Star Wars fans are a fickle bunch. This became blatantly obvious when George Lucas repeatedly took criticism for poor dialog and inappropriate characters presented in the prequels. A handful of characters, however, met the approval of Star Wars fans, one of which was the cyborg Jedi killer General Grievous.
Early concept art for General Grievous had him as a child sitting on a floating char and surrounded by IG88 droids from Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back. Another strange concept design featured Grievous with a disembodied alien head, along with trailing prehensile tentacles.
George Lucas shot down these ideas and ironically got the inspiration for General Grievous’ design from the shape of a bathroom detergent spray nozzle. Warren Fu created the initial design while Industrial Light & Magic turned him into the CGI character we know and love today.
The General Grievous presented on screen through Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Clone Wars wasn’t necessarily the same character represented in the novels. His history and origins became even more clouded when Disney purchased Star Wars from Lucasfilm, creating a new cannon with an expanded universe to encompass the rest.
Presenting shocking and disregarded material from the Star Wars EU and cannon, here are the 15 Things You Didn’t Know About General Grievous.
15 His Real Name Was Qymaen Jai Sheelal
Long before he landed on Sidious' radar, General Grievous went by the name of Qymaen Jai Sheelal from the planet Kalee. It would be during his youth that the Yam'rii of the planet Huk would attack his home, looking to enslave the inhabitants of Kalee and plunder the planet of its wealth.
Qymaen would become a fierce warrior, amassing more kills than anyone else. The people of Kalee looked upon him like a Demi-god. As the war progressed he would meet and become close with Ronderu lij Kummar, a master with the sword. She would die in battle, leaving Qymaen angry and sworn towards revenge.
After Ronderu’s death, Qymaen would change his name to Grievous (destined to grieve) and drive the Huk from his planet Kalee.
14 Darth Sidious Ordered His Shuttle To Be Blown Up
There have been several back-stories created in the Star Wars EU regarding how General Grievous became a cyborg killing machine who worked for the Separatist Army. The most common version was created with the help of Dave Filoni.
When the Huk were driven from Kalee, they sought help from the Republic. This put Grievous on Sidious’ radar as a valuable asset. Grievous needed financial assistance for his people, so Chairman San Hill of the InterGalactic Banking Clan was sent in by Dooku. Hill provided the money if Grievous would command the banking clans droid army, which he agreed to.
Shortly after Kalee came under attack from the Huk again, Grievous went to help his people against direct orders. Sidious signed off on the shuttle being destroyed with Grievous being taken alive if possible. The explosion was then blamed on the Jedi to fuel his anger towards the goals of the eventual Empire.
13 His Blood Was Mixed With The Blood Of Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas
Grievous suffered major internal and external injuries from the ion bomb placed on his shuttle. Set up by Dooku, Hill, and Poggle, the bomb was placed to enable a remote-guided ejection into the Jenuwaa Sea.
Dooku was on standby to retrieve his body and keep him alive if possible. He used a combination of the Sith Heart Stun technique and blood from the frozen body of Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas to stabilize Grievous until arriving at Geonosis.
While some have speculated that Sifo-Dyas’ blood allowed General Grievous to have force sensitive traits, the theory has been rejected by George Lucas and Dave Filoni.
However, given that Grievous has had so many stories applied to his creation, this theory is plausible. However, it’s noted that Grievous was angered that the blood of Sifo-Dyas didn’t give him force sensitive powers.
12 He Killed At Least 50 Jedi in EU And Only One In TV/Movies
General Grievous was always a fierce warrior who enjoyed fighting and defending his people. Upon his transformation to a cyborg, he became a slave of the Separatist ─ full of revenge and hate. He directed his fury towards the Jedi, believing his cyborg condition to be their fault.
Grievous’ hate would take the lives of 49 Jedi (including 20 younglings) recorded in Star Wars Legends, with hundreds more unaccounted for. His character was one of power, fear, and dominance.
The movie and television General Grievous differs from the Star Wars novel version greatly. He’s an elite droid who can fight when necessary, but mostly hides behind his army. Before being killed by Obi-Wan Kenobi he was recorded with only one Jedi kill, but portrayed to have killed more due to his lightsaber collection.
The Revenge of the Sith book had Grievous killing several Jedi ordered to protect Palpatine from being kidnapped.
11 He Was A Reptilian Humanoid
Star Wars is king for creating numerous alien species. Some are cute-- like the Loth-cat or Porgs-- while others are intelligent and deadly. The Kaleesh have a scaly skin in a reddish brown color that covers their bodies. As a Kaleesh, General Grievous had four claws to a hand and five clawed feet.
He could see in the dark thanks to thermal pits under the eyes and had long ears with stretched out nostrils. While having many reptilian features, he had human traits too. Grievous had opposable thumbs, a high intelligence, and the Kaleesh walked on two legs.
His cyborg shell was an enhanced version of his reptilian humanoid body. The Kaleesh were also known for wearing masks. It was uncommon that an outsider would see their actual faces.
10 Count Dooku Thought He Was An Abomination
Dooku and Palpatine believed humans to be the superior race of the galaxy, looking down on droids and aliens. Because General Grievous was both things, the elite regarded him as a lower class citizen. According to Dooku, Grievous was nothing more than another droid and an abomination of life.
General Grievous hated Dooku too-- at least at first-- because of his attitude towards him, but would come to respect him as a master in time because of his fighting abilities and skill with the lightsaber. Through Darth Tyranus’ training and teachings, he would learn to wield lightsabers like no other weapon he had used before.
We can only imagine what Grievous might have become if Sidious and Tyranus had viewed him as more than a tool.
9 He Wasn’t Force Sensitive
General Grievous was neither a Jedi, Sith, nor a force sensitive user. His skill of wielding four Jedi blades at a time came from his tutelage under Darth Tyranus. He was also a battle tested warrior prior to his transformation, allowing him to dominate over Jedi in battle.
His skills with a lightsaber were purely technique driven, though. To fully master a saber, the user’s energy must connect with the Kyber crystal, allowing the lightsaber to be an extension of the one wielding it.
Grievous would often rely on cheap tricks, along with his fighting techniques to overpower opponents. If he had been force sensitive, Grievous would have been equivalent in power to that of Savage Oppress or even Darth Maul. Being force sensitive would have also altered his relationship with Dooku, much like how Darth Maul became a thorn in Darth Sidious’ side.
8 He Collected Sith Lightsabers Before Collecting Jedi Lightsabers
In the stories of Star Wars Legends, and sometime before the battle of Geonosis, the Dark Jedi twin sisters Kaa and Lii used their trickery to gain access to General Grievous’ starship. Once aboard his ship they stole his collection of Sith lightsabers which he most likely inherited from Darth Tyranus.
Kaa and Lii fled to the acidic world of Dica, where Grievous eventually tracked them down. They would face each other on a cliffs edge, with the sisters using their newly acquired lightsabers.
During the fight, Kaa and Lii would gain an advantage on Grievous, forcing him over the side of the cliff which he hung onto it with his metal talons. As Kaa slowly approached the edge, Grievous leapt from the side and knocked both Sith lightsabers from their hands.
Unfortunately, the sabers fell into the acid pool below and the Dark sisters retreated from the battle. Angered over the loss of his sabers, he vowed to start a new collection of Jedi lightsabers instead.
7 His Personality Changed A Few Times
The General Grievous in the legends series is different from the one portrayed in Star Wars prequels and even Star Wars: Clone Wars, the animated television show. In the books, Grievous was powerful, ruthless, and a brilliant strategist who would do whatever was necessary to win the war.
The Lucas version we see on film is powerful but weak, driven but scared. Even is his famous showdown with Obi-Wan Kenobi, he runs first before being cornered and forced to fight. The Star Wars movies don’t show General Grievous as the highly efficient warrior and leader of his race, instead they present him in a manner of how Count Dooku might perceive him to be.
Perhaps Lucas made these decisions to put more emphasis on Dooku and Sidious as the evil villains, because there would’ve been a power struggle if Grievous’ personality hadn’t been changed.
There is a host of other details altered from the EU to cannon too, such as the number of fingers he had, his back-story, and the course of certain events.
6 His Cough Is Voiced By George Lucas
George Lucas wanted a back-story for General Grievous' cough in order to create a weakness for him. What he didn’t plan on was suffering from a cold that left him sounding like a four pack a day smoker during production. Instead of taking time off to rest, Lucas took advantage of his sudden symptoms and had his cough recorded in the studio.
The cough and wheezing were then digitally enhanced to sound more robotic and metal like, but its origins were natural. George wasn’t sure if he was going to use the recordings at first, he simply recorded them in case he liked how it came out.
When Lucas heard it for the first time he was sold, and his cough became that of General Grievous.
5 Gary Oldman Was Originally Cast As His Voice
During the casting of Revenge of the Sith, Lucas had Gary Oldman in mind to do the voice work for Grievous. Oldman is most commonly known for his work Sirius Black in the Harry Potter series and James Gordon in The Dark Knight trilogy.
While Gary wanted the role, he reluctantly backed out at the last minute. George Lucas made Revenge of the Sith outside of the Screen Actors Guild, of which Oldman is a member, preventing him from working on it.
Matthew Wood took his place for the voice over work in the movie and would continue the voice of Grievous in the Revenge of the Sith video game and Star Wars: Battlefront II. Wood incorporated the stereotypical Russian accent into General Grievous’ voice, inspired by Bela Lugosi's acting.
In Star Wars: Clone Wars, the voice over work was done by John William DiMaggio and Richard McGonagle.
4 San Hill Funded And Created His Cyborg Body
San Hill was a Munn who looked very similar to Darth Plagues but had no relation to him. As chairman of the InterGalactic Banking Clan, he provided the money needed for the war and served as a financial representative on the Separatist Council. He was also instrumental in entrapping Grievous into servitude ─ not once, but twice.
The cyborg suit he funded implanted Grievous’ brain and eyes into a duranium alloy body similar to a Krath war droid. Hill then had his vital organs housed in a synthskin gut-sack while also having the memories of Grievous altered. The final components were LX-44 robotic legs, enhanced rage sensors attached to his brain, and internal implants in his eyes to sharpen his vision.
Once completed, San Hill presented the new General Grievous to Count Dooku as a gift from the banking clan to the Separatist movement.
3 His Cough Was Caused By Mace Windu
While the prequels had their rough moments, most fans enjoyed the books that were associated with the movies. This was especially true for the Revenge of the Sith novel written by Matthew Stover.
Prior to the official kidnapping of Senator Palpatine, Grievous needed to fight his way through dozens of Jedi and Clone Troopers. One of those Jedi was the infamous Mace Windu.
Grievous always have a wheeze and occasional cough due to his organic form rejecting his cyborg implants. However, the cough that fans hear in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith is much worse directly due to Mace Windu.
After Grievous kidnapped Senator Palpatine from his Jedi protectors, Mace Windu force crushed the plates surrounding Grievous' internal organ sac before Grievous and Palpatine boarded his get-away ship. This injured his lungs, making his cough and wheezing much, much worse.
2 He Hated His New Body
Grievous was a proud Kaleesh warrior who had trained his body in the art of war. Upon being 70 percent machine, he hated what he’d become. He even took the title of Supreme Commander of the Droid Armies as an insult.
He was so upset over his appearance that when Dooku presented him with Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas’ lightsaber, he immediately destroyed every MagnaGuard that was in his vicinity. Dooku referring to Grievous as "a droid" certainly didn’t help things either.
As an act of rebellion towards his new body, Grievous often wore cloaks similar to that of the Kaleesh people. In some of the Star Wars Legends novels, he even wears masks like the ones he wore when he was the leader of Kalee.
1 Thrawn Added Grievous’ Cyborg Mask In His Collection
From the Thrawn books (legends and cannon) and Star Wars Rebels, it is evident that Grand Admiral Thrawn collected various artifacts and art. He mostly did this to understand his enemy-- researching their culture in order to understand how they would defend or attack while in battle.
Thrawn also liked to collect pieces of history that held significance and power. For this reason, adding Grievous’ cyborg mask to his collection was both fascinating and honorable to him. Even if Lucas’ original intentions for Grievous were to be a droid tool, his storyline was brought back to its true origins by Thrawn’s respect for his character.
Perhaps Thrawn collected the mask because he believed that its design was needed in order to create Darth Vader’s mask. If Thrawn saw Vader as a potential foe, he would have studied and collected everything that he could regarding Grievous’ cyborg design.
Can you think of any other interesting facts about Star Wars' General Grievous? Let us know in the comments!
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