linking to here from the OOC as to avoid a wall of text there: 

I'll go with another character introduced in the Thrawn trilogy: Captain Pellaeon.


(Pellaeon on the right)

A lot of EU fans are probably wondering why the hell I would choose him over Thrawn, Mara Jade, Talon Karrde, etc. Pellaeon was a profoundly ordinary character in a universe full of larger than life heroes and villains. But that is why I liked him. He was reasonable, but not a genius commander. He represented the average Imperial officer. Finally, we got a good perspective from a normal Imperial who believed in the Empire. We got some insight into the mind of an honorable man who was on the opposing side. This was great for two reasons.

First, there is a specific scene which to me was almost fourth wall breaking in a way. Previously, Thrawn had told Pellaeon, who didn't want to believe it, that the Emperor was basically what held the Empire together, especially from a military perspective. He referenced how after the Emperor’s death at Endor, the Imperial fleet fought on like cadets, with no real initiative. Pellaeon still doesn't want to believe this. Later, Thrawn has instructed the mad clone of the Jedi Jorus C’boath to use his powers to guide and direct the Imperial forces in a battle, the way the Emperor had. Pellaeon discreetly checks the efficiency of the Imperials and finds that it has already increased by as much as 40% more than normal.

At this point, Pellaeon is sickened as he faces the fact that Thrawn was right. To me, this scene highlights how the control of the galaxy was always really decided by a few larger than life characters. The Empire at this point was basically impotent and stagnant except for the brilliant Thrawn (who wasn’t even human) and C’boath. This kind of addresses in a way how the seemingly mighty and disciplined Empire kept being defeated on the movies. Because it wasn't really about some great battles, but about the main characters and how they fought the main villains. And this is fine because great stories usually do this. They don't get bogged down in the details and logistics and realities of war. But now it had sort of been addressed in a canonical way. We finally got to see the world from the perspective of someone who wasn't one of those characters.

The second reason I liked his perspective is related to this. He was the first major Imperial Star Wars character (that I know of) who was basically a good guy but didn't defect from the Empire. For every other character, mutinying against the Empire was the virtue signal so that we as an audience knew for certain that they were good. There was no truly sympathetic Imperial character who didn't eventually decide the Empire was evil and then rebelled.

But Pellaeon again added some nuance and gray area. Through him, we could finally understand how good people willingly supported the Empire. Because up until him, it seemed like we were to assume all members of the Empire (except those that deserted) were bad guys.

After the Thrawn Trilogy, and after serving under other charismatic, larger than life, genius, and/or badass figures such as Admiral Daala, the character of Pellaeon finally essentially inherited what was left of the Imperial Remnant. They had run out of those types of characters, and the meek had inherited the Empire. And what did he do with this Empire that he knew was a lie? He turned into what he had always believed it was. To him, and to some others in the Empire, the Empire could be that force for good that they had always considered it. 

After being a minor “normie/normal” character for so long and having served under so many distinctive, big name villains and having fought so many big name, distinctive good guys, he had learned how things worked. As he slowly built the Empire to return to its glory, but be actually substantial and stable and good, his character was elevated to one of those big players. And he had earned it. He started out as a minor character, and stayed that way for so long. He was the anchor- the continual element of the Empire over the course of multiple series where the good guys always won. He addressed the storytelling problem of what eventually happens when the good guys always win. How could the bad guys keep going on and keep being scary if they always lost in the end? He basically saw this trend as a character. And he addressed it by changing the Empire to not only no longer rely on Sith lords or mustache twirling villains or genius admirals anymore, but to not be just the evil Empire. In fact, with him at the helm, the members of the New Republic had to start questioning themselves and if they were really so superior to the Empire. And the Imperial forces were now as badass as they looked. This worked because the good guys were more powerful now and the Empire was smaller. Plus, the Empire was now no longer constantly at their throats. They would sometimes agree to a ceasefire and eventually agreed to an end of their war.

So the character represented a maturing of Star Wars to me. We finally got a more nuanced Empire, and it happened because of a character who had earned his place. Most main characters start out as main characters in the story in which they are introduced. They may then be given humble backstories retroactively, of course. But Pellaeon was the simple mook, the follower from the beginning. For multiple series. So when he got elevated to being one of those characters who shapes the events of the Star Wars universe, he had well earned it.


(Always someone's right hand man until there was no one left but him)

And I suppose on a personal level, I always kind of felt more like relating to these kinds of characters than the main characters of most stories. I always thought: if I were in this story, I wouldn't be one of the special guys. Maybe I would be someone with principles and conviction, but there's no way I’d be the hero or special. I'd be a sort of background character. So I guess I'm biased towards Pellaeon for this reason, because he felt like like this to me for so long. He wasn't the kind of character that did anything that made us say “wow, amazing!” or “how did he do that?”. Yet he was admirable in his own way. And when he did become the big boss, I was happy for him because in my eyes he deserved it.



The main reason I like him is because he is the character that, to me, represents how Star Wars as a vast expanses universe with tons of novels eventually had to do things differently than the movies. It made sense for the villains to be pretty simple, evil, and monolithic there. But once you start fleshing out the universe, that stops working at a certain point. Additionally, he was a character who also addressed the problem of how a supposedly scary and competent big bad can keep losing all the time. (For one thing, he, as a character, actually pointed it out and reacted the way an Imperial character would realistic act if this were real life.) Eventually, something has to change or things go stale and there is no tension because you as an audience know the bad guys just are hopeless. Pellaeon made the Empire smarter, more competent, and actually morally good (well, it was a work in progress). He also made them more than just villains.