The original Star Wars trilogy produced a slew of bit and background characters that we’ve all come to know and love. For instance, the words “it’s a trap” forever embedded Admiral Ackbar in our hearts. And remember the scene in which the rancor keeper weeps over the creature’s death? That propelled the character of Malakili to Internet fame in a meme stating that his relationship with the rancor is “still a better romance than Twilight.” But let’s not forget the gasket-lipped, goofy-looking Sullustan that co-piloted the Millennium Falcon – Nien Nunb.

Nien Numb; MIllennium Falcon; Lando
Nien Nunb co-pilots the Falcon in Return of the Jedi. (Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.)

[Warning: Reading further will expose you to spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.] Director J.J. Abrams went heavy on the nostalgia for Episode IX, and brought back a number of familiar ships, places and faces. Nien Nunb was among them. The novel Resistance: Reborn confirmed his return to the fight, and he piloted the resurrected Tantive IV in the final battle of the film. The question remains, however, of whether or not he survived.

Did Nien Nunb survive The Rise of Skywalker?

Well, I suppose the answer to that question depends on your point of view. When one fan offered condolences for the character’s death online, writer Rae Carson replied “RIP Nien.” Who is Rae Carson, you ask? She’s the author of the film’s official novelization. So you’d think she knows what she’s talking about, right? Not so fast.

According to, actor Mike Quinn, who portrayed Nien Nunb, has a different story. Quinn unequivocally states “Yes he survived!” His reasoning is that, despite the Tantive IV having been wracked with Force lightning and free-falling in space during the battle, it nonetheless recovered. Quinn says:

The Tantive IV didn’t explode but is seen landing above the trees when others are celebrating. The reason he’s not seen celebrating with the other guys is that it was filmed out of order (those scenes were filmed barely half way through the shoot). The script evolved as we went along and little things changed. So Nien did actually finally officially survive.”

Nien Numb
The Sullustan pilots an X-wing in 2015’s The Force Awakens. (Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Did you see the Tantive IV in the background of the celebration scene? Is Mike Quinn right to say that Nien Nunb survived, or is Rae Carson writing the character off into the Force? Perhaps I’ll have to go watch the film again and see.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is in theaters now.