An Original Trilogy ‘Star Wars’ Character Died in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ and No One Noticed
A number of characters die in The Rise of Skywalker, and a number of them manage to cheat death, just like their Disney stablemates in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, an original trilogy character did die for real in Episode IX — and it seems to have escaped attention.
Some would argue that’s because the movie is so frenetic. Detractors have argued the rushed production resulted in a choppy finale to the Skywalker saga, with not one but two alternate versions of the movie that are supposedly better.
Who has died in the sequel trilogy?
The sequel trilogy killed off a lot of prominent characters. What follows is not a comprehensive list, but it hits the high points (or low points, depending on how you look at it).
The major death of The Force Awakens was that of Han Solo at the hands of his son, the former Ben Solo turned Kylo Ren. In The Last Jedi, it was Luke’s turn to go, and The Rise of Skywalker saw the departure of Leia, after the untimely passing of Carrie Fisher in 2017. So the three sequel movies killed off one of the principals each.
Some minor characters met their demise, too. Leia almost met her end when the First Order attacked the ailing Rebel fleet, and one of those attacks killed Admiral Ackbar, the alien character best known for saying “It’s a trap” in Return of the Jedi. And it was another minor character from that movie who met his end in Episode IX.
Which character death escaped notice?
Screen Rant reports that Nien Nunb died in The Rise of Skywalker. Although his name sounds like the song that concluded the original version of Return of the Jedi, it’s actually the character who flew the Millennium Falcon with Lando Calrissian during the Death Star attack, while Han and Chewie were working to disable the Death Star’s shield.
Nien Nunb had been an arms dealer and smuggler before joining the Rebellion, and he continued to fight on that side with the resistance facing down the First Order. In the Battle of Exegol that concludes Episode IX, Nunb is flying the Tantive IV, the Rebel ship attacked in the very first scene of A New Hope.
That ship is one of the many destroyed by Palpatine’s Force lightning.
Fans shouldn’t feel bad about missing this for a couple of reasons. First, the death of Nien Nunb was not specifically shown. And because of that, not even the actor who played Nunb was aware his character didn’t make it.
The two alternate versions of The Rise of Skywalker technically do not exist. The first is the alleged “JJ cut,” so named when a leaker on Reddit claimed that Disney/Lucasfilm took Rise of Skywalker out of director JJ Abrams’ hands and hacked down his three-hour cut.
Fans have clamored to “Release the JJ cut,” but that’s probably nothing more than an early assembly, and early assemblies almost always run long.
The other version was the one The Rise of Skywalker’s original director Colin Trevorrow, had written with his partner Derek Connolly before they left the project. That leaked this week, and the AV Club said it was arguably better than what was released, with more coherent plotting and no role for Palpatine, other than a minor appearance.
Whether a longer Abrams cut or Trevorrow’s script would have made The Rise of Skywalker better will never be known. Either way, Nien Nunb’s passing is best recorded in social media tweets and online Star Wars encyclopedias.