and broke free of the wire. From there, they were attacked by turbolasers. Poe brought the fighter into view, and FN-2187 fired, destroying them entirely. As they flew back to Jakku, Kylo Ren was informed of the situation by General Armitage Hux. Although Hux did not know which stormtrooper had turned, Kylo remembered FN-2187's behavior during the attack on Tuanul. He then ordered that missiles be deployed, but FN-2187 shot one of them down. There, FN-2187 was rechristened as Finn, as the stormtrooper was never given a different name. Finn insisted they could not return to the planet, believing they both had to escape from the First Order, but Poe insisted he had to come back for his droid, BB-8. Finn claimed that no droid could be so important, but Poe insisted he had a map to Luke Skywalker himself. Finn was appalled, but before he could reply, their fighter was shot down by missiles, bringing the escape to a sudden end.
The blast had knocked Dameron unconscious. Whereas FN-2187, dubbed "Finn" by Dameron, ejected from the TIE shortly before it crashed on the planet's surface, Dameron recovered consciousness just in time to set the craft down more or less intact, and got out of the cockpit before something blew, leaving his jacket behind. Suffering from a concussion and a brief period of memory loss, he moved away from the crash. When he awoke, Dameron found himself alone and set off to find a ship and contact the Resistance, sure that he would be able to reunite with BB-8 with their help. During his journey, he encountered a Jakku native, the Blarina Naka Iit, whom Dameron managed to impress with both his sheer audacity and his piloting skills, such that he agreed to get Dameron to a ship in Blowback Town that would get him back to the Resistance.
Meanwhile, Finn found Poe's jacket, but no other sign of the man, and the fighter sunk into the sand. Believing Dameron to be dead, he discarded his armor and eventually arrived at the nearest settlement, looking for BB-8 to carry on Poe's mission. Once at the settlement, he found BB-8 along with Rey, a desert scavenger, after witnessing her save the droid from two thugs. Soon after, BB-8 pointed him out to Rey, identifying Dameron's jacket, prompting the woman to chase after him. Finn attempted to outrun her but Rey outflanked him. Held under questioning and accused of stealing Dameron's jacket, Finn falsely claimed to be with the Resistance to get them to trust him. The three were immediately targeted by the First Order, looking for Finn and BB-8, but they managed to escape Jakku aboard the Millennium Falcon.
- Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens (First appearance)
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens novel
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens: A Junior Novel
- The Force Awakens, Part I
- Finn and Poe Team Up!