****This article contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker****
It is hardly noticeable, but if you pay close attention to the final battle sequence of The Rise of Skywalker, you will notice the destruction of a ship – and a character – from the original trilogy.
It was spotted by Bryan Young, who tweeted that the Tantive IV was seen being destroyed in the film. This ship was the iconic blockade runner seen at the beginning of A New Hope, and the Resistance had come to recover it. The Rise of Skywalker Visual Dictionary reveals that Nien Nunb, a veteran of the Galactic Civil War, was the one tasked with piloting the beloved ship.
But when the regenerated Palpatine fires lighting into the skies above Exegol, disabling Resistance ships, the Tantive IV is destroyed, taking with it, presumably, Nien Nunb. Rae Carson, who is writing the novelization for TROS, responded to Young’s tweet with what seems to be agreement:
And even though the actor who plays Nunb doesn’t seem to think his character died, saying that the ship makes it back to Ajan Kloss, Young watched the film again and said he didn’t see it:
So here’s what we’ll say: it seems very likely, though not officially confirmed, that Nien Nunb died in the Battle of Exegol aboard the Tantive IV.
It’s an unceremonious end for a longtime hero, but such is the way – and horror – of war. Nunb served as Lando Calrissian’s co-pilot aboard the Millennium Falcon during the Battle of Endor, where they helped lead the assault and destroyed the Death Star. He was one of the first people to join Leia Organa’s Resistance over two decades later, and he fought in the major conflicts of the war against the First Order, including the Battle of Starkiller Base, the Battle of Crait, and the Battle of Exegol.
He gave his life to fighting for freedom in the galaxy, and that is a life well-lived.