Wilhuff Tarkin was a human male politician, bureaucrat, and military officer whose career spanned the Fall of the Republic and the Age of the Empire. Born on the planet Eriadu in 64 BBY, he was a member of the Tarkin family and the great-nephew of Jova Tarkin. During the Republic Era, Tarkin served in the Galactic Republic‘s Judicial Department for a time before returning to his homeworld as the Governor of Eriadu. When the Clone Wars began, he renewed his military service, becoming a commissioned officer in the Republic Navy.
As a captain, Tarkin served under Jedi General Even Piell until the latter’s death on Lola Sayu, where the two were held as prisoners in the Citadel by the Confederacy of Independent Systems for having memorized half of the Nexus Route. Saved by a Jedi-led rescue team, Tarkin grew to respect the Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, who agreed with the captain’s belief that the Jedi Code conflicted with their wartime duties. He staunchly opposed the Jedi Order‘s role as leaders in the Grand Army of the Republic, believing that peacekeepers should not direct the Republic war effort. A favorite of Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine, Tarkin served on the Strategic Advisory Cell and was promoted to the military rank of Admiral. When Jedi Commander Ahsoka Tano was framed for the bombing of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, it was Tarkin who acted as the prosecutor in her trial.
Tarkin continued to rise in power with the proclamation of a new regime, the Galactic Empire, ruled by the self-appointed Emperor Palpatine. Joining the ranks of the New Order‘s regional governors, Grand Moff Tarkin administrated the Outer Rim Territories and was also involved in the secret construction of the DS-1 Death Star Mobile Battle Station. As governor of the regions of space along the galactic frontier, he sought to enforce Imperial rule on restive worlds such as Lothal where rebel cells grew increasingly bold in their opposition to the Empire. Having retained the Emperor’s favor in the New Order, Tarkin often worked alongside the Emperor’s chief enforcer, the Sith Lord Darth Vader, whom he once knew as Skywalker.
A proponent of the doctrine of fear, he believed that the battle station and its planet-killing superweapon would terrify the galaxy into total submission. At Tarkin’s command the Core World Alderaan was destroyed by the Death Star, instantly killing billions of Alderaanians. Tarkin ultimately perished, however, when the Alliance to Restore the Republic succeeded in destroying the station at the Battle of Yavin in 0 BBY. As a result, his memory was tarnished in the views of some Imperial officers, such as Grand General Cassio Tagge, who referred to the Death Star as “Tarkin’s folly.” Princess Leia Organa remembered Tarkin as the man who destroyed her adopted homeworld and family long after his death. The First Order, having risen to power as the Empire’s successor opposing the New Republic, commemorated Tarkin’s memory in an effort to portray Imperial leaders in a more heroic light.