There’s No Such Thing as Good Firefly Cosplay

Yesterday I posted a pretty sad picture of some of the worst Star Wars cosplay I’d ever seen. To make up for it, I was going to do a gallery of great costumes today, and was taking requests for who I should feature.

Commenter Johnny Buongiorno asked, “i’d like to see good firefly cosplay. is there such a thing?”

I’m here today to tell you that after a lot of searching, the answer is generally “no.”

I think it’s a combination of two factors that make this the case. The first is that for the most part, the Firefly cast is wearing somewhat normal clothes. Yes, there’s a bit of Asian and Western thrown in, but nothing crazy outrageous, making cosplaying them harder as the looks aren’t always that distinctive. To truly cosplay the cast, you really just need to find people who look a lot like the actors, which is really hard to find and brings me to my next point.

Fans of Firefly that are devoted enough to dress up in full regalia are on average, dorkier than most. This is true about cosplayers in general really, but you’ll usually be able to find a few male and female hotties to do excellent work on some of the more mainstream characters, which we’ve featured plenty of here in the past.

So Firefly cosplay is mainly nerdy looking people dressing in ill-fitting clothes, and therefore I wouldn’t call too many of these “good” as you’ve see above. I think there was a decent Jayne, a good River, but that’s really it out of all of them. I’m not judging, as I respect people’s love for this show, and I’d look equally dweebish in any of these costumes. But you asked for it, and here’s what I found:

Bonus points for being made out of duct tape.

I approve of this Jayne!

I approve of this River!


  • ProfessorSomething

    4th from the bottom, the dude on the far right… I’m sensing a little Buster Bluth from when he wore that army costume to his dad’s funeral… Is it just me?

  • CostumeDork

    Hrmm. I don’t agree with the conclusion this article makes. I understand the desire to base your appreciation for cosplay on the likeness of the model, however it’s an assessment that says more about the shallowness of the reviewer than the costume itself. Many of these costumes are quite good… but the wearers can’t do anything about looking more or less like the actors cast from the show. What you have here are costume makers that like to wear their creations to display their love for the show. They are not professional models or look-alikes, they’re enthusiast costume-makers. They are portraying characters… not the actors cast in the roles.

  • @CostumeDork

    No, I get it, and I understand I’m being shallow, I’m just saying it’s harder to make a cool costume here and have it look good when it’s some joe or jill schmoe wearing it. This is opposed to say, someone wearing a full Master Chief armor set where the effect is ENTIRELY based on the costume.

    Here, the costume is often overshadowed by the person wearing it. I’m not saying it’s their fault, or that I’d look any better, but I’m just saying that’s WHY Firefly is harder to cosplay than a lot of other stuff.

  • pool1892

    boy, oh boy…
    no one should ever dress like inara. that should be a law. if i ever conquer a country, i shall make that law.

  • Lubz

    2nd from bottom is a pretty good Kaylee even down to the strawberries

  • You can check ours out at our facebook page. I thought we did pretty well.

  • ChaosMandy

    As a Firefly cosplayer, I find this article really offensive.

  • CostumeDork

    Maybe I’m being a bit thick, but I think there is a difference between portraying a character… and looking like the actor cast in the role. There is probably a rule of three about this.. what is it? Likeness, Costume, Location? I guess I just never comtemplated that costumers would have to hire models for people to look at their work objectively.

    Some of these costumes are absolutely phenomenal… there’s just a shortage of Nathan Fillions in the world. I don’t think that means there can be no good cosplay of Firefly. Heck… even Nathan is cosplaying as Mal Reynolds. And man, he sure looks like him. πŸ˜‰

  • Unknown

    I saw this group at Dragon*Con a few years back, and I think they did a pretty good job.

  • dimensionallyT

    Everyone should be able to dress how they like, it is fun. But yes, some people choose better characters, if they want to actually look good or cool while cos-playing. Having said that, the people in the top picture look terrible but they are so obviously doing it for fun and to take the michael, and not to be looki-likies that they look great as a unit. I’d like to go for a beer with them anyway. Also, any guy and girl that have the balls to dress up like Mal or Inara deserve some kudos, even if they don’t always look great. Nobody could pull those outfits off unless they had the body and the face to match. You can kind of tell this with the generic lack of tightpants around…

  • @Unknown

    I think that’s the best Mal I’ve seen so far.

    I think I might try to do Mal and Kaylee or Inara with my gf this Halloween so I can put my money where my mouth is on this one. I expect it not to go terribly well.

  • finding the grrrl

    Isn’t anyone going to say anything about the person portraying Zoe at the top who appears to be in blackface? [My apologies if it was just meant to be a really awful spray-on tan.]

  • Pseudonym

    Where is Shepherd Book?

  • FreckledCrafts

    Except you ARE judging. Don’t sit there behind the cover of your blog “magazine” post a bunch of pictures of completely innocent people just trying to have fun and geek out with fellow Browncoats and point and laugh and say their costumes are crap. They’re out there being confident and enjoying themselves and all you can do is post their pictures and call them crap.

    Get over yourself!

  • @FreckledCrafts

    If this is you…

    Those stockings are freaking awesome!


  • CostumeDork

    The only person I’ve seen that actually looks like Nathan Fillion enough to be considered a look-alike is Adam Berry, newest guy on Ghost Hunters. I’ve often thought that if they every do any more Firefly episodes that he could play a young Mal and I wouldn’t blink twice.

  • FreckledCrafts

    It is indeed, thanks Paul

  • FreckledCrafts

    Although you probably wouldn’t be saying such nice comments if you saw my Jayne cosplay. Yes, by definition I am a woman and will never look like the character. What do you have to say about that? Should we all just focus on one character we look exactly like? I’ve been told I could do Kaylee but what’s the fun in that? I wanna tote around a ass ton of guns and I don’t think cause I’m a woman and don’t look like said character I should deserve public internet mocking. Remember there’s a person behind each of those costumes, no matter how much they physically don’t fit the part.

  • JamesDante


    Unless they’re 15 years old and being picked on for playing Magic in the cafeteria at lunch, i’m pretty sure they don’t need a chaotic good internet voice defending them as if they’re children. It’s not like Paul’s putting money to the side to go to every con and troll everyone. They’re having fun, good. Doesn’t mean the 350 pound mexican chick looks like Felicia when she cosplays.

  • I’m of two minds on this. The first mind agrees with most of the commenters here – at the end of the day, these people are going out and having a good time, and more power to them for so doing. And yeah, from a straight props/costumes standpoint, some of these are really excellent (especially for a show that is NOT easy to cosplay thanks to the lack of makeup/special effects/etc.)

    On the other hand, I can’t really get behind the people going “fuck you for judging, blah blah”, because part of the nature of cosplay is the exhibitionist facet. You don’t dress up for a con or another geek function and expect nobody’s going to photograph you. The mere act of putting on a costume guarantees somebody is going to pay attention, and if you aren’t capable of dealing with that attention (positive OR negative) you shouldn’t be cosplaying. This is the era of the internet: ANYTHING you do, no matter who you are, can and will be used against you somewhere, someday. If you’re cool with that, great! If not, maybe you should stick to wearing your Mal Reynolds costume at home.

    Not trying to be a dick, just throwing out some logic.

  • Tempest

    Fail reporting. Not only are you wrong about there being “definitively” no good Firefly cosplayers, you’re making the point that nerds aren’t “hot” enough to be worth considering good cosplayers, no matter the effort they put into the costumes, which is INCREDIBLY shallow and hurtful. This whole article just rubs wrong.

    Oh. Here’s another sucky nerd cosplaying Firefly pic to add to the bunch, just for you.

    …also that girl!Simon is hot. And you’re blind if you don’t see it.

  • Being the River in that last photo that was spared most of your wrath, I still can’t understand why you’d want to hate on other people for having fun.

    They are just having fun and they aren’t hurting anyone. If writing articles like this (which could potentially hurt people) is what you do for fun, what does that say about you?

  • JP

    I’m glad you approve of that last River. she’s my best friend’s sister-in-law! Check her out:

  • Akiha

    I can’t agree more with this article.
    I know cosplay is about passion blahblah but please think about the people who actually look at you! It’s so disrepectuf towards the true characters and the fans to see these failed cosplays…
    (and I approve Jayne too. Though the Simon on the last picture is not that bad.)

  • I like how I post this and a few hours later people are identifying their friends/commenting themselves on this.

    I could have done a lot worse making fun of people here, which is why I only went with positive captions, while I could have gone into more detail on some of them. I think the harshest critique I level here are calling some “nerdy” and “dorky,” and for someone who runs a site like this, it’s the pot calling the kettle black, and I thought that was assumed. I freaking dressed up like Ash from Pokemon for Halloween and posted it here on my site. I’m like king nerd for that.


    Your point is well taken, and I respect you sticking up for your peers, but I would argue it’s nicer to see someone like yourself cosplaying Cammy:

    Than someone who is less suited to:

    That may not be fair, but it’s the truth. Cosplaying in any form is a combination of having balls, being creative, and liking attention if you’re going to willingly put it on the internet.

  • Of course us geeks know that people will make fun of us.

    Saying the kids getting bullied on the playground for being different should expect it doesn’t make the bullies right. And trying to give excuses/reasons why it’s okay for you to do is just sad. If you spend your time attacking your peers rather than being a positive influence, that’s your choice. And it’s my choice to think you could probably do better.

  • Tempest

    Looking back it’s not necessarily that you pointed out that some people aren’t that great as certain characters…I think the real knee-jerk reactions come from the assumption that, as you put it, there are “definitively” no good Firefly cosplays.

    Just not true. It’s the same mixed bag of quality you’d find in any other fandom, and it’s an insult to the people who do it and love it that you’d just dismiss the whole fandom with one or two exceptions. Bad form all around.

  • @Ginny

    Nice tweet to Fillion, Baccarin and Staite. Bully the bully and all that I guess.!/GinnyMcQueen/status/45927944362786817

    If you get any of them to actually read my site, I will be most impressed. Nothing like being told off by the cast of your favorite show!

    Is this the wrong time to ask if you’d like your own featured gallery on the site? πŸ˜‰

  • Tempest

    lol nice edit. πŸ˜‰

  • Megi

    Boy I really hope your intent was for some kind of mean humor and in no way represents the idea that you somehow “researched” this at all. For Dragon*Con I can tell you that the place abounds with well dressed Browncoats. The costumes often are not only well made but suit the person wearing them. And seeing as how I’m an avid cosplayer as well as the host of a costume contest there every year, yes, I do have the critical eye to make those distinctions. I can’t imagine that D*C is the only con. My assumption is that you spent about 5 minutes on google image and picked out some of your favorite “examples” and then slapped this together for some lolz. Try harder next time, or maybe try nicer.

  • emma

    @# finding the grrrl

    For real! that is SO FUCKED UP. hello white people everywhere! It is NOT OKAY TO GO OUT IN BLACKFACE. This should have been established already, but just in case you missed the memo: DRESSING UP IN BLACKFACE IS TOTALLY RACIST AND FUCKED UP. DON’T DO IT.

    ew. I can’t believe folks still think that’s okay.

    • Jeff Bronson

      The lady in the photo you are referencing isn’t in “blackface” by any stretch of the imagination. Blackface was done in the spirit of denigration and to look clownish. The very purpose of blackface was to make fun and belittle. What that cosplayer pictured here did was try to come as close to the character as she could manage. There is no ill intent to what she is doing and absolutely nothing wrong with makeup as part of a costume. So get over your ridiculous self.

  • Alvin

    Emma get fucked and get over it πŸ™‚ nothing racist about a costume. White chicks is funny! People dress up white, black, man and woman all the time, none of which are racist or sexist. What a ridiculous thing to cry about. Now if blackface was eating fried chicken stealing shit from the mall that would be racist.

  • Marie

    I once saw a Zoe and Mal at a Brisbane Con that were so good I had look twice to make sure they were not the genuine article.

  • Chris K

    First: Firefly costumes are NOT “simple”.
    Second: Some of these costumers are pretty damned good. And the ones that don’t hold much of a resemblance? Who the hell cares?

    I wish people knew a little bit more about DragonCon and other Conventions like it. 98% of these costumers aren’t trying to win any contest. We meet up in costume groups there as a group activity like others might meet up on Fridays to play Rock Band with their friends. It’s not about authenticity or being a dead-ringer for actors. If you have any of that it’s great, but not required. It’s about sharing the love of something with people and stepping outside of yourself for a couple of hours.

    And there’s not a damned thing wrong with that.

  • Pingback: Unreality - A Gallery of Battlestar Galactica Cosplay Which I Have Nothing Bad to Say About |()

  • johnny buongiorno

    damn.. didn’t expect THIS to happen.. O_o

    thx for the firefly cosplay pics though.. some are bad, some are good..


  • Julie

    The Kaylee with the red parasol is super cute.

  • chico adams
    • Carlie Barr

      So AWESOME!

    • REG_2010

      that is so cool!!

  • Jax

    Mr. Tassi, in this article your argument is that unless a person looks similar to the character, the cosplay will fail, correct? In this case I am curious to hear what you think of genderbent cosplay.

  • Kan

    You’re so terrible. Cosplay isn’t a competition. It’s done for fun and just having the courage to go out and show off your costume is admirable. You’re being a dick.

  • REG_2010

    great costumes! especially River! yes i am biased towards any River cosplay as i love Summer Glau! πŸ˜€

  • I completely agree. Never did he say that these people are bad and shouldn’t do it, all he was saying was that these aren’t competition winning cosplays. If you aren’t in it for the comp, then thats fine, you enjoyed yourself, which is the point of cosplay, and we are all happy for you. But if you want to win a competition, firefly shouldn’t be what you fight with because these are the best he could find and they aren’t competition worthy. So go on and cosplay to any body type/genderbend/racialswitch that you want, but just know that there are some things that won’t be getting you a prize for.

  • Raye Sweezea

    I know this article is a few years old, but I really don’t care…saying “I’m not being judgmental,” while OBVIOUSLY judging others is like saying “No offense,” when DELIBERATELY saying something offensive to anther person, it does NOT excuse your actions. You are rude, insulting, and very judgmental not to mention you came off as a bit of a sexist. If this is what you call “journalism” then perhaps your efforts are best suited somewhere else…perhaps Fox “news” is more your speed as they enjoy personal bias and opinion for their brand of news.

    P.S. Yes, I understand that I was being rude and insulting in my post, I don’t need that pointed out to me…but I am not the kind of person that falls for the bully playing the victim after victimizing others in such a shameless manner. Have a good day.

  • Shailey Ann DeBroeck

    I disagree.

  • Quita Clark

    I might be a chunky monkey, but I think my hubs and I rocked the Zoe and Wash cosplay pretty hard.

  • Elly Christensen

    Wow. Fat shaming. So original….. I’m betting you’re totally not the type of person who tells someone they have to be the same race and gender to cosplay a character too.


    But on a serious note: A lot of these are awesome, even if the person doesn’t look like the actor. Cosplay is about having fun and being a part of your fandom, not about who is prettiest.

    Cosplay is for everyone!

    Don’t let this guy tell you any different!