%% Zero-context examples are not allowed on wiki pages. They have been commented-out. Don't un-comment them unless you explain the context.
[[caption-width-right:236:"Half of writing history is hiding the truth."]]

->''"I aim to misbehave."''
-->-- '''Captain Malcolm Reynolds'''

After ''Series/{{Firefly}}'' was [[ScrewedByTheNetwork cancelled partway through its first season]], a massive letter writing campaign was launched to bring it back. Years later, TheMovie was released to provide closure to some of the [[AbortedArc unanswered questions]] of the show and accompany the comic series and other ExpandedUniverse materials.

Shortly after the end of the series, the crew of the ''Firefly''-class ship ''Serenity'' is still getting into trouble. The presence of IllGirl and government experiment River Tam has brought the fist of [[TheEmpire The Alliance]] down on her, [[TheGoodCaptain Captain Malcolm Reynolds]], River's brother [[KnightTemplarBigBrother Simon]], [[WrenchWench Kaylee]] , [[ActionGirl Zoe]], [[NonActionGuy Wash]], [[TokenEvilTeammate Jayne]], [[BadassPreacher Shepherd Book]], and [[HighClassCallGirl Inara]].

More details are brought to light about the experiments that were done on River by the government and the [[GovernmentConspiracy Alliance conspiracy]] that she [[HeKnowsTooMuch learned by accident]] through her [[PsychicPowers powers]], driving her insane. Pursued by a ruthless and devoted [[UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans Government Operative]], the crew seek to solve the mystery surrounding River Tam and the Alliance that has caused them so much misery, and perhaps use it to get out from under the thumb of the Alliance once and for all.

!!This film provides examples of:


* AbandonShip: Two separate cases in the film's climax. [[spoiler:The Operative uses an escape pod to flee his flagship, while Mal and the others leave ''Serenity'' after it lands on Mr. Universe's base and the Reavers begin to harpoon it.]]
* AbsentAliens: Per standard ''Firefly'' canon, no alien life whatsoever exists in the star system inhabited by humans. All conflict is strictly human versus human.
* ActOfTrueLove: The film starts with Simon breaking his sister out of the Alliance research facility where she was being experimented on. On viewing a recording of it, the Operative and the lead researcher discuss Simon's motives, and the fact that he pretty much threw his life away to do it. The scientist thinks it's insane, but the Operative points out that he's motivated by love, which makes him even more dangerous.
* {{Aesoptinum}}: [[spoiler:The Pax, an experimental chemical agent that the Alliance used to attempt to control possible violence in one of its colonies. It ended up failing spectacularly when most of the test subjects became so passive that they simply lay down and died of starvation, with a very small portion of the population instead becoming monstrous Reavers.]]
* AffablyEvil: The Operative. While he does extremely despicable things, he also [[WorthyOpponent praises his enemies]], [[ApologeticAttacker apologizes]] for his [[NecessarilyEvil evil deeds]], is perfectly willing to negotiate, and [[spoiler:spares and helps the crew once he believes killing them would not serve any useful purpose]].
-->'''The Operative:''' This is a good death. There is no shame in this.
* AirVentPassageway:
** ''Serenity'''s ducts are large enough, but Mal still must get a wrench and properly remove the duct cover before entering them to get past a locked door.
** After escaping the space battle in an EscapePod, the Operative infiltrates Mr. Universe's complex via its air ducts.
** Played for laughs at the end, when [[spoiler:Simon and Kaylee are taking the "unresolved" out of their UnresolvedSexualTension. They begin removing their clothes, then start kissing,]] then they fall down out of sight... and the camera pans up to show [[CovertPervert River watching from an air duct overhead]].
* AllPlanetsAreEarthlike: [[JustifiedTrope Justified]], as all the remotely compatible planets and moons have been {{Terraform}}ed.
* AllYourBaseAreBelongToUs: Since cost and lives are no object to recovering River Tam, the Operative begins by killing every contact and destroying every criminal hideout that ''Serenity'' could use to stay hidden.
--> '''The Operative:''' When your quarry goes to ground, leave no ground to go to.
* AlmostDeadGuy:
** [[spoiler:Shepherd Book]], who lives long enough to give an inspiring speech.
** [[spoiler:Mr. Universe]] survives long enough to record a message.
* AlwaysChaoticEvil: The Reavers are savage, mindlessly aggressive people whose sole purpose seems to be spreading death and destruction to everything they come across. Rape, cannibalism and self-mutilation are their hobbies. [[spoiler:It is revealed that the original Reavers were Miranda colonists who had a negative reaction to an experimental mind-altering chemical agent.]]
* AnalogyBackfire: The Operative compares River to an albatross, recalling ''Literature/TheRimeOfTheAncientMariner''. Mal, who's actually read it, points out that the albatross brought good luck and even saved the crew, and it was the Mariner [[UngratefulBastard killing it]] that brought doom on the ship.
* AndTheAdventureContinues: [[spoiler:The truth about the Alliance's actions on Miranda has been transmitted all over the Verse, and the Operative reports that it will weaken the current regime, but likely won't bring it down completely. Meanwhile, the crew of ''Serenity'' stays on the run (with River now serving as pilot full-time), with the future of the Verse anything but certain...]]
* AntiHero: The crew are all differing types, from Simon, the straight arrow on the wrong side of the law, down to Jayne Cobb, a murderous thug who met Mal by trying to rob and kill him, until Mal offered him a job that paid better, leading Jayne to kill his old crew instead.
* AnyoneCanDie: Two major characters whom the audience know and love die in the movie. [[spoiler:Book and Wash.]] According to the commentary, this is precisely ''why'' those two died, to heighten tension and make that final fight scene, in which [[spoiler:nearly everyone else is hurt]], all the more scary.
* ApocalypticLog: Given by Dr. Caron, the female scientist on [[spoiler:Miranda]], explaining what has happened to the people and [[spoiler:how it created Reavers, the greatest threat of the 'verse.]] Once the crew finds it, they resolve to BringNewsBack to the rest of the 'verse, revealing the Alliance's scheme.
* ApologeticAttacker: River beats up Simon to get to the bridge. Afterward, she explains that she didn't know if he was going to make her sleep, whereupon Simon wryly says, "you could have asked." Simon of course, always forgives his dear little sister. Also [[spoiler:the Operative, who apologizes to Mal for killing all the crew's contacts (including an entire settlement with children and noncombatants), acknowledging that it was an evil deed.]]
* ArcWords: River is haunted by the words "Lie down" in her dreams, and speaks the word "Miranda" right before the BarBrawl. [[spoiler:The Alliance poisoned the planet Miranda and its people lay down and died]].
* ArmorPiercingResponse: Kaylee directs an absolutely ''perfect'' one to Mal after he boots Simon and River off of the crew. Mal is left speechless, and Zoe and Wash wisely stay out of Kaylee's way after she storms off in a huff.
-->'''Kaylee:''' If you had a care for anybody's heart--\\
'''Mal:''' You ''knew'' he was gonna leave! We've never been but a waystation to those two, and how do you know what he feels?! Oh, he's got River to worry on, but he's still gonna show you... [[{{Hypocrite}} if I truly wanted someone bad enough, wouldn't be a thing in the 'Verse would stop me from going to her.]]\\
'''Kaylee:''' ''[[[DeathGlare glares]], unconvinced]'' Tell that to Inara.
* ArtisticLicenseMilitary: Appears as a FreezeFrameBonus in a scene of the Operative looking up Mal's service record from the War of Independence. Mal's rank in the record is indicated to be captain, which contradicts what viewers of the series know of him (namely, that he was a sergeant in the war and only became a captain after he bought Serenity). This was likely a choice [[ExecutiveMeddling made by executives]] to prevent confusion from moviegoers who had never watched the series, but that change is what brings this trope into play: an army captain and a naval captain have completely different levels of command authority, being two different grades on the officer's rank ladder.
* AsceticAesthetic: The colony on the planet [[spoiler:Miranda]]. To drive it home, everyone there [[spoiler:is either dead or went crazy.]]
* AtopAMountainOfCorpses: [[spoiler:River]] stands triumphantly on the pile of dead Reavers after defeating them.
* AxCrazy: River at times, though it turns out she has a very good reason for it. [[spoiler:She's been conditioned to respond to certain triggers, one apparently being "attack everyone." She also absorbed a number of the Alliance's dirtiest secrets, such as the accidental genocide of 30 million people on Miranda. Knowing that your benevolent government was behind creating the Reavers would be enough to drive anyone crazy, let alone reliving the events leading up to it.]]
* BadassCrew: The whole crew kicks ass when they're forced to fight.
* BandOfBrothels: The Guild of Companions. After leaving the ship, Inara has become a teacher to licensed Companions in training.
* BarBrawl: Started by River, ended by her. [[CurbStompBattle Very, very quickly.]] She destroys the pub, and takes down many, many innocent[[note]]For certain values of "innocent," in the kind of bar Mal and his associates frequent[[/note]] people. Mal considers it likely that some of them died.
* BattleDiscretionShot: We only see the aftermath of the attack on Haven.
* BeautyIsNeverTarnished: Averted; as River is piloting the ship off Miranda, she sports a long thin scar over her forehead.
* BelligerentSexualTension: Mal and Inara, to the point where Mal [[GenreSavvy knows something is wrong]] when he and Inara [[OutOfCharacterAlert did not end up getting into a fight during a conversation.]]
* BerserkButton: Most of the crew have one or more, which makes their lives plenty interesting. Part of the plot centers on Mal's berserk buttons slowly, but surely, forcing the crew apart.
* BetterToDieThanBeKilled:
** Mal, Jayne and Zoe share this view, at least when it comes to Reavers. When a bystander is captured, Mal shoots him dead before the Reavers can cut into him, an act later described by Zoe as "a piece of mercy". When Jayne looks like he is going to be captured, he asks Mal to do the same to him. The view seems to be universal among anybody who knows about Reavers.
** Cruelly subverted with the [[spoiler:Miranda recording, in which the scientist tries to shoot herself after it becomes clear that she is not going to escape the Reavers. She does not do it quickly enough.]]
* BigBadassBattleSequence: While Creator/JossWhedon admitted ruefully that he violated his own avoidance of SpaceIsAnOcean and SpaceIsNoisy for the big showdown between the Alliance and Reaver fleets, he said it was WorthIt.
* BigBrotherInstinct: Simon's principal motivation, largely fulfilled when [[spoiler:his little sister is taken off the Alliance's must-kill list at the end of the movie.]]
%% Clean-up till this spot.
* BigBrotherIsWatching: Suggested strongly throughout the film, but also notable with the Oaty Bar commercial, where a message pops up during it saying "NOT MANDATORY", suggesting the Alliance are such control freaks they tell the population what to ''eat''.
* BiologicalWeaponsSolveEverything: Failed ''spectacularly''. The Alliance attempted to use an engineered gas to make the populace of a colony world peaceful and non-aggressive. [[spoiler:The gas worked too well: most of the population became so apathetic that they just lay down and died. The others became hyper-violent berserkers, known as the Reavers.]]
* BittersweetEnding: For the film and the series as a whole. [[spoiler:The crew exposes the Alliance's crimes and turns the Verse against them, the Operative spares them once he sees that killing them will accomplish nothing, most of the remaining Reavers have been destroyed, Kaylee and Simon get their RelationshipUpgrade, and the crew gets to fly off into the sunset. But Book, Wash, Mr. Universe, and whole communities of other good people had to die to make it all happen... and while it's suffered a crippling blow to its good publicity, the Alliance is still active and will probably try to hunt down the crew for vengeance eventually.]]
* BlackDudeDiesFirst: [[spoiler:Shepherd Book, if we're talking just about the main cast. Otherwise, we've got whole settlements wiped out before him.]]
* BlackScreenOfDeath: When River makes her last stand against the Reavers, the screen cuts to black, and we don't find out how the fight is going for several minutes.
* BlessedWithSuck: River is a psychic and a WaifFu combat goddess, but was forced to trade her emotional stability and her grip on what's real, and is unable to shut out other people's thoughts and emotions.
* BlindIdiotTranslation: Although (according to the DVD) a translator worked hard to get Chinese slang correct, and the actors studied tape recorders, apparently it was still mangled in the pronunciation.
* {{Bookends}}: At the beginning, as ''Serenity'' enters a planet's atmosphere, a piece of the ship falls off. In the very last scene, [[spoiler:after ''Serenity'' is rebuilt]], the same thing happens as the ship takes off.
'''Mal:''' What was that?
** Many of the Operative's words to the Alliance scientist at the beginning of the movie are the same as his words to [[spoiler:Mal]] in the final fight.
* {{Bowdlerise}}: Usually when this film airs on television, River's involvement in the heist at the start of the film (in which she uses her psychic powers to detect danger) isn't shown. It's either cut for time, or because networks don't like the idea of a teenager helping out in something criminal, being depicted in a film.
* BrainBleach: He doesn't witness it, but Mal is nonetheless horrified by Kaylee's description of her, um, dry spell.
-->'''Kaylee:''' It's been going on a year now [[ADateWithRosiePalms I ain't had nothin' 'twixt my nethers that weren't run on batteries!]]\\
'''Mal:''' Oh ''god''! '''[[LikeBrotherAndSister I can't know that!]]'''
* BreakTheBadass:
** The fact that Jayne Cobb is the most comfortable with gore and violence makes it all the more significant when he is the one to demand the transmission of the Reavers messily killing the scientist be turned off. Jayne's fear of the Reavers in general seems to evoke this trope.
** When the Reaver fleet appears out of the {{Space Cloud|s}} in front of the Alliance fleet, it is the Operative--stoic, nerveless mass-murderer and KnightTemplar--who reacts with terror and desperation. (Although at least he acts: everybody else is too stunned to do anything.)
--->'''The Operative:''' Target the Reavers! Target the Reavers! Target ''everyone!'' '''SOMEBODY FIRE!'''
* BreakTheCutie: In this case, River comes conveniently pre-broken. There are [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7T2mz4JJzEo&feature=related the R. Tam Sessions]], and enough flashbacks to see her being broken.
** The sudden look on Kaylee's face when she realizes [[spoiler:Wash is gone]] is just heartbreaking.
* BreakTheHaughty: With irrefutable evidence and a few well-placed words, Mal shatters [[KnightTemplar The Operative]]'s entire world view, systematically destroying [[UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans every belief he's based his horrific actions on]].
* BrickJoke:
** Mal instructs Jayne not to bring grenades to a meet because they aren't trying to blow people up. Jayne pouts, and then gets in an "I told you so" when the Reavers show up. Much, much later, on [[spoiler:Miranda]], the Reavers attack them, and this time he brought the grenades.
** Also the piece falling off ''Serenity'' mentioned under {{Bookends}}.
* BringNewsBack: After learning the [[GoneHorriblyWrong horrible truth]] about what happened on Miranda, Mal and the crew of ''Serenity'' set out to reach the only means of sending/spreading [[ApocalypticLog the report on what happened]]. It's something of a variant on this in that the only "authority figures" around, the Alliance, had the report buried, since they were responsible for the whole thing, but Mal is determined to get the message out in order to speak for the people who died there, and to strike a serious blow against the Alliance.
* BulletProofVest: The Operative plans to talk to the heroes. He's not there to fight, so he comes unarmed. But he's not a complete moron...
* CallBack: In the [[Recap/FireflyE01Serenity series pilot]], Mal says that the Reavers are obligated to chase you if you try to run from them. Not only does the entire Reaver fleet chase them from Miranda to Mr. Universe's planet, but one of the ships chases them when they try to flee the battle to land.
* CannibalClan: The Reavers are based on the myth of the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sawney_Bean Sawney Bean]] clan.
* CantStopTheSignal: The TropeNamer. [[spoiler:Mal uses Mr. Universe's equipment to broadcast the Miranda file and everyone in the 'Verse finds out the truth about the Alliance and the Reavers.]]
* TheCaretaker: Simon to River.
* CasualDangerDialogue: [[spoiler:Mr. Universe]] records his last words:
-->'''[[spoiler: Mr. Universe]]:''' Guy killed me, Mal. Killed me with a sword. How weird is that?
* CatchPhrase: ''Lots'' of these, including:
** The Operative:
*** "Do you know what your sin is?"
*** "This is a good death."
** Wash: "I am a leaf on the wind. Watch how I soar."
** Mr. Universe: "You can't stop the signal."
--->'''Mr. Universe:''' From here to the eyes and the ears of the 'Verse, that's my motto. Or, it would be, if I started having a motto.
* CeilingCling: River Tam avoids an Alliance patrol while escaping from the laboratory by planting each foot on either wall of the corridor and grabbing a ceiling protrusion with one hand. Creator/SummerGlau pulls it off with no trickery.
* TheChainsOfCommanding: "Just... tell me when we get there."
* TheChampion: Simon, having given up his entire life to find and rescue River, will not rest until she is truly safe--though [[CharacterDevelopment he does realize]] that he need not neglect his feelings for Kaylee in the process.
* ChekhovsGun:
** Mr Universe's ''love doll'' of all things. [[spoiler:He records a message on it telling Mal about his backup transmitter.]]
** Also Jayne's grenades, for a Chekhov's ''Lack'' of a Gun.
--->'''Mal:''' No grenades.\\
'''Jayne:''' Boy, sure would be nice if we had some '''grenades''', don'tchya think?\\
''[final stand]''\\
'''Mal:''' [[BrickJoke Tell me you brought 'em this time.]]
* ChemicalMessiah: The Alliance wants its populations to be docile and peaceful, so it develops the drug Pax (G-23 Paxilon Hydrochlorate) and [[spoiler:tests it on the planet Miranda]]. It doesn't go well, so officially, [[spoiler:[[OrwellianRetcon there never was a colony on Miranda]]]].
* ChewingTheScenery:
** Creator/NathanFillion (Mal) does quite a bit of this in the DVD outtakes.
--->'''Mal:''' Did you see us fight?\\
'''Kaylee:''' No.\\
'''Mal:''' TRAP!!!
** River also does this in the deleted scenes.
--->'''Simon:''' What will Miranda show us?\\
'''River:''' Death.\\
'''Simon:''' Whose death?\\
'''River:''' EVERYBODY'S!!!!!!
* ChronicHeroSyndrome: Mal suffers a vicious case of it. It's mostly under control at the start of the film, then has a flare-up about half-way after it's been irritated by exposure to [[spoiler:the truth about Miranda]].
* CloseKnitCommunity: Between the series and the film, Shepherd Book left ''Serenity'' and settled in a small town called Haven, where everyone seems to be friendly to both the crew and each other. The town is well named when ''Serenity'' needs shelter after a job.
* ColdOpen: The movie opens with [[LogoJoke the Universal Logo becoming]] EarthThatWas, accompanied by a narration... that turns out to be a school lesson... that turns out to be a memory... which turns into a nightmare; then River is rescued, which turns out to be security footage being played back; ''then'' we fade into the title sequence and ''Serenity''.
* ColorCodedForYourConvenience: The Alliance wears primarily blue and grey to match all their shiny tech. The Browncoats wear, um, brown, red, yellow, and orange, which goes with the Wild West setting. This symbolizes the Alliance's cold modernism versus the Browncoats' heart. The Tams wear dark blue, perhaps signifying their previous ties to the Alliance. The Reavers wear... heavily stained human skins.
* CombatPragmatist: A number of characters are willing to fight dirty.
** Being a soldier-turned-outlaw smuggler and no longer bound by anything resembling official rules beyond ''"keep the ship flying"'', Mal has no qualms with bringing a gun to a proverbial knife (or, in the Operative's case, ''sword'') fight. Mal shoots not one, not two, but three unarmed men over the course of the two hour film. Of course, when put up against an exemplary swordsman and martial artist such as the Operative, fighting dirty (and obfuscating his immunity to a certain attack) is just about the only reason Mal's able to keep up with him.
-->'''The Operative:''' I want to resolve this like civilised men. I'm not threatening you. I'm unarmed--...\\
'''Mal:''' Good! ''(immediately draws his gun and shoots the Operative right out of his chair)''
** As for Jayne? He's always been a fight-loving outlaw. While Mal avoids rules perhaps out of necessity due to the responsibilities placed upon him by his captaincy, Jayne flat-out ''doesn't care'' about them.
---> '''Jayne:''' Hell, I'll kill a man in a fair fight--or if I think he's going to start a fair fight. ...
* ComingInHot: ''Serenity'' crash-landing after being disabled by an EMP weapon.
* ContinuityNod:
** During Mal's ShirtlessScene, you can see the scar where he got stabbed in "[[Recap/FireflyE02TheTrainJob The Train Job]]," and another from Niska's torture device in "[[Recap/FireflyE10WarStories War Stories]]." Speaking of which, the "Mule II" hovercar is the official replacement for the "Mule" ATV that was destroyed in that episode.
** A subtle nod to "[[Recap/FireflyE14ObjectsInSpace Objects in Space]]":
---> '''Simon:''' Am I talking to Miranda now?
** The barrels ejected from ''Serenity'' as they escape the Training House look and function just like [[Recap/FireflyE01Serenity the pilot's]] "Crybaby".
** The second Reaver ship to appear in the climax is the one from the pilot episode.
* CoolStarship:
** ''Serenity'' is one of the "[[TheAllegedCar rustbucket]]" variety.
** The gigantic flying wrecks of the Reaver ships are, too--in their hideous way.
** The Alliance warships are more in line with your typical shiny futuristic StandardSciFiFleet.
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: The Blue Sun corporation is hinted to be behind the Academy.
* CovertPervert: Both Kaylee and River like to watch.
* CrapsaccharineWorld: On the surface, the Alliance is a highly advanced parliamentary democracy. Start digging deeper and you have oppression and abuse perpetrated in the name of [[UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans making them better]]. From relatively minor atrocities like involuntary surgery and brainwashing on children, all the way up to annihilating entire colonies and covering it up to avoid public censure. We know from the series that the free market reigns, with everything from indebted slaves to corporations withholding vital medicines for a profit to terraforming hackjobs apparently performed by the lowest bidders...
* CrazyPrepared:
** The Operative informs Mal that his ship has locked onto ''Serenity's'' pulse beacon and will fire with a single command. Mal responds by handing him that pulse beacon. He also preps six decoys for nav sat tracking, ''Serenity'' being signal #7.
** Inara lights a flashbomb disguised as an incense stick--unbeknownst to Mal ''or'' The Operative.
** The Operative might arguably qualify near the end, bringing in the entire fleet just to deal with one ship. [[spoiler:Turned out to be extremely useful when Mal tricked a second fleet into pursuing him.]]
* CreatorCameo: Creator/JossWhedon plays the guy who guards the payroll.
* CruelMercy: Mal does this to the Operative near the end.
-->'''Mal''': Hell, I'm gonna grant your greatest wish. I'm gonna show you [[IronicEcho a world without sin]].
* CulturedBadass: The Operative. Also, as it turns out, Mal, who's able to trade references to ''Literature/TheRimeOfTheAncientMariner'' with him.
--> '''The Operative:''' The girl will rain down destruction on you and your ship. She is an albatross, Captain.\\
'''Mal:''' Way I remember it, an albatross was a ship's good luck, 'til some idiot killed it. ''[Inara narrows her eyes]'' Yes, I've read a poem. Try not to faint.
* CurbStompBattle:
** [[spoiler:River, completely, totally, utterly ''obliterating'' the Reavers by herself]].
** In the BarBrawl, River kicks the asses of every single person in the pub.
--->'''Wash:''' Get to the part where Jayne gets beat up by a ninety-pound girl. 'Cause I don't think that's ''ever'' going to get old.
* CurseOfTheAncients: All the swearing that isn't done in "Mandarin"(-ish) has an Old West feel to it. Gorramit.
* CuteAndPsycho: River
* TheCutie: Kaylee and River
* DangerDeadpan: Wash is a completely different character when flying the ship: normally he's loud and panicky, but at the helm, he is completely calm and collected, no matter what imminent doom might be following him.
-->'''Wash:''' This landing is gonna get pretty interesting.\\
'''Mal:''' Define "interesting."\\
'''Wash:''' ''[deadpan]'' "Oh God, oh God, we're all gonna die"?
* ADateWithRosiePalms: Kaylee is getting rather tired of her exclusive relationship with Rosie, which is just one of the reasons she's unhappy Simon is leaving the ship.
-->'''Kaylee:''' It's been going on a year now I ain't had nothin' 'twixt my nethers that weren't run on batteries!
* DaydreamSurprise: The outdoor classroom at the beginning is not just a {{Flashback}}, but a hallucination of River's while she's StrappedToAnOperatingTable.
* DeadManWriting
** [[spoiler:Mr. Universe]] survives his stabbing long enough to record a message using [[spoiler:his lovebot]].
-->'''[[spoiler:Mr Universe:]]''' Guy killed me, Mal. He killed me with a sword. How weird is that?
** Dr. Caron (the female scientist on the planet [[spoiler:Miranda]]) says in her holographic message "I won't live to report this..." because she knows that the Reavers will soon attack and kill her. Moments later they do so, in a chilling and horrifying manner.
* DeathGlare: At one point Jayne, in his usual carelessly offensive manner, manages to irritate ''Zoe.'' She tells him that he ''wants'' to leave the room. And he does.
* DeceptionNoncompliance: Inara's conversation with Mal may have looked quite natural to the person forcing her to have it, but Mal correctly concludes that since they didn't [[BelligerentSexualTension argue at all]], it was actually intended to lure him into a trap.
* DemotedToExtra: Shepherd Book only appears in two scenes [[spoiler:before his tragic death]].
* DerelictGraveyard: Reaver Territory... including the Reaver ships.
* DespairEventHorizon: River's dialogue indicates that she crossed it at some point during her time at the Academy. [[spoiler:The Operative crosses when he learns the Alliance made the Reavers.]] The R. Tam Sessions used to promote the movie sees the entire BreakTheCutie process in action. Poor River...
* {{Determinator}}: Mal, who does not let little things like [[spoiler:swords in his stomach]] get in the way. The Operative himself stops for nothing in his crusade for a better world.
* DeusExMachina: [[spoiler:The DisabilityImmunity moment with Mal fending off the Operative's PressurePoint attack was not foreshadowed in any way.]]
* DisabilityImmunity: [[spoiler:The Operative hits Mal with the same pressure point attack that's paralysed his victim in the opening sequence. He gives his customary salute, prepares to run Mal through--and gets his throat punched. "Piece of shrapnel tore up that nerve cluster'n my first tour. Had it moved."]]
* DoubleMeaningTitle: ''Serenity'' is (obviously) the name of the spaceship, but the title also alludes to [[spoiler:the Alliance's plan to control the people of the 'Verse by using drugs to make them naturally peaceful and docile]]. Historically, the title refers to the Battle of Serenity Valley and more broadly the OrderVsChaos struggle between "civilisation" (The Alliance) and independence (The, erm, Independents) that forms the undercurrent of the film. Thematically, the Operative, Mal, and River are all looking for peace of mind.
* DramaticIrony: The audience and Mal know what the Reavers are, but the Operative does not, and boy is he in for a ''surprise''...
-->'''The Operative:''' There are a lot of innocent people in the air being killed right now.\\
'''Mal:''' You don't know how true that is.
* TheDreaded: The Reavers. [[HorrifyingTheHorror They even scare the Operative]].
* DreamIntro: The opening classroom scene is really a dream/memory that River experiences while being "treated" in the Academy.
* DressingAsTheEnemy: The crew successfully disguises ''Serenity'' as a Reaver ship by splashing it with blood-red paint and tying whole corpses to the front--using their murdered friends as those corpses.
* DrivingIntoATruck: The Mule escapes the Reavers by flying straight into ''Serenity'''s hold--while the ship is ''also'' flying.
* DroppedABridgeOnHim: [[spoiler:Poor Wash]] is abruptly impaled by a Reaver harpoon in the moment of his greatest triumph--[[spoiler:successfully flying through a massive space battle and crash-landing ''Serenity'' on Mr. Universe's compound]].
* DualWielding: [[spoiler:River]] uses a sword and axe taken off the Reavers during the big showdown.
* DutchAngle: Used when River "scans" the occupants of the trader outpost.
* EarnYourHappyEnding: A lot of people die in order to reveal the horrible truth about Miranda to the whole 'Verse.
* EarthThatWas: Humanity has migrated to a large multi-star solar system and {{Terraform}}ed dozens of planets and moons. Earth appears at the very beginning, showing the colonists leaving it. "Was" is very appropriate; most of the planet is a sickly shade of brown, and there are several large explosions going off, possibly nuclear. The [[Series/{{Firefly}} series]] is the TropeNamer.
* EmergencyCargoDump: DiscussedTrope. Zoe wonders why Mal refused to let a civilian tag along with them to escape a Reaver attack (Mal subsequently {{Mercy Kill}}ed him), and he says their hovercraft won't carry five. Zoe says they could've dumped the cargo, but Mal says they couldn't afford to fail the job.
* EmpathyDollShot: River sees a burning swing set after returning to Haven.
%%* EnvironmentalSymbolism
* EpicTrackingShot: After 10 minutes of schizophrenic, SmashCut-ridden intro, we get the title card, and then a 4-minute-long [[TheOner Oner]] that brings us home to the ship and her crew. (Movie Magic Tidbit: the sets for ''Serenity'' are divided between top and bottom levels. The cut was disguised with a whip pan on one of the stairwells so that it looks like a single take.)
* EscapePod: Used by the Operative to escape his flagship as it was being destroyed.
* EstablishingCharacterMoment:
** The Operative gets a fantastic one.
---> '''The Operative:''' In certain older civilized cultures, when men failed as entirely as you have, they would throw themselves on their swords.\\
'''Director:''' ''[sarcastically]'' Well, unfortunately I forgot to bring a swor--\\
''[The Operative pulls out a sword]''
** The first scene aboard ''Serenity'' is a [[TheOner continuous take]] which highlights each member of the crew, as Mal walks through the ship and talks to each one of them.
* EverybodysDeadDave:
** When the crew figures out that [[spoiler:"Miranda" is a planet]], ''Serenity'' makes a perilous journey through Reaver territory, to try to find out why [[spoiler:Miranda]] is so important. When they finally land planet-side, they discover the long dead corpses of an entire planet's population. Of course there were once survivors, but [[spoiler:they all turned into Reavers]].
** Earlier, after [[EverybodyCallsHimBarkeep the Operative]] has been outwitted by the crew of ''Serenity'' one more time, he proceeds to [[spoiler:have everyone who has ever provided shelter to the crew killed, en masse, including any [[LeaveNoWitnesses inconvenient bystanders]] and [[AnyoneCanDie Shepherd Book]]]]. This is what pushes Mal into going to [[spoiler:Miranda to find out just what the Alliance is trying to hide]].
* EvilVersusEvil: The Alliance vs. the Reavers is a pretty clear case.
* FacialDialogue:
** During the opening robbery, River and Zoe have a short conversation using nothing but facial expressions that goes something like, "That guy has a gun and he's about to pull it." "You sure? He looks like a hick." "Yes, I am sure, now stop him before he moves!"
** When Inara first sets eyes on the Operative, her previously cheerful expression disappears completely.
** When River's big brother Simon mistakenly thinks that River might have multiple personalities, he asks if he is speaking to [[ArcWords Miranda]] now. River's reply is a WhatAnIdiot glance at her brother.
* FakeInTheHole: Seen in the deleted scenes, when Mal and Inara escape from the Operative. Mal throws a real, but not armed, grenade, making the Feds near his shuttle dive off for cover... then Mal picks the grenade back up and goes on his way. Had it been left in, it'd be an EstablishingCharacterMoment for Mal--cunning, pragmatic, frugal, and ultimately preferring the non-violent path.
* FanOfThePast: In a sci-fi western with gunslingers galore, the Operative uses a sword to great effect. {{Lampshaded}} by one of his victims [[DeadManWriting post-mortem.]]
* FanService: Unsurprisingly large amounts of it, too...
* FinaglesLaw: Count on it every time.
* FireForgedFriends: By the end of the film, Jayne has a measure of respect for Dr. Tam. Even offers him a drink.
* FlirtingUnderFire: Simon and Kaylee during the climactic fight scene.
--> '''Kaylee:''' I didn't plan on going out like this.\\
'''Simon:''' I never planned anything. I just wanted to keep River safe. Spent so much time on ''Serenity'' ignoring anything I wanted for myself. My one regret in all of this... is never being with you.\\
'''Kaylee:''' You mean to say... sex?\\
'''Simon:''' ...I mean to say.\\
'''Kaylee:''' [[LetsGetDangerous Hell with this.]] ''[[[DramaticGunCock cocks her gun]]]'' I'm gonna live!
* FlyAtTheCameraEnding: A chunk of ''Serenity'' breaks off and flies at the camera.
--> '''Mal:''' [[CallBack What was that?]]
* ForcedFriendlyFire: During River's BarBrawl, someone pulls a gun with the intent to shoot her. She simply grabs his arm and forces him to aim past her, shooting one of the fighters on her other side.
* ForcedToWatch: Mal beats down the Operative and ties him to a railing while he broadcasts the recording of the PAX log. The Operative is [[DespairEventHorizon devastated]].
* {{Foreshadowing}}: The Alliance lacks manpower to keep peace on the outer planets so they hire private contractors. When they tried to subdue a planet by themselves in the past, [[spoiler:they accidentally poisoned its people]].
%%** '''River:''' He didn't lie down. They never lie down!
** Also the fact that [[spoiler:Miranda]] is located right in the heart of Reaver territory. [[spoiler:That's because the Reavers ''come'' from Miranda.]]
* FunnyBackgroundEvent: During Kaylee's old recording of Inara before she left, River can be seen in the background being... well, being ''River'', leaning over Inara's bed.
* TheFutureIsNoir: All interiors on the ship and elsewhere are poorly lit.
* FutureSlang: Following the tradition of ''Series/{{Firefly}}'', a lot of the slang is (loosely) Chinese or a slurred version of current language.
* GeniusBruiser: The Operative is exceptionally cunning and thoroughly deadly. He's also utterly ruthless, and has been given free rein by the government to do ''anything'' he needs to.
* GetOut: Zoe, to Jayne when she's good and pissed:
-->'''Zoe:''' You wanna leave this room.\\
'''Jayne:''' Damn right I do.
* GhostPlanet: [[spoiler:Miranda.]] Everyone there is dead of no apparent cause, [[spoiler:victims of the PAX drug that caused them all to lie down and die]].
* GiveChaseWithAngryNatives: The crew intentionally provoke a fleet of [[OurZombiesAreDifferent Reaver]] spaceships into following them, so that they can use them in a surprise attack on the Operative's fleet.
* GoneHorriblyRight:
** The Pax. The drug did work as advertised: [[spoiler:people were rendered calm by it, so much so that they neglected their own well-being out of apathy]].
** The Alliance wanted to create an unstoppable psychic spy/assassin in the form of River, and in the process, they got exactly what they wanted--only said psychic spy/assassin turned against them and blew the whole [[spoiler:Miranda]] scandal wide open.
* GoneHorriblyWrong: Also the Pax. As with any drug, a small segment of the population proved to have an adverse reaction, [[spoiler:creating the hyper-violent Reavers]].
* GoodOldFisticuffs: The Operative is a trained and skilled martial artist, Mal just hits things.
* GoryDiscretionShot: Sarah Paulson's recording [[spoiler:ends with her being attacked by the Reavers]]. She's moved out of the frame, but the sound leaves no doubt about her fate.
--> '''[[BloodKnight Jayne:]]''' [[ICantLookGesture Turn it off!]]
* TheGovernment: The evacuation of Earth, naturally, required an Alliance between all the governments of Earth (chiefly America and China, whose languages are still commonly spoken). The Alliance was still necessary afterward to arrange {{terraform}}ing and prevent clashes over viable worlds. By the time of the film, the Alliance is no longer necessary but still in charge, and those at the top are determined to stay in charge, providing a faceless GreaterScopeVillain responsible for sending the Operative.
* GovernmentConspiracy: [[AllThereInTheManual Possibly]] a private sector conspiracy by Blue Sun, but with definite government involvement.
* GovernmentDrugEnforcement: In this case, done without consent or knowledge, and without oversight or accountability.
* GracefulLoser: The Operative--but ''not'' the Alliance; the Operative himself warns Mal that the Alliance will probably be coming after ''Serenity'' before too long.
* GrandFinale: The film is pretty much this for [[Series/{{Firefly}} the series]].
* GratuitousForeignLanguage:
** The Mandarin-ish and Cantonese-oid phrases scattered through the dialogue, often as [[UnusualEuphemism family-friendly swearwords]]. Doubles as a BilingualBonus. As the DVD set shows, they use actual Mandarin phrases, although as mentioned above, the pronunciation is so atrocious that even native speakers will have trouble deciphering them, and some of them are absolutely hilarious in English.
** The trigger phrase that Simon uses [[spoiler:to put River to sleep after she clears out the bar]] is Russian, "Это курам насмех", meaning literally "This is hilarious to chickens", an old Russian saying used to denote something ridiculous.
** Another BilingualBonus for the name of [[spoiler:the chemical used on Miranda. Pax is Latin for "[[GoneHorriblyRight Peace]]"]].
* GroinAttack: When River's violent programming is triggered in the bar on Beaumonde, in the middle of trashing the place and beating the crap out of everyone within reach, she grabs Jayne's package and squeezes. Hard. Jayne is icing it down in the next scene. This could be a subtle BrickJoke to the episode "[[Recap/FireflyE11Trash Trash]]", when River insulted Jayne by stating that his is a girl's name, to which he angrily replied, "I'll show her good and all I got man parts."
* HandSignals: While the crew is exploring the planet [[spoiler:Miranda]], Zoe takes the point position and uses gestures to guide the movements of the rest of the team.
* HardWorkMontage: At the very end, the remaining crew put ''Serenity'' back together after her crash landing.
--> '''Mal:''' Think she'll hold together?\\
'''Zoe:''' She's tore up plenty. But she'll fly true.[[note]]Per WordOfGod, Zoe is talking about herself, not ''Serenity''.[[/note]]
* HatePlague: [[spoiler:A small portion of Miranda's population had an extremely violent reaction to the Pax, becoming the first Reavers.]]
* HaveANiceDeath: The Operative usually offers one of these. He's not being insincere or mocking when he does this, since he's pretty big on the "honorable death" thing.
-->'''The Operative:''' This is a good death. There is no shame in this.
* HealItWithBooze: After being shot through the leg by a Reaver harpoon, Jayne busies himself by pouring his flask over his leg wound... and then [[QuickNip taking a swig]].
* TheHeavy: The Operative is a secret government agent who represents the Alliance's interests and carries out their plans to use extreme measures to create a better world. The government elite who give him his orders remain unseen, so he's the closest to an overarching villain in the movie and presents the biggest threat to the heroes.
* HeelRealization: [[spoiler:The Operative]] upon seeing the evidence of what happened on [[spoiler:Miranda]].
* HeIsNotMyBoyfriend: In a deleted scene, Inara's reaction to the suggestion that she had a torrid affair with a pirate. [[SuspiciouslySpecificDenial Also, he's not a pirate, he's a smuggler, and VERY annoying.]]
* HeroicSacrifice:
** Subverted by [[spoiler:River]]; she declares YouShallNotPass to the Reavers and locks herself in a room filled with them to save her friends and family. Five minutes later, after everyone believes that she's been raped, killed, eaten, and possibly worn like clothing by the horde (in that order, if she's lucky), the doors slide back open--[[spoiler:to reveal her standing completely uninjured and knee deep in enemy corpses]].
** Subverted earlier. Mal is going to take the shuttle to meet with Inara and spring The Operative's trap. He explicitly tells Zoe that if they do not hear back from him in an hour, "You come and you rescue me."
--->'''Zoe:''' What? And risk my ship?\\
'''Mal:''' What? It's cold out there. I don't wanna get left.
** Played straight with Simon in what amounts to a lingering Heroic Sacrifice through the entire series and movie; he gives up status and fortune and lives with outlaws, so he can rescue and comfort his sister.
* HeroicSafeMode: [[spoiler:Zoe's response to Wash's death. She is in no way paralyzed with fear. Her response when everyone else asks where he is reeks of "must focus on the matter at hand, my emotional state is not important right now." It seems that she is determined almost to the [[DeathSeeker point of suicide]] during the climactic fight, since she [[TheSlowWalk casually walks away from cover]] straight toward the waves of oncoming Reavers while firing her shotgun. The DVDCommentary says Creator/JossWhedon and Creator/GinaTorres, Zoe's actress, argued about it. She felt Zoe would be more angry, and Joss explained that Zoe was [[TranquilFury suppressing it right up until the aforementioned point]].]]
* TheHerosJourney: Oddly, given the not-particularly-heroic nature of the crew, the film follows this pattern remarkably closely. It begins with Mal performing his everyday duties as a low-end crook and bank robber, only for his routine to be disrupted by a literal CallToAdventure; in this case, the signal that activates River. Though Mal initially [[RefusalOfTheCall refuses the Call]], he Crosses the Threshold when the Operative murders his friends. With the aid of River's [[SupernaturalAid essentially supernatural powers]], he descends through a swarm of monsters onto a planet of the dead, fights his way through a Road of Trials (in this case, a fleet of enemy ships) and then faces the Operative in battle before ultimately forcing him to Atone, while River reaches Apotheosis. In the end, the universe and the heroes Return to a new equilibrium.
* HiddenArmyReveal: One ship emerges from the {{Space Cloud|s}}... [[spoiler:followed by ''all'' of the Reavers]].
* HiddenDepths: You wouldn't count on Mal knowing ''Literature/TheRimeOfTheAncientMariner'', or River being a death machine. The Alliance didn't expect Simon to instantly adapt his natural brilliance into [[Film/TheNatural stealing test subjects right out of top secret labs.]] And Book... Book knows all about the Alliance, and operatives, and such. His strange expertise is explained in the third of the three comic books, "A Shepherd's Tale."
* HighClassCallGirl: Inara, although since she left ''Serenity'' she has retired from active duty and is training younger girls in the art of Companioning.
* HilariousOuttakes: Included on the DVD, and they are indeed hilarious. For example, Creator/NathanFillion plays this scene completely straight, even as he's sending it entirely off the rails:
-->'''Mal:''' Get these bodies together.\\
'''Zoe:''' We got time for grave diggin'?\\
'''Mal:''' Zoe, you and Simon are going to rope them together. Five or six of them, laid out on the nose of our ship.\\
'''Simon:''' Are you insane?\\
'''Mal:''' [[RefugeInAudacity Put Book front and center. He's our friend, we should honor him.]] Kaylee, find that kid who's taking a dirt nap with baby Jesus. [[CrossesTheLineTwice We need a hood ornament.]] Jayne! Try not to steal too much of their shit!
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: In order: the Academy directors saw fit to put their heads of state in a room with a crazy psychic, not just show them video footage; the Operative's broadwave attempts to trigger River prevent Mal from turning the Tams off ''Serenity''; and the Operative's assault on Haven and the other safeholds just makes Mal more determined to figure out what Miranda holds.
* HoldTheLine: The defense in Mr. Universe's complex against the Reavers. While Mal heads into the complex to broadcast the message, the rest of the crew finds a bottleneck to defend for as long as they can, with a blast door they can close to buy more time once they are in danger of being overwhelmed.
* HologramProjectionImperfection: When the hologram of the female scientist on the planet [[spoiler:Miranda]] plays, there are occasional shifts in the picture.
* HolyBacklight: During Malcolm's call to action in the mess hall at the beginning of the third act, sunlight streaming through the dining hall windows frames him with an ethereal purpose.
* HonorAmongThieves: The crew of ''Serenity'' are honorable people in a shady profession, especially their captain Mal, though he would protest the label.
* HonorBeforeReason: Especially Mal. Jayne calls him out on it when he gets fed up, but brings it up himself later.
-->'''Jayne:''' Shepherd Book always said, "If you can't do somethin' smart, do somethin' right."
* HookerWithAHeartOfGold: Inara, to name one.
* TheHorde: The Pax has rendered the Reavers into a slavering horde through no fault of their own.
* HumansAreFlawed: Joss states in the commentary that the point he wanted to make with this film is that while the SevenDeadlySins are bad, they're also inseparable from human nature. This is demonstrated with [[spoiler:Miranda]], a world where everyone from whom sin was 'removed' is dead--and those who clung to it are no longer human.
* HumansAreWhite: For a universe which is heavily Asian inspired and merged completely with Chinese culture, ''none'' of the main cast members even have Asian features; Tam is likely a Chinese surname, but Simon and River don't look at all Chinese. Even the colonists, Alliance navy and (from what little one can see) Reavers tend to be mostly Caucasian.
* ICannotSelfTerminate: River begs Simon to kill her when Mal has her chained to ''Serenity'''s floor.
-->'''River:''' Put a bullet to me. Bullet in the brain pan. Squish.
* IdenticalTwinIDTag: Parodied. Mal can tell the Rample twins apart because "Fanty's prettier", but there is no easy way to spot the distinction between him and Mingo. In the novelization of the film, it's clarified as a subtle voice inflection, which is barely noticeable in the film but can be heard by viewers with keen ears listening for it.
* IdenticalTwinMistake: The twins from the try to invoke this by pulling the TwinSwitch on people for fun. They're frustrated that [[TheCaptain Mal]] can always tell which is which.
-->'''Mal:''' Mingo. ''[Nods to Mingo]'' Fanty. ''[Nods to Fanty]''
-->'''Mingo:''' He's Ming-
-->'''Mal:''' He's Fanty, you're Mingo.
-->'''Mingo:''' ''[Stares at Mal for a moment before reluctantly smiling]'' How is it you always know?
* IDidWhatIHadToDo: This has become the Operative's mantra, the only thing that keeps him functioning.
* IJustWantToBeNormal: River would give anything ''not'' to be a mind reader.
* IllGirl: River, of course. The experiments performed on her at the Academy, specifically [[spoiler:the knowledge of what the Alliance did on Miranda gleaned through her {{telepathy}}]], have driven her quite insane.
* ImAHumanitarian: One of [[ILoveTheDead three]] [[NemeanSkinning things]] the Reavers do to their victims. And if you're very, very lucky, they kill you first. From the MercyKill scene, it's clear they prefer their dinners alive and screaming.
* ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice: [[spoiler:Wash]] is killed by an enormous Reaver harpoon, straight through ''Serenity'''s windshield.
* IndyPloy: At first, Mal is forced into VillainsActHeroesReact by the Operative's campaign of destruction. When he finally decides that he will take no more, he switches to the Indy Ploy, uncertain how he can make things turn out well but determined to do so.
* InfantImmortality: Averted. The Operative is not above killing children, as he flat out informs Mal. As proof of this, when the characters arrive at Haven, Kaylee (the crew's most soft-hearted member) comes across a dead little boy about 10 years old (one whom she was briefly seen interacting with affectionately, earlier in the film). [[spoiler:The Operative is aware that this is his MoralEventHorizon, but argues that these deeds are NecessarilyEvil.]]
* InsaneEqualsViolent: The Reavers.
* InstantExpert: River being capable of [[spoiler:flying ''Serenity'' at the end]], though lampshaded in that she's psychic and a genius.
* InstantSedation: Averted when Kaylee is shot with three tranquilizer darts.
* InstantWinCondition: The Operative's mission is to eliminate River Tam before any of the big state secrets she has in her mind can be let out. He's willing to kill huge numbers of people, the protagonists included, to pursue this mission. Once [[spoiler:the broadcast of the 'Pax' report goes out, that mission is a failure, so he has his men stand down, as the damage is done, and killing Mal and the others is no longer "necessary" to him.]]
* InTheBack: "You shot me in the back! I haven't made [[TheStoic you]] ''angry'', have I?"
* IntroDump: For viewers who haven't seen ''Series/{{Firefly}}'', the intro explains that [[EarthThatWas Earth has been abandoned]] and humanity now occupies another star system, the {{backstory}} elements of the Alliance/Independents war, River's treatment at the Academy and Simon's rescue, and introduces us to ''Serenity'' and seven of the nine major characters who already know each other. All done in ten minutes with admirable deftness.
* IronicEcho: When Mal shows [[spoiler:the Miranda recording]] to the Operative, he forces the latter to eat his words about how he was building "a world without sin" by showing him what such a world would actually look like.
-->'''Mal:''' I'm not gonna kill you. Hell, I'm gonna grant your greatest wish. I'm gonna show you a world without sin.
* {{Irony}}: Haven ain't so safe.
* JumpedAtTheCall: Simon's rescue of River.
* KarmicThief: Mal Reynolds and crew take a job which involves stealing a [[LawEnforcementInc private security payroll]]. It's a job hurting [[TheEmpire the Alliance]], so they're {{Jerkass Victim}}s, but Mal has no intentions of handing out his crew's cut to the poor.
* KickTheDog: After the ''Serenity'' crew prevent the Operative from tracking them down ''twice,'' he coldly reasons that they have to run somewhere, so he starts destroying every settlement where Malcolm Reynolds is known to have friends or contacts. More chilling than most examples because this is ''not'' anger or revenge, just a ScorchedEarth strategy.
* KickTheSonOfABitch: It's safe to say that there's no sympathy for Dr. Mathias when the Operative kills him at the beginning. Likewise, the pilot of the Alliance vessel Mal rather ruthlessly murders has just slaughtered a ton of innocent people.
* KilledMidSentence: [[spoiler:Shepherd Book]] is cut off in the middle of his inspiring speech; [[spoiler:Wash]] in the middle of his SurvivalMantra.
* KnightTemplar: The Operative, as summed up ably by Inara.
--> '''Inara:''' We have every reason to be afraid.\\
'''Jayne:''' Why? 'Cause this guy beat up Mal? That ain't so hard.\\
'''Mal:''' Whoa! He didn't beat me up. Nobody said that.\\
'''Inara:''' Because he's a believer. He's intelligent, methodical, and devout in his belief that killing River is the right thing to do.
* LeaderWannabe: Jayne gets disgusted with Mal's leadership and states his desire to be the leader at one point.
* LensFlare: Intentionally on Whedon's part.
* LetsGetDangerous: The Alliance had no idea what they set loose when they [[spoiler:triggered River's implanted WaifFu]].
* LivingEmotionalCrutch: Simon to River, and ''do not'' mortally wound Simon when River is around.
* LodgedBladeRecycling: The Operative really shouldn't have let go of his sword after he stabbed Mal with it. Mal uses it to pin him to the railing so that he's ForcedToWatch the Pax broadcast.
-->'''Operative:''' ''[stabs Mal]'' Do you know what your sin is, Mal?\\
'''Mal:''' Aw hell, I'm a fan of [[SevenDeadlySins all seven]]. ''[pulls sword back out]'' But right now, I'm gonna have to go with Wrath.
* MakeItLookLikeAStruggle: Mal has an exchange with a guard early in the film about doing this so it doesn't look like the guard just rolled over and let them take the cash.
-->'''Mal:''' The leg is good. It'll bleed plenty and we avoid any unnecessary organs.\\
'''Guard:''' I was thinking more of a graze.
* ManchurianAgent: River isn't stable enough to become TheMole when triggered, but the Operative still uses her brainwashing to find her by making her cause a very conspicuous BarBrawl.
* MaybeEverAfter: [[spoiler:Mal and Inara]] seem to end on this vaguely good note.
--> [[spoiler:'''Mal:''' Ready to get off this heap and back to your civilized life?\\
'''Inara:''' I, uh... I don't know.\\
'''Mal:''' Good answer.]]
* MeaningfulBackgroundEvent: When they're at the bar on Beaumonde, you can hear the news announcer on the TV talking about an attack where the only survivors were a group of people who [[CallBack sealed themselves inside of a bank vault.]]
* MeaningfulName:
** Combined with a BilingualBonus, The Pax. Pax is Latin for [[{{Irony}} Peace]].
** "Miranda" is a character in Shakespeare's ''Theatre/TheTempest'' who famously says "O brave new world that has such people in't" upon seeing people from outside her sheltered island existence; this quote in turn is the inspiration for the title of Aldous Huxley's novel ''Literature/BraveNewWorld'', wherein the dystopian totalitarian state uses drugs to pacify the (genetically engineered) people. A complex multi-layered reference.
* MercyKill:
** Mal shoots a bystander when he gets grabbed by Reavers, and Jayne asks Mal to do the same when he gets his leg speared by a harpoon.
--->'''Jayne:''' I won't get eaten! You shoot me if they take me!\\
''[Mal aims his pistol at Jayne]''\\
'''Jayne:''' Well, don't shoot me first!
** The Operative offers to do this to Dr. Mathias "like an ailing pet".
* AMindIsATerribleThingToRead:
** Simply being put in a room with [[spoiler:[[TheGovernment key members of Parliament]]]] was enough to drive River completely monkey-shit. It is expanded on in the {{Novelization}}--she was writing coherent secret messages to Simon right up until that point, upon which they immediately degraded to hash.
** On Miranda, River is able to hear the psychic echoes of the former population, and is driven to tears by what she hears: [[spoiler:the deafening silence of millions of minds made so apathetic that they let themselves die]].
* MindRape: Whatever the Academy did to River, she didn't turn out very well.
* MisfitMobilizationMoment: Mal, to his crew after finding the video on [[spoiler:Miranda]]: "No more running. I aim to misbehave."
* [[TheMovie The Big Damn Movie]]
* MyFistForgivesYou: Simon slugs Mal for (what else?) putting River in danger. Interestingly he is the only one of the crew that ever dared do that--it's a CallBack to the series, where Mal punched Simon (twice!) in [[Recap/FireflyE01Serenity the "real" pilot]] for putting his ship in danger.
* MysteriousPast: Book, and to a lesser extent River. Book once again refuses to tell Mal how he knows so much about Alliance business and the criminal underworld.
* NayTheist: Mal. More specifically, he is a maltheist. He equates belief to God, giving Book two of his better lines:
-->'''Book''': When I talk about belief, why do you always assume I'm talking about God?\\\
'''Book''': It doesn't matter what you believe in. As long as you believe.
* NecessarilyEvil: The Operative views his crusade this way. [[spoiler:He abandons this notion after finding out the truth about Miranda.]]
* NerdsAreSexy: Both Simon (TheMedic) and Kaylee (a WrenchWench).
* NeutralFemale: Subverted with Inara, who tries to fight the Operative alongside Mal. Key word "tries", given she's a Companion, and he's a highly trained government agent. Although...
-->'''Inara:''' And that's ''not'' incense. ''[flashbang grenade detonates]]''
* NiceJobFixingItVillain: The plot of the film is driven almost entirely by the Alliance's efforts to stop River from revealing the information she holds. Had they not activated her subliminal programming or hunted down the crew of the Serenity, the heroes would never have gone to [[spoiler:Miranda]] and learned the secret.
* NobleFugitive: Simon and River.
* NoHoldsBarredContest: The final fight between Mal and the Operative is a brutal beat down on both sides.
* NoNameGiven: The Operative. His name is taken from Doctor Mathias identifying him as "an operative" of the Alliance Parliament. Of course, the Operative states he doesn't ''have'' a name to give anyway, given he officially doesn't exist.
* NoNonsenseNemesis: Played with between River and Mal.
* NoOneCouldSurviveThat: River's HeroicSacrifice. Except... she does.
* NoOSHACompliance: Mr. Universe's [[{{Understatement}} "hard to get to"]] backup.
* NoPlaceForMeThere: The Operative knows he can't live in the utopia he seeks to create.
--> '''The Operative:''' I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. A world without sin.\\
'''Mal:''' So me and mine gotta lay down so you can live in your better world?\\
'''The Operative:''' I'm not going to live there. There's [[TropeNamer no place for me there]], any more than there is for you. Malcolm, I'm a monster. What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done.
* NoseArt:
** The ship's name is painted in a stylized seal on the bow of the ship, in [[BilingualBonus both English and Chinese.]]
** The crew later invokes this trope by disguising their ship [[spoiler:as a Reaver vessel, complete with lots of red paint and human corpses lashed to the hull.]]
* NothingIsScarier: The Reavers are never given any full shots throughout the entire film.
* NowLetMeCarryYou: River, to Simon after he gets shot:
--> '''Simon:''' River, I'm sorry.\\
'''River:''' No...\\
'''Simon:''' River, I hate to leave.\\
'''River:''' No, you won't! You take care of me, Simon. You've always taken care of me. ''[stands up and faces the unclosed blast doors]'' [[PreAsskickingOneLiner My turn.]]
* ObligatoryWarCrimeScene: Mal kills a wounded Alliance soldier who participated in the attack on Haven.
* OffscreenVillainDarkMatter: Not a villain, but ''where'' did Mr. Universe find the money for that complex?
* OhCrap:
** The Operative's [[MoodWhiplash smugness turns to complete terror]] as he realises [[spoiler:''who'' Mal has [[SummonBiggerFish brought with him]] to get past the blockade]].
--->'''The Operative:''' Target [[spoiler:the Reavers!]] Target [[spoiler:the ''Reavers'']]! Target ''everything!'' ''SOMEBODY '''FIRE!'''''
** Inara is very good at reading and controlling body language, so when she meets the Operative, the way her smile fades before he even says anything speaks volumes.
** The head scientist gets an understated one when Simon says, "She always did love to dance." He has just enough time to realize that this isn't a government official he's been escorting into Top Secret research areas before he is knocked out by the stun grenade.
** The crew, when they learn where Miranda is located, as Zoe explains, in-between where they are and Miranda are the Reavers. All the Reavers.
* OneWomanArmy: River's WaifFu lets her take on [[spoiler:a whole roomful of Reavers]] and win. She's quite prepared to throw down with the Alliance soldiers, too.
* OnlyAFleshWound:
** When Mal gets stabbed during his fight with the Operative, though having Alliance medical care available soon after may make it somewhat less applicable.
** During the Reaver chase scene in the opening, Jayne gets impaled through a leg by a barbed harpoon. It doesn't seem to bother him much until he's back on ''Serenity''.
* OrganDodge: The Operative's PressurePoint technique targets a nerve cluster [[spoiler:Mal had moved due to an old war wound]]. [[TryingToCatchMeFightingDirty The Operative is led to believe that it actually worked before a devastating surprise counterattack]].
* OutOfCharacterAlert: Inverted: a character ''doesn't'' say something they normally would, which tips Mal off.
-->'''Mal:''' Did you see us fight?\\
'''Kaylee:''' No.\\
'''Mal:''' ''Trap.''
* PaperThinDisguise:
** Mal's big plan to slip past the Reavers is to disguise Serenity as a Reaver ship--it's just rundown enough to pass for one too.
** When Mal slips into Inara's rooms, he's dressed as another Companion.
---> '''The Operative:''' I'm impressed that you would come for her yourself. And that you would make it this far in ''that'' outfit.\\
'''Mal:''' I can be very graceful when I need to.
* ParallelConflictSequence: The final battle is fought in two places.
* TheParalyzer: The Operative uses a strike that targets vital nerve clusters, paralyzing his victim. [[spoiler:He tries it on Mal, but it fails because of a war injury.]]
* PassingTheTorch: In the final scene of the film, [[spoiler:River takes her place in the cockpit of ''Serenity'', taking over as pilot following Wash's death]].
* PassThePopcorn: When Inara calls Mal, the rest of the crew watch on the bridge. Janye brings popcorn.
* PerfectPacifistPeople: The Alliance tried to create a world like this artificially. They wound up [[spoiler:creating a big pile of people who died of apathy. Oh, and [[AlwaysChaoticEvil the Reavers]].]]
* PhlebotinumRebel: River is the product of a program to develop psychic operatives, but what she saw and learned drove her insane. When she recovers, she is adamantly hostile to them.
* PhoneTraceRace: After the Operative has several of the Serenity crew's havens destroyed, he talks to Captain Mal on the Wave (SubspaceAnsible). During the conversation Mal tells the Operative they won't be talking long enough for a Wave trace (which would allow the Operative to locate them) and turns off the communications device.
* PlayingWithSyringes: River at the academy.
* PleaseWakeUp: [[spoiler:Zoe's immediate reaction when Wash is killed.]]
* ThePowerOfLove:
** The core of Simon and River's relationship. [[BigBrotherInstinct Simon's]] [[DeclarationOfProtection love]] for [[TheWoobie River]] is practically the only thing holding her [[MindRape fractured psyche]] together. [[spoiler:As a result, this is the force that allows her to [[MamaBear pull herself together]] at the end of the film and [[WaifFu save]] [[YouShallNotPass everyone]].]]
** Invoked at the end with River and Mal:
---> '''Mal:''' You know what the first rule of flying is? Well, I suppose you do, since you already know what I'm about to say.\\
'''River:''' I do. But I like to hear you say it.\\
'''Mal:''' Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take a boat in the air that you don't love, she'll shake you off as sure as the turn of the worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she ought to fall down, tells you she's hurting before she keens, makes her a home.
* PreAsskickingOneLiner:
-->"My turn."\\
"She always did love to dance..."\\
"You know what your sin is..."\\
"Ah, hell. I'm a fan of all seven... But right now... I'm going to go with '''WRATH.'''"
* PrecisionFStrike:
** "Eight months. ''Eight months'' you had her on my boat knowing full well she could go '''monkeyshit''' at the wrong word and you never said a thing." It's easy to miss it, but this is a cuss word they couldn't drop on Fox, but could in a BigDamnMovie.
** In the movie's novelization by Keith R.A. [=DeCandido=], a version of the scene on Haven where Mal [[spoiler:announces his plan to use the corpses of the murdered settlers as part of a disguise for ''Serenity'' to cross Reaver space]] is featured where Mal drops the F-bomb to emphasize his point. Pretty sure the same scene is featured in the early draft of the film's script floating around the 'Net, the version where [[spoiler:Wash and Book don't die]].
* PressurePoint: Used by the Operative as a [[TheParalyzer paralyzing technique]], and subverted by [[spoiler:Mal in his final fight with the Operative when he pretends to fall victim to this technique. In truth that particular pressure point was rendered invalid by the surgery used to fix a war wound, and he just plays along so he can catch The Operative off guard.]]
* PsychicPowers: River Tam demonstrates uncontrolled telepathy and empathy. It's [[{{Fanon}} theorized by some]] that her combat prowess may be partly attributable to low-level precognition—seeing seconds into the future to determine an enemy's next move. She also has other abilities, such as an ability to discern health problems and locate dead bodies, find her way through strange environments with no guidance, and locate electronic devices or discern problems with machinery. Interestingly, "The R. Tam Sessions" imply that River already had some form of latent psychic ability before the Academy started working on her.
* PsychoSerum: G-23 Paxilon Hydrochlorate ("the Pax") has this effect on about 0.1% of people, [[spoiler:turning them into Reavers]].
* PublicSecretMessage: The code that makes River flip out is hidden in an ad spot for Fruity Oaty Bars.
* PunctuatedForEmphasis: a [[DownplayedTrope downplayed]] example.
--> '''The Operative''': Key. Members. Of Parliament.
** Also, after Mal realizes that Reavers are coming:
--> '''Mal:''' Get them! ''Inside!'' '''The Vault!'''
* QuickNip: Jayne takes a swig from a flask after pouring most of it out [[HealItWithBooze on his leg wound]].
* QuoteOverdosed: Like the series, it's ''very'' quotable. You can't stop with just one.
* RadialAssKicking: [[Creator/SummerGlau River]] fights off Reavers coming at her from all sides.
* RagtagBunchOfMisfits: ''Serenity'''s crew.
* RammingAlwaysWorks: The Operative's ship gets T-boned by a [[spoiler:Reaver ship]] in the final battle, snapping it in half. The latter ship is significantly larger in addition to its chosen orientation, [[spoiler:and the Reavers are crazy enough that they don't necessarily care about the damage to their own vessel]].
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: The Operative comes off like this at first. When Dr. Mathias sees him reviewing footage of River's escape, he protests that there was nothing he could have done to prevent that. The Operative actually agrees with this, saying that Simon had spent far too much time and effort preparing for the escape for them to realistically have prevented it. [[spoiler:Then he executes Dr. Mathias because he had, inadvertently, leaked government secrets by allowing Parliament members into the same room as a mind-reader.]]
* RebuiltSet: ''Serenity'' looks a tiny bit different from the version seen in the show; most noticeably, the bridge is much smaller and is missing the storage lockers behind Wash's chair.
* RedOniBlueOni: Mal predominantly wears red clothes while the Operative wears Blue.
* {{Retraux}}: Joss specifically asked for old camera lenses to use to add the "[[TheSeventies 70s]] {{Western}}" feel.
* RevealingCoverup: The Alliance spends a whole lot of time and effort hunting down River Tam, including murdering just about everybody who may have been in contact with her, in order to cover up what she learned through her {{telepathy}} when she was in the same room as several high-ranking Alliance members. River, being insane, probably doesn't understand what she knows and, in any case, isn't in any position to tell anybody even if she does. But the Alliance's campaign of persecution gives ''Serenity'''s crew a big motive to find out and make the information public knowledge.
* RewardedAsATraitorDeserves: After [[spoiler:Mr. Universe]] sells out Mal, the Operative instead [[spoiler:kills him with a sword. How weird is that?]] Bonus points for getting it right in the middle of asking for his thirty pieces of silver.
* RhetoricalQuestionBlunder: When Mal and Jayne are arguing what to do about River after the BarBrawl.
-->'''Mal:''' Do you want to run this ship?\\
'''Jayne:''' [[BluntYes Yes!]]\\
'''Mal:''' ...[[LameComeback Well, you can't!]]
** Not exactly a question, but:
-->'''Mal:''' I staked my crew's life on the theory that you're a person, actual and whole. If I'm wrong, you'd best shoot me now.\\
'''River:''' ''*DramaticGunCock*''\\
'''Mal:''' ''*looking freaked out*'' ...or we could talk more.
* RichInDollarsPoorInSense: Averted. Simon's time on the ship has stripped this element from him, replacing it with [[DarkerAndEdgier a tired bitterness behind most of his actions]].
* SacrificialLion: Two main characters from the series, [[spoiler:Book and Wash]], are killed to highlight the danger of [[spoiler:the Operative and the Reavers]], respectively.
* SchizoTech: The just-settled Outer Planets have no infrastructures or industries built yet, and the Alliance considers anything past terraforming a low priority, which looks to be how the Alliance controls the outer planets. "Join us and we'll upgrade your tech. Don't and have fun adapting yourself."
* SchoolForScheming: River went to the Alliance-sponsored Academy to learn things. Instead she was tortured and experimented upon.
%%* ScienceFiction
* ScottyTime:
--> '''Mal:''' Kaylee, you got a day's work to do, and two hours to do it.
* SendInTheSearchTeam: On [[spoiler:Miranda]], the crew finds an ApocalypticLog which is all that is left of the search team sent in to find out [[spoiler:what went wrong with the Pax drug]].
* SesquipedalianLoquaciousness: River occasionally. Possibly Simon. Possibly Kaylee, too, via mechanic talk.
* SevenDeadlySins:
** The Operative seems to be obsessed with them, asking his victims if they know for which sin he is about to kill them. Given that they think they can "make mankind better", the Alliance's chief sin seems to be {{Pride}}.
** Mal is also a [[AntiHero fan of all seven]], but right now he's going with [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge Wrath]].
* SexBot: Mr. Universe has one. Turns out to be useful for other things, too, like messages. It's not entirely clear why they call it this, since it never moves on its own and appears to just be a doll.
* ShirtlessScene: Mal and Simon each get one. Joss Whedon actually apologizes in the commentary for shooting shirtless!Mal at such a close angle and not allowing a full look at his physique.
* ShooOutTheClowns: A particularly brutal example. [[spoiler:Wash provides much of the film's comic relief, as he does in the show. When the intense final showdown is about to take place, he's properly killed off]].
* ShootTheDog:
** The Operative describes this as his ''raison d'etre''--his purpose in life, he says, is to [[UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans create a world]] where [[KnightTemplar monsters like himself]] will [[NoPlaceForMeThere not be allowed to exist]].
** Mal's choice to disguise ''Serenity'' as a Reaver vessel is also treated as a Shoot the Dog--he is [[DueToTheDead desecrating the corpses]] of their deceased friends and turning their home into an abomination in order to defeat [[GovernmentConspiracy the Alliance]].
* ShootTheRope: Mal needs several shots to sever the mini-harpoon from Jayne's leg. While he's hanging from the back of the Mule II ''at full tilt.''
* ShoutOut: Numerous. Special mention goes to the Reavers, who share the name of the Scottish/English Border-Reivers of the late Middle Ages, and exist in similar political circumstances, with similar behavior.
* ShroudedInMyth:
** Reavers, at least until their origin is revealed.
** Inara, amongst the other Companions. Rumor has it, she had a torrid affair with a pirate.
* ASimplePlan: Mal comes up with a lot of these. And they go wrong with [[FinaglesLaw alarming regularity]].
* SingleTear: The Operative, when he sees [[spoiler:the footage from Miranda]].
%%* SlidingScaleOfShinyVersusGritty
* SomeoneToRememberHimBy: At the end of ''Serenity: Float Out'', it is revealed that [[spoiler:Zoe is pregnant with Wash's daughter]].
* SonicStunner:
** Simon apparently found one that only works ''at head level'', then uses it to rescue River by setting it off and ducking (she's conveniently seated at the time).
** Inara's flashbang-incense is a very crude version.
* SorryThatImDying:
** [[spoiler:Book]] to Mal.
** Simon to River.
* SpaceClouds: The ion cloud around Mr. Universe's planet. Creator/JossWhedon admitted that he knew exactly how unscientific this is, but he needed it there for RuleOfCool in the battle scene.
%%* SpaceIsCold
* SpacePirates: The Reavers, though they don't care about the usual pirate goals; RapePillageAndBurn is an end in itself for them.
* SpaceWestern: Though the BigDamnMovie has fewer obviously Western elements than its [[Series/{{Firefly}} predecessor series]], the slang is still intact, and the ''Serenity'' crew do commit a bank robbery in a frontier town.
* SpecialEffectBranding: Both used and subverted throughout ''Series/{{Firefly}}'' and ''Serenity''. The Alliance and civilian vessels (particularly ''Serenity'') have ''very'' distinctive differences from each other. However, while definitely "branded" with their SpikesOfVillainy, painted blood, and corpses, the Reaver ships are still recognizable by class - one shot from ''Serenity'''s fleet battle shows an Alliance frigate and a Reaverized counterpart of the same ship in great detail.
* StealthHiBye: River, notably in the opening sequence, where she goes from unconscious and StrappedToAnOperatingTable to fully awake and directly behind Simon in the time it takes him to peer out the door. Simon himself pops up behind Mal when he's preparing to argue against taking River along on the job.
* StealthPun: In the soundtrack, not the movie. The name of the song that plays during the introductory sequence (the classroom explanation of EarthThatWas, specifically), is "Into the River". [[DontExplainTheJoke It all takes place in River's head.]]
* StressVomit: While on the planet [[spoiler:Miranda]], the crew learns a horrifying truth about the origin of [[spoiler:the Reavers]], causing River Tam to throw up.
* SummonBiggerFish: Captain Mal does this by getting [[spoiler:the Reavers to attack the Alliance]].
* SurvivalMantra: "I am a leaf on the wind. Watch how I soar." Savagely subverted when [[spoiler:Wash [[KilledMidSentence dies in the middle of saying it.]]]] Then again, he's [[spoiler:not flying any more. Flying is his super power. His milieu.]]
* SwallowedAFly: After a horrific encounter with the Reavers, the crew barely makes it back, and crashes the runabout back onto ''Serenity''. Simon (who stayed behind) is frantic over River, who is oddly calm:
-->'''River:''' I swallowed a bug.
* SwordPointing: The Operative does this to Captain Mal when he first draws his sword during their fight in Mr. Universe's complex.
* TakeAMomentToCatchYourDeath: ''Serenity'' dives down through the [[spoiler:Reaver–Alliance]] battle, barrels toward Mr. Universe's complex, [[ComingInHot crash-lands with a minimum of grace]], and everyone appears to be okay--[[spoiler:cue the Reaver harpoon through the cockpit. Poor Wash...]]
* TakingYouWithMe: [[spoiler:A wounded Shepherd shoots down the Alliance ship that destroys Haven. "Not very Christian of me."]]
* TalkativeLoon: River. She's very much aware of it, but has no real control over it, as she states in one of her more lucid moments.
* TerrifyingRescuer: Mal. After he loses his temper, the Vault Guard genuinely seems more afraid of him than the ''Reavers''.
--> '''Mal:''' You get everyone upstairs in there and you seal it. Long as you got air you don't open up, you understand?\\
'''Guard:''' I--Buh--I...\\
'''Mal:''' Get them! ''Inside!'' '''The Vault!'''
%%* {{Thememobile}}: The good ship ''Serenity''.
* ThemeMusicWithholding: The "Ballad of Serenity" only appears in a simple guitar cover at the very end of the credits.
* ThereAreNoTherapists: Not that there's any out there that could help much in River's case, not the very least because she's a fugitive who the Alliance and the Academy want back very badly.
* ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill: The Operative calls in the entire fleet to deal with a single, unarmed, cargo transport. Might double as CrazyPrepared, [[spoiler:because it turns out to be really helpful]].
* ThickerThanWater: Simon has given up his entire life for River, and protecting her is still his singular goal.
-->'''The Operative:''' Madness? Have you looked at this scan carefully, Doctor? At his face? It's love, in point of fact. Something a good deal more dangerous.
* ThisIsReality: The Operative tries to convince Mal to give up with this argument.
-->'''The Operative:''' Nothing here is what it seems. You are not the plucky hero, the Alliance is not an evil empire, and this is not the grand arena.
* ThrowTheDogABone: Once the truth of [[spoiler:Miranda]] is known to the crew and River {{Stress Vomit}}s, she suddenly finds that the intense pressure of the secret on her psyche has been lifted, leaving her much less insane than before.
-->'''River:''' I'm alright. ... ''I'm alright.''
* TiredOfRunning: Having spent years trying to make a living and simply avoid the Alliance after their victory in the war, Malcolm Reynolds finally finds a reason to fight back: the secret of Miranda.
-->'''Mal:''' A year from now, ten? They'll swing back to the belief that they can make people... better. And I do not hold to that. So no more runnin'. I aim to misbehave.
* TokenEvilTeammate: Jayne Cobb. (Or at least more amoral than the rest of them anyway.)
* TookALevelInBadass: River. Boy does she ever. It's shown that Kaylee is able to hold her own in a fight as well, especially when she's [[DyingDeclarationOfLove properly motivated.]]
* TranquilFury: Zoe and River both get this when their respective loved ones are hurt [[spoiler:(or in Zoe's case, killed)]].
** Zoe simply fires at first, then calmly wades into the middle of the advancing Reavers almost suicidally before getting hurt and pulled back.
** River launches her own [[HeroicSacrifice suicidal attack]] after Simon gets hit, but she's a [[CurbStompBattle lot more successful]].
* TranquillizerDart: Kaylee gets three darts to the neck during the final battle, but never does completely lose consciousness.
* TraumaSwing: An eerie variation with River, who in one scene is standing behind a swing set that's engulfed in flames. It's shot so that River is framed by the burning swing.
* TriggerHappy: Jayne in general; Mal against the Operative.
* TriggerPhrase: River has one. Played with in that a phrase makes her sleep; what turns her into a violent assassin is a subliminal message hidden within an innocuous advertisement.
* TrojanHorse: [[spoiler:How ''Serenity'' runs the gauntlet through the Reaver ships to and from Miranda--by disguising itself as one of them, corpses and all.]]
* TrueCompanions: ''Serenity's'' crew. Mal will protect everyone on his ship and will punish anyone on his ship for harming anyone else.
* TryingToCatchMeFightingDirty: Not that you need to try very hard. Mal's {{Combat Pragmatis|t}}m contrasts nicely with the Operative's martial arts.
* TykeBomb: River was taken at fourteen and turned into a psychic SuperSoldier at the Academy.
* UndyingLoyalty: The Operative acknowledges Simon's unwavering instinct to protect River:
--> '''The Operative:''' The boy spent his entire fortune developing the contacts to infiltrate this place.\\
'''Dr. Mathias:''' Gave up a brilliant future in medicine as well. It's madness.\\
'''The Operative:''' Madness? Have you looked at the scan carefully, Doctor? At his face? It's love, in point of fact. Something a good deal more dangerous.
* {{Unperson}}: There is not a colony on Miranda and there never has been. And Miranda was never terraformed and never can be. And you're under arrest for asking.\\\
Note that Miranda had a population of ''several million'', and the government managed to suppress all knowledge of it entirely, save for a blank entry on the Cortex (the setting's equivalent to the net) and some vague recollections.
* UnresolvedSexualTension: No, it is not your imagination that whenever Mal and Inara get within a foot of each other, electricity shoots out of your screen. It's the UST trying to explode your television/computer.
* UnstoppableRage: River falls into a [[TranquilFury very calm]] rage when [[spoiler:Simon gets shot]].
* UnusualEuphemism: Between the Mildly Mandarin swearing, the use of archaic words like "quim", and various other slang such as "gorram" and "shiny", it's hard to find examples of ''usual'' euphemisms in this film.
* UsedFuture: Justified. There is a deliberate contrast between the ShinyLookingSpaceships of the Alliance and the used, battered craft on the border regions.
* UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans: The Operative and the Alliance's goal.
* VillainousBreakdown:
** Happens to the Operative when he sees the Reaver ships following ''Serenity''.
** He has another, much more complete one [[spoiler:when he sees the Miranda recording, and realizes everything he told Mal in the quote under ThisIsReality is precisely backwards]].
* VoiceOfTheResistance: The broadwave of the Miranda recording.
* VoiceWithAnInternetConnection: The appropriately-named Mr Universe.
* VomitDiscretionShot: Averted with River [[spoiler:when she learns of Miranda's secret; it works to clear her sub-conscious of the problem she was having assimilating the information]].
* WaifFu: River, again. Those poor Reavers.
* WatchingTroyBurn: ''Serenity'' runs to [[spoiler:Haven]] only to find it in flames.
* WellIntentionedExtremist: The Operative truly believes that he is NecessarilyEvil and is [[UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans building a better world]].
* WhatTheHellHero: Zoe points out that Mal could have saved a man's life simply by dumping the loot from a heist. Mal replies that the loot is the only thing between them and abject poverty, but it's still not a choice they would have made during the war.
* WhatYouAreInTheDark: Nobody but Simon would have known if he had abandoned River. Not even River herself.
* WindowWatcher: In the last few minutes, River does this from the ceiling. To her brother, no less.
* WorldOfCardboardSpeech: River admits to Simon as he lies dying from a gunshot to the stomach that she understands that she's always relied on him and the rest of the crew to [[TheCaretaker take care of her]] through her helpless madness. Then, she adds that now, it is [[NowLetMeCarryYou her turn]] to [[LetsGetDangerous take care of them.]] [[YouShallNotPass Cue awesome.]]
* WorthLivingFor: Played for laughs when Simon [[CannotSpitItOut spits it out]].
-->'''Simon:''' In all that time on the ship... I've always regretted... not being with you. \\
'''Kaylee:''' With me? You mean to say... as in sex?\\
'''Simon:''' I mean to say.\\
'''Kaylee:''' To Hell with this. '''I'm gonna live!'''
* WouldHurtAChild: The Operative is not above killing children, as he flat out informs Mal. As proof of this, when the characters arrive at Haven, Kaylee (the crew's most soft-hearted member) comes across a dead little boy about 10 years old (one whom she was briefly seen interacting with affectionately, earlier in the film). The Operative is aware that this is his MoralEventHorizon, but argues these deeds as being NecessaryEvil.
-->'''Capt. Malcolm Reynolds''': I don't murder children.
-->'''The Operative''': I do. If I have to.
%%* WrapItUp
* WrittenByTheWinners: Comes up in the ColdOpen; the teacher in River's dream gives a rather biased account of the war. Then there's Miranda...
* YouAreAlreadyDead: A variant, the Operative uses a nerve strike that, while not deadly in and of itself, does leave his victims paralyzed so he can stab them with his sword.
* YouCantGoHomeAgain: Neither River nor Simon Tam can return to their home on Osiris, because doing so would get Simon arrested and River sent back to the Academy. On a more blunt note, Malcolm Reynolds can't go back to his home on Shadow because the Alliance virtually destroyed the planet during the Unification War, rendering it uninhabitable.
* YouHaveFailedMe: DoubleSubversion. The Operative's superiors aren't angry that Simon got River out, as he clearly went to extreme lengths to accomplish it. They are, however, extremely angry that River's "handlers" showed their pet psychic to key members of Parliament. In person.
-->'''The Operative''': Key. Members. Of Parliament. "Key." The minds behind every military, diplomatic, and covert operation in the galaxy, and you put them in a room with a psychic. [...] You know, in certain older civilized cultures, when men failed as entirely as you have, they would throw themselves on their swords.
* YouHaveToHaveJews: David Krumholtz as Mr. Universe, who is even shown breaking glass during his... [[CargoShip "wedding".]]
* YouRebelScum: From most Alliance officials.
* YouShallNotPass: [[spoiler:River]], when the only thing standing between the badly injured and exhausted crew and [[spoiler:the oncoming Reaver hordes]] are some broken blast doors.
* YouWouldntLikeMeWhenImAngry
-->'''The Operative''': Do you know what your sin is, Mal?\\
'''Malcolm Reynolds''': Ah hell, I'm a fan of all seven. But right now? I'm gonna have to go with ''wrath''.
!!And notably {{Averted|Trope}}:
* EvilArmy: Alliance officers believe that they are genuinely trying to protect people and improve the Verse, whether that's actually true or not.
* FasterThanLightTravel: According to [[AllThereInTheManual the manual]].
* OutgrownSuchSillySuperstitions: Buddhism and Christianity are still dominant religions. Also, Mr. Universe appears to be Jewish.
* SpaceIsNoisy: Instead, it is [[MickeyMousing Mickey Moused]]. Justified in the big space battle scene since [[WordOfGod commentary]] says they technically are in atmosphere.
''"What was that?"''