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This article is about the TV series, for other meanings see Firefly (disambiguation).

Name: Firefly
Creator: Joss Whedon
Date(s): 2002, 2005
Medium: Television series, Film, Comics
Country of Origin: United States
External Links: IMDB
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Firefly was broadcast in 2002, and although it attracted many pre-existing Joss Whedon fans, only 11 of the 14 episodes were aired during its original run in the United States. Many fans blamed the show's failure on Fox's habit of frequent rescheduling, and scheduling it in very challenging spots. After cancellation, DVD sales were high enough that a movie, Serenity, was able to be made, continuing the story. After the release of the movie, comics were also published.

Firefly is part of the Jossverse. The phrase "I'll be in my bunk" originated in the fandom.


Firefly follows the adventures of the crew of the Firefly-class spaceship Serenity. It was commonly described as a space western. Costume, sets, and speech patterns took their inspiration both from an Old West aesthetic and Chinatown (See Controversy).

The ship is captained by Mal (Malcolm) Reynolds, with Zoë Washburne, his former Lieutenant in the war, as his second mate. She is married to Hoban "Wash" Washburne, the pilot. The ship's engineer is Kaylee Frye, and Jayne Cobb is the hired muscle. As well, the ship carries Inara Serra, "Companion", a sort of courtesan; Shepherd Book, a priest; and brother and sister Simon and River Tam as paying passengers.

Mal had been an officer on the losing side of a war against the Alliance. Partly as a result of that, the ship stays on the margins of civilised space, perpetually short of funds and running at best semi-legitimate jobs. Simon and River Tam are also keen to avoid the Alliance, since Simon stole River from an experiment designed to turn her into a weapon. The experiment has left her mentally unstable.


See also Race and Fandom.


Although Firefly used many elements of Chinese culture, and had characters swearing and speaking in Mandarin, it had, as the vid How Much Is That Geisha In the Window? noted, only one speaking part for Asian actor, who played a prostitute. Another vid, Secret Asian Man (Firefly- Secret Asian Man), focuses on the near-entire absence, except as background, of Asian characters in the show. Chinese and other Asian cultures seem to be fetishized, and the most conspicuously "Asian" practices are displayed by Inara, who is a prostitute.

Confederate Association

Joss wished to tell a story about the losers after a war, inspired by the post-American Civil War reconstruction period. In this analogy, then, Mal and Zoe would have been fighting for the Confederate cause, which, in the show, is generally presented as about seeking independence from over-reaching central authority. This is very similar to how the cause of the Confederates is often presented by those who wish to minimise the influence of slavery in that conflict. At one point, Malcolm says "I do believe we'll rise again,"[1] echoing a phrase often used by [insert polite phrase here].


This article or section needs expansion.


Firefly fans called themselves Browncoats, a nickname for the Independents in the Firefly universe, and were extremely active in advocating for the show, to the extent that they acquired something of a reputation. They would host informal gatherings or "shindigs" across the world. A sample calendar of shindig events was provided in issue #1 of the Firefly e-zine Still Flying


Some popular ships include the non-canon pairings of Simon/River (also known as Crazy Space Incest), Mal/Simon, Mal/River, Mal/Kaylee, Kaylee/Inara, and River/Jayne (also known as Rayne). The canon couples in Firefly (Zoë/Wash, Simon/Kaylee, Mal/Inara) are also popular among fans.

Jayne/Kaylee: "Gears and Guns" at The Shipper's Manifesto

Legal Threats to Fan Creators

In April 2013, it was reported[2] that Fox was sending cease and desist letters to Firefly fans who were using Etsy and other venues to sell self-made versions of character Jayne Cobb's orange knitted hat. Fans had been making copies of the iconic "cunning hat" for many years, but it appears Fox decided to crack down because licensed apparel firm Ripple Junction had acquired an official license to mass-produce and sell the hat. Fans organized an online protest action[3], prompting Ripple Junction to respond that they had been the official licensee of Firefly apparel for years and had not ordered the wave of cease and desist letters.[4]

Example Fanworks

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.










Meta/Further Reading



  1. Firefly episode, The Train Job
  2. Roth, Dan. Fox shuts down anyone selling a Jayne hat (and Firefly fans are furious). Last accessed 18/04/2013.
  3. You Can't Take The Yarn From Me. Last accessed 18/04/2013
  4. Ripple Junction Responds. Last accessed 18/04/2013