Sure, no "proper" aliens, but were all the planets completely biologically dead? No native plants, or creatures in the water? No microorganisms even? All the terraforming was completely done from scratch and every lifeform that we see was brought from Earth*?

I rather suspect that the answer is "no" for a number of reasons, but I wondered if there was perhaps an obscure RPG reference or something on that map or some other such thing.

*Barring any genetic engineering etc that took place after they reached 34 Tauri, anyway.

EDIT: This is as much about whether any of the planets were already vaguely habitable for humans when they arrived as it is about alien life.

  • I imagine any existing life forms of any kind would be wiped out before terraforming was started. The people that settled the 'verse were refugees from a dying Earth, on a one-shot trip with no return tickets. Respecting local biodiversity wasn't a viable option, at least at first.
    – Joe L.
    Aug 27, 2014 at 2:17
  • Oh yeah, absolutely I would expect that they'd totally ruin anything short of a fully-functioning ecosystem that's amenable to humans, which I imagine would be helluva unlikely find. Frankly I wouldn't expect them to worry about the weird alien fungus or whatever they may have found. Aug 27, 2014 at 5:10

2 Answers 2


The closest thing to canon within the 'verse is The Verse In Numbers (warning: 7.0M pdf - you might want to click and download that instead of trying to open it up in a browser) which was developed in tandem with the Complete and Official Map of the Verse and is copyright Universal Studios - its about as close as one can get.

The first planets and moons to be terraformed were done so in 2220 (Section 7.17, page 346). The timeline (Section 1.04, page 14) shows this as "robot terraformers arrive and 'tweak' P/2027(White Sun)03 ...)) starting in 2200. So, it took 20 years for the robot Terraformers before the terraforming was complete. It wasn't until 2220 that the ark ships (launched in 2100) arrived and it took 5 years for the colonization of the initial planets to be done.

These robot terraformers were launched as part of a first wave of ships in 2072 (note several years before the airs were launched).

Note that many of the terraforming targets were moons which were then modified with additional gravity screens to adjust the surface gravity.

The technology was such that it was possible to terraform Mars, Venus, and Earth's moon (Section 1.02, page 12; 2037 - 2048).

So, the question then is 'what does tweaked' mean? Its the only place thats used - so those planets may have been almost earth like before the terraforming began. Further information is covered in Section 7.02 (Page 331) "To Terraform or Not" which talks about lifeless rocks, introduction of plant and animal life, and atmospheric processors. Only Londinium and Sihnon are mentioned as 'tweaked'.

Given the wording of the terraforming section, I doubt much of it was habitable before hand. In some cases they ignited brown dwarves to create a habitable zone of what were formerly moons (See Santo, Section 2.23, age 44). Asteroid/dwarf planets were also terraformed (the example given for a minimum size is 970 km - about the size of Ceres).

At this point all one can really do is suggest that there wasn't much life, if any on all but two worlds. Much of the terraforming was done on worlds that would not support life as we know it with the addition of significant technology.

  • Looks like interesting stuff, though obviously I've only taken a quick glance. It matches what I figured in my head; at best, Londinium and Sihnon may have been a bit primordial or something, just enough to make the terraforming a bit easier and quicker. EDIT: Oh, pressing Enter posts it. OK, I was just gonna ask about the "fan planets" that it includes. Obviously the whole thing is a bit iffy, just the best we've got, but where did they come from? Why were they included as opposed to others? Aug 27, 2014 at 5:14
  • @EbulliantEnnui the fan additions are noted on pages iii to v (mostly names of asteroids - only a few have additions to the worlds)... immediately before the forward section on "lies, damn lies & canon" in the Forward (pages vi through vii) and then more information about fan created worlds on pages viii through ix. The timeline, major worlds, and technology don't fall into that category.
    – user12183
    Aug 27, 2014 at 15:27

Joss Whedon's vision of the Firefly universe doesn't include aliens.

There are no aliens in the show. It is entirely a show about human expansion and exploration, human chaos and interaction in the farthest reaches of space. Jane Espenson says that, at first, “a space show without aliens felt like Buffy without vampires ... I didn’t yet understand that Joss wanted to say something clear and honest about human nature”

No Aliens in Firefly - Scifi Wire (2002)

It's not clear whether this precludes microbial life, but he seems fairly adamant that it's just us humans.

"I love spaceships," Whedon said. "I love sci-fi. I love hard-science sci-fi. I wanted to do a show without latex. I wanted to come back down to Earth and do a western. I wanted to make Stagecoach really bad and that was the impetus. [I don't think] there will be aliens three or four hundred years from now [when Firefly is set]. There would just be people, and that's the point. They're not smarter, they're not better. War hasn't been abolished. Some of them are decent, some of them aren't. Some are just trying to scrape by after being trodden on by history.... It's a very low-tech show. It's a sort of immigrant story, taking from all the cultures we already have and imagining them spread out over a galaxy."

Once Bitten: An Unofficial Guide to the World of Angel

  • I think this is what the OP is referring to in the first four words of the question: "Sure, no 'proper' aliens". They want to clarify the scope of what types of life Whedon wanted to exclude.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 5, 2020 at 18:07
  • @Randal'Thor - That there are no aliens seems to preclude their being alien life of any sort. I'm trying to find a quote that's a little more definitive, but Whedon is adamant that the Firefly universe is 'exactly the same as ours, except with spaceships' which strongly implies no alien life of any sort.
    – Valorum
    Jan 5, 2020 at 19:24

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