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The first time Grand Admiral Thrawn is seen in the Star Wars universe is in the game Tie Fighter, this was a LucasArts Game which I believe (may be wrong) George Lucas would have had to have signed off on.

We next see him in the Expanded Universe trilogy fighting the New Republic.

The assumption has always been that Thrawn is no longer canon to the Star Wars Universe and instead is in the Star Wars 'Legends' continuity.

But surely if he was created by Lucas he is also canon in the Star Wars Film universe (just not seen yet).

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    you sure about that? Thrawn was not created by George Lucas and first appeared in the Zahn book "Heir to the Empire" and subsequent trilogy. And, even though they have the Lucas name, games were not considered official canon. Thrawn was definitely not canon until he appeared in Star Wars Rebels. Additionally, he now has a canon book authored by Zahn called "Thrawn" – NKCampbell Jul 20 '17 at 16:09
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    Yep Thrawn is first seen in the computer game Tie Fighter which was released in 1994 by Lucas Arts at the time I am pretty sure George Lucas was a lot more involved in what was developed by the label. You play an Empire Tie Fighter Pilot based out on the Rim fighting under Thrawn as he brings the region under imperial control. giantbomb.com/star-wars-tie-fighter/3030-19727 – Richard C Jul 20 '17 at 16:17
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    Heir to the Empire was published in 1991. Thrawn first appeared in the book. Now, if you mean his first legends era 'in-universe' appearance, you may be correct. But in terms of real world, where did this character first enter into popular culture - it was the book – NKCampbell Jul 20 '17 at 16:19
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    Canon = a body of works. Cannon = Big metal thing that shoots cannonballs. – Valorum Jul 20 '17 at 16:49
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George Lucas did not create Thrawn

StarWars.com credits Timothy Zahn as the creator

As revealed at Star Wars Celebration Europe, the legendary Grand Admiral Thrawn will be appearing in season three of Star Wars Rebels, and in a new novel, penned by Timothy Zahn, the creator of the character.

Thrawn is now a canon character due to his inclusion in the Star Wars Rebels television series as well as a canon book outlining his history

At the time (now considered Legends era) - games were C-Canon but not G-canon - meaning, books, games, comics, etc...were considered EU but George Lucas retained the right to contradict anything in the EU canon in word or film. To him, the EU was a parallel universe:

"There are two worlds here," explained Lucas. "There's my world, which is the movies, and there's this other world that has been created, which I say is the parallel universe—the licensing world of the books, games and comic books. They don't intrude on my world, which is a select period of time, [but] they do intrude in between the movies. I don't get too involved in the parallel universe."

Since the purchase of Lucasfilm by Disney and the creation of the Lucasfilm Story Group - almost all media (excluding Lego Star Wars) is now considered, essentially, G-level canon with the "stated goal of abolishing the canon hierarchy system in favor of a single cohesive continuity"

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