13 Crazy Yet Plausible Fan Theories About Firefly
“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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Zoe Was Pregnant: Confirmed!Photo: Firefly/Fox
Most fan theories are more off-the-mark than Jayne’s social commentary, but a select few actually end up coming true. Firefly’s concluding film, Serenity, featured some unspeakable tragedies, including the sudden and shocking demise of everyone’s favorite pilot, Wash.
This incident was sad enough as is, but many fans speculated that, due to some foreshadowy conversations, Wash’s wife, Zoe Washburne, was pregnant. The extended universe of comic books later confirmed that, yup, Zoe is pregnant and a widow at the same time. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel good to be right.
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River Was Becoming TelepathicPhoto: Firefly/Fox
If Shepherd Book isn’t the most mysterious character on Firefly, then River Tam definitely is. She arrives on the Serenity naked and in a crate, and her story only gets crazier from there. We know that River was kidnapped and experimented on by some sort of group within the Alliance, likely due to her latent psychic abilities. River was eventually rescued by her brother, Simon, and the show only gave hints as to the full story from there on out.
River’s powers didn’t get the chance to become fully developed before the show was cruelly cancelled, but Reddit user Ishdakitty believes one scene in particular hinted River was gaining telepathic abilities. The scene appears to show River speaking directly into Kaylee’s head, which isn’t a huge stretch given her already existing psychic abilities.
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Inara Was Dying: Confirmed!Photo: Firefly/Fox
Sometimes, fan theories do come true. The character of Inara Serra always seemed to be carrying a deep and dark secret with her, and it wasn’t just her unspoken affection for Captain Mal. Inara makes plenty of vague, hinting remarks about mortality, and that led to fans speculating she was dying of some sort of terminal illness.
After the show was cancelled and the movie released, Joss Whedon revealed the fans were absolutely correct, and Inara was dying the entire time. The show just never got the chance to follow through on that particular storyline, so happily Inara can live forever in our minds.
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Shepherd Book Was An Alliance Secret Agent Or OperativePhoto: Firefly/Fox
In a show full of mysterious characters, Shepherd Book might be the most enigmatic of all. He presents himself as a humble holy man, but soon demonstrates knowledge and abilities they just don’t teach you in a seminary. The extended universe comic books eventually revealed that Book had a past with the Alliance, as most fans had guessed, but some still say the comics didn’t tell the whole story.
There are fans who believe Book was once an Alliance Operative, just like Chiwetel Ejiofor’s memorable antagonist in Serenity, which means Book likely did some terrible things. Others, like Reddit user ThereisnoTruth, believe Book was not a former Alliance member at all, but a current and undercover secret agent, and perhaps one who was trying to uncover the illegal experiments that had empowered River Tam.
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River Was Awesome By AccidentPhoto: Firefly/Fox
There’s a famous saying, “the camel is a horse designed by committee.” When human beings work together, sometimes great things can happen, but often bureaucracy gets in the way. The Alliance appears to have designed a deadly psychic ninja through their experimentation on River Tam, and most fans believed they were trying to turn her into some sort of warrior.
However, it is possible that River’s abilities are the result of an accident, at least according to Reddit user ThereisnoTruth. River displays a wide range of abilities unlike any of the other individuals produced by the Alliance, but she is unable to control them. This could mean she is the result of several Alliance researchers trying to take her development in several different directions.
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The Chinese Rule The ‘VersePhoto: Firefly/Fox
One of the most peculiar aspects of the Firefly ‘verse is the characters’ proclivity for swearing at each other in Mandarin. Almost every character does it, but none of the people in the main cast are of Asian descent. How can this be explained?
Reddit user brinz1 thinks they’ve solved it with a little speculative history. The majority of the action in Firefly takes place far away from the “core” worlds, which seem to be occupied by the elite of human civilization. It could be this privileged group is descended from modern China, due to some sort of major event in the past, and that’s the reason why their language is influential enough to end up in Captain Mal’s vocabulary.