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‘Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi’: The Grand Inquisitor Explained

Who is he and why is he of grand importance in the greater Star Wars story?

The Grand Inquisitor with his spinning double bladed lightsaber

If you’ve been watching the trailers for Disney+’s Obi-Wan Kenobi series, you’ve probably noticed the bald alien wielding a spinning double bladed lightsaber. This is Star Wars’ Grand Inquisitor.

The Grand Inquisitor is the leader of the Inquisitorius (also known as the Inquisitorius Program, the Order of Inquisitors, and the Imperial Inquisition), a group of dark-siders (most of whom were former Jedi) tasked with hunting down remaining Jedi and younglings who have sensitivity to the Force in the wake of the fall of the Republic and the Jedi-exterminating Order 66. They were main antagonists of both Star Wars: Rebels and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and are basically the mini-bosses before you get to Darth Vader.

The Grand Inquisitor kneeling before a massive holo of Vader's helmet
The Grand Inquisitor kneeling before a hologram of Vader. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

Their leader is a Pau’an, one of the aliens from Utapau in Revenge of the Sith, who warned Obi-Wan about Grievous’ presence on their planet. He first debuted in Rebels, voiced by Jason Isaacs, and was the main antagonist in the first season of that show. He was a relentless foe and was a physical, mental, and emotional challenge for both Ezra and Kanan to overcome. But Kanan letting go of his fear allowed him to turn the tables on the Grand Inquisitor, who ultimately let himself die rather than be forced to face Vader for his failure. (Understandable.)

Surprisingly, this was only the start of his appearances in Star Wars media.

A later episode of Rebels reveals that the Grand Inquisitor was once a Jedi, specifically a temple guard, tasked with protecting the Jedi, the Temple, and their order—which colors his fate as an Inquisitor as a perverse bastardization of his original role. This episode features a vision of him knighting Kanan and fighting off the other inquisitors to give him, Ezra, and Ahsoka time to escape the Lothal Jedi Temple, though there is some ambiguity as to whether this is actually the Grand Inquisitor’s spirit or just the Force using the image to help the heroes and frighten the bad guys.

The Darth Vader Comics actually indicate that the Grand Inquisitor’s spirit still haunts the galaxy, as a tool for Darth Vader to track down Luke Skywalker. 

The flaming spirit of the Grand Inquisitor asking to be released from service to Vader, who refuses.
(Marvel Comics)

Even more interesting is that the Grand Inquisitor apparently appeared in a pivotal moment of the Clone Wars, being one of the Temple guards to assist Anakin in arresting Barriss Offee for her attack on the Jedi’s involvement in the war.

But what does this mean for his presence in the Obi-Wan Kenobi show?

The fact that he’s been put on Obi-Wan’s trail means that Vader is still searching for Kenobi in particular, making him possibly the most wanted Jedi/person in the galaxy. It also means that we know the Grand Inquisitor will survive both Kenobi and Vader’s inevitable wrath over Obi-Wan’s escape. That doesn’t mean he’s safe, of course. As he said moments before his own death, “There are some things far more frightening than death.”

Vader in the red smokey Rogue One hallway, lightsaber ignited.
Imagine having this guy as your supervisor. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

(featured image: Disney/Lucasfilm)

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Kimberly Terasaki is a contributing writer for The Mary Sue. Dhe has been writing articles for them since 2018, going on 5 years of working with this amazing team. Her interests include Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Horror, intersectional feminism, and fanfiction; some are interests she has held for decades, while others are more recent hobbies. She liked Ahsoka Tano before it was cool, will fight you about Rey being a “Mary Sue,” and is a Kamala Khan stan.