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    Badger 

Badger

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/badger_8488.jpg
"Crime and politics, little girl. Situation is always… fluid. "
Played By: Mark Sheppard

Sir Warrick: I know [Badger]. And I think he's a psychotic low-life.
Mal: And I think calling him that is an insult to the psychotic low-life community.

A lowlife "businessman" on Persephone who frequently does business with Mal.


  • Brief Accent Imitation: River does this to him at one point, and is good enough to convince him she's from "the old homestead".
  • Butt-Monkey: When Jayne Cobb is able to make you look pathetic, you truly fall into this.
  • Creator Cameo: Was supposed to be this, but Joss liked Sheppard!Badger better.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Badger acts polite, but there's always a sneer present and a vague sense of resentment. On some rare occasions he does slide into Affably Evil, such as his interaction with River, but mostly not.
  • Evil Brit: Most certainly immoral if not outright evil.
  • Holier Than Thou: He considers himself better than Mal because he has "roots in the community". That same community loathes to deal with him.
  • Laughably Evil: Badger might be a bottom-feeding vulture without a hint of conscience, but his fun lines and Mark Sheppard's charismatic performance make him a joy to watch.
  • London Gangster: With his cockney accent and bowler hat, he gives off a vague Bob Hoskins vibe, although of course London no longer exists. He's actually from "Dyton Colony".
  • The Napoleon: He's a short fellow who's easily upset.
  • Nice Hat: A black bowler.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: He gives one to Mal, but considering the type of person Badger is, it falls entirely flat.
    "What were you in the war? That big war you failed to win? You were a Sergeant, yeah? Sergeant Malcolm Reynolds… balls and bayonets brigade. Big, tough veteran. Now you got yourself a ship and you're a Captain. Only I think, you're still a Sergeant, see? Still a soldier. A man of honor in a den of thieves. Well this is my gorram den, and I don't like the way you look down on me. I'm above you, better than! Businessman see? Roots in the community. You're just a scavenger."
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: With Mal on pretty much every single job.
    Mal: Well maybe I'm not a fancy gentleman like you, with your very fine hat, but I do business. We're here for business.
  • Wicked Cultured: As with most criminals of the London Gangster variety, he tries but fails. River even uses this in her "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
    River: Now you're what, petty thief with delusions of standing? Sad little king on a sad little hill.
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    Niska 

Adelai Niska

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/TropeNiska_3493.jpg
"When you die, I can't hurt you any more. And I want two days at least, minimum."
Played By: Michael Fairman

A crime lord introduced in the second pilot, "The Train Job." Very concerned about reputations, especially his own. He is the second recurring villain of the show.


  • Ax-Crazy: Lampshaded by Zoe to Mal.
    Zoe: He's a psycho, you know.
  • Back from the Dead: Niska likes to do this to people who die on him during his torture sessions.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Niska's modus operandi in the series. He strongly believes in the principles of Shan Yu.
  • Captain Obvious: One of his quirks is deliberately explaining things that he's already made clear.
  • Dirty Coward: When Mal frees himself, Niska pathetically crawls away in fear.
  • Electric Torture: When Niska gets busy, he likes to start off with this before getting nastier.
  • Evil Old Folks: He looks like someone's grandfather, but he's a ruthless sadist.
  • Faux Affably Evil: At first, he comes across as a harmless old grampa with a funny accent and probably some nice stories. Just when you're expecting him to pat his lap and hand you a Werther's Original, he has his henchmen slide open a door to reveal a human carcass hanging by its feet.
    Mal: [barely hiding his disgust] …I'm sure he was a… very bad person.
    Niska: My wife's nephew. At dinner I'm getting earful. And there is no way out of that.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: He wears a pair of Gepetto-looking glasses.
  • The Mafiya: Of sorts, due to his accent and his tattooed henchmen.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Mal gave him back the money for the train job, but Niska takes the incident as a personal slight and wants to torture Mal for days before killing him to keep his reputation solid.
  • Sadistic Choice: Niska's attempt to give one to Zoe backfires on him when she immediately chooses Wash. He seems rather disappointed.
  • Slave to PR: Niska places immense value on his professional reputation; he wants to keep up his status as The Dreaded. This results in him torturing his nephew to death, dishing out You Have Failed Me gruesome deaths and letting Zoe walk away unscatched from an encounter with him because he wants to be known as a man of his word.
  • Softspoken Sadist: He can be very soft-spoken in the tone of a kindly old man. The fact that he does this while he's zapping the living daylights out of you, cutting off your ear, or even worse things makes him creepy.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Just as Book had in a previous scene, Niska reveals an interest in the works of fictional despot Shan Yu, and just like Book it's within the context of torture. It's perhaps a hint to Book's less-than-Godly past.
  • Torture Technician: What Niska is generally known for, although he doesn't participate himself. He stands nearby and taunts while his more burly henchmen do the dirty work.
  • You Have Failed Me: People who disappoint Niska tend to be tortured to death multiple times.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After War Stories he's never seen again.

    "YoSaffBridge" 

"YoSaffBridge"

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/yosaffbridge_7525.jpg
"Everybody plays each other. That's all anybody ever does. We play parts."

Known as Saffron, Bridget, and Yolanda—none of which are her real name. One of the few recurring villains (they likely intended more, but dying off after one season does mess up plans a bit) of the show, YoSaffBridge is a con woman who specializes in seduction. Introduced in "Our Mrs. Reynolds", as Saffron, and thus is best known by this name.


  • Accidental Marriage: How she's introduced.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: The speed in which her demeanor goes from meek to manic depending on who has got the upper hand, leads some characters to suggest she honestly might be mentally ill.
  • Best Her to Bed Her: Subverted within the course of a few seconds. She briefly pretends to be a believer in this trope to try to seduce Mal and gain the upper hand, but he sees through it and she instantly drops the act.
  • Bi the Way: Possible—she tries to seduce Inara, but the latter recognizes her Companion training, throwing doubt on just how genuine this was. And we've never seen her seductions end in sex anyway; Mal had been knocked out by her drugged lipstick shortly before.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: First appears as The Ingenue.
  • Complexity Addiction: Mal points out that with her smarts, can figure out much easier ways of making money. She replies that money isn't really the point.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Boy howdy… how do we begin? The crew of Serenity, Monty, Durran and there are allusions to her disposing of previous accomplices.
    Mal (listening to "Yolanda" covering her tracks): "They" got Heinrich?! Well. Guess he wasn't useful anymore.
  • Dark Action Girl: Uses her Vamp and Femme Fatale skills in addition to her ass-kicking ability.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: When Mal catches up to her, she claims that the reason she acts like a manipulative, murderous Femme Fatale is because she believes others have ulterior motives. Mal begs to differ.
  • Evil Redhead: Generally she prefers theft, con games and treachery to outright murder. But that's a difference in style, not an actual rule.
  • Extreme Doormat: Her "Saffron" personality was one.
  • Femme Fatale/The Vamp: She uses a combination of innocence and feminine wiles to hit her marks.
    YoSaffBridge: But face it, hubby: I'm really hot.
  • For the Evulz: Compulsively. In her first appearance, she implies this is her real motivation for playing an elaborate ruse to send Serenity into a trap, not the money. In her second appearance, it turns out that she was once married to a man who could give her everything she could ever possibly want, but she left him because she still couldn't resist the urge to commit crimes and screw people over.
  • I Have Many Names: Resulting in the awkward but canonical "YoSaffBridge."
  • Ignore The Fanservice: What Mal tries to do. "Oh, I'm going to the special hell…"
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After plotting and scamming the crew so much in her reappearance in "Trash", she's outwitted and left in a dumpster by Inara.
  • Loveable Rogue: Played with.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Hell, it's her job. She bats her eyelashes and most melt before her… it's hard to blame them, too.
    YoSaffBridge: I didn't kill him either.
    Mal: No, I don't reckon there's many you've killed. Just left them in a position to die easy.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Her nude scene.
  • Morality Pet: It's heavily implied that Durran is the only one of her husbands that she has ANY affections for (reacting with anger when Mal realizes this). Mal even points out that she could have easily just returned and stolen the gun without all the subterfuge, and realizes that it's because she actually does care about what he thinks of her.
  • Mysterious Past: Aside from her habit of marrying men and leaving them to die once she's gotten what she needs, and her at least semi-genuine affection for one of her past husbands, we really don't know anything about her. Inara thinks she's probably received Companion training, but we'll never no for sure.
  • No Name Given: No real name, at any rate. She's been known as Saffron, Yolanda, Bridget, and who knows how many other names.
  • The Oldest Profession: Based on their interactions, Inara realizes that YoSaffBridge has most likely received Companion training, but too late to do anything about it except delay her escape.
  • Serial Spouse: That's why she has many names. Mal eventually lampshades it in Trash.
    Saffron: He[Mal]'s my husband.
    Mal: Well, who in the damn galaxy ain't?
  • Shadow Archetype: Easily construable as Inara's foil and opposite.
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: She definitely believes this, but Mal gives her a "The Reason You Suck" Speech that points out where it got her.
    Saffron: Everybody plays each other. That's all anybody ever does. We play parts.
    Mal: You got all kinds of learnin' and you made me look the fool without tryin', and yet here I am with a gun to your head. That's 'cause I got people with me. People who look out for each other, who do for each other and ain't always lookin' for the advantage.
  • Smug Snake: She's smart, but pigs will fly before she outdoes Mal and his crew.
  • The Vamp: Arguably a deconstruction. She is highly trained and skilled in seduction and uses it to manipulate everyone she comes across. But as a result she doesn't have any meaningful relationships, she's left countless identities and more than a few bodies in her wake, even she doesn't seem to know who she really is, and we're shown how psychologically messed up someone would need to be to choose such a lifestyle. More importantly, she burns bridges with the one person she DOES genuinely love (or at least care for).
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Mal thinks that she doesn't kill many people, "you just put them in a position where they die real easy". He's also astonished when she refuses to simply knock out Durran when they try to steal from him, and puts two and two together and realizes that the only reason for her actions is because she cares for Durran and lied about her story.

    Patience 

Patience

Played By: Bonnie Bartlett

An old ally of Mal's, who apparently shot him once. Owns a moon by the time the series starts.


  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Apparently every time Mal makes a deal with Patience she tries to backstab and cheat him out of payment.
  • Evil Old Folks: Elderly, affable and ruthless.
  • I Lied: With regards to making a deal with Mal. The crew note she didn't make much effort to hide that fact, stating she would have at least tried to haggle them down their already-discounted price if she was honest about it.
  • Never Mess with Granny: An amoral version.
  • Noodle Incident: She and Mal seem to have met a few times, and the last time ended in gunplay. Hardly surprising once the audience gets to see her idea of standard business practice.
    Zoe: Sir, we don't want to deal with Patience.
    Mal: Why not?
    Zoe: She shot you.
    Mal: Well, yeah, she did a bit. But that was due to a perfectly legitimate conflict of interest. I got no grudge.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Once Mal, Zoe and Jayne take down her bodyguard and he has her pinned under a dead horse, she gets one from Mal.
    Mal: Now I did a job. I've had nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention a few unkind remarks as regard to my character, so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. *takes the bag of coin* And then I get paid. Go run your little world.
  • Wasteland Elder: Patience is running her own planet, although as planets go, it's pretty desolate and barren.

    Crow 

Crow

Played By: Andrew Bryniarski

The chief enforcer for Adelai Niska. Crow served as Niska's right hand and saw to it that all of his business associates fully complied.


  • Badass Boast: He gives a rather intimidating threat of revenge to Mal, although it's undercut by Mal immediately kicking him into Serenity's engine.
  • Death Glare: His default expression; Crow seems two seconds away from murdering everyone around him at any given time.
  • The Dragon: For Adelai Niska. Lampshaded by Niska, sort of:
    You have seen Crow. He loves to stand at the door to say "Boo!"
  • Honor Before Reason: Much like his boss, Crow favors personal retribution instead of money.
  • The Last Thing You Ever See: Subverted in one of the most memorable scenes in the entire series.
    Crow: Keep the money. Use it to buy a funeral. It doesn't matter where you go, or how far you fly. I will hunt you down, and the last thing you see will be my blade.
    Mal: (beat) Darn. (kicks Crow into Serenity's engine intake)
  • Turbine Blender: How Mal disposes of him.
  • We Will Meet Again: That's what he thinks, anyway. Mal doesn't care for the idea.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Thinks he's in a heroic space opera where the hero won't kill a defeated unarmed enemy even when given death threats. He thought wrong.

    Harrow 

Sir Warwick Harrow

Played By: Larry Drake

A nobleman on Persephone who owns some "property" that he needs moved off-planet. After he refuses to deal with Badger, Badger sends Malcolm Reynolds to talk to him.


  • Cool Old Guy: Harrow is a quick-witted, classy fellow who's a good judge of character.
  • Gentleman Snarker: He doesn't seem to have a very high opinion of anybody. Particularly Atherton Wing, whom he dislikes immensely. He gets his fair share of barbs in.
    Harrow: [to Wing] You'll have to rely on your winning personality to get women. God help you.
  • Odd Friendship: He changes his mind about Mal after seeing some very inappropriate ballroom behavior, and agrees to act as Mal's second at the duel.
    Harrow: You did mess up Atherton's face, and that has endeared you to me somewhat.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: He may be part of Persephone's upper crust, but he'd be the first to tell you that "crust" is not generally a complimentary word.
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    Stitch 

Stitch Hessian

Played By: Kevin Gage

An old crime buddy of Jayne's.


  • Alas, Poor Villain: Knowing how utterly screwed over he was by Jayne, and the resulting torture, one can't help but feel slightly sorry for him.
  • Anti-Villain: Stitch is a vengeful, vicious crook, but given that he never really commits any major villainy onscreen, it's hard not to side with him when he (rightfully!) seeks revenge on Jayne for betraying him and leaving him to be captured and tortured by Magistrate Higgins for years.
  • Beard of Barbarism: He's grown one after years of isolation and torture.
  • Character Death: Jayne has to beat him to death in self-defense.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He's outraged that Jayne shoved him overboard, and is even more insulted when Jayne says Stitch would've done the same to him.
    Stitch: We dumped the fuel reserves, dumped the life support, hell we even dumped the seats! There's Jayne, the money, and me... there was no way he gonna drop that money.
    Mudder: He did. He dropped it on the mudders.
    Stich: By accident you inbred dunghead! He tossed me out first! For six months we run together, and he turned me out before I could scream!
    Jayne: You'd have done the same.
    Stitch: No. Never. You protect the man you're with. You watch his back. Everybody knows that!
  • Eye Scream: One of his eyes was torn out, probably in the near-fatal fall from the hovercraft he and Jayne used for the robbery.
  • Hand Cannon: He wields a shotgun with one hand.
  • Honor Among Thieves: He may be a crook, but he's a firm believer in protecting the people you work with and never betraying them.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: After he learns that Simon is associated with Jayne, he starts giving out one of these to Simon, in order to force Simon to help him find Jayne. It would have gone on much longer, and been much nastier, if Stitch hadn't heard the mudder chanting for Jayne and realized that Jayne was just outside.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Against Jayne.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: He was a pretty vicious crook before being hunched up in an overheated chicken coop for a few years. By the time he gets out, he's gone a little Ax-Crazy.

    Nandi 

Nandi

Played By: Melinda Clarke

A former Companion who knew Inara on Sihnon before they both left the planet. Nandi gave up her life as a Companion—having concluded that it was too restrictive—to become a brothel madam, overseeing common prostitutes on one of the outer planets. When Petaline, one of her girls, becomes pregnant with the son of a local landowner, the richest, most powerful man on the small planet, she calls Inara to see if the crew of Serenity can help against the baby's father, Rance Burgess.


  • Action Girl: She learned how to use a gun, and use it well, long ago.
  • Beleaguered Childhood Friend: To Inara.
  • Character Death: Rance Burgess shoots her in the stomach with his laser gun, killing her outright.
  • Cultured Badass: She had plenty of higher learning during her time as a Companion, and isn't afraid to put bullet holes in men who try to take advantage of the girls working for her.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: She even appears in the episode Heart of Gold running a brothel by the same name.
  • Mama Bear: For her girls in her brothel.
  • Miss Kitty: She's a brothel madame who's very protective of her girls.
  • Old Friend: To Inara, with whom she trained to be a Companion. After Nandi left the Guild, the Companion higher-ups forbade Inara from speaking with her. It's an order that Inara simply ignores.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: An expected trait for a former Companion.

    Burgess 

Rance Burgess

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/burgess_rance_7595.jpg
"The rights you got are the ones I give you."
Played By: Fredric Lehne

Mal: Nothing worse than a monster who thinks he's right with God.

A rancher who runs afoul of the crew of Serenity when he decides to wage war against a brothel run by Nandi, a former Companion and friend of Inara Serra. According to Nandi, Burgess was the richest man on the planet, and kept everyone else poor so he could play at being a "cowboy in his own gorram theme park".


  • Boom, Headshot!: At the hands of Petaline.
  • Character Death: Petaline shoots him in the head.
  • Determinator: It's hard not to be impressed by the bastard's utter failure to give up, even when he's lost.
  • Family Values Villain: He has very "traditional" views, clearly seeing men as superior and women as objects to be owned as property or used for breeding or simply making a point.
    Rance: Now, Chari here, she understands a whore's place, don't she? But Nandi, and those others, they spit on our town! They've no respect for the sanctity of fatherhood, or… decency, or family! They have my child held hostage to their decadent ways, and that I will not abide. We will show them what power is! We will show them what their position in this town is! Let us all remember, right here and now, what a woman is to a man!
  • Feudal Overlord: He purposefully keeps the planet poor so that he can rule as the unofficial king. Or in the words of one character, "So he can play cowboy and have the best toys."
  • He-Man Woman Hater: He sees Nandi's whores as less than human, and when Mal compliments his wife he right-away assumes he's talking about his gun.
  • Hypocrite: He looks down on Nandi's whores but uses their services and even chooses one to be the mother of his child.
  • Karmic Death: Shot by the mother of his son.
  • Knight Templar: He believes entirely that he is in the right, which is noted by Mal as a dangerous point-of-view for an enemy to have.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After he kills Nandi, Mal goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and personally chases after him, then drags him back for his execution.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: He's a rapist and misogynist.
  • Smug Snake: Rance certainly considers himself a hero and a great man, despite all the murder and intimidation. He's also not as tough or untouchable as he thinks.

    Early 

Jubal Early

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/early_jubal_2595.jpg
"Does that seem right to you?"
Played By: Richard Brooks

Simon: You're out of your mind.
Early: That's between me and my mind.

Shows up in the final episode, "Objects In Space." When we first meet him, he proves to be more than a match for Mal and company, but it isn't long before his true colors become apparent.


  • Ambiguous Disorder: Shows signs of schizophrenia: some of his stranger points of conversation could be interpreted as talking back to voices that only he can hear.
    Early: I don't think of myself as a lion. You might as well, though; I have a mighty roar.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: He doesn't lose his focus from his work, but he can't keep focused on one topic of conversation without going off on bizarre tangents or randomly changing topics in the middle of a sentence.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Part of River's dissection of his character reveals he used to torture his neighbor's dog when he was a child.
  • Bait the Dog: Whedon was definitely having some fun manipulating Boba Fett fans. At first he comes across as a badass, philosophical and quirky bounty hunter. Then he casually threatens to rape Kaylee and you realize he's a sociopathic monster.
  • Because I'm Good at It:
    Inara: This is pointless, you know that?
    Early: $200,000 seems pretty pointed to me. That kind of money, I could retire. Not that I would. What's life without work?
  • Berserk Button: Trying to psychoanalyze him. When Inara makes a small attempt, he breaks his facade and violently pistol-whips her. River turns this against him by mercilessly deconstructing his stoic, spacy exterior from where he can't get at her.
  • Blatant Lies: For several topics. See Honor Before Reason and Noble Demon.
  • Bounty Hunter: The evil, sadistic kind.
  • Catchphrase: "Does that seem right to you?"
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Early and reality are not on one-to-one terms, though it's not clear how much of this is deliberate on his part.
  • Combat Pragmatist: He takes out the crew silently, identifying the biggest threats as Mal and Book before locking everyone else in their cabins to spare himself a cat-and-mouse game.
  • Dramatic Space Drifting: How he's defeated in the final episode. River lures him outside the ship where Mal ambushes him and shoves him off into space. He takes the situation surprisingly well.
    Early: Well. Here I am.
  • Disney Villain Death: Subverted. In Serenity: Leaves on the Wind, the crew captures him and dumps him out Serenity's lower hatch from several hundred feet up. However, he's recovered by a local, who sells him to an Alliance operative, who puts him in a regeneration tank of some kind.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He'd initially appear to be Affably Evil and he does get some killer lines, but he soon reveals how much he'll twist his rules just to hurt people. He's also terrifying when he wants to be.
  • Foil: Jubal is calm, intelligent, crazy like a fox, a skilled combatant with a decidedly precise style, and deeply intuitive, able to suss out a person's nature in an eerily quick fashion. Just like River.
  • Honor Before Reason: He claims this, but he changes his plans so much that his so called code of honor is proven to be unimportant.
  • Insistent Terminology: Subverted, in a surreal way:
    Simon: So you're a bounty hunter?
    Early: No, that ain't it at all.
    Simon: Then what are you?
    Early: I'm a bounty hunter.
    Simon: That's what I said.
    Early: Yeah, but you didn't say it well.
  • Kick the Dog: Literal example (albeit offscreen and in his backstory) in that he murdered his mother's pet dog.
  • Laughably Evil: As much of a monster as Early is, he's a remarkably entertaining fellow due to Richard Brooks' fine performance and his bizarre lines.
  • Noble Demon: Subverted: he claims not to want to kill anyone who he doesn't have to. But it becomes apparent that he 'has to' kill pretty regularly.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Named for a Confederate general from the American Civil War, who was one of the creators of the "Lost Cause of the South" mythology of that war. Ironic name for a bounty hunter that opposes a former idealistic rebel against the Alliance.
  • Psycho for Hire: River explicitly calls him out for this; the reason he took his job is because it gives him an outlet for his violent urges.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: He's beyond any kind of redemption to the audience the moment he threatens Kaylee with this: and it becomes apparent that he's coldly, rationally invoking the trope when he brings up the possibility of raping Kaylee to Simon.
  • The Sociopath: While he claims to be Affably Evil, River taunts him in that she's been in his head and knows exactly what kind of person he really is. So did Jubal's mother. That's why she reacted with fear when she found the dead animals he'd killed.
  • Softspoken Sadist: Early has a deep but soft voice that's borderline hypnotic, but he's also a barely restrained sadist.
  • Villainous Breakdown: He abandons his witty one-liners and calm, smooth demeanour as River starts to run circles around him. Early becomes violent, suspicious, paranoid and even comes to believe that River has possessed the ship.
  • Warrior Poet: In a weird sort of way.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The end of the post-Serenity comic Leaves on the Wind reveals that he survived his fall and was recovered and healed by Kalista to help her find River again, this time backed up by Academy super soldiers. In the sequel, No Power in the Verse, Jubal is never seen or mentioned, and when Kalista finds River, it's by happenstance.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Hits Inara for questioning his motives.
    Early: Don't go visiting in my intentions. Don't ever.

    Mr. Universe 

Mr. Universe

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/mr_universe_2754.jpg
"You can't stop the signal, Mal. Everything goes somewhere, and I go everywhere."
Played By: David Krumholtz

"You guys always bring me the very best violence."

An isolated and reclusive Techno Wizard who is an ally of the crew.


  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He's a loner who 'marries' his sexdoll/robot, but he's also a genius.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue:
    Mr. Universe: Guy killed me, Mal. Killed me with a sword. How weird is that?
  • Character Death: The Operative stabs him through the stomach after he's fulfilled his purpose. Mr Universe manages to leave a message for Mal, but dies from his injuries.
  • Crazy-Prepared: After the Operative and his soldiers smash his broadcast equipment, he leaves a posthumous message for Mal guiding him to a hidden backup transmitter.
  • Dead Man Writing: He leaves a message for Mal after being stabbed by the Operative. He dies after the recording.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Snarkily demands his "30 pieces of silver" after he's forced at gunpoint by the Alliance and the Operative to sell Serenity out and lure them to his planet.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Died in the arms of his robot wife Lenore.
  • Knowledge Broker: It's his business.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: His reaction to getting stabbed by the Operative.
    Mr Universe: Guy killed me, Mal. Killed me with a sword. How weird is that?!
  • Mr. Exposition: Mr Universe explains all about the 'Miranda' code that ticked off River.
  • Playful Hacker: He flirts lightly with Zoe, is quick to make jokes and is on good terms with the entire crew.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: He's a Regretful Traitor (or at least a reluctant one) and has to be coerced by the Operative, who immediately kills him. According to Word of God, this was an impulsive kill that the Operative didn't think out and doesn't really understand why he did it, and is the earliest indication of his Villainous Breakdown.
  • Robo Sexual: His sole companion is his "wife", a lovebot named Lenore.
  • Sixth Ranger: Mal and the crew of Serenity seem to like him a lot more than their usual contacts, burying him with Wash and Book.
  • Sixth Ranger Traitor: Although he tries to make up for it.
  • Techno Wizard: He's a bonafide genius, able to uncover just about anything no matter how much code it's buried under.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: He acts like this for the crew, never meeting up in person. He seems to be a recluse.
  • You Have to Have Jews: The second Jewish character to appear in the 'Verse.
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    Fanty & Mingo 

Fantastic 'Fanty' & Mingojerry 'Mingo' Rample

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rample_twins23.jpg
Played By: Yan and Rafael Feldman

Twin brothers who act as fences for goods acquired by Mal Reynolds and the crew of Serenity. Although identical twins, Mal is able to tell the two of them apart (he claims "Fanty's prettier"). Their full names are Mingojerry and Fantastic Rample.


  • Evil Brit: Both of them are criminals trying to cheat the Serenity crew out of their fair cut of a dangerous job.
  • London Gangster: Similar to Badger, they have this demeanour.
  • Single-Minded Twins: They're able to finish each other's sentences and act like one person.
  • Twin Switch: They enjoy switching places with each other and making people think they're talking to the wrong twin. It frustrates them that Mal can always tell which is which. (The novelization claims that one has a slightly higher voice, and that's how Mal can tell the difference.)
    Mal: Fanty. [nods to Fanty] Mingo. [nods again]
    Mingo: He's Ming-
    Mal: He's Fanty, you're Mingo.
    Mingo: [Chuckles after a beat] How is it you always know?
    Mal: Fanty's prettier.
    [Fanty shrugs; Mingo looks annoyed]

Other Characters

    Bourne 

Sheriff Bourne

Played By: Gregg Henry

Sheriff of the small town seen in "The Train Job."


  • Foil: He's basically Mal, if Mal was a local sheriff instead of a crook.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: He's willing to play the part of a backwoods hick sheriff, but that's just a cover. He's quick to spot potential holes in the alibi of Mal and Zoe, and pretends to take all of Inara's claims at face value while secretly having his deputy check Inara's credentials multiple times. Had her paperwork not been perfect, Inara probably would have been held right along with Mal and Zoe.
  • Let Off by the Detective: Mal and Zoe return the medicine once they find out what it is, but they did still steal it in the first place and assaulted the Alliance troops on the train while getting it, so he could still haul them in on serious charges. However, because he sees they're doing the right thing, he lets them go.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: He understands Mal and Zoe trying to do the right thing, and lets them go, knowing that times are tough for them as well. He's also seen giving a prisoner a light for his cigarette.
  • The Sheriff: Of the small town Mal and Zoe are robbing.

    Atherton 

Atherton Wing

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/wing_atherton.jpg
"You belong here, Inara, not on that flying piece of go-se. You see that, don't you?"
Played By: Edward Atterton

A young nobleman on Persephone who has hired Inara Serra on multiple occasions. On some of these occasions, he has proposed a more permanent arrangement with her.


  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: At first, he comes across as a pleasant and even charming young man. This facade drops soon and it quickly becomes apparent he's a possessive cretin.
  • Combat Aestheticist: As should be expected from an obscenely rich young man who likely held a blade since before he was potty-trained.
  • The Dandy: He's a well-dressed pretty boy who doesn't look like he's even seen dirt before. Harrow even calls him a spoiled dandy.
  • Evil Brit: He speaks with a refined English accent, and is plenty evil.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: When Mal tries to simply talk to Inara, Wing quickly loses his temper.
  • Jerkass: The magnitude of Wing's dickery cannot be underestimated.
  • Master Swordsman: Sure, Wing is a dick, but there's no getting past the fact that he's a highly skilled swordsman.
    Harrow: Wing may be a spoiled dandy, but he's an expert swordsman. He's killed a dozen men with the long blade, and you're the first one gave him a reason.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: He's a sexist piece of shit who treats women like things to be used or owned.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Atherton's upper-class position in society hasn't stopped him from being a violent frat boy in a grown man's body.

    Higgins 

Magistrate Higgins

Played By: Gregory Itzin

Now Jayne saw the Mudders' backs breaking
He saw the Mudders lament
And he saw the magistrate taking
Every dollar and leaving five cents
The Hero of Canton

The final word of law on Higgins' Moon, a small moon that has a primary export of raw materials for spaceworthy ceramics (in other words: mud). Higgins is a man who looks out only for himself. He treats his indentured 'mudders' almost as slaves, and metes out strict punishment to any who cross him. Even his son, whom he loves as much as a man like him can love anybody, gets treated like a thing.


  • Bad Boss: He pays the mudders next to nothing, keeps them stranded in his little town and plays at being a king.
  • Beard of Evil: A little goatee.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Higgins has made his money out of mud, but is a greedy psychopath who treats the mudders like slaves.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Higgins greets Inara very cordially and is even able to talk Stitch into attacking Jayne instead of himself.
  • Feudal Overlord: Of his moon. The mudders are essentially slaves that he keeps oppressed.
  • I Own This Town: Or rather, he owns the moon. It's 'Higgins' Moon' after all.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Higgins is embarrassed by his more sensitive and goodhearted son.

    Fess 

Fess Higgins

Played By: Zachary Kranzler

Son of Magistrate Higgins, and Inara's client on the planet. His father hired him a Companion to try and "make him into a man." Unfortunately for Higgins, she succeeds.


  • The Dog Bites Back: Against his father, who doesn't consider him a "man."
  • Grew a Spine: Fess was pretty brow-beaten by his father, but eventually stands up to him.
  • Hollywood Dateless: Fess is a pretty handsome 26-year-old virgin that still can't get any women. Of course, the only people around are mudders, who are all but slaves of his father, so either he doesn't want to take advantage of them or they're afraid of facing the magistrate's brutal punishments—such as having their hands and feet amputated and thrown into the bog—if they displease (in reality or just assumed) his son.
  • Nice Guy: Really, it's a miracle how good Fess turned out considering how much of a bastard his father is.
  • Virgin-Shaming: Played with. His father hires Inara to bed him so he can become a man, and she does, but that isn't what makes him a man. Inara talks to him and gives him to confidence to stand up to his father, therefore becoming a "man" by his own decisions, not his father's.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: His relationship with his father is very strained. Higgins doesn't consider Fess to be a "man." It's unclear how Fess is meant to meet women on a moon inhabited by his father, his father's men, and a society of people who are basically slaves and hate the Higgins family.

    Gabriel & Regan 

Gabriel & Regan Tam

Played By: William Converse-Roberts & Isabella Hofmann

River and Simon's parents. Well-to-do, they take great pride in their social position and Simon's achievement. They support the Alliance and do not believe it could or would do anything to harm their daughter, River, who was in their care in a special school.


  • Abusive Parents: There are some implications that they are aware of what is happening to River; Gabriel barely pays attention to her even as a child, even though she is clearly more intelligent than her genius brother.
  • I Have No Son!: It's established in "Safe" that Simon considers himself divorced forever from his parents. When it came down to it, they wouldn't believe him and they wouldn't attempt to help River.
  • Parental Favoritism: Even when the Tams were children, they made no secret in favoring Simon over River.
  • Stepford Smiler: One would think being rich and intelligent members of the upper class in the Alliance would give the Tams freedom. But the Alliance is a police state: the Tams must constantly behave in accordance with their station. Gabriel is furious (with Simon, not with the Alliance) because going into a police station to bail out his son gave him a stain on his record.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's not likely that the Alliance left the older Tams to their empty "happiness" after both of their children managed to get onto the Alliance's top-ten-most-wanted list.

    Bester 

Bester

Played By: Dax Griffin

Serenity's original engine mechanic. He didn't last long—it's not clear, but he may not even have made it into space. Mal caught him having sex with a local girl in the engine room. Mal isn't the sort to fire a fellow over that, but when the woman he'd brought in fixes the engine in three minutes without even bothering to finish putting her clothes back on, Mal realizes he's got a better option.


  • Dumb Blonde: He's got a long head of blond hair and isn't the brightest.
  • The Hedonist: An easygoing loser who put casual sex ahead of fixing the engine. Dumped in favor of his partner of the moment, who figured out how to fix the engine during casual sex.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: He pretends to be an expert engineer, but he doesn't really have a clue when it comes to how to keep Serenity maintained and running.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Well, at least he has his nice looks going for him...

    Durran 

Durran Haymer

Played By: Dwier Brown

A wealthy land-owner and collector of rare Earth-That-Was artifacts living on a floating estate on the planet Bellerophon.


  • Affably Evil: Saffron claims that he's an Alliance official who during the war used chemical weapons to kill resistance fighters and leave the neighborhoods intact to loot. When Mal meets Durran, however, he proves to be a surprisingly kind man genuinely in love with Saffron. This trope winds up being subverted, as that meeting allows Mal to guess that Saffron's story was all a lie, and Saffron later admits that Mal is right and Durran was nothing like what she had claimed.
  • Asshole Victim: Saffron tries to invoke this for the crew by telling lies about Durran so they'll feel justified in stealing from him.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: He might love Saffron, but he doesn't believe a word of her lies.
  • Morality Pet: Saffron actually does have feelings for him, and her interactions with him show that she isn't The Unfettered due to her seeming guilt at robbing him. It doesn't stop her, but Mal accurately determines that Saffron does view him as more than just another mark.
    Mal: [to Saffron] You don't want him to know the truth. Unlike all the other—I'm gonna go with—hundreds of men you've married you actually want this one to think well of you when you've gone.
  • Nice Guy: "Yolanda" deliberately sought out a very mellow, kindly, understanding man (with a lot of money) when she tried to go straight. He's even fairly mellow, kindly and understanding about finding his crazed ex-wife and a total stranger looting his priceless museum pieces.
    Saffron: Durran, honey… this isn't what it looks like!
    Mal: Unless it looks like we're stealing your precious Lassiter. Because that's exactly what we're doing. Don't ask me about the gun, though, 'cause that's new.
    Haymer: Well I… appreciate your honesty. Not, you know, a lot, but…
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: When Saffron puts on her best seductive tone and gets nice and close to him, Durran refuses her. He's seen this trick before.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Pretends to still believe in Saffron's con, when he actually called the feds the second he saw her.
    Saffron: If you had half a brain you'd have called the feds the minute you saw me.
    Durran: Oh, I did. [showing a button on his ring] Emergency signal. For kidnappings and the like. I love you, Yolanda. But I couldn't think for a second—that you actually came here for me.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Durran uses these on Saffron, who goes a bit crazy (well, crazier) and can't deal with them.

    Reavers 

Reavers

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/reaver.jpg
"If they take the ship, they'll rape us to death, eat our flesh, and sew our skins into their clothing. And if we're very very lucky, they'll do it in that order."
Played By: Branden R. Morgan, Mischa Pfister, David Sobolov, Various

Jayne: Reavers ain't men.
Book: Of course they are. Too long removed from civilization perhaps, but men. And, I believe there's a power greater than men. A power that heals.
Mal: Reavers might take issue with that philosophy… if they had a philosophy… and they weren't too busy gnawing on your insides. Jayne's right. Reavers ain't men. Or they forgot how to be. Come to just nothin'. They got out to the edge of the galaxy, to that place of nothin', and that's what they became.

The Reavers are spacefaring, cannibalistic raiders that exist on the outermost fringes of the 'Verse. They are said to be folk who were driven insane after reaching the end of the galaxy and seeing the sheer nothingness.


  • Aesoptinum: Their origin.
  • Ax-Crazy: Up to Eleven. There is no such thing as sanity when it comes to these guys, for all of them are extremely psychotic and extremely violent animals.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: They are beyond madness. Every single Reaver is driven by evil urges. It's not even clear what keeps any two Reavers from tearing each other to pieces the instant they meet aside from maybe finding mutual understanding in their shared urges.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: The way they turned some of their victims into Reavers: making them watch the torture they inflict on others.
  • The Berserker: Played with. When attacking someone face-to-face, the Reavers become mad, frothing, berserk killers. Outside of face-to-face combat, however, Reavers are disturbingly thoughtful and intelligent, laying carefully-prepared traps, operating advanced spacecraft, and deliberately torturing people to break their minds to increase their numbers. They're skilled enough that they can take an entire ship by surprise without leaving any obvious trace of their presence.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: No one wants to be taken alive by the Reavers, and no one who can stop it will allow someone else to be, leading to several Mercy Kills.
  • Body Horror: They inflict this on both their victims and themselves. Mal describes it as "desecrating their flesh."
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: As Reavers are calculated sadists, they prefer their victims conscious—more than violence, they are motivated to inflict agony on other people. Torture prolongs the satisfaction of the endless aggression that consumes them. When Mal kills one of their victims before they can really get started on him, they immediately drop the body and move on.
  • The Dreaded: Absolutely everyone—Zoe, Jayne, and even the Operative—is scared to death of them.
  • Dying Race: The pilot reveals they fly without any reactor containment, meaning they're likely all suffering some degree of radiation poisoning. They also don't seem to breed and are unable to build any kind of culture, so the only method of creating new Reavers is to drive people insane. Ignoring these "new" Reavers, they realistically cannot last more than a generation.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Reavers have a penchant for breaking and torturing people into becoming second-generation Reavers simply by exposing them to what they do to others.
    • Subverted in the case of the first generation: The prevailing theory of the uninformed is that they saw or met something in space that they could only cope with by going mad. The movie supplied the truth, which is more prosaic and yet even more horrifying.
  • The Horde: There are thousands of them, and they attack like a swarm when angered.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Although they'll undoubtedly pin down anything that can't get away and devour it alive, they definitely favor hunting humans.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: They favor ballistic blades and edged weaponry, both on their ships and in the field.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Reversed. They're insane because their aggressor instincts were heightened to a truly ridiculous level, driving them to do the things they do.
  • It Can Think: Sure, they're insanely and indiscriminately violent, but that doesn't make them stupid. What little is seen of their methods hints at excellent hunting skills - which typically rely on stealth, patience, and subtlety. When they aren't relying on traps or surprise, they use high-tech (and non-lethal) methods for disabling and capturing fleeing ships. And in the end, they can always fall back to strength in numbers.
  • Kill All Humans: Due to being driven to attack virtually anything they see.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: An entire society of these, with them never being Played for Laughs and them always being presented as the most terrifying part of the entire series.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Their presence is much more in word than on-screen to make them more frightening.
  • Ramming Always Works: One of their main strategies in space battles.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Their M.O. in a nutshell.
  • Rule of Symbolism: See below under The Savage Indian; The Reveal that their origins actually lie in the Alliance can be seen as representative of how the United States government's negative stereotyping of Native Americans during The Wild West often forced those same natives to play into the aforementioned stereotypes in order to just survive.
  • The Savage Indian: A very dark Space Western interpretation of this trope, with them being in part meant to represent how Western settlers stereotyped Native Americans during the expansion west. The show gets away from the Unfortunate Implications involved, though, both by giving the Reavers more of a Mad Max-style aesthetic than anything else and them being the result of the Alliance's experimentation rather than "inherent savagery" or anything like that.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Until the movie.
  • Space Madness: Originally believed to be their origin.
  • Take Our Word for It: We never see a "true" Reaver in the series, only their ships, the reactions others have to them, and one man who was broken into becoming one of them. The Movie, with its bigger budget, shows the Reavers in person, although even here, short quick takes and deliberate shadowing leave them half-seen.
  • The Usual Adversaries: Reaver attacks are rare, but the crew (and, in fact, everybody in the outer worlds) always keeps an eye open for them.
  • Unstoppable Rage: These guys are balls-to-the-wall mad in all of their screentime.
  • Weapon of Choice: A variant, with them being pretty much the only faction in The ’Verse that prioritizes melee and close-quarters combat (well, in terms of space battles, at least) over ranged weaponry and strategy. By extension, their ships almost only use harpoons instead of the rockets and torpedoes used by the Alliance, Independents, and various criminal organizations.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Sure, they're a bunch of completely psychotic and violent people who revel in murdering, torturing raping, and eating people without mercy or remorse, but none of them wanted to be this way. Once, they were just normal colonists who had an adverse reaction to a drug that was meant to pacify them, and all the other Reavers are just innocents who've been subjected to the same kind of "special hell" the original Reavers are suffering through.
  • The Worf Effect: Both played straight and subverted in the Big Damn Movie. While they're still absolutely terrifying in all of their appearances, they're obliterated by River Tam during the Battle of the Universe Planet at the film's climax, but still manage to cut a bloody swath through the Alliance Navy's blockade of the Universe Planet at the same time.
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