This article is about minor characters in the television series Firefly. These are defined as any character who is not a part of the crew of the fictional ship Serenity including any who appear in the R. Tam sessions, the television show itself, the comic book series Serenity: Those Left Behind, or the film Serenity.
One of the crew's contacts on the moon-planet Persephone, Badger, portrayed by Mark Sheppard, first appears in the pilot episode of the series, "Serenity". Badger, an "honest businessman" refuses to pay for cargo that he has commissioned the crew to retrieve after finding out it had the stamp of the Alliance forces. At the time, Badger threatened to provide information to the Alliance about Malcolm Reynolds and his salvage operation. Although Badger can't be trusted, he apparently is consistent enough that Reynolds is willing to do business with him. Badger is clearly a criminal, but views himself as a business man and "better than" Mal and other smugglers who don't have a base of operations.
Badger reappears in the episode "Shindig", and hires the crew again to collect some cargo (in truth a herd of cattle) from a "fancy reception" where he is unwelcome. In the comic book series Serenity: Those Left Behind, Badger sets events in motion by providing Reynolds with his initial contract. Badger speaks with a cockney accent, identified and imitated by River Tam. Joss Whedon mentions in the commentary on "Serenity" that he originally wrote the character with the intention of playing the role himself.
Bester was Serenity's original engine mechanic, portrayed by Dax Griffin. At some point before the events of Firefly (as shown in a flashback in "Out of Gas"), Malcolm Reynolds caught him having sex with a local girl, soon identified as Kaylee Frye, in the engine room. Mal demands to know what's taking Bester so long to fix the engine, and Kaylee then demonstrates that she has more knowledge of ship engine workings than Bester, whom Mal fires in favor of Kaylee.
Sheriff Bourne is the sheriff of Paradiso, a mining town on Regina featured in "The Train Job". When Mal, Zoe, and Jayne rob the train between Hancock and Paradiso, Sheriff Bourne questions Mal and Zoe, who are pretending to be newlyweds, coming to Paradiso to find work in the mines. Bourne realizes there is something questionable about their story, but when Inara arrives claiming Mal as her escaped indentured servant, he thinks that is the problem. Later, as Mal was preparing to return the stolen medicine to Paradiso, Bourne and a posse tracked him down. However, he accepts that Mal has done the right thing by bringing the medicine back, and lets the crew go free. Sheriff Bourne is played by Gregg Henry.
Rance Burgess, played by Fredric Lehne in "Heart of Gold", is a rancher who runs afoul of the crew of Serenity when he decides to wage war against a brothel run by Nandi, a former Companion and friend of Inara Serra. According to Nandi, Burgess was the richest man on the planet, and kept everyone else poor so he could play at being a nobleman. Malcolm Reynolds and his crew help lay out the defense of the brothel when Burgess and his cronies attack to try to take the son he begat on one of the whores, Petaline. Eventually he loses the battle and is killed by Petaline herself.
Dr. Caron, played by Sarah Paulson in the film Serenity, was a member of the rescue team that investigated the strange happenings on Miranda. Her recording of the event, noting the Alliance's inadvertent creation of what would become the Reavers, is pivotal in the film's climax.
Lawrence Dobson, played by Carlos Jacott, is an undercover Alliance agent in pursuit of Simon and River Tam. When he suspects to have found Simon on the planet Persephone, he joins him and the Shepherd Derrial Book as a passenger on board Serenity.
Soon after leaving the planet he attempts to contact the Alliance to report his discovery. When the crew discovers the transmission, they find Dobson in the cargo bay with his gun aimed at Simon. After a moment of panic, he shoots Kaylee and is knocked out by Book. He is locked up for a while, and when interrogated by Jayne, he attempts to bribe him for his freedom.
By the time the ship arrives at the moon Whitefall, Dobson escapes his quarters, beats up Shepherd Book and attempts again, unsuccessfully, to contact the Alliance. He reveals a more sadistic side of himself as he beats Book unnecessarily in a fit of anger. Up to this point Book had been protecting him from harm, mainly by Jayne. He then finds River and tries to leave the ship while holding her at gunpoint. Malcolm Reynolds, returning from his mission, sizes up the situation and without hesitation shoots Dobson in the head. Mal and Jayne then toss him from the ship, leaving him for dead.
Lawrence Dobson returns in the three-issue comic book miniseries Serenity: Those Left Behind, which takes place between the TV series and the film. Still alive, Dobson sports an ocular implant where Mal had shot him in the eye. Obsessed with seeking revenge on Reynolds, Dobson joins the "Hands of Blue" in finding Serenity, its captain and the Tam siblings. When the two finally meet again, Mal shoots the former agent first (in his good eye), and kills him for good.
In the "Serenity" episode, Lawrence Dobson's initial clumsiness and common appearance contrasts him to the viewer (and the other characters) with the more suspicious-looking Simon Tam, to conceal Dobson's role as villain on the ship. This is an effect shared by other Joss Whedon characters portrayed by actor Carlos Jacott, where he also switches from seeming innocent, clumsy and unimportant to being someone with more malicious intentions.
In the commentary for the pilot episode, Joss Whedon mentions that Dobson would have become a recurring villain had the show gone on. However, he was able to bring him back in the comic book series that bridged the series and the movie.
Jubal Early is a bounty hunter who appears in the finale episode "Objects in Space". Early, played by Richard Brooks, boards Serenity with the intention to kidnap River Tam in return for a bounty. Joss Whedon's DVD commentary for this episode reveals that Early was partly inspired by the Star Wars character Boba Fett. He shares his name with the Confederate Civil War General, Jubal Anderson Early.
Early is very athletic and is clearly adept at unarmed combat. He is also intelligent and incredibly eccentric, given to rambling on philosophic matters in the middle of tense situations, frequently asking "Does that seem right to you?" He may be hard of hearing or easily distracted, as he repeatedly mishears what others are saying to him. When River reads his mind, she reveals that he is/was a sadist, who tortured his neighbor's dog as a child. He also threatened to rape Kaylee if she did not do as he told her, and used the same threat of raping Kaylee when he dealt with Simon. At the end of "Objects in Space", Mal leaves him floating through space. His fate is unknown. Early has the distinction of uttering the last lines in the Firefly television series as he floats through space: "Well... here I am."
Fanty and MingoEdit
Fanty and Mingo are twin brothers who appear in the Serenity comic as well as the film. They are seen as fences for goods acquired by Mal Reynolds and the crew of Serenity. Although identical twins, Mal is able to tell the two of them apart (he claims "Fanty's prettier"). Their full names are Mingojerry and Fantastic Rample. The novelization states that Fanty was born second, and the surprised mother named him after the first word she said then. They are portrayed in the film by twin brothers Yan and Rafael Feldman.
Hands of BlueEdit
The "Hands of Blue" are a pair of mysterious men, portrayed by Dennis Cockrum and Jeff Ricketts, who wear suits and blue gloves. They work for the Blue Sun Corporation, a contractor to the Alliance and are in pursuit of River and Simon Tam. They will not hesitate to kill off anyone who has had contact with River, even Alliance personnel, using a handheld device that induces fatal bleeding to anyone near it (except themselves), apparently via the use of ultrasonic frequencies generated from the device.
The pair are never officially named in either Firefly or Serenity. In "The Train Job" DVD commentary, Joss Whedon refers to them as "the men with blue hands" and "the blue-hands men". IMDb's cast listings name each of them as a "Blue Glove", perhaps the most accurate moniker. However, "Hands of Blue" seems to have become a fanon name for the otherwise unnamed pair, and comes from River's "two by two... hands of blue..." litany.
In the Serenity comics, the blue "gloves" are shown to extend to and cover the upper body as well. They are finally killed and the Alliance passes the assignment to retrieve the Tams to the Operative. After their death, they are referred to as "Independent Contractors".
Sir Warwick HarrowEdit
Sir Warwick Harrow, played by Larry Drake in "Shindig", is a nobleman on Persephone who owns some "property" that he needs moved off-planet. Although he refuses to deal with Badger, Badger sends Malcolm Reynolds to talk to him. Harrow then served as Reynolds' second when Reynolds inadvertently challenges Atherton Wing to a duel after Atherton insulted Inara. The manner in which Reynolds handles himself, in the time leading up to and during the duel, convinces Harrow of Mal's character and decides to trust him with his "property."
Stitch Hessian was a one-time comrade of Jayne Cobb. The two of them carried off a raid on Higgins' Moon, but when their craft was tagged by anti-aircraft fire, Jayne pushed Stitch off. Stitch claims that he would never have done that to Jayne. Stitch was captured by Boss Higgins's men and put into solitary confinement until released when the crew of Serenity return to Higgins' Moon in "Jaynestown". He then confronts and tries to kill Jayne in revenge, revealing the truth about the heist to the people of Higgins' Moon, who thought that Jayne dropped the money deliberately. He ultimately tries to shoot and kill Jayne, but an unidentifed man of Higgins' Moon leaps in front of the bullet, giving Jayne the opening to throw a knife into Stitch's chest, killing him. He is portrayed by Kevin Gage.
Fess Higgins is the former virgin son of the magistrate of Higgins' Moon. His father, known only as Magistrate Higgins or Boss Higgins, contracts with Inara Serra for her to usher Fess into manhood. Inara talks Fess through some of his insecurities with his father and makes him look upon himself as his own man. As a result, Fess is able to stand up to his father when Boss Higgins tries to stop Serenity from leaving Higgins Moon with Jayne Cobb on board at the end of "Jaynestown". Fess Higgins is portrayed by Zachary Kranzler.
Magistrate Higgins is the final word of law on Higgins' Moon, a small moon that has a primary export of mud. Higgins is a man who looks out only for himself. He treats his workers, known as mudders, harshly, almost as slaves, and metes out strict punishment to any who cross him, as evidenced by the confinement cage in which he imprisons Stitch Hessian after he and Jayne Cobb robbed him. Concern over his son Fess's virginity causes him to hire Inara Serra to turn Fess into a 'man', but the attempt is more successful than he'd expected; Fess openly defies his father and allows Serenity to lift off. Boss Higgins is portrayed by Gregory Itzin.
"The Interviewer" is a man at the Academy who interviews River Tam in the R. Tam sessions. He is killed when River stabs him in the neck with his pen. He is portrayed by Joss Whedon. His face is never shown.
Dr. Mathias is the doctor who headed the research project which resulted in River Tam's psychosis and increased abilities. He is very proud of his achievements and the importance it brought to him. Mathias is present when Simon Tam manages to free River from the medical center. Following questioning by the Operative about River's escape, the Operative kills Mathias for his failure. Dr. Mathias is portrayed by Michael Hitchcock.
Mathias is mentioned in the R. Tam sessions, and is seen, but not named, in the film Serenity, although he is named in the shooting script and novelization.
Mr. Universe, a reclusive techno-geek, appears only in the movie Serenity, portrayed by David Krumholtz. He lives (apparently) alone on a moon with his love-bot "wife", Lenore (portrayed by Nectar Rose). He has a great affinity for data, and is capable of intercepting nearly any transmission or signal in the system. He boasts, "There's the truth of the signal. Everything goes somewhere and I go everywhere."
He is seen stepping on a cloth-wrapped glass while wearing a yarmulka in a video clip of his wedding, implying that he is Jewish (or a member of a Judaism-influenced religion), and making him the second Jew seen within the Firefly universe. In the novelization for the movie Serenity, he is alleged to have been a student at the same flight school as Wash, achieving the highest possible grades by manipulating the school's software, and providing Wash with information in exchange for Wash keeping quiet about what he did.
He is killed by the Operative, but set plans in motion for Malcolm Reynolds to broadcast a report from Dr. Caron that reveals the origins of the Reavers, leaving the message with his LoveBot bride before he dies.
Monty is a long-time colleague of Mal Reynolds who also fought on the side of the Independents in the Unification War. Known among his friends for wearing a thick beard and moustache, he shaves the beard off for his wife, Bridget, who turns out to be the con woman Saffron. Monty is portrayed by Franc Ross in the episode "Trash". Monty is apparently quite a brawler; when Kaylee asks if Mal got into a fight with him (due to wounds from his scuffle with "Yo-Saff-Bridge"), Zoe notes that if he had, the crew would be down in the dirt picking up Mal's teeth.
Nandi, played by Melinda Clarke in "Heart of Gold", is a former Companion who knew Inara on Sihnon before they both left the planet. Nandi gave up her life as a Companion- having concluded that it was too restrictive- to become a brothel madam, overseeing common whores on one of the outer planets. When Petaline, one of her girls, becomes pregnant with a local landowner's son, she calls Inara to see if the crew of Serenity can help against the baby's father, Rance Burgess. Nandi and Mal have a brief affair- which upset Inara- before Nandi is killed during a gunfight with Burgess and his men, and Petaline takes over the brothel.
Adelei Niska is a major crime lord of the Firefly universe, played by Michael Fairman and first seen in "The Train Job". Thoroughly ruthless in his business practices, he is dedicated to maintaining his reputation for exacting terrible reprisals on those who cross him — a reputation well-deserved, as Malcolm Reynolds and Wash discover in "War Stories". In that episode, he espouses admiration for the brutal philosophy of (fictional) dictator Shan Yu. In his first appearance, he hired Serenity to steal medicines being sent to a town where they were badly needed, but when Mal and Zoe learned what they'd done, Mal sent the medicine back to the town and returned Niska's money to his henchmen. Refusing to allow this slur on his reputation to pass, Niska returned to capture and torture Mal and Wash in revenge, only releasing Wash after Zoe paid him ransom money (However, he claimed that she'd given him slightly too much, so cut off Mal's left ear to make it 'even'). As a result, the entire crew of Serenity invaded his satellite headquarters, allowing Mal to break free and forcing Niska to flee.
Appearing briefly in the comic book miniseries Serenity: Those Left Behind and then Serenity, the nameless and rankless Operative is the principal antagonist of the film. He is portrayed by Chiwetel Ejiofor. With no name or rank, he claims that he does not officially exist.
In the Firefly universe, an operative is an agent of the Alliance government. Similar to a black ops agent, operatives do work that isn't specifically acknowledged by the government. Operatives figuratively don't exist; they give up their names upon attaining the position, which gives them no official rank. However, their status as an operative can get them access to most Alliance facilities as well as deference from those who know what an operative is. Operatives are highly trained in close combat as well as combat with weapons. They are extremely devoted to their cause; they often are asked to do questionable things, without asking questions.
Working directly for the Parliament of the Alliance, the Operative single-mindedly hunts down River Tam because he believes that his actions "make the world a better place". He is shown to have little problem with killing as part of his job, ruthlessly murdering several people using his sword and also ordering the attacks that are responsible for the death of, among others, Derrial Book. While the Operative may find the killing of an innocent girl wrong, he believes that he is serving a greater good by killing her. He dreams of "a world without sin", and the only way to attain that world is by doing whatever the Alliance asks him to do.
The Operative's weapon of choice is a sword. He sees it as being more of a civilized and classic method of killing, and prefers to use it as opposed to guns. He often tries to paralyze his targets by taking out a nerve cluster near their waist, and then stabs them; on some occasions, he has his enemies fall forward on to his sword, much like disgraced Roman generals used to do. He will use firearms when he has to, but they tend to be a last resort. In addition to his weapon and hand-to-hand training, the Operative is dangerous due to his resolve. He truly believes that what he is doing is right, and yet he has no delusions about the evils of it. He admits to Malcolm Reynolds that he is a monster and he can never live in the world he is helping to create.
Eventually, the Operative discovers that the secret River Tam possesses, which he is trying to protect, has been passed to Mal. In an attempt to end the problem, the Operative fights Mal atop a large suspended computer terminal. Mal emerges victorious from the fight thanks to an old war-wound that caused the nerve cluster the Operative normally attacks to have been moved, rendering the Operative's traditional attack useless. He then manages to give the Operative doubts about his mission by forcing him to watch a report by another Alliance officer, revealing that the Alliance itself was responsible for accidentally creating the Reavers during their attempt to calm the population of the planet Miranda. When Mal broadcasts this secret to the universe, the Operative admits defeat and decides to leave the Alliance, helping the crew piece Serenity back together after the damage sustained in the crash. In a deleted scene, he asks Mal how he went on after the Battle of Serenity Valley, where he lost everything, but Mal simply tells him that the Operative would need to learn that for himself, muttering to himself loudly, "What a whiner".
Patience, an elderly woman, is the matriarchal leader of the backwater moon Whitefall and notorious in the backstory of the crew of Serenity for having previously shot Mal. Despite this, Mal takes the crew to her in order to shift some troubling cargo in the pilot episode, "Serenity", and despite her treachery successfully sells the cargo. She is portrayed by Bonnie Bartlett.
"Saffron" is one of several known aliases of a character played by Christina Hendricks. She is a very crafty and apparently amoral con artist who assumes convenient identities to commit grand thefts. She is also known to use her feminine wiles on — and occasionally marry — her marks.
Malcolm Reynolds and the crew of Serenity have encountered her twice as of the close of the original Firefly series.
In "Our Mrs. Reynolds", Mal finds himself married to her in an obscure native ceremony, as she pretends to be a demure, compliant girl trained to be a subservient wife. Saffron overtakes the crew with stealth and guile, and sends the ship off to be scrapped by pirates, but they manage to escape.
In "Trash", she convinces Mal to steal a priceless antiquity owned by a man who turns out to be another former paramour of hers; she apparently manages to steal the artifact from them, but the crew were secretly playing her from the beginning and take the artifact back for themselves.
When last seen, Saffron is trapped in a trash bin, awaiting release by the authorities who are en route to her location.
Saffron's real name is unknown to the Serenity crew: she poses as "Bridget" for Mal's smuggler friend Monty, and as "Yolanda" to Durran, the wealthy owner of the priceless antiquity, both of whom had also married her. Mal quips on this name confusion in "Trash" by calling her "Yo-Saff-Bridge". Mal refers to Durran as her "real" husband, in that Durran is the only one of her husbands she seems to have genuine feelings for and regrets having lied to.
Durran: How long have you been with him?
Mal: Oh— pfft! We are not together.<p>Saffron: He's my husband.<p>Mal: Well, who in the damn galaxy ain't?! <p style="text-align: right;"> – "Trash"
According to Serenity crew member and Companion Inara Serra, Saffron has had some Companion training. This organization of legal, high-society courtesans appears to provide its members with psychological education to enable them to establish more than a merely sexual relationship with their clients. Saffron uses these skills to help her seduce her marks, even attempting to seduce Inara herself.
Both Mal and Durran suspect Saffron is mentally unbalanced, because she reverts to feminine wiles when caught or trapped. This usually follows events of aggression and/or utter contempt for her victims. Her continued survival suggests that this is actually a successful strategy. She seems unable to trust anyone, telling Mal that everyone plays everybody else.
Tracey Smith was a war buddy of Malcolm Reynolds and Zoe Alleyne from the war against the Alliance. Mal helped get Tracey through the war, but after the war Tracey became something of a drifter, eventually falling in with organ smugglers. When he runs afoul of them, he arranges to have his apparently dead body shipped to Reynolds for transportation back home. In reality, Tracey is drugged into a deep coma to simulate this post-mortem state, trying to doublecross the organ smugglers. Cornered by Tracey's enemies, the crew of Serenity plan their escape, but Tracey misunderstands their intentions and takes Kaylee hostage, thinking that they intend to hand him over to the soldiers. He informs Mal that he sought out Mal and Zoe because they were saps. In the ensuing conflict, Tracey is shot by Zoe, then again by Malcolm, and dies shortly after learning that the soldiers hunting them were there illegally and would not be missed if they were killed. He is portrayed in "The Message" by Jonathan M. Woodward.
Gabriel and Regan TamEdit
Gabriel and Regan Tam are River and Simon's parents. Well-to-do, they take great pride in their social position and Simon's achievement. They support the Alliance and don't believe it could or would do anything to harm their daughter, River, who was in their care in a special school. In the episode "Safe", Simon expresses both his concern that River is in danger and his belief that River's nonsensical letters are a code to his parents, who scoff at the idea, saying that the letters are one of River and Simon's "games" and that Simon is just "lost" without his sister. Later on in the same episode Simon is apparently jailed for his actions involving trying to gain access to River. His father is seen getting him out of jail through legal means, but warns Simon that if he gets into trouble a second time he will no longer be part of the family. It is clear after this exchange that Simon has no relationship or connection with his parents past that flashback's point in time. In "Safe", Gabriel Tam is played by William Converse-Roberts and Regan Tam is played by Isabella Hofmann.
Atherton Wing is a young nobleman on Persephone who has hired Inara Serra on multiple occasions. Some of which, he proposed a more permanent arrangement with her. In "Shindig", at a fancy ball, he accepts an unwitting challenge from Mal Reynolds to a duel after Mal struck him. Wing is known on Persephone as a master swordsman, to which Mal is unfamiliar, but he is defeated due to Inara's intervention. In anger, he threatens her with physical and professional harm, but Inara tells him that in reality, he is the one in trouble: Wing now has a black mark in the Companion books, and will be henceforth unable to hire any Companions. The character is played by Edward Atterton.