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The iconic character you didn't know died in Rise of Skywalker

Contains spoilers for The Rise of Skywalker

J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has been in theaters for a few weeks now, and as the divisive final chapter in the Skywalker saga keeps  racking up the big bucks at box offices worldwide, the blood on Abrams' hands continues to mount. No, we're not talking about the blood of the entire franchise — we're talking about the blood of some of the franchise's most iconic characters.

The list of friends and foes who who met their end in The Rise of Skywalker is surprisingly long as it stands — and thanks to StarWars.com writer Bryan Young, we now know  another character has joined it. The latest confirmed casualty of The Rise of Skywalker carnage is an all-time fan favorite who has featured prominently in the franchise since 1983's Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. The character in question? Everyone's favorite fussy, gill-faced resister Nien Nunb. 

Young took to Twitter to memorialize the noble Nien Nunb in a post that wound up catching the eye of The Rise of Skywalker novelization author Rae Carson, who responded with a simple "RIP Nien" before further confirming the character's death. "Yeah, I think it's pretty clear from the movie (upon careful watching), so I feel comfortable confirming," she tweeted.

Some fans were quick to call Young and Carson's statements into question, arguing that if there was no body shown, then there's no confirmation of death. Others called upon Mike Quinn, the actor and puppeteer who performed Nien Nunb across all four films in which he appears, to confirm that Nien actually survived. However, Young noted that Quinn needs to be let in on the correct info, which is evidently that Nien died in The Rise of Skywalker.

Who is Nien Nunb?

Nien Nunb has been a vital member of the Resistance team since, well, the Resistance team was still calling itself the Rebel Alliance. A former arms dealer and smuggler, the sort-of-fish-faced Nien first appeared in the galaxy far, far away in Return of the Jedi, and was riding co-pilot with Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) when he flew the Millennium Falcon into the belly of the beast and destroyed the second Death Star. 

If you're among those who didn't come to the Star Wars galaxy until the 2015 release of The Force Awakens, then you know Nien for his frequent appearances at the side of General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), as he was one of her most trusted pilots and advisors. He traveled to the Resistance base on D'Qar and helped stop the First Order from destroying it in The Force Awakens, emerging as one of only a few X-wing pilots who survived the battle. In The Last Jedi, Nien piloted a ski-speeder alongside Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), and the gang during the harrowing stand against Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and his First Order forces on Crait. Nien ultimately had to duck out of the ensuing fight when things grew too intense, but following Luke Skywalker's death and Kylo's retreat, he was seen escaping Crait with his fellow Resistance members.

How did Nien Nunb die in The Rise of Skywalker?

Nien Nunb's lofty role within the Resistance is obvious confirmation that, unlike Han Solo (Harrison Ford), who owned the Millennium Falcon when it destroyed the Death Star, he actually continued to fight the good fight even after helping put an end to the Galactic Civil War. So it's no surprise that Nien was on hand for the Resistance's final showdown with the First Order in The Rise of Skywalker and we now know that the legendary Rebel pilot gave his life for the cause of good in that climactic battle, which unfolded in the skies above the Sith planet Exegol. Sadly, his death was essentially glanced over in all the action — a fact that Carson seemed to confirm when she mentioned that she felt comfortable confirming Nien's passing "upon careful watching." Prior to Carson's tweet, however, Young pointed out that Nien was piloting the Tantive IV craft that was "blown to smithereens" in the battle.

While the slightness of Nien Nunb's death is hardly on the same level as the "Leia hugging Rey instead of Chewie after Han's death" blunder that happened in The Force Awakens, it still feels like the character deserved a bit more fanfare in his final moments, especially since he played such a key role the Resistance's victories.