The many faces of General Grievous

With over twenty years on screens, let's take a look at the many faces of General Grievous!
General Grievous in a scene from "STAR WARS: TALES OF THE EMPIRE", exclusively on Disney+. © 2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.
General Grievous in a scene from "STAR WARS: TALES OF THE EMPIRE", exclusively on Disney+. © 2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved. /

Everyone’s favorite asthmatic cyborg has changed a lot in the twenty-odd years since his introduction. If you love skeletal-looking baddies who hate Jedi and wield a grand total of four lightsabers, then boy, do we have a villain for you. It's time to talk about General Grievous.

The former Kaleesh warlord turned Supreme Commander of the Separatist droid army is certainly a striking figure. Is he a man? Is he a droid? And why can’t he stop coughing?

Each of the prequel films has what I like to refer to as ‘henchmen villains’ who act as the boots-on-the-ground baddies doing their masters' dirty work while the real villains sit comfortably behind a hologram, scheming away in the shadows. In The Phantom Menace, we had Darth Maul. In Attack of the Clones, this was Jango Fett, and Revenge of the Sith has the good General himself fulfilling this role. At a stretch, you could even consider Darth Vader to be the henchman villain of A New Hope, as it was really Grand Moff Tarkin giving all the orders, blowing up planets, and whatnot.

A truly unique character for his time, General Grievous was a one hundred percent CGI-made character. A true George Lucas idea was brought to life; Jar Jar Binks walked so Grievous could run into the fray and slice down his opponents. His appearance is genuinely quite unhinged. A faceplate made to look like a digitized skull with satanic animal-like eyes giving away signs of life. With only a few exceptions, such as The Lord of the Rings’ Gollum or Davy Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean, there simply wasn’t anything like Grievous on the big screen back then.

General Grievous
Star Wars Exhibition in Madrid / Eduardo Parra/GettyImages

While the General was conceived for Episode III, his first appearance is in fact a little earlier. Before making his big screen debut in 2005, Grievous was first seen by the public in the unbelievably good 2-D animated series Star Wars: Clone Wars by legendary animator Genndy Tartakovsky (Samurai Jack, Primal). The series focused on how characters moved and often made their shapes more accentuated to emphasize this. Grievous was a great example. His skeletal-like appearance and billowing cloak gave him wraith-like qualities as he hunted Jedi.

One memorable scene has him running up the side of a skyscraper on Coruscant, chasing a turbolift containing the Supreme Chancellor and a cohort of his Jedi defenders, looking in shock as the General is somehow able to keep up with them without breaking a sweat.

Later, Grievous would appear in The Clone Wars (not to be confused with Clone Wars) in the iconic style of that series and its spin-offs. In the final season of the series, the model was updated to give the General a more haunted-looking appearance. Fans were disappointed that this new model appeared for just one scene. But the recent Tales of the Empire gave us a better view of the new look, and we even got to see it in action, spinning lightsabers and all.

In terms of visuals, there are few fictional worlds more striking and diverse than that of Star Wars. Even just this one character has gone through a huge range of stylistic shifts and more than one major LEGO minifig redesign. What would really be the icing on the cake would be seeing the General once again in live action with all the details of modern CGI. Now that would be truly freaky. But only time will tell.

Next. The history of Asajj Ventress. The history of Asajj Ventress. dark