Chiss. Imperial Officer. Grand Admiral.
As a brilliant and ruthless strategist, Thrawn quickly rose the ranks in both the Chiss Academy and the Empire. His foes may be bigger or physically tougher than he, but rarely can one outsmart Thrawn. In his first (non-canon) appearance, we see Thrawn as an evil man out to destroy those in his path. Recent appearances, mainly in the novels by Timothy Zahn, have shown a more nuanced and well-developed character. Let's see what makes Thrawn so special.
WHERE YOU KNOW HIM FROM
Thrawn has appeared in many, many places throughout the Star Wars EU & Canon.
HEIR TO THE EMPIRE
Thrawn was first created in Timothy Zahn's trilogy, starting with Heir to the Empire (1991). He went up against fan faves like Luke, Leia, and Han. Plus, don't get us started on Luuke. The books aren't canon now, but the recent trailer for Ahsoka tells us they may be adapting parts of this trilogy back into canon.
STAR WARS: REBELS
Starting with Season 3 of Star Wars: Rebels, fans got to meet the new big bad of the series: Thrawn! Brought straight from the books (with some changes, of course), Thrawn showed up to terrorize the Spectres for the rest of the show.
Following his premiere in Star Wars: Rebels, Zahn was tasked with creating a prequel series to show where Thrawn came from and how he rose within the Empire. We meet new characters like Eli Vanto, and learn more about characters like Arihnda Pryce.
Thought we already knew all about Thrawn's past? Think again. In 2020, Zahn got to go back even further to explore Thrawn's life from childhood right up until we meet him in the Thrawn books. Yep, we find out about little child Thrawn. How time flies.
Star Wars: Thrawn (2017)
Failure to act always brings consequences. But sometimes, those consequences can be turned to one’s advantage.
HOW DOES HE ALWAYS WIN?
Thrawn is a genius, plain and simple. He sees things that others cannot, even when pointed out to them directly. When making his plans he takes all things into account; most notably a culture or species' art. This can confuse or frustrate other people, as they don't have the same enviable skillset.
Thrawn is always able to use his mind to stay many steps ahead of not only his opponents but everyone he meets. It's rare that someone can predict what Thrawn will do or how he will get it done.
In fact, Thrawn once left a detailed plan for his team to follow in his absence. He then went to the enemies warship and watched as a hostage while his team followed the instructions he left and were successfully able to defeat and counter every move that the enemy tried. Once again, Thrawn was able to accurately predict how his enemy would react, counter it, plan for the enemies' reaction to the counter attack, and so on, until he emerged victorious while not physically present.
Thrawn is always able to defeat his enemies, with the exception of one...
Star Wars: Rebels (2014 - 2018)
Everything leading up to this moment has been rehearsal. The real performance is about to begin.
WHO IS HIS GREATEST FOE?
Thrawn has a lot of enemies, but none outrank the Grysk's. I'll let him explain who they are, courtesy of a conversation Thrawn had with Darth Vader:
"Grysks are a species living somewhere in the Unknown Regions. Creatures half of myth, whom few have ever seen. It is said that they are nomads, with no fixed home, traveling in spacecraft so numerous they blot out the stars. They are said to be terrifying warriors, overwhelming their opponents by sheer numbers and ferocity."
They rule the Grysk Hegemony, which Thrawn believes will one day be a true enemy for both the Empire and the Chiss Ascendency. He will stop at nothing to defeat this unknown, unseen enemy, which is his greatest challenge.
Pictured right is a character from the upcoming 'Star Wars: Eclipse' game that fans think may be a Grysk.
Chaos Rising (2020)
Thrawn leaned forward, giving her a smile around the edge of his dripping hood. "To the spaceport," he said. "To steal a ship.”
Explore some of my personal favorite things I've learned about Thrawn.
As you may have seen above, Thrawn's full name is Mitth'raw'nuruodo. In Thrawn's home world, he would go by his core name, meaning just the middle of that longer name, which is where 'Thrawn' comes from: mitTH'RAW'Nuruodo. He was actually born as Kivu'raw'nuru (core name: Vurawn), but became Mitth'raw'nuru when he changed families, and earned the '-odo' later in his life for a grand act worthy of great respect.
JEDI TEAM UP
Thrawn once teamed up with the one and only, Anakin Skywalker. On separate missions that happened to line up fairly well, Anakin reluctantly agreed to work with Thrawn as he searched for a missing Padme. The entire plot is cut between young Thrawn and Anakin, and older Thrawn and Vader. It's quite the read, so check it out if these two teaming up sounds interesting.
HORRIBLE AT POLITICS
Despite a glowing career on the outside, Thrawn has made many enemies, some of which he isn't even aware of. A master at so many things, Thrawn's one blind spot is to any kind of politics. He doesn't understand how to play the game, and he likely never will. This leads him into some dangerous waters that he could easily avoid if he could just master one more skill.
THRAWN IN LIVE ACTION
Want a peek at what's to come? Thrawn was heavily referenced in The Mandalorian, and the back of his head was seen for the first time in the first Ahsoka trailer.