Scenario: the Serenity crashes on a desert island with only two survivors: one of the crew members, and YOU. Who do you hope makes it off the ship alive? Who’s going to be the best company when you’re bored? Who’s going to be the best at hunting and gathering food, keeping you safe from predators, and building the sturdiest shelter? Who’s going to be the least likely to betray you or steal your coconuts when you’re napping? Granted, your decision may depend in part on your relationship status. If you’re single and looking for someone to snuggle up to when your bed of palm fronds gets chilly, Inara or Mal might be higher on your list than, say, Shepherd Book. If you’re solely concerned with survival at any cost (and paranoid about intruders on the island), you may toss morals and companionship out the window and go with Jayne. Check out my list of the Firefly characters, from least ideal to most, with whom you could get stuck on a desert island (then go take this quiz and figure out which Firefly character you’d be).
9. Shepherd Book
Do you enjoy getting random unwanted advice from older people everywhere you go? Yeah, me neither, which is why preacher Derrial Book made the bottom of my list. It’s not that his little tidbits of wisdom are wrong; I just think if you’re going to be stuck on an island with someone for a long time, someone less prone to offering you their opinion might be a better choice. It’s also hard to say how useful Shepherd Book would be in terms of helping you to build shelter, find food, and stay safe. While he’s unquestionably intelligent, his exact skills aren’t common knowledge. We know he’s capable of using a flak gun and dispensing spiritual guidance, but he’s too much of a wild card to place any higher on this list.
As low as I placed her on the list, let’s be real about the benefits of ending up with Inara making it out of the burning wreckage. First, she’s pretty calm (serene, if you will), which means she’s not going to lose her head, panic, and go crazy before you can start. Second, she’s super sneaky - potentially good at figuring out clever ways to trap animals so you can eat some delicious fire-roasted meat. Third, she’s excellent with a bow and arrow, so I’m guessing that with some animal guts and a stick, she can create a useful weapon to hunt game. Fourth, she’s extremely skilled at taking care of other people, treating Kaylee like a younger sister - sounds pretty comforting when you’re stuck on a sandy beach a million miles from home. Fifth, there might be OTHER ways she could take care of you if you know what I mean. Unfortunately, despite these major benefits, Morena Baccarin has revealed that before the series was canceled, there were plans to reveal that Inara had a terminal illness - and when she dies, you’re going to be awfully lonely.
If you’re seriously injured in the crash that lands you on the island, you probably wouldn’t stand a chance without Dr. Simon Tam. He graduated in the top 3% of his class and he’s a licensed trauma surgeon. Even if he didn’t have his tools he might be able to save your life. In addition to being super smart, Simon’s also loyal and kind. That’s pretty much where the benefits end because Simon is a huge dandy. With the fancy three-piece suits and the finicky manners, he’s not going to take to fishing, hunting, and sleeping outdoors as quickly as the rest of the crew. He’s always willing to make personal sacrifices for his beloved sister River, but who knows about you?
So, River’s a hard one to rank, because she’s so unstable. Her psychic powers are impressive, but not fully under her control. She can use a gun like no one else, but only when she wants to. She can definitely fight off anyone who tries to hurt her beloved brother Simon - even dozens of attackers at a time. In case there are big animals on the island who like eating people, or, you know, Reavers. But most of the time, River is vulnerable and broken, which doesn’t describe the kind of person you want to spend 24 hours a day with indefinitely. Since most of her amygdala was surgically removed, she can’t control her emotions. Steal the last piece of roasted fish? You might just wind up dead. Or not! She could turn out to stabilize, heal, and use her incredible mental and physical abilities to your mutual advantage. The ambiguity of her character just doesn’t allow you to be sure. Did I mention she can read your mind? That one right there would be the dealbreaker for me.
Aw, it’s Kaylee! And she’s adorable...or the most annoying member of the crew. You might find her chipper nature and her labeling of things she likes as “shiny” fun and sweet, or sickeningly precious. Either way, you have to admit that she’s a genius when it comes to ships. SHIPS, you guys, like, a way to get off that island? Though she never had formal training, she’s so good at figuring things out that she might just manage to make an escape plan that will work. In the meantime, you get to enjoy her prattle on about Simon, strawberries, Simon, fancy dresses, did I mention Simon? Ok, maybe you’d get tired of listening to her talk, but she would never stab you in the back, and she’d be a genuine friend to you no matter what. Plus, a positive attitude is worth a lot when your diet consists of more bananas than you can shake a monkey at.
Wash is just a guy. That’s either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it, but personally I feel like all that normal, regular guy, laid-back personality of his would do you a whole lot of good when your entertainment options are staring at the sky, staring at the ocean, or seeing how many times you can hit a palm tree with a coconut. Whether you want to be a goofball and come up with a better game, talk about the good ol’ days when you weren’t shipwrecked, or sit alone with your thoughts, Wash would be up for anything. He’s not going to start a fight and get mad at you, he’s got a great sense of humor, and he’s always ready to defend his friends. And if you did have to stay on the island forever, you already know that Wash would make the greatest husband ever.
When you’re stuck in the middle of the ocean and no one knows where you are, you have to do what it takes to survive. Some see Jayne as a gun-crazy redneck who only cares about money; others feel his character’s development throughout the series brought him more in touch with his concern for others and his conscience and that his story arc would have eventually made him more and more of a hero. For example, he’s very protective of Kaylee (yes, he does have a crush on her, but still) and he asks Mel in “Ariel” not to tell the crew that he betrayed Simon and River - he still wants them to believe that there’s good in him. He’s good to his family (he wears that ridiculous hat his mother made and sends her money) and while he might not be an actual Robin Hood like the people of Jaynestown think, he’s not just a heartless mercenary. He’s got an incredible survival instinct, he’s great with a weapon, and he’s resourceful like no other. If you want to make it through hurricanes, scarce fresh water, and no Netlflix and Chinese takeout, Jayne might just be your best option.
Zoe is one seriously amazing lady. She’s tough, she’s resilient, and she seems to be better in a crisis than just about anyone. When tragedy strikes, she takes out a weapon and goes into battle with her emotions set aside. One of the most impressive things about Zoe is the way that Captain Reynolds trusts her. She’s his right-hand man and make no mistake, they would trust each other with their lives. While Wash can be occasionally jealous of their strong friendship, even he knows that they’re a great duo when it comes to loyally fighting for each other. Zoe is a feisty warrior that you could be real friends with while struggling to survive together.
While it might seem unfair to rank the obvious protagonist of Firefly as my first choice for an island companion, you surely can’t argue that it’s unwarranted. Skilled fighter? Check. Super smart? Check. Selfless, caring, and heroic? Triple check. Mal follows his own moral code, not one determined for him by anyone else, so despite that fact that you’re stuck on an island with no hope of getting off, the Captain isn’t going to go wild. He’s used to being his own man, and he’ll help you find your way too. I’m guessing you’d end up with a treehouse home on the level of Swiss Family Robinson, an ample food supply, and a guarantee that he’d always have your back whether fighting island intruders or predators looking for lunch.