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13 Crazy Yet Plausible Fan Theories About Firefly

List RulesVote up the Firefly fan theories that seem the most plausible. Vote down the ones that just don't add up.

“Take my love, take my land,
Take me where I cannot stand.
I don't care, I'm still free,
You can't take the sky from me. “

Sorry, it just doesn’t feel right to start off something related to Firefly without including those lyrics, especially when we're talking about Firefly fan theories. Like its theme song, every aspect of the beloved, but short-lived, television show has burrowed its way into the hearts of its fans, and the fandom is still strong more than a decade after Firefly left the air. If it left a hole in your heart, we do have a list of shows like Firefly that might help.

As in any serious fandom, supporters of Firefly have filled the Internet with wild speculation and theorization about the lives of their favorite characters. In fact, Firefly – and its follow-up movie Serenity – lend themselves particularly well to theory-crafting, due to the level of world-building and mystery Joss Whedon puts into his shows.

Whether it's speculation about the personal history of River Tam, or the far-flung past of the war that sent Captain Mal Reynolds on his path to skullduggery, fans of Firefly are bursting with ideas about what’s really going down on board the Serenity. In fact, some of the most intense fan speculation surrounds real-life Firefly conspiracy theories, about how and why the great show was cancelled in the first place. Let's see if we can get to the bottom of these Firefly mysteries. 

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  • 9

    The Reavers Were Created By The Alliance (Sort Of) On Purpose

    Photo: Serenity/Fox

    The big twist in Serenity (spoilers for a movie over a decade old) is that the psychotically violent Reavers were accidentally created by the Alliance through their experiments with the Pax virus. The Pax killed the majority of the planet it was tested on, but a small percentage of the population became savage, mindless killing machines instead. At least, that’s the official story. 

    Reddit user ThereisnoTruth begs to differ, however. In their mind, the Reavers make more sense as the result of a last ditch attempt to stop the widespread death caused by the Pax. The attempted cure might have resulted in the Reavers, which would mean a drug exists that could effectively turn normal people into Reavers. This would explain why the Reaver population hasn’t dwindled completely in their extremely violent 12 years of existence.

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  • 10

    The Crew Of Serenity Were The Bad Guys

    Photo: Firefly/Fox

    We all assume the crew of the Serenity are the good guys, because they’re the protagonists of the show and because Nathan Fillion is staggeringly charming. However, Cracked.com argues we might have been rooting for the bad guys the entire time, and that the Alliance are the real good guys  in the ‘verse.

    Mal and Zoe are the only “Browncoats” we encounter, and they don’t seem to demonstrate much knowledge about the actual history of the war they fought in. The Alliance appears to offer a strong economic system, legal and safe prostitution (as per Inara), and freedom of religion, which isn’t bad as far as evil empires go. Joss Whedon said he based the Firefly universe on the American Civil War, which would make Mal and his rebels the equivalent of the Confederate States of America.

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  • 11

    Firefly And Alien Take Place In The Same ‘Verse

    Photo: Alien/Fox

    Admittedly, the theory that Firefly takes place in the same universe as the Alien franchise (and thus also the Predator franchise) is based on a miniscule amount of evidence. That said, the possibilities are far too tantalizing to ignore.

    Joss Whedon has stated there are no extraterrestrials in the Firefly ‘verse, but Reddit user Gaaaaaary noticed a scene where the HUD of a gun turret contained the logo of Weyland-Yutani, a fictional company that features heavily in the Alien franchise. That’s pretty much it as far as evidence goes, but it's an undeniable connection. Plus, how cool would it be to see Mal taking on a Xenomorph using the power of delightful quips?

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  • 12

    River Is A Reaver

    Photo: Serenity/Fox

    Sometimes, the best explanations are the simplest ones. River Tam could be a Reaver. That’s what Reddit user ZBeebs argues, anyway, noting that River’s super-killing ability would certainly make her fit in on any Reaver ship. The Alliance could have been experimenting with the Pax, attempting to control the Reaver transformation, and the result might have been River.

    It would explain the brain surgeries performed on her, and why she has some control, however limited, over her desire to kill. It would also explain why the Alliance wants to get her back, pronto.

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