“We will show the galaxy what happens to those who dare speak against the Emperor.”
Thrawn is a character who serves as the main antagonist in the third season of Star Wars Rebels. He is a Grand Admiral who serves the Galactic Empire. Thrawn is a Chiss, a humanoid species characterized by their blue skin, dark blue hair, and red eyes.
Thrawn started out as an Imperial Officer that served in the Empire's navy many years into the reign of the Galactic Empire. He was responsible for crushing numerous Rebel groups including those operating in the Batonn Sector, in which he killed many enemies and civilians alike. Thrawn then was promoted by Palpatine to the prestigious title of Grand Admiral. As he had achieved many victories and left almost no survivors, Thrawn was not well-known to the Rebellion at large.
Thrawn is a member of the Chiss species, having blue skin and red eyes. Thrawn is an observant and analytical individual, and believes that understanding an enemy's culture, history, philosophy, and art is crucial in order to discern their tactics and ultimately defeat them in battle. He is tactically superior to many other Imperial leaders who often used the same strategies, and, as a result, were defeated by the Rebels. When Thrawn is dispatched to fight Cham Syndulla and his Free Ryloth Movement, the latter does not expect his adversary's attacks to be as precise and devastating as they turned out to be.
Unlike most other Imperial officers, Thrawn is was not a particularly cruel or malicious individual. As a matter of fact, he is quite gentlemanly, being polite and cordial with even his own enemies. Thrawn is also very patient, preferring to study the tactics of his enemies rather than to instantly become the aggressor, even if it means allowing them to escape. He was also condoning of civilian casualties if it meant a sure victory, as was demonstrated during the Battle of Batonn.
The directors have described Thrawn as being "coldly analytical".
High-Level Intellect/Expert Tactician/Leader: Thrawn is highly intelligent. As the Grand Admiral of the Imperial Navy, Thrawn is a highly skilled tactician and a very capable leader.
Role in the Series
Grand Admiral Thrawn made his debut in the third season premiere. He is the Commander of the Seventh Imperial Fleet. He earned the respect of many Imperials such as Arihnda Pryce for his effective stratigies. He earned his rank during the Battle of Batonn.
He first appeared with Arihinda Pryce, the Imperial Governor of the Lothal System, at a meeting with Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, Agent Kallus, and Admiral Kassius Konstantine. While Konstantine dismisses Governor Pryce's theory that the Rebel Network is a galaxy-wide threat to the Empire, Thrawn agreed with it and vows to pull the Rebels apart piece by piece. Later, Governor Pryce contacts him from Reklam station to tell him the Rebel Fleet is doing what he predicted only for him to tell her that is not the Rebel Fleet and to let them go.
Thrawn originally appeared in Star Wars Legends and was created by Timothy Zahn for his critically acclaimed 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 current Star Wars canon. 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, 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), two 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 1990's, these books caused a resurgence in the public's interest in the Star Wars franchise for the first since the premiere of Return of the Jedi.