Firefly, a television series created, written, and directed by Joss Whedon, premiered on the Fox network in 2002 and aired only eleven episodes before it was cancelled halfway through its first season. While it gained some on-air popularity, it was not until fans convinced Fox via online chatrooms to release the series on DVD that it gained posthumous acclaim. Whedon credits westerns as the inspiration for Firefly because frontier characters tend to be natural, flawed, complex human beings who question universal truths through widely recognized motifs of classic westerns. In a February 17, 2011 Entertainment Weekly interview, Firefly actor Nathan Fillion stated that if he won the lottery, he would buy the rights to Firefly, inadvertently rallying fans to bring back the series that was cancelled almost a decade before, mirroring the cowboy culture that Firefly emulates of marginalized individuals fighting for a cause. Despite its science fiction and space motifs, Firefly is no different from classic westerns in blending legend and reality, reinforcing the mixture of myth and fact that constitutes frontier ideology. Firefly, like the cowboy culture it represents, has become a cultural icon, romanticized because of its brief and nostalgic nature. This paper will look at the enduring appeal of Firefly through western motifs of frontier, displacement, and mobility, considering why westerns lend themselves to continued nostalgia and reinvention in contemporary popular culture.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Nelson, Emma Leigh Boone, "Frontier, Displacement, and Mobility in Joss Whedon's Firefly" (2012). All Theses and Dissertations. 3211.
Firefly, Joss Whedon, Stagecoach, western film, popular culture