Firefly (franchise)

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Created byJoss Whedon
Print publications
Films and television
Film(s)Serenity (2005)
Television seriesFirefly (2002–2003)

Firefly is an American space Western media franchise created by Joss Whedon and produced by Mutant Enemy Productions. The franchise includes the TV series Firefly, the film Serenity, and other media.

Plot synopsis[edit]

The franchise is set in the year 2517, after humanity's arrival in a new star system, and follows the adventures of the renegade crew of Serenity, a "Firefly-class" spaceship. Whedon described the Serenity crew members as "nine people looking into the blackness of space and seeing nine different things".[1]

The franchise explores the lives of people who fought on the losing side of a civil war and now make a living as part of the pioneer culture that exists on the fringes of their star system. In addition, it is set in a future where the only two surviving superpowers, the United States and China, fused to form the central federal government, called the Alliance, resulting in the fusion of the two cultures as well. According to Whedon's vision, "nothing will change in the future: technology will advance, but we will still have the same political, moral, and ethical problems as today."[2]


The franchise stars the crew of the ship Serenity: Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds, second-in-command Zoe Washburne, pilot Hoban "Wash" Washburne, Companion Inara Serra, mercenary Jayne Cobb, mechanic Kaywinnit Lee "Kaylee" Frye, Doctor Simon Tam, prodigy River Tam and preacher Shepherd Book.

Official video media[edit]


Firefly, the first part of the franchise, was a short-lived TV series. One season of 14 episodes was produced. The series was initially broadcast on Fox from September 20, 2002 to August 19, 2003. Fox canceled it after 11 episodes were aired. The remaining 3 episodes were later aired on SciFi (now SyFy). Despite its relatively short lifespan, the series received strong sales when it was released on DVD and has large fan support campaigns.[3][4] It won an Emmy Award in 2003 for "Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series."


The film Serenity was released on September 30, 2005. The film acts as a sequel to Firefly and features much of the same cast and crew. The film was written and directed by Joss Whedon. It was released on DVD, VHS and UMD on December 20, 2005, on HD DVD on April 18, 2006 and Blu-ray on December 30, 2008.

It received generally positive reviews and opened at number two, taking in $10.1 million its first weekend, spending two weeks in the top ten, and totaling a domestic box office gross of $25.5 million and a foreign box office gross of $13.3 million.[5] However, it did not make back its budget until its release on DVD. Serenity won film of the year awards from Film 2005[6] and FilmFocus.[7] It also won IGN Film's Best Sci-Fi, Best Story and Best Trailer awards and was runner up for the Overall Best Movie.[8] It also won the Nebula Award for Best Script for 2005, the 7th annual 'User Tomato Awards' for best Sci-Fi movie of 2005 at Rotten Tomatoes, the 2006 viewers choice Spacey Award for favorite movie, the 2006 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form[9] and the 2006 Prometheus Special Award.

R. Tam Sessions[edit]

The R. Tam Sessions is a series of five short videos released online in promotion of the Serenity film. They were also released on the Serenity Blu-ray.

Set before the events of Firefly, the R. Tam sessions depict excerpts of counseling sessions with the character River Tam while she is held at an Alliance "learning facility" known only as "The Academy." The counselor in these sessions is played by Joss Whedon himself, while Summer Glau appears as River. The videos shed some light on the experiments and torture "The Academy" conducted on River. They "document" her change from a shy prodigy to the mentally unstable character of the television series.

Official print media[edit]


Between 2005 and 2017, Dark Horse Comics released several Serenity comic books. For legal reasons, the comics were called Serenity rather than Firefly. All of the Serenity comics were one-shots or miniseries, as creator Joss Whedon didn't believe the Firefly universe can work in an ongoing format without compromising with quality. The first Serenity comic was Those Left Behind, a three-issue miniseries. It was published July through September 2005, and served as a bridge between the TV series and the Serenity film, the latter of which released later in September 2005. Another three-issue miniseries named Serenity: Better Days was released in 2008, and tells of the Serenity crew becoming rich after a successful job. More comics followed since, most recently the six-issue No Power in the 'Verse series which ended in 2017. All of the Serenity miniseries and one-shots have been collected as hardcover graphic novels.[10]

In July 2018, Boom! Studios announced that they had acquired the comic book and graphic novel publishing license to Firefly with plans to release new monthly comic book series, limited series, original graphic novels and more.[11] As part of the acquisition, Boom! Studios also bought the republication rights to the old Serenity comics. The new monthly comics started releasing in November 2018.

Short stories[edit]

The 2010 book Still Flying[12] includes four short stories by writers of the TV show Firefly.

Title Author
What Holds Us Down Jane Espenson
Fun With Dick and Jayne Ben Edlund
Crystal Brett Matthews
Take The Sky Jose Molina


A novelization of the film Serenity, written by Keith R. A. DeCandido, was published by Pocket Books in 2005. At the time that book was contracted, Pocket Books also contracted to publish two original novels, and solicited proposals from various authors. However, none of these proposals were approved by Joss Whedon, and after a year had elapsed, the contract was canceled.[13]

In February 2018, it was announced that Titan Books would be releasing three new Firefly novels, beginning later that year. The novels will be within the main canon of the Firefly universe, and Joss Whedon is attached as executive editor on all three. The novels are named Big Damn Hero (authored by Nancy Holder, releasing in October 2018), The Magnificent Nine (authored by James Lovegrove, releasing in March 2019) Generations (authored by Tim Lebbon, releasing in October 2019), and The Ghost Machine (authored by James Lovegrove, releasing in March 2020) .[14]

Title Cover Author Audio book narrators Publication Summary
Firefly - Big Damn Hero Nancy Holder, James Lovegrove November 2018 The crew's latest job becomes complicated when Mal is captured by a group of former Browncoats who believe him to have betrayed the cause during the War.
Firefly - The Magnificent Nine James Lovegrove March 2019 Jayne receives a call for help from a former lover, but the visit is complicated by the presence of a child that all evidence suggests is Jayne's.
Firefly - Generations Tim Lebbon October 2020[15] Mal wins an old map that River translates as revealing the apparent location of one of the generation ships that evacuated humanity from Earth centuries ago.
Firefly - The Ghost Machine James Lovegrove March 2020 Mal and the crew take receipt of a sealed crate which they are being paid to transport to Badger, no questions asked.

Reference Books[edit]

In addition to their line of novels, Titan Books has published two Firefly reference books: Firefly: The Gorramn Shiniest Language Guide and Dictionary in the 'Verse (2016) and the Firefly Encyclopedia (2018), both authored by Monica Valentinelli.[16] [17]

Other official media[edit]


The soundtrack to Firefly was mostly composed by Greg Edmonson. The theme song of the series, "The Ballad of Serenity," was written by Joss Whedon and performed by Sonny Rhodes. The soundtrack to the series was released on CD on November 8, 2005 by Varèse Sarabande, although a 40-minute soundtrack was released by Fox Music in September 2005 as a digital EP.[18] The soundtrack to the Serenity film was composed by David Newman and released on September 27, 2005.

Role-playing game[edit]

The Serenity role-playing game was produced by Margaret Weis Productions, Ltd and released in 2005. Its mechanics are the first iteration of the Cortex System. In 2013 Margaret Weis Productions announced they had the rights to produce a Firefly role playing game and would be producing it using a slightly different system.[19]


On October 4, 2007, Alan Tudyk said that sales of the then newly released Serenity: Special Edition DVD had led to "talk [of] doing another movie".[20] Joss Whedon has since discounted that statement as being "wishful thinking" and added "I want to do more, but nobody's talking about doing more right now."[21]

Video game[edit]

On December 8, 2006, The Multiverse Network announced that it had obtained the rights from Twentieth Century Fox to develop a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) based on the series.[22] As of 2008, little progress had been made. On 3 September 2008, as part of a press release announcing the development of an MMO based on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series, Multiverse stated that work on the Firefly MMO had been delayed as there were "some issues that need to be worked through",[23][24] although some gaming news sites have expressed doubts, based on the lack of progress with the Firefly MMO, about whether or not it will be completed or released.[25][26]

On January 2, 2012 website Ten Ton Hammer uncovered documentation that Multiverse, the team behind both the Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Firefly MMO projects, had ceased operation on both games as of December 7, 2011 due to lack of funding. However, on January 5, 2012 former members of the Multiverse team announced that they had acquired the source code and were still working to develop a finished product.[27]

Firefly Online[edit]

On July 18, 2013 it was announced at Comic-Con that a mobile game titled "Firefly Online" would be released in Q3 2014 for Android and iOS.[28] This game will not directly continue the franchise's plot but players may be able to meet the series' characters in it.[29]

On July 28, 2014 it was confirmed that the leads of the series had signed on to voice their characters in the game and the release would be in Q2 2015.[30]


  1. ^ Brioux, Bill. "Firefly series ready for liftoff". Retrieved 2006-12-10.
  2. ^ Whedon, Serenity: Relighting the Firefly, DVD extra
  3. ^ Whedon: "This movie should not exist," he continues. "Failed TV shows don't get made into major motion pictures—unless the creator, the cast, and the fans believe beyond reason. ... It is, in an unprecedented sense, your movie."Russell, M.E. (June 24, 2006). "The Browncoats Rise Again". The Daily Standard. Retrieved 2006-07-16.
  4. ^ Chonin, Neva (2005-06-08). "When Fox canceled 'Firefly,' it ignited an Internet fan base whose burning desire for more led to 'Serenity'". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2006-11-09.
  5. ^ "Serenity (2005) - Daily Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2006-08-27.
  6. ^ "Films Of The Year". BBC. Archived from the original on 2006-07-09. Retrieved 2006-08-27.
  7. ^ "Serenity". FilmFocus. Archived from the original on 2006-04-22. Retrieved 2006-08-27.
  8. ^ "The Best of 2005". IGN Film. Retrieved 2006-08-27.
  9. ^ "Hugo and Campbell Awards Winners". Locus Online. 2006-08-26. Retrieved 2006-08-27.
  10. ^ Dark solicitation information
  11. ^ "BOOM! Studios Introduces Joss Whedon's Firefly Comics". Archived from the original on 2018-10-08. Retrieved 2018-10-06.
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ "Interview with Keith R.A. DeCandido". 2009-04-16. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Titan Books (November 14, 2018). "Stellar new Firefly titles from Titan Books!". Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  17. ^ Bryant, L.B. (March 30, 2016). "Review: 'Firefly: The Gorramn Shiniest Language Guide and Dictionary in the 'Verse' HC". ICv2. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  18. ^ Jarry, Jonathan (2005-10-01). "SoundtrackNet: Firefly Soundtrack". SoundtrackNet. Retrieved 2008-02-22.
  19. ^ Press release on ICv2
  20. ^ "Serenity 2 A New Hope?". 2007-10-04. Archived from the original on 2007-10-07. Retrieved 2007-10-04.
  21. ^ "What's in Your DVD Player, Joss Whedon?". 2007-11-04. Archived from the original on October 31, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
  22. ^ "Multiverse and Fox Licensing & Merchandising to build online game based on popular Firefly television series". The Multiverse Network. December 8, 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-07.
  23. ^ Bridges, Corey (September 4, 2008). "Massively interview: Multiverse explains the Buffy MMO, Firefly's delay" (Interview). Interviewed by Michael Zenke. Retrieved 2008-10-07.
  24. ^ "Twentieth Century Fox Licensing & Merchandising and Multiverse announce "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" virtual world". The Multiverse Network. September 3, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-07.
  25. ^ "Firefly MMO delayed". Firefly MMO News. September 4, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-07.
  26. ^ McElroy, Justin (September 3, 2008). "Multiverse to reveal (and probably never release) Buffy MMO". Joystiq. Retrieved 2008-10-07.
  27. ^ "Firefly MMO gets a possible second shot at the stars". Joystiq. Archived from the original on 2012-11-08. Retrieved 2012-11-03.
  28. ^ Moriarty, Colin (18 July 2013). "Firefly-Inspired Video Game Announced". IGN. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  29. ^ Hillier, Brenna (19 March 2014). "Firefly Online: find a crew, find a job, keep flying". VG247. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  30. ^ Harvey, Rob (28 July 2014). "Cast of Firefly reunites for Firefly: Online game". PCWorld. Retrieved 25 March 2014.

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