When Thrawn was introduced in the Ahsoka trailer, it brought a new trilogy of source material to the Star Wars canon. Sure, Thrawn was used in the animated Rebels, but now that the live-action Mando-verse is apparently pulling from the novels that introduced Thrawn all the way back in 1991, there’s no telling where the story might go.
With Thrawn positioned as the Big Bad of Ahsoka (and, if rumors are true, Dave Filoni’s Mando-verse Star Wars movie), his demise in the original books may be the inspiration for how he’s inevitably defeated. Unlike his villainous predecessors, Thrawn’s biggest weakness isn’t a misunderstanding of the Force, but a misunderstanding of those around him, which would be a new plot twist.
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Thrawn has always been a different kind of villain. The Grand Admiral isn’t Force-sensitive, but he is a strategic mastermind who constantly outwits the burgeoning New Republic. But he is defeated in The Last Command, the final installment of the non-canon Thrawn trilogy by Timothy Zahn. His end doesn’t come at the hands of Luke Skywalker or even Mara Jade, the poster child of the non-canon Legends timeline. Instead, his bodyguard betrays him.
Thrawn’s bodyguard was named Rukh, and he was a member of the Noghri species. By carefully controlling the flow of information, Thrawn was able to keep the Noghri in the dark about the Empire’s intentions. While the entire race was helping the Empire, the Empire was planning to poison their planet and enslave them. Rukh learned this, but kept quiet and stayed loyal to Thrawn until the perfect moment, when he assassinated him.
While Rukh died during Rebels and there doesn’t appear to be a Noghri in Ahsoka, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a Rukh. Timothy Zahn recently teased that Rukh may not be a name, but a title, so there still could be a Rukh with his own appearance and reasons to betray his boss. Or perhaps this character will appear later in Thrawn’s Star Wars career, like the upcoming Dave Filoni movie, which could introduce a character and then show his betrayal.
Getting assassinated by his bodyguard may seem like an anticlimactic end for Thrawn, but there really couldn’t be anything more fitting for him. Thrawn was all about strategy, ambush, and tricks. He made it clear that no one could trust him, and his downfall was trusting someone else. It’s an unusual end for an unusual villain, and while it may not make for the high drama Star Wars is accustomed to, it’s the best end for his story. Hopefully, Lucasfilm realizes this now that he’s getting his moment in the spotlight.
Ahsoka premieres on Disney+ in August 2023.