‘Firefly’ and ‘Starship Troopers’ Have Something Unexpected In Common

Ask any nerd what their favorite space sci-fi TV show is, and Firefly and Starship Troopers are sure to be included on the list. Both shows focus on battles fought in space using satire, kick-ass characters, and action-filled adventures to tell the tale.

The genre-bending series ignited the imaginations of viewers, developing loyal bands of avid science fiction-loving followers.

Although different in many ways, both Firefly and Starship Troopers share something unexpected that only a diehard fan would know about.


Actor Nathan Fillion
Actor Nathan Fillion | Jim Spellman/Getty Images

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In 2002, Firefly debuted on FOX. Developed by Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the television series focused on nine soldiers who live aboard the small spaceship Serenity. Set five hundred years from now, in 2517, the humans arrive in a new star system. Forced to battle the Alliance, the renegade crew becomes the new superheroes of the galaxy.

Only 14 episodes of Firefly aired, but it was enough to develop a loyal fan base. Taken off the air due to poor ratings, viewers rediscovered the program on streaming platforms, and a legendary cult-like following formed.

IndieWire voted Firefly the best space sci-fi series, saying it “did more with 14 episodes than other shows have done with 10 seasons.”

‘Starship Troopers’

Starship Troopers takes a more satirical view of life in space. The Atlantic explained the film is often misunderstood, saying it “is a ruthlessly funny and keenly self-aware sendup of right-wing militarism.”

The movie focuses on humans living in a space galaxy far outside the realms of Earth. Aliens, resembling bugs, attack the planet, and the Troopers must fight back to defend their home.

Starring Denise Richards, Neil Patrick Harris, and Casper Van Dien, the comedic farce is a sci-fi adventure best suited for audiences that don’t overthink the storyline. Critics panned the film, with Roger Ebert saying Starship Troopers “is the most violent kiddie movie ever made.”

Ebert noted the “sets and costumes look like a cross between Buck Rogers and Archie comic books.”

What the two shows have in common

The wardrobe from both films got its fair share of wear and tear.

According to Mental Floss, the uniforms worn by the Alliance soldiers in Firefly came from the set of Starship Troopers. The same costumes were shared between the two productions. They were even used again in the sequel to Starship Troopers and for an episode of Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy.

Recycled Movie Costumes explained that sharing wardrobes between projects is not unusual and often done to save money on the production budget. The uniforms are mentioned on Firefly’s DVD commentary, confirming the “armor was indeed the same as in Starship Troopers but had been painted purple for the use of those pesky Alliance loyalists.” They pointed out that “if you look closely at the episode, you can even see old signs of ‘bug blood’ from the previous use of these costumes.”

The newest branch of the U.S. military, Space Force, also appears to be taking a page from the playbook of the 1997 science fiction film. When the agency released artwork renderings for possible uniforms, social media exploded with comparisons to the outfits worn by the soldiers in Starship Troopers.

Denim-colored military-style jackets, high-waisted black trousers with a thick belt, black shoes, and police-style caps bear a striking resemblance to the wardrobe used in the film. 

After Twitter filled with thoughts of global fascism, Military.com reported that a spokesperson from the U.S. Space Force said, “The uniform graphic being shared on social media is not an official U.S. Space Force uniform design concept. The Space Force service dress uniform is still in development.”