Firefly TV Poster Image


Buffy creator's space Western entertains.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The Serenity crew operates on the fringes of the galaxy, where the rule of law is often less important than the power of the gun; in the pursuit of what's right and just, they must sometimes break the law. Unlike many space dramas, in which the captain makes all the decisions, this crew operates more like a democracy, with many decisions made as a group.

Positive role models

Strong female characters; cast includes some diversity. Most of the main characters have plenty of flaws (and shady histories), but they almost always do the right thing -- and they definitely care about one another. Characters demonstrate perseverance and teamwork.


Plenty of action -- ranging from fistfights to gun battles -- but there's little blood or gore.


A fair amount of sexual discussion and innuendo, as well as scenes of people having sex -- though there's no explicit nudity. Strong attraction/sexual tension between two key characters, one of whom is more or less a high-class prostitute (prostitution is legal in the show's world, and characters often talk about the difference between licensed, respected companions and common whores). She puts a good deal of effort into defending the notion of sexual relationships without emotional entanglement -- though sometimes it seems that even she has trouble believing that. Kissing between male-female and female-female couples.


Infrequent swearing includes words such as "son of a bitch."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some drinking and smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Firefly is acult-fave space Western from the creator of Buffy the Vampire SlayerThere's lots of sci-fi action, though little of it results in visible bloodshed, and some characters drink and smoke. One of the main characters is a "companion" -- a glorified term for a high-class prostitute. One of the show's storylines centers on the attraction (and resulting sexual tension) between her and the ship's captain, and there's plenty of discussion of her job (it's a high-status profession in the show's world).

What's the story?

In the fascinating alternative future imagined in FIREFLY, humans have "used up" Earth and ventured out to terraform new planets across the galaxy. Though some of these new worlds are wealthy, the show mostly takes place in the ones along the fringes. On these rough-and-tumble planets, life can be tough, and the law doesn't carry much weight when there are people with guns who want to help themselves to whatever they need. The series follows the crew of the spaceship Serenity, a lovable rogues' gallery led by Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds (Nathan Fillion). For various reasons, everyone on the ship wants to avoid notice by the Alliance that governs the galaxy, preferring instead to scratch out a living as mercenaries.

Is it any good?


With its distinctive vision, sharply written characters, and entertaining dialogue, this show is both unique and entertaining. It's a shame that it didn't catch on with a wide audience fast enough (it did develop a rabid cult base) and was cancelled after just 14 episodes.

To series creator Joss Whedon, Firefly's premise sounded so much like life in the Old West that he modeled much of show's culture -- including clothing, weapons, and language -- on the late 19th century. It's a brilliant idea that allowed him to combine elements of Star Wars with The Lone Ranger to invent a sci-fi show unlike any other. Although its departure point isn't particularly novel (see Farscape, Han Solo's early career, Robin Hood, et al), with Whedon at the helm, Firefly shines. Best known for creating the amazingly popular Buffy the Vampire Slayer series and its spin-off Angel, Whedon brings a fresh perspective to a genre overrun by shows that have all started to blend together.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the two genres that Firefly blends together. Which elements make it a sci-fi series? Which make it a Western? What do the two genres have in common, and how are they different?

  • What, if anything, does this show have in common with creator Joss Whedon's earlier series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

  • Many of the show's disputes are settled through violence (or the threat of violence), particularly in outlying planets that are far from the reach of the law, where the strong can take advantage of the weak and defenseless. Does might ever make right? In most societies, what stops the powerful from making whatever rules they want?

  • How do the characters in Firefly demonstrate perseverance and teamwork? Why are those important character strengths?

TV details

Premiere date:September 20, 2002
Cast:Adam Baldwin, Gina Torres, Nathan Fillion
Genre:Science Fiction
Character strengths:Perseverance, Teamwork
TV rating:NR
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of Firefly was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent of a 6 year old Written byrachel4missions April 9, 2008

Great Series-- But watch it first and keep the fast forward button handy

This is an amazing series. All the characters are so well-developed it's hard to pick a favorite, and you care about each one after just a few episodes. However, I would not recommend letting your kids watch this with you the first time. I think this is a show best watched with Mom or Dad fastforwarding past a few of the most iffy parts and discussing the show with their kids. Be aware they do 'make up' Bible verses, but it always seems to be the 'bad guys' that do it.
Teen, 13 years old Written byDecalis April 9, 2008

This is the most amazing TV show I've ever seen, or probably ever will see.

This is a portion of the height of science fiction, comparable to Star Wars. Star Wars is an epic and a classic, but there's a lot of black and white. Firefly is done in shades of gray. The primary example of this is that the main characters would be considered crooks by anybody who didn't know them well. They rob, steal, and, more often than not, kill, though not in the sense of murder, more in self-defense. But what it simmers down to is the fact that they're all "just folk", ordinary people trying to get by. There's shooting, stabbing, smashing, exploding, and torture. There's sex, booze, and foul language. But the thing is, none of it is gratuitous, it's all in context. There are powerful moral lessons in it, and it is something everybody should watch, though probably when they're at least 12, because a lot of the jokes don't make sense until you hit puberty... :)
Teen, 14 years old Written byKScottA June 9, 2010

Brilliant show prematurely ended.

It's absolutely incredible that this show made us care about the characters after only 14 episodes in a way most shows never accomplish over the course of 4+ seasons. Incredible, yes, but also terribly sad for fans of the show. Fox prematurely aired the episodes out of order, and then canceled it mid season. The combination of characters, unique writing/story and music score is mostly unrivaled. Recommended to all sci-fi and western fans.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Great messages
Great role models