Villain Overview

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.

In Rebels, he was voiced by Lars Mikkelsen, who also portrayed Charles Augustus Magnussen in Sherlock.

Personality

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.

Appearances

Appearances

Books

  • Thrawn Ascendancy (Book I: Chaos Rising)
  • Thrawn Ascendancy (Book II: Greater Good)
  • Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes
  • Star Wars: Force Arena
  • Thrawn
  • Thrawn audiobook
  • Thrawn 1
  • Thrawn 2
  • Thrawn 3
  • Thrawn 4
  • Thrawn 5
  • Thrawn 6
  • Star Wars Rebels: Steps Into Shadow
  • Thrawn: Alliances
  • Thrawn: Alliances audiobook
  • Thrawn: Treason
  • Thrawn: Treason audiobook
  • Aftermath: Empire's End (mentioned)
  • Aftermath: Empire's End audiobook (mentioned)

Star Wars Rebels

  • Steps Into Shadow (first appearance)
  • Hera's Heroes
  • Iron Squadron
  • An Inside Man
  • Visions and Voices (mentioned)
  • Warhead
  • Through Imperial Eyes
  • Secret Cargo
  • Double Agent Droid (mentioned)
  • Zero Hour
  • In the Name of the Rebellion (mentioned)
  • The Occupation (mentioned)
  • Flight of the Defender
  • Kindred
  • Crawler Commandeers (mentioned)
  • Rebel Assault
  • Jedi Night
  • DUME (hologram)
  • Wolves and a Door (hologram)
  • A Fool's Hope (mentioned)
  • Family Reunion – and Farewell

The Mandalorian

  • Chapter 13: The Jedi (mentioned)

Quotes

A great tactician creates plans. A good tactician recognizes the soundness of a plan presented to him. A fair tactician must see the plan succeed before offering approval. Those with no tactical ability at all may never understand or accept it. Nor will such people understand or accept the tactician. To those without that ability, those who posses it are a mystery. And when a mind is too deficient in understanding, the resulting gap is often filled with with resentment.
~ Grand Admiral Thrawn.
War is primarily a game of skill. It is a contest of mind matched against mind, tactics matched against tactics. But there is also an element of chance that is more suited to games of cards or dice. A wise tactician studies those games, as well, and learns from them. The first lesson of card games is that the cards cannot be played in random order. Only when laid down properly can victory be achieved. In this case, there were but three cards. The first was played at the encampment. The result was entrance to the Strikefast. The second was played aboard ship. The result was promise of passage to Coruscant, and the assignment of Cadet Vanto as my translator. The third was a name: Anakin Skywalker.
~ Grand Admiral Thrawn.
A friend need not be kept either within sight or within reach. A friend must be allowed the freedom to find and follow his own path. If one is fortunate, those paths will for a time join. But if the paths separate, it is comforting to know that a friend still graces the universe with his skills, and his viewpoint, and his presence. For if one is remembered by a friend, one is never truly gone.
~ Grand Admiral Thrawn.
Some people will not respond to reason. Others refuse to consider alternatives to their normal pattern of behavior. In such cases, an unexpected breaking of one’s own patterns can be an effective tool.
~ Grand Admiral Thrawn.
Leadership and obedience are the two legs on which a warrior’s life is balanced. Without both, victory cannot be achieved. Leadership depends on information and comprehension. Not so obedience. Sometimes a commander may choose to share details of his plan. Often he may not. In either case, obedience must be instant and complete. Such automatic response relies on trust between commander and those commanded. And that trust can only be obtained through leadership.
~ Grand Admiral Thrawn.
A life path may change because of important decisions or events. Those were what drove my current path. But sometimes the smallest event can also drive a turn. In the case of Eli Vanto, that force was a single, overheard word. Chiss. Where had Cadet Vanto heard that name? What did it mean to him? He had already spoken one reason, but there might well be others. Indeed, the full truth might have several layers. But what were they? On a ship as large as this, there was only one practical way to find out. Thus did my path take yet another turn. As, certainly, did his.
~ Grand Admiral Thrawn.
You could have chosen to let your people die. However, you chose to be a Jedi. Predictable. You follow a long history written by the Jedi, where they choose what they believe to be morally correct, instead of what is strategically sound. (Ezra: And yet, the Jedi have survived.) Hmm, the Jedi once numbered in the thousands. What's left are a scattered, frightened lot, mostly beaten and in hiding, or poorly trained children, like yourself. I must admit, the mysteries of the Force are an enigma to me. But for all those abilities, all the power, the Jedi lacked the vision for how to wield it. (Ezra: The Force isn't a weapon, but you'll never understand that.) Oh, I don't have to. It was not my intention to utterly destroy Lothal, but that is inevitable now.
~ Thrawn to Ezra.
We've lost this particular prize, Captain. But that's all we lost. I will not waste ships and men trying to change that which cannot be changed.
~ Grand Admiral Thrawn

Trivia

  • 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.

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Bounty Hunters
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Confederacy of Independent Systems
Leaders: Darth Sidious | Count Dooku
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Galactic Empire
Leaders: Emperor Palpatine | Darth Vader
Inquisitorius: The Grand Inquisitor | The Second Sister | The Fifth Brother | The Sixth Brother | The Seventh Sister | The Eighth Brother | The Ninth Sister | The Tenth Brother
Imperial Officers: Admiral Konstantine | Admiral Motti | Admiral Ozzel | Admiral Piett | Admiral Versio | Commandant Aresko | General Tagge | General Veers | Governor Pryce | Grand Admiral Thrawn | Grand Moff Tarkin | Moff Jerjerrod | Moff Gideon | Moff Raythe | Taskmaster Grint
Other Officials and Operatives: Agent Kallus | Commander Cody | Commander Hask | Commander Versio | Director Krennic | Gar Saxon | Gleb | Mas Amedda | Minister Tua | Tiber Saxon
Soldiers: Emperor's Royal Guard | Stormtroopers | 501st Legion | Purge Troopers | Death Troopers
Affiliates: Morgan Elsbeth | Imperial Navy | COMPNOR | Naare

First Order
Benefactor: Darth Sidious
Leaders: Supreme Leader Snoke | Supreme Leader Kylo Ren
Officers: Allegiant General Pryde | Captain Canady | Captain Phasma | Colonel Datoo | Colonel Kaplan | Commander Hask | Commander Pyre | General Hux | Major Baron Vonreg
Other Officials and Operatives: Agent Terex | Agent Tierny | BB-9E | Carise Sindian | FN-2199
Soldiers: Elite Praetorian Guards | Stormtroopers
Affiliates: Sith Eternal | Captain Sabrond | Sith Troopers | Knights of Ren

Nightsisters
Leaders: Mother Talzin
Members: Asajj Ventress | Merrin | Old Daka

Shadow Collective
Leaders: Maul | Prime Minister Almec | Savage Opress | Pre Vizsla
Members: Bo-Katan Kryze | Gar Saxon | Rook Kast | Ziton Moj | Lom Pyke | Jabba the Hutt | Mother Talzin | Dryden Vos
Sub-groups: Death Watch | Mandalorian Super Commandos | Black Sun | Pyke Syndicate | Hutt Clan | Crimson Dawn | Nightbrothers

Sith and Other Dark Force-Users
Barriss Offee | Darth Bane | Darth Plagueis | Pong Krell | Son | Taron Malicos

Hutt Clan
Jabba the Hutt | Ziro the Hutt

Other
0-0-0 | Acklays | Azmorigan | Bala-Tik | Barada | Bib Fortuna | Cassie Cryar | Chi Cho | Cornelius Evazan | DJ | Garnac | Graxol Kelvyyn | Guavian Death Gang | Hondo Ohnaka | Kithaba | Klaatu | Krayt Dragons | Morley | Nexu | Ochi | Ponda Baba | Rancors | Razoo Qin-Fee | Reeks | Ren | Salacious B. Crumb | Sarlacc | Saw Gerrera | Sebulba | Tasu Leech | Teedo | The Client | Tobias Beckett | Tusken Raiders | Unkar Plutt | Vedain | Velken Tezeri | Vizam | Wooof | Zillo Beast

See Also
Star Wars Legends Villains | Star Wars The Old Republic Villains

            StarTheForce.png Legends Villains

Galactic Alliance Guard
Darth Caedus | Tahiri Veila

Galactic Empire
Armand Isard | Baron Merillion Tarko | Crispin Hoedaack | Carnor Jax | COMPNOR | Ennix Devian | Faie | Gilad Pellaeon | Hethrir | Imperial Navy | Juno Eclipse | Kir Kanos | Natasi Daala | Ozzik Sturn | PROXY | Rom Mohc | Rukh | Sarkli | Sate Pestage | Stafuv Rahz | Thrawn | Tenn Graneet | Trioculus | Warlord Zsinj | Ysanne Izzard

New Galactic Empire
Cos Dashit | Crispin Hoedaack | Darth Vader | Valorum | Vantos Coll

One Sith
Leader: Darth Krayt
Sith Lords: Darth Azard | Darth Havok | Darth Kruhl | Darth Luft | Darth Maladi | Darth Nihl | Darth Rauder | Darth Reave | Darth Ruyn | Darth Stryfe | Darth Talon | Darth Vurik | Darth Wredd | Darth Wyyrlok I | Darth Wyyrlok II | Darth Wyyrlok III | Saarai | Vul Isen
Soldiers: Darth Krayt's Sith Troopers | Morlish Veed

Prophets of the Dark Side
Cronal | Darth Millennial | Jedgar | Kadann | Sariss

Sith and Dark Jedi
Abeloth | Adas | Ajunta Pall | Aleema Keto | Alema Rar | Alora | Azrakel | Black Knights | Brakiss | Brotherhood of Darkness | Crado | The Dark Apprentice | The Dark Underlord | Darth Andeddu | Darth Bane | Darth Cognus | Darth Desolous | Darth Gean | Darth Gravid | Darth Guile | Darth Homiiz | Darth Karnage | Darth Morias | Darth Phobos | Darth Plagueis | Darth Ramage | Darth Rivan | Darth Ruin | Darth Scabrous | Darth Simi | Darth Vectivus | Darth Venamis | Darth Zannah | Desann | Exar Kun | Freedom Nadd | Galen Marek | Jerec | Jorrus C'baoth | Karness Muur | Kazdan Paratus | Komari Vosa | Kueller | Lomi Plo | Lumiya | Luuke Skywalker | Mara Jade | Maris Brood | Reborn | Rugess Nome | Sarcev Quest | Skere Kaan | Sora Bulq | Sorzus Syn | Tamith Kai | Tavion Axmis | Tol Skorr | Ulic Qel-Droma | Unidentified Sith Master (Dxun) | Vergere | Welk | X1 | Xanatos | Xendor | XoXann | Zekk | Zona Luka

Yuuzhan Vong
Czulkang Lah | Drathul | Elan | Harrar | Mezhan Kwaad | Nas Choka | Nen Yim | Nom Anor | Onimi | Peace Brigade | Shimmra Jamaane | Tsavong Lah

Confederacy of Independent Systems
Soldiers: Alto Stratus | Cavik Toth | Cydon Prax | Durge | Gizor Dellso | Kul Teska | Oro Dassyne | Sun Fac
Dark Acolytes: Sev'rance Tann | Sora Bulq | Asajj Ventress | Tol Skorr | Kadrian Sey

Nightsisters
Mighella | Sai Sircu | Zalem

Glitteryll Conspiracy
Asanté Vos | Chom Frey Kaa | Pol Secura

Other
Amanoa | Ban Papeega | Beilert Valance | Borsk Fey'lya | Burbakker Teep | Chop'aa Notimo | Connus Treli | Drexl Roosh | Dur Gejjen | Durga the Hutt | Erisi Dlarit | Gardulla the Elder | Gault Rennow | Gorog | Granta Omega | Grappa the Hutt | Groff Haugg | Hanharr | Jenna Zan Arbor | Kleef | Krayt Dragons | Longo Two-Guns | Lord Starkiller | Meeko Ghintee | Montross | Niles Ferrier | Prince Xizor | Sebolto | Sun Guard | Talon Karrde | Thrackan Sal-Solo | Tor Vizsla | Tyber Zann | Zorba the Hutt

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