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The Firefly Timeline

We figured it was about time we put together a Firefly Timeline. This is as accurate as we could make it, and we will be sure to update it as new information becomes available. We cite our sources for every date given, so you can judge the worth of each piece of information. We should also mention that this is not the only Firefly Timeline on the internet. An alternative timeline is Edgar Governo's Firefly Timeline. The Governo timeline is mostly in agreement with the Signal's to within a month, but there are minor differences in some of the less accurately known dates.

Our intent in putting this together is that it may be of use to anyone creating new Firefly content (which includes fanfic, audio dramas and movies, or just RPG game sessions).

August 2459
Canonical event
Serenity (the ship) built by the Firefly Shipworks Ltd.
The Serenity Blueprints Reference Pack
Serenity's dedication plaque
20th September 2468
Canonical event
Mal born
Serenity (movie)
This information appears on the Operative's screen during the movie Serenity.

Unreliable! Alliance records give more than one date for Mal's date of birth. In addition to this detail (which would make Mal fifty years old at the time of the movie), there is also a prop from the movie which lists Mal's date of birth as both 27th March 2286 and 27th March 2486.

15th February 2484
Canonical event
Zoe born
Deleted scenes from the movie
This information appears on screen.
November ‒ December 2491
Canonical event
Simon born
Speculation based on age of actor
Simon's birthday occurs in the episode Out of Gas . The year is speculation based on the age of child actor Zak Effron in the Safe flashback.
19th December 2500
Canonical event
River born
From a prop used in the movie
Project Oracle records.
12th April 2506
In fan audio drama
Romana visits Shadow
Borderline
May ‒ July 2506
Canonical event
Pax released into the atmosphere of Miranda
Deduction
Educated guess, based on the assumption that it happened just before the war began.
May ‒ July 2506
Canonical event
The survey ship C57D lands on Miranda to find out what happened
Deduction
Mal says the report that they found on Miranda was "maybe twelve years old". Exactly twelve years old would place this at November 2506 (assuming my date for the movie is correct). However, notice the word "maybe" in the above. Mal is guessing. I consider it more likely is that this took place before the war began.

Unreliable. Could have been any time between May 2506 and May 2507

June ‒ August 2506
Canonical event
The Unification war begins
The Serenity Visual Companion
The Serenity Visual Companion states that the war lasted "for almost five years". We know that it ended in May/June 2511, so it must have started around June/July/August 2506. I'm assuming here that if it were any earlier, Joss would have said "five years", and that if it were any later he would have said "four and a half years".
June 2506
In fan audio drama
Dark Places Teaser
Dark Places
September 2506
Canonical event
Simon and River as children (flashback)
Safe
On screen caption during Safe places this as "eleven years ago". That is, eleven years before Safe. The caption probably didn't mean exactly eleven years ago. More likely it meant eleven years to the nearest year, in which case this date could be up to six months out.
13th September 2506
In fan audio drama
Romana reports on Santo's dwindling tourist trade
Borderline
8th January 2507
In fan audio drama
Romana interviews a slave trader
Borderline
4th May 2507
In fan audio drama
Romana goes behind enemy lines
Borderline
16th August 2508
In fan audio drama
The (first) fall of Athens
Borderline
19th February 2509
In fan audio drama
Romana visits Jiangyin
Borderline
6th November 2509
In fan audio drama
Romana encounters a lynch mob
Borderline
18th July 2510
In fan audio drama
Evacuation of Shadow
Borderline
27th October 2510
In fan audio drama
Romana interviews refugees on Ezra
Borderline
April 2511
Canonical event
The battle of Serenity Valley begins
Deleted scenes from the movie
From a deleted scene in Serenity (the movie) we learn that the battle lasted for seven weeks. Therefore the start date must have been seven weeks before the end date, which we know to be May 2511.
April ‒ May 2511
Canonical event
Independents' high command surrenders
Deleted scenes from the movie
Source From a deleted scene in Serenity (the movie) we learn that the high command surrendered two weeks before the end of the Battle of Serenity Valley.
12th April 2511
In fan audio drama
Romana at the battle of Serenity Valley
Borderline
May 2511
Canonical event
The battle of Serenity Valley ends
Deleted scenes from the movie
The information appears briefly on a screen viewed by the Operative. You need a freeze frame to catch it.
May ‒ June 2511
Canonical event
The official end of the war - Unification Day
Bushwhacked
Alliance officer Harken says, "Some say after Serenity, the Browncoats were through. That the war really ended in that valley." This clearly implies that the war ended very soon after the Battle of Serenity Valley.
June ‒ December 2511
Canonical event
River at school (flashback)
Serenity (movie)
From Serenity (the movie), this scene is set after the war. Further, In the Serenity Visual companion, the shooting script for this scene describes River as being ten years old during this scene, which confirms that it must have taken place in 2511.
11th July 2511
In fan audio drama
Romana celebrates the end of the war
Borderline
15th January 2512
In fan audio drama
The Counterfeit Companion
Borderline
The Counterfeit Companion is the linking story connecting seasons 1 and 2 of Borderline.
29th February 2512
In fan audio drama
Elizabeth visits Serenity Valley
Borderline
4th September 2512
In fan audio drama
Elizabeth visits Santo
Borderline
2514
Canonical event
Mal buys Serenity
From a prop used in the movie
Mal's Alliance record
January ‒ February 2515
Canonical event
The Academy recruits River
The River Tam sessions
Educated guess based on the notion that this is set just before River joins the academy, and on the assumption that the River Tam sessions were approximately evenly distributed.

Additionally, in Serenity  (the pilot), Simon says River was 14 when she joined the academy, so it cannot have been earlier than December 19th 2514. He also says it was "months" before he started receiving coded letters, so it cannot have been later than February 2515.

February ‒ March 2515
Canonical event
River requests a transfer
The River Tam sessions
Deduction based on the fact that this is set between River's joining the Academy and River's writing to Simon, and on the assumption that the River Tam sessions were approximately evenly distributed.
March ‒ April 2515
Canonical event
River starts sending coded messages to Simon
Serenity (episode)
Simon says he began receiving coded letters two years before being contacted by the underground.
June 2515
Canonical event
River going crazy
The River Tam sessions
Educated guess based on the assumption that the River Tam sessions were approximately evenly distributed.
August ‒ September 2516
Canonical event
Inara begins renting a shuttle on Serenity
The Train Job
During the episode The Train Job , Inara says she's been on board for eight months. Therefore this event must have taken place eight months before The Train Job .
March 2517
Canonical event
River knows Simon is looking for her
The River Tam sessions
Educated guess. This must have happened before Simon was contacted by the underground, since River knew that Simon did not (yet) have enough information to find her. But it must have happened quite late on, because River has deduced Matthias's mission for her. Again, I make the assumption that the River Tam sessions were approximately evenly distributed.
March 2517
In fan audio drama
Simon discovers River's whereabouts.
Moonshine
Implicit, since this story is set just before Simon is contacted by the underground.
April 2517
Canonical event
Simon contacted by "some men" from "some underground movement" about River
Serenity (episode)
From Simon's explanation, this was two years after receiving coded letters. In addition, this must have happened shortly before the rescue.
April ‒ May 2517
Canonical event
Simon rescues River from the Academy
Serenity (episode)
Deduction based on the notion that this can't have happened too long before Serenity (the pilot).
April 2517
In fan audio drama
Herren Island, Newhall, attacked by reavers
Dark Places
May ‒ June 2517
Canonical event
Serenity (episode)
The Train Job
Deduction. Several clues in The Train Job  indicate that the interval between Serenity  and The Train Job  can have been a few days at most (for example, River hasn't found out she's on a ship yet).
May ‒ June 2517
Canonical event
The Train Job
The Train Job
It is stated  that exactly six years to the day have elapsed since the end of the Unification war.
July ‒ August 2517
Canonical event
Bushwhacked
Bushwhacked
It is stated ithat Inara has been on board Serenity for a few weeks short of a year. Inara joined Serenity in August or September 2516.
August ‒ September 2517
Canonical event
Shindig
Deduction
Deduction based on the fact that Shindig and Safe must both have occurred between Bushwhacked and Our Mrs Reynolds. In addition, it is stated in Safe that three weeks elapsed between Shindig and Safe 
September ‒ October 2517
Canonical event
Safe
Deduction
Deduction based on the fact that Shindig  and Safe must both have occurred between Bushwhacked and Our Mrs Reynolds. In addition, it is stated in Safe that three weeks elapsed between Shindig and Safe 
October 2517
Canonical event
Our Mrs Reynolds
Our Mrs Reynolds
Inara states that she has an appointment on October 24th. Mal states that Serenity will take about a week to get there (which won't be late), therefore this episode begins on October 17th 2517, or possibly a few days earlier.
October ‒ November 2517
Canonical event
Jaynestown
Deduction
Deduction based on the fact that Jaynestown must have occured between Our Mrs Reynolds and Out of Gas.
November ‒ December 2517
Canonical event
Out of Gas
Deduction
Deduction based on the fact that Jaynestown, Out of Gas, Ariel and War Stories must all have occured between Our Mrs Reynolds and Trash, and on the notion that Simon's birthday (which happens in this episode) occurred before River's. (I suspect that, if River's birthday had come first, Simon would have got River a present, and then River would have got Simon a present. This didn't happen.)
January ‒ February 2518
Canonical event
Ariel
Deduction
Deduction based on the fact that Ariel and War Stories must have occured between Out of Gas and Trash.
February ‒ March 2518
Canonical event
War Stories
Deduction
Deduction based on the fact that Jaynestown, Out of Gas, Ariel and War Stories  must all have occured between Our Mrs Reynolds and Trash. In addition, Book's conversation with Simon at the start of War Stories implies that Ariel was still very recent.
Late March
Canonical event
Trash
Trash
Mal tells Monty that he married "Bridget" (Saffron) about half a year back. Note that exactly half a year would place this episode at April 2518 - however, Mal's timekeeping is not that accurate. This episode must have taken place earlier than April 2518, or there would not have been time for subsequent episodes.
Late March
In fan movie
The Bellflower (movie)
Inside knowledge
The first episode of The Bellflower is stated by its creators to be set two weeks before The Message.
Early April
Canonical event
The Message
Deduction
Deduction based on the fact that The Message, Heart of Gold and Objects in Space must have occured between Trash and (several months before) Better Days 
Late April
Canonical event
Heart of Gold
Deduction
Deduction based on the fact that The Message, Heart of Gold and Objects in Space must have occured between Trash and (several months before) Better Days 
Early May
Canonical event
Objects in Space
Deduction
Deduction based on the fact that The Message, Heart of Gold and Objects in Space must have occured between Trash and (several months before) Better Days 
Late May
In fan audio drama
Old Wounds
Old Wounds
Discussions between Mal and Kaylee regarding Serenity's primary buffer panel on Old Wounds and Serenity (the movie) imply that Old Wounds is set roughly six months before the movie.
June ‒ July 2518
Canonical event
Better Days
Deduction
Better Days must have occurred between Objects in Space and Those Left Behind.
August 2518
Canonical event
Those Left Behind
Deduction
Deduction based on the notion that Those Left Behind must occur about halfway between Objects in Space and the movie.
November 2518
Canonical event
Serenity (movie)
Serenity (movie)
Simon states that River is 17 years old, therefore this cannot have taken place any later than December 18th 2518. In addition, sufficient time must have elapsed between the end of the series and the movie to allow for all the changes that have taken place. A widely accepted "educated guess" for this period assumes the interval to have been six months, which places the movie at November 2518.

The movie must have taken place between June and early December of 2518 (and the June limit is highly unlikely  as this would only allow for a few weeks between Trash and the movie).

Corroborating evidence is that, in the Serenity novelisation, author Keith R. A. Decandido dates this as "eight years after the war". The war ended in May/June 2511, so eight years later would be May/June 2519. Since we already know that the movie must have taken place between June and December 2518, this date cannot be accurate to the month. However if we allow that it is accurate to the nearest year then this sets the earliest possible date for the movie as seven and a half years after the war, or November/December 2518.

December 2518
In fan audio drama
Wedding Day
Wedding Day
Information on the Sonic Cinema website reads: Set just after the Serenity movie, Kaylee decides to go home to visit with her family for Christmas
February 2519
In fan movie
Redemption
Inside knowledge
Browncoats: Redemption is stated (by its creator, in an interview with the Signal) to be set three months after Serenity the movie.
March ‒ May 2519
In fan audio drama
Around the 'Verse in 80 Days
Inside knowledge
This series is set in the aftermath of the Miranda broadwave.

Controversial Dates

There are some controversial dates in there, so I'd like to spend some time justifying them. The first dubious one is Mal's date of birth. It's in the movie - and therefore it's canon - that Alliance records list Mal's date of birth as September 20th 2468. The trouble is, that makes him fifty years old at the time of the movie. Is Mal really fifty? A lot of people think not. Additionally, that information conflicts with non-true-canon sources (specifically, props from the movie), so take that with as many pinches of salt as you prefer. Governo's timeline makes a strange compromise, taking the date and month from the movie, but not the year.

The next problem, chronologically speaking, is the question: Did the Miranda event happen before or after the start of the war? Either possibility would be consistent with the information available, since all the relevant references are vague. We do know that Miranda was an Alliance world, not an Independent world, and that the Pax was intended to "calm the population, weed out aggression". It just makes more sense to me that such a program would have happened before the war rather than during.

Finally, there is the date of the movie. This isn't particularly controversial, but there is some educated guesswork in there. I placed the movie at November 2518. It might have been earlier - however, the earlier it is, the less time there would have been in which all the other stuff could have taken place.

Contradictions

There are one or two places in the series and movie where contradictions may be perceived. Here are all the ones of which I am aware:

In Objects in Space , Inara says to Jubal Early, "Serenity is a smuggling ship. I've been here a year, I couldn't name all the places she might hide." By my reckoning it should be one year and five months. But hey - there was no reason for Inara to have been completely accurate to Jubal Early in a flippant remark like that.

In the movie, Mal says to Simon, "Eight months you've been on my boat". This is just impossible. I tend to assume Mal meant eighteen months, which would be consistent with my timeline.

Here's an interesting non-true-canon one. In the Visual Companion, on page 49, the Operative says to Matthias, "River was your greatest success. A prodigy - a phenomenon. Until her brother walked in eight months ago and took her from you" As noted above, this is impossible. Fortunately, this is extended canon, not core canon, so we are able to ignore it. That said, if you want to take it as real, you could assume that the movie scene in which Matthias died took place in March 2518 (with the rest of the movie being set in November). Personally, I choose to ignore that one.

And just to bring sex into the equation, in the movie, Kaylee says to Mal, "Going on a year now I ain't had nothing twixt my nethers weren't run on batteries." So when exactly did she last get laid? Logically, it has to be sometime after November 2517 - which was after Simon boarded Serenity. It wasn't with Simon, so I guess there's a story there to be told. My favorite explanation is the "boy whores" in Heart of Gold .

Note that the last three are consistent with each other, and therefore mutually reinforcing. An alternative interpetation is that there really were only eight months between Serenity and Serenity . I've played with that possibility, but there was just no way I could get it to work. You're welcome to try.

Differences from Edgar Governo's Timeline

The Governo timeline and mine are largely in agreement, however there are still some differences between the two. Most obviously, the Governo timeline includes things from real history, such as the formation of the USA. Mine doesn't. Conversely, mine incorporates the dates of fan audio and video productions, wheras Governo's doesn't. Governo's timeline makes some estimates about e.g. Book's date of birth. I make no guesses without good reason. But let's look now at the explicit differences.

The Governo timeline cites Malcolm Reynolds' date of birth as September 20th 2486. As noted above, this is controversial. Governo's date is conjecture based on the assumption that Nathan Fillion was the same age as Malcolm Reynolds during Firefly (but not during the movie); mine is from canon, but marked as unreliable.

We also disagree about Simon's date of birth. Governo says late November 2490; I say November/December 2491. Well, at least we both agree on November! As to the year, Governo estimates based on the age of Sean Maher during Firefly, wheras I estimate based on the age of Zak Effron during Safe. Estimating the age of a character from the age of an actor is always risky, but my feeling is that an estimate based on a the age of a child actor will be much more robust than an estimate based on the age of an adult actor.

We also disagree about River's date of birth. (I have December 19th 2500; Governo has 2501). In this case, however, I'm right. The date comes straight from the records of Project Oracle (known from a prop from the movie).

The Governo timeline claims that Mal bought Serenity in 2512. I say 2514. Governo's date is deduced from the fact that on the DVD commentary for the episode, writer Tim Minear and director David Solomon indicate that this took place "five years ago." My date comes from Mal's Alliance record (known from a prop from the movie).

The timing of the episodes Ariel and War Stories is also different. Governo places them before Christmas; I place them after. Governo's main reason for placing Ariel before Christmas is River's statement "they took Christmas away". However, since River was referring to the past, not to the present, I don't see that as sufficient justification for trying to squish two extra episodes into 2517, and I really don't think it works. Note that the very next episode, Trash , is set in March/April 2518. In other words, I have assumed that Ariel and War Stories fit into that nice big gap, Governo squeezes them into a tiny gap just to get them in before Christmas.

We only very slightly disagree about the timing of Trash . I have late March; Governo says April. Governo's conclusion is a logical deduction, given that Mal says it is "about half a year" since Our Mrs Reynolds , however, I believe it must have been a few weeks earlier, or there would not have been sufficient time afterwards for everything else that needs to happen.

Governo places Those Left Behind in June, I in August. Truth is, we're both really guessing on this one. I prefer my date.

And finally, there's the movie itself. Governo says August; I say November. Again, we're both really guessing. Again, I prefer my date. Governo's timeline allows only three months between Objects in Space and Serenity ; mine allows six months. Just from watching the movie, it does seem to me that more than three months must have passed.


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