15 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Grand Moff Tarkin

List Rules
Vote up the most interesting things about Tarkin.

Of all the amazing characters to debut in 1977's Star Wars, few are as impressive as Grand Moff Tarkin. Not only was he in a position of great power as the leading force behind the creation of the Death Star, but he also commanded the respect of Darth Vader, and that's nothing to sneeze at. He managed to stop Vader from killing Conan Antonio Motti during a rather tense meeting on the Death Star– all he had to say was, "Enough of this. Vader, release him," and the Dark Lord of the Sith did as he was told.

The story of Grand Moff Tarkin has been revealed through the numerous comic books, cartoons, and novels that have come out since that movie was released. His so-called "Tarkin Initiative" and his place in the Empire have been cemented in Star Wars canon. He's since been digitally reborn in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and while Peter Cushing was no longer alive to play the character, he was well represented through that film's use of digital face mapping. The movie also added a lot to the character, further fleshing him out for fans to appreciate.

Despite Star Wars being one of the most exciting and impressive franchises of all time, there's still a lot the general fan base doesn't know about Grand Moff Tarkin. This list takes a look at the lore from as many sources as possible to uncover the things you didn't know about Tarkin. Check them out below, and be sure to upvote anything you didn't already know about one of Star Wars' most insidious military leaders.


  • 1
    661 VOTES

    Tarkin Gathered 19 Professional Hunters To Hunt Vader - At Vader’s Request

    Tarkin and Vader had an interesting relationship, and it revolved around the mutual respect each man had for the other. Following the occupation of Mon Cala, Vader came to Tarkin, asking him to hunt him. He even said he could kill him if he had to, which threw Tarkin, but after thinking about his colleague's request, he surmised that with all the Jedi deceased, Vader was looking for a challenge. He brought 19 of the galaxy's best hunters to the planet Chandar's Folly to hunt down the Dark Lord of the Sith.

    Knowing the dangers Vader posed to himself and the hunters, Tarkin outfitted everyone with slugthrowers and flamethrowers - weapons capable of circumventing the defensive nature of a lightsaber. On the second day of the hunt, four hunters attacked Vader with flamethrowers, but after he was engulfed in flames, Vader managed to use the flamethrowers to incinerate his attackers. Days passed, and Vader purposefully made himself easy to track, resulting in the Dark Lord's ease at picking off his pursuers.

    Ultimately, Tarkin realized that Vader was unstoppable with his lightsaber, so he hatched a plan to take it from him. Surprisingly, it worked (after a bunch of hunters perished trying to get it), and Vader became enraged. He didn't falter, and the Sith Lord managed to use the Force to do away with his attackers. Without his lightsaber, the hunters became the hunted as Vader sought to reclaim his weapon, which he ultimately did with ease.

    When it was finally down to Tarkin and Vader, with all the remaining hunters dead, Tarkin began to run. Realizing he couldn't evade Vader, he stopped, kneeled, and surrendered. This was a ploy, as they were in the Stormlands, and Vader was struck by lightning. With Vader lying on the ground, Tarkin called in for a rescue, but before this happened, Vader Force-choked Tarkin, only for a moment, to remind him of his power. In the end, the two men's respect for one another was only solidified, and they returned to their roles in the Empire.

  • 2
    523 VOTES

    While Working With Vader, He Suspected He Knew Vader’s True Identity

    Grand Moff Tarkin and Lord Vader had a strong working relationship as they met on various occasions throughout their early service to the Empire. In one instance, Vader asked Tarkin to hunt him down, while in another, they worked together to construct the Death Star. They often worked closely with one another, but Darth Vader's true identity was a closely guarded secret, and nobody told Tarkin that Vader was Anakin Skywalker.

    As it turns out, nobody had to since he worked it out for himself. In the novel Tarkin, the Grand Moff had suspicions about who might be behind the mask, but he knew better than to talk about his thoughts to anyone. Still, he wondered, and several clues pointed him in Anakin's direction. He had previously been saved by Skywalker, and they got to know one another a bit. When he first met Vader, the Dark Lord showed signs that he knew Tarkin better than he would if they were strangers.

    Tarkin also noticed similarities in the way Vader fought with a lightsaber, leading him further in the direction of Skywalker. Eventually, he concluded that Darth Vader was, in fact, Anakin Skywalker, but he never brought his identity up in conversation, nor did he discuss it with anyone. The thoughts Tarkin had on Vader's identity remained inside his head, and had he given voice to them, there's a good chance Vader would have killed him on the spot.

  • 3
    489 VOTES

    He Valued Experience (And The Scars It Left)

    Growing up the way he did, Tarkin came to value experience and the scars it left on a person's body, which he knew a lot about. When the Death Star's superlaser was being tested and a failure occurred, Tarkin found the gunner responsible and called him out for having no scars on his body save for one from a sports injury. He then beat, slashed, and stabbed the man into submission, giving him some scars so he could remember what had occurred.

    Later, when the Death Star successfully destroyed Alderaan, Tarkin reviewed the data. He found that the gunners all hesitated briefly (almost an incalculable small amount of time) before "pulling the trigger." Tarkin once again confronted the gunners, with the man he had fought earlier, Frant, standing in front of the group. When it was revealed that Frant's homeworld was Alderaan, the gunner asked Tarkin if he would be able to destroy his own homeworld.

    Tarkin recalled his tests of strength and smiled. He then closed the airlock door and flushed all of the gunners out into space. Anyone tasked as a gunner on the Death Star knew the dangers of hesitation from that point forward. Tarkin wouldn't stand for the slightest delay in executing his orders - he was not a forgiving man.

  • 4
    388 VOTES

    Grand Moff Tarkin Blew Up Alderaan While Wearing Slippers

    Grand Moff Tarkin was portrayed by the legendary actor Peter Cushing in 1977's Star Wars, and he is closely associated with the role. Despite only appearing in one film, Cushing's likeness has appeared in books, comics, video games, and a digital recreation in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

    Cushing was a professional, and he gave everything to his scenes, but he wasn't always wearing his full costume. The small stock boots he was given to wear while in his Tarkin costume were uncomfortable for the actor. As a result, he only wore the boots whenever a wide shot captured them, which didn't happen often.

    Instead of the boots, the veteran actor wore some comfortable slippers, which makes sense until you think about the gravity of his scenes. During most of his conversations, his footwear wasn't visible, which means Grand Moff Tarkin was wearing slippers when he blew up Alderaan. It's more of a Peter Cushing fact than a Tarkin one, but the two are so tied together, it had to make the list!

    They hadn't got time to have my boots made for me, which is usually the case because of my large feet, so I had to do with a pair out of stock. There I was on the first day of shooting, [as] this very cross, unpleasant gentleman, Grand Moff Tarkin, stomping around and it was agony, it really was. So the next day, I say to dear George Lucas, the director, "George, I'm not asking for close-ups, but do you think you could shoot me from the waist up from now on?" So for the rest of the film, I stomped around looking extremely angry and very cross with that dear little Carrie Fisher as Grand Moff Tarkin in carpet slippers.

  • 5
    271 VOTES

    He Met Palpatine In His Youth While Attending A Military Academy

    Tarkin's first official foray into military life came when he joined the Outland Regions Security Force. The organization's mission was to provide security to the planet and the Greater Seswenna sector, as there was no regular Galactic Republic military presence so far out into the Outer Rim. During this time, Tarkin began to make a name for himself as a part of the anti-pirate task force.

    Tarkin managed to decode the pattern in the Q'anah's Marauders' attacks, leading to a victory in capturing the pirate leader's vessel. He boarded it and sent it on a slow course into the sun. As they slowly faded into the star's deadly grip, their cries of anguish were broadcast by the Outland Regions Security Force across its network. This brutal justice made Tarkin an early leader, and by the age of 19, he was already trusted with designing new spacecraft.

    When his service was complete, he attended the Sullust Sector Spacefarers Academy. While he was in training, he met the senator from Naboo, otherwise known as Sheev Palpatine. Palpatine was impressed with the young man and pushed him toward a career in politics, which Tarkin decided against. Instead, Palpatine helped secure a place for Tarkin in the Galactic Republic's Judicial Academy, effectively steering the course of his career.

  • 6
    268 VOTES

    Above All Else, Tarkin Was A Master Strategist

    Tarkin grew up in a military family on a military planet in a militaristic part of the Outer Rim. He knew the operations of a military force and how it could best be used to accomplish a mission. As he grew through training and experience to become a naval officer, Tarkin proved he had a keen eye for strategy. He wasn't the type of person who thought a few moves ahead - his focus was far beyond that, and he considered how every step could help win the entire war.

    This made him an ideal military officer that Palpatine could rely upon for just about anything he needed done. When the Galactic Empire rose, Tarkin was formally made the Moff (sector governor) of the Greater Seswenna sector. He was also given command of the Carrion Spike, a corvette named in honor of Tarkin's early childhood trials, the Executrix, and Sovereign-class Star Destroyers.

    With this command, Tarkin set about doing the Emperor's dirty work throughout the galaxy. He continued to work on constructing the Death Star and its superlaser while simultaneously taking part in various battles, occupations, and orbital bombardments. Tarkin's career is filled with examples of his strategic successes; however, in the end, he was outdone not by strategy, but by the Force, as Luke Skywalker successfully destroyed the Death Star, killing Tarkin in the process.