Grand Moff Tarkin

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Grand Moff Tarkin
Star Wars character
Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin in A New Hope.
Portrayed by Peter Cushing (Episode IV)
Wayne Pygram (Episode III)
Voiced by Keene Curtis (Star Wars radio drama)
Nick Jameson (Star Wars: X-Wing)
Paul Darrow (Star Wars: Empire at War)
Stephen Stanton (Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels)
Fictional profile
Species Human
Gender Male
Occupation Antagonist
Position Death Star Commander, Grand Moff
Homeworld Eriadu
Affiliation Galactic Empire
Galactic Republic (formerly)

Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, also known as Governor Tarkin, is a fictional character in the Star Wars universe, primarily portrayed by Peter Cushing. The character has been called "one of the most formidable villains in Star Wars history."[1]


A New Hope[edit]

Introduced as the primary antagonist of the first original film Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Grand Moff Tarkin is the Governor of the Imperial Outland Regions, and commander of the Death Star.[2] After the Emperor Palpatine dissolved the Galactic Senate, Tarkin and Darth Vader are charged with pursuing and destroying the Rebel Alliance. He threatens Princess Leia Organa with the destruction of her home planet Alderaan if she does not reveal the location of the Rebel main base of operations. When Leia names the planet Dantooine as the base's location, he destroys Alderaan anyway, hoping to make an example out of the planet's support of the Rebellion. He afterwards orders Leia's execution.

He allows the Rebels to escape the Death Star with the Princess after placing a tracking beacon on the Millennium Falcon in order to find the rebel base. He orders the Death Star to destroy the rebel base on Yavin IV.

In the film's climax, Tarkin refuses to believe that the Death Star is in danger from the Rebel starfighter attack. Thereafter, Luke Skywalker destroys the Death Star with Tarkin still on board.

Revenge of the Sith[edit]

At the end of the last prequel film Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, a younger version of Tarkin makes a cameo appearance overseeing the original Death Star's construction, standing aside Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine.

The Clone Wars[edit]

In the television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the young version of Tarkin appears in the Republic Navy as a Captain and later an Admiral during the Clone Wars.[3]

In the third season, Captain Tarkin and Jedi Master Even Piell are ambushed and attacked by the Separatist forces. Prisoners to the Citadel, Tarkin and Piell are freed from captivity by a rescue team. Initially pessimistic about being in enemy territory, Tarkin puts himself at odds with Anakin Skywalker, but their respective opinions of each other improve when each realizes that they are mutual acquaintances of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. During a skirmish, Tarkin fights and attempts to execute Osi Sobeck but fails when the Citadel's sadistic caretaker swiftly retaliates and nearly kills Tarkin. However, Tarkin is rescued just in time by Ahsoka Tano.

In the fifth season, Tarkin appears more like his original character. After the funeral for the Jedi Temple's bombing victims, Tarkin assumes that Ahsoka Tano is accused perpetrator Letta Turmond's killer and attempts to have the Padawan arrested. After Ahsoka is recaptured and tried before a jury of senators, Tarkin heads the prosecution while Padmé Amidala heads the defense. Despite Padme's impressive defense, Tarkin casts doubt by mentioning that Ahsoka had been seen with Asajj Ventress. After Tarkin and Padme's arguments conclude and the jury reaches a verdict that the Supreme Chancellor is about to read, Anakin Skywalker arrives with the real mastermind of the crimes.


In the television series Star Wars Rebels, Tarkin now has the Grand Moff title.[4] Visiting the planet Lothal to deal with its growing insurgent activity, he reprimands Minister Maketh Tua, Agent Kallus, and the Inquisitor for their repeated failures to stop the planet's rebel cell. Tarkin has the Inquisitor execute Commandant Aresko and Taskmaster Grint for their inability to deal with the cell's leader, Jedi Kanan Jarrus. Later, Tarkin sets a trap for the rebels and manages to capture Kanan during their mission to send a message through one of the planet's communication towers. The rebel's message gets sent out, but Tarkin then orders the tower to be destroyed. Kanan is tortured by the Inquisitor and transported to the Mustafar system aboard Tarkin's Star Destroyer. During Kanan's rescue by rebel forces, Tarkin's Star Destroyer is destroyed, and the Inquisitor killed. On Lothal, Tarkin introduces Agent Kallus to Darth Vader.

Expanded Universe[edit]


In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Tarkin appears in Death Star, Darth Maul: Saboteur, Rogue Planet and Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader.

West End Games' roleplaying material describes the "Tarkin Doctrine", which emphasizes ruling "through the fear of force, rather than force itself", and has been mentioned various other times in the Star Wars canon. He is also mentioned during the Legacy of the Force novel series as having been present on Zonama Sekot with Anakin Skywalker. Apparently, Tarkin also left a wife and a mistress behind. In the comics series Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Lost Command, Tarkin is seen telling Vader of a missing convoy of Imperial craft and adds that his own son was in command of the convoy and is also missing.


The book Star Wars: Tarkin, was released in November 2014.[5] The book Tarkin details the early life story of Grand Moff Tarkin, as well as his first time working with Vader as they pursue a group of rebels. Tarkin is notable for being the second book to be released in the unified Star Wars canon following the Disney purchase of Lucasfilm.


Tarkin's character was originally conceived as a holy man from Aquila.[6]

Peter Cushing found Tarkin's boots, furnished by the wardrobe department, to be very uncomfortable. George Lucas agreed to limit shots where Cushing's feet would be visible, allowing him to wear his own slippers.[7][8][9][10]

Wayne Pygram was able to achieve the likeness of a young version of Tarkin through the use of prosthetic makeup.[11]

Voice actor Stephen Stanton researched Cushing's performances and then tried to imitate what Cushing might have sounded like in his mid-thirties and soften to give a level of humanity.[12]


  1. ^ Gilchrist, Todd (8 August 2006). "Star Wars Speeches: Grand Moff Tarkin". IGN. 
  2. ^ "Peter Cushing in "Star Wars"". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 13 August 1976. p. 29. 
  3. ^ Blauvelt, Christian (17 February 2011). "Star Wars - The Clone Wars: Grand Moff Tarkin makes his debut!". 
  4. ^ "Get your exclusive first look at Grand Moff Tarkin on 'Star Wars Rebels'". Entertainment Weekly. February 3, 2015. Retrieved February 10, 2015. 
  5. ^ Nicholson, Max (April 25, 2014). "New Star Wars Book Line Announced". IGN. j2 Global. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Tarkin, Grand Moff". Databank. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2010-09-06. [dead link]
  7. ^ Joseph Farrell (2003). The Giza Death Star Deployed. Adventures Unlimited Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-931882-19-4. 
  8. ^ Mark Clark (2004). "Peter Cushing". Smirk, Sneer and Scream. McFarland. p. 119. ISBN 978-0-7864-1932-6. 
  9. ^ Adam Charles Roberts (2000). "The History of Science Fiction". Science Fiction. Routledge. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-415-19205-7. 
  10. ^ Brad Duke (2005). Harrison Ford: The Films. McFarland. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-7864-2016-2. 
  11. ^ Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith commentary track
  12. ^ "Look Who's Tarkin: Stephen Stanton". Retrieved March 4, 2011.

External links[edit]