What Is An Inquisitor In Star Wars?
Disney+’s new episodic show, Obi-Wan Kenobi, is almost here. At the time of writing this article (early May), this writer admits that he is HYPED. Due for release May 27th, the show is set to bring back one of the series’ most beloved character/actor combinations when Ewan McGregor reprises his role as Kenobi.
But that’s not all the series is bringing back. We don’t want to spoil anything, but even the trailer shows us that some old villains are coming to the screen. Amongst them, however, are some new threats in the way of the inquisitors. With their black robes, red duelling sabers and generally evil vibes, they share many similarities with the Sith but aren’t really the same thing. (Not to be confused, by the way, with the character class in Star Wars: The Old Republic).
You may have already encountered Inquisitors in games such as Jedi: Fallen Order or in the animated series Star Wars: Rebels, but they’re still an underexplored faction that expose a lot of questions. Let’s answer some of them today…
Who are the inquisitors in Star Wars?
Inquisitors are members of the Imperial military who work under the direct command of Darth Vader. They were established following the fall of the Jedi Order, with many of their ranks formed from Jedi who turned to the dark side.
In our real-world history, the inquisition was a religious order set up by the Pope and designed to stamp out heresy. In Star Wars, the name inquisitor has the same context: they are focused on a single goal – to hunt down the last remaining members of the Jedi.
Which inquisitors do we know about?
The organisation itself, however, is still a bit of a mystery. Canonically there are at least 10 members, though there may be up to 12. From the animated series, we know that there are more senior members of the inquisitorius – one of whom was known as the ‘Grand Inquisitor’ and was originally voiced by Jason Isaacs. However, the live-action version of this same character in Obi-Wan Kenobi will instead be played by Rupert Friend.
In Jedi: Fallen Order, we see other members of the inquisition – many of whom share naming conventions. Second Sister and Ninth Sister are two such members, though while they share names they look VERY different.
Second sister is a lithe, acrobatic villain who was once a Jedi Padawan and now fights with a vicious, fluid style using a unique double-bladed spinning lightsaber that features a classic red blade.
Ninth sister might be a physically imposing character with her sheer bulk, but she was actually a powerful Force user who was able to read emotions. She was not as agile as other fighters, instead relying on strength and her high pain tolerance.
There are other characters such as Tenth and Sixth brother shown in the animated series who we expect to return in Kenobi.
Are the inquisitors Sith?
Despite being force-sensitive and trained by Darth Vader, the inquisitors are not actually Sith. While this is all up for debate, our theory is that the inquisitors can be thought of more as elite warriors who work for the Sith, rather than being part of them. The Sith are the true masters of the dark side and hold all the strings, whereas the inquisitorius are tools to be used.
This is evident by their lack of true Force mastery – they can’t do the same things Vader or Palpatine can and instead focus on lightsaber combat and basic Force abilities.
The "Rule of Two" helps reinforce this idea. The ancient order of darkside users insists that there can only ever be two Sith in any given timeframe: a master and student. Darth Vader may train the inquisitors in combat, but he never takes any of them on as a true apprentice and therefore doesn’t induct them into the Sith order.
Sith Inquisitor lightsabers explained
The inquisitors lightsabers are all similarly designed, emitting a red double-bladed energy that is housed in a circular hilt. The hilt’s handguard circles the standard grip and allows the emitter to spin freely, creating a spinning dual-blade that can support some intense acrobatics.
In Rebels this spinning is sometimes used to allow the Inquisitors to hover by throwing their weapon overhead and letting it lift them like a helicopter’s rotor blades – but it remains to be seen if this will be possible in the upcoming live action show.
The uniform style of these lightsabers acts as a clue to why the Inquisitors are not true Sith. Unlike Jedi and Sith, who craft their own blades to be individual and as unique to them as possible, the inquisitors all use a similar style of blade. This is a more militaristic approach and definitely suggests that Vader and Palpatine view their inquisitors as a force of troops and not as individuals.
Why are the inquisitors in Obi-Wan Kenobi?
The final question to answer is why Disney have chosen this moment to bring the inquisitorius to live-action screens. Formally relegated to the ‘expanded’ universe of video games and animated series, this move marks a serious commitment to inclusion of the inquisitorius to the canon of Star Wars.
As Jedi Hunters, we can only expect that the inquisitors will be relentlessly seeking Darth Vader’s young son, Luke, and battling with his protector, Obi-Wan, on the desert sands of Tatooine. But as the trailer suggests, there are some surprises in store as the franchise’s most revered villain makes his return…
We can’t wait to see what Obi-Wan Kenobi serves up when it airs. This article won’t change as a result, but we may get to explore more of the inquisitors and their skills in future articles. Remember, the show begins May 28th 2022 on Disney +, be sure not to miss it.
While we don't have an Inquisitor style duelling saber yet, we DO have a saber you can challenge them with. Stand up for the good left in the galaxy with the Elegance saber, inspired by a certain guardian figure we're about to see on our screens...