‘I’m a Monster. What I Do Is Evil’: Monsters and Evil in Joss Whedon’s Firefly and Serenity

Laura Chilcoat (Lead / Corresponding author)

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


    I will argue that although there are many human ‘monsters’ in Whedon’s Firefly, not all are evil – nor are all of the evil characters ‘monstrous.’ By separating the monstrous from evil, I will be able to more closely define the limits of each, and consider whether the evil characters are the post-human Reavers, or the human villains. As I will be focusing on the intersection of evil and monstrosity, I will be relying on scholars who investigate evil such Terry Eagleton, and Adam Morton and on scholars who analyse what it means to be ‘monstrous’ such as Stephen T. Asma and Barbara Creed. The characters that are portrayed as being evil or monstrous are either related to the Alliance and stark rationality, or are shown to be mentally ill. Whedon has said that the Reavers ‘were always going to be an absolute force of insane madness of counterbalance an insane force of absolute rationality’ which is represented by the Alliance and those associated with it. Even though both of these extreme sides are shown as monstrous, rationality is shown to be a more insidious and sincere evil. The Reavers are the ultimate monsters in the show; yet in the movie we learn that they are victims and thus I argue are no longer ‘evil.’ The Operative claims to be an evil monster, but even he can be swayed from his path. He is ‘evil’ in order to bring about something good. By analyzing these figures, I will argue that Whedon is separating the linked categories of ‘monster’ and ‘evil.’
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationI Want to Do Bad Things
    Subtitle of host publicationModern Interpretations of Evil
    EditorsKristin L. Bone, Rivkah Grieg
    PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
    Number of pages9
    ISBN (Electronic)9781848883307
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2019


    • Monstrosity
    • evil
    • embodiment


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