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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 Mitth'raw'nuruodo and also known as Thrawn of the House of Nuruodo of the Mitth Family, is a major antagonist in the Star Wars universe. 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. In the Canon continuity, he appears as one of the three main antagonists (alongside The Grand Inquisitor and Darth Vader) of the television series Star Wars: Rebels, serving as the main antagonist of both the third and fourth seasons. He also served as the titular villainous protagonist of ThrawnThrawn: Alliances, and Thrawn: Treason.

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 persons. 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.

Appearances

Appearances

Books

  • Thrawn: The Ascendancy Trilogy 1
  • 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

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.

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 is currently writing a book entitled "Thrawn", 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. The villains on the show who was 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 Purggil; the "many arms" that attacked his fleet that blockaded the planet in the "cold embrace" of space.

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