The Return of Grand Admiral Thrawn

July 24, 2016 – In 2014, Disney announced it was reorganizing its newly acquired Star Wars house by de-canonizing numerous characters. Fan favorites, such as Jaina and Jacen Solo and that evil master tactician, Grand Admiral Thrawn, were to be cast aside into some other “Legends” category. Yes, Disney said, they exist in a parallel universe, but they are not part of the canonical core Star Wars storyline.

Timothy Zahn’s award-winning novel, "Heir to the Empire" (1991), the first novel in Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy, set five years after the events of "Return of the Jedi".

Timothy Zahn’s award-winning novel, “Heir to the Empire” (1991), the first novel in Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy, set five years after the events of “Return of the Jedi”.


But good characters and strong writing cannot be ignored forever. When Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released (Dec. 2015), some fans noticed something peculiar: Some of the most popular themes from the Expanded Universe were showing up in TFA.

Instead of presenting the struggles of Han Solo and Leia Organa Solo’s twin childen, Jaina and Jacen Solo, TFA gave us the inner turmoil of Kylo Ren.

Instead of witnessing the resurgence of the Empire under the leadership of Grand Admiral Thrawn and the battles of the New Republic, TFA introduced the First Order and the Resistance.

Did co-writers J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan “borrow” characters and storylines from Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy (1991-1993)? The Force Awakens offered us clues that perhaps the Expanded Universe, and some of its most popular characters, might be given a second-look after all by Disney/Lucasfilm.

And sure enough, he has returned: Grand Admiral Thrawn, the red-eyed, blue-skinned alien, made his triumphant return at Star Wars Celebration Europe last weekend. During a talk panel hosted by Warwick Davis and featuring executive producer Dave Filoni and voice actors Sam Witwer (Galen Marek/Starkiller and Emperor Palpatine) and Tiya Sircar (Sabine Wren), a three-minute video promo was played for the upcoming Star Wars Rebels Season 3.

Two minutes into the trailer, the audience heard the first strains of Grand Admiral Thrawn’s thematic music – and then they saw him. So yes, he’s back.

Now if we can only find Mara Jade and the Solo twins, Jaina and Jacen.

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