YMMV: Firefly

  • Ear Worm: The title theme is the first example listed under Live-Action TV on that page for a reason. Also frequently mentioned are the Fruity Oaty Bars jingle and the Ballad Of Jayne Cobb.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: River, who went from being a secondary character — who still had quite a bit of focus on in the main series — to being one of the two leads in The Movie. She's on the TV Tropes Wiki Drinking Game for a reason. It's also telling that her entry on the character page is twice as long as the others.
  • Evil Is Cool: Averted.
    • Dobson is a petty government bureaucrat who likes hurting people, not a Man In Black
    • Badger tries to seem a Man of Wealth and Taste, but he comes off as paranoid, brutal, scheming and petty.
    • The Hands of Blue are Men In Black, but they're not portrayed as 'cool' in any sense: more like a Conspiracy Theorist personification of 'The Government'.
    • Niska's efforts to be comical, or even to present himself as strictly business, come off as an insincere cover for his sadism.
    • Dr. Matthias is a banal and rather boring person. The sort of person who would be running a government brainwashing project in other words.
    • Jubal Early might actually have played this trope straight, if not for River's ruthless and unnerving analysis.
    • On the other hand, The Operative plays this trope straight.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Saffron, but she is played by Christina Hendricks.
  • Fan Preferred Pairing: There are three main, widely accepted pairings for this show: Mal/Inara, Simon/Kaylee, and River/Jayne. Simon/Kaylee, however, while running on UST for the entire series, was made canon at the end of the movie, and Mal/Inara probably would have produced some sort of result anyway if the show had gone on longer - so River/Jayne, which is only hinted at in the show, is the only real example of this trope portrayed here. The latter is also notable because it is something of base breaking among the fans, but it is also the only consistently popular fan-preferred pairing.
  • Foe Yay: Mal and Saffron have heaps of this, as do the Tam siblings with Jayne.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: From "Shindig", when Zoe and Wash are Talking in Bed about what to do if Jayne decides to take over the ship. Just try laughing at Wash joking about how to properly eulogize Zoe after watching her at his funeral in the Big Damn Movie.
    "I'm a leaf on the wind. Watch how I soar."
  • Genius Bonus: The opening line of the song is "Take my love / Take my land" and goes on to say that the singer doesn't mind because he's still free. Machiavelli's The Prince says the two things you can't take from people without inciting revolt are their women (love) and land.
  • Ho Yay: According to Adam Baldwin, there would have been deliberate Ho Yay between Simon and Jayne if the series had not been cancelled.
    • Sean Maher also stated in a convention interview that he believed Simon had a crush on Jayne, something that would likely have been used in a future storyline.
    • There's also noticeable Les Yay between Kaylee and Inara and Kaylee and River, with the latter especially noticeable in the pilot and "Objects In Space."
  • Hype Backlash: While it is typical for a Joss Whedon production to get this, Firefly gets more than most along with Dollhouse, though The Avengers and Astonishing X-Men give it a run for its money for the title of worst victim.
  • I Am Not Shazam: Firefly is the name of the class of ship, not the ship itself. Serenity is the name of the ship, the first(ish) episode and The Movie.
  • Internet Backdraft: Gosh, it sure is weird that there are not any obvious Asians in the lead cast or featured ro—OH SWEET MERCY THE FLAMES!
  • Iron Woobie: Mal Reynolds and the full weight of The Chains of Commanding. He lost his entire homeworld to war, lost most of the people he ever cared for, then lost the war. After that he embarked down a life of crime that chafes at his principles, and alternates between Rage Against the Heavens and looking after his crew, often at the expense of his health.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Jayne, at least in the moments where he shows a softer side, which almost always only happens when something terrible has happened to him.
  • Memetic Mutation: "I'll be in my bunk.", "Also? I can kill you with my brain.", "Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!", "Mine is an Evil Laugh!", "This food is problematic", "Big Damn Heroes, sir!" Etc., etc.
  • Moe: Kaylee. Joss Wheadon himself has said that everything becomes happy and shiny when she smiles.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Jayne comes very close to crossing it in "Ariel" when he tries to sell Simon and River to the Feds. He comes within seconds of getting Thrown Out the Airlock, but his regret and shame afterwards show that he is not completely irredeemable.
    • Niska crosses it when he kidnaps Mal and Wash and starts torturing them to death. Bad move.
      • Alternately, the point where Zoe jumps the gun on his Sadistic Choice and he responds by giving her "small refund".
    • "Heart of Gold". Rance. Willing to take out the entire brothel just to get to his kid, and is willing to be sexually serviced in public, because he thinks that's what women are for. Rather telling for someone who doesn't even survive the episode.
  • Never Live It Down: FOX will always be the network that killed this show. To the point that the only reason Dollhouse got a second season was them not wanting the fans burning them in effigy.
  • Nightmare Fuel: A surprising amount.
  • No Yay: To some fans, River seems too severely damaged (mentally and emotionally) to be a mutually consenting adult, so efforts to 'ship' her tend to run into Unfortunate Implications. She's doing better after the events of Serenity, but the extent of the improvement is unclear.
  • One-Scene Wonder
    • Murphy in "Shindig". Could also qualify from his snarky lines as a Cool Old Guy.
      "Forgive me. I cannot abide useless people."
    • Monty, Mal's old war buddy, fellow smuggler, and fellow victim of Saffron.
      "I shaved my beard for you, devil-woman!!"
  • Stoic Woobie: Simon has to deal with pretty much everything his sister is going through, and received little to no support from either of his parents when he made his move to get her out of there. This is also Zoe after the movie, and depending on how badly the war affected her, possibly before and during the series as well.
  • Retroactive Recognition: A young Zac Efron plays a young Simon Tam in a flashback from "Safe".
  • Spiritual Licensee: Bennett The Sage points out various similarities between Firefly and Outlaw Star here.
  • Unfortunate Implications: One of the criticisms of the series was the fact that despite taking place in a future where China was a massive superpower and Chinese influence could be felt in everything from dialogue to clothing, there were almost no actual Chinese (or indeed any Asian) characters in the show. Even the Tam Siblings, who had a Chinese surname, were played by white actors.
  • What an Idiot: The guy who just beat you up and defeated your gang of mooks offers to give you back all the money owed to your boss and let you go, no hard feelings. Do you A) gratefully accept the unexpected mercy, or B) threaten to hunt down and murder the man while standing between him and his rotating engine intake?
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: People seem to want to read politics into Firefly everywhere, with critics interpreting it as everything from an anti-Big-Government libertarian parable, to a racist, pro-Confederate perspective on the Wild West. The show is, in fact, fairly apolitical; with the exception of some possible feminist overtones (which are typical of Joss Whedon's work), Firefly does not seem to have one specific political "message" as much as people would like to believe. Whedon even qualifies that, if anti-government messages do sneak in, that is because the story is essentially Mal's story, and it all comes from his perspective as a bitter ex-soldier who fought against a government that he personally considered evil.
  • The Woobie: River. Between her madness, the fear the others show around her, and her traumatic backstory (plus Summer Glau's excellent acting) she gets tremendous sympathy from the fandom. Kaylee also gets similar treatment thanks to the fact that every villain seems to be laser-guided to target and hurt the sweetest person on the whole ship. Wash has some Sad Clown tendencies. Book doesn't really know where he belongs in life, and what with an abusive childhood never really had a family. Inara may also qualify, given her secret.