Veteran Star Wars performer Mike Quinn believes Nien Nunb survived Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker despite confirmation from Rae Carson, author of the film's official novelization, who says the character perished in the Battle of Exegol. When piloting the Tantive IV alongside co-pilot Urcos Furdam on Exegol, site of the returned Palpatine's (Ian McDiarmid) fleet of Sith warships belonging to the Final Order, Nien Nunb appeared to die when the Tantive IV — the same ship from the opening sequence of 1977's original Star Wars — was struck down by a burst of Force lightning sent upwards by the powerful Sith Lord during his confrontation with Rey (Daisy Ridley).
"Yes he survived," Quinn wrote when reached for comment on Facebook (via Twitter user @DaemoeWolf). "They would have shown the ship exploding. You see the Tantive IV coming into land at the end as they are celebrating."
This claim was refuted by user EckhartsLadder on YouTube, who made repeat viewings of the film but failed to spot either the Tantive IV or Nein Nunb in the celebratory sequence on Ajan Kloss, site of the new Resistance base, following the heroes' victory. In "The Battle of Exegol: 10 Things You Might've Missed (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker)," the user reports Nien Nunb is last shown piloting the ship when it enters free fall, struck by a devastating bolt of lightning fired by Palpatine.
Conversely, in a comment posted by Quinn on Facebook and captured by @501stBobbyLinn on Twitter, Quinn maintained Nien Nunb did "actually finally officially survive" the final battle:
But wait...— THE Bobby Linn (@501stBobbyLinn) January 7, 2020
Mr. Quinn thinks otherwise!!! pic.twitter.com/ry6Abqkjwf
"When someone dies - you see the ship explode right? The Tantive IV didn't explode but is seen landing above the trees when others are celebrating," Quinn wrote. "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."
Quinn first portrayed the character, alongside Richard Bonehill, in 1983's Return of the Jedi as the co-pilot of Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams). Quinn then returned in 2015's The Force Awakens and 2017's The Last Jedi before revisiting the role once more in The Rise of Skywalker.