• Thrawn and Anakin were both highly skilled and controversial figures in their respective societies, often challenging the norms and achieving notable victories.
  • Thrawn and Anakin first met during the Clone Wars, where they formed a temporary alliance to achieve their individual missions and successfully located Padmé.
  • Thrawn gained the Emperor’s trust by showing respect for Anakin, leading to his acceptance into the Empire and eventually becoming a Grand Admiral. He also knew that Vader was once Anakin Skywalker.

Grand Admiral Thrawn has a surprising connection to Star Wars’ central character, Anakin Skywalker. Though they hail from different regions of space, both Thrawn and Anakin were regarded as the best of their kind. They similarly ruffled many feathers among their people, with Thrawn’s military tactics concerning Chiss aristocrats and Anakin having a number of well-documented issues with the Jedi Council. The unorthodox approaches to combat are another shared trait, often leading to resounding victories.

Given their backgrounds and the distance between homeworlds, it may come as a surprise that Thrawn had any connection to Anakin before joining the Empire. Thrawn and the Chiss spent much of the Clone War-Era fighting their own conflict against the Grysks, a species seeking to destroy the Chiss Ascendancy. It was only after the fallout of Thrawn’s final battle with the Grysks that he was sent into exile as a ruse, satisfying the aristocrats while working to gain allies from the Empire. As the future Grand Admiral ventured into known space, he believed one member of the Republic he knew could vouch for him: Anakin Skywalker.

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Anakin Skywalker Met Thrawn During The Clone Wars

Alternate cover art of Thrawn Alliances with Anakin Skwalker and Thrawn.

Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn: Alliances sees Anakin Skywalker and Thrawn meet face-to-face. The encounter marks the first time a Republic official came into contact with Thrawn, as well as the Chiss as an entity. Working on separate missions (though neither are technically sanctioned by their higher-ups), Thrawn and Anakin meet in space near Batuu. Anakin is searching for his wife, Padmé Amidala, with whom he and the Republic had lost contact. Thrawn, it would eventually be revealed, was seeking allies for a coming conflict, teaching a young sky-walker (a Force-sensitive navigator) how to fly in the meantime.

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Though Thrawn didn’t understand Basic, he communicated with Anakin through the trade language Meese Caulf. Anakin agreed to explain the nature of the Clone Wars and his Republic in return for Thrawn’s aid in locating Padmé. The duo would eventually succeed on the planet Mokivj. As they went their separate ways, Thrawn indicated his respect for Anakin as a warrior, returning to the Chiss Ascendancy with information on the Republic. This encounter would set up the next chapter in Thrawn’s life, where he chose to join the Empire.

Thrawn’s Respect For Anakin Gained Him The Emperor’s Trust

Grand Admiral Thrawn and Emperor Palpatine.

Being such a precarious capture when he submitted to Imperial custody, Thrawn was granted an audience with Emperor Palpatine in Thrawn. Under th guise of exile, Thrawn requested that the Emperor allow him to serve the Empire. In return, he asked that Palpatine consider deploying forces to Csilla to aid the Ascendancy when the time would arise, citing the Grysks as a threat to both the Chiss and the Emperor’s rule.

It wasn’t the talk of threats that grabbed Palpatine’s attention, but rather Thrawn’s request to speak with Anakin Skywalker. Unaware that the Jedi had been wiped out, Thrawn was informed that Skywalker was no more, which saddened the military strategist. Palpatine, aware that Anakin did indeed live as his apprentice Darth Vader, elected to trust Thrawn given the Chiss’ respect for the former Jedi Knight. Thrawn was accepted into the Empire as the only alien Palpatine trusted, quickly ascending the chain of command, becoming a Grand Admiral by 3 BBY.

Thrawn Was One Of The Few To Know Darth Vader Was Anakin Skywalker

Thrawn and Darth Vader.

Darth Vader’s true identity was perhaps the Empire’s biggest secret. A few who were close to him were able to piece together who the man behind the mask was, drawing connections between Anakin Skywalker’s personality and tactics and linking them to his sudden disappearance. Thrawn was among those people, recognizing the truth of Vader’s identity early on in Thrawn: Alliances. Palpatine instructed the duo to investigate a disturbance in the Force, sending them back to Batuu where they first met.

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During their time together, Thrawn teased subtly teased Vader about being Anakin, stating on multiple occasions that they had both been to the world before. Vader, naturally, rejected any such notion, insisting that Anakin Skywalker was dead. Thrawn’s instinct was to vaguely call the Sith Lord’s bluff, responding to Skywalker’s demise with “So I have been told.” The pair eventually established a good working rapport, though Vader continued to question Thrawn’s loyalty to the Empire. Grand Admiral Thrawn came to accept that Anakin was indeed gone, recognizing Darth Vader as the face of the Empire.

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