|“||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.||„|
|~ Thrawn on how to beat an adversary.|
|“||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 but later as Mitth'raw'nuruodo in his military career or more commonly 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 within the Galactic Empire's naval forces, being personally promoted to the rank of Grand Admiral by Emperor Palpatine. He was known for his brilliant tactical mindset and sophisticated strategic abilities, believing that understanding the art, culture and philosophy of an enemy is the key to victory. He is Ezra Bridger's nemesis.
In Star Wars Rebels, he was voiced by Lars Mikkelsen, who also played Charles Augustus Magnussen in Sherlock and Volcazar in Ronal the Barbarian. In Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption, he was voiced by Robin Atkin Downes. In the audio drama version of the novel Dark Forces: Soldier for the Empire, he was voiced by Tim Russell. In Star Wars: TIE Fighter, he was voiced by Tris King. In the audio drama versions of most of his novel appearances, he was voiced by Marc Thompson.
He is the main antagonist of both Heir to the Empire and Dark Force Rising, as well as one of the main antagonists of The Last Command, with all three books being collectively known as The Thrawn Trilogy.
He is 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 Seasons 3 and 4. He is also a mentioned antagonist in Season 2 of The Mandalorian, and will make his live-action debut in its upcoming spin-off series Ahsoka in some capacity.
He also served as the titular protagonist of the 2017-2019 Thrawn novel trilogy, which included the 2017 novel of the same name, the 2018 novel Thrawn: Alliances, and the 2019 novel Thrawn: Treason; the 2018 comic book miniseries Star Wars: Thrawn and the 2020-2021 Thrawn: Ascendancy novel trilogy.
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.
Thrawn also had little patience for overzealous officers who only cared about glory. While he never deliberately killed his own men like most other high-ranking Imperials were willing to, he was willing to let them die if they disobeyed his orders and made their own mistakes. When Kassius Konstantine attempted to intercept Jun Sato’s ship, Thrawn ordered him to return to position, but Konstantine ignored the order, wanting the honor of killing Sato himself. When Sato then flew his ship directly at Konstantine’s in a suicide maneuver, Konstantine realized his mistake. Fed up, Thrawn refused to waste further men to save Konstantine and let him and his crew die. This later happened again during the Battle of Lothal, during which Vult Skerris went after Hera Syndulla. Thrawn ordered Skerris to break off his attack so he could get a clear shot at Hera, but Skerris refused. Annoyed but willing to shoot down Skerris if it meant getting a hit on Hera too, Thrawn told his men to aim at Hera’s X-wing even with Skerris in the line of fire. His ship’s turbolasers destroyed Skerris’ TIE Defender’s shields, allowing Hera to kill him.
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.
In later years, Thrawn lost most of his redeeming traits and became increasingly cruel and ruthless. During the liberation of Lothal, he was shown to have no issue with killing innocent people simply to hurt Ezra Bridger. In 9 ABY he had his subordinates rule over Calodan with an iron fist, torturing and killing civilians for little or no reason. By this point, Thrawn was no longer missing and was now willingly hiding, showing that he had become much more paranoid. Upon discovering that Ahsoka Tano was looking for him, he had his subordinates go to great lengths in their attempts to kill Ahsoka to prevent her from finding him.
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 Agent 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. His Legends counterpart 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 new Star Wars canon continuity. Zahn had approved of Thrawn's inclusion into Star Wars Rebels and wrote a book titled Thrawn, which was then published in 2017 to expand upon his inclusion into the series and the overall new canon timeline. The novel eventually extended into a whole series of Thrawn novels.
- Timothy Zahn, the author of The Thrawn Trilogy, has also written several other Star Wars books outside of the trilogy itself, 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 (February 1, 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), a multitude of short stories. Because of these stories, Thrawn is considered to be a popular Star Wars Legends character.
- It should be noted that when The 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 to the extent that even Marvel Comics refused to do more Star Wars comic books due to the franchise's 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 the new Canon itself.
- In Star Wars Legends, Thrawn gains the rank 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 by bombarding a planet, killing all of the rebels on the planet but along with most of the planet's population.
- 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 Anakin Skywalker.
- Thrawn was mentioned in The Mandalorian Chapter 13: The Jedi when Ahsoka Tano inquired from the defeated Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth the whereabouts of the missing Imperial Grand Admiral, meaning that he (presumably alongside Ezra Bridger) is still alive following the 5 year time-jump at the end of the Star Wars Rebels series finale "Family Reunion - and Farewell".
- Thrawn is actually one of two Emperor's high officers to survive at the fall of the Empire, (before the rise of The First Order). The other is Moff Gideon.