Serenity (2005 film)

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I ain't gonna kill you. Hell, I'm gonna grant your greatest wish. I'm gonna show you a world without sin.
I aim to misbehave.

Serenity is a 2005 space western film which continues the canceled Fox science fiction television series Firefly, taking place about two months after the events of the final episode.

Directed and written by Joss Whedon.
Can't stop the signal. (taglines)

River Tam

People don't like to be meddled with.
  • People don't like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think. Don't run, don't walk. We're in their homes and in their heads and we haven't the right. We're meddlesome.
  • I swallowed a bug.
    • Her calm comment after a dramatic chase over rough terrain, in which a Reaver ship nearly captured them.
  • The Reavers! They're all made up of rage. I can't shut them up!
    • On her inability to exclude the insanity of the Reavers from affecting her own mind.
  • It's not safe … for them.
    • After Simon asks if she wants to stay with the crew.

Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds

At last, we can retire and give up this life of crime.
  • What was that?
    • Appears in an early scene and the last scene, as some part breaks off Serenity.
  • I look out for me and mine. That don't include you 'less I conjure it does. Now you stuck a thorn in the Alliance's paw. That tickles me a bit. But it also means I got to step twice as fast to avoid them and that means turning down plenty of jobs. Even honest ones. Put this crew together with the promise of work, which the Alliance makes harder every year. Come a day there won’t be room for naughty men like us to slip about at all. This job goes south, there well may not be another. So here is us, on the raggedy edge. Don't push me, and I won't push you.
    • To Simon
  • This is how it is. Anybody doesn't wanna fly with me anymore, this is your port of harbor. There's a lot of fine ways to die. I ain't waiting for the Alliance to choose mine. I mean to confound these bungers. Take my shot at getting to Miranda. Maybe find something I can use to get clear of this. So I hear a word out of any of you that ain't helping me out or taking your leave, I will shoot you down.
  • Sorry about the throat. Expect you'd want to say your famous last words right now. Just one trouble. I ain't gonna kill you. Hell, I'm gonna grant your greatest wish. I'm gonna show you a world without sin.
    • After defeating the Operative
  • I'm assumin' y'all were listenin'? Did you hear us fight? [pause] Trap.
    • After Kaylee asks how he knows Inara's call is a trap

Zoe Washburne

Let's go back to the part where Jayne gets knocked out by a ninety-pound girl, 'cause I don't think that's ever gonna get old.
  • We crashing again?
  • Do you know what the definition of a hero is? Someone who gets other people killed. You can look it up later.
  • At last, we can retire and give up this life of crime.
    • Sarcastically, as a small vault is opened with very little money.
  • This is the place. We'll buy you the time.
  • She's tore up plenty, but she'll fly true. [when asked by Mal about the status of Serenity, referring to both the ship and herself after the final battle]

Hoban "Wash" Washburne

  • Let's go back to the part where Jayne gets knocked out by a ninety-pound girl, 'cause I don't think that's ever gonna get old.
  • I am a leaf on the wind. Watch how I soar.

Jayne Cobb

  • We're gonna explode!? I don't wanna explode!
  • Shiny! Let's be bad guys.
  • I just don't get it. How's a man get so wrong? Cuttin' on his own face, rapin' and murdering — Hell, I'll kill a man in a fair fight... or if I think he's gonna start a fair fight. Or if he bothers me. Or if there's a woman. Or if I'm gettin' paid. Mostly only when I'm gettin' paid. But these Reavers... last ten years they show up like the bogeyman from stories. Eating people alive? Where's that get fun?
  • She is starting to damage my calm!

Mr. Universe

They can't stop the signal Mal. They can never stop the signal.
  • It was a very beautiful ceremony. Lenore wrote her own vows. I cried. Like a baby. A hungry, angry baby.
  • You guys always bring me the very best violence.
    • Watching the video of River taking down dozens of men in a bar.
  • Bring it on, bring it on, bring it on. From here to the eyes and the ears of the 'verse, that's my motto. Or at least it would be, if I start having a motto.
  • Can't stop the signal, Mal. Everything goes somewhere, and I go everywhere.
  • They can't stop the signal, Mal. They can never stop the signal.

The Operative

We’re making a better world. All of them, better worlds.
  • This is a good death. There's no shame in this, in a man's death. A man who has done fine works. We’re making a better world. All of them, better worlds.
  • You should have let me see her, Captain. We should have done this as men. Not with fire.
    • Waiting with a fleet to destroy Serenity
  • Target the Reavers. Target the Reavers! Target everyone! Somebody fire!
    • Abandoning his ambush as the Reaver fleet suddenly emerges, chasing Serenity.


  • Shepherd Book: [Last words] I don’t care what you believe. Just believe in... whatever she...
  • Kaylee: Don’t pay anybody in advance. And don’t ride in anything with a Capissen 38 engine, they fall right out of the sky.


River was your greatest success. A prodigy. A phenomenon.
The minds behind every military, diplomatic, and covert operation in the galaxy, and you put them in a room with a psychic.
I never thought for a second you'd be stupid enough to come!
There's thirty million people here, and they just let themselves die.
You've always taken care of me. My turn.
You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take a boat in the air you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she oughtta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
The Operative: River was your greatest success. A prodigy. A phenomenon. Until her brother walked in here and took her from you.
Dr. Mathias: It's not quite so simple.
The Operative: I'm well aware of that.
Dr. Mathias: There was no way that I could—
The Operative: No. No. Of course. The boy spent his entire fortune developing the contacts to infiltrate this place.
Dr. Mathias: Gave up a brilliant future in medicine as well. It's madness.
The Operative: Madness? Have you looked at this scan carefully, Doctor? At his face? It's love, in point of fact, something a good deal more dangerous.

The Operative: Do you know what your sin is, Doctor?
Dr. Mathias: I wonder if—
The Operative: It's pride.
[Rewinds the scan]
Dr. Mathias: [in the scan] Key members of Parliament have personally observed this subject. I was told that the Alliance's support—
The Operative: “Key members of Parliament.” Key. The minds behind every military, diplomatic, and covert operation in the galaxy, and you put them in a room with a psychic.
Dr. Mathias: If there was some classified information that she... She never spoke of it. I don't know what it is.
The Operative: Nor do I. And judging by her deteriorating mental state, I'd say we're both better off. Secrets are not my concern. Keeping them is.
Dr. Mathias: Whatever secrets she might have accidentally gleaned, it's probable she doesn't even know she knows them. That they're buried beneath layers of psychosis.
The Operative: You know, in certain older civilized cultures when men failed as entirely as you have, they would throw themselves on their swords.
Dr. Mathias: Well, unfortunately, I forgot to bring a sword—
[The Operative pulls out a sword and slowly turns to him]
Dr. Mathias: I would put that down right now, if I were you.
The Operative: [Hold the handle of the sword out to him] Would you be killed in your sleep like an ailing pet?

Wash: Well, if she doesn't get us some extra flow from the engine room to offset the burn-through, this landing is gonna get pretty interesting.
Mal: Define "interesting"?
Wash: [deadpan] "Oh, God, oh, God, we're all gonna die"?
Mal: [over intercom] This is the captain. We have a little problem with our entry sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then... explode.

Mal: Jayne, how many weapons you plan on bringing? You only got the two arms.
Jayne: I just get excitable as to choice — like to have my options open.
Mal: I don't plan on any shooting taking place during this job.
Jayne: Well, what you plan and what takes place ain't ever exactly been similar.
Mal: No grenades. [Jayne groans] No grenades!
Zoë: We crashin' again?
Mal: Go talk to your husband. Is the mule prepped?
Zoë: Good to go, sir. Just loading her up. [To Jayne] Are those grenades?
Jayne: Cap'n doesn't want them.
Zoë: We're robbing the place; we're not occupying it.

Mal: Kaylee! Kaylee, what in the sphincter of hell are you playing at? We got the primary buffer panel coming right—
Kaylee: Everything's shiny, Captain. Not to fret.
Mal: You told me those entry couplings would hold for another week!
Kaylee: That was six months ago, Captain.
Mal: My ship don't crash. If she crashes, you crashed her.

Mal: Bit of a rockety ride. Nothing to be worried about.
Simon: I'm not worried.
Mal: Fear is nothing to be ashamed of, Doctor.
Simon: This isn't fear. This is anger.
Mal: Well, kind of hard to tell one from the other, face like yours.
Simon: Well, I imagine if it were fear, my eyes would be wider.
Mal: Mm, I'll keep a lookout for that next time.

[Preparing to leave the ship]
Mal: Hey little one. Understand your part in all this?
River: ...Do you?
Mal: This is what I do, darlin'. This is what I do.

Simon: Now River, stay behind the others. If there’s fighting, drop to the floor or run away. It’s okay to leave them to die.
Mal: Doctor, I'm taking your sister under my protection here. If anything happens to her, anything at all, I swear to you I will get very choked up. Honestly, there could tears. [Drives off]

Mal: Listen up! We are coming down to empty the vault!
Guard: You have to give me your authorization password!
[Jayne fires a couple of rounds of his gun]
Guard: ...Okay.

[As the Reavers are chasing them]
Mal: Faster! Faster! Faster would be better!
Jayne: How come they ain't blowing us out the air?
Mal: They wanna run us down. The up-close kill.
River: They want us alive when they eat us.
Jayne: Boy, sure would be nice if we had some grenades, don't you think?!

[Mal's Mule crashes into Serenity's bay. Simon, who stayed behind, rushes to River asking if she's all right. Kaylee, who also stayed behind, rushes to Simon.]
Kaylee: [to Simon] Are you okay?
Mal: Is HE okay?!

Zoe: Sir, I don't disagree on any particular point. It’s just... in the time of war, we would've never left a man stranded.
Mal: ...Maybe that's why we lost.

Simon: River, do you want to stay with them?
River: It isn't safe.
Simon: No. I fear it isn't safe anymore. [Walks off]
River: For them.

Zoë: Cap'n didn't make 'em fugitives.
Kaylee: But he coulda made 'em family! 'Steada keepin' Simon from seein' I was there. And I carried such a torch, and we coulda... Goin' on a year now I ain't had nothin' twixt my nethers weren't run on batteries!
Mal: [shocked] Oh, God! I can't know that!
Jayne: I could stand to hear a little more.

[Speaking with Fanty and Mingo, who are identical twins]
Mal: Fanty. Mingo.
Mingo: He's Mingo.
Mal: He's Fanty. You're Mingo.
Mingo: [grins] How is it you always know?
Mal: Fanty's prettier.

Simon: I thought she was getting better.
Jayne: And I thought they was getting off! Didn't we have an intricate plan how they were gonna be not here anymore?
Kaylee: We couldn't leave them now.
Jayne: No, now that she’s a killer woman, we ought be bringing her tea and dumplings.

Book: Only one thing is gonna walk you though this, Mal. Belief.
Mal: You know I always look to you for counsel, but sermons make me sleepy, Shepherd. I ain't looking for help on high. That's a long wait for a train don't come.
Book: When I talk about belief, why do you always assume I'm talking about God?

[After the crew, eavesdropping on a 'wave between Mal and Inara, sees Inara invite the crew to join her at the companion training house]
Wash: Inara. Nice to see her again.
Zoë: So... trap?
Mal: Trap.
Zoë: Are we going in?
Mal: Only but a few hours out.
Wash: Yeah, but, remember the part where it's a trap?
Mal: If that’s the case, then Inara's already caught in it. She wouldn't set us up willing. Might be we got a shot at seeing who's turning these wheels. We go in.
Kaylee: But how can you be sure Inara don't just wanna see you? Sometimes people have feelings. And I'm referring here to people.
Mal: You all were watching, I take it?
Kaylee: Yes.
Mal: Did you see us fight?
Kaylee: No.
Mal: Trap.

Wash: We’re about 70 miles from the Training House, and nobody on radar. If the Alliance is about they're laying low.
Mal: They're about. Find us a home. I'll take the shuttle a little closer. Zoe, ship is yours. Remember. If anything happens to me or if you don't hear from me within the hour, you take this ship and you come and you rescue me.
Zoe: [Jokingly] What? Risk my ship?
Mal: I mean it. It's cold out there. And I don't wanna get left.

Mal: Dear Buddha, please bring me a pony and a plastic rocket—
Inara: Mal, what are you doing here!?
Mal: You invited me.
Inara: I never thought for a second you'd be stupid enough to come!
Mal: Well, that makes you kind of a tease, doesn't it?

Mal: She is a mite unpredictable. Mood swings, of a sort.
The Operative: It's worse than you know.
Mal: It usually is.
The Operative: That girl will rain destruction down on you and your ship. She is an albatross, Captain.
Mal: The way I remember it, albatross was a ship's good luck, 'til some idiot killed it. [to Inara] Yes, I've read a poem. Try not to faint.

The Operative: But I have to hope you understand you can't beat us.
Mal: I got no need to beat you. I just want to go my way.
The Operative: And you can do that, once you let me take River Tam back home.
Mal: No, no. You’re working this deal all crabbed. You got to open with payment.
The Operative: That is a trap. I offer money, you'll play the man of honor and take umbrage. I ask you to do what is right, you'll play the brigand. I have no stomach for games. I already know you will not see reason.
Mal: The Alliance wanted to show me reason, they shouldn't have sent an assassin.
The Operative: I have a warship in deep orbit, Captain. We locked onto Serenity's pulse beacon the moment you hit atmo. I can speak a word and send a missile to that exact location inside of three minutes.
Mal: You do that, you'd best make peace with your dear and fluffy lord.
[Mal tosses a mechanism to the Operative, who catches it and immediately recognizes what it is]
The Operative: Pulse beacon.
Mal: Advice from an old tracker. You want to find someone? Use your eyes.

The Operative: How long do you think you can really run from us?
Mal: I never credited the Alliance with an overabundance of brains. And if you're the best they got—
The Operative: Captain Reynolds, I should tell you, so that you don’t waste your time - you can't make me angry.
Inara: Please, spend an hour with him.

The Operative: I want to resolve this like civilized men. I'm not threatening you. I'm unarmed-
Mal: Good.
[Mal draws his gun and shoots the Operative in the chest. He attempts to exit, only for the Operative to grab him from behind]
The Operative: I am of course wearing full body armour. I am not a moron.

[After the Operative beats Mal and Inara]
The Operative: Nothing here is what it seems. [Picks up his sword] He isn't the plucky hero. The Alliance isn't some evil empire. This is not the grand arena...
Inara: And that's not incense.
[The Operative turns just as the flash bomb goes off]

Jayne: You dumb-ass hogs, the only people she's a threat to is us on this boat.
Mal: Look, we get back to Haven in a few hours' time—
Jayne: Oh, yeah. Hiding under the Shepherd's skirts, that's a manful scheme.
Mal: You wanna run this ship?
Jayne: Yes!
Mal: [Thrown] Well... you can’t.

Inara: This isn't the war, Mal.
Mal: You telling me that 'cause I don’t know?
Inara: You came to the Training House looking for a fight.
Mal: I came looking for you.
Inara: I just want to know who I'm dealing with. I've seen too many versions of you to be sure.
Mal: I start fighting a war, I guarantee you'll see something new.

[As River is holding a gun on him]
Mal: The government's man, he says you're a danger to us. Not worth helping. Is he right? Are you anything but a weapon? I've staked my crew's life on the theory you're a person. Actual and whole, and if I'm wrong, you’d best shoot me now—
[River cocks the gun]
Mal: [Quickly] Or, we can talk more.

[On Haven, Mal finds Shepherd Book, mortally wounded in an Alliance attack]
Mal: It shouldn't have been you. The Alliance should've hit us, it should've been me.
Book: That crossed my mind. [coughs] I shot him down. [looks at the wreck of an Alliance ship]
Mal: Yeah, I see.
Book: I killed the ship that killed us. Not very Christian of me.
Mal: You did what's right.
Book: Coming from you, that means... almost nothing. [Mal smiles] I'm long gone.
Mal: No, Doc'll bring you around. I look to be bored by many more sermons before you slip. Just don't move.
Book: Can't order me around, boy. I'm not one of your crew.
Mal: [voice breaking] Yes, you are.

The Operative: I'm sorry. If your quarry goes to ground, leave no ground to go to. You should have taken my offer. Or did you think none of this was your fault?
Mal: I don't murder children.
The Operative: I do, if I have to.
Mal: Why? Do you even know why they sent you?
The Operative: It's not my place to ask. I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. A world without sin.
Mal: So me and mine gotta lay down and die so you can live in your better world?
The Operative: I'm not going to live there... There's no place for me there, any more than there is for you. Malcolm, I'm a monster. What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done.

[Mal and the crew watch a holographic report on the Mirandans' fate]
Dr. Caron: There's thirty million people here, and they just let themselves die.
[Everyone jumps at the sound of a brutal attack in the distance.]
Dr. Caron: I have to be quick! About a tenth of a percent of the population had the opposite reaction to the Pax. Their aggressor response increased beyond madness. They have become...
[A crash is heard in the background, now closer]
Dr. Caron: [sobs] Well, they've killed most of us. And not just killed… they've done things...
Wash: [Realizes] Reavers... They made them.
Dr. Caron: I won't live to report this, but people have to know. We meant it for the best... to make people safer.

Mal: This report is maybe twelve years old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear, because there's a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They're gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people…better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave.
Jayne: Shepherd Book used to tell me, "If you can't do somethin' smart... do somethin' right."

Jayne: Captain's right. Can't be thinking on revenge if we're gonna get through this.
Zoe: Do you really think any of us are gonna get through this?
Jayne: [Sounding hopeful] ...I might.

Simon: My one regret in all of this is never being with you.
Kaylee: With me? You mean to say as...[hopeful] sex?
Simon: [nods] I mean to say...
Kaylee: [cocks her gun] Hell with this! I'm gonna live!

Mal: You shot me in the back! I haven't made you angry, have I?
The Operative: There are a lot of innocent people in the air being killed right now.
Mal: You have no idea how true that is. I know the secret. The truth that burned up River Tam's brain. Rest of the 'verse is going to know it too. 'Cause they need to.
The Operative: Do you really believe that?
Mal: I do.
The Operative: You willing to die for that belief?
Mal: I am.
[The Operative nods and begin to pull out his gun, but Mal draws first and shoots the gun out of his hand and backs the Operative into a corner.]
Mal: 'course, that ain't exactly Plan A.

The Operative: Do you know what your sin is, Mal?
Mal: Ah, hell, I'm a fan of all seven. But right now, I'm gonna have to go with wrath.

[After Simon is wounded]
Simon: River. River, I’m sorry.
River: No. No.
Simon: I hate to leave.
River: You won’t. You take care of me, Simon. You've always taken care of me. My turn. [Runs out and fights the Reavers, closing the door behind her.]

The Operative: It's not over. I can't guarantee that they won't come after you. The Parliament. Your broadwave about Miranda has weakened their regime. They are not gone, and they are not... forgiving.
Mal: That don't bode especially well for you, giving the order to let us go, patching up our hurt.
The Operative: I told them the Tams were no longer a threat, damage done. They might listen, but I think they know I'm no longer... their man.
Mal: They take you down, I don't expect to grieve overmuch. Like to kill you myself, I see you again.
The Operative: You won't. [Pause] There is nothing left to see.

[Deleted scene]
The Operative: Serenity... you lost everything in that battle. Everything you had, everything you were. How did you go on?
Mal: If you're still standing there when that engine starts, you never will figure it out.
Mal: (After the Operative has left) What a whiner.

Mal: Taking her out, should be about a day's ride to get you back to your girls.
Inara: Right.
Mal: Ready to get off this heap, back to civilized life?
Inara: I, uh... I don't know.
Mal: [Smiles] Good answer.

Mal: It ain't all buttons and charts, little albatross. You know what the first rule of flying is? Well, I suppose you do, since you already know what I'm about to say.
River: I do. But I like to hear you say it.
Mal: Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take a boat in the air that you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turnin' o' worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she ought to fall down. Tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
River: Storm's getting worse.
Mal: We'll pass through soon enough.


  • Can't stop the signal.
  • Space Pirates on the run!
  • This is one "River" you do not want to cross.
  • The future is worth fighting for.
  • They aim to misbehave.


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