The Firefly and Serenity Database
Zoë Alleyne Washburne
Biographical information

February 15, 2484


None, born Vesselside



Eye color


Hair color


  • Previously soldier
  • Smuggler
  • Previously Corporal
  • First Mate

Winchester Model 1892 rifle

Ship(s) captained or crewed



Previously Independents

"Sir, i think you have a problem with your brain been missing"
―Zoë to ...[src]

Zoë Alleyne Washburne was a Browncoat born February 15, 2484, "Vesselside".[1][2] Zoë served in the Unification War under Sergeant Malcolm Reynolds for two and a half years, and was one of the few to survive the Battle of Serenity Valley. Zoë continued under his command on his spaceship, Serenity, as first mate, and was the wife of pilot Hoban Washburne. A loyal second-in-command and a tough, deadly fighter, Zoë was the only member of Mal's crew to regularly call him "sir", while taking orders as if receiving them from a superior officer.


Zoë was born Vesselside (meaning "aboard a spaceship") on February 15th, 2484. Nothing else is known about her upbringing. She fought on the side of Independence in the Unification War, a part of the 57th Overlanders Brigade. At the time of the Battle of Serenity Valley, Zoë had attained the rank of Corporal. Along with Sergeant Malcolm Reynolds, she was the only other survivor of their platoon in the seven week long battle. After the war, she and Mal were left for two weeks in the aftermath of Serenity Valley before being placed into camps for war crimes. Not long after, the Alliance decided they did not want any further conflict with the "Browncoats" and finally freed the war camp prisoners.

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 3.56

Mal and Zoe during the Unification War

Unlike Mal, Zoë was career military (meaning she worked in the military as her permanent job), and was often more calm in dangerous situations. Mal often thought with his heart, while Zoë usually thought with her head. Regardless, Zoë followed all orders from Mal, although often with a degree of advice or concern. After the war, Zoë joined up with the Dust Devils, a "terrorist" organization which continued to fight against the now Peacekeepers of the Alliance.

After the war and her stint as a Dust Devil, Zoë joined Mal aboard Serenity, though she was skeptical of his plan at first, telling him the ship was a "death trap."[3] The two found themselves hunted by the Unificators.[4] Later, Zoë married Serenity's pilot Hoban "Wash" Washburne less than a year after he joined the crew, though she did not immediately like him when she met him. In "Out of Gas" we see Zoë's initial reaction to Wash in a flashback, in which she tells Mal, "I don't like him...just something about him bothers me" — maybe it was his disturbing moustache? [3]

Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 10.39

A very pregnant Zoe

Although Zoë and Wash worked a very dangerous sort of lifestyle, they managed to retain a rather happy marriage. Wash at times grew jealous of Zoë's close relationship with Mal, but later managed to get past it. During the events of Serenity Wash was killed. Heartbroken, Zoë and the rest of the crew built a memorial for her husband on Mr. Universe's moon. As revealed in the comics Serenity: Float Out and Serenity: It's Never Easy, Zoe is now pregnant with Wash's daughter. comics, Serenity: Leaves on the Wind, continued with this storyline, with Zoe and her pregnancy at the crux.

Zoe began to bleed heavily when she gave birth, and the crew was left with no choice but to take her to a hospital for treatment. After being recognized, Zoe was arrested and sent to a prison on a desolate planet. She quickly gained a reputation among the inmates, including her cellmate, who was known as 'One eye'. Most of the time, prison breaks weren't even followed up on, and when Zoe runs, the guards don't even follow her, assuming she'll die in the desert, until they spot the Mule. Zoe is reunited with her daughter on Serenity, and rejects Mal's offer to let her leave, saying it's the closest thing to a family they've got.

It appears that she and Mal had some sort of argument later on, as by the time of Return to Earth-That-Was, they haven't seen each other for a time. He does show up during the arc, though, and they still work together.

In Brand New Verse, Zoe is the sole remaining original crew member of Serenity, and its captain. She is more hardened and jaded, hit hard by the loss of Wash, the struggle to keep Serenity flying, and her arguments with her daughter, Emma. She hasn't seen or heard from Mal in some time, and hasn't had contact with Kaylee and Simon until they help the crew out. She also is shown to be at odds with Inara.

Although the details are unclear, per the Jetwash Expansion of Firefly the Game, at some point later when Zoë is no longer the captain of Serenity she purchases a newer model Firefly of her own that she names Jetwash (after Wash). It should be stated, though, that the canon status of the board game isn't fully clear.

Behind the scenes[]



Zoë is portrayed by actress Gina Torres in the television series Firefly and in the motion picture Serenity.

In the Serenity novelization, River states that it is Zoë, more than Jayne, that she fears most (at least with Shepherd Book gone), because she would be happy to die, or kill, for Wash or Mal.

In the DVD commentary for the episode "Shindig," costume designer Shawna Trpcic mentions that the leather necklace Zoë always wears is a symbol of her marriage bond. However, she is seen wearing the necklace in the flashback sequences of "Out of Gas," well before she had married Wash. In the book Firefly: The Official Companion - Vol. 1, Torres speculates that the necklace is actually a shoelace from the boots that Zoë wore during the Unification War.

According to the book Serenity: The Official Visual Companion, Firefly series creator Joss Whedon writes that Zoë's last name was Alleyne (at least at the time of the Unification War), and she took the name Washburne after her marriage to Hoban Washburne. This is confirmed in a deleted scene from Serenity where a display lists her military name as Corporal Zoë Alleyne. In the documentary Re-Lighting the Firefly, her name is given as Zoë Warren, apparently a version of her name which was considered at one time, but changed by the time the film Serenity was released.

Her weapon of choice appears to be identical to the Mare's Leg, a custom Winchester Model 1892 rifle used by Steve McQueen's character Josh Randall in the television series Wanted: Dead or Alive. Joss Whedon calls the Mare's Leg his "favorite gun of all times"[source?]. The actual gun she uses in the series was originally used in the series The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.[5]



Notes and references[]

  1. Vesselside
  2. FireflyLogoMini Firefly – "Heart of Gold"
  3. 3.0 3.1 FireflyLogoMini Firefly – "Out of Gas"
  4. New Firefly comic will tell the story of the Unification War. Entertainment Weekly, July 2, 2018
  5. The Official Companion Volume One – "Have You Ever Been with a Warrior Woman?: Zoë's Pistol and Vest"