In just 14 episodes, Joss Whedon’s sci-fi masterpiece Firefly managed to build one of the most devoted fanbases in all of nerd-dom. Properties like Star Trek or Doctor Who may have it beat in sheer numbers, but the Browncoats make up for this with their loyalty and tenacity. What is the secret of the show’s appeal? Fans can and will explain the show’s engrossing plotlines, fascinating characters, brilliant performances, realistic effects, and a unique visual aesthetic — but if we had to choose one reason, it’d be the dialogue.
Whedon created a vision of a human future where mankind speaks English primarily, with Mandarin Chinese added, as one might say, for “flavor” (i.e., profanity). Not only did the use of Mandarin help inform Firefly’s future setting, it also often allowed the characters to express themselves in terms too absurd, obscene, or outrageous to be spoken in English.
Here, then, is a collection of 15 of Firefly’s most, well — absurd, obscene, and outrageous lines ever delivered in Mandarin Chinese. Much thanks to the Firefly-Serenity Chinese Pinyinary for the translations.
15) Stupid Inbred Stack of Meat
笨天生的一堆肉。・ BUN tyen-shung duh ee-DWAY-RO
On a visit to one of Mal’s old Army buddies, Monty, on an uninhabited moon, Mal and crew encounter “Saffron”, the beautiful con-artist who once tricked Mal into marriage, and nearly stole his ship (played by the absolutely magnificent Christina Hendricks); this time, she’s taken the name “Bridget” and married Monty. A short tussle ensues between her and Mal (lucky bastard) which Monty breaks up as Mal explains the details of their shared history. When Saffron, who had been denying everything, lets it slip that she knows Mal’s name, Monty abandons her on the barren lunar surface. She screams this bit of Mandarin to the heavens as his ship departs.
This phrase is also noteworthy for its use on the back cover of Serenity: The Official Visual Companion, where Chinese characters inform prospective buyers: “If you don’t buy this book, your friends will think you’re a stupid inbred stack of meat.”