The Star Wars character Thrawn
Grand Admiral Thrawn first appeared in Timothy Zahn's "Thrawn Trilogy." (Image via Google Images)

Who Is Thrawn, and How Does He Fit Into the Star Wars Universe?

With several new Disney+ shows being released, let’s take a closer look at the next major villain in a galaxy far, far away…

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The Star Wars character Thrawn
Grand Admiral Thrawn first appeared in Timothy Zahn's "Thrawn Trilogy." (Image via Google Images)

With several new Disney+ shows being released, let’s take a closer look at the next major villain in a galaxy far, far away…

A revived villain lurks in the shadows of the Star Wars universe, and his wrath will soon unfold. The next phase of the Star Wars story has only begun, and what they have planned shall reveal itself throughout the number of Disney+ shows coming out in the next couple of years. Whether it be Season 3 of “The Mandalorian,” “The Book of Boba Fett” series or the “Ahsoka” series based around the beloved Ahsoka Tano character set to release in 2022, it is clear that the writers behind the Star Wars franchise are planning something.

Many fans expect Disney to use the same formula they applied to the tremendously successful Marvel Cinematic Universe: With the establishment of Disney+ series focusing on individual characters, they will all eventually culminate in team-up movies and shows that tell an overarching story — similar to that of the Avengers movies. However, the question remains: How can they do this with Star Wars? What exactly are they building up to?

The answer is simple, and it’s a name that fans of the Star Wars “Legends” books will recognize. Every fan out there can look forward to the appearance of none other than Grand Admiral Thrawn.

Grand Admiral Thrawn originates from “Heir to the Empire,” the first novel in Timothy Zahn’s “The Thrawn Trilogy.” The story, like a few of the Disney+ series, takes place in a disorganized world teetering between a power vacuum and pure chaos, as the slowly crumbling Empire left the galaxy in complete disarray. Thrawn, a man of the alien species called the Chiss, steps up to the plate to re-establish order throughout the cosmos, but his plan reveals itself to be something much deeper.

Thrawn comes from a race of people on a planet that resides deep in the Unknown Regions of the galaxy. Ironically, although he is from undiscovered territory, he discovered a grave threat that the rest of the galaxy doesn’t know about: the Yuuzhan Vong. The Yuuzhan Vong are an expansionist, infinite group of extremist aliens that have long built up their naturalistic army and planned their domination of the galaxy. They have lived in secret for hundreds of years and observed the baffling, simplistic nature of the politics that reigned over the galaxy, and they now seek to rule. Thrawn is one of the only people who knows of this impending threat to the galaxy. As a brilliant strategist, he sees that the galaxy’s best chance at survival is taking control of the remnants of the Empire himself as he prepares the trillions of sentients throughout the stars to defend themselves.

While this is a story from the Legends timeline that is now considered non-canon, the story of Thrawn has long been a fan favorite and has recently been integrated into Star Wars canon in a unique way. Thrawn made his debut as part of the canon of the Star Wars universe in the “Rebels” animated TV series and serves as a primary villain throughout the show. Fans last see him departing for an unknown place alongside rebel fighter and Jedi Ezra Bridger. In Season 2 of “The Mandalorian,” Ahsoka Tano confronts The Magistrate as she famously asks, “Where is Grand Admiral Thrawn?” This is a clear indicator of where the “Ahsoka” series will be going, but the Thrawn story is far too vast, loved and complex to be told throughout one series.

There are many opportunities within the Star Wars story between Episodes 6 and 7 for Thrawn to enter the scene. The ruins and disarray of the galaxy are heavily featured throughout “The Mandalorian” series. Fans of the “Rebels” series know that Thrawn and the Yuuzhan Vong are out there somewhere, and the creative leaders behind the scenes of Star Wars confirmed that they want to build up to something that brings all of the characters together to fight. There are simply too many signs to ignore that Thrawn will be the next great villain of the Star Wars world.

Thrawn is much more than an opportunist looking for control. What makes him different from other Star Wars villains is that he is far from being depicted as pure evil. He is an elite strategist capable of formulating plans and attacks that can outwit anybody in the galaxy, and he’s an elite protector of a galaxy he loves. He’s simply trying to protect everyone from the invasion of the Yuuzhan Vong. Thrawn is also a master of martial arts and frequently showcases his brutality, as well as his distinct hatred for the Force and those who wield it. He is depicted as very calm and in control of his own emotions with extreme willpower and patience; he uses his brain instead of his heart to reimpose order across the galaxy. One of Thrawn’s most famous quotes from the Timothy Zahn books describes him best:

“All strive for victory. But not all understand what it truly is. To a soldier or pilot on the line, victory is surviving the current battle. To a politician, victory is an advantage one can bring to a bargaining table. To a warrior, victory is driving an enemy from the field of battle or bringing him to surrender. Sometimes victory is greater than the warrior could ever hope for. Sometimes, it is more than he is able to hear.”

Prepare for something you’ve never seen, and one of the greatest forces our favorite Star Wars heroes have ever reckoned with. Thrawn is coming. The Yuuzhan Vong are coming. And there may be nothing that Luke Skywalker, Din Djarin, Grogu and Ahsoka Tano can do to stop it.

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Daniel Buccafusca

East Stroudsburg University
Psychology & English (Creative Writing)

A versatile creative and professional racecar driver looking to be the best person I can be.

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