star wars

The Millennium Falcon or Serenity? | Point/Counterpoint

If there’s one thing nerds like to do, it’s debate.  And if there’s one thing nerds like to debate about, it’s useless trivia from TV shows and movies.  Thus, we humbly submit for your reading pleasure: The Nerd Point/Counterpoint.

This week’s topic:  Which is the better cargo ship?  The Millennium Falcon or Serenity?

The Millennium Falcon—Eric Schlelein

My argument is short, because I don’t feel I need to say any more than this:  It’s the Millennium Freaking Falcon.

While I will allow that George Lucas’ grasp on the laws of quality storytelling may be comically tenuous, I’ll give him this, the man knows cool starship designs.  The Star Destroyer?  The X-Wing fighter?  The Emperor’s shuttle?  All very cool, very interesting starship designs.  The Star Wars movies set the bar by which all starship designs should be measured.

And for my money, the coolest ship in the entire Star Wars universe is the Millennium Falcon.  Elegant in its ugliness, clunkily sleek, aesthetically utilitarian, the Falcon is the only ship from here to Corellia that I’d want to fly.

I mean, come on!  It can make point five past light speed!  That’s not even possible!  It made the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs!  It’s so cool its speed can be measured as an expression of distance!  The Falcon is so awesome it not only shatters the laws of grammar and diction, but also physics!

Let’s talk design.  Both the Falcon and Serenity are cargo ships, and both have clever little hidey-holes for smuggling, but the Falcon‘s are in the floor!  Who’s going to check the floor?  Plus, guns!  In a universe where the Empire lurks around every corner, it’s probably more than a little comforting to have those twin over-under four-barrel cannons that are so easy to use a whiny hick farmboy from Tatooine can sit right down and blow some TIE fighters away like a pro.  And let’s not forget that kick-ass little automatic belly gun!  I’ll just bet that’s handy to have around to get you out of some tight spots.  On Serenity, you have to steal a gun from some colony, or stick Jayne and Vera out the front and hope for the best.

Also, whereas Serenity mounts a crew of five, the Falcon is so well put together, you only need two crew members.  Well, let’s say one and a half (I’m still not convinced how great a role the Wookiee plays in the operation of the ship).  And while we’re on the subject of crew, let’s talk about who’s actually running the ship.  Both Malcolm Reynolds and Han Solo are paragons of coolness, but how much does that actually count in the long run?  Who actually runs his ship better?  Mal’s got enough problems just keeping his ship’s engine maintained, but on top of that he has to deal with his strongarm who is constantly undermining his authority when he’s not actively challenging his command, his pilot and second in command who are not only in love but MARRIED (show me a captain that allows that level of fraternization between his crew and I’ll show you a captain that would be better off running a day spa or a tree farm), he’s harboring a known fugitive, and he sometimes requires the services of a prostitute (sorry, Companion) to get him places he wouldn’t be able to normally get to.  Han Solo travels light, he moves quickly, and he doesn’t bother with the complications brought up by having a crew.  The Force?  Who needs it?  Han Solo sure doesn’t, which is a good thing since the power and mystique of the Force were all but destroyed in the Midi-chlorian Fiasco of 1999.

Yes, the hyperdrive on the Falcon can be a bit dodgy, but when you’re cheerfully guffawing at the laws of physics by going FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF LIGHT, a little mechanical difficulty is little more than a piddling inconvenience.  And sure, a couple of mynocks can put the ship out of operation indefinitely.  But Serenity breaks if you look at it funny.  For God’s sake, Serenity’s primary buffer panels seem to be stuck on the ship with chewing gum.  The Falcon’s taken more shots than a fraternity house.  Heck, its sensor dish got knocked clean off in the assault on the second Death Star, and it still escaped like a champ!  In comparison to the fine crystal goblet that is Serenity, the Falcon is built like an Abrams tank.

So, Elizabeth, you keep Serenity.  I’ll be on the Falcon trying to get the Kessel run down to eleven parsecs.


Serenity—Elizabeth Rappe

 Eric, I’m a big enough person to admit the Millennium Falcon has its charms. It’s all craggy and tough, and wastes no time with aesthetics because hey, there’s stuff to smuggle. It’s like the Tommy Lee Jones of the galaxy far, far away.

Yes, Serenity breaks whenever the plot dictates it must, but so does the Millennium Falcon, and at least the Serenity can be repaired by the elbow grease of its crew. One of the Firefly class selling points is its durability and ease of repair, whereas the Falcon is so fussy that only Artoo can repair it!   The Falcon is also an angry ship, sneering at droid, human and Wookiee alike, whereas the Serenity stays afloat with love. With love, man. How are you going to argue with that?

But it’s in the elements of longterm survival that Serenity beats Falcon.  She boasts a fantastic and sterile medical bay, whereas the Falcon has only that grimy medical bunk with a few dirty tubes hanging from it.    Let’s not romanticize futuristic intergalactic warfare – people get hurt, and not all of us are lucky enough to be dismembered and cauterized by a lightsaber.  I don’t want to catch tetanus because the Falcon doesn’t even have a Purell dispenser. Massive guns are great, but it’s the little things like a medical bay that keep the body count down and wins rebellions.

Plus, you can LIVE on the Serenity.  Really live.  I suppose Han has a bunk stashed somewhere (although judging from the medical bay, I shudder to think of what it’s like), but the Serenity has a comfy and cozy cabin for everyone.   It even has a darling kitchenette and living room where you can actually kick back and relax.  The Falcon has a gaming table, and judging from the way Han & Co are always clustered around it, that’s all they’ve got. War is hell and all that, but if you’ve got nowhere to decompress and sleep, you’re going to go down from space madness. And come on, how cute is that Western/Asian decor?  The Falcon is all black, steel, and sort of greasy looking. (If we consider the books canon, then the Falcon also smells bad, whereas the Serenity probably smells like leather and Chinese incense.)

Serenity is also a beautiful ship, both avian and insect, all grace and curves. She’s a real lady. Sure, she’s delicate, but that only makes her easy to underestimate, like a saloon girl or Chinese ninja nun.  Those smooth lines aren’t just good looking, they also make it impossible to hide a tracking device on.  The Falcon‘s blocky exterior makes it a scanning nightmare.

Finally, just what exactly can be smuggled in Han’s ship? Other than those floor compartments, we see no evidence of a large cargo hold.  I’m not sure it’s a ship that uses its space wisely, whereas every inch of Serenity can be accounted for, and its cargo bay is flexible enough to carry cattle in!  What can you put in those compartments beyond liquor, guns, and booze?  Sure, smugglers can live hearty on that trade, but it leaves no room for improvising.  If it’s alive or needs temperature control, I think you’re screwed.

You have fun with the Falcon, my friend.   I’m just fine on the Serenity.  There’s noodle bowls, love, dinosaur toys, armchairs and comfy beds, and a real operating bay.   If you need any of these things … oh, what am I saying, your hyperdrive will undoubtedly be too broken to visit me out in the black.

originally published 9/26/2011


  1. Point to Elizabeth on this one, I reckon. Just look at the picture! Serenity is a thing of beauty. (And while it may require a larger crew, it comes with its own Chain of Command)

  2. Eric is mistaken…the millennium falcon doesn’t best Serenity. IT FREAKIN ANNIHILATES IT… I mean just look at the names, Serenity sounds all warm and fuzzy, and it sure has great places to sleep…blah blah blah… The Millennium Falcon is named after a war bird and who needs to sleep when they are in a space battle anyway… Eric your analysis gets 5 stars and 6 parsecs from me buddy!

  3. Eric – We couldn’t have said it anymore succinctly. We enjoy your new column, even though we aren’t nerds. Keep ’em coming – you “Space Cowboy.”

  4. The Falcon has plenty of space, in addition to the hidden compartments. Also, they don’t need to LIVE on the Falcon, it has a hyperdrive. You can make it to a planet in a matter of hours.

    Serenity only has a range of 120AU, or 0.001897500889 light years. Pretty low for a cargo hauler.

  5. Ok I must point something out…being that my great uncle designed the Falcon and I have the ONLY original prints of the design I think I can be a bit of an authority on the matter…

    #1 The Falcon as Venator class armored plating. Meaning it can (and did) take several direct hits from a class 5 turbolaser…those are the big guns. It even took a hit from one of the high powered long range turbos on Anakins capital ship…

    #2 Sleeping bunks- The falcon has a fully furnished cabin for its crew (it can sleep up to 6 comfortably) Han got rid of the other 2 bunks for a wookie sized bunk…it used to be able to sleep 8.

    #3 Med bay- The Falcon has a fully equipped medical bay. As for purell? Well that stuff is linked to some cancers…there is a full bacta tank as well as half of a 2-1B medical droid (didn’t need a full one because of the cramped quarters) in other words, the Falcon has just as much capabilities as Echo Base on Hoth had if not more.

    #4 Fresher- a Fresher is what we call a bathroom. The Falcon has a fully equipped fresher, tapcaf (for beverages) and food dispenser that Han equips with food from all over the galaxy. You can eat better on the Falcon than on any ship in the Imperial navy…including the Death Stars…

    #5 Smuggling- The Falcon is not a smuggling vessel, it was a freighter converted by Han to smuggle…the forward cargo hold, you don’t see in the movies, you see the secondary hold where the game table and everything is. The bottom “jaw” of the spot in between the mandibles where the missile launchers are drops down and 2 large blast doors open to allow loading and unloading of cargo. (you see this in “A New Hope”)

    #6 Love? They are neither built for love or comfort…stop the whiny review and go with Function. The Serenity is just plain ugly and unbalanced….those side mounted engines are great and all but if one goes out you are sunk. The Falcon has sublights (in the reaer for propulsion) 5 sets of repulsorlifts (in other words there are 5 sets of 4 engines underneath.) as well as the twin nacelles to each side of the sublight that are used for the hyperdrive.

    Honestly you BOTH need to do your research before you claim what you do lol. The Falcon is made for space travel, Serenity is made to fall apart…whih it does quite well…the Falcon is realistic I may add…it actually makes it out of the atmosphere HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of times without breaking…

  6. how is it a thing of beauty? The falcon has a definite shape based on aerodynamics and communications. The Serenity is a lumbering segmented hulk that is terribly unbalanced…realistically, the Falcon makes sense…Serenity could never fly…

  7. I like both ships actually, much better designed and crafted than Lexx or TARDIS(a police box, really?), and I enjoyed both stories. Firefly to me is more like an RV and the Falcon is more like a Volkswagen hippy van, while one is good for glamping and drive towards the sunset in middle of nowhere, the other can do the same and be used to rob a bank in downtown. It really depends on the person I guess. However, I do want to make a point… With Falcon, the rebels won the war against GALACTIC empire eventually, and with Firefly, rebels who lost the war against the Union of Allied PLANETS are still lost. If I am to exhaust my 401K to buy a retirement toy, I will have them converted to galactic credits and get myself the Falcon.

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