14 Fun Facts About Joss Whedon's 'Firefly' Even Diehard Fans Don't Know

Is there a TV show that gets more love from fans than Firefly? Despite a truncated season and an unceremonious cancellation by Fox, Joss Whedon’s sci-fi western refused to give up. Fans pressed the network for a DVD release, and after they got it, the sales convinced the studio to greenlight a feature film. Three years after the show was canceled, Whedon wrote and directed the film Serenity, which gave fans some form of closure (even if it didn’t end the way they wanted it to).

For a show that was on the air for such a brief time, there are a lot of entertaining stories from its cast and crew. The following fun facts about Firefly delve into the early days of production, the final days of shooting on the series, and even some ideas that were thrown around should the series get a second season. Read on to learn all the things you didn't know about the best space western that ever was, and check out our list of other shows like Firefly for more awesome sci-fi TV.


  • A Civil War Novel Inspired The Whole Show

    Inspiration can arrive from the strangest of places, and that includes the catalyst for Firefly. According to Joss Whedon, the idea for the show came to him when he was on vacation in England. He was specifically trying to avoid work when he started reading The Killer Angels, a Civil War novel about the four-day clash at Gettysburg. 

    In a 2002 interview with the Sci-Fi Channel (now Syfy), Whedon explained why the book made him feel so inspired: 

    The minutia of the Battle of Gettysburg and the lives of the people in it really made Firefly just pop out of my head. I want to get into people's lives this intimately. I want to do it in the future and show that the future is the past. So I built the structure of the world and the look of the show on the Reconstruction Era.

  • The Show Could Have Featured Doctor Horrible

    During the casting for the series, Joss Whedon auditioned several actors - and one of them would later go on to star in Whedon's internet musical, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. That's right - the part of Dr. Simon Tam almost went to Neil Patrick Harris, who at that point was still mostly known for his role on Doogie Howser, M.D.

    The role ultimately went to actor Sean Maher who brought much less visual baggage to the show. Still, it would have been pretty cool to see NPH soaring through space. 

  • Mal Was Almost A Different Whedonverse Hunk

    It's hard to disconnect Mal Reynolds from Nathan Fillion, but at one point series creator Joss Whedon thought about casting Nicholas Brendon, who played Xander in Buffy, as the wily space captain. Reddit user /u/clockworklycanthrope related the story after attending a local comic-con in 2014. When a fan asked Brendon what role he would play on Firefly, he answered that the part of Mal was originally written with him in mind - but Fox wanted the show six months earlier than expected. 

    Brendon joked, "So, then, Fillion took out my eye, and became Mal." (For those unacquainted with the Buffyverse, Fillion played the evil priest Caleb, who gleefully removed Xander's left eye in the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.)

  • Alan Tudyk And Gina Torres Snuggled On The Set Of 'Serenity'

    You never know when a cuddle might break out on a film set, especially when it's for a scene between Firefly's resident lovebirds Wash (Alan Tudyk) and Zoë (Gina Torres). During a 2015 Firefly reunion, Tudyk and Torres told the story of how they wound up in bed together for real.

    One day while waiting for the film crew to shoot a love scene between the couple, Tudyk decided to take a nap. As it turned out, Torres had the same idea. "We got into bed, and sort of spooned and snuggled and talked about our day, and chilled out," Torres told Vulture. "It was cold, so we just snuggled up." When the crew said they were ready to shoot the actual scene, Torres jokingly replied, "No, we're good."