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I read that in the core worlds, the Reavers from Firefly/Serenity are legendary (campfire tales or something), so it sounds like they have been around for a long time.

They must get killed frequently and die from various other things like radiation and lack of medical care. I read that some humans might be converted if the the reavers detect some genetic difference and this process is no doubt unpleasant.

Is there any evidence that they also reproduce naturally, with offspring of two Reavers becoming Reavers themselves? Or perhaps they bring up children (not necessarily their own) who at least sometimes grow up to be Reavers or at least fake it? (Interesting story idea, Reavers who despite looking like the rest, want to escape to a normal place - maybe someone has written that already?)

We know that they can fly and maintain spacecraft so they are not mindless, so mating or childrearing seems plausible.

EDIT: Mine it turns out is sort of a dupe of a question about whether Reavers have babies and someone asserted that, No, they don't have little "ragebabies." But do not giant hornets, sort of like Reavers to bees and other species, not raise their own young and in fact raid to feed them. A story showing this paradoxical-seeming thing among the Reavers would be interesting: perhaps there is a caste of less-violent Reavers who take care of baby Reavers, member of this caste having to protect the babies from other Reavers and also protest themselves from random violence. At the same time, such young Reavers would grow up in an unbelievably violent environment (I believe hornet colonies are much more violent than bee colonies in terms of intra-colony violence. Wasps fight with each other to establish hierarchies that are remembered -- bees do not beyond expelling useless males, not really fights.) sort of like street urchins in Oliver Twist or something.

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    “Since I read that in the core worlds they are legendary (campfire tales or something) it sounds like they have been around for a long time” - I don’t think this is a solid conclusion. Legends can spring up very quickly. I feel like Banksy is a modern day example. Just one person about whom there has been much speculation and “legend”-making because they are mysterious and interesting. But the “legend” of Banksy is only 20-25 years old. Dec 3, 2022 at 14:46
  • Also, the members of parliament who know about the Pax and reavers are alive at the same time as River Tam, since they are in the room with her. And the bodies on Miranda have not decomposed for very long. I doubt reavers have been around for more than 20-30 years by the time of the events of Serenity, and likely they are newer than that. Dec 3, 2022 at 14:50
  • Another literary example of 'quick legends' would be I am Legend (the book). Only a few years is required to build the Legend.
    – Jontia
    Dec 3, 2022 at 20:59
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    I don't recall the exact line, but when the crew discovers the planet Miranda, they mention hearing about its initial call for colonists. Everything that's happened has been well within their lifetimes.
    – Cadence
    Dec 3, 2022 at 21:09
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    @Jontia They sure screwed this up in the Smith movie -- I am sure you saw the alternate ending which was more consistent with the original idea in the book although since the creatures in the movie were not exactly like the "sane" vampires of the book and also the Price version The Last Man on Earth, it makes less sense. The Wikipedia article about the book makes the legend thing clear.
    – releseabe
    Dec 4, 2022 at 4:50

2 Answers 2

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Neither the television show nor the official comic books contain content to confirm that Reavers have any social structure or level of society beyond the level of a pack animal, and the only reference to reavers mating that I'm aware of was in part 2 of the pilot where Zoe says the following:

“If they take the ship, they’ll rape us to death, eat our flesh, and sew our skins into their clothing. And, if we’re very, very lucky, they’ll do it in that order.”

While this may have been hyperbole, it fits with the general characterization of the franchise that the Reavers are single minded and animalistic, lacking the capabilities to consistently raise children in sufficient numbers to maintain a stable population.

A likely explanation is that the original colonists who became the Reavers was a multi-generational society, thus children or teenagers who became Reavers could be adult or middle aged Reavers if they survived long enough, and thus appear to be a multi-generation all threat (A generation is often considered to be 25 years).

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    Username kinda checks out :-)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Dec 4, 2022 at 15:14
  • The Reaver "society" would also likely grow by absorption. One episode features a survivor who went insane; the psychological trauma basically turned him into a Reaver.(Though not likely enough to offset deaths to actually cause population increase. I don't think they've existed on long enough a time scale to demonstrate a self-perpetuating society.)
    – chepner
    Dec 4, 2022 at 20:10
  • Pack animals, or literally any animals at all for that matter, generally have no difficulty mating or reproducing, despite their lack of "society." Granted, newborn humans are far more dependent on parental care for their survival than most (all?) other species, so a breakdown of social cooperation would probably be especially deleterious for us. But I think it's silly to conclude that they don't naturally reproduce because they're "animalistic" when reproduction is most the most fundamental and universal activities shared by all animals. Dec 5, 2022 at 3:54
  • Reavers aren't born, they're created either through exposure to the Pax chemical or through torture. The question is less where a male reaver could impregnate a woman and more where the mother would even survive the matting process, let alone carry the child to term. It's unlikely that reavers would raise a child. It's implied that if the ever found one they might murder it for fun. Dec 9, 2022 at 11:43
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They Do Not (depending on your definition of generational)

There are two types of legends/campfire stories. Things from the recent past in hard-to-confirm scenarios or out of the way places, (Think the Ghost of Kiev earlier this year during the first days/weeks of the Russo-Ukranian War) and things from long ago still rumored to be in out of the way places (like bigfoot).

Based on the timeline of the 'Verse Reavers clearly fall into the first category. (information from The Verse in Numbers published with the support of Quantum Mechanix and written by Geoffry Mandel.)

2506: Terraforming fails on Miranda and Reavers created.

2511: Unification War ends.

2517: Start of the events covered in the Firefly series.

Thus we're talking about 11ish years. Which is plenty of time to start the rumor mill in the Core Systems that "in out-of-the-way places scary things are happening what a great ghost story!" But given the lock the Alliance holds on information that's as far as it gets until Mal & Co broadcast the truth in the events of Serenity.

So the Reaver's aren't multi-generational in the sense that they've existed for more than a generation (generally considered 25 years). But there is a chance that teenagers/kids were among the portion of Miranda's population that were turned into Reavers and therefor you might consider a reaver band that contained them (or elderly people that became reavers) "multi-generational" in the sense that people from a wide range of ages are part of the band.

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  • If there has not been time for a new generation there has been time for either mating among Reavers, mating with non-Reavers who have been kidnapped (Like in Bone Tomahawk.) or even mating between Reavers. Hard to imagine babies being brought up but interesting possibility I think.
    – releseabe
    Dec 5, 2022 at 15:34

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