Star Wars: General Grievous' Cough Explained

While today the "Star Wars" franchise has become more commodified than ever before, there was a time when even the hint of a new project in that galaxy far, far away was a cause for excitement. Even as the prequel trilogy proved to be something of a disappointment when compared to the lightning in a bottle of the previous films, it was still a massive success.

Part of this is no doubt due to the pure spectacle of the prequels. Take General Grievous, for example. Voiced by Matthew Wood, the four-armed cybernetic alien hybrid proves to be a dangerous foe to both hero-turned-villain Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor).

However, due to his small amount of screen time in "Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith," viewers don't learn a lot about him. For instance, why does the character have that distinct cough? While "The Clone Wars" offers one explanation in a battle with Mace Windu (Terrence Carson), George Lucas' reasoning behind the choice was actually a bit more arbitrary, being that he just wanted to say something about the inherent flaws of technology.

Lucas wanted to reflect on technological imperfections

Fans of "The Clone Wars" will recall that General Grievous' cough is explained during an episode where Mace Windu engages the villain in a duel. As Grievous attempts to flee the battle, Windu uses his Force abilities to crush Grievous' chest plate, with the additional pressure on his chest explaining the cough. But since the aforementioned "Star Wars" series has been removed from official canon, Lucas' original reasoning is now revealed to be slightly different.

Apparently, what Lucas was going for is that, even if technology improves in his galaxy of "Star Wars" characters, it still isn't perfect. So, like Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) himself, though his life is extended by technology after a shuttle crash leaves him mutilated, Grievous also pays a price in terms of this otherwise unexplained malady. 

Lost characterization aside, however, you have to admit that the villain is extremely imposing. Upping the ante with four lightsabers being wielded by a single villain is definitely a cool idea, even if General Grievous is ultimately defeated rather unceremoniously around the early to mid-section of "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith."