There are tons of popular heroes and villains in the Star Wars universe. One of the latest big bads to join Disney’s new-look canon though is a surprisingly familiar face: Grand Admiral Thrawn. The blue-skinned villain first appeared in Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars: Heir to the Empire trilogy of Expanded Universe novels, acting as the primary adversary for Luke, Leia, and Han post-Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Sadly, he was unceremoniously jettisoned from the canon once Lucasfilm sold to Disney.
Following the latest season of Star Wars Rebels, and a new Star Wars: Thrawn novel from Zahn, Thrawn has officially returned to the saga. So with that, let’s get familiar with him, both inside and outside the canon.
1. A little background on his character from Heir to the Empire
In Timothy Zahn’s original Heir to the Empire trilogy, Thrawn was cast as a military genius, single-handedly keeping the Empire alive following the destruction of the second Death Star. Unlike the violent, iron fist that Darth Vader used to rule over his men, Thrawn inspired undying loyalty from his crew, using a much softer, yet sternly effective touch.
He’s one of the few non-human officers employed by the Empire, as a Chiss hailing from the Unknown Regions of the galaxy. Throughout his trilogy of books, he proved himself a worthy adversary, outwitting our heroes at virtually every turn, before finally suffering defeat at the hands of Rogue Squadron.
Thrawn’s character was based off of the likes of Alexander the Great, Sherlock Holmes, and a cadre of other historical and fictional geniuses, making it no small mystery why he proved to be so formidable a foe throughout his run in the Expanded Universe.