Looking Back at Firefly

cast of firefly

“Cast Of Firefly”

Oh, Fox! Why did you have to cancel Firefly? The show has since its cancellation close to ten years ago, established a cult following. The show is still beloved by millions of fans who wonder why it was cancelled in the first place.

As a fan, I loved it because:

It had great themes.

The impact of old Western themes to the futuristic setting gave the show something we TV viewers have never seen before.

It had great writing.

Science fiction characters are not really expected to solicit a great deal of sympathy from their viewers. In this show, the characters and situations were fleshed out beautifully. They appeared as real people in believable scenarios. They were folks with emotions in circumstances relatable to the present.

The treatment was great.

For a futuristic show, it didn’t take itself too seriously.  With the dramatic scenes came some light comedic scenes.  This combination was just right to give the show a distinctively fresh character.

So, why was it cancelled? I can only think of these reasons:


I can not understand why the people at Fox cancelled the series because of poor ratings. I mean, seriously? The show was averaging 3 million viewers, and at the time it was cancelled, reached 4.48 million viewers. For a new series, that seems to be quite good, right? Well, apparently, at that time, it just wasn’t good enough for Fox executives. They decided not order a new season, leading to the cancellation of the show after only one season. That’s just hogwash. They could not have possibly expected 8 million viewers for a western space fantasy show in its first season, could they? What a terrible excuse. At the end of the season, the show proved that it had a fan base. The show would probably get better numbers for the next season, had Fox showed confidence with it. Alas, the network did not have the confidence to renew it.


Then, there’s the issue of the cost. Fox executives said the reasonably increasing viewership of the show could not bring in more advertisers. This meant the show was costing the network too much. Well, it was an ambitious project with a futuristic storyline that certainly costs a lot to produce. But then, had Fox presented more confidence with the show, advertisers may have also seen the logic of investing in the show. This in turn should have made production costs less unreasonable. But then, the network obviously felt they had to have their return on investment ASAP, leaving fan viewers high and dry.

A Show Ahead of Its Time

Perhaps, the concept of the show was way ahead of its time. It wasn’t more than  two or three years later when more futuristic science fiction dramas (e.g., Battlestar Gallactica and Jericho, to name a few) became more accepted. Added to the not so supportive network in which it was shown, we probably could not expect the audience to be receptive of it at first.

Time Slot

Another indicator that Fox did not really have the show’s best interest in mind was when it aired it on a Friday evening, the time slot of death. I mean, who would watch a TV show at that time? Everybody is out, partying, having fun! Any show, no matter how good it is, cannot possibly rate well when shown on a Friday evening, much less a show about the future in its first season. Even in that timeslot, the show still produced good numbers. So, considering the ratings and the timeslot, why did it still get cancelled? Let’s go back to the first point.

Earlier this year, some comments on Twitter made by the show’s star, Nathan Fillion, raised hopes among the show’s cult following for a revival of the show.  He said he would do the show in a heartbeat again should he get the chance.

This can definitely be done. Look at Cougartown and Damages. A great show can definitely get a network to run it. For Firefly, The Science Channel (where reruns are being shown) and Syfy are great options. We die-hard fans can only hope.


  1. Calvin says:

    I agcancelledree. The show was great. Should never have been cancelled.

    • Calvin says:

      * I agree…

    • Richard Pareles says:

      The show was cancelled because it had an anti-militarist, anti-authoritarian theme when Fox was supporting the American war effort. By Fox standards it had a bad attitude.

      • Trae says:

        It wasn’t anti-militarist, though it was sort of anti-authority. It WAS about fighting for what you believed, ignoring “big brother” and doing what you had to to survive. (BTW, there was no war effort yet in 02)

        • Nanu says:

          The US has had an active military since it’s inception! We have ALWAYS had troops deployed somewhere in the world, even during times of “peace”. In this case Bush had been pushing for war since 2002, calling Iraq the “axis of evil” having “weapons of mass destruction” to anyone willing to listen. Them’s fighting words, don’tcha think?

          Congress authorized the attack in Oct 2002 and we formally went to war in March 2003.

      • Vic says:

        You are quite right. Each show that I have really loved got cancelled when the message was too anti authoritarian. Dark Angel (ok, scoff, but same thing happened when they started flying the freak flag) and Life, whose main character has returned in Homeland. Both got cancelled when they got too close for comfort to sensitive issues. I don’t think it was the same channel but I’m not sure, I haven’t looked it up.

      • dts3204 says:

        What freaked the Exec’s a FOX was they didn’t realize tha it what good Science Fiction does, challenge authority. It always asks the question what if, and goes from there. That was why Firefly was good science fiction, what if you have a group of people who just want to be left alone from Big Brother and have the where withal to survive? Pick up good Science Fiction and find out what it thinks of Big Brother.

  2. AProphet says:

    I love this show. have the DVD collection and the movie. i watch for the actors in their further works. In all honesty, I feel that Fox spike the tire on Firefly intentionally. If you look at the DVD collection, and see the air dates for the episodes, you see they were aired in a really strange order. It would really mess the continuity of the show, and leave viewers disconnected. The fan base it developed anyway, just went to show what a great show it was.

    • Sophie says:

      The network wanted The Train Job first because of the action. They did not care about character development. They just wanted to grab people and then let us know about them. Kinda backwards.

  3. Sophie says:

    I watched it every week it was on originally. I bought the box set when it came out. I loved each character with a passion. Networks think we are stupid and feed us what they think we need, not what we want.

  4. Reyne says:

    The other problem with the time it aired was that, halfway through the season, over of the then Sci-Fi channel, Farscape was returning for it’s next season. As much as I loved Firefly, I loved Farscape more, and so, in the age before digital tuners, I had to pick one over the other. Unfortunately, Firefly lost.

  5. john says:

    totally agree…. missed a small point… US govt official had a say in putting a stop to it as well… Blue coat/brown coat issue (= North v South civil war)… We can only hope n pray they bring the show back. Considering the box set is one of the worlds best sellers.

  6. L R says:

    I loved this show, it’s entertainment, who cares if it’s views don’t fall in line with the network. Apparently only FOX.
    Bring back Firefly.
    If I ever win the lottery my first purchase if the rights!! :)

    • Ray says:

      Only problem is that SyFy tried to buy the rights from Fox. Fox knew they screwed up and refused to sell them. Otherwise would would have had more seasons of the show.

  7. pentenama says:

    I keep hoping it will come back. I have introduced others to it who want more. Back in time though to keep the pilot for sure. So many plots to still build on. Maybe even Jayne losing his fear of Summer since they are both awesome with weapons. Way so many possibilities. Please bring it back

  8. Stefanie says:

    Bring it Back!!!!

  9. Claude says:

    I don’t buy the theory that the government had anything to do with Firefly’s cancellation. Would they not have also blocked DVD/BluRay sales. And what about that big screen treatment?
    No. Firefly was the victim of the ‘suits upstairs’ who just didn’t get it. Fox was desperate for ratings and they were licking their lips at a Joss Whedon series. When it didn’t turn out to be “Mal, The Vampire Slayer’ or some such known quantity, they ran away from it like scalded beagles.
    I DID have a bit of a conspiracy theory of my own. Fox was upset that Buffy and Angel were doing so well, that they wanted to drag Whedon’s concentration away from two highly rated shows on two OTHER upstart networks (UPN and WB-CW), so they offered him a shot at a new series that would stretch him so thin that the other shows would suffer.
    When they saw that their ploy wasn’t worth the cost, they cut the cord.
    Again, just a theory. Like all such theories, probably not an ounce of fact in it.
    If networks cared as much about fans as they do about selling condoms and sodas, Firefly would have lasted at least five years.

  10. John Abreau says:

    Another possibility is that they didn’t like the kind of fans the show was getting: intelligent fans who are less susceptible to advertising than the unwashed masses.

    This hypothesis would certainly explain why it seems like all the quality shows get cancelled.

  11. allison says:

    Fox’s advertisers missed out on a relevant point: Firefly captivated a viewer base that was/is largely uninterested in predictable, more-of-the-same plotlines like so many of the sitcoms airing at the same time Firefly came out. Smart, discriminating, sci-fi lovers won’t sit still for shows aimed at the lowest common denominatorTV viewer, but we willingly gave up Friday nights out for a show like this. Advertisers should have realized this as a golden (and irreplaceable) opportunity to pitch their products to this hard-to-reach audience segment. Opportunity … lost, because those viewers are now avoiding broadcast again. Until something of the caliber of Whedon’s best-ever show comes back. Preferably Firefly itself … how I’d cheer for a revival!

  12. NHFLGuy1983 says:

    The first mistake was letting FOX have it in the beginning, they don’t know a good show when they see it. Even tho now they are making up for it with great hits like Bones and House. But they really like dumb animation shows. The Simpsons rock tho…only one I accept. Anyways, FOX gets too scared when a sci fi does good on their network. Firefly show have been on the SCFI Channel or USA, it would have lasted longer.

    • Kolan says:

      If they Syfy channel had aired it it would have run for two or three seasons and then cancelled without notice leaving the viewers hanging – i.e Farscape and other similiar shows they have aired.

  13. ruxy says:

    Someone who is computer savy please start a fb petition or something to bring back Firefly.
    Best show ever.

  14. Lisa says:

    Whedon was recently interviewed (shortly after The Avengers). They asked him about Firefly. I was somewhat disappointed with his response/attitude. He said that they had not called in 10 years so not to expect it. What I didn’t expect was his lack of sincerity. He seemed to have moved beyond the whole series and didn’t care if it had another chance. As much as I would love to see it back, I’d rather not have it at all if he can’t care less.

    • holly says:

      I doubt its that he doesn’t care, he is probably tired of that question. Wouldn’t you be after ten years, a movie, and comic book serise that wraps up all the loose ends? I’d say he has gona above and beyond what most writers would do for a canelled show because he loved it so much.

  15. Phil says:

    Every show I like gets cancelled. ‘Space: Above and Beyond’, ‘The Flash’, ‘Firefly’-If i like it it gets cancelled quickly. Guaranteed. I’d LOVE a date with Morena Baccarin!

  16. Sinsky says:

    Let fox be losers they are, joss wheddon is racking it in with the avengers and everything related to it. Go joss we’re with you even if fox dummies can’t see a good thing when it’s staring them in the face.

  17. Bryan says:

    Firefly was a great show and was most definitely ahead of its time. And even though it might be fun, I’m probably in the minority here that thinks it shouldn’t come back.

    If I’m able to post a link, and no one minds, I explain why here: http://yntsites.com/bryan/?p=116

  18. Kolan says:

    And don’t forget they aired the episodes out of order too!!!

  19. Joss Whedon said something like, “They expected it to be as popular as Buffy, but Buffy wasn’t as popular as Buffy when it came out.”

  20. Joe says:

    The show was great because of Josh Whedon. Without him there is no Firefly. Serenity was Josh putting a stake through Firefly’s heart. I loved it but it’s over. Josh has moved on. So should we.

    • Nanu says:


      Loved the show. Still do. Watch it all the time. Have the dialogue memorized. But the show wouldn’t be the same without Wash….

  21. Well, hope it’s all what we have… i expect that someone (on a network) realize that a series that had a great acceptation on dvd sales and has a lot of fans making comments like us that wish more… do at least serenity 2… or in a bad situation a remake (that’s what they are doing on movies so why noy)… i don’t really want this last thing of course but… there are options always… doesn’t matter the reason about FOX… this network didn’t also believe on Starwars at the begining, so as i said HOPE… i really watch the entire DVD’s again and again and i wish to see more

  22. Chris says:

    I am hoping you are referring to the new Battlestar Galactica, which had nothing to do but name with the old Battlestar Galactica which was out in the 70′s. Firefly was an awesome show. I hope they revive it, but it has to be done well. I’d be pissed if they just took the name and made something loosely on it. I do agree that Serenity put an end to the show though because they killed off some of the key characters. I’m not certain I can deal with a grieving pilot or a replacement. And who could possibly play the priest?

  23. AMV says:

    I stopped watching Fox except for football years ago. They went from innovative and daring to the dreck that plagues all of network t.v. They screwed the proverbial pooch with Firefly.

    As for the broadcast time on Friday being a problem, I give you 2 words –> X-Files. It was broadcast at 9 pm for nearly every year it was on.

  24. Paul says:

    I wish SYFY (still don’t like the name change there) or another cable channel would’ve picked it up. Fox has a habit of killing good shows. They dropped Family Guy, only to buy them back when Cartoon Network picked it up and was making a killing on it. If I’m not mistaken they dropped Futurama and Comedy Central picked it up and is doing well with it. I know they’re both animated shows so the comparrison isn’t exactly apples to apples, but it still illustrates a lack of good decision making on the part of Fox management.

  25. Firefly was averaging nearly 5 million viewers by the time the eleventh episode was aired, and they still chose not to air the remaining episodes that had already been produced.

    If that wasn’t good enough, no power in the ‘verse could have saved that show on the network. Solution? If Josh Wedon can manage to wrestle the rights back, he should sign up with Zombie Orpheus Entertainment so that the fans can fund the show’s continuation and he can release it in the order intended.


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