Malcolm Reynolds was born on the planet Shadow on 20/09/2468. He was the son of a rancher and was treated as a brother by the ranch hands while he was growing up. He received a decent education although he doesn’t put much stock in it.
At the outbreak of the unification war Malcolm left home to join the Independents or brown coats as they came to be known. He rose to the rank of sergeant during the war, taking part in the battles of Du-Khang, New Kashmir, Sturges and Serenity Valley. This last battle is considered by him to be the point where the Independents began to lose the war. During the fighting Malcolm was promoted to the rank of Captain, although his unit managed to beat off a heavy enemy attack reinforcements failed to arrive causing Malcolm to fall back and save the lives of his troops.
After the war Malcolm and his second in command Zoe bought an old, worn out Firefly class transport ship. Malcolm named it Serenity in memory of the battle. Even though the war was over Malcolm continued to wear his brown coat and carry his pistol as an act of defiance towards the Alliance. He gathered together a crew and traveled the outer planets doing odd jobs, some legal, some illegal.
Major Story Arcs
Serenity: Better Days
This comic mini series Serenity: Better Days is set during the Firefly time period, and chronicled a heist that the Serenity crew pulled.
Serenity: Those Left Behind
The spy from the Firefly pilot, Dobson, returns in this comic mini series. He attacks them while Malcolm and his crew are searching for money left on the battlefield of Sturges. Malcolm surrenders but tells his crew to open fire when he is shot. However they disobey, killing the spy’s henchmen and saving Malcolm. He shoots the man and kills him. Then, just to be sure, he shoots him again.
Back on Serenity it transpires that a secretive organization, the 'Hands of Blue', has been trying to capture River for the Alliance (working as independent contractors). Wash, the ships pilot, knocks them off the hull by banging against a derelict spaceship. Malcolm tells Wash to step on it and the Hands of Blue are killed by the engine flare. After the Hands of Blue are killed the Tam case file is handed off to an Alliance Operative.
Firefly TV Series
The science fiction/western television show, Firefly, began with Malcolm and his crew members aboard Serenity ( Zoe, Wash, Jayne, and Kaylee) doing a routine job. Afterwords, Mal picks up four passengers to get some extra cash, an event that altered their lives forever. The four passengers are a preacher called Shepherd Book, a man named Lawrence Dobson, a young doctor named Simon Tam and his sister River. It is revealed that Dobson is a Federal Agent who is after Simon and River, and that River was experimented on by the Alliance (the evil government). Simon had taken his sister from the Alliance. Mal decideds to shoot Dobson and keep Simon and River on board, despite their fugitive status.
Mal's decision to keep the Tam siblings on Serenity caused numerous problems for him and his crew. One example is that it caused some contentions and problems with one of his men Jayne, who is the muscle of the crew. Jayne in fact does attempt to turn in Simon and River to the Alliance, and while ultimately his plan failed, Mal put him in the airlock of the ship during take off. He acted like he was going to open it up, to prove to Jayne that if you came against anyone on his ship you came against him. Nonetheless, despite these problems he still chooses to save River and Simon during one episode when they are captured by crazed villagers.
Mal often appears to be cold and uncaring, but the aforementioned situations among others show that deep down he is a good man just weathered by war and defeat.
[Note: Firefly was canceled by FOX after 14 episodes were made (though only 11 of the episodes were aired).]
Serenity was the film continuation of the Firefly series.