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Firefly Episodes You Didn't Get To See

"Firefly" was cancelled almost 20 years ago. But even after a movie, comic books, and a certain creator's fall from grace, there are still loyal browncoats who long for more content. 

"Firefly" had a brief run on Fox before finding an audience on DVD. It made cult legends out of its stars Nathan Fillion ("Castle"), Gina Torres ("Suits"), Alan Tudyk ("Moana"), Morena Baccarin ("Gotham"), and even recurring guest star Christina Hendricks ("Mad Men"). Given what a cult favorite the show has become in the years since, it's worth remembering that Fox pulled the plug on "Firefly" before even the first season's episodes had all run. By this point, the character arcs, mysteries, and relationships of the characters had already been plotted. For example: the cast believes that had the show continued, both Wash and Zoe, as well as Simon and Kaylee, would have had babies. And Jayne would have been stuck on babysitter duty, a sci-fi version of "The Pacifier." 

In fact, the writers did devise several episode ideas that never saw the light of day. They range in tone, from a madcap romp with puppies to one episode we're all very lucky never made it to air.

The dreadful algebra of space

Here's one episode that was discussed during the Science Channel's reunion special "Browncoats Unite" – the crew was going to land on a wintry planet that is, in fact, dying. The inhabitants of the planet were going to try and steal Serenity in order to escape their planet. The townsfolk ask to come aboard. "But the idea is, we're so far out that if we take them back we're going to run out of air, we're going to run out of food, we're all going to die," Fillion said. "Unless we meet up with another ship. So there's that chance: We could meet up with another ship, and everything would be okay."

Mal would suggest they all sleep on the decision, and then he would take off in the night. "It's too late to go back, we can't go back. And on our way back out, we never meet any ships — so we would have all died," Fillion said. "We were all going to vote, and Captain Mal takes the decision away from everybody, so it's nobody's decision to kill all those people but his." It's a classic lifeboat question, something fantasy author Terry Pratchett called "the dreadful algebra of necessity." Malcolm Reynolds never wanted anyone else to have to do that math.

'Dead or Alive' exists in script form

"Dead or Alive" would have been the fifteenth episode of "Firefly," but the show was cancelled before it could be filmed. Some elements of the episode, whose script has been circulating on the internet for a while, were incorporated into the last episode filmed, "The Message."

"Dead or Alive" would have been about a former Independent soldier, a subordinate of Mal and Zoe's named Declan Everton. Everton has been bombing Alliance targets, an act of terrorism that even the die-hard Browncoat Mal can't accept. In the aftermath of one of Everton's bombings, the crew would try to find him before the Alliance. Meanwhile, Simon would try to save the life of an Alliance Commander. The man would become suspicious of Simon's identity, and when he died, Simon would wonder whether he had subconsciously let the man die to protect his sister. Both Simon and Mal would have to confront how their former ideological purity had been worn away by their time on the Rim.

One episode we're glad was never made

This unmade episode of "Firefly" would have put Joss Whedon's weird portrayals of women front and center. According to executive producer Tim Minear, this was one of the first stories Whedon pitched. It was foreshadowed in the pilot, when Inara looks at a syringe while the ship tries to hide from Reavers: evidently, the concept was that this drug would cause anyone who sexually assaulted her to die "a horrible death." As Minear further explained in the reunion special (via Gizmodo), "The story was that she gets kidnapped by Reavers and when Mal finally got to the ship to save her from the Reavers, he gets on the Reaver ship and all the Reavers are dead. Which would suggest a kind of really bad assault."

Apparently this would be the final motivation Mal would need to finally stop shaming Inara for being a sex worker. "At the end of the episode," Minear continued, "[Mal] comes in after she's been horribly brutalized, and he comes in and he gets down on his knee, and he takes her hand. And he treats her like a lady." 

This has every bad take thrown into one episode: sexual assault as backstory, disrespecting sex work, echoes of the negative portrayal of Native Americans in westerns. A big yikes all around.

Dog eat dog

What does it say about the last story that this next lost episode, about dog fighting, is a comparatively lighthearted romp? Alan Tudyk pitched this story as a sci-fi farce of sorts, with people running through the hallways of Serenity like the hallway of doors in an episode of "Scooby-Doo."

"Alan Tudyk definitely pitched the most episodes," Fillion explained, on the reunion special. "He had a great one where there were some criminals who engage in illegal dog fights, and there was a planet where one side of the planet was perpetual night." The crew would be tasked with catching a pack of feral space dogs and bringing them to the dog fighting arena. "We had this dog pheromone of some kind, and Jayne was messing around, and splat!, the thing bursts and we're all covered in this pheromone," Fillion said. A big chase back to — and through — the ship would commence, that would only end when River communed with the dogs and made them too pacifist to fight.

"This is the stuff that Alan thinks about," Jewel Staite, who played Kaylee, said. "Dog fights, mustaches, and tattoos. He's a strange man."

Jayne moves out

One storyline could have been one episode, or a longer arc: Jayne becoming captain of his own ship. 

Jayne was always proving his disloyalty to Serenity. He originally joined the crew by defecting from his old group for better pay. In "Safe," he tries to turn in River and Simon for the reward money — and he tries to abandon Mal and Wash when they are kidnapped by interplanetary gangster Adelai Niska. As for the episode that could've emerged from this, Adam Baldwin explained the plot's potential on the Science Channel reunion special. His idea was that Jayne would become captain of a rival ship, only to fail so miserably at it that he would come crawling back to Mal.

Parallel or rival teams are always a fruitful thing to have in a story. "The Simpsons" has Shelbyville, which acts as a parallel universe to Springfield. "Parks and Rec" has the town of Eagleton, until the two merge. Ash from "Pokémon" is always being scooped by Gary of Pallet Town. And "Shaun of the Dead" has Yvonne's group going through their own parallel apocalypse. So this particular story definitely could've been interesting to see.