Del Tarrant was a renegade Federation officer who joined the crew of the Liberator following the Intergalactic War. He served as the chief pilot of both the Liberator and the Scorpio. Tarrant was a regular character throughout the third and fourth seasons of the series.
Tarrant was a graduate of the Federation Space Academy, and his first command as a lieutenant was of the Kairopan shuttle under Captain Jarvik at the harvest 15 years prior to the visit of the Liberator. At some point he was promoted to Space Captain. Ten years prior to the Scorpio crew's encounter with Egrorian he attended courses at the Space Research Institute, shortly after Egrorian's disappearance. He was later, according to the Ultra, posted missing along with a stolen pursuit ship with which he ran contraband in the Outer Planets, and by his own account got himself "mixed up in other peoples wars": Vila at one point referred to him having an execution order placed on his head for deserting. At some point he encountered Bayban. He rose high on the Federation's "wanted list".
The Intergalactic WarEdit
During the Intergalactic War, he went in against the Andromedans and his ship was destroyed in their first salvo. He was picked up by a Federation ship and acquired a uniform. When that ship was destroyed, he was picked up by the damaged Liberator and presumed by the Federation officers aboard to be in charge. He cooperated with Avon to kill the Federation officers and take back the ship, after which he became a member of the crew, replacing Jenna Stannis as their principal pilot.
Tarrant remained a key member of Avon's group through the destruction of the Liberator and their acquisition of the Scorpio. When the Scorpio came under attack off Gauda Prime and was severely damaged, Tarrant was forced to remain aboard to keep the ship stable while the others escaped by teleport.
Though injured, he survived the crash of the vessel and was rescued by Blake, whom he did not know (and whom he believed to be a bounty hunter in the pay of the Federation). He told Avon what he had learned which led to the ultimately fatal misunderstanding between Avon and Blake. In the chaos which followed he appeared to be shot and killed by Federation troopers.
He had one brother, Deeta Tarrant. Deeta referred to Del as his 'little brother'. Deeta was the champion of Teal for four years under the Teal-Vandor Convention but was killed by the android Vinni, leading Del to avenge his brother.
PersonalityEditTarrant was intelligent, cunning and worldly, but could also be arrogant and impulsive. He was also heroic and idealistic - when the Liberator was being pulled into a black hole, he stopped Avon from abandoning the ship on the grounds that "we all go together." Avon once said of him, "Tarrant is brave, young, handsome - there are three good reasons for anyone not to like him." Vila, for his part, observed that "Tarrant has about as much subtlety as a Tarsian warg-strangler."
He and Avon had frequent "alpha male" clashes over who was in charge of the ship. And while his idealism was central to this conflict, it also afforded Avon some tactical advantages. He would sometimes use Tarrant's headstrong approach to distract the enemy while he found a more devious solution. Despite their conflicts, Tarrant went out of his way on a number of occasions to save Avon's life.
He tended to bully Vila, which Avon castigated him about on one occasion.
Tarrant had brief romantic involvements with Servalan and Zeeona. During the Liberator crew's encounter with Ultraworld, Dayna and Tarrant pretend that they are going to have sex, so that the human reproductive process could be studied by the planet's inhabitants (at one point, Dayna is shown leaning over a prone Tarrant and remarking "I can't be all that repulsive" prior to their first kiss, but ultimately they do not have to go through with it). He was also attracted to the freed slave Piri, with regrettable consequences.
Behind the scenesEdit
The first episode of the series, The Way Back, features a Federation security agent called Dev Tarrant who arranges the massacre of Blake's friends and the murder of his lawyers. No connection is made between him and Steven Pacey's character when the latter joins the series, as this is just one of many instances of writer Terry Nation naming a character or other significant plot element after himself (see the various Tarons, Tarrants, and taraniums of his Doctor Who scripts, for example).
Given the line about his first command being 15 years prior to current events, Tarrant was probably supposed to be at least ten years older than Steven Pacey was at the time. Pacey actually performed the role in a lower pitched voice to accommodate this.