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Grand Admiral Thrawn is one of the most interesting and intriguing characters in the whole Star Wars franchise. Although he initially lost his canon status after Disney’s acquisition of George Lucas’ franchise, he was quickly ‘re-canonized’ and made part of the new continuity, which was an expected move, seeing how popular he was among the fans. In today’s article, we are going to be discussing Thrawn’s moral values, explaining finally whether he’s a good guy or a bad guy. Keep reading to find out more!
Grand Admiral Thrawn, despite being different in his pragmatism from his closest allies like Darth Vader or Palpatine, is still a bad guy and there really is no other way to describe his actions with the Imperial Navy.
When George Lucas launched the franchise in 1977, with the movie Star Wars (later titled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope for continuity reasons), no one expected that it would become one of the biggest stories of the modern area. Star Wars wasn’t initially that successful, but as the years passed, the franchise became a cult classic, attracting generations of fans and now encompassing nine main continuity movies, video games, several TV shows, comic books and a variety of merchandise that made George Lucas famous. The franchise is today owned by Disney, but wherever it might go after the conclusion of the Skywalker Saga, Star Wars will undoubtedly remain one of the pivotal parts of modern culture.
Now, let us see the answer to the main question.
Who is Grand Admiral Thrawn?
Mitth’raw’nuruodo, born as Kivu’raw’nuru with the core name Vurawn, recognized in his early military career as Mitth’raw’nuru, and better known by his core name Thrawn, is a fictional character from George Lucas’ Star Wars franchise that appears as a villain in the expanded universe. Thrawn was well known as a brilliant and ruthless strategist. He believed that in order to achieve victory in war, one must know their enemy. As such, he dedicated himself to understanding the philosophy, art, and culture of his opponents.
Thrawn was introduced as a Chiss officer of the Chiss Ascendancy who later became a Grand Admiral in the Imperial Navy during the Galactic Empire.
Before joining the Imperial Military, Thrawn served with the Defense Fleet of the Chiss Ascendancy. A native of the planet Rentor, located in the Unknown Regions of the galaxy, Thrawn left his homeworld and travelled to known space where he encountered the Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars. Following the Galactic Republic’s reorganization into the Galactic Empire, Thrawn offered his allegiance to Emperor Palpatine, having deemed an alliance with the new regime beneficial to his people. His career in the Navy was notably successful; after a series of promotions, he received the rank of Grand Admiral from the Emperor himself.
At the height of his career, Grand Admiral Thrawn was deployed to the Lothal sector a few years after the start of the Galactic Civil War, where he sought to defeat the rebels led by Captain Hera Syndulla. Following the Battle of Atollon, Thrawn’s fleet worked with the First Legion led by the Sith Lord Darth Vader, whom Thrawn once knew as the Jedi Skywalker, during a mission that resulted in the rescue of Force-sensitive Chiss girls.
Resuming his task to eliminate Syndulla’s cell, Thrawn and his forces were confronted by the rebels who intended to liberate Lothal once and for all. During the battle, the purrgil came to the aid of Jedi Padawan Ezra Bridger and inflicted much damage to the Imperial fleet. Thrawn himself was on the bridge of his command ship when the creatures surrounded the Chimaera and pulled it into hyperspace, taking both Thrawn and Bridger into the great unknown. In the years following Thrawn’s disappearance, the Emperor and Vader were killed at the Battle of Endor, the Empire was decisively beaten, and the New Republic was established. Thrawn’s knowledge of the Unknown Regions proved useful to the Imperials that retreated from the known galaxy, however, as they were able to survive in unexplored space and eventually form the First Order.
Is Grand Admiral Thrawn a good guy?
Now that we’ve gone over his biography, we can discuss whether Thrawn is a good guy or a bad guy. Superficially, a Grand Admiral of the Galactic Empire and a close collaborator of both Darth Vader and the Emperor is certainly to be labelled as a villain (i.e., a bad guy), but the label definitely needs further explanation. The explanation won’t really change much regarding his essence, but it will certainly shed some light on how different he is from the other villains he collaborates with.
By modern moral standards, Thrawn is definitely a villain (or a bad guy, whichever you prefer). He will do anything he deems necessary to achieve his goal, despite the casualties, and he strongly supports a villainous regime (the Empire), whose leaders are known as genocidal maniacs. And while he doesn’t really share their megalomaniac, genocidal visions, the mere fact that he strongly supports this regime overlooking these villainous traits is enough for us to consider him a villain and everyone who states otherwise is just rationalising the fact. Those who do not rebel against villainy are destined to become villains themselves. Or something like that.
But, as we’ve said, Thrawn is different in his villainous ways than Darth Vader, Grand Moff Tarkin or the Emperor. In what way, you might ask? Well, unlike them – who enjoy their power and demonstrate it quite often simply because they can – Thrawn is a pragmatic commander who does things only if they serve his purpose, and his purpose is to restore the Imperial order.
In Thrawn’s worldview, there is no classical ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, there’s just ‘useful’ or ‘not useful’. He has consistently adhered to these values throughout his appearances in the Legends stories, showing that he was willing to do anything, but only if it served a higher goal. He never demonstrated his power simply because he could. He manipulated people, he used them for his own goals and he would destroy his enemies, but only if he considered it necessary. Thrawn wouldn’t actually kill someone just for the sake of killing, but he would kill someone if he deemed it necessary. As Princess Leia once said, “he would smile, he would speak politely, and he would take her children away.”
Thrawn wasn’t really bothered with the Force and the balance of the Light and the Dark side as Palpatine was, which is why he had a more grounded perspective on Imperial business. He viewed Luke and Leia as enemies, but not because they were on the “other side” of the Force, but because they were a threat to the Empire. In that aspect, Thrawn’s main sin is his pragmatic nature, but in the context of his actions, he can be considered a villain (or a bad guy) without much debate.
And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we helped solve this dilemma for you. See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!