It’s been more than a decade since Joss Whedon’s beloved Firefly first aired on television, and yet it remains as culturally relevant as ever.
A masterful blend of the science fiction and western genres, Firefly told the story of those struggling to live in the outer regions of space, where life was often full of danger and risk, and the only thing that mattered was earning enough money to keep eating and to keep flying. No grandiose space battles or aliens here — only the timeless tale of the underdog trying to survive, interwoven with a series of mysterious corporations and girls in boxes.
We fell in love with the nine crew members aboard Serenity, from world-weary Captain Mal to dinosaur-loving Wash. We were enamored with the women on the show, who were presented as complex characters with wide-ranging personalities. This rag-tag team of big damn heroes stole our hearts from day one, becoming unforgettable icons of science fiction.
Although woefully cut short by the network overlords, Firefly still has plenty of moments that stay with us even to this day. Here are some of the best:
10. “Train Job” — Bar Fight
A classic staple in the spaghetti western genre is the bar brawl, and sure enough, Firefly includes a great one in its second episode. It’s pure fun watching Mal, Zoe, and Jayne punch and kick their way through a rowdy group of Alliance lovers in a musty tavern. Topping it off is the sweeping shot of Serenity as it rises to the sky while Wash calls out, “Every man go back inside, or we’ll blow a new crater in this little moon.”
9. “The Message” — Funeral Scene
“The Message” was an emotional episode all around, telling the story of how Tracy couldn’t cope with the effects of the war when he returned to civilian life. He comes to a sad end when Mal has no choice but to shoot him. However, what really makes this scene memorable is that it was shot just after Firefly’s cancellation had been announced. The scene becomes a funeral not just for Tracy, but for the series. We say goodbye to each of their characters, as snow gently falls and a beautiful elegiac song plays in the background.
8. “Shindig” — Kaylee At The Ball
I love the scene where Kaylee is chumming around with fellow mechanics at the ball. This was just after some prissy women were insulting her until a friendly gentleman comes to burn them right back. It’s refreshing to see a women be able to own her personal brand of feminism — enjoying pink frilly dresses while talking passionately about engineering.
7. “Ariel” — Mal Threatens Jayne
This is the first time we’ve seen someone on Serenity’s crew betray a fellow crew member. Mal makes a powerful statement when he almost leaves Jayne out to die, and we know for sure now that he’ll do anything to protect his family, even if that means killing one of his own.
6. “Serenity” — Kaylee Eats A Strawberry
Kaylee taking a bite out of a strawberry is one of the most iconic images of the series. The almost sensual way she enjoys the bright red fruit conveys just how precious fresh food is when you’re so far removed from civilization.