Firefly was short-lived, to say the least, airing only 11 of the 14 filmed episodes during its one-season run on Fox.
That didn’t stop fans from gravitating to Joss Whedon’s unique series which fused elements of science fiction and Western genres.
While the cast was able to reprise their roles in the follow-up film Serenity, it would be the last time they portrayed the crew of the iconic starship.
Instead, they were forced to move on from Firefly and seek out new roles. Some went on to enjoy starring roles in popular shows and movie blockbusters, while others faded into obscurity.
Who enjoyed the most success post-Firefly? Let’s find out!
10. Ron Glass
Ron Glass played the good-hearted Shepherd Derrial Book on Firefly, a character who joins Captain Mal and his ragtag band of rapscallions in an effort to instill faith into the crew.
Glass boasted a long resume filled with film credits leading up to Firefly, but things seemed to fizzle for the good Shepherd Book after the show and movie wrapped.
Glass would enjoy a recurring role on All Grown Up!, a Nickelodeon spin-off series based on Rugrats, in which he would lend his voice to Randy Carmichael, father of Susie, Alyssa, Edwin, and Buster.
Glass also appeared as a guest actor on a number of TV shows including Shark, CSI: NY, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
Unfortunately, Glass passed away in 2016 due to a respiratory failure. He was 71 years old.
9. Sean Maher
Unfortunately, the good doctor didn’t find much success after Firefly.
After portraying Dr. Simon Tam on Firefly, Sean Maher took a brief hiatus from acting before appearing in a handful of episodes on various TV shows including Drop Dead Diva, The Mentalist, Human Target, and Warehouse 13.
In 2011, Maher landed a role as part of the cast of NBC historical drama The Playboy Club, but the show was canceled after airing only three episodes because of the extremely poor ratings.
Ironically, he portrayed a closeted gay man in the series and publicly came out as gay himself that very same year.
In 2012, he reunited with Joss Whedon to play Don John in Much Ado About Nothing.
Maher would also lend his voice to Dick Grayson, the true identity of superhero Nightwing, in a number of Batman animated films.
Maher enjoys occasional guest appearances and remains an actor today. When he’s not acting, he enjoys home life with his husband Paul and their two children.
8. Adam Baldwin
Adam Baldwin’s Jayne Cobb was a rough and rugged mercenary with a soft side on Firefly.
While he began a bit rough-around-the-edges, he opened up slowly over the series and in Serenity to become a fan favorite from the show.
Unfortunately, most of his film success came before Firefly and Serenity with film credits in Full Metal Jacket, Next of Kin, Predator 2, Deadbolt, Independence Day, and The Patriot.
Following 2005’s Serenity, Baldwin landed a few roles, mostly guest appearances in shows like Bones, Castle, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
In 2007, Baldwin would land a main role in NBC’s spy dramedy series Chuck as Colonel John Casey and appear in every episode during the show’s five season, 91-episode run.
Baldwin would also land a main role on the TNT TV show The Last Ship as Commander, then Captain, then Admiral Mike Slattery.
Baldwin also lent his voice to numerous video game characters, including Kal’Reegar from the Mass Effect series and Green Lantern Hal Jordan in Injustice: Gods Among Us and Infinite Crisis.
7. Summer Glau
Summer Glau played Simon’s sister River Tam on Firefly. While Simon praises her as a genius, she is introduced to the Serenity crew and audience as someone who has experienced great turmoil at the hands of the dastardly Alliance, leaving her in a child-like state despite her latent power and martial arts prowess.
Her first main role after Firefly came as Cameron on the Fox sci-fi series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Picking up shortly after the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Glau’s Cameron comes back from the future to protect Sarah and John Connor in similar fashion to Schwarzenegger in numerous Terminator films.
The show enjoyed two seasons and 31 episodes. Glau’s character appeared in every one.
Glau also landed a number of recurring roles following Firefly, with appearances in TV shows like The 4400, The Unit, The Cape, and Arrow.
6. Jewel Staite
Jewel Staite played Serenity’s mechanic, the borderline naive and ever-optimistic Kaylee Frye.
Known for her unquestionable ability to maintain the machine room of a spacecraft and her starry eyes for the blundering Dr. Simon Tam, Captain Mal and the crew were very protective of Kaylee during every misadventure over the course of the series.
Staite moved on from Firefly and immediately landed a main role on another sci-fi series, Stargate Atlantis, and appeared in 33 episodes.
She would also land main cast roles in shows such as The L.A. Complex, The Killing, and Family Law.
5. Gina Torres
Gina Torres played Zoë Washburne, a former Browncoat soldier with Captain Malcolm Reynolds and his right hand woman aboard the Serenity.
While she enjoys electric chemistry with her husband, Alan Tudyk’s Hoban “Wash” Washburne, her loyalty to the Captain frequently becomes a point of contention between the two over the course of the show.
Torres enjoyed an incredible career leading up to Firefly with recurring roles and guest appearances on shows like Alias, Any Day Now, Angel, and 24.
She also enjoyed main cast roles on shows like ABC soap opera One Life to Live and sci-fi series Cleopatra 2525.
Things were even better after Firefly and Serenity. Torres landed a main cast role on Fox drama series Standoff in 2006 and a main cast role in ABC Family series Huge in 2010.
The biggest role following Firefly, however, would come in 2011 when she was cast as Jessica Pearson on USA Network’s legal drama Suits.
Torres would portray Pearson in 94 total episodes and spawn a spin-off series, entitled Pearson, which would enjoy one 19-episode season on the USA Network.
Torres remains active in Hollywood today.
4. Alan Tudyk
Alan Tudyk played the precocious pilot Hoban “Wash” Washburne aboard the Serenity. An excellent pilot and fiercely loyal husband to Gina Torres’ Zoë, Wash wasn’t always the most optimistic of the crew members, but his expert piloting skills helped get them out of danger more than a handful of times throughout the series and film.
After Firefly, Tudyk had an extensive and accomplished career, but you may not have noticed.
A vast majority of his roles beyond Firefly were voice acting, and he has lent his voice to serieses including Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Young Justice, Robot Chicken, American Dad!, Family Guy, Phineas and Ferb, Adventure Time, Rick and Morty, The Tick, Harley Quinn, and much, much more.
On the big screen, Tudyk lent his voice to various iconic characters, including Alistair Krei from Big Hero 6, King Candy from the critically-acclaimed Wreck-It Ralph, and the snarky, sarcastic droid K-2SO from Rogue One.
He also voiced many minor characters and animal companions such as Hei Hei the Rooster from Moana and Pico the Toucan from Encanto.
While his voice acting is extensive, he did appear in numerous TV shows as well, including guest and recurring roles on shows like Arrested Development, V, Dollhouse, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Santa Clarita Diet, and Curb Your Enthusiasm.
He remains active in Hollywood today. Currently, he stars on a Syfy series called Resident Alien, which will air its third season soon.
3. Christina Hendricks
Christina Hendricks portrayed the con artist Saffron in two episodes of Firefly.
She was not really part of the main cast, but her performance earned her a Syfy Genre Award for Best Special Guest/Television in 2006 for her recurring role on Firefly.
After the show wrapped, Hendricks’ career really took off, and the Syfy Genre Award would be far from her last.
In 2007, Hendricks was cast in her most notable role to date as Joan Harris on AMC’s critically-acclaimed drama series Mad Men.
Between 2007 and 2015, Hendricks appeared in all 92 episodes of the series.
Her performance would earn her six Primetime Emmy Award nominations, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, three Screen Actors Guild nominations, and two Critics’ Choice Television Awards.
Hendricks would continue succeeding after Mad Men by starring in NBC series Good Girls alongside Mae Whitman and Retta.
The show enjoyed four seasons before being canceled in 2021.
Hendricks remains active in Hollywood today.
2. Morena Baccarin
Morena Baccarin played Inara Serra, an esteemed Companion aboard the Serenity entangled in a classic “will they, won’t they” romance with Captain Mal Reynolds.
Despite the unspoken attraction between her and Nathan Fillion’s character, the two never act on their feelings over the one season of the show.
After Firefly, Baccarin enjoyed a number of main cast roles on TV shows such as V, Homeland, and Gotham.
She also appeared in guest and recurring roles on shows including The Mentalist, The Flash, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and more.
Baccarin’s biggest break would come in 2016 when she was cast as Vanessa Carlysle in the critically-acclaimed antihero flick Deadpool alongside Ryan Reynolds and T.J. Miller.
The film was a massive hit at the box office, grossing $782 million against a $58 million budget.
Baccarin would reprise her role in the 2018 sequel Deadpool 2, and is slated to appear in an upcoming third installment to the franchise.
1. Nathan Fillion
It only makes sense that Firefly’s leading man would earn the top spot on our list. Known for portraying the bold and charismatic Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds, Nathan Fillion went on to enjoy an extensive resume of impressive acting credits, most notably as Richard Castle on the eight season ABC crime drama Castle.
His starring role on Castle wasn’t his only success following Firefly, however.
Fillion also appeared on TV shows such as Desperate Housewives, Modern Family, Santa Clarita Diet, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Resident Alien among many others.
Currently, Fillion stars as John Nolan in the ABC crime drama The Rookie, which recently premiered its fifth season in September 2022. Fillion also serves as an executive producer for the series.
In addition to his small screen successes, Fillion has been featured in a number of films, mostly as a voice actor, including credits in Much Ado About Nothing, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Cars 3, The Suicide Squad, and a number of DC animated films where he voiced the Green Lantern Hal Jordan.
Fillion also appeared in a number of Internet productions, most notably as Captain Hammer in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, with Neil Patrick Harris and Felicia Day, and the Uncharted Live Action Fan Film, in which he portrayed iconic video game character Nathan Drake who would be played by Tom Holland in a later Hollywood adaptation.
Overall, Nathan Fillion is a B-list superstar with an extensive and eclectic resume that earns him the honor as “most successful” former castmate of Firefly.