Follow TV Tropes


Heartwarming / Firefly

Go To

The Big Damn Series


  • At the end of the pilot where River looks into Simon's face all beat up from protecting her. Then wonders at her doubts saying,"I didn't think you'd come for me", and he just teases her, "Well, you're a dummy."
  • Jayne, standing outside of the infirmary while Simon's operating on Kaylee, and the fact that he's willing to shoot Book so that he can exact revenge on Dobson for shooting Little Kaylee. Heck...Jayne is actually full of heartwarming moments.
  • And then there's Simon's monologue from the first episode.
    • There's a shot during this monologue, when Simon is preparing the shot to put River under. She glares at the needle and sticks her tongue out. Considering she's still confused and uncertain and likely sick from being revived from cryo, that one little moment speaks volumes about both their personalities and their relationship.
    • When Inara tells Mal that "If you throw them out, I'm leaving too," there's a subtle but important implication there: that if Mal won't help Simon and River, Inara will.
      • Inara and Simon's quiet, sweet friendship throughout the series also counts.
  • Kaylee is basically one heart-warming person. So sweet, yet never sickeningly sweet, just genuinely sweet which is unique. You usually feel this way about children and it feels great that a grown-up woman can be like this. Makes you want to hug her, take her home and feed her with cookies.
    • In the pilot, there's a moment when Mal visits Kaylee in the infirmary, and she pats his arm and cheerfully assures him that her being shot was "nobody's fault."
    • Mal's absolutely gentle smile at Kaylee when he says, "I'm a mean old man." Their older brother-little sister relationship is so very, very heartwarming, and it's right off in the bat that while Mal is certainly a hard man, he cares quite deeply about her, and his crew in general.
  • Advertisement:
  • In Book's first conversation with Inara, she expresses concern that he might go all Holier Than Thou on her. He responds with a joke and shows that his disapproval of her profession does not make him look down on her.

The Train Job

  • This exchange from the end:
    Sheriff: You were truthful back in town; these are tough times. A man can get a job, he might not look too close at what that job is. But a man learns all the details of a situation like ours... well, then he has a choice.


  • In "Bushwhacked", when Simon and River are hiding from the Alliance. Simon's tense, naturally, but River is just looking at the stars with a huge smile on her face. As soon as they get back on board, she's just saying "Let's go again!" in as cheerful a tone as she is able.
    • Add in Simon's smile when he sees hers. After all she had been through, he's just so damn happy to finally see her smile again.
  • Wash gushing about how hot Zoe is during his interrogation. It’s obvious it didn’t take much prying, he’s just happy to have an excuse to talk about how gorgeous his wife is.


  • About 80% of Mal's actions in "Shindig" were a result of his sexist backwards views on how to defend a lady's honor, but it all comes together when Inara finally calls him out on it:
    Inara: You have a strange sense of nobility, Captain. You'll lay a man out for implying that I'm a whore, but you keep calling me one to my face.
    Mal: Look, I may not show respect to your job, but he didn't respect you. That's the difference. Inara, he doesn't even see you.
    • It's further sealed when he asks her not to stay with Atherton and even admits he has no right to say it, but he does because he cares about her. It's a really, really important moment strictly because Mal and Inara communicate almost entirely through insults and banter, but Mal is finally straightforward with her and says what he feels directly to her face, understanding that it's pretty much confirming how he feels about her. Inara's reaction is pure shock, as a result.
  • Kaylee enjoying herself at the ball, with a swarm of young men gathered around her because as a Wrench Wench she is infinitely more interesting than the shallow rich girls who tried to insult her earlier.
    • The elder gentleman who comes to Kaylee's defense.
    • The dress in general is just adorable. First off, Mal insulted her and she was rightfully angry, and he feels like an asshole, so he not only gets her the dress, but takes her with him to the fancy shindig to make up for it. Then, she ends up keeping it in her room and just happily, silently stares at it as the episode ends.
  • Inara trying to stop Atherton from killing Mal, even promising to accept his offer as long as he leaves Mal alive.
  • The ending with Mal and Inara sharing Kaylee's strawberry wine and Inara very gently telling Mal she wasn't going to take Atherton's offer, even if the duel hadn't happened.
    Inara: Why would I want to leave Serenity?
    Mal: (he smiles fondly at her) Can't think of a reason.


  • Simon. He fights off an entire mob of torch-wielding witch-burning loonies to save River, and then realizes he can't win. He choose to die with her rather than leave her. It's more awesome because when you know how much he already gave up, you can easily believe he would do such a thing. He had nothing left but love and honor (which in his case were the same thing) and it would be simply impossible to wimp out now. It was a very believable Heroic Sacrifice.
    Simon: Light it.
  • The dancing scene was beautiful. For once we got to see River enjoying herself and see her brother see it.
    • And after Simon gets kidnapped, there's River, still happy. "Found you!"
  • One line that also perfectly defines Simon:
    Simon: Mei-Mei, all I have is right here.
  • Two lines from the best scene in the series:
    Mal: Well, look at this! Appears we got here just in the nick of time. What does that make us?
    Zoe: Big Damn Heroes, Sir!
    Mal: Ain't we just?
    Mal: Cut her down.
    Preacher: The girl is a witch.
    Mal: Yeah, but she's our witch. [KA-CHINK!] So cut her the hell down.
  • One of the more pointed moments is at the end, where Simon and River come into the dining room to eat with the rest of the crew, showing that they've been really accepted as part of the family on the ship.
    Simon: Captain, why did you come back for us?
    Mal: You're on my crew.
    Simon: But you don't even like me. So why did you come back?
    Mal: You're on my crew. Why are we still talking about this?

Our Mrs. Reynolds

  • As mentioned in the main page, the tune playing in the accidental marriage in "Our Mrs Reynolds" is really taken from an actual wedding march. Once you know when to listen for it though, the whole scene becomes the sweetest thing you'll ever see. And then she turns out to be a triple-crossing BITCH.
    • Also from "Our Mrs Renolds", during the celebration, there's this one shot of Zoe and Wash cuddling as they watch the others. And it's adorable.
  • Mal and Inara may be holding back all their feelings for each other, they may be at each other's throats half the time, but when Inara sees Mal unconscious after Saffron tells her he's dead, she is about to batshit with anguish before Mal stirs a little.
    • It's so unfair that Mal's idiot self never figured out that Inara kissed him out of pure relief that he was alive. It's such an underrated sweet moment, as we know he drives her insane and vice versa, but she feels so strongly for him that she's nearly in tears when she sees him lying there.
    • Mal confronting her at the end is almost a really sweet moment, too, as he just hovers inside her personal space almost like he's going to kiss her. Watch Inara's facial expressions before he guesses wrong about the kiss. She looks like she's anticipating a kiss as well, and she's breathless as a result.


  • Inara bonds with Fess, the timid son of the slaveowner who cannot speak up to his father's wrongdoing. Inara and Fess bond over sex, and Inara gently tells Fess that being a real man takes courage. Eventually Fess aided Serenity's escape from the mudtown
  • When River tries to "fix" Book's Bible, editing the parts that she thought didn't make sense. Book gently tells her, "You don't fix this book. It fixes you."
    • River returning to Book with honest intentions of repairing the Bible, calling it "your symbol." It may not necessarily mean anything to her, but she knows it means something to him.
  • Mal coming to look for Kaylee and Simon at the bar and finding them sleeping on top of each other. They are both pretty flustered. Of course Simon ruins it almost immediately by saying that he would never sleep with Kaylee.
    • It's even more cute when you realize what Simon was trying to say was that he wouldn't take advantage of Kaylee while she was drunk, and then funny when they both fail to realize what's going on.
  • Jayne is nearly brought to tears when he learns he inspired an uprising with the Mudders. It's like he never thought he could be important enough for people to do something like that because of him. This is further reinforced later when he has reservations about Mal's plan to take advantage of his hero status in the town.

Out of Gas

  • The crew making a birthday cake (out of leftover meat) for Simon's birthday at the start of the episode and surprising him with it after dinner. Even Jayne claps when they wish him a happy birthday.
  • The scene where Mal makes Inara leave the ship with the rest of the crew. The most important bit is when he touches her shoulder—one small little touch that shows everything in their relationship. He knows he can't tell her how he feels and she knows she can't reciprocate it and so that one touch conveys his concerns better than any dialogue could have.
    • One simple exchange while Mal's recovering in the Infirmary
      Mal: You all gonna be here when I wake up?
      Book: We'll be here.
      Mal: Good. That's good.
  • The moment at the end where we see Mal at a used shipyard. Throughout the episode we've heard Mal's memory of a salesman trying to convince him to buy a ship, and the natural conclusion was that the ship was Serenity. But then we finally see Mal at the store, and the salesman is talking about a completely different ship, all while Mal stares at the Firefly that would become Serenity. It's the culmination of the episode's demonstration of Mal's greatest strength: the ability to look at that which seems useless, be it objects or people, and recognize their potential to be more.
    • It's also when you realize what the whole episode, indeed the whole show, is about: it's a love story. Malcolm Reynolds fell in love with this ship, and given the way Serenity looks after Mal and his crew, she fell in love with him, too.


  • When Simon saves the patient after the other doctor screws up, River looks at Jayne with an expression of absolute pride in her big brother.
  • When Jayne learns what the government did to River, the expression on his face, and what he did afterwards, namely trying to rescue the two of them from the mess he made.
    • Also, as soon as Simon finishes talking, Jayne tells him the plan has changed and they have to hurry out, in order to get away from the guards. He hadn't even gotten double crossed yet.
    • If you watch carefully you can see him get more and more uncomfortable as Simon keeps sincerely thanking and praising him.
  • When Mal shoves Jayne into the airlock for betraying Simon and River is this and more than a little scary. But, about to be killed, Jayne begs Mal not to tell them about his betrayal and instead to make something up, as if he died in an accident. Mal then spares Jayne's life, convinced that he is truly sorry about his betrayal. This is the turning point in Jayne's character, and it is sad that we didn't get to see how that ended up.
  • At the end: 'No, mei-mei. Time to wake up.' It's the way he says it more than anything else.

War Stories

  • An unorthodox one: Jayne's the last one on the crew to agree to join the mission to save Mal... yet he's able to cover himself in more firepower than the rest combined. "...What?"
    • The real clincher here? He brought VERA.
    • Hence the point of that scene. He was always coming with them. He was just getting his guns first.
  • One line: "If it were any one of us, Captain wouldn't hesitate."
  • Gotta love the scene when Kaylee and River are playing together like children, running about the ship, laughing and whooping, and playfully fighting over an apple. Crowned with Mal's funny and heart-warming comment:
    Mal: Ah, the pitter-patter of tiny feet in huge combat boots... SHUT UP!
    • Once she retreives said apple.
    Kaylee: There's no power in the verse can stop me.
  • An amazing Simon & River scene, before Niska captures Mal and Wash. Simon's started medicating River, and she throws up from the side effects. She starts saying that she hates it when she's lucid because she knows she'll relapse, and goes into a spiel ending with "What am I?" He hugs her and says, "You are my beautiful sister."
    • Then the CMOH is crossed with a CMOF:
    River: I threw up on your bed.
    Simon: Yep, definitely my sister.
  • Mal quipping to Wash about Zoe during the torture scene comes across just really damn mean-spirited, up until the music kicks in, where it becomes apparent that Mal is just goading Wash so he'll weather through it.
  • As the argument in "War Stories" culminates, Wash insists Zoe always follows Mal's orders and Mal objects. Wash asks him to name one order of his she disobeyed. His answer? "She married you!" Even the most stalwart number two had to make an exception for true love.
  • Zoe tries to make a deal with Niska to save Mal and Wash. He tells her that she only has enough money for one, thinking that he's about to force her to make a Sadistic Choice, but before he even finishes his sentence, Zoe immediately chooses Wash. She doesn't even stop to think about it, it's her first instinct to get her husband out of there.
  • After being rescued by Zoe, Wash explains how Mal kept him lucid with the goading and insists on rescue. Zoe says they have time, Since Niska will prolong Mal's suffering for days:
    • Wash (snarling): Bastard's not gonna get days!


The Message

  • It's tossed off. It occurs in the background, and no one comments on it. Jayne's reading a letter from his mother and she mentions that the money he sent helped. Then he goes on to wear the hat she sent for the rest of the episode. How much of his cut do you think he sends home?
    • There's a reason Jayne's a money-grubbing scoundrel.
  • After spending the whole episode flirting with Tracey, Kaylee comes to the realization at the end that, even though Simon Cannot Spit It Out, he is always there for her. During Tracey's funeral, she holds Simon's hand. This was improvised by the actress, and Joss Whedon loved it.

Heart of Gold

  • Simon looks a little nervous before delivering Petaline's baby (he admits to Inara that it's his first delivery as the primary.) Inara sweetly kisses his cheek and says, "You'll be great, Doctor."

Objects In Space

  • There's also the brief scene between Mal and River at the end, after they've teamed up to take down Early.
    River: Permission to come aboard?
    Mal: You know, you ain't quite right.
    River: That's the popular theory.
    Mal: Go on. Get in there. Give your brother a thrashing for messing up your plan.
    River: He takes so much looking after.
    • What makes it especially heartwarming was River's pure lucidity. She cracked a joke. An honest-to-gods joke, not just some unintentional hilarity stemming from her weirdness. For the first time, it looks like she's going to be all right.
    • And the second-to-last scene from "Objects In Space," showing the entire crew in one long, unbroken shot, signifying that River is now really considered part of the crew as a whole.
    • The bit where Simon has been shot and is still desperately fighting to keep Early from getting to River, thinking that everyone else is locked in their rooms and that he'll probably die doing it is another good one.
  • While Kaylee is recounting her actions in 'War Stories.'
    Mal: I got no problem with the notion you not killing nobody Kaylee.


  • Pretty much any scene in Firefly between Wash and Zoe, or Simon and Kaylee, or Simon and River.
  • Meta-example: a hilarious outtake from "The Message" involves the slow rotating shot in Tracy's funeral, except Nathan Fillion is deliberately running counter to the camera rotation to re-appear beside every other cast member while acting like he's always been there, culminating in Mal sharing the coffin with Tracy. How does this count? Because the scene was being filmed just after the cast had learned that the series had been cancelled, and Nathan went above and beyond to keep spirits up.
  • This is already kind of hinted at in previous examples, but any scene in which Simon utters the words "Mei-mei". The amount of unconditional love Sean Maher can put in to those two words is heartbreaking.
  • The DVD extra about the making of Firefly is equally made of this trope and Tear Jerker. It starts with the usual behind-the-cameras information, but after a while it turns into a chronicle of the loving relationship formed between the cast, creators, and crew, the extraordinary fan support, and the good experience it was to work in the series.

The Big Damn Movie

See here

The Big Damn Comics

  • During one of the comic stories, Jayne gives a monk a stack of money and walks away.
  • Wash's Indulgent Fantasy Segue in the second issue of the comic book miniseries Better Days, involving his absolutely adorable hypothetical child with Zoe.
  • Zoe's speech at the end of Float Out. On so many levels.
    (Zoe has taken the bottle of champagne for christening the Jetwash and gives Tagg another)
    Tagg: This is un-ga-pae.
    Zoe: Sure is. Cheap Asian liquor. Perfect for a young couple of limited means on a first date. Wash loved it. Just like he loved flying. And his friends. Just like she will.
    • Tagg's story about passing up an opportunity to arrest Wash after seeing him dump a cargo of valuable water purifiers so his friends could get away.
  • It took more than ten years, but Leaves on the Wind finally gives every Firefly fan what they wanted to see: Mal and Inara together.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: