Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Everything You Need To Know About Grand Admiral Thrawn From The Mandalorian

The Mandalorian has spent most of its first two seasons focused on characters new to the Star Wars universe. However, season 2 has slowly begun to bring in a number of recognizable characters from the past, and fans are getting excited.

One particular way that The Mandalorian is breaking new ground, in this regard, is by taking formerly animated characters, and bringing them into the live-action world. In "The Heiress," actress Katee Sackhoff got to play her Mandalorian character from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Bo-Katan Kryze, in the flesh for the very first time. Not only did Sackhoff get to play the live-action version of Bo-Katan, but she also was the one to explain that Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) is part of a specific Mandalorian order called Children of the Watch, who do not take off their helmets.

Bo-Katan also mentions another character from The Clone Wars, that being Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), who makes her first live-action appearance a few episodes later, in "The Jedi." During Tano's episode, the beloved character makes two big revelations — and while the big headliner might be her revealing that Baby Yoda's actual name is Grogu, arguably the bigger story moment occurs when she says the name of the nemesis she's seeking — Grand Admiral Thrawn. 

Thrawn is probably the most feared and beloved villain in all of Star Wars that isn't a Sith Lord. In fact, Thrawn has been a major part of the Star Wars universe for a long time, but you may not have heard of him until recently.

Thrawn was born in the Star Wars Expanded Universe

Grand Admiral Thrawn was originally created by author Timothy Zahn, as a major figure in the novels that used to be referred to as the "Expanded Universe," (or EU) but is now referred to as the "Legends" continuity. Back in the nineties, when the movie franchise consisted only of the original trilogy, the EU books were generally considered to be official continuations of the actual Star Wars universe, following the events of Return of the Jedi. And the stories which legitimized the EU, in the eyes of many fans, were The Thrawn Trilogy, Zahn's trinity of novels which featured Thrawn as the antagonist.

As written by Zahn, once Darth Vader and the Emperor were defeated, the Empire was temporarily defeated — but one of its grand admirals survived, and was able to keep the Empire alive. His name was Mitth'raw'nuruodo, AKA Thrawn, and through his intelligence and power he is depicted as almost single-handedly reigniting the Galactic Empire, leading his forces to nearly vanquish the Republic. 

Since Zahn (and thus, Thrawn) essentially kept Star Wars mythology popular and alive in a decade wherein there were no new Star Wars movies, it has always seemed inevitable that Thrawn would turn up again. And even though all of the Star Wars EU stories were, technically, de-canonized in 2014 by Disney — since the sequel trilogy continued the story of Luke, Leia, and Han in a different direction than the EU/Legends had — Thrawn was soon born anew in the animated series Star Wars: Rebels.

Thrawn returned via Star Wars: Rebels ... and now, The Mandalorian

A younger version of Thrawn officially entered onscreen Star Wars canon in the final two seasons of Star Wars: Rebels, voiced by Lars Mikklsen. Depicted as a brilliant tactician, Thrawn finds power in the Empire after obliterating rebels on Batonn without any care for the safety of bystanders. 

Rebels is set after Revenge of the Sith, and five years before the events of A New Hope. In his rebooted form, it is during this dark time period wherein Thrawn thrives, existing essentially to beat on the Rebels as much as possible. In his own Star Destroyer, the Chimaera, he hunts rebels, prevents sabotage, and nearly kills Mon Mothma. In fact, the entire reason that the rebels have become so cautious by the time audiences first encounter them in the original 1977 film is due to the losses they've suffered from Thrawn's campaigns against them.

Until The Mandalorian, the last we had seen of Thrawn was him flying off into the unknown along with Rebels protagonist Ezra Bridger (Taylor Gray) and some space whales (yes, really). Thrawn's death was never confirmed, and considering that Dave Filoni — one of the chief creators of The Mandalorian — was also involved in Rebels, as well as the new revelation that Ahsoka Tano is hunting for Thrawn across the galaxy, we can now confirm that the Grand Admiral is still alive. 

Now, whether or not we'll see Thrawn before the end of The Mandalorian's second season is unknown, however, based on his backstory we can say with confidence that he will likely play an important role in however the surviving remnants of the Empire eventually transition into the First Order.