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Can the Reavers in Firefly/Serenity reproduce or otherwise grow their numbers, or are they stuck, always losing numbers? I'm not really counting the ones produced occasionally during a raid, but a more consistent method of reproduction.

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    They don't reproduce in the sense of having tiny ragebabies, but converting people into raiders could be considered reproduction. Jan 30, 2012 at 13:58
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    @Ian upvoted for "ragebabies"
    – hairboat
    Mar 23, 2012 at 23:43
  • in my opinion, @IanPugsley, you gave the actual correct answer. it even has more votes than the accepted answer
    – LevenTrek
    Jun 21, 2019 at 2:15

3 Answers 3

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I believe the original Reavers' numbers have been dwindling ever since

the incident on Miranda, where only 0.1% of the settled colonists had the violent reaction to Pax.

and much of their ranks now consist of converts.

The reasoning:

  • Due to the reason stated above, their original numbers should have been in the thousands.
  • They may be able to fly and maintain ships, but I really don't see them raising children.
  • It is difficult to tell how long ago the events took place. River was somewhat younger when she was exposed to the secret and the skeletons of the colonists seemed old. The scare stories about Reavers seem to be at least a generation old, judging from the way they're being told.
  • They convert by subjecting some of their victims to psychological torture.
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    They really don't seem to be the nurturing type - also, the Firefly wiki states a Reaver population of around 5,200 firefly.wikia.com/wiki/Miranda
    – HorusKol
    Jan 30, 2012 at 9:00
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    I could swear that I heard the population of Miranda was 30 million somewhere... Jan 30, 2012 at 14:01
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    @Pearsonartphoto: So, if there's 5,200 now, that would indicate to me that they don't reproduce often or very well, having lost 5/6 of their population.
    – Jeff
    Mar 9, 2012 at 14:08
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    @Jeff: 25000 out of 30000 as casualties seems plausible, given their lifestyle, lack of tactics, lack of reactor shielding...
    – Tynam
    Sep 21, 2012 at 14:44
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    Well, it's important to distinguish "can" from "do." Reavers are entirely human, so aside from physical malfunction they are just as capable of reproduction as any other human. For the excellent reasons stated above, they probably don't reproduce biologically, even though they can.
    – Matt
    Feb 20, 2014 at 16:17
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I just watched the movie and the lady on the movie said the population of Miranda was 30 million. She also said that 0.1% ("a tenth of a percent") of them became Reavers. Doing the math that is 30,000 Reavers. They probably just kept torturing and making more reaver guys like zombies or Will Smiths favorites?

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    +1: 30 Million; -1: It was 0.1% with a negative reaction.
    – Bevan
    Mar 9, 2012 at 4:47
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What if the main goal of the Reavers is conversion? Couldn't that also mean that they could have consistent means and perspectives on how to care for their "ragebabies?" Could they not, for example, have a different perspective on how to interact with those who have not reached puberty and who were born to a Reaver mother? Some kind of coming of (r)age ceremony? There use of advanced technology obviously shows that their ability for critical thinking is not lacking, and that they should not be viewed as simply mindlessly aggressive.

I think what could be interesting to consider is if Reavers have a consistent perspective on life. For example, the self-mutilating could be a method adapted by Reaver leaders in Miranda for fighting against the pacifying effects of Pax, and later become a Reaver cultural norm. Furthermore, the Pax drug could have been modified by Reaver scientists (they already demonstrate advanced tech understanding) to make the process of converting a "normal" human into a Reaver (think like the drug in Deadpool, a drug that combined with trauma to trigger a biological response). Imagine that some of the original Reavers (although probably already insane) saw the effects of pacifism and decided to make war on this pacifism, and with a religious fervor made it their life mission to "wake up" or convert to Reavers all those who seemed to be pacifists. The reason that that Reavers act the way that they do could be because it is expected in their society, seen as necessary to be shown not to be a pacified one, and for a variety of other social conditioning reasons.

With a coherent ideology, a modified Pax-based drug, and a religious zeal, there is no reason why they would not be able to either have a much higher conversion rate than 0.1% and/or have a social structure that could, at least, allow for outsiders to care for their "ragebabies."

One of the critical structures for creating a coherent cultural ideology, as described in The Pervert's Guide to Ideology, is enjoyment (jouissance). This is distinct from simple pleasure in that its excess can be described as pain by those outside the ideology. Think about how some say that fear or violence makes them feel alive, and can even think of themselves as superior beings.

Of course, a critical element is that a potential convert should have a perspective of themself that allows them to contextually fit into Reaver society and to perform the actions that will be required of them. Not all people will be able to make the transition, even with chemical enhancement, but there have always been people in society, for example — in early human societies, they were the hunters — the ones that would enjoy making the final killing blow in a hunt. Some of this layer became serial killers, others would be enlisted for certain military functions. The first explanation (Season 1 Episode 2) for a human/Reaver convert is that the only way to cope with the horrors that are seen is to become the darkness. This rather rushed explanation combines, in my estimation, perhaps a kind of Stockholm syndrome and an understanding of how a person internalizes trauma (and how they can take it to mean something about who they are). Although this a bit of sloppy explanation it does come around the same time that the horrors of war are mentioned, and I think this is a better place to look for a coherent explanation (think village massacres in Vietnam). Human beings are pliable both socially and neurologically, and to lose perspective on how they are fit to one nefarious purpose or another is to lose perspective on how one may be fashioned into a living biological weapon again.

I am only posing one of many possible coherent ideologies for the Reavers. I am curious if others think this fits the way that Reavers are portrayed in the show, or if they see other ways that it might be a coherent social grouping and retain their skill with advanced technology, and solve the problem of reproducing their numbers.

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  • You should visit browncoats.com and seek a receptive forum for these ideas; some of them are quite fascinating. Feb 24, 2017 at 12:10
  • It is an interesting theory, but it's a bit rambling and speculative.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Feb 24, 2017 at 12:38
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    I think perhaps you could do with putting some headings in to show where you're: 1, answering the question with a short 'yes, but...' or 'no, but...' and 2: putting across your wider theories (although I believe this site prefers source-based answers rather than speculation and discussion).
    – Longshanks
    Feb 24, 2017 at 13:46

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