It was widely reported that Nien Nunb died during the events in The Rise of Skywalker. But now it appears that Nien Nunb may have actually survived the battle of Exegol after all. The Rise of Skywalker novelist Rae Carson revealed earlier this week that the fan-favorite character died and people were bummed out. They weren't exactly as sad as when Admiral Ackbar died, but that was to be expected. Long-time Nien Nunb puppeteer Mike Quinn is now claiming that his character did indeed survive the battle with the Final Order and says there's evidence to suggest this in The Rise of Skywalker.
J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio had a pretty big story to tell when crafting The Rise of Skywalker. With only limited time to tell the whole story, a lot of the plot wasn't explicitly explained on the big screen, which is what a lot of people have been criticizing the movie over. This does factor in for Nien Nunb, though he was more than likely only brought on for a small cameo. After author Rae Carson announced the character's death on social media, puppeteer Mike Quinn spoke up. He had this to say.
"Yes he survived! They would have shown the ship exploding. You see the Tantive IV coming into land as they are celebrating at the end."
We do see the Tantive IV take off to go into battle at Exegol and yes, it does return at the end of the movie. So does this mean that Mike Quinn is right? Technically, it could be a different version of the ship since we saw the Resistance joined by what seemed like an endless supply of firepower when Lando Calrissian rallied the troops. It could really be anything, though Quinn could be on to something.
The new Star Wars 9 book novelization takes the movie and goes a lot further than J.J. Abrams was able to do on the big screen. Rae Carson, in theory, should know a lot more about the behind-the-scenes nuts and bolts, including the death of Nien Nunb. We don't see him explode during the battle, much like we don't see how Emperor Palpatine was brought back by the Sith Eternal, it all has to be explained elsewhere. Snap Wexley goes down in a blaze of glory on a Final Order ship, so we know he for sure didn't make it.
This could be a misunderstanding, but it would seem that Rae Carson would know better than Mike Quinn about Nien Nunb's fate. For now, it will just have to be another confusing thing for Star Wars fans to discuss until the novelization comes out and makes it official Star Wars canon. Nunb could be a ghost pilot for The Resistance, or he could be alive and well, hanging with Rey and the gang while continuing his day to day work doing whatever it is that he does when not being an ace pilot. Daemo Wolf's Twitter was the first to show off a screen shot of Mike Quinn's announcement.