Grand Moff Tarkin

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Grand Moff Tarkin
Star Wars character
Grand Moff Tarkin.png
Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars.
First appearance Star Wars (1977)
Created by George Lucas
Portrayed by Peter Cushing (Episode IV)
Wayne Pygram (Episode III)
Voiced by Keene Curtis (Star Wars radio drama)
Nick Jameson (Star Wars: X-Wing)
Tony Pope (read-along storybook CDs)
Paul Darrow (Star Wars: Empire at War)
Stephen Stanton (Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels)
Species Human
Gender Male
Occupation Death Star Commander, Grand Moff (Galactic Empire) Captain, Admiral (Galactic Republic)
Affiliation Galactic Empire
Galactic Republic (formerly)
Homeworld Eriadu

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

Concept and creation[edit]

Tarkin's character was originally conceived as a holy man from Aquila, but was changed later in the creative process into the character from the final film.[2]


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.[3][4][5][6]

In Revenge of the Sith, Wayne Pygram was able to achieve the likeness of a young version of Tarkin through the use of prosthetic makeup.[7] For his performance as Tarkin in The Clone Wars, 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 his voice to portray a level of humanity.[8]



A New Hope[edit]

Introduced in the film Star Wars, the first film in the original Star Wars trilogy, Grand Moff Tarkin is the Governor of the Imperial Outland Regions, and commander of the Death Star.[9] After the Emperor dissolves 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 the planet Alderaan if Leia 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. Upon learning that Leia's coerced information was false, Tarkin 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. As such, he refuses to evacuate. Tarkin is killed when the Death Star is destroyed by Luke Skywalker.

Revenge of the Sith[edit]

At the end of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, the final film in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, a younger version of Tarkin makes a cameo appearance overseeing the original Death Star's construction, standing beside Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine.[10][11]

Rogue One[edit]

In late August 2015, it was reported that the deceased Peter Cushing would be digitally resurrected via CGI to appear in the role once again for Rogue One.[10][11]

TV series[edit]

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.[12]

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 Jedi Knight 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 caretaker swiftly retaliates and nearly kills him. However, Tarkin is rescued just in time by Padawan Ahsoka Tano.

In the fifth season, Admiral Tarkin suspects Ahsoka of murdering Letta Turmond during a terrorist attack, 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 Padmé's impressive defense, Tarkin casts doubt by mentioning that Ahsoka had been seen with Dark Jedi Asajj Ventress. After Tarkin and Padmé's arguments conclude and the jury reaches a verdict that the Supreme Chancellor is about to read, Skywalker arrives with Barriss Offee, the real mastermind of the attack.


In the television series Star Wars Rebels, Governor Tarkin now has the Grand Moff title.[13] He visits the planet Lothal to deal with its growing insurgent activity, and 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 the two's 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 Rebels' 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 is killed. On Lothal, Tarkin introduces Agent Kallus to Darth Vader.


Tarkin and Catalyst[edit]

Star Wars: Tarkin explores the title character origins, and chronicles how he meets and aligns himself with Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader prior to the events of A New Hope.[14] The novel was one of the first four canon novels to be released in 2014 and 2015.[15]

Tarkin also appears in Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel, the prequel novel to Rogue One, where Tarkin is a rival to Advanced Weapons Director Orson Krennic.


With the 2012 acquisition of Lucasfilm by The Walt Disney Company, most of the licensed Star Wars novels and comics produced since the originating 1977 film Star Wars were rebranded as Star Wars Legends and declared non-canon to the franchise in April 2014.[16][17][15]

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. 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.


  1. ^ Gilchrist, Todd (8 August 2006). "Star Wars Speeches: Grand Moff Tarkin". IGN. 
  2. ^ "Tarkin, Grand Moff". Databank. Lucasfilm. Archived from the original on April 14, 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-06. 
  3. ^ Joseph Farrell (2003). The Giza Death Star Deployed. Adventures Unlimited Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-931882-19-4. 
  4. ^ Mark Clark (2004). "Peter Cushing". Smirk, Sneer and Scream. McFarland. p. 119. ISBN 978-0-7864-1932-6. 
  5. ^ Adam Charles Roberts (2000). "The History of Science Fiction". Science Fiction. Routledge. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-415-19205-7. 
  6. ^ Brad Duke (2005). Harrison Ford: The Films. McFarland. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-7864-2016-2. 
  7. ^ Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith commentary track
  8. ^ "Look Who's Tarkin: Stephen Stanton". Retrieved March 4, 2011.
  9. ^ "Peter Cushing in "Star Wars"". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 13 August 1976. p. 29. 
  10. ^ a b Breznican, Anthony (August 24, 2015). "Should Star Wars: Rogue One resurrect Peter Cushing as Tarkin?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 24, 2015. 
  11. ^ a b Child, Ben (August 24, 2015). "Star Wars: Rogue One 'to resurrect Peter Cushing via CGI', despite slipper issues". The Guardian. London. Retrieved August 24, 2015. 
  12. ^ Blauvelt, Christian (17 February 2011). "Star Wars - The Clone Wars: Grand Moff Tarkin makes his debut!". 
  13. ^ "Get your exclusive first look at Grand Moff Tarkin on 'Star Wars Rebels'". Entertainment Weekly. February 3, 2015. Retrieved February 10, 2015. 
  14. ^ Keane, Sean (November 3, 2014). "REVIEW: Star Wars: Tarkin brings us into the Empire's dark heart". New York Daily News. Retrieved May 27, 2016. 
  15. ^ a b "Disney and Random House announce relaunch of Star Wars Adult Fiction line". April 25, 2014. Retrieved May 26, 2016. 
  16. ^ McMilian, Graeme (April 25, 2014). "Lucasfilm Unveils New Plans for Star Wars Expanded Universe". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 26, 2016. 
  17. ^ "The Legendary Star Wars Expanded Universe Turns a New Page". April 25, 2014. Retrieved May 26, 2016. 

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