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What to know about Star Wars’ Inquisitors

The assassins of Obi-Wan are known entities — but not to movie-watchers

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Grand Inquisitor fights a guy in Star Wars: Obi-Wan Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.
Austen Goslin (he/him) is an entertainment editor. He writes about the latest TV shows and movies, and particularly loves all things horror.

As a wise Jedi master once said, “there’s always a bigger fish.” And when it comes to the Empire’s faction of Jedi hunters, the galaxy’s bigger fish are Imperial Inquisitors.

The Inquisitors are out in full force in the trailer for Disney Plus’ new Star Wars series, Obi-Wan Kenobi. First we meet Reva, played by Moses Ingram of The Queen’s Gambit, who’s hunting down Obi-Wan on Tatooine and interrogating Uncle Owen. We also see Grand Inquisitor, a genuine badass who reports directly to Darth Vader.

No, movie-watcher, you have not seen either of these two in the prequels, sequels, or original trilogy. But they’re a huge part of Star Wars. (Sorry to Ewan McGregor for being overshadowed — he’s cool, too.)

Fans who have devoured every piece of Star Wars lore are familiar with the Inquisitors by now. But those who haven’t caught up on the novels, comics, and, most importantly, the Star Wars: Rebels animated series, might be a little confused when these lightsaber-wielding enemies first appear in the new Star Wars TV show. Who are the Inquisitors?

To help you understand Obi-Wan’s most dangerous foes, we’ve traced a line through Star Wars history to chart the past and present of these expanded universe characters.

Who are the Imperial Inquisitors?

During the stretch between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, the Inquisitors are a specific unit of Imperial soldiers that work under Darth Vader. They’re all Force sensitive, and most use a lightsaber. They’re tragic figures: Each one is a former Jedi who defected from the Resistance and chose to join the Empire.

By selecting former Jedi, Vader avoided the need to directly mentor his new Force-using death squad. Vader likely did this in part so that he didn’t violate the Sith rule of two, which stipulates that there must always be two Sith: a master and an apprentice. Therefore, if you want an army of Force users that run around with lightsabers, they’ve got to be Inquisitors instead of actual Sith.

What do the Inquisitors do?

You can think of the Inquisitors like a small missions task force. They may go on missions to help put down rebellions, or quash local squabbles. They’re more like the violent cousin to the Jedi who served the Republic as peacekeepers. Sometimes they’re glorified tax collectors. But their chief purpose is to hunt Jedi.

With their recent past as Jedi themselves giving them insight, Inquisitors hunt down the remaining Jedi that slipped through the cracks of Order 66. As Darth Vader himself notes in the first episode of Star Wars: Rebels, the Inquisitors focus their efforts on “Children of the Force,” the next generation of Force users that could pose a threat to the Empire.

inquisitors from star wars rebels hold circular red beamed lightsabers
The Fifth Brother and the Seventh Sister from Star Wars: Rebels.
Image: Lucasfilm

Which Inquisitors have we seen before?

The most we see of the Inquisitors in official canon is in the Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith comic series, where they frequently accompany the Sith lord on his various missions around the galaxy. But the version of Inquisitors that’s most like Reva comes from Star Wars: Rebels. In Rebels, the Fifth Brother and the Seventh Sister (names based on the Inquisitor ranking system) pursue the show’s band of heroes across the stars. In the second season episode “Always Two There Are,” we get to see these two Inquisitors and their impressive skills in action as they chase down Ezra Bridger and his friends.

Then the Inquisitors show up in Jedi: Fallen Order

Inquisitors played a major role in Respawn’s recent Star Wars game, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, where they made a perfect boss-fight adversary. In the game, which is set after the fall of the Republic, they spent most of their time hunting. Jedi: Fallen Order protagonist Cal Kestis is a Jedi living in the time after the Empire’s rise, which means that Inquisitors are a daily threat. And one day they catch up to him while on the hunt for surviving Jedi.

Why are Inquisitors in Obi-Wan?

The post-Revenge of the Sith timeline is when Inquisitors really shined, so it was only natural that Clone Wars creator — and shadow master of this new live-action TV era of Star Wars storytelling — Dave Filoni would bring the animated timeline into the action of an Obi-Wan story. In the cartoons, Obi-Wan has had his fair share of Inquisitor encounters. Now he’ll do so again, for reasons that will remain mysterious until Obi-Wan Kenobi premieres on Disney Plus on May 25.

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