The Next Big Star Wars Villain Won't be a Sith — But He'll Still Be Terrifying

Put your thinking caps on.


While the Mandoverse isn’t above bringing Luke Skywalker back for a few episodes, its main focus is on its new crew: Din Djarin, Ahsoka Tano, and everyone they meet during their adventures. The villain of the upcoming movie meant to conclude the Mandoverse should logically be another character new to live action, and Mandoverse head honcho Dave Filoni has all but confirmed their identity. On one level, the answer is obvious, but it’s also surprising considering who Star Wars' big bads tend to be.

The upcoming Disney+ series Ahsoka will introduce a character who’s been waiting in the wings for a long time: Grand Admiral Thrawn. While Vader and Palpatine relied on their Force powers, Thrawn isn’t Force-sensitive. He’s terrifying because he’s a genius strategist who always seems one step ahead.

Thrawn in Star Wars: Rebels.


After being introduced in the now non-canon 1991 novel Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn, Thrawn was revived and brought into the current canon by Filoni’s second animated Star Wars series, Rebels. Many Rebels characters are making their live-action debut in Ahsoka, including Thrawn.

In conversation with Empire, Filoni was asked if Thrawn, the villain of Ahsoka, would be considered the Big Bad of the New Republic era, which includes The Mandalorian, Ahsoka, and The Book of Boba Fett. His response was straightforward:

“Definitely, in my eyes. When Timothy Zahn wrote Heir To The Empire, Thrawn became this very iconic villain, because he was different than anything we’d seen before. He wasn’t another helmet-wearing, lightsaber-wielding bad guy, you know? There’s a lot of pull to make characters that are like Vader, because it is so iconic. But the boldness that Tim had was to make somebody that wasn’t like that, that didn’t have those abilities, but could fight in a different way. In the words ‘Star Wars’, the ‘war’ part of it — him being a Grand Admiral, a leader, a military strategist, a Moriarty archetype, someone that will out-think you, out-strategise you — that really resonated. He’s a critical player in this time period. We’re fortunate to have that character, and fortunate to have Lars [Mikkelsen] playing him.”

Thrawn’s brief appearance in the Ahsoka trailer.


It looks like Thrawn won’t be defeated by the end of Ahsoka, but will stick around to wreak havoc against the New Republic later in the timeline. It’s a new kind of Star Wars villain for a new chapter of Star Wars, and if he really is a Moriarty archetype, then his recurring appearances will only lend to his supervillain character.

Thrawn won’t be just Ahsoka’s nemesis, but everyone’s. We could very well see Din Djarin, Grogu, and even Bo-Katan Kryze and Boba Fett face him in this upcoming film... and he could give them all a challenge unlike they’ve ever faced.

Ahsoka premieres August 2023 on Disney+.

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