Few cancelled shows maintain such fan fervor as Firefly. Cancelled only 11 episodes into the first season, the loyalty and enthusiasm for the ragtag crew of the ship Serenity has yet to wane. We explored the 'verse and found 18 shiny Firefly quotes that capture the essence of the show.
“Jayne, your mouth is talking. You might wanna look to that.” — Mal
The dynamic between Jayne and Mal is complicated. They bicker almost constantly, but their snark is the only way the two can show their mutual respect to each other without admitting weakness.
“Ten percent of nothin’ is … let me do the math here … nothin’ into nothin’ … carry the nothin’ … ” — Jayne
Jayne makes it clear from the beginning that his life with the crew is all about the money. So when there’s a chance he might not get paid for a job, Jayne has to point out exactly how that zero payment impacts him.
“Sweetie, we’re crooks. If everything were right, we’d be in jail.” — Wash
The Serenity crew is under no illusion that they’re nothing but criminals in the eyes of the Alliance. This interaction between Zoe and Wash establishes this role in the very first episode.
“Someone ever tries to kill you, you try to kill ’em right back!” — Mal
Mal’s heart was in the right place when he told his accidental bride what to do when threatened. But Saffron was always more than she seemed. We all know Mal would rather shoot first and ask questions later, but he never expected someone to take his advice and use it against him.
“Yessir, Captain Tight Pants.” — Kaylee
While most of the Serenity crew is a bit jaded, Kaylee stands out for being an exuberant optimist. No matter what is thrown her way, she tackles it with a smile and relentless cheer.
“Next time you want to stab me in the back, have the guts to do it to my face.” — Mal
After Jayne betrays the crew, Mal is understandably upset. It isn’t the lack of honesty that upsets him, but the lack of loyalty. As Mal indicates over and over, the crew always comes first for him.
“I’ve been under fire before. Well … I’ve been in a fire. Actually, I was fired. I can handle myself.” — Wash
Wash is constantly trying to prove he belongs with the ragtag group of mercenaries and is part of the crew. Even if, well, he might not.
“First rule of battle, little one … don’t ever let them know where you are.” — Zoe
This quote appears in a poignant flashback, in which we see the dynamic of the disciplined Zoe versus reckless Mal. Zoe is military trained and knows the value of stealth. But not even war can make Mal follow the rigors of practicality in favor of a splashy gunfight.
“I swear by my pretty floral bonnet, I will end you.” — Mal
It’s hard to be menacing while wearing a floral bonnet, but Mal manages with aplomb. Throughout the series the crew comes face-to-face with plenty of rough characters, but no matter what, Mal finds a way to throw in some light-hearted sarcasm.
“Let’s go be bad guys!” — Jayne
Jayne is a complicated guy. He’s a mercenary, always looking out for himself first and following a might-makes-right philosophy of life. But he also doesn’t consider himself the bad guy, making this declaration all the more ironic and hilarious.
“Also? I can kill you with my brain.” — River
Just because other people are willing to forgive Jayne doesn’t mean River is. In fact, this is the one time big, burly Jayne seems unsettled—and maybe even frightened. Not like we blame him. Knowing someone can kill you with their brain is terrifying.
“I cannot abide useless people.” — Murphy
Nobleman Murphy helps Kaylee stand up for herself and see that her knowledge about machines is worth far more than a pretty dress.
“Crime and politics, little girl: the situation is always… fluid.” — Badger
A businessman of a sort, Badger calls on Mal’s crew more than once to help with various misdeeds. He’s a slippery conman, always playing both sides, which he succinctly sums up with this statement when a job goes sideways.
“The important thing is the spices. A man can live on packaged food from here ’til Judgment Day if he’s got enough rosemary.” — Book
A man trying to make amends for his violent past, Shepherd Book is a beacon of morality aboard Serenity. He’s mostly a mystery, sharing his beliefs via observations, some of which are odd for a clergyman.
“I aim to misbehave.” – Mal
Captain Malcolm Reynolds is many things. Outlaw. Criminal. Fighter. And this declaration sums them all up in one fell swoop. It doesn’t matter the context. No matter what, his goal throughout the series is to always do the opposite of what the Alliance wants.
“Ah, curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!” — Wash’s Stegosaurus
The first time we meet Wash we see him playing with two dinosaur figurines. The scene is the perfect introduction to Wash and his personality, but it’s also the perfect way to hide the ominous foreshadowing of a sudden but inevitable betrayal later in the season.
"I'll kill a man in a fair fight. Or if I think he's gonna start a fair fight." — Jayne
Jayne is the first to admit his proclivity towards violence, but even he has his limits. It might seem like his morals exist in a very blurred line, but there’s always a line. And it’s fun to watch Jayne find his.
“No, but that's the point! You she obeys! She obeys you! There's obeying going on right under my nose!” — Wash
Even though Wash is loyal to his captain, he can’t help but feel jealous of his wife’s relationship with Mal. He eventually gets over it, but Wash wouldn’t be Wash if he didn’t confront the situation with sarcasm first.