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Grand Admiral Mitth'raw'nuruodo, "Thrawn"
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/thrawn_alliances.jpg
"I study the art of war, and I work
to perfect it."

Species: Chiss

Homeworld: Csilla

Voiced by: Lars Mikkelsen
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Appearances: Thrawn | Thrawn: Alliances | Thrawn: Treason | Rebels

"To defeat an enemy, you must know them. Not simply their battle tactics, but their history, philosophy, art."

A Chiss exiled from the Unknown Regions by his people, he became one of the Empire's best naval strategists, and was dispatched to apprehend the Ghost crew and Phoenix Squadron on the eve of the Galactic Civil War.


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    #-B 
  • 0% Approval Rating: Much to his own detriment, no one in the Season 3 Imperial cast has any appreciation for his craft (except for maybe Yularen, and Pryce doesn't really care as long as the job is done), and they can do nothing but quietly complain about it to themselves. By the end of Season 3, everyone in his inner circle have either abandoned him, or have been killed, leaving him only Pryce. An example of a character suffering this trope despite being incredibly competent and, as Imperials go, entirely fairhanded.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Thanks to him being based on Lars Mikkelsen, he is a lot slimmer and elegant than his Legends incarnation.
  • Adaptational Badass: Thrawn's physical prowess was never really looked at in his Legends counterpart, which focused almost entirely on his planning and leadership. In Rebels, Thrawn is an excellent hand to hand combatant, who spars with specialty droids and defeats Kallus in hand to hand combat. Outside of hand-to-hand combat, he was able to defeat the Bendu — a powerful Force entity who can summon a lightning storm — without any assistance from a ysalamir (a creature which was notable for naturally being able to negate the Force around it in Legends, and Thrawn exploited these against Force users).
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Compared to several Legends stories — including his début trilogy — Thrawn is less of an Anti-Villain in Rebels, though he's still more respectful and polite than almost everyone else associated with the Empire. That said, according to Thrawn, he manages to remain a Noble Demon despite this — e.g., his genuine friendship with Vanto, and his Even Evil Has Standards against Pryce for causing the civilian casualties Thrawn will inevitably be "credited" for.
  • Affably Evil: Respectful of his enemies to a fault, though nonetheless a dangerous threat. Thrawn is also quite polite to fellow Imperials who have earned his validation.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Like all Chiss, he is blue-skinned.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Aftermath: Empire's End mentions him in past-tense and notes that he was invaluable in helping the Empire gain a better understanding of the Unknown Regions (which would be crucial for Palpatine's plans, along with the plans of the First Order following his death). With Thrawn's case, it's unclear if he's still alive around the time of the Battle of Jakku (and is possibly hiding in the Unknown Regions), if he lived past the events of Rebels but died at a later point in time, or if he met his end shortly before the first Death Star was destroyed. The finale of Rebels indicates why this might be: Ezra captured his Star Destroyer and sent the both of them off into hyperspace to parts unknown, separating them both from the Empire. Word of God states that they survived.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • Becomes one for Hera. She's the member of the Ghost crew that he interacts with the most, if at all, he has a fair amount of Villain Respect for her, and during his assault on Atollon shots of them are juxtaposed to show him wearing down her defences and halting the attack to move in for the kill, precisely at the moment when she closes her eyes in defeat.
    • He spends most of Thrawn, and therefore his career playing cat-and-mouse with Nightswan with other Imperials describing it as an obsession.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Gives one to Padmé in Thrawn: Alliances: "The Separatists wished to leave the Republic. Why didn’t you simply allow them to go?" She responds that the Separatists started the war by attacking the Republic first, but the question continues to gnaw at her, especially after witnessing the collateral damage caused by destroying the Separatist operation.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Summed up in his introduction quote, as quoted above.
    • Demonstrated twice during his debut: first when quickly deducing a distance-and-timing-based connection between Hondo's escape and Ezra and co.'s skirmish with the Mining Guild ships, then when allowing Phoenix Squadron to escape with several stolen Y-Wings so Thrawn can track them all the way to the bigger fish.
    • His novel reveals that he met Anakin Skywalker sometime during the Clone Wars in the Thrugii Asteroid Belt, and was able to deduce from a brief conversation that the Chancellor was making him into some kind of servant, something that Anakin was at the time unaware of. He also implies he knows that Vader and Anakin are in fact one and the same. He also deduces the existence of the Death Star project by working out that the Empire is buying up far more strategic materials than are needed for the official fleet shipbuilding projects.
  • Badass Boast: Regardless of other people screwing up his plans, these boasts are not unjustified.
    Thrawn: We will show the Galaxy what happens to those that dare speak against the Emperor.
  • Badass Bookworm: In addition to being The Chessmaster, he's also a skilled hand-to-hand fighter.
  • Badass Normal: Being non-Force-sensitive doesn't stop him from stun-blasting Ezra before he can even draw his own weapon.
  • Bad Boss: Thrawn has no qualms throwing other officers under the bus to further his own plans which is what he did to Lyste after Kallus framed him for being a rebel spy, which Thrawn wants to maintain so he can Feed the Mole without raising Kallus's suspicion. Although to be fair, Thrawn is a little kinder than Vader and only does this to officers he considers too close minded or incompetent.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: In Season 3 of Rebels, he utterly destroys most of Phoenix Squadron, destroying any hope of striking at Lothal, thus earning a tactical victory from it. The only thing preventing his plan from being completely successful was that his boss Tarkin gave him the order to take any Rebel leaders alive, some of his subordinates disobeyed his orders, and the last-minute intervention of the Bendu kept him from killing the survivors on Chopper Base himself.
  • Batman Gambit: Masterfully anticipates when and where the Rebels are going to attack on several occasions; they only manage to pull it off or escape because he lets them do so as part of his grander plans. He is unable to anticipate exactly how they are going to pull off these attacks, but he seems to enjoy watching and learning. He makes this aspect of his strategic mindset clear from his introduction alone.
    Thrawn: I will start my operations here, and pull the rebels apart piece by piece. They will be the architects of their own destruction.
  • Benevolent Boss: While he is a Bad Boss in many respects, in the same vein, he is also quick to acknowledge and respect personnel with considerable skill even when they betray him, at least if it's not openly.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Threatening to destroy beautiful art, as seen when a xenophobic Imperial captain does so with a Twi'lek family heirloom, and Thrawn very nearly physically beats him before regaining his composure. This is one of the few if only times we have ever seen Thrawn lose his cool, including Legends continuity.
    • He is furious with Governor Pryce when her actions, in a desperate attempt to claim a victory, end up compromising the entirety of the TIE Defender Project. His wrath in that scene is utterly terrifying.
  • Big Bad: Of Rebels, from Season 3 onward, even though he acts on Tarkin's behest, though by Season 4, his master, the Emperor, takes a direct role.
  • Big-Bad Ensemble: While Tarkin may be the chief antagonist, he leaves it up to Thrawn to be the heroes' primary enemy, but Thrawn is in this territory with Darth Maul in Season 3. By Season 4, Thrawn is still not alone, as it is confirmed there will be another threat the heroes will have to face, and it appears to be none other than Emperor Palpatine.
  • Blood Knight: Although for strategy rather than fighting, Thrawn fits this to a T. He sees war as an art and is driven to perfect it, finding the best and most thorough ways to utterly destroy the enemy not out of a political agenda, but because he loves doing it.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Even Thrawn was subject to this. It was a huge mistake to let Kallus live and leave him with less competent Imperials as opposed to executing him once the rebel base was discovered. When that happened, once he was out of Thrawn's watch, it was easy for him to goad his way out. Even Kallus himself wouldn't have made the mistake to leave traitors alive, as Minister Tua found out. Then again, at that point the rebels knew that Kallus had been captured, so it really wouldn't have mattered if he escaped or not. However Tarkin ordered Thrawn to capture the Rebel leadership as prisoners, and the traitor might have had some useful information.
  • Boring, but Practical: His TIE Defender program, mass producing elite starfighters that would give them an overwhelming advantage over the Rebel Alliance, beating them at their own game, as opposed to focusing the majority of their resources on one superweapon. Had it been allowed to continue it would almost certainly have wiped out the nascent Rebellion, but his superiors preferred the fear and sheer power of the Death Star. After the setbacks of season 4, they used that as an excuse to discontinue the Defender program in favor of the Project Stardust. This also extends to his strategies, as he tends to go for the more mundane but reliable methods—formations and tactics—rather than flashy but risky ones.

    C-F 
  • Canon Immigrant: Perhaps the biggest import from the Legends continuity, Thrawn hails from Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy, one cornerstone of the EU, made non-canon after the EU reboot in 2014. His personal Star Destroyer Chimaera was also imported, now featuring a stylized hybrid creature painted on the underbelly.
  • The Chessmaster: Textbook example. Even when Thrawn loses, he still wins. The best example probably happens in "Rebel Assault", where despite his best efforts, the Rebel forces manage to break through the blockade above Lothal... only to run straight into the second blockade which they had no idea Thrawn had hidden just below the atmosphere. The Rebel fighter squadron is annihilated, with Hera, Chopper, and Mart Mattin as the only survivors.invoked
  • Cold Ham: Constantly calm and down-to-earth, yet dramatic and eloquent at the same time. Even during a Not So Stoic moment, he visibly tries to restrain himself as much as possible.
  • Combat Aestheticist: To Thrawn, warfare is just another form of art for him to study, and perfect.
  • Comically Missing the Point: A realistic one in that when he starts to learn Basic, he doesn't know slang, especially expletives. Eli curses in front of him and then has to explain to him that it's an obscenity.
  • The Comically Serious: Again, a realistic one. When he meets with Pryce in a secret meeting at a Coruscant diner, his incognito disguise is a hooded cloak... and green shades. Pryce finds it a strange look on him, but he either has no idea of how ridiculous it looks or doesn't care.
  • Commonality Connection: He takes Eli under his wing because the boy has not only heard things about the Chiss, but he also knows some of their language, which interests Thrawn.
  • Connected All Along: It's revealed in Thrawn: Alliances that he met and worked with Padmé Amidala during the Clone Wars.
  • Contemplative Boss: His private time tends to involve (1) a Reverse Arm-Fold and (2) studying art.
  • Cool Starship: His personal Star Destroyer, the Chimaera, stands out from its Legends counterpart by having a stylized hybrid monster painted on the underbelly.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Thrawn is just skilled enough to prepare himself for any situation, even when a Jedi is involved.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: In Thrawn: Alliances, while explaining to Vader about how the Force-sensitive Chiss children are used by the Ascendancy as astronavigators until their ability fades, after which they are cast aside, Vader notices that he looks troubled, as if he were remembering a past tragedy.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He has a very dry wit and likes to subtly (or not so subtly) insult people for their incompetence while not changing from his usual cool tone.
    Thrawn: [as the rebels fly away with the TIE Defender prototype] Was that part of the demonstration, commander?
  • Defiant to the End: Though he's justifiably freaking out when he's grabbed by the Purrgil, he still has the presence of mind to shoot Ezra with his blaster and snarl as Ezra jumps them both into hyperspace.
  • Did Not See That Coming: His downfall in the finale is that he did not expect Ezra's back-up plan to summon Space Whales to wreck his fleet and hyperspace-jump them to somewhere else in the Galaxy.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Near the end of "Zero Hour", he manages to shoot down the Bendu, a giant alien who has turned himself into a Force storm.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Retains this trait from Legends, rarely ever sounding like he's having anything more than a polite conversation. And on top of that, Lars Mikkelsen's voice here makes him sound downright ASMR-worthy.
  • Doomed by Canon: Non-lethal example. Since he's mentioned in the past tense in Aftermath: Empire's End, hasn't appeared in any of the canon material set during the Original Trilogy, the Bendu specifically warned about his defeat, and Season 4 introduced his bodyguard Rukh who killed him in Legends, most fans took it for granted that Thrawn would not survive past the end of Rebels. He doesn't die (although Rukh does), but Ezra uses the Purrgil to hyperspace jump the Chimaera into the Unknown Regions with both of them aboard, leaving Ezra and Thrawn MIA for the entire events of the original trilogy. Ironically, it seems the creators wanted him to end up in more or less the same situation he was in when he first appeared in Legends material, so he might be considered Saved by Non-Canon.
  • The Dragon: In Season 3, he is acting at behest of Grand Moff Tarkin as his top officer, and the fact that he commands Death Troopers implies he's one of his officers in the Tarkin Initiative. However, it's shown Thrawn isn't always on the same page with Tarkin's orders regarding how to bring an end to the Rebellion; Tarkin wants to capture their leadership and Make an Example of Them, while Thrawn just wants to exterminate the Rebellion at its core, which contributes to the latter's reluctance to take the rebel leaders alive. By Season 4, it looks like Thrawn is losing face with his boss.
  • Dragon-in-Chief:
    • Technically, he's at Governor Pryce's beck and call, but he's the deadlier of the two and he ends up giving Pryce instruction more than she does to him. Also to Tarkin in that while Tarkin is ruthless in his own right, Thrawn is far more proactive and subtle in his own plans (most of which Tarkin is not privy to).
    • However, while he's likely more intelligent than Tarkin, Tarkin isn't exactly a slouch, and what Tarkin lacks in raw brainpower he more than makes up for in political cunning and sheer ruthlessness. In the Season 3 finale, Tarkin orders Thrawn to take Rebel prisoners alive, an order which Thrawn begrudgingly obeys. Considering what Tarkin did in the later episodes of Season 1, it's quite possible that even Thrawn is afraid of what Tarkin will do to those who defy him.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • He gets irritated by the arrogance and xenophobia of at least one Imperial officer under his command, but they agree to disagree.
    • He knows that Pryce was the one responsible for the mass casualties of the Battle of Batonn, the battle for which he was promoted to the rank of Grand Admiral, and he is not happy about this. However, he doesn't have any solid evidence to accuse her with.
    • He also seems to genuinely regret having to destroy Lothal and even its defenders—especially Sabine, whose artwork he admires. Ezra calls him on it, as he's still doing it and stealing their art just adds insult to injury. However, as noted below, he doesn't seem to understand why this is a problem.
    • In Thrawn: Alliances, he gets the Force-sensitive Chiss children back from the Grysks and back to their homes and families partly because he cares enough to do so. He also seems to have a personal issue with those children being cast aside by the military after their Force-sensitivity fades.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: He's more of a grey character, since he'll side with whoever is in power, but he says that while yes, you should definitely learn about your enemies (who are probably evil from your perspective), a warrior (as the Chiss have a heavy emphasis on military and fighting) attempting to understand their enemy would be pointless and may cause them to give into mercy if they try to compromise. From his point of view, the best method is to destroy your enemy.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Has a sharp, commanding baritone to match his imposing stature.
  • The Exile: Like in Legends, he was exiled by his people, the Chiss, but was eventually found and rescued by Imperials and would soon join them. However, in the new continuity it's a fake exile; the higher-ups at the Chiss Ascendancy basically sent him as a scout to assess the Empire so that they could be useful allies later.
  • Faux Affably Evil: While normally Affably Evil, he sometimes crosses the line into outright cruelty with a polite veneer, especially around Hera. He mockingly refers to her as "our host" when he captures her home, rubs her brother's death in her face while pretending to study the kalikori before reminding her that she'll soon be the last of her family, and takes satisfaction in demanding her unconditional surrender when Atollon is all but destroyed.
  • Fear Is the Appropriate Response: Despite being overwhelmingly stoic and cool-headed, his composure breaks and he shows genuine terror for the first time in the finale when he realizes he's about to suffer a Cruel and Unusual Death at the hands of either the purrgil or hyperspace. He ultimately survives, but it's hard to blame him for that reaction. Still downplayed, in that he handles it a lot better than, say, how Pryce handled the Loth-wolves.
  • Four-Star Badass: As an Imperial Grand Admiral, one of the originals of Star Wars.
  • Foreign Culture Fetish: Thrawn might bristle at the suggestion of destroying art, but he doesn't see any problem with him hoarding artifacts of the Empire's victims for his personal pleasure. He's genuinely surprised that Hera would rather see it smashed than in his hands.
    Hera: My family's legacy belongs to us alone. It is not for some collector's curiosity.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • The Bendu tells Thrawn that he can see his defeat, "like many arms surrounding you in a cold embrace." Since visions from Force-wielders are always guaranteed to happen in some shape or form, Thrawn will experience a rather crushing defeat in the future. "Farewell", the series finale to Rebels, has Thrawn defeated by being "embraced" in the tentacles of Purrgil, and then shot into hyperspace to parts unknown.
    • It's also already been established that the TIE Defenders were never mass-produced, making his pet project a failure. However, that didn't stop the First Order from developing more practical TIEs that utilize the same features like a hyperdrive and shielding.
  • Friendship Moment: At the end of Thrawn, Thrawn leaves his private journal entries with his long time translator and guide Eli Vanto, revealing that despite his neutral demeanor he did value Eli's friendship. He's so confident in Eli's abilities that he even leaves him coordinates for him to meet up with and join the Chiss Ascendancy as the Human Ambassador.
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    G-N 
  • The Heavy: Though Palpatine still leads the Empire, and Tarkin is back giving orders, Thrawn is the main Imperial commander in Season 3 of Rebels and the one specifically going after the Ghost and her crew. He survives the Season 3 finale so his role continues into the next season.
  • Hellish Pupils: Inverted — he has normal, human-like pupils, which is notable since they were either absent or muted with art portraying the Legends version of the character.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Ultimately, Emperor Palpatine's involvement in the Force-based story arc of Season 4 meant that Thrawn would be Demoted to Dragon become irrelevant. But after Ezra's last confrontation with the Emperor, Thrawn ends up being the Post-Final Boss to Ezra.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Subjects others to this. He makes Imperial workers test their own creations, which may end up exploding — thus killing saboteurs and preventing more would-be saboteurs from so much as tampering with the equipment.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • A Discussed and Exploited Trope on Thrawn's part. When he finally meets face-to-face with Ezra, he mentions that while he has an appreciation of the Jedi, he thinks that their commitment to doing what they consider to be moral over what's practical was one of their greatest weaknesses — and that he was able to get the better of Ezra by bombing his city until he agreed to surrender.
      Thrawn: Predictable. You follow a long history written by the Jedi, where they choose what they believe to be morally correct, instead of what is strategically sound.
    • Although in a case of Dramatic Irony, Thrawn's downfall because of Ezra's Honor Before Reason attributes: first, because he earned the purrgil's respect when he saved them in "The Call" even though it made the mission a lot harder and they repaid him by sabotaging Thrawn's fleet, and second, because Ezra is willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of his people, so when he and Thrawn are on the same bridge he refuses to call off the plan.
  • Immigrant Patriotism: A rare villainous example. Thrawn is, thus far, the only visible nonhuman in the entire Imperial chain of command, and you'll never find a more dedicated and loyal Imperial officer. Especially because in this continuity, he is an actual immigrant, and his "exile" by the Chiss Ascendancy is just a cover-up.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: His design seems to be at least partially based on his voice actor Lars Mikkelsen, which is slightly different to how he was portrayed in Legends.
  • Irony:
    • At the end of the Legends book Outbound Flight, his brother, Thrass, and a Jedi Padawan, Lorana, went into space to save the innocent lives on the titular project and were prepared to meet whatever fate had in store for them, be it death or something else. The Outbound Flight would never be found until several decades later, and the remains of Thrass and Lorana, who have since been assumed MIA, are unidentifiable. At the end of Rebels, Ezra, a Jedi Padawan, forces himself and Thrawn into unknown space to save the innocent people of Lothal from the latter. Their whereabouts are unknown, though it is said they are still alive.
    • In Thrawn: Alliances, it is revealed that Force-sensitive Chiss children are used as astronavigators by the Chiss military due to their precognition. In Rebels, Ezra sends himself and Thrawn into unknown space that only purrgils routinely go to.
    • In Star Wars Legends a major plot point in Heir to the Empire , Thrawn was part of a plot to kidnap Leia's unborn twin children because of their Force sensitivity. Now he's actively preventing such abductions. Even rescuing Force-sensitive Chiss children; outraged it's a problem because Even Evil Has Standards.
  • It Is Pronounced Tro Pay: Thrawn actually uses the proper Twi'leki pronunciation for Hera's name as opposed to the Basic translation used by everyone else, including the crew of the Ghost.
  • Kick the Dog: Near the end of Rebels, he breaks his usual Affably Evil demeanor and slips into Faux Affably Evil territory when confronting Hera, rubbing her family's tragedies in her face with insincere sympathies, while also being creepily possessive of her Kalikori as his newest trophy. This in contrast with the other scene where he and Hera talked about the Kalikori, where he was shown being more appreciative of it (if for misguided reasons) as a work of art as opposed to a reminder of an enemy he defeated.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: One of the things that makes Thrawn such a joy to watch is the way he almost constantly dresses down, diminishes, or otherwise humiliates the other Imperials under his command. In Season 3, he completely snaps and almost strangles Captain Slavin when the man suggests destroying a valuable piece of art, and spends most of his time kicking Admiral Konstantine around like a football. In Season 4, you might have to resist the urge to cheer when he tells Governor Pryce, while positively seething with rage, that he will "deal with her personally" when she blows up the Imperial fuel depot just to kill Kanan and then tries to cover up her mistake by throwing a parade.invoked
  • Leave No Survivors: Played with. See Kill Them All above. Once Thrawn finds the entire rebel fleet, he will not take prisoners — except for the higher-ups, but only because Tarkin said so.
  • Leitmotif: "Thrawn's Web."
  • Light Is Not Good: Wears a bright white uniform and is one of the Empire's best officers.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Like his Legends counterpart, he's too ruthless for the Rebels, yet more affable and open-minded than most Imperials.
  • Make an Example of Them: Thrawn may be cultured, but he can still be utterly ruthless if required. In "An Inside Man", faced with a vehicle factory whose creations consistently malfunctioned in the field, Thrawn had Mr. Sumar personally test the last speeder bike he'd built and forced the test to continue until the bike exploded as a warning to the other workers that sabotage and/or incompetence would not be tolerated, as well as ordering them to personally test what they built to ensure any saboteurs would meet the same fate and discouraging them from trying to get away with anything.
  • Man in White: His Grand Admiral's uniform is mostly white in color.
  • Manipulative Bastard: He might be okay with losing a number of battles so he can win the final one, but it's a dangerous game to play in the Empire. As such, he leaves it up to his less competent and more arrogant subordinates to fail for him, often subtly sabotaging them to get the result he wants, which allows him to gain the information he needs without accumulating a string of failures that would put him at risk. Some of his other schemes rely a great deal on secrecy from his higher-ups, such as letting a traitorous officer walk free. This plan would be good for baiting the rebels, but more than enough to get him in trouble with Tarkin for failing to apply the mandatory death sentence for officers who commit treason. If worse comes to worse, he has Ezra as leverage.
  • Might Makes Right: After Ezra becomes outraged over Thrawn taking things he can't understand, hasn't earned, and doesn't deserve, Thrawn tells him all of those things are irrelevant. The only thing that matters is that Thrawn had the power to seize them, so he did.
  • Mis-blamed: In-Universe, he's believed to be responsible for the massive civilian casualties at the Battle of Batonn. In reality, Governor Pryce was directly responsible, and Thrawn, Eli Vanto and possibly Colonel Yularen are the only ones who even suspect this to be the case, but can't prove it. Though, given it's The Empire, he still got a promotion out of it.
  • The Mole: Thrawn is not actually exiled, just made to look like he is. He is actually still a loyal officer of the Chiss military who happens to have been assigned the task of infiltrating the Galactic Empire so that he can see if the Empire can become a useful ally to the Ascendancy in due time. That being said, he is still a Consummate Professional who takes his responsibilities with the Empire very seriously.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • To end his training with his Imperial sentry droids, he recites "Override code: Rukh", which shuts them down. Rukh is the name of his bodyguard — who, in the Legends canon, turned against him and killed him. Subverted in season 4 where Rukh himself makes an appearance as Thrawn's personal agent.
    • His introduction in Rebels may be a nod to Travis from Blake's 7, both brought in to crush a band of rebels by an established female villain as an expert with a reputation for carrying out a massacre, though in Thrawn's case the massacre in question was not actually his fault.
  • Nerves of Steel: Thrawn flinches from nothing, even when someone's bearing down on him in a TIE Fighter and Thrawn has only a pistol. The only times he ever visibly shows fear or confusion are in the Season 3 and 4 finales, where he's being attacked by, respectively, a sentient thunderstorm or being strangled in the tentacles of a massive pod of Space Whales.
  • Necessarily Evil: He has Villainous Virtues, but his main long-term goal is to secure the safety of his people. Currently, the short-term way to do that is to serve the Empire and maintain it so that the Ascendancy has a reliable ally to fall back on when things come to a head, so therefore, he will serve his role as Grand Admiral as necessary. He won't harm innocents if he can avoid it (also note that he has a strict definition of what is an "innocent bystander"), for example. But if it's the best option there is, well...
  • No Social Skills: Not so profound as most examples, but outside a military context he comes off as stiff and socially awkward.
  • Noble Demon: Is more Villain Respect-inclined than most Imperials. Also, a big chunk of his motivation for joining the Empire was to gain protection for his fellow Chiss — despite them abandoning him. His exile was a ruse, and he is actually infiltrating the Empire to see if it can be a useful ally in dealing with threats from the Unknown Regions... threats that he is absolutely convinced are far worse than the Empire, for all its oppression and brutality.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Downplayed. Although he is capable in hand-to-hand combat and can operate a blaster with efficiency, he's rarely shown actually doing so.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: He may be an Affably Evil and Wicked Cultured wordsmith who favors the long term over the short term... but when it's crunch time, he's ultimately this. For example, the moment Ezra draws his lightsaber during their first encounter, Thrawn immediately stuns him without a word. And in the Season 3 finale, Thrawn would rather just go with the safe and sure route of full-scale Orbital Bombardment on the Rebel base...but Tarkin's I Want Them Alive order regarding the Rebel leaders forces Thrawn to take the Complexity Addiction route instead.
  • No-Sell: In short, any attempt to deceive or sabotage Thrawn ends in this, because he always has a backup plan. If it was a good attempt, he'll consider that person a Worthy Opponent.
  • Noodle Incident: During the Clone Wars, he crossed paths with Anakin at the Thrugii Asteroid Belt and befriended him. He describes the event as "interesting" to Eli, though doesn't explain further despite the young man's curiosity for further details on the matter. Said tale would eventually come to light in Thrawn: Alliances.invoked
  • Not His Sled:
    • The Thrawn novel revealed that actually, no, Thrawn wasn't exiled for real. That's his cover to the Chiss public and his cover backstory to the Empire. His superiors actually sent him to see if the Empire would be useful allies against an unidentified threat in the Unknown Regions, which is relevant to Palpatine's plans that somehow tie into the events of the Sequel Trilogy. note 
    • In the series finale of Rebels, Rukh doesn't stab Thrawn In the Back, and in fact Thrawn outlives Rukh by quite a bit when his bodyguard gets vaporized by a shield generator turning on. As a matter of fact, according to Dave Filoni, Thrawn is still alive somewhere, along with Ezra, after he grapples the purrgil to the Chimaera and jumps them both into hyperspace.
  • Not So Similar: To Ahsoka and Maul, who have that "to defeat your enemy, you have to understand/know them." In the case of Maul, he even says to practice your enemy's beliefs while you're at it. Thrawn agrees that you must know your enemy, but his titular book expands on it: do not attempt to understand them or even compromise with them; only destroy them. However, given his ultimate loyalties to the Chiss Ascendancy, this has led to him more than once offering an enemy a position with the Ascendancy, such as Nightswan, demonstrating that his true enemy is not any foe to the Empire, but rather, whatever it is in the Unknown Regions that the Chiss are terrified of.
  • Not So Stoic:
    • Grabs an Imperial officer by his shirt collar and hisses at him for his Fantastic Racism towards Twi'lek culture.
    • He's visibly disturbed by the Bendu foretelling his defeat.

    O-S 
  • Oh, Crap!: Even he has his moments.
    • He has one when his sentry droids reject his override code after suddenly walking into his office and killing his guards.
    • He has another one when the Bendu becomes a Genius Loci storm to help the Rebels.
    • And in the finale, he completely loses it when he realizes that the purrgil are about to jump to hyperspace, and there's nothing protecting him from it.
  • Only Sane Man: In an environment plagued by Bond Villain Stupidity, Fantastic Racism and We Have Reserves tendencies, Thrawn does none of those things, and brings in top-line results. This being said, while he does have his negative tendencies, Thrawn is one of the few even remotely reasonable people in the entirety of the Galactic Empire, and one of the even fewer who never defects.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • It turns out there is at least one thing that will cause Thrawn to snap out of his Dissonant Serenity, and that is destroying artwork. He nearly physically attacks an Imperial officer for suggesting they destroy Hera's family heirloom.
    • When Governor Pryce destroys his plan of mass-producing TIE defenders (by blowing up the Lothal garrison's fuel supply in the process of killing Kanan) Thrawn fairly hisses with rage when he tells Pryce that he'll 'deal with her'.
  • Out-Gambitted: In "Farewell" the series finale to Rebels, Ezra anticipates Thrawn arriving to Lothal early and disrupting their plan, so he sets up a contingency to use Purrgil as The Cavalry, thwarting Thrawn's victory and leading to his ultimate defeat through a means Thrawn had no way of knowing.
  • Perma-Shave: Despite being in the wild for months and his hair growing long, the Thrawn comic shows that he doesn't even have a stubble. Possibly justified, as Chiss might not be able to grow facial hair.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Zigzagged. He chooses to preserve Hera's Kalikori in part due to Villain Respect for her, along with his trademark love of art and reacts quite poorly to his subordinate suggesting that it be destroyed. Hera herself, however, would rather he destroy it than treat a part of her heritage as a trophy. In that same episode, he realizes he can't blame Slavin for not sharing his same passion for art and culture.
    • On the other hand, even though his people abandoned him, in his deal with Palpatine, he requests that the Empire helps his people against invaders, simply because they are his people. And even if they still reject him and refuse his protection, Thrawn will still continue to protect them. Turns out that the Chiss haven't actually turned against Thrawn and Thrawn is in fact acting on their orders to assess the Empire as a possible ally, rather than out of emotional ties.
    • His entire relationship with his aide-de-camp Eli Vanto can be considered a Licked by the Dog moment as his aide is a Token Good Teammate whom Thrawn values as a friend that Thrawn seems to keep clear of his own worst, more underhanded moments. Sending him to Chiss space likely to protect him is possibly the most genuine action Thrawn has ever taken. The alliance between the Ascendancy and Empire is more of an added bonus at that point.
    • He was genuinely adamant that the rescued Chiss girls be treated well. He quartered them near his own suite and spoke to them in private. Enough that Vader felt the calming effect Thrawn had on them. That he convinced Vader to let these rare girls go home is nothing short of miraculous.
  • Polite Villains, Rude Heroes: His meeting with Hera. He maintains his air of manners the entire time, she's as hostile to him as she is to the rest of the Imperials.
  • Post-Final Boss: In the Grand Finale, Emperor Palpatine serves as the Final Boss to conclude Ezra's character arc, and after Ezra finishes his confrontation with the Emperor, Thrawn is barely a challenge to him.
  • The Promise: Thrawn rose through the ranks swiftly not only because of his merits as a tactical genius, but because Eli asked him to. The latter snidely demanding it, and Thrawn promising to do so on the spot.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Thrawn is a Chiss; his people manage to combine being this with militant neutrality. The upshot is that every other power in the galaxy makes a pretty wide berth around Chiss space, turning it into Switzerland IN SPACE!! The Chiss consider it the height of honour to serve their society and the pinnacle of dishonour to ever strike first, but are undisputed masters of striking second. And they have no qualms whatsoever about manipulating a soon-to-be enemy into making their first strike prematurely. This policy – which by Thrawn’s era has turned into a quasi-religious doctrine – is the reason he got himself exiled both in Legends and Canon (well, it was the excuse), since he has a thing for pre-emptive strikes.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Double subverted. All Chiss have red eyes, so they can't really help it. However, Thrawn is as dangerous as his appearance would suggest.
  • Reverse Arm-Fold: Even when away from his Contemplative Boss time, he just can't seem to resist standing like this as much as possible.
  • Rubber-Forehead Alien: Thrawn comes from a humanoid alien race with blue skin, red eyes, and ridges on their forehead.
  • The Strategist: He's a highly skilled tactician whose strategies are spoken in awe of by even the likes of Cham Syndulla. Every onscreen battle Thrawn has personally been involved in led to the rebels fully retreating.
  • Spared By Adaptation: Possibly. His fate is left ambiguous after the Rebels series finale (though Word of God is that he and Ezra did survive), whereas he is dead as dead can be in the original Legends continuity.
  • Strategy Versus Tactics: Unlike most Imperials, he's willing to sacrifice individual battles in favor of a major endgame (Strategy) — though he's also quite capable of Xanatos Speed Chess decision-making when necessary (Tactics).
  • Surrounded by Idiots: While he never outright says this, it is the source of much frustration (and what ultimately undermines otherwise decisive victories) that most of the officers he has to work with are not only far less competent than he is, but too dumb and egotistical to even try to improve. Both Slavin and Konstantine fail to understand his strategies or to show any respect for their enemies and otherwise make stupid mistakes, leading to repeated and sometimes fatal errors; Governor Pryce is a bit better and is the one who asked for his help, but she still isn't nearly as good as he is and keeps trying to prove herself to the point where she loses sight of the actual goal. Had either Pryce or especially Konstantine been doing their job properly at the Battle of Atollon, Phoenix Squadron would have been defeated decisively rather than allowed to ultimately get away, and the entire Rebellion may have been killed in its infancy. And of course, even his own boss Tarkin is as arrogant as he is cold and ruthless. The only people he's worked with who do a stellar job are Col. Wullf Yularen and Agent Kallus. That is, if the latter didn't undergo a Heel–Face Turn. But, their perceived idiocy may be more because they don't like him. On the other hand, some of his plans require other officers to be idiots.

    T-X 
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Whatever his past issue with Force-sensitive Chiss children being dismissed as astronavigators from the Chiss military after their ability fades is, he doesn't let his emotions cloud his judgment and seems to accept that it is necessary.
  • Token Nonhuman: Background information indicates that he is the only Chiss officer in the Imperial fleet, and aside from the Inquisitors, he's the only alien Imperial on the show.
  • Tranquil Fury: He is clearly not happy with Governor Pryce when he learns that she blew up the fuel depot on Lothal to kill Kanan, since it meant that the damage it did to Lothal's factories ruined his plans to mass-produce TIE defenders. However, he does not lose his composure, and instead notes that he'll deal with her when he returns.
  • Troll: Visibly finds at-least-faint amusement in serving his more arrogant colleagues some humble pie. Slavin and Konstantine learn this the hard way.
  • Uncertain Doom: In the series finale of Rebels, Ezra uses Purrgil to forcibly send Thrawn's ship into hyperspace to parts unknown. However, since both Ezra and Thrawn were onboard, and Ezra is strongly implied to have survived even after the Empire's fall, it's not impossible for Thrawn to have survived as well. According to Dave Filoni, however, Thrawn definitely survived along with Ezra, at least in his mind.
  • The Unpronounceable: His full name, Mitth'raw'nuruodo, is stated to be somewhat out of the range of human voices to be pronounced properly unless you're fluent in speaking Cheunh, the Chiss language (which is also out of the human vocal capabilities). In Thrawn: Alliances, Anakin tries several times to get it right, and can tell he's not, but can't figure out how to fix his pronunciation. To avoid the constant mangling, Thrawn is usually known by his "core name", the equivalent of a given name. In English/Galactic Basic, his name translates as "Thrawn of the House of Nuruodo of the Mitth Family", which is an even greater mouthful.
  • Vague Age: Assuming Chiss age the same as humans do, he seems to be around the same age as Tarkin and Yularen. In Legends, Timothy Zahn stated he was 35 years old five years before the beginning of the Clone Wars, which would mean Thrawn would be 62 years old by the Battle of Yavin, but this remains as Schrödinger's Canon as we don't have any canon information on his age.invoked
  • Vetinari Job Security: In an incredibly speciesist Empire, Thrawn manages to not only survive but thrive because he's just that good at his job. Additionally, considering his boss is Tarkin, he has a little more leeway in voicing his objections about Tarkin's orders.
  • Villainous Cheekbones: He has very pronounced cheekbones.
  • Villainous Friendship:
    • With Eli. It was a rocky start, with Eli not being completely thrilled that his career as an Imperial Navy officer was being sidelined so that he could be some guy's aide and translator, and Thrawn initially being convinced that the only reason why he wanted Eli to stick around with him is because he needed his help only, rather than because he wanted to use their Commonality Connection so he didn't get lonely. However, as the Thrawn book goes on, Eli starts to respect Thrawn and Thrawn likewise respects him as his own person. During a conversation with Nightswan, Thrawn reveals that he kept Eli around because he saw the qualities of an excellent leader within him, and thus took the time to subtly school Eli in his ways, until after the end, Eli was almost as adept as Thrawn himself.. And at the end, Thrawn even leaves his private journal entries behind for Eli to see, having written that he is grateful for Eli and their friendship, as well as leaving behind the coordinates to the Chiss Ascendancy for Eli to travel to, likely because he believes Eli is worthy to do so and it ensures him safety from what will happen soon in the main Galaxy.
    • Appears to get along quite well with Pryce, at least at first. He assists her in uncovering a conspiracy on Coruscant in exchange for getting Eli a long-deserved promotion and gets political advice from her. However, he's not exactly happy with her causing heavy civilian casualties at the Battle of Batonn for which he gets all the credit/blame, and afterwards they only see each other as tools to advance their own agendas.
    • He also gets along well with Yularen, who notes that he would be extremely happy to have Thrawn join the ISB if the navy ever kicks him out. Even during one incident where Yularen had a good reason to distrust Thrawn, Thrawn is very forthcoming and honest with his defense, something Yularen finds satisfactory enough to do nothing about.
  • Villainous Valour: Give him credit, he's definitely not a coward. Demonstrated particularly well in "Zero Hour", when facing a sentient thunderstorm (the Bendu), he actually stays fairly calm and figures out a way to shoot the Bendu down.
  • Villainous Widow's Peak: He also has a prominent widow's peak.
  • We Have Reserves: Even before his debut, Kallus noted that in the last sector he was deployed in, civilian casualties outnumbered those of rebels.note  He's apathetic to any deaths that might happen to ensure victory in the end, setting up others to fail to gain more information and dismissing the loss of a Star Destroyer and its crew as necessary to narrow down the search for the Rebel base. However, he will not find careless losses acceptable, as with Konstantine and one of his Interdictors.
  • We Wait: More or less the bulk of his strategy in the first half of Rebels Season 3, as he spends his time planning a decisive victory against the rebellion instead of winning small skirmishes. It turns out that he ultimately wants to wait for two things—the first being to find where the Rebels are stationed, and the second being to intercept their fleet so he can destroy them all at once. The plan does pay off in the sense that Thrawn is able to keep the Rebel fleet from becoming a significant threat until the Battle of Scarif, but thanks to Konstantine's disobedience of his orders, there are still more than enough survivors.
  • Wicked Cultured: Thrawn's love of art makes the jump to the new canon. His knowledge of different cultures and corresponding tactics make him a greater threat than any other the rebels have faced.
  • The Worf Effect: Makes mincemeat out of Cham's forces to show how good he is at tactics. Thrawn also is giving this to the rebels whenever they meet.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • Regards Captain Hera of the Ghost as one. While he played her like a fiddle and could have stopped her at any time, he still appreciates the ingenuity and passion of herself and her team. He even comments that he knows a stolen ship isn't being piloted by her, since she would be skillful enough to shoot down all the ships pursuing her.
    • As of "Through Imperial Eyes", Kallus is this as well. Given his Xanatos Speed Chess involving Lyste, Ezra's Jedi Mind Trick, and Thrawn's Elite Mook droids in what Thrawn thinks was an assassination attempt, it's not unwarranted at all.
    • Thrawn adds Nightswan/Cygni to the list. Thrawn spends most of his careers foiling his plans and chasing him while Nightswan sends him subtle "invitations" whenever he feels up for a rematch. Any victory they have over the other is a narrow one and they develop tremendous respect for one another culmintaing in Thrawn offering Cygni a way out of the doomed Batonn insurgency by joining the Chiss Ascendancy as his counterpart. Cygni declines.
  • Xanatos Gambit: How he views each battle. He wins? Obviously good. He loses? He learns enough about his enemy to invoke It Only Works Once next time.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: His introductory quote in the novel makes clear that he values this as a skill, and while his main skill is in planning, he's very good at improvising when he needs to be. If opportunities for an easier approach come up, he will take them. Probably the best example of this is in "Zero Hour". Most people being attacked by a sentient thunderstorm would be helpless to stop it, but he figures out that the one controlling the storm would have to be in the middle and orders his soldiers to aim there, shooting him out of the sky.

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