Alan Tudyk's Dream Wash Scene Never Made It Into Firefly

With only 14 episodes to its name, "Firefly" had time to realize just a fraction of its creators' ideas. Since its cancellation, the show's actors and writers have discussed many ideas for unmade episodes. Among them is Alan Tudyk, who played Hoban "Wash" Washburne, the eccentric but very skilled pilot of the starship Serenity.

Wash never got much backstory during the series' abbreviated run — his full name is never even said aloud. The bulk of his character development, including his sole focus episode "War Stories," centered on his relationship with Zoe (Gina Torres). So, Tudyk took initiative in fleshing out his character. As he's recounted multiple times, he even had an unused idea for what Wash was up to during the Unification War. While his future wife was off fighting the authoritarian Alliance, Wash had a much different experience.

Wash the Shadow Puppeteer

The most unlikely friendship on Serenity was between mercenary Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin) and Shepherd Derrial Book (Ron Glass). The two were occasionally seen weight-lifting in Serenity's cargo hold. According to Tudyk, his idea was to use one of these moments to flesh out Wash.

Tudyk's pitch was that Wash would walk into the cargo hold during one of Jayne and Book's lifting sessions. They half-jokingly offer to give him a shot on the rack. When Wash obliges, he removes his shirt and reveals, to their astonishment, a torso covered in prison tattoos. As Tudyk told The Hollywood News in 2015:

"The idea is that Wash flew ONE mission in the war, [crash-landed], and spent the rest of the time in prison camps. He got by telling stories of the war with shadow puppets. I kept pitching that again and again."

The scene would come to a humorous end with Wash completely failing to bench press the weight he requests; he needs Jane and Book to lift the bar off of him. Had "Firefly" continued, maybe an episode or two would've had some flashbacks to Wash's prison shadow puppet shows. The episode "Out of Gas," which showed how each crew member came to Serenity, shows the writers weren't averse to using flashbacks to detail backstory. Alas, this wasn't meant to be: The closest Tudyk's idea came to being used was Wash making an off-hand reference to shadow puppets in episode 12, "The Message."

Tudyk's other ideas

Tudyk's unrealized ideas for "Firefly" don't end there. In the aforementioned Hollywood News interview, he revealed some episode pitches he had:

"I also wanted [an episode] where I locked the keys in the spaceship, I wanted one where I was allergic to the planet and I started swelling up and I couldn't fly the ship ... There was always a comic element to them. 'Firefly' was very funny already but mine were always on that side of things."

According to Nathan Fillion (aka Captain Mal Reynolds), not always. At a New York Comic Con Q&A in 2012 (which Tudyk did not attend), Fillion revealed another of his co-star's pitches:

"There were some criminals who engage in illegal dogfights, and there was a planet where one side of the planet was perpetual night. They had these big, feral dogs there that were so mean and awful, and we had to go out and trap them. We had this dog pheromone of some kind, and Jayne was messing around ... the thing bursts and we're all covered in this pheromone."

The episode would then become a survival thriller, as the crew is chased by dogs through the "perpetual night." Once they make it back to Serenity, though, River (Summer Glau) tames the dogs by telepathically communicating with them. Even in what was sure to be a tense, adrenaline-driven episode, the humor doesn't disappear. 

Tudyk's pitches all walk the tonal tightrope of sci-fi, action, and comedy that "Firefly" is loved for. Unfortunately for Browncoats everywhere, mere pitches are what they'll remain.