Who Is Nien Nunb? 'Star Wars' Rebel Hero Killed in 'Rise of Skywalker' Was Close Ally of Leia Organa

Nien Nunb, former smuggler and pilot for both the Rebel Alliance and Resistance, died in the final battle against Sheev Palpatine's Final Order in Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker.

Nunb was piloting a famous Star Wars ship during the Battle of Exegol, one of hundreds of spacecraft that joined the final fight above the Sith planet in the Unknown Regions of the Star Wars galaxy. During that battle, Darth Sidious—the incarnation of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), previously believed dead after the destruction of the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi—launched a devastating barrage of Dark Side Force lightning from the planet of the surface. The attack brought down dozens of ships, including the very first ship to ever appear in a Star Wars movie: Leia Organa's (Carrie Fisher) consular corvette, the Tantive IV, piloted by Nunb.

Nunb's death was first reported by Bryan Young, host of podcast Full of Sith and all-around Star Wars fan, who cited both a close watch of the Battle of Exegol in the movie and additional confirming sources, including writer Rae Carson, author of the upcoming novelization of The Rise of Skywalker.

While Nunb's final fate seems definitive, Newsweek has reached out to Lucasfilm for confirmation but did not hear back in time for publication.

Numerous outlets are today reporting Nunb's death, what about his life? Who was this Rebel Alliance hero, who, for the most part, avoided the spotlight?

Who Is Fallen Rebel Alliance Hero Nien Nunb?

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A Sullustan smuggler, Nien Nunb and Lando Calrissian pilot the Millennium Falcon during the battle to destroy the second Death Star. MOVIESTILLSDB

Viewers were first introduced to Nien Nunb in Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, where he was assigned to co-pilot the Millennium Falcon alongside Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), while Han Solo (Harrison Ford) infiltrated Endor's forest moon to take down the shielding around the Emperor's new Death Star. As co-pilot of the Falcon, Nunb was essential to the ultimate defeat of the Galactic Empire.

Nunb speaks in a language incomprehensible to viewers, but explicable to other Star Wars characters, similar to droids like BB-8. Created from a combination of puppetry and acting, Nien Nunb is primarily portrayed by puppeteer Mike Quinn, though other actors have made contributions to the character over the years, including repeat Star Wars extra and stunt man Richard Bonehill, and voice actor Kipsang Rotich.

While mostly a goofy secondary character in Return of the Jedi, even Nunb's name was an afterthought, taken from his "Number Nine" position on a shipping list of puppets during production (another character of Nunb's species goes by "Ten Numb"). His high-profile piloting position and cheerful laugh secured enough of a legacy for the alien that subsequent Star Wars stories have dived deeply into his background.

In addition to appearances in The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi and his final flight in The Rise of Skywalker, Nunb has also popped up in the 2015 Marvel comic series Star Wars: Princess Leia and in the video game Star Wars Battlefront.

Nien Nunb is a Sullustan, hailing from the planet Sullust, most famous in the Star Wars galaxy as the home of the SoroSuub Corporation, which employs half of the planet's population and produces landspeeders, spaceships, droids and numerous other items seen throughout the Star Wars movies..

But Nunb was disgruntled by the Corporation's collaboration with the Empire and stole the freighter he piloted, becoming a smuggler and arms dealer who soon allied with other galactic rogues, including a young Calrissian. While Nunb's sympathies and black market dealings often brought him in contact with the rebellion against the Empire, it wasn't until after the events of the original Star Wars that Nunb became a key member of the growing Alliance.

Marvel's five-issue Star Wars: Princess Leia—written by Mark Waid, with art by Terry Dodson—follows Princess Leia Organa after the destruction of Alderaan and the Rebel's subsequent victory against the Death Star at the Battle of Yavin. She sets out to reunite the surviving Alderaanians scattered across the galaxy. Her mission took her to Sullust, where Nunb helped her smuggle a hidden enclave of Alderaanians off the planet.

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Nien Nunb was a key ally to Leia in Marvel's 'Star Wars: Princess Leia' series. Lucasfilm / Marvel

Nien Nunb and Leia Organa's paths soon crossed again when Nunb rescued her from Imperial forces on the desert planet Skaradosh. Similar to Han Solo's conversion from smuggler to hero, Nunb now became a permanent member of the Rebel Alliance, returning to his home planet of Sullust to disrupt Imperial industries and foment a planet-wide uprising.

In the Star Wars junior novel Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure, by Cecil Castellucci and Jason Fry, Nunb and Leia teamed up once more, this time accompanying the Rebel leader to tactical summits with Luke Skywalker's Rogue Squadron between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

Years after their victory at the Battle of Endor, Nunb reunited with Senator Organa after she was outed as Darth Vader's daughter—a revelation meant to politically marginalize her in the New Republic government. Fearful of the rising power of the First Order, Senator Organa formed the Resistance, with Nunb as one of its founding members.

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Nien Nunb in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens.' Lucasfilm

Nunb piloted an X-wing starfighter throughout the war against the First Order, until his death in The Rise of Skywalker. An indefatigable warrior and one of Leia's greatest allies, it is perhaps appropriate that Nunb went down in the ship that carried the original Death Star plans, empowering a rebellion that would change the Star Wars galaxy forever.