25 Greatest Characters in Star Wars History

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23. Grand Admiral Thrawn

(Write-up by Kyle Warnke, Dork Side of the Force Assistant Editor)

While it’s understandable and even permissible what Disney did with the Expanded Universe, that doesn’t mean we can’t mourn some of its former stars, and my favorite was undoubtedly Grand Admiral Thrawn.

Introduced in Timothy Zahn’s seminal Star Wars trilogy beginning with Heir to the Empire, Thrawn is a Chiss, a blue humanoid alien with red eyes. He’s the only non-human grand admiral in the Empire, a remarkable feat considering the Emperor was a xenophobic ruler.

Thrawn is a master tactician and a menacing presence among his crew, and he also has an obsession with the artwork of various alien races, which he studies to give himself an advantage over them.

Although this may seem like Thrawn was just as ruthless as Darth Vader, in the end he was much more cunning and shrewd.

For example, during the books, one of the Imperial officers under his command loses track of our main heroes when he attempts a unique but risky maneuver with the ship’s radar system. Instead of doing like Vader would do and killing the man on the spot, Thrawn gives the man a promotion for thinking outside of the box, inspiring his crew.

It’s subtle differences like these that paint Thrawn less like a thug and more like a leader who knows exactly how to gain the loyalty of his men. He was the first real Star Wars villain outside of the films who seemed like he could hold a candle to Vader.

We probably won’t see Thrawn pop up anytime soon, but he’s still left quite a legacy even with his limited appearances.

Next: A Sith Lord from the Old Republic