The following contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker**.**
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was the end of a nine movie saga that saw the loss of a number of beloved characters. We knew going in that we were going to be saying goodbye to some, but now it appears that we may not have had to say goodbye quite as often as we thought, as one character that was reported dead might have actually survived.
Earlier this week it was reported that Nien Nunb, Lando Calrissian's co-pilot from Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi, who was involved in the battle on Exegol, did not make it back from the attack on the Emperor's fleet. However, Mike Quinn, the puppeteer responsible for bringing the character to life, is apparently saying that Nien Nunb actually survived.
The Tantive IV, is the large cruiser that we see leave the rebellion base, before the big battle, the same type of ship, if not the same ship, that Princess Leia is on at the beginning of the original Star Wars: A New Hope. The ship does survive and so if Nien Nunb was on board it, it would seem that he survived.
But the author of the novelization, who would need to know the facts in order to write the book, is under the impression that the character died in the battle, and while the movie itself isn't perfectly clear, there is certainly evidence that he may have died, so what's the truth?
Obviously, as with all things Star Wars, fans are frustrated. While Nien Nunb wasn't exactly the most popular character in the franchise, basically anybody associated with the original trilogy seems to be, by default, well loved, and so many were upset by the news that the character had apparently died.
Star Wars: the Rise of Skywalker wasn't particularly clear with some of the plot points involving major characters, so it's not surprising if things were a bit confused regarding some of the smaller ones. Seeing Nien Nunb was likely designed to be little more than a cameo. Showing the character off was the point, his fate was almost certainly less important.
If the forthcoming novelization of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker states that Nien Nunb died, then that's likely as close to a canon explanation of the truth as we're going to get. Still, if fans of the character want to simply believe he survived, they can probably do that as well.
So it seems here we have a case of Schrodinger's pilot. Nien Nunb is somehow existing simultaneously in states of both life and death. Is Nien Nunb really alive or did he perish saving the galaxy at the battle of Exegol? Perhaps we'll never really know for sure.