Fox executive teases Browncoats with hints of possible Firefly revival

Enlarge / The 2002-2003 space western drama was canceled after just one season but remains a cult favorite.

Hope springs eternal, especially if you’re a diehard fan of Firefly, the 2002-2003 space western created by Joss Whedon that was canceled by Fox after a single season. But the plucky crew and passengers aboard the Firefly-class spaceship Serenity live on in the hearts of self-styled Browncoats everywhere. Heck, NASA astronaut Steven Swanson loved the show (and the 2005 spin-off film Serenity) so much that he took the DVDs with him on a Space Shuttle Atlantis mission in 2007. So it’s not surprising that an off-hand comment by a Fox executive has renewed rumors of a possible revival.

This latest round of revival chatter started when Firefly‘s former showrunner Tim Minear recently tweeted out an old photo from the last day of shooting on Firefly, just as Fox entertainment president Michael Thorn was doing a press junket for the Television Critics Association. So naturally the question came up.

“The macro answer is, any time we look at one of our classic titles, if there’s a way to reinvent it for today so it’s as resonant now as the original was, and is, to the fans, we’re wide open,” Thorn told The Wrap. “In this crowded marketplace, if you can start with some kind of brand awareness and IP that has a vocal support and, in this case, a crazy, passionate love for it, you’re ahead of the game.”

Thorn added that he personally loved Firefly and had seen every episode. While the possibility of a revival had been raised before at Fox, “We had The Orville on the air, and it didn’t make sense for us to have, as a broadcast network who is very targeted, to have two space franchises on our air,” he said.

Yes, god forbid there should be two space franchises on the same network, you’re probably thinking, but Thorn does have a point. Most broadcast networks invest their programming resources in a range of genres and styles to appeal to the widest swathe of the population as possible. He acknowledged that, now that The Orville has moved to Hulu, there’s an opening for a “space franchise” at the network, but he pointed out that Firefly showrunner Tim Minear has his hands full right now with the popular 9-1-1 series and a pending spinoff, 9-1-1 Lonestar.

So what does Minear think about the chances of a Firefly revival? “We have talked about different permutations and how that might work,” he told The Wrap. “Do you take two of the characters and put them in a different place and sort of retell a new story with two old characters, with new characters?”

And while the former cast members all retain fond memories of their time on the show, most of them are working on other shows right now, making it a challenge to work around their respective schedules. That’s why Minear thinks any revival would likely be a limited series: “I would love to see, like, an eight- or 10-episode limited adventure in that universe.”

Look, this is all talk right now; a Firefly revival probably isn’t going to happen unless all the stars align. The disappointing box office performance of Serenity (and canceled planned sequel), despite solid reviews, lessens those odds even further. But it’s not an entirely crazy thing to hope for either. After all, Star Trek: Discovery proved to be a big hit for CBS All Access, even spawning a planned spinoff series. There’s a Battlestar Galactica reboot in the works for NBC Universal’s new streaming service, Peacock, and even a planned revival for schmaltzy late-1980s melodrama Thirtysomething. So why not Firefly?

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