- “We will show the galaxy what happens to those who dare speak against the Emperor.”
Mitth'raw'nuruodo (commonly known as Thrawn) is a character who serves as the main antagonist in the third and fourth seasons 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 officer in the Chiss Ascendancy Expeditionary Force, the navy of the civilization from which he came, and loyally served in it as a commander for many years. He was part of a scouting force to go search for possible allies by the time of the Clone Wars. Somewhere in the Outer Rim, Thrawn came into contact with Anakin Skywalker, and would ultimately come to hold the man in high regard. At some point, he and his people discovered a threat looming in the Unknown Regions of Space. Out of love and a fierce loyalty towards his people, Thrawn selflessly volunteered to venture off into Imperial space in order to assess their military might and see if they would make a good ally to help defend the galaxy from what the evils on the outer regions of the galaxy. In order to do this, Thrawn was formally exiled from Chiss space for military insubordination, although this was all staged in order to publically explain the absence of one of the Ascendancy's highest ranking officers. Thrawn selected a planet in Wild Space as his spot of "exile", as he knew that it was on the edge of the Galactic Empire. Sure enough, a Star Destroyer visited the planet after several months and Thrawn was discovered by the captain.
Thrawn was able to win an audience With Emperor Palpatine, and, in order to ensure a possible alliance between his people and the Empire, Thrawn offered to give Palpatine astrological information of the Unknown Regions, as he deducted that Palpatine had an interest in the region. Most unexpectedly, the emperor gave Thrawn a naval commission. Thrawn used this new development to his advantage, and infiltrated the Imperial Navy, posing as a loyalist to the Empire, but truly only doing it for his people and not the Emperor, who he knew was actually evil.
With help from his aid, translator, and fellow officer, Eli Vanto, Thrawn quickly moved up the ranks, gaining recognition for his unorthodox but effective military tactics. The Imperial Admiralty came to despise him, trying to use every opportunity they could to have him discharged, but after each court martial he came out unscathed, even being promoted to commodore after one of them. It was during this time that he met Governor Arihnda Pryce, an aspiring businesswoman and politician hoping to claw her way up to the top. The two of them became close friends and used each other's own strengths to help the other rise to the higher echelons of the Empire. Thrawn himself was primarily tasked with capturing pirates and putting down rebellions in unstable sectors. Throughout his early career, he hunted a mysterious operator named "Nightswan", who he later found out had been orchestrating many of the rebellions across the galaxy, many of which would eventually come together and form the Rebel Alliance. Nightswan proved to be Thrawn's intellectual match and a brilliant military commander in his own right. After Thrawn became an admiral, he was sent with the Imperial Fleet to go put down an insurgency on the planet Batonn. During the siege, Thrawn went to confront Nightswan in secret, and the admiral realized that his longtime enemy was, in fact, a pirate whom he had captured many years earlier. Thrawn returned to his vessel to prepare for the battle, which commenced not long after. Thrawn and the Empire emerged the victors after explosives were ignited on the surface, destroying the entire rebel base and with it over half of the city's population that remained. In actuality, it was Governor Pryce who was responsible for igniting the explosives, as Thrawn generally tried to avoid collateral damage. Even so, he took full responsibility for both the victory and the action that was taken in order to win it, as he was the one in command. Much to his own surprise and that of his fellow admirals, such as Kassius Konstantine, he was promoted to the rank of "Grand Admiral" by the Emperor himself.
As he had a tendancy to achieve victory after victory, Thrawn was not well-known to the Rebellion at large. His skills of deduction allowed him to come to the conclusion that Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader were the same man, although he never mentioned such in Palpatine's presence. Additionally, through his study of Imperial trade routes, supply lines, and logistic resource transportation, Thrawn was finally able to put together that the Empire was partaking in a massive construction project, which he later found out was codenamed "Project Death Star. At one point he asked Palpatine about this, and, in turn, was fascinated by Thrawn's intelligence. The Emperor was also fascinated by Thrawn's culture, which hailed from the Unknown Regions of the galaxy, where he believed the source of the Dark side originated. Due to this, and his prowess in tactical and physical combat, Thrawn often held the Emperor's favor.
Thrawn is highly intelligent, calm, level-headed and observant, as he 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. He also used situations to his advantage and could formulate creative strategies in his head that could be achieved without error.
Unlike most other Imperial officers, Thrawn is 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. However, Thrawn's patience does have its limits, as he becomes annoyed or enraged when others questions his views and does not understand his appreciation of art.
Although reluctantly, he sometimes condoned civilian casualties if it meant a sure victory, as was demonstrated during the Battle of Batonn, even though the collateral damage was not entirely his fault. Although antagonistic, Thrawn is neither evil nor immoral. Even though he never told anyone, not even his most trusted friend, Eli Vanto, Thrawn despises the oppressive, racist, and corrupt Imperial culture, viewing many of his fellow officers as either evil or downright stupid. He is also one of the few within the Empire to realize how evil the Emperor actually is, even going as far to speculate that he could be in touch with the Force. Being a pragmatist, he believes the Empire to be a necessary evil and that serving it is the best way to defend his people. Ironically, he managed to obtain the rank of Grand Admiral, meaning that he is one of the highest ranking members of a civilization he neither adores nor originally comes from. Even so, the fact that he purposefully infiltrated the Imperial hierarchy means that he has to follow Imperial directives, meaning that, in order to fit in, he comes across as far more cruel than he actually is on a moral level. He believes in the ends justifying the means, which is evident when he practically kills a mechanic to set an example. Finally, Thrawn inspires loyalty from his men. Where people like Darth Vader and Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin seek to punish those who fail, Thrawn sees those failures as opportunities, so that his men can learn to do better and succeed. He views death as a means of punishing soldiers as being wasteful. Despite all of that, Thrawn is still a cold-blooded Imperial and one of the Rebels' most dangerous adversaries.
The directors have described Thrawn as being "coldly analytical".
Thrawn is a member of the Chiss species, having blue skin and red eyes.
- 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.
- Master Hand-To-Hand Combatant: Thrawn is highly skilled in unarmed combat; as he was capable of defeating two Imperial Sentry Droids at once in a training session. He also defeated Kallus.
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 made his first major appearance in the episode "Hera's Heroes", when he aided Captain Slavin in capturing the Tann Province of Ryloth, which is Hera's Home. Slavin made Hera's Home his headqaurters. When Ezra (disguised as a Scout Trooper) and Hera infiltrated the Syndulla House, while Thrawn had Slavin tighten up the defenses. Slavin told him that it wasn't necessary and that rebel activity is far away. However, Thrawn was able to realize that rebel activity is in the house. He and Slavin letter ran into Hera (who stole her family's Kalikori back) and had a Scout Trooper (which was actually Ezra) take her to Slavin's Office for questioning. Despite of Slavin's protests about the questioning, Thrawn was able to find out Hera is Cham Syndulla's daughter who is the nemesis of Slavin. When Ezra tried to react, Thrawn stunned him. When Slavin asked Thrawn how did he know that the trooper was a rebel, he responded that rebels always had friends rushing to the rescue. Thrawn then had Slavin imprison Hera and Ezra inorder to make a prisoner exchange between the father and daughter. He had Hera's Kalikori transported to his ship, and left Slavin incharge of the exchange. Unknown to both of them Hera had C1-10P hotwire the house with explosives. When the prisoner exchange happened Thrawn on a Imperial Light Cruiser witnessed Hera blowing up the house. The then ordered the officers to allow the rebels to escape and made no attempt to stop them.
Thrawn then returned in the episode "Iron Squadron" were he heard news that a rebel cell called the Iron Squadron over the Mykapo System, that was led by Mart Marttin (The nephew of Rebel Commander Jun Sato, who is the nemesis of Thrawn). Thrawn was curious about the cell and dispatched Admiral Kassius Konstantine on a single Light Cruiser and two TIE Fighter Transports to deal with the threat. When the Ghost crew along with Sato came to rescue Mart, Konstantine send a call for reinforcements to Thrawn. When Thrawn arrived Konstantine's Light Cruiser was badly damaged. Thrawn the spoke to Jun Sato over a transmitter. Sato vowed to Thrawn the they will meet again, in which Thrawn agreed and let the rebels escape. Thrawn the asked Konstantine if he called for reinforcements. The admiral tried to deny claiming he was calling to tell him the rebels had fled the system but, Thrawn saw through his lie which forced the admiral to bow his head down in embarrassment.
- 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, Survivor's Quest (both 2004), Outbound Flight (2006), Allegiance (2007), Choices of One (2011), Scoundrels (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 time since the premiere of Return of the Jedi.
- 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 the only Chiss to appear in the new Star Wars Canon, with Thrawn himself bringing his species back into Canon.
- In 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 an rebel insurgency by bombarding a planet, killing all of the rebels on the planet but along with most of the planet's population.
- As established in the Star Wars: Aftermath trilogy, which covers events between The Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, Thrawn's knowledge of the Unknown Regions inspired a contingency plan-eventually carried out by Rae Sloane-in which remnants of the Empire traveled into that region of space in order to rebuild, leading to the birth of the First Order.