Firefly was canceled too soon. Released in 2002, the series took place in the year 2517. Classified as a Western space drama, the series saw the ensemble cast (lead by Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, and Alan Tudyk) traveling on the spaceship Serenity in search of adventure. Although it was an undoubtedly popular series, it was canceled in the middle of its first season, and only 11 of the 14 planned episodes were released. Firefly‘s initial ratings struggled, but the show would rebound with incredible DVD sales and a cult following. Petitions, fundraisers, and online forums were created in attempts to save the show from being canceled forever and did get a theatrical film, Serenity.
Updated: July 7, 2023: If you’re looking for more information regarding the potential Firefly reboot, this article has been updated with additional content by Evan Lewis.
The original run of the show has also been added to Hulu, allowing the new generation to discover the series and old fans to fall in love with the character all over again. This indicates that there is growing interest from Disney to keep this series relevant or in at least the background of modern conversations. Refreshing the world of Firefly could prove to be successful now that it is gaining mainstream attention once again. Is there even a Firefly reboot in development at Hulu or Disney+? Here’s what we know so far.
Has A Firefly Revival Been Announced?
While Firefly revival whispers have been happening since the series was canceled, the conversation picked up when Disney bought 20th Century Fox and their library of material. Despite the show’s continued popularity, there still hasn’t been any development on whether Disney will be making a Firefly reboot.
No official word on a plot for the Firefly reboot has even been announced since the project is not even officially happening. If the revival were to happen, it likely would unite the original crew with a new younger generation who would carry on the mantle. Worth noting the original cast could not all return, as actor Ron Glass, who played Shepherd Book, passed away in 2016.
Nathan Fillion was a guest on the podcast Inside of You hosted by Michael Rosenbaum. When asked whether there had been talks of a Firefly reboot, he didn’t want to comment because “if I say anything too solid, people are gonna go crazy.” This is a perfectly understandable comment from Nathan Fillion, but it is also not a denial.
Changing circumstances could push Disney into making the show, but original reasons why the show was canceled, and difficult production decisions could be the reasons they are holding back. Disney+’s competition with Paramount’s sci-fi titles (Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Picard) could motivate Disney to develop more sci-fi shows that are similar to Firefly.
Joss Whedon Will Not Be Involved
Since Firefly was his vision, many wondered whether Joss Whedon would return for the reboot. While Whedon isn’t a stranger to creating television properties — Buffy the Vampire Slayer is beloved to this day — the allegations of workplace harassment might be why he won’t be returning. WarnerMedia conducted an investigation, resulting in swift action from the studio. Whedon then exited the HBO Max series The Nevers, and it’s safe to assume that producers, especially Disney, are cautious about working with him. He has not directed any television shows or movies since leaving The Nevers.
In January 2022, an interview with Vulture featured an anonymous writer who worked on Firefly, recalling a time when Whedon belittled another writer in front of several staff members. According to the writer, Whedon felt the script presented to him wasn’t up to par, and rather than addressing this with the writer privately, Whedon brought together the entire writing staff.
“It was basically 90 minutes of vicious mockery,” the writer said. “Joss pretended to have a slide projector, and he read her dialogue out loud and pretended he was giving a lecture on terrible writing as he went through the ‘slides’ and made funny voices — funny for him. The guys were looking down at their pages, and this woman was fighting tears the entire time. I’ve had my share of shitty showrunners, but the intent to hurt — that’s the thing that stands out for me now.”
Nathan Fillion said on the podcast mentioned earlier that this was “not his experience” with Joss Whedon, and he would be open to working with the director again. But according to an article posted in April of last year citing the same source, while the series was moving ahead at that time, Joss Whedon would not be working on it.
Why Was Firefly Ever Canceled?
Firefly is most famous for being canceled before its time. The show had consistent popularity after it was taken off television and now exists in the zeitgeist as more of a myth and example of how popular cult television can be. Firefly was initially taken off the air due to low ratings. These are commonly blamed on the fact that a particularly exciting World Series was airing at roughly the same time.
Though the show had its own merits, it’s possible that potential viewers were distracted by the baseball game. It’s also possible that even though you wanted to watch Firefly, your dad was watching the World Series on your family’s only TV, and you couldn’t go over to your friend’s house to watch it because your mom wouldn’t let you out of the house after dark. It was 2002, after all.
After Fox executives saw the low ratings, the nail in the coffin became the show’s violent content. When producers at Fox finally saw the show, they asked Whedon and the show’s writers to make some of it more family-friendly, but they refused. This would be a good decision for fans but a bad one for the show overall. Fox executives weighed the show’s dark themes and violence against its low ratings and eventually pulled the plug on it before it could finish its first season.
Possibility Of A Reunion Special
When a cast of a beloved show happens to keep in touch years after the fact, it is a no-brainer to cash in on that nostalgia with a reunion special. We have seen it with franchises like Harry Potter, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and Friends. Whether Firefly takes the route of a straight-to-streaming film or an out-of-character get-together, the hype for a reunion is there among the cast and fans. Morena Baccarin, the actress who played the role of Inara Serra, had the following to say about the possibility.
“I just like—I like laying some things to rest. I love those people with all of my heart. I just kind of feel like it was what it was. And now we’re like 20 years older, and like, we should do a reunion, or we should do like a podcast or a talk or like a one-off, like “Friends” did. That’d be fun, right? I don’t really need to resuscitate the show, for me.”
While there does not seem to be much interest in returning full-time, diehard fans should at least be glad to hear at least some enthusiasm for a short-term venture involving the show’s legacy. Even if they didn’t return for new episodes, as The Next Generation cast did for Star Trek: Picard, fans would still want to see everyone together one last time. With Comic-Con 2023 fast approaching, man fans are hoping some Firefly-related announcement could be coming, and in a year where many big studios have pulled out of the event, a Firefly announcement could be the big news of the event.
New Comic Book Series
Firefly has been receiving comic book issues from Boom! Studios since mid-2018. The franchise was originally held under lock and key by Dark Horse Studios for over a decade, so this change marked a new and fresh direction for the ongoing series. Joss Whedon was even brought on board as a story consultant, which was a pretty big deal when it came to nailing the original tone and direction of the Firefly universe. The next installment Firefly: The Fall Guys, will arrive in September 2023 as a six-issue mission featuring the original cast of characters: Mal, River, and the rest of the gang.
This does not mean anything in particular in regard to a reboot series, but the success of this six-issue run could be determined by whether Disney views Firefly as something that is still profitable. It would need to do even better than the past issues and go beyond expectations. Boom! probably already has for it. Worth noting is that Disney licensed Firefly to Boom! instead of their own comic publication, Marvel. This might indicate that Disney sees Firefly as a property, not for Disney+ but possibly for Hulu.
Recent Developments At Disney Suggest Out Look Not So Good
Disney has shown this year that they are only willing to stand by their financial triumphs. This is not an impossible task, as Firefly has an active enough fanbase to make it happen if they truly wanted to. However, not every fan wants a reboot if it is under Disney, so it might be difficult for them to come to any kind of consensus. Teamwork makes the dream work, as the old saying goes.
Firefly has a dedicated fanbase that could indicate a revival is possible. However, Disney has not made any official moves on announcing a new project, be it a continuation or a reboot. Disney might have been more open to the idea a couple of years ago, trying to cash in on every IP they could. Yet with the recent news that Disney+ is removing much of its material and reevaluating its investments, one has to wonder if they would even want to spend the money on Firefly. If Willow and National Treasure are struggling, what hope does Firefly have?