The story of Grand Admiral Thrawn has captivated many different Star Wars fans because this is an enemy that doesn’t think in a manner common among Star Wars villains. Instead, Thrawn has proven himself to be the smartest and most logical character in the history of Star Wars lore, which says a lot because we’ve seen a lot of intelligent people in Star Wars.
One of the best things about Thrawn is that he has the uncanny ability to think well beyond the box and is capable of putting himself in the shoes of his enemies. That’s why he has always been one of the most popular villains in Star Wars. Of course, many things that Thrawn says are full of wisdom and knowledge. That said, let’s look at the greatest quotes by Grand Admiral Thrawn.
1. “Pull the rebels apart piece by piece. They will be the architects of their own destruction.”
One of the first lines that Thrawn has ever said in ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ was an immediate introduction to what kind of a tactician he is. What has always been great about Thrawn as a commander is that he doesn’t try to rush things and instead focuses more on the bigger picture. He knows that beating an opponent doesn’t have to take quick moves. Instead, he is willing enough to play the long game to learn more about his opponents and use his knowledge of them to his advantage.
Of course, we’ve seen Thrawn pick the Rebels piece by piece throughout the entire storyline, as he didn’t do things in a rushed and rather sloppy manner. Instead, he put together different pieces that he knew about the Rebels so that he could find a way to defeat them. And that was what he did when he was able to destroy Chopper Base.
2. “For if one is remembered by a friend, one is never truly gone.”
Even though we often look at Thrawn as a ruthless commander that’s willing enough to do whatever it takes to defeat his opponents. But at the same time, he can also be a source of inspiration and wisdom, especially because he has always been one of the most sensible characters in the entire Star Wars lore.
You might mistake this line as one of the things Yoda said. But the thing is that he was actually talking about how it was important to allow friends to choose their own path. This comes from the Thrawn novel, one of the best novels ever written about the Star Wars universe. And Grand Admiral Thrawn has a lot of wise words in that book.
3. “Before today, they could have been hiding in any of the thousand systems. But now, now I know they are, almost certainly, on one of the ninety-four planets surveyed by my infiltrators.”
In ‘Rebels,’ Thrawn did not look for the homerun play when it came to tracking down the location of the Rebel base. Instead, he decided to use smaller resources to his advantage, especially when it came to the use of probes that the Rebels thought would be harmless as long as they were able to destroy them.
But the truth was that Thrawn wasn’t using the probes to track down the Rebels’ location. Instead, he was using them to narrow down their location because he sent the probes to only a few systems throughout the galaxy. And after one of his probes was destroyed, he could narrow down his options from a thousand to only 94 as he displayed his very systematic way of running the Rebels down.
4. “To defeat an enemy, you must know them. Not simply their battle tactics, but their history, philosophy, art.”
Thrawn’s wisdom has always been Confucian in nature because he understood the importance of knowing his enemy. It’s like reading Sun Tzu’s Art of War because Thrawn knows how to put himself in the shoes of his enemies to understand their next moves. While other generals and commanders would rather use conventional tactics to understand their opponents’ next moves, Thrawn would rather think like his opponents.
One of the things that Thrawn did to understand how his opponents would think is through the use of art. By understanding the art and culture of his enemies, he can get a deeper understanding of how they think and react to certain situations. One example was when he found out that the Kalikori of the Syndulla family was only worth the direct line of the Syndullas and was basically worthless to people outside of that family. In doing so, he discovered that the Twi’lek servant girl was actually Hera in disguise.
5. “Rebels have friends always rushing to the rescue.”
Again, Thrawn understands the essence of learning to think like your enemy so that you would know how they would move. He knew how to think like a Rebel by understanding how the Rebels act. In that regard, he understood that Rebels rarely left their own behind because there were only a few.
So, if one Rebel was in trouble, Thrawn understood that there would be Rebel friends that would try to go on a rescue mission. He always understood that Rebels tried to save one another, and Thrawn made this a weakness among the Rebels. But while he may have been correct in thinking that this was a weakness among the Rebels, he never anticipated that a Rebels’ care for his friends would end up defeating him.
6. “That skill can also work in the opposite direction. If I am familiar with a warrior’s tactics, I can, in some measure, identify that warrior’s artwork.”
As mentioned, Thrawn has always studied his opponents’ actions and how they would react. In that regard, he studied his opponents’ skills because he knew he could use them to his advantage, especially when coming up with countermeasures to neutralize his opponents’ skills.
In ‘Thrawn: Alliances,’ he told Vader that he could find the location of their enemies just by looking at the trophy of the Grysk warriors that they were looking for. His appreciation of art has always been next-level, and that was how Thrawn could deduce what his opponents would do next because a person’s art says a lot about them and their mindset.
7. “I forgot not everyone is able to appreciate art as I do.”
In line with the fact that Thrawn has always had a deeper appreciation for art, he also understands that not everyone has the same appreciation for art as he does. Of course, while some characters may appreciate art and culture, they aren’t like Thrawn, who uses his appreciation for art and culture to break his enemies down one by one.
The thing about Thrawn is that he also appreciates art to a fault because he actually lost his cool when one of his subordinates tried suggesting destroying Hera’s Kalikori. Thrawn snapped and eventually realized that not everyone had the same appreciation for art as he did. And the fact that he was aware of this proves how deep his self-understanding was.
8. “Acting out of emotion will not serve us here. We must wait and watch.”
The best part about Thrawn was that he was always the first one to point out that logic would always be better than anything else. He wouldn’t react out of emotion, especially if the enemies could find a way to get a step ahead of him. Instead, he would rather use his head by simply waiting and watching to deduce the next logical move he should make.
Thrawn tried to impart this wisdom to his underlings, especially Governor Pryce, who always acted out of her emotions. And we saw how Pryce’s emotions doomed her when she focused more on her emotions instead of using her head, as her actions allowed the Rebels to destroy Thrawn’s TIE Defender project.
9. “Everything leading up to this moment has been rehearsal. The real performance is about to begin.”
During one of the operations by the Empire, Thrawn referred to it as the real performance. That’s because, as mentioned, he was playing the long game the entire time and was flirting with different rehearsals that weren’t meant to capture the Rebels but learn more about them instead. In that regard, the real performance was the culmination of all the intel he got regarding the Rebels.
In that regard, Thrawn has always been known to lay the groundwork before he actually acts. He would rather rehearse here and there and use different skirmishes as a way for him to learn more about his enemies so that he could prepare for the real battle. And this showcases just how brilliant of a commander he is, as he is more than willing to fail a few times just to learn more about his opponents.
10. “A great tactician creates plans. A good tactician recognizes the soundness of a plan presented on him. A fair tactician must see the plan succeed before offering approval. Those with no tactical ability at all may never understand or accept it.”
Thrawn has always been a genius regarding tactics and strategies because he knows how to appreciate the soundness of a good plan when presented to him. Other commanders and generals would rather brush off a good plan when they didn’t think of it. But when he saw one, Thrawn always knew how to appreciate a good plan.
For Thrawn, only real tacticians would understand the beauty of a plan because he knows the preparation that goes into tactical analysis. That’s why he believes that only someone with no tactical ability and talent would fail to understand or accept the soundness of a good plan. And there are many of these people in the Empire because they were more concerned about personal achievements and accolades instead of actually appreciating the plans of others.
11. “I believe Agent Fulcrum will prove far more useful than Kallus ever was.”
One of the things that displayed the brilliance of Thrawn was when he was able to deduce that Agent Fulcrum, the secret spy that had been aiding the Rebels from within, was actually Agent Kallus all along. Kallus, of course, was one of the Imperial officers that chased after the Rebels during the earlier part of the storyline before he defected to the Rebels after realizing the true nature of the Empire.
Thrawn could piece the puzzle to determine that Kallus was Fulcrum even though the former ISB agent thoroughly cleaned up his tracks. And instead of arresting him upfront, Thrawn realized that he could use Kallus to his advantage by allowing him to continue working as Fulcrum, as this allowed Thrawn to learn more about the Rebels.
12. “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.”
As smart as Thrawn was, one of the things that he never understood was the nature of the Force because this goes beyond logic. Thrawn, of course, was more logical than superstitious, and that’s why the Force always remained a mystery to him. And he was the first to admit that he never truly understood the nature of the Force.
But Thrawn thought that the Jedi weren’t smart enough to know how to use something as powerful as the Force. For him, the Jedi lacked vision when it came to wielding the power of the Force. As such, the galaxy was lucky that Thrawn wasn’t Force-sensitive because he would have been a dreadful Sith Lord if he had the power to wield the Force.
13. “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.”
One thing Thrawn deeply understood about the Rebels was that they operated on hope. As long as the Rebels had hope, they had a chance to rise up and fight another day. In that regard, Thrawn wasn’t only willing to defeat his opponents but crush their hope almost entirely because he didn’t want other Rebels to find hope in the darkness of defeat.
That’s why Thrawn didn’t want the Rebels to surrender. Instead, he wanted to crush them so that they wouldn’t be able to find hope in the future. But Ezra could see the hubris behind Thrawn’s mentality, which was how he took advantage of his opponent and defeated him using unconventional methods.
14. “You follow a long history written by the Jedi, where they choose to believe to be morally correct, instead of what is strategically sound.”
As mentioned, Thrawn tries to learn as much about his opponents as possible because he understands just how important it is to learn the nature of his opponent. This included learning more about the Jedi because he understood he was facing two Jedi in the form of Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger.
So, when he finally confronted Ezra, he told him that the Jedi were predictable because they always chose to be morally correct instead of using what was strategically sound. This was the same thing that both Anakin Skywalker and Tarkin agreed on back in the Clone Wars, as they thought that the Jedi Code restricted the Jedi from doing what was strategically sound. But Thrawn ended up getting defeated in a manner that perfectly described the moral compass of a Jedi as Ezra sacrificed himself to get rid of the Grand Admiral.
15. “If you attempt any heroics, I will resume the bombardment and destroy your city and then your friends.”
If something makes Thrawn a scary opponent, he has no mercy. He knows how to put his opponents at a disadvantage so that they wouldn’t have any means of fighting back. One case in point was when he was bombarding the capital city of Lothal and was about to kill the Rebels before Ezra stepped in and gave himself to Thrawn.
Of course, Ezra didn’t try to play the part of the hero before his friends had the means to defend themselves. Only after the people of Lothal could put the dome up to protect the city did Ezra try to be a hero. And that was how he defeated Grand Admiral Thrawn and allowed the events of the ‘Ahsoka’ series to happen.
What’s your favorite Thrawn quote? Let us know in the comments!