What is a Browncoat?

As we previously announced, April we have declared the “Month of Browncoats and are writing and discussing all things related to Serenity this month. But, just what is a “Browncoat?” I mean, there are Coats, that are brown, but does it take more than having a brown leather jacket to make one a browncoat?
(Note that I’m not saying one needs to meet all these categories to be a Fan of Firefly or a member of any organized Browncoat organization. I’m just trying to describe what it means, to me, to be a Browncoat.)

Browncoats are…

1. Browncoats are… the Independents.

In the television series Firefly  the Browncoats are people who fought on the losing side of a the great Unification War. The people who joined the Independents, or “Innapenants” wanted freedom from the Union of Allied Planets. Independents thought that the Alliance “meddled” in their business. The uppity-ups in the Alliance did not know, did not understand what it meant to live on the Border, or on the Rim. They lived on planets well established, and could prosper.

2. Browncoats are … the Fans

mutual awesomeness

Browncoats are the Fans of Firefly/Serenity, and can be found from all walks of life.

To quote a Browncoat fan site:

We Browncoats resemble more than a little the disenfranchised crew of the show.  And not unlike Mal and Zoe, we have refused to lay down in defeat and accept the choices that the “Alliance” has left us.  We have made our own path, and continue to fight for what we want, for what we feel was taken from us: Firefly.

The fans of Firefly, and I consider myself in this category, are a rabid fan base. We bemoan the loss of our favorite show, cry at the death of beloved characters, and even now, over a decade after the show, we cry “too soon” at jokes referring to either of the previously mentioned problems.

3. Browncoats Organize!

If you look around the Central Cortex (the “internet) you can find countless Browncoat organizations.

Moon Sedai hanging out with Houston Browncoats
Moon Sedai hanging out with Houston Browncoats

I am not going to list every single Browncoat organization in the world, because that would take all gorram year, but I will highlight a few that I am aware of.

First: the Houston Browncoats

houston BC

The Houston Browncoats have been active since 2003, shortly after the launch of the series. They go to a variety of Conventions in Houston to seek out and find more of “their people” (other Browncoats, obvi) and to spread the word of the amazing things they do. This branch typically has three “shindigs” a month, where the group gets together, eats food, talk about the awesome things going on around town (or, at the very least talk about the still open-wound of losing the show). All the Houston Browncoat gatherings involve food of some sort.
The Houston Browncoats are highly active fundraisers for Kids Need to Read, which we will cover in greater detail later this month.
The one thing that first drew me to the Houston Browncoats was the Firefly LARP they host at several conventions around Houston. The plot of the Firefly Live Action Role Play has been ongoing for several years across several conventions. The system is simple: Fighting, figuring, and finessing.

Oh, and they have a really good link of other Browncoat organizations on their site!

Second, the South West Louisiana Browncoats:
SWLABC Anexandros calls them the “Space Western Lovers of the Alliance” because they go by SWLA Browncoats. This group works closely with the Houston Browncoats.
This organization was formed at CyphaCon in 2013, and are made up of a dynamic group of people.

Here is a description from the CyphaCon website:

The Southwest Louisiana Browncoats were formed at CyPhaCon 2013 by several Flans thanks to the encouragement of the Bedlam Bards. They are dedicated to sharing their love of Firefly, Serenity, and Whedon. The groups enjoy local meet-ups, viewings, shindigs, and events, as well as connecting with other Browncoats when they travel. Their message is to spread the signal and give back to the community.

A third group (But by no means the smallest or the least of the lot) is the Arizona Browncoats.

AZBCI’m still getting to know the Arizona Browncoats, but by and large, they are just as awesome as the people in Houston and SWLA. This organization meets in Phoenix one time each month, and they also support charities (such as Kids need to Read and Can’t stop the Serenity)

 4. Browncoats are… Charitable

A common thread you can find in Browncoat organizations is the charitable nature of Browncoats.
Each of the organizations above helps raise money for a variety of charities. But, there are two “Common” charities to Browncoats, so those two I will mention.


Kids Need to Read was founded as a nonprofit corporation in 2008 by PJ Haarsma, Denise Gary, and Nathan Fillion (Captain Tightpants himself). Their mission statement:

 Kids Need to Read works to create a culture of reading for children by providing inspiring books to underfunded schools, libraries, and literacy programs across the United States, especially those serving disadvantaged children.

All in all, a worthwhile cause.

The other cause common to Browncoats is Can’t Stop the Serenity.

Can’t Stop the Serenity, or CSTS has been around since 2006.

Can’t Stop the Serenity supports Equality Now, and since their founding have raised over $1,ooo,ooo for Equality Now (and other charities). It is a volunteer-run organization that hosts charity screenings of Serenity around the globe (and a few other festivals and events). People pay to see the movie on a big screen and the money goes to the charity

CSTS Is also about “Browncoat fellowship” and working to “keep the signal strong for Firefly, Serenity and of course, for Joss Whedon and his ever growing body of work.”

5. Browncoats are…. some of the shiniest people in the Verse.

I say this based on my own interactions with other Browncoats. By and large, Browncoats are the kind of people who will help a fellow Browncoat when they are down.

A series of images to illustrate the story:

crew 1

crew 2crew 3

crew 4

crew 5

Many Browncoats take that philosophy into their daily lives, helping out fellow Browncoats on hard times, even Browncoats they barely know.

They even seek to bring in new Browncoats, loaning, donating, or giving copies of Firefly and Serenity to “those people who are not Browncoats yet.”  Perhaps we do so out of the love of the shared misery and loss of the show. (If I’m gonna mourn this show, I want my friend to do so as well.) But Browncoats are a majority of the reason, the driving force behind how the show has gained its cult classic status.

Now, I’m going to hang up my pretty floral bonnet, get in the car, and go to a Shindig. Why? because Browncoats. That’s why.

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