The Legends of Grand Admirals in the Star Wars Universe
Grand Admiral Thrawn, known for his iconic role in the Star Wars franchise, has left an indelible mark as one of its most memorable villains. However, the Star Wars universe is replete with other Grand Admirals in both the canon and Legends continuities. In the Legends realm, the title of Grand Admiral officially stood as the highest rank within the Imperial Navy, although in practical terms, Grand Admirals were among the Empire’s most esteemed leaders. These esteemed individuals held authority surpassing that of Grand Moffs but remained subordinate to higher-ranking figures such as the Grand Vizier (Sate Pestage), the Supreme Commander and Executor (both positions held by Darth Vader), and even the Emperor himself.
Legends lore reveals that the rank of Grand Admiral was established by Palpatine just two years prior to the events of ‘A New Hope.’ The Emperor meticulously selected twelve exceptional candidates from the Empire’s ranks, encompassing naval officers, military researchers, fervent Imperial zealots, and even a proficient dark side adept. Many of the fundamental elements associated with the Legends-era Grand Admirals have seamlessly integrated into the post-2014 canon continuity.
In both the canonical and Legends narratives, the title of Grand Admiral predominantly applies to naval officers affiliated with the Galactic Empire and its various warlord factions. However, Grand Admirals also have a presence in the ancient Sith Empire, the Fel Empire, and the First Order. Here, we present all 21 Grand Admirals who have left their mark on Star Wars history.
Thrawn – Legends
Widely regarded as the unofficial thirteenth Grand Admiral, Grand Admiral Thrawn, the Heir to the Empire, officially assumed the position after a significant event: the ousting of Demetrius Zaarin during his ill-fated coup attempt. However, there is strong speculation that Thrawn had already risen to this prestigious rank well before this official appointment. Known for his infamously brilliant strategic acumen and his deep passion for the arts, Grand Admiral Thrawn emerged as one of the New Republic’s most formidable adversaries. The Chiss warlord took charge of a powerful confederation just five years after the Battle of Endor, shaping a renewed Empire poised for dominance.
Thrawn’s meticulously coordinated Empire ultimately met its match at the Battle of Bilbringi, where the brilliant tactician was tragically assassinated by his own bodyguard, Rukh. This act of revenge was in response to the Empire’s series of atrocities against the Noghri people. The Battle of Bilbringi marked a turning point in Thrawn’s legacy, but his reputation as a mastermind and an artistic connoisseur endures in the annals of Star Wars history.
Grand Admiral Thrawn’s canonical counterpart was first introduced in Star Wars Rebels, where he served as the main antagonist in the series’ final two seasons. Originally a member of the Chiss Ascendancy’s Defense Fleet, Thrawn’s exile to uncharted regions concealed his secret mission to gather crucial information and allies to combat the enigmatic Grysks. Emperor Palpatine, recognizing Thrawn’s exceptional abilities, swiftly promoted him to Grand Admiral, and he rapidly ascended through the Imperial ranks. Ultimately, Thrawn was outsmarted and defeated by Ezra Bridger, finding himself in exile on the extragalactic world of Peridea until 9 ABY. His return in the season finale of Ahsoka suggests that his story will continue in future seasons of The Mandalorian, Ahsoka, and Dave Filoni’s upcoming Star Wars movie.
Gilad Pellaeon, the trusted lieutenant of Thrawn, would ultimately rise to the helm of the first triumphant successor state to the fallen Galactic Empire – the Imperial Remnant. Within this faction, Pellaeon ascended to the esteemed rank of Grand Admiral. Remarkably, despite his prior service to the original Galactic Empire and its various warlords, including Thrawn, Pellaeon played a pivotal role in brokering a historic peace treaty with the New Republic in 19 ABY. This landmark agreement effectively brought an end to the protracted and devastating Galactic Civil War. In a surprising turn of events, Grand Admiral Pellaeon’s Imperial Remnant later allied itself with the New Republic in the face of the formidable Yuuzhan Vong War.
Nial Declann, a former Republic Navy member and a distinguished non-clone veteran of the Clone Wars, embarked on a new path when he joined the ranks of the Empire as a TIE Fighter pilot. Notably, Declann possessed not only exceptional piloting skills but also a formidable connection to the Force. Endorsed by none other than Emperor Palpatine himself, he underwent rigorous training in the dark side of the Force on the mysterious world of Dromund Kaas.
Declann’s extraordinary potential in the Force, combined with his remarkable conventional abilities, ultimately led to his ascent to the esteemed rank of Grand Admiral. He played a pivotal role in the Battle of Endor, where his influence through the practice of battle meditation greatly fortified Imperial forces. Tragically, Declann’s journey came to a fateful end as the second Death Star met its destruction, marking the conclusion of his chapter in the annals of history.
Known as the “elusive Admiral” for maintaining a discreet presence, Grand Admiral Martio Batch’s career was indeed characterized by his pioneering work in the realm of cloaking technology. Batch’s groundbreaking research paved the way for the development of cloaked TIE Phantom starfighters. Unfortunately, this revolutionary technology was lost during a skirmish with the Rebel Alliance on Imdaar, compelling Batch to seek refuge in the uncharted territories of the Outer Rim.
In a twist of fate, following the Battle of Endor, Batch’s own crew turned against him. In a treacherous act, they orchestrated the assassination of the Grand Admiral, subsequently aligning themselves with the warlord faction led by Blitzer Harrsk, known as Zero Command.
Grand Admiral Octavian Grant’s notoriety rested not only on his remarkable tactical acumen but also on his unyielding haughtiness toward those outside the nobility, as well as his pronounced prejudice against droids and non-human organics. In the wake of the Battle of Endor, Grant exhibited a remarkable resilience, surpassing many of his fellow Grand Admirals. He briefly aligned himself with the Pentastar Alignment warlord faction, forging an alliance with the likes of Grand Moff Ardus Kaine and the formidable Imperial Inquisitor Jerec.
However, prior to the onset of the Thrawn crisis, Grant made a fateful decision to defect to the New Republic, where he received a pardon for his prior war crimes. This transformation marked a pivotal shift in his allegiance. During the tumultuous Operation Shadow Hand, the former Grand Admiral emerged as a resolute adversary of the Dark Empire and played a crucial role in vanquishing his former comrade, Ardus Kain, who remained unwaveringly loyal to the resurgent Palpatine.
Joseph Grunger’s ascendancy to the esteemed rank of Grand Admiral in the Empire was a testament to his exceptional skills as a fleet commander. However, with the Empire’s fragmentation, Grunger wasted no time in forging his path by establishing a warlord faction and audaciously proclaiming himself the new Emperor. This audacious move thrust him into conflict not only with the resurging New Republic but also pitted him against fellow Imperial warlords, including Grand Admiral Danetta Pitta.
The climactic showdown between Grunger and Pitta transpired during the dramatic Battle of Tralus. In a stunning display of courage and audacity, Grunger met his end by deliberately ramming his formidable Super Star Destroyer into Pitta’s flagship. This self-sacrificial act marked a pivotal moment in the ongoing power struggles within the fractured Empire.
Ishin-Il-Raz, once a staunch supporter of the Galactic Republic, underwent a profound transformation marked by unwavering allegiance to Emperor Palpatine and the xenophobic, authoritarian values of the Galactic Empire. Remarkably, his unswerving devotion to Palpatine and the Empire propelled him to the prestigious rank of Grand Admiral, despite his notable lack of combat skill and experience. However, the demise of Emperor Palpatine during the Battle of Endor left Grand Admiral Ishin-Il-Raz shattered and adrift. Ultimately, he chose to end his own life by piloting his flagship into the Denarii Nova, symbolizing the depths to which his loyalty had taken him.
A deeply spiritual member of the Galactic Empire, Peccati Syn rose to the rank of Grand Admiral due to his remarkable strategic skills. Notably, he remained loyal to the core Imperial faction, led by figures like Sate Pestage and Ysanne Isard, even as the Empire fractured, avoiding the path of joining or establishing a warlord faction. Syn’s strategic prowess was put to the ultimate test during the Liberation of Kashyyyk, where he engaged in a naval battle with Admiral Ackbar, resulting in Ackbar’s victory and Syn’s demise.
While plagued by an addiction to the perilous spice variant known as glitterstim, Miltin Takel earned a distinguished reputation as a military tactician. His exceptional skills led to his appointment as one of the inaugural 12 Grand Admirals. Yet, in the aftermath of the Battle of Endor, Takel made a fateful decision to align himself with Trioculus, a warlord who falsely asserted his lineage as the son of Emperor Palpatine. Their conflicting ambitions often led to confrontations, one of which culminated in Trioculus ordering the execution of Takel.
Much like the majority of the initial 12 Grand Admirals, Osvald Teshik distinguished himself as one of the Empire’s most exceptional tacticians. Grand Admiral Teshik found himself in a harrowing situation as he narrowly evaded the catastrophic destruction of the second Death Star during the climactic Battle of Endor. Undeterred by the unfolding chaos, he valiantly led Imperial forces from his formidable Imperial Star Destroyer for hours, persisting in the battle even as other surviving Imperials retreated from the system.
Nevertheless, Teshik’s unyielding determination led to his eventual defeat and subsequent capture. Ultimately, this grim turn of events culminated in his execution.
Rufaan Tigellinus held the dual distinction of being both a Grand Admiral and a Grand Moff, a testament to his exceptional military prowess and influential standing within the Imperial Court. His commitment to the Empire’s prejudiced Human High Culture led him to engage in subversive actions against his fellow Grand Admiral Thrawn, who was of Chiss descent, and Grand Moff Bertroff Hissa, a human/Sephi hybrid. In his bid to undermine Thrawn, Tigellinus met with failure, and his confrontations with Hissa ultimately culminated in his execution, despite his unwavering allegiance to Ysanne Isard’s Imperial faction.
Grand Admiral Demetrius Zaarin achieved his esteemed rank primarily through pioneering research and development of Imperial TIE starfighters, notably spearheading the creation of the TIE Avenger and the iconic TIE Defender, inspired by Darth Vader’s TIE Advanced X1. Despite his invaluable contributions, Zaarin holds the distinction of being the sole Grand Admiral to meet his end before the Battle of Endor due to his audacious attempt to overthrow Emperor Palpatine, a coup thwarted by Thrawn.
The selection of Afsheen Makati as one of the original 12 Grand Admirals remains shrouded in mystery. His appointment appears perplexing, given his apparent lack of significant connections, Force sensitivity, exceptional ingenuity, or above-average tactical prowess. Adding to the intrigue, Makati was embroiled in a longstanding feud with the Supreme Profit Kadann, the leader of the Prophets of the Dark Side, a Sith splinter group aligned with the Empire during the original trilogy era. Despite these odds, Makati steadfastly aligned himself with Ysanne Isard and Sate Pestage’s mainstream Imperial faction following Palpatine’s initial demise. In the end, he met his fate while striving to uphold Imperial dominance over the Corporate Sector.
Danetta Pitta emerged as one of the Empire’s staunchest adherents to the ideals of Human High Culture. His unwavering commitment to this ideology not only propelled him to the esteemed rank of Grand Admiral but also served as a cover for concealing his own mixed heritage, which included both Bornek and Etti ancestry. As the Empire splintered and fractured, Pitta ascended to the position of Imperial warlord governing the Corellian sector. However, his contentious rivalry with fellow Grand Admiral and warlord Josef Grunger ultimately culminated in a tragic turn of events, leading to Pitta’s demise when their respective flagship vessels collided in a fateful clash.
Although the exact origins and significance of the Grand Admiral rank within the Post–Great Hyperspace War Sith Empire remain shrouded in mystery, it is reasonable to surmise that, much like its Galactic Empire counterpart, it represents one of the highest naval positions. Harridax Kirill, famously known as the “Voidwolf,” emerges as a central antagonist in the smuggler storyline of ‘Star Wars: The Old Republic.’ Kirill’s journey took him from a past as a slaver to a stint as a privateer and eventually led him to become a distinguished member of the Sith Empire’s naval forces. Sadly, his tale met its conclusion during a decisive battle in the Corellia system, where he perished aboard his flagship.
The precise significance of the Grand Admiral designation within the Fel Empire remains shrouded in mystery. Nevertheless, the Legends-era Star Wars: Legacy comics reveal the existence of at least two individuals who bore this distinguished title. Among them was Rulf Yage, a Grand Admiral who rose to prominence within the Imperial splinter faction of the One Sith. As fate would have it, Yage’s path diverged as he grew disenchanted with the Sith, leading to his eventual defection to the Empire-in-exile. He would go on to champion their cause during the tumultuous Battle of Coruscant in the midst of the Second Imperial Civil War.
Similar to his peer, Grand Admiral Rulf Yage, Morlish Veed initially found his calling within the Fel Empire before transitioning into a prominent role within the Empire of the One Sith. Contrary to Yage, Veed chose to remain in service to the One Sith, but his unwavering loyalty was fundamentally directed towards his own interests. Veed also played a pivotal role in the Battle of Coruscant, meeting his tragic end at the hands of Morrigan Corde.
Rae Sloane is a notable character in various Star Wars canon novels set during the Galactic Empire’s rule, and her remarkable journey led to her becoming a Grand Admiral following Emperor Palpatine’s initial demise. Her Imperial remnant faction was eventually integrated into the First Order, with Sloane retaining her prestigious title. While many expected her to become the leader of the First Order, the position was ultimately claimed by Snoke, a puppet figure manipulated into power by the resurrected Palpatine.
Within the Star Wars canon continuity, aside from Grand Admiral Thrawn, Balanhai Savit is the only surviving member of the Galactic Empire’s original 12 Grand Admirals. His prominence is found in Timothy Zahn’s “Thrawn: Treason.” Savit’s ascent to the prestigious rank of Grand Admiral was primarily propelled by his family’s influential political connections. However, Savit leveraged this position to undermine the development of the Death Star. In an iconic clash, Savit and the Imperial Third Fleet, under his command, confronted Grand Admiral Thrawn. This encounter culminated in Savit’s ultimate defeat and subsequent arrest, solidifying his place in the lore of the Star Wars universe.
In both Star Wars canon and Legends, the distinction of being the sole genuinely heroic Grand Admiral falls upon Dors Urtya. He bore the esteemed rank and title of Grand Admiral within the Mon Cala Mercantile Fleet. Although initially reluctant to align with the Rebel Alliance, Urtya made a pivotal decision. He courageously broadcast a message across his homeworld, echoing the sentiments of the late King Lee-Char and rallying his fellow Mon Calamari to rise against the oppressive Empire. Tragically, Urtya paid the ultimate price for his actions, as he fell victim to Imperial retaliation.
- Introduction to Grand Admirals: The article introduces the concept of Grand Admirals in the Star Wars universe, highlighting their significance in both canon and Legends continuities.
- Grand Admiral Thrawn: It details the stories of Grand Admiral Thrawn, a prominent figure known for his strategic brilliance and passion for the arts. It covers his rise, achievements, and eventual downfall.
- Other Grand Admirals: The article briefly summarizes the backgrounds and contributions of several other Grand Admirals from both canon and Legends, including Gilad Pellaeon, Nial Declann, and Martio Batch, among others.
- Notable Grand Admiral Stories: The article concludes by touching on some of the unique and intriguing narratives of various Grand Admirals, including their rivalries, betrayals, and sacrifices in the ever-expanding Star Wars universe.
Micajah McGregor, Editor in Chief of FanFest.com and renowned entertainment journalist, graduated from USC with a focus on Journalism and Film Studies. With an MBA from The Wharton School, he began his career at “PopCulture Pulse” and has been instrumental in shaping FanFest into a prime entertainment news source. Known for his financial analysis of celebrity net worths, Micajah received the ‘Digital Editor of the Year’ award in 2018. He’s also an active blogger, sharing his passion for superhero films and ’90s TV. Contact him at [email protected] for engaging entertainment insights.