General Grievous first made his on-screen appearance in the animated, non-Canon version of the Clone Wars. That was until he was given a more standout role in Revenge of the Sith.
Despite how loved he was as a character, there are quite a few things about the General that confused his fans. One such thing includes whether or not General Grievous was a droid or not.
You see, Grievous had a tumultuous start to life, which resulted in him having to change his entire life around, hence the confusion.
So without further ado, let’s explore the life of this outstanding warrior.
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What Species Is General Grievous?
Contrary to popular belief, General Grievous was not a droid. Rather, he was a male Kaleesh born on the planet of Kalee.
General Grievous and other members of the Kaleesh species were reptilian humanoids. Their skins were adorned with maroon scales, four-clawed hands, and five-clawed feet.
Those of the Kaleesh species were capable of seeing in the dark thanks to the thermal pits below their eyes. Moving further down their faces, the Kaleesh had tusks projecting from their upper jaws and shorter ones coming from their chins.
These individuals had large pointed ears and a heightened sense of smell. This is in no small part due to the Kaleesh’s elongated nostrils that inch close to where their eyes rest.
Interestingly enough, few non-Kaleesh individuals have actually seen the facial features of the Kaleesh people, as they are usually concealed by their traditional masks. Even more fascinating, the Kaleesh people had exceptionally flammable internal organs.
The Kaleesh people were bred in a culture of spirituality and war. War was such an integral part of their lives that there would often be intraspecies battles that occurred amongst the various Kaleesh tribes.
About General Grievous (Before Being a Cyborg)
General Grievous was not always known as such. In the early stages of his life, he was born as Qymaen jai Sheelal, on the planet of Kalee. A planet that was torn apart by war, poverty, and food shortages.
For years, Kalee had been besieged by an insectoid species known as the Yam’rii, which were more technologically advanced than the Kaleesh. To that end, the Kaleesh people had a fitting nickname for their insect overlords.
They called them “Huk”, which translates to “soulless bug.” The two species’ consistently being at odds with each other resulted in an explosive feud known as the Huk War.
Now, in Sheelal’s household, his father wanted to find an outlet for his boiling rage. That was when he had the bright idea of teaching his son how to use a slugthrower rifle.
The youngster proved himself to be an outstanding marksman. So much so that by the age of eight, Sheelal already had forty Huk kills under his belt.
His being an expert sniper at such a young age meant that by the time he turned twenty-two, Sheelal had slain so many Huk that he was viewed as a demigod in his community.
Through his illustrious career, Sheelal made close friends with another Kaleesh warrior, Ronderu lij Kummar. It is said that this friendship began in Sheelal’s dream, where he saw himself slaying a mumuu with a Lig sword.
Sheelal was so enamored by this dream that he set out on a journey to hunt a mumuu. Instead of meeting a mumuu, he met the outstanding swordswoman, Kummar, wielding the Lig sword.
This led him to the realization that in his dreams he didn’t see himself, but he saw the amazing woman standing in front of him.
Together, the pair ruthlessly annihilated many of the Huk, gaining them the title of legends and the moniker of demigods who were blessed by their ancestors. That was when things took a turn for the worse.
The dynamic duo had been separated on the beaches of Kaleel when the Huks mercilessly murdered Kummar. Her lifeless body sank into the Jenuwaa Sea, which led Sheelal into a frantic (albeit unsuccessful) search of the waters for Kummar’s body.
Understandably, the loss of his friend was too much for Sheelal to bear. He became so desperate and writhed with inconsolable grief, that he set off on a treacherous journey to beg the gods to revive his best friend, to no avail.
Try as he might, Sheelal could not get rid of his grief, leading him to the assumption that he was destined to mourn Kummar for eternity.
Staying true to this ideal, Sheelal tossed aside his old life and adopted a new identity, which was on theme with his continuous lamentation. From that point onward, he became the heartbroken Grievous we know today.
How Did General Grievous Become a Cyborg?
After becoming filled with sorrow, rage, and hatred, Grievous was out for blood. He became an intensely merciless warlord who rained down his wrath on the Huk.
After successfully driving them out of Kalee, Grievous’ revenge on the Huk didn’t stop there.
Grievous was fueled by so much anger that he stormed the Huk’s homeworlds, wreaking havoc on them and causing mass destruction on numerous planets. It was so bad that eventually, the Huk had no other choice but to seek help from the Galactic Republic.
With the Republic’s help, the Huk were able to regain control over Kalee, plunging its people back into poverty. To save his people, Grievous struck a deal with the Chairman of the InterGalactic Banking Clan, San Hill.
This deal stipulated that Grievous was to act as a collection agent, and in return, the Banking Clan would forgive Kalee’s major debt. Although he felt like the position was beneath him, Grievous did whatever he needed to do for the betterment of his people.
For some time, this arrangement worked. That was until the Grievous learned that the Huk vandalized the ancient Kaleesh burial grounds. This shocking news awoke the Huk hatred that was otherwise dormant within Grievous.
Blinded by rage, Grievous tossed aside his contract with the Banking Clan and returned to Kalee to rectify this wrong.
Displeased, Hill wanted Grievous dead, but he didn’t want the repercussions of the assassination to fall on him.
Hill conspired with Count Dooku, Darth Sidious (and their mutual ally Poggle the Lesser), to create a situation that would force Grievous into permanent servitude.
In an effort to continue the Huk War, Grievous, together with his comrades, boarded Martyr (troop Shuttle) and ventured into the galaxy. Unbeknownst to them, Dooku had planted a bomb on the ship and rigged Grievous’ seat to eject on Dooku’s command.
The Martyr exploded, and Dooku used his remote to eject Grievous at the last minute. His hemorrhaging body was removed from the water.
Sticking to the plan, Dooku used the Sith Heart Stun technique to stop Grievous from going into cardiac arrest. Dooku took that opportunity to plant the idea that the Jedi were responsible for his current situation.
On the brink of death, Grievous had no choice but to allow San Hill and Count Dooku to transform him into a cyborg.
Now filled with the planted idea of hatred towards the Republic, Grievous would live out the rest of his days, viewing the light side as enemy number one.
Despite what many fans may have thought, General Grievous was not a droid, but an organic being from the planet Kalee.
After learning of Grievous’ backstory, it’s clear to see why he’d quickly become a fan favorite. From the get-go, Grievous had a hard life, and over time it only got worse.
Trying to simply save his planet resulted in the loss of his best friend, Kummar. This filled him with an inconsolable pain that dictated Grievous’ every move from that point on.
The General made his decisions based on the grief he felt (not unlike the decisions that led Anakin Skywalker to the dark side). These decisions resulted in Grievous becoming entangled with San Hill, who could not handle his eventual loss of control over the Kaleesh warrior.
In an attempt to create a more docile minion, Hill constructed a plan, with the help of Dooku, to break Grievous.
Of course, this plan was successful and resulted in the formerly humanoid individual being transformed into a cyborg.
Though still an exceptional warrior, General Grievous became a manipulated, physically fractured, emotionally distraught version of his former self.