15 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Grand Admiral Thrawn
Of all the characters from the Star Wars franchise, Grand Admiral Thrawn is the most fascinating and enigmatic. The blue-skinned, red-eyed Chiss is a master commander and strategist, and his demeanor has a way of striking fear into his enemies (and his subordinates in the Empire). Unfortunately, a lot of what made Thrawn so compelling was lost to the realm of Disney Legends. Fortunately, he managed to stick around and make an impact in comics, novels, and television series.
Grand Admiral Thrawn didn't appear in the Star Wars Prequels, but he has shown up in several canon projects. He became the primary antagonist to Ezra Bridger, one of the most beloved Jedi to appear in the animated series, Star Wars: Rebels. Both Thrawn and Bridger disappeared at the end of Rebels, but they are expected to return in the Disney+ series, Ahsoka.
Despite Star Wars being one of the most exciting and impressive franchises of all time, there's still a lot the general fanbase doesn't know about Thrawn. This list takes a look at the lore from as many sources as possible to uncover the things you didn't know about Thrawn. Check them out below, and be sure to upvote anything you didn't already know about one of Star Wars' most enigmatic military leaders.
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It Is Implied That Thrawn Figured Out Darth Vader Was Anakin Skywalker And Actively Made Vader Aware Of That Fact
Early in his Chiss Ascendancy career, Thrawn met up with a young Jedi General named Anakin Skywalker. At the time, Skywalker was fighting the Separatists in the Clone Wars, while Thrawn was dealing with the enemies of his people. They found themselves working toward a mutual goal, so they joined forces for a short while as they set out to finish their respective missions.
When Anakin fell to the Dark Side of the Force and became Darth Vader, only a small number of people knew the truth. To everyone outside of Vader's armor, Anakin was dead, but Thrawn came to suspect the truth. After the Battle of Atollon ended in failure, Vader and Thrawn were tasked with traveling to Batuu to identify a disturbance in the Force.
As the pair traveled to Batuu, which just so happened to be the same planet Anakin and Thrawn visited years before, Thrawn began hinting that he knew Vader's true identity. In fact, he taunted him about this suspicion on several occasions. This event shows just how confident a man Thrawn was because nobody taunts Darth Vader. Of course, the rules don't always apply to a man who entered into Imperial service through deception.
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Thrawn Was Promoted To Grand Admiral By Palpatine Himself, But Only After Securing The Safety Of His Home Planet From The Death Star
When it came time for Thrawn's promotion to Grand Admiral, he made his way to the Throne Room on Coruscant to meet with Emperor Palpatine. He was presented with a new uniform with the rank insignia plaque for Grand Admiral, but he didn't accept. Instead, he demanded to know what the Death Star was. He had some concerns about the battle station, so he addressed them with Palpatine.
Thrawn feared that the Emperor might use the weapon against the Chiss, but that wasn't his only concern. Additionally, he was worried that too much money and resources were being diverted to the project. He felt that those resources would be better utilized militarily if they were spread around. Palpatine assured Thrawn that he had no plans on using the Death Star against the Chiss in the Unknown Regions, and he didn't begrudge him for seeking to protect his people.
Palpatine also commented on how Thrawn left the locations of his home planet and other Chiss-controlled worlds off the maps he had given him. He didn't blame him for this, assuaging Thrawn's fears. He then explained to him that the Death Star was designed to suppress all opposition, and once its power was demonstrated, Thrawn would understand. He then offered the rank to him a second time, and Thrawn accepted, becoming the Grand Admiral of the Imperial Fleet.
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Thrawn Had A Force Sensitive Older Sister
Thrawn's older sister was sent away from the Kivu family when he was only three years old. Her name remains unknown, but her fate has been explained in Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising. Thrawn's sister was Force-sensitive, a relatively rare thing for the Chiss. When she was only five, she was taken from the family and trained to become a sky-walker for the Chiss Ascendancy.
Sky-walkers were young Force-sensitive women who could help navigate a Chiss Ascendancy vessel through the dangerous Outer Regions. Their connection to the Force (Third Sight to the Chiss) made it possible to safely traverse the otherwise deadly regions of space filled with black holes and all sorts of stellar debris. A sky-walker was only useful for a few years, as they lost their connection to the Force around the age of 13.
*Admiral Ar'alani is pictured above, though she isn't Thrawn's sister.
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Despite Appearances, Thrawn Survived The 'Star Wars: Rebels' Series Finale
Star Wars: Rebels built up to a massive campaign to free the planet Lothal from the evil clutches of the Empire. It simultaneously detailed the rise of Ezra Bridger, a young Jedi who learns the ways of the Force from one of the few Jedi to survive Order 66. The series throws Grand Admiral Thrawn at the burgeoning Rebellion, and he proves himself to be a cunning and talented enemy.
In the final episode, Bridger manages to bring a pod of Purrgils (Space Whales) to the planet's orbit, and they go about destroying most of the Imperial fleet. On the bridge of Thrawn's Star Destroyer, several Purrgil tentacles smash through the windows before jumping into hyperspace with the ISD Chimaera. Both Ezra and Thrawn were on the bridge at the time, so most fans assumed they perished in the vacuum of space.
Thrawn's creator, Timothy Zahn, explained that both characters survived, and he's been working on further developing the character. Zahn was light on details, but what is known is that Thrawn and Bridger survived, they're out there somewhere, and there's a good chance they will be found in Ashoka. The former Jedi was seen in The Mandalorian, and she was looking for Ezra, so chances are, she's going to find him (and she'll probably run into Thrawn along the way.
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Thrawn Worked With Anakin Skywalker During The Clone Wars
Thrawn met General Anakin Skywalker when he was piloting a freighter as its Senior Captain in orbit above the planet Batuu. Their chance encounter came while Anakin was fighting in the Clone Wars. At the same time, Thrawn was looking outside the Unknown Regions for allies in the Chiss' conflict with the Nikardun. When General Skywalker appeared out of hyperspace, the Jedi contacted him:
Unidentified ship, this is General Anakin Skywalker of the Galactic Republic. You are intruding on Republic equipment and interfering with a Republic mission. I order you to pull back and identify yourself.
Thrawn was taken aback by the Jedi's last name, as "sky-walkers" were Force-sensitive navigators used exclusively by the Chiss. They spoke, and Thrawn identified himself as Commander Mitth'raw'nuruodo and explained that he was a member of the Chiss Expansionary Defense Fleet.
The two agreed to work together, with Skywalker promising to explain what was happening in the Core (the Clone Wars), while Thrawn promised to help him locate Padmé and Duja. The two engaged in quite the adventure, working with one another to achieve their goals.
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In Addition To Battle Tactics, Thrawn Utilizes People’s Art, Philosophy, And History When Strategizing Against Them
One of Thrawn's most interesting characteristics is his admiration for a culture's art, philosophy, and history. On several occasions, he demonstrated this by amassing a large collection of pieces from the people he was fighting against. In Star Wars: Rebels, he did this often, and he explained his reasoning. By studying a culture's art, history, and philosophy, Thrawn was able to better understand the psyche of the people who created it.
Thrawn's large collection of art from various cultures made him the butt of many jokes from his Imperial peers, but that was because they didn't understand. They thought he loved art for no reason other than its aesthetic appeal. In reality, he studied it so he could learn an enemy's tactics. He studied art to better understand the "fundamental pattern" of another species/culture, and while none of his peers managed to emulate his ability, it proved successful throughout his career.