|“||There are things in the universe that are simply and purely evil. A warrior does not seek to understand them, or to compromise with them. He seeks only to obliterate them.||„|
|~ Grand Admiral Thrawn about the concept of evil.|
|“||To defeat an enemy, you must know them. Not simply their battle tactics, but their history, philosophy, art.||„|
|~ Grand Admiral Thrawn|
|“||Thrawn: What? What do you see?
Bendu: I see your defeat. Like many arms surrounding you in a cold embrace.
|~ Bendu foreseeing Thrawn's fate.|
Grand Admiral Thrawn, born originally as Kivu'raw'nuru, later as Mitth'raw'nuruodo in his military career, and also known as Thrawn of the House of Nuruodo of the Mitth Family, is a major antagonist in the epic space opera franchise Star Wars. He is a Chiss male who served as a high-ranking officer of the Galactic Empire navy, being personally promoted to the rank of Grand Admiral by Emperor Palpatine.
In the Star Wars Legends continuity, he is the main antagonist of both Heir to the Empire and Dark Force Rising, and one of the main antagonists of The Last Command, collectively known as The Thrawn Trilogy. In the Canon continuity, he appears as one of the three main antagonists (alongside The Grand Inquisitor and Darth Vader) of the 2014-2018 animated television series Star Wars Rebels, serving as the main antagonist of both the third and fourth seasons. He also served as the titular villainous main protagonist of the 2017-2019 Thrawn novel trilogy which included the 2017 novel Thrawn, the 2018 novel Thrawn: Alliances, and the 2019 novel Thrawn: Treason. He is also the titular main protagonist of both the Star Wars: Thrawn 2018 comic book miniseries and the Ascendancy Trilogy. He also serves as the unseen overarching antagonist of The Mandalorian - Chapter 13: The Jedi.
Thrawn was a master strategist who could compose very complex plans. He also maintained a high level of interest in artwork, and his study of artwork gave him an understanding of both species and individuals. Thrawn was able to use this ability to adapt plans to the species he was engaged in battle against, and often able to defeat these species by picking up obscure clues that were represented in their artwork.
Thrawn was also noted for his command abilities. He was noted as not being a proponent of the "Vader Style" of leadership that many in the Empire's military practiced where subordinates would be killed for the most minor of mistakes and ideas were ignored because they had not come from the correct people. Thrawn was quite willing to accept ideas from his subordinates and put them in to practice if they were good enough ideas. And if a subordinate showed creative thinking in dealing with problems, even if they still failed, Thrawn would not punish them but would at times reward them. This was the case with Ensign Mitthel, who used creative thinking while trying to use a tractor beam to apprehend Luke Skywalker. The attempt failed because Skywalker used a covert shroud to escape, but Thrawn was pleased with how fast Mitthel thought on his feet and promoted the man to Lieutenant. He would, however, not tolerate those who would not accept responsibility for their actions and who would try to shift the blame on to others. Thrawn had a tractor beam operator who failed at an earlier attempt to capture Skywalker killed after the man tried to blame another person for the attack and showed an inability to deal with unexpected situations.
Additionally, Thrawn was not a mere soldier, but a true warrior who was unconcerned with personal glory. On the few occasions were Thrawn was defeated, he would not waste men, ships, or material in a display of false and futile heroics, but would simply decide to retreat and adjust his plans.
While Thrawn had a sharpened mind, ruthless personality, and relentlessly sought to defeat the enemy, he was almost perpetually cordial towards his own men and even towards his enemies, referring to prisoners as guests. Thrawn is highly cultured and gentlemanly, and had an eye for high standards, expecting fellow troops to meet them and show disdain towards them if they were rude or failed to appreciate art. Occasionally, he would display anger, though this was perhaps carefully calculated on his part, as a means to get the message across he wasn't to be trifled with and to respect his rectitude. In Star Wars Rebels, he had a low, deep growl to his voice, but always spoke in a calm, soothing, and gentle tone.
Powers and Abilities
Clever and intelligent, Thrawn was a brilliant military strategist, being able to anticipate any of his enemies moves and learn his enemies' battle tactics. Hemostly did this by studying their art or philosophy. During the rescue of Alexsandr Kallus, he figured out that Kallus was the true rebel spy because he protected the identity of their then prisoner, Ezra Bridger and because things fell into place. Thrawn was also able to narrow his search for Chopper Base to ninety-four systems among thousands. He could also tell who Hera (who was posing as a Twi'lek slave) was just by looking at her portrait with her father. The Grand Admiral could also deduce that Nightswan was a Pirate when they first met and trying to deceive them.
However, despite his battle tactics, Thrawn was outwitted by Ezra Bridger during the liberation of Lothal when he summoned a group of Purrgil to take him and Thrawn to parts unknown and also wasn't able to predict Rukh's betrayal in The Last Command.
Star Wars Rebels
- Thrawn originally appeared in Star Wars Legends after the original trilogy and was created by Timothy Zahn for his series of books known as the "Thrawn Trilogy" which include the following books, Heir to the Empire (1991), Dark Force Rising (1992) and The Last Command (1993). His popularity with the Star Wars fanbase sparked his introduction into the Star Wars canon before the original trilogy. Zahn has approved of Thrawn's inclusion into Star Wars Rebels and wrote a book entitled "Thrawn", published in 2017, to expand upon his inclusion into the series and new canon timeline.
- Timothy Zahn, the author of the Thrawn Trilogy, has also written several other Star Wars books outside of the Thrawn trilogy, but have some reference to Thrawn or an appearance of him as well. Those include Specter of the Past (1997), Vision of the Future (1998), Fool's Bargain (1 February 2004), Survivor's Quest (2004), Outbound Flight (2006), Allegiance (2007), Choices of One (2011), Scoundrels (January 2013), 2 graphic novels involving Mara Jade, another one of Zahn's creations who was first introduced in the Thrawn trilogy and is now considered to be popular Star Wars Legends character, and multitude of short stories.
- It should be noted that when Thrawn Trilogy was released back in the early 1990s, these books caused a resurgence in the public's interest in the Star Wars franchise for the first time since the 1983 premiere of Return of the Jedi. Thus, many fans cite Thrawn as the character who essentially saved the franchise when it was in danger of dying, as the public's interest on it was already fading away that even Marvel Comics refused to do more Star Wars comic books due its declining popularity.
- Lars Mikkelsen, Thrawn's voice actor, is the brother of Mads Mikkelsen, who plays Galen Erso in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
- Thrawn is one of two named Chiss to appear in the new Star Wars canon (the other being a Chiss Admiral from the book Thrawn) , with Thrawn himself bringing his species back into Canon.
- In Star Wars Legends, Thrawn gains the title of Grand Admiral after stopping a rogue Grand Admiral and taking his place. In Star Wars Rebels, he gains the rank when he stops a rebel insurgency.
- Thrawn is the second chief Star War Rebels villain to have survived an entire season, the first one being Kallus during season 1. However, Kallus reforms and joins the Rebellion in season 3. The villains on the show who were in the original trilogy do not count.
- The idea to bring Thrawn into Star Wars: Rebels was discussed during early production of Season 1. Each of the producers suggested it to varying degrees at different times. Ultimately, Thrawn is such an important admiral that they felt it wouldn't make sense to introduce him back then: the Lothal rebel cell was just a small team with one ship on one local planet. They reasoned that Thrawn would only be brought in at a later stage when the rebellion had grown into a large enough coordinated military movement that it merited his response - essentially the same reason that they didn't introduce Darth Vader until Season Two. Their overall plan for the series was for the scale of the nascent rebellion to gradually intensify, and the Empire would react with incrementally more significant forces as appropriate responses.
- As prophesied by The Bendu, Thrawn's defeat did come true, being defeated by "many arms in a cold embrace". As during the Liberation of Lothal, Ezra Bridger summoned the Purrgil; the "many arms" that attacked his fleet that blockaded the planet in the "cold embrace" of space.
- The novel Thrawn: Alliances revealed that he was able to figure out Vader's true identity.