The "Hands of Blue" were mysterious contractors to the Union of Allied Planets (believed to be from the Blue Sun Corporation) who always had their hands clad in blue gloves. They monitored the security of former students of the Academy and were in pursuit of River & Simon Tam. Anyone who had any form of contact with River, even Alliance personnel, were killed without mercy with the use of a sonic device that induces massive bleeding from every orifice.
Two female Hands of Blue boarded the Sun Tzu when Silas escaped his confinement there. They were described as tall women with matching outfits and their hair in buns. One was taller and had reddish hair, while the other had strong limbs and green eyes. They captured and interrogated Simon about River's whereabouts and her connection with Silas.
The Hands of Blue always appear in pairs, each of the two organisms possessing a shared consciousness. When Silas kills one of the two female Hands of Blue, the other loses her ability to fully function, and finds it difficult to think of herself as an individual. She found it comforting to imagine she was still communicating with her other half.
In the Serenity comics, the blue "gloves" are shown to extend to and cover the upper body as well. This may also be hinted toward concerning the female Hands of Blue, as an ensign watches the two dress and what he sees is something that they think he might tell his crewmates, his family back home, or even his grandchildren if he lives long enough to have any.
Chronologically, the female Hands of Blue are killed first, one by Silas when he throws her down a stairwell, the other by suicide while destroying the Sun Tzu. The male Hands of Blue were finally killed when Serenity's engine flare incinerated them, and the Alliance passes the assignment to retrieve the Tams to the Operative, explaining why it is he and not they in the movie Serenity who is chasing them.
It is possible that they are cyborgs, as Hands of Blue 1's upper body looks metallic and appears to have screws in it. This would explain their immunity to their own device, and Blue 1, in the television episodes, has a stiff, mechanical quality to his movements while his whole face is held rigidly in place most of the time. The female Hands of Blue also consider Silas to be more "human" then they are.
However, the Hands of Blue seem to still be created from humans, as the female Hands of Blue bleed when attacked by Silas, and the males leave behind skeletons when burned by Serenity.
- Firefly – "The Train Job" (First appearance)
- Firefly – "Ariel"
- Serenity: Those Left Behind
- Firefly - Generations
Behind the Scenes
- The pair are never officially named in either Firefly or Serenity. In "The Train Job" DVD commentary, Joss Whedon refers to them as "the men with blue hands" and "the blue-hands men". IMDb's cast listings name each of them as a "Blue Glove", perhaps the most accurate moniker. However, "Hands of Blue" seems to have become a fanon name for the otherwise unnamed pair, from River's "two by two; hands of blue;" litany. Though the two women in Firefly - Generations are referred to directly as "Hands of Blue."
- Dennis Cockrum and Jeff Ricketts also appeared in the TV series Charmed (which has a similar style to the Joss Whedon series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in which Jeff Ricketts also appeared), though in different seasons and completely different roles (Jeff Ricketts plays a Horseman of the Apocalypse in Season 2, while Dennis Cockrum plays a used car salesman in Season 8).
- The rhyme by River was even referenced in the TV show Castle, in hand actions made by Nathan Fillion's character, the eponymous Richard Castle, at a crime scene when he himself dons blue gloves to avoid contamination.