The crew of Serenity's history is explored in part in the television series Firefly (no longer running) and in the comics. In the first episode in the television series, Mal and his starter crew, Jayne, Kaylee, Wash and Zoe (later, the show runs an episode showing how the original team was brought together), need work since their last job essentially failed when Badger failed to accept the stolen goods. The suggestion was brought up that they take on passengers; some deemed it risky, but they decided to do so. Who they end up transporting happens to be River and Simon Tam, along with Shepherd Book and an Alliance mole. River at the time was locked cryogenically in a storage compartment for safe and stealthy transport. Simon had to disguise himself and ended up acting suspicious, while the mole appeared to be perfectly normal. The mole soon discovers Simon's identity, and sends out a distress signal by hard-wiring the ship to broadcast the signal. Wash catches it in time, and Mal believes Simon to be the Alliance spy. He hunted him down, and punched him in the face, sending Simon reeling from shock and confusion. Simon told him that he had the wrong guy, and Mal turned to find the mole holding him at gunpoint. The mole made veiled comments alluding to the fact that Simon and River were fugitives, and when the mole was locked in one of the ship's spare rooms, Mal briefly interrogated Simon and decided to open up the doctor's mysterious crate, and discovered a sleeping River inside, who promptly awoke and started babbling incoherently and was comforted by Simon. The story was then related to the crew about how he and River were geniuses, she in practically every subject and he in a few less but brilliant nonetheless. Both being highly skilled, they wanted to be challenged. River found a school she wanted to enroll in, simply called The Academy. She sent a few letters home at first, then communication stopped. It resumed many months later with letters with gibberish, false stories and misspellings, 'from the girl who corrected [Simon's] spelling at the age of three.' Simon had left being a top doctor at the largest Alliance medical hospital when he realized his sister was in trouble. River was being experimented on and altered by the Alliance, conditioning her into a superhuman fighting machine with a secret purpose even she did not know for a long time. The letters were a code, telling him "They're hurting us. Please help." He tried as hard as he could to find a way to rescue her, and finally enlisted the help of an underground resistance movement who freed her. Simon was on the run from the authorities, who wanted River back. Simon and River were later accepted into the family with Shepherd because Mal 'reasoned' that they needed a doctor, and that a preacher "wouldn't be bad to have." Thus was born the Serenity team.
The Ballad of Serenity
This was the original theme song for the television series. It was written by Joss Whedon and performed by Sonny Rhodes.
Take my love, Take my land,
Take me where I cannot stand.
I don't care, I'm still free,
You can't take the sky from me.
Take me out, to the black
Tell 'em I ain't coming back.
Burn the land and boil the sea
You can't take the sky from me.
There's no place I can be,
Since I found Serenity.
You can't take the sky from me...