Wilhuff Tarkin was a human male who was the first to achieve the position of Grand Moff in Sheev Palpatine's Galactic Empire, shaping Imperial doctrine and was the driving force behind the creation of its key embodiment, the Death Star. Born on the Outer Rim planet Eriadu to the powerful and militaristic Human Tarkin family, the ambitious Tarkin began his career by serving in the Galactic Republic sometime before the Clone Wars, subsequently retiring from active duty and entering politics, becoming lieutenant governor of Eriadu and the Seswenna sector, before returning to the military in order to serve Supreme Chancellor Palpatine as an agent of the secret Sith Lord's New Order movement.
It was in that time that Tarkin learned of his friend Raith Sienar's designs for the Expeditionary Battle Planetoid and, convinced of the potential of the design, presented Palpatine with the plans for what would become the Death Star. Tarkin gained increasing stature as a vocal supporter of Palpatine and received notice as the Seswenna sector's governor throughout the Clone Wars. In the last days of the Clone Wars, Palpatine appointed Tarkin as the first Moff, and when the Galactic Republic became the Galactic Empire, the new Emperor Palpatine gave him oversight of the construction of the Death Star. Tarkin soon formulated the Tarkin Doctrine, which helped solidify his reputation as the greatest architect of the Empire behind Palpatine himself.
The Tarkin Doctrine called for rule of the galaxy through fear of overwhelming force, and recommended the creation of superweapons such as the Death Star to create terror of Imperial reprisal that would stifle any thoughts of rebellion. Delighted, Palpatine made Tarkin the first Grand Moff, giving him control of nearly the entire Outer Rim. As Grand Moff, Tarkin ruled with the same unyielding ruthlessness he had helped enshrine in Imperial doctrine, often cooperating with Darth Vader. In 0 BBY, Tarkin enacting a plan to wipe out the Alliance to Restore the Republic, having heard word that the rebels had taken possession of plans that hid the secret weakness to the Death Star. Confident he could destroy the Rebel Alliance opposing the Empire, Tarkin began his campaign of fear by destroying Alderaan, a hotbed of Rebel sentiment.
With the Death Star fully operational, Tarkin ordered the destruction of Alderaan, killing all two billion inhabitants. Discovering that Organa had been rescued, Tarkin took this opportunity to follow the rescue party back to the secret Rebel base on Yavin 4. Tarkin remained on the Death Star during the Battle of Yavin, waiting for the station to become fully operational again in order to destroy Yavin. Unfortunately, seconds away from annihilating the Rebel headquarters, Luke Skywalker destroyed the Death Star, killing Tarkin along with over two million others.