Grand Admiral Thrawn has been a fan-favorite character ever since he was introduced in the Heir to the Empire book trilogy by Timothy Zahn. Fans of the book were thrilled to see him enter the Star Wars canon when he joined season 3 of Star Wars Rebels.
As the primary antagonist of seasons 3 and 4 of Rebels, Thrawn delivered some truly memorable quotes. His best are spoken eloquently and demonstrate his unique analytical intelligence or the arrogance that was ultimately his undoing, made even better by the chilling and commanding voice of actor Lars Mikkelsen.
10 “Pull The Rebels Apart Piece By Piece. They Will Be The Architects Of Their Own Destruction.”
Thrawn’s first lines in Star Wars Rebels show that he is confident and already setting his master plan in motion. What sets Thrawn apart from most of the other Imperials is that he knows how to play the long game, how to gradually collect information and analyze his enemy. In the long run, this helps him know how to best defeat his enemies, how to use their own vulnerabilities against them, and how to get them to unknowingly sow the seeds of their own destruction.
After the incompetence of Imperial antagonists like Agent Kallus and Admiral Konstantine, Thrawn immediately cements himself as a smarter and more capable foe unlike any that the rebels have faced so far.
9 “To Defeat An Enemy, You Must Know Them. Not Simply Their Battle Tactics, But Their History, Philosophy, Art.”
First heard in the season 3 trailer for Star Wars Rebels, this quote assured fans that the cunning and analytical Thrawn that they knew and loved and one of the best alien characters was joining the Star Wars canon. While many of the Imperials dismissed their enemies’ cultures, Thrawn studied these cultures in-depth.
For example, his study of the Kalikori allowed him to better understand Hera Syndulla and his study of Sabine Wren’s art allowed him to better understand her as well and Thrawn used this knowledge to his advantage. Thrawn knows that the most valuable information isn’t always in the field of battle, but also in the personal lives and rich heritages that shape his enemies’ identities.
8 “Rebels Have Friends Always Rushing To The Rescue.”
Thrawn says this line to explain how he knew that the individuals posing as a Twi’lek peasant and Imperial scout trooper were actually the rebels Hera Syndulla and Ezra Bridger. He is a smart individual and is absolutely correct about rebels always rushing to save their friends.
However, he says the line as if it is a pathetic weakness when it is actually an admirable trait that allows the rebels to be resilient and to persevere. While the observation serves Thrawn well in this particular scheme, it demonstrates that he can also underestimate his enemies, even when he understands them well.
7 “Acting Out Of Emotion Will Not Serve Us Here. We Must Wait And Watch.”
Many of the Imperials lack patience. As soon as they see a threat or slight against the Empire, they immediately lash out without any kind of smart strategy. While this is effective in creating fear and intimidation, it often allows their enemies to slip through their fingers.
Instead of repeating this mistake, Thrawn recognizes the value of patience and tries to impart it to Governor Pryce. Unfortunately for Pryce, she does not take Thrawn’s advice to heart as her impatience ultimately leads her to make the critical error of firing on the fuel depot to kill Kanan Jarrus, a move that kills one rebel in exchange for dooming Thrawn’s TIE Defender project.
6 “Everything Leading Up To This Moment Has Been Rehearsal. The Real Performance Is About To Begin.”
Thrawn’s metaphor is apt given the long game that he has played. While Thrawn laid the groundwork to uncover the rebels’ secret base and crush their fleet throughout season 3 of Rebels, the rebels were laying the groundwork for a major military strike against the Empire.
With both sides ready to make their move, the time for preparation and practice is over. Thrawn’s quote shows that the stakes are higher than ever and the long-awaited fireworks are ready to explode, only things aren’t going to go the way the rebels planned.
5 “I’m Not Accepting Surrenders At This Time. I Want You To Know Failure, Utter Defeat, And That It Is I Who Delivers It Crashing Down Upon You.”
Thrawn does not mince words when he contacts the Ghost crew in the season 3 finale. After allowing them their small victories, Thrawn has positioned himself to utterly destroy and devastate them. This is not enough for him, though.
He needs to make sure they understand that they have no hope and that he has outsmarted them. Thrawn’s hubris shines through this scene, a hubris that Ezra and the others see and eventually learn to use against him just as he uses the rebels’ vulnerabilities against them.
4 “If You Attempt Any Heroics, I Will Resume The Bombardment And Destroy Your City And Then Your Friends.”
In the series finale, Thrawn doesn’t have to work too hard to convince Ezra to turn himself in. All he has to do is fire on the innocent civilians of Lothal and threaten to continue firing on them and then move on to killing Ezra’s friends.
The Thrawn that fans see in this episode has no qualms about killing innocent civilians to get what he wants. Thrawn knows what Lothal and its people mean to Ezra and knows how to exploit this.
3 “You Follow A Long History Written By The Jedi, Where They Choose To Believe To Be Morally Correct, Instead Of What Is Strategically Sound.”
Thrawn tells Ezra that he is predictable because like the Jedi who came before him, Ezra chose his morals over what was pragmatic. While Thrawn has studied the Jedi and understands what makes Ezra tick, he fails to see that Ezra is anything but predictable.
Ezra has always marched to the beat of his own drum and turning himself over to Thrawn was just part of his plan to defeat Thrawn and to make a sacrifice worthy of a Jedi. This quote and what follows show how Thrawn can understand so much while also understanding so little.
2 “The Mysteries Of The Force Are An Enigma To Me. But For All Those Abilities, All The Power, The Jedi Lacked The Vision For How To Wield It.”
Thrawn’s self-awareness and arrogance shine through this quote. Despite being one of Star Wars Rebels‘ most intelligent characters, Thrawn does not understand the Force, and is self-aware enough to know this and admit it.
Yet, he still believes he knows better than the Jedi and that they don’t know how to best use their own abilities. Thrawn is proven wrong by Ezra’s sacrifice and how he uses the Force to defeat Thrawn and save Lothal.
1 “Whatever Happens Next Happens To Both Of Us.”
As he is ensnared by Purrgil tentacles, Thrawn tries to get Ezra to stop with this line. Thrawn thinks that he can appeal to Ezra’s sense of self-preservation, but he fails to see that Ezra will do anything to stop Thrawn and save Lothal.
Thrawn is right about him and Ezra being in the same boat together, though. After they disappeared into hyperspace, fans didn’t get to see what happened next to Thrawn or Ezra. Hopefully, the Ahsoka show or another upcoming story will show what happened next to the Grand Admiral and the Jedi who finally outsmarted him.
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