Who Are The Inquisitors? The Obi-Wan Kenobi Villains Explained

It's a wild time to be a fan of the animated "Star Wars" TV shows ... and a confusing one for those unfamiliar with that side of the franchise. "The Mandalorian" and "The Book of Boba Fett" brought several beloved characters created exclusively for the animated series "Star Wars Rebels" and "The Clone Wars" into live-action, be they noble warriors (Ahsoka Tano), cutthroat crooks (Cad Bane), or individuals whose morals are a bit more flexible (Bo-Katan Kryze).

That trend will continue with the incoming "Obi-Wan Kenobi." The limited series will pick up with the titular Jedi-in-exile 10 years after his Padawan and friend Anakin Skywalker turned to the Dark Side, transforming him into the ruthless Sith Lord Darth Vader. Its trailer shows Ewan McGregor's Obi-Wan (who's starting to look a little older, if still a far cry from Alec Guinness' silver-haired space wizard in "A New Hope") butting heads with the Inquisitors. For those who are not familiar, these Jedi-hunting Dark Side users first showed up on "Rebels" and have since been featured in a number of "Star Wars" comic books and the "Jedi Fallen Order" video game, but are only now making their live-action debut.

The origins of the Inquisitors

The Order of Inquisitors, which is also known as the Inquisitorius Program or simply the Inquisitorius, was formed by Darth Sidious (or Emperor Palpatine, call him what you will) and Vader shortly after the birth of the Galactic Empire. Its origins, on the other hand, date back to the Clone Wars. Hoping to create his own personal army of Force-wielding spies, Sidious hired Bane (who had worked for him before) to kidnap a number of Force-sensitive children before the Jedi could find them and train them in the ways of the Dark Side. His plans were foiled by Ahsoka and Anakin, which made it all the more cruelly ironic when the latter became Vader and helped Sidious to realize his terrible vision.

Where Sidious had originally intended to train his Dark Side spies from a young age, the Inquisitors were actually former Jedi who had survived Order 66. They were then coerced into serving Sidious, be it through torture or a desire for self-preservation (if not a blend of the two). In order to better ensure their loyalty and weaken their sense of individuality, most Inquisitors were dubbed either a "Brother" or "Sister," given a numerical designation (the Second Sister, the Second Brother, and so on), and dressed in matching black-and-grey armor. At the top of their ranks sat the Grand Inquisitor, a male Pau'an from Utapau who guarded the Jedi Temple on Coruscant before joining Sidious after the master Sith manipulator offered him access to the Jedi Archives that he had been previously denied.

Be it because of their severed ties to the Light Side or them being corrupted against their will, the Inquisitors were far less powerful than your average Sith when it came to wielding the Dark Side. To compensate for this, their go-to weapon was a double-bladed red lightsaber model. It might look a little silly at first, and, as I recall, a lot of "Star Wars" fans mocked the design when it was first unveiled. That said, the Inquisitors were very skilled at using it for a variety of purposes — be it flying by spinning the lightsabers like makeshift helicopter blades or chucking them at their enemies like an extremely deadly boomerang. (Okay, I swear it looks cooler than I just made it sound.)

'There are some things far more frightening than death'

Above all else, the Inquisitors were tasked with hunting down any and all Jedi or Jedi-in-training that had survived Order 66. You can see them doing exactly that in the "Obi-Wan Kenobi" trailer, which offers a sneak peek at the live-action Grand Inquisitor, along with Reva or the Third Sister (Moses Ingram), the show's main antagonist. "Homeland" and "The Death of Stalin" actor Rupert Friend is playing the former on "Obi-Wan Kenobi" after Jason Isaacs voiced the role on "Rebels" season 1.

"Rebels," which takes place after "Obi-Wan Kenobi," saw the Grand Inquisitor allow himself to fall to his death into the reactor core of the Sovereign (the Star Destroyer that acted as Grand Moff Tarkin's flagship at the time) after losing a duel with the Jedi Knight-turned Lothal rebel Kanan Jarrus. Before he perished, he warned the latter, "There are some things far more frightening than death," alluding to Vader and what he would do to the Grand Inquisitor upon learning he had failed his mission to destroy the then-budding Lothal rebellion. And yet, his plan didn't work, as Vader then trapped his soul on Tempes to guard over its abandoned Jedi outpost. Needless to say, that doesn't bode well for Reva, should she fail to execute whatever grim task she's been assigned by her boss.

"Obi-Wan Kenobi" will debut on Disney+ on May 25, 2022.