The Firefly and Serenity Database
Biographical information

c. 2493



  • Mechanic
  • Demolitions expert

"Time Bomb"

  • Concussion Grenades
  • Flashbang Grenades
Ship(s) captained or crewed

Aces and Eights

"I'll go get my tools."
―Joe Henderson[src]

Joe "Time Bomb" Henderson was the son of a mine owner, who was born in approximately 2493 and raised on a mining colony. Henderson had a fascination with explosives, and once nearly blew up both himself and his family's home, leading his father to take him to the mine foreman so the boy could learn from him. After learning all he could about blasting rock, Henderson continued his studies at college, taking courses chemical, mechanical, and civil engineering, but never attaining a degree. During one of the long commercial flights from his home planet to the college, Henderson met the captain of the starship Aces and Eights, Maxx Williams. By the end of the trip, Williams had hired Henderson as the ship's mechanic.

In 2518, the Aces and Eights was stopped on a planet while the famed gambler Jack Leland, the owner of the vessel, participated in a poker game. Captain Williams discovered that a bomb had been planted on the ship and called Henderson to aid in disarming it. The crew discovered the bomb had been planted by Tong assassins, who had also attacked Leland and his bodyguard, Hwa Ling. After they found the ship's electrical systems had malfunctioned, making it impossible for them to leave the ship, the crew were contacted by the Tong who were holding Ling hostage and threatening to blow up the Aces and Eights. In response, Captain Williams went to negotiate with the Tong, while Henderson worked on disarming the bomb.


Early life[]


Captain Maxx Williams, who hired Henderson as the mechanic for the Aces and Eights.

Born in approximately 2493 and raised on a mining colony, Joe "Time Bomb" Henderson was the son of the mine owner and could have lived a life of relative ease if it weren't for his fascination with explosives. Henderson would spend as much time with the miners as he could. After he nearly blew up both himself and his family's home, Henderson was taken by his father to the mine foreman and asked him to teach the boy all he knew.

Once he had learned all he could about blasting rock, Henderson went to college to continue studying. While there, he studied chemical, mechanical, and civil engineering; however, despite accumulating a lot of hours, he never bothered to take the courses necessary to gain a degree. During the long commercial flights from his home planet to the college, Henderson spent his time studying the ship's engines with the mechanic whom he had befriended. On one of these flights, Henderson met a former soldier, Maxx Williams, who had wandered down to the engine room. Williams was the captain of the vessel Aces and Eights, and by the end of the trip, he had hired Henderson as the ship's mechanic.

Aboard the Aces and Eights[]

"Can you disarm these things?"
"I think so, Captain. The people who planted them didn't have time to do anything really sophisticated and it's obvious from where they put this one they wanted to hide them from us. Lucky you found her."
―Maxx Williams and Joe Henderson[src]

In 2518, the 25-year-old Henderson was on the Aces and Eights when Maxx Williams, the ship's captain, discovered a bomb planted in the crew quarters. The Aces and Eights was stopped on a planet while its owner, famed gambler Jack Leland, participated in a game of poker. Williams asked the ship's medic, Ramona Cortez, to comm Henderson who arrived shortly after. While Henderson examined the bomb, the Captain ordered Cortez and Ross Macintosh—the ship's pilot—to leave the vessel, asking Cortez to contact the other members of the crew—Leland and his bodyguard, Hwa Ling—to tell them to avoid returning to the Aces and Eights. Leland and Ling had run into trouble of their own, however, as the pair had encountered some Tong assassins and were racing back to the ship with the Tong in pursuit.

Henderson discovered the bomb was armed and, once activated by a transmitter, would cause a considerable amount of damage to ship. They believed the bomb had been placed aboard the ship by members of the cleaning crew, who were of Chinese descent—just like the Tong. Henderson suspected there might be more of the weapons on board, and suggested they conduct a sweep of the ship. However, the crew discovered the ship's electrical systems, including the hatch controls, had malfunctioned, making it impossible for them to perform a sweep or leave the vessel.

The crew were contacted by one of the Tong assassins, who offered a trade; them for Hwa Ling. If the crew refused the offer, the Tong threatened to blow up the ship. While Williams left to talk with the Tong, Henderson went to get his tools and work on disarming the bomb.

Personality and traits[]

"Now, then, little darling. What are you, sweetheart? What sets you off, you pretty thing?"
―Henderson talking to the bomb planted on the Aces and Eights[src]

Joe Henderson was a short, meek-looking man, who was often mistaken for an accountant. He was near sighted and as a result, needed to wear wide-rim glasses. Borderline obsessive/compulsive, Henderson was neat and precise in everything he did, including eating—Henderson would cut his food into one inch squares before he would eat it. His engine room aboard the Aces and Eights was clean enough to eat off of, and his quarters were neatly organized with everything having a proper place. Henderson would freak out if anything in his quarters, even the smallest object, had been moved.

Henderson was a shy person who blushed easily and giggled at jokes. He was especially shy around women, finding it hard to even look at them. The crew speculated he had never seen Hwa Ling from the waist up, as he tended to stare at women's shoes. Ramona Cortez was the only woman Henderson was really comfortable around. Despite his love of bombs and explosives, Henderson was nervous around guns and a hopeless shot. When he has dealing with any kind of explosive device, however, Henderson was a completely different person. He would become cool-headed and completely in command of the situation, capable of both dismantling and building bombs. When he was dealing with explosives he would talk to the bomb lovingly, as if it were a woman.

Behind the scenes[]

Joe Henderson was created for the reference book Serenity Role Playing Game, written by Jamie Chambers. The book was published by Margaret Weis Productions on September 19, 2005. The Serenity Role Playing Game contained small story extracts at the beginning of every chapter, and Henderson appeared in the sixth of these stories, "The Devil's Shoes." The book also contained a full character profile for Henderson. The story is left open-ended, allowing players to create their own adventure.