In honor of the new Star Trek movie, a company released a Red Shirt cologne. The slogan? "Because Tomorrow May Never Come." The packaging features a red-shirted officer in a set of crosshairs, and a Starfleet security badge with a bullet hole next to it.
You Deserve The Redshirt Treatment. An ad campaign by insurance company Independent Health sends the unintentional message of "You deserve to die horribly so William Shatner can emote over your dead body". One Google search would have prevented the epic irony of that health care company's slogan.
Occurs in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, in which Athurn's buddy Rusty (who never shows his face or has any dialog) is killed. He's wearing red, which ironically is supposed to be the uniform of ZAFT's elite. Nicol and Heine (In Gundam SEED Destiny) get the same treatment.
Subverted in Tower of God: You'd think the bunch of Regulars that got killed off or beaten up in some way would be nameless extras, but as their unique character designs might hint, a lot of the get names. Weird names, but still.
Mazinger Z: In the last Go Nagai manga arc, the Japanese army created the Mazinger army -a squad of mass-production Mazingers- to try and defeat Big Bad Dr. Hell once and for all. Since the robots needed trained pilots, several new characters were introduced -like the blonde twins Lori and Loru. However, as Kouji was performing test flights with the Jet Scrander, Dr. Hell threw a massive attack involving several mobile fortresses and several dozens of Mechanical Beasts. Main character, Love Interest and Battle Couple Sayaka Yumi and the Mazinger army flew to meet the Hell's army. Only one of them survived, and you will never guess who. Sayaka. Loru and Lori also showed up in Mazinkaiser, repeating their roles. They died in the first battle that they took active part in.
The movies have many cases of Mooks being killed en masse, often by the heroes or the main villains.
It's basically a rule that if you're a Konoha ninja who isn't named and you're shown on screen, you're probably going to die very soon. And even if they're not killed right away, they never get to kill any enemies besides mooks. Their jutsu almost always fail to damage any major villains.
The Japanese Burai Knightmare Frames through much of season one of Code Geass being expendable in combat, many scenes depict them either getting skewered by Cornelia's pike or completely annihilated by Lancelot. Interestingly, one of the Britannian Redshirts (or should that beMooks?) served as a Plot Point. One of them happened to be Shirley's father, who was killed by Lelouch, Shirley's crush, in a landslide in the battle of Narita. It starts Shirley's cutie-breaking which progresses throughout the series.
In Bleach, when Ichigo and friends invade the Soul Society, anyone without a rank is pretty much dog food.
Soldier A, Soldier A The unsung hero of anime Hip hooray for Soldier A He only has one line but saves the day He's called upon to grunt or yell or scream Even if his mouth is never seen Through the fray with ne'er to say He'll lead the way, he's Soldier A
Oh, Matt of Death Note. 10 panels. He gets gunned down. Notable in a manga where Anyone Can Die because he wears a red striped shirt in the anime, and often gets fan-colored with red hair.
On the way to a battle with the forces of Marmo in Record of Lodoss War, protagonist Parn chats up a fellow soldier who is very optimistic about the whole thing. Naturally, as soon as the battle is over and the heroes lament the losses, they find the soldier's body. It was his fault — he really shouldn't have shown Parn that good-luck charm his child made for him.
All of Duel Academia in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, save the main characters, especially in Season 3.
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha: The Soldiers of the Time-Space Administration Bureau are, on the surface, highly trained individuals capable of solving most inter-dimensional threats... it's a shame, then, that the show mostly shoves them in situations only girls half their age can properly handle.
Gantz Every single time the group is sent on a mission, at least 75% of them are Red Shirts.
Absolutely any military vehicle that is not an Evangelion in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Their job is shoot ineffectually at the Angels so we can see just how invincible they are as they lazily annihilate the forces in their path.
In Dragon Ball Z, Nappa blows up a "news helicopter" which, upon closer inspection by a keen-eyed viewer, is actually a shuttlecraft from the Enterprise-A, identical to the ones from the films and even including the registry number (NCC-1701-A) - making this a possible instance of actual red shirts being killed.
In Sekirei, there are 108 alien beings forced to take part in a game of There Can Be Only One. The vast majority are there simply to be terminated, and never had a chance to begin with. Many are aware of this fact, and desperately attempt to flee the capital — the Discipline Squad hunts them down.
This happens often in Super Dimension Fortress Macross and its derivatives. Destroids are common victims of battle for dramatic tension, but the series likes to kill off unnamed rookie pilots in brown-colored VF-1A's, known commonly among fans as 'Brownies' and playing much the same role as Gundam's aforementioned GM. In-universe, it's been noted that Zentraedi aces bully and target the tan fighters because the know that color indicates a new, unskilled, or weak pilot.
In Bakuman。, a non-fatal variant happens to certain manga series whose cancellation is announced whenever named characters get serialized, often with titles that would make one wonder whether anyone would want to read them. Arai, a minor character, is a recurring producer of "Red Shirt" series, although the fact that his series "Cheese Crackers" got canceled fairly soon after serialization in spite of Miura's confidence in it makes the main characters wonder if they're really safe.
In Saki, there are often many opponents who are shown just after being defeated by the main characters or their rivals. Interestingly enough, Kyoutaro, when entering the males' individual tournament, goes up against some characters who would seem to be this type, and loses.
Comic Book/Empowered, being a superhero comic (albeit a parody) also has Mooks, but one supervillain ThugBoy worked for really took the cake when he made his Witless Minions wear shirts with an emblem looking like a bullseye. Wow. Now that is...
Green Lantern comics consistently depict unnamed (and occasionally, named) Green Lanterns getting slaughtered whenever a new bad guy shows up. Even though every one of them wields "the most powerful weapon in the universe," they inevitably suffer gruesome, meaningless deaths. This also highlights the completely arbitrary nature of combat between ring-wielders.
The sad fate of the 90's-DC-space-police-Green-Lantern-wannabes the Darkstars. During the time when DC decided to get rid of the whole Green Lantern Corps and just have one guy being the Lantern, they introduced the Darkstars who would try to take the then-extinct Corps' place. But with the comic not catching on, despite having characters like Donna Troy and John Stewart drafted into it, the group slowly dwindled; each time they showed up in a comic, at least one of them dies for the sake of showing how dangerous the threat is. Finally in the Adam StrangePlanet Heist miniseries, the remaining few Darkstars show up ONLY on the climactic battle... just to die to the last man. And yes, they wore red jumpsuits.
In an IDW Star Trek comic, a Red Shirt security officer named Boyd outright complains about this to Chekov, Bones, and two other security officers. His words: "You're not redshirts, you two are fine. Security doesn't always make it home as much as you guys."
The X-Wing Series comics started to display this later on. There were complaints after the first several arcs that, while people quit or transferred out, no-one ever died. Promptly someone who'd been there since the beginning and one who'd been around for an arc got killed in Requiem for a Rogue, and in the arc after that four new pilots were introduced. One instantly immersed himself in a subplot, another took equally little time to establish her status as part of a rather pragmatic Proud Warrior Race. The other two failed to do anything but sort of hang around in the background, and by the end of the book those two had been shot down and killed within two pages of each other.
Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers: The whole mini-series is basically a Transformers story told from the viewpoint of a bunch of Red Shirt second stringers. In fact a large part of the characters's portrayals are built around the fact that this trope applies. Pyro fears that he'll die a meaningless death so he's spent most of his life trying to plan the perfect death. Ironfist is basically in complete denial about his role as a Red Shirt until later in the story where he seems to almost quietly accept his perceived unavoidable death. It helps to mention the writers openly referenced the story as "Last Stand of the Wreckers is a story about redshirts." on one of the opening pages of the Hardback copy.
In a Taskmaster mini-series, the main villain is a former mook turned leader who actually calls himself Red Shirt. He's the only one that doesn't get the joke. He also doesn't get why it's funny that he calls his organization the Minions International Liberation Front.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. who are not major characters could just as easily be called Blue Shirts with the number of times SHIELD agents are killed en masse.
The same goes for former Marvel supervillain prison, The Vault which was not only a Cardboard Prison but was staffed by an army of men wearing armor based on Iron Man suits called The Guardsmen. Every time there was a breakout, several of them would be killed. In fact, Venom once killed a group of Guardsmen during one of his many escapes and the guards' friends and family became an armored Super Team intent on killing him.
Jason: I decorated my gingerbread men in little Star Trek uniforms. Paige: Good lord, could you be a bigger geek? (Jason eats a cookie) Why are they all wearing red shirts?
In one issue of Toyfare's Twisted Toyfare Theatre, Kirk returns from a mission in which "only a dozen redshirts died," to find himself in the Mirror Universe, where the meek and pragmatic Mirror Kirk is protected by the immortal Redshirts. TTT loves playing with these. There are usually Redshirts around to die in stories featuring Captain Kirk, and the title page of one of the trade paperbacks shows Kirk and Spock standing amidst a sea of Redshirts while Spock looks around uneasily.
Cleverly spoofed in a short Star Trek parody film, ''Steam Trek: The Moving Picture'' (premise: Trek as it would be done 100 years ago by George Melies), where the expendable member of the away team wears a shirt with a target on the back. Also, this character is listed in the opening credits as "Ensign Expendable". For some reason, the opening credits were cut out of the YouTube version, but the full parody film can be seen here, under "Films."
The same target gag is used in Star Trek: The Pepsi Generation. Ensign Expendable is killed during the transport to the planet's surface, so he doesn't even get a heroic death from a Monster of the Week.
This is frequently played with in Trek fanfics. A typical example is here.
Played deliberately straight by the crew of the Enterprise in the Star TrekdeviantART web comic, Ensign Sue Must Die! The crew quickly find out that Ensign Mary Sue is EXTREMELY annoying. Virtually all attempts to get rid of her fail. Including shooting her! She's spent the past few years building up an immunity to phaser blasts. So the crew turn to the one guaranteed way of killing off a crew member. They give her a promotion which changes her shirt colour from blue to red. They waste no time and go on an away mission, where she is killed almost immediately.
Background ponies in Twillight Sparkle's awesome adventure are treated as this by everyone in the story. This includes the good guys sending them on missions which are too dangerous to risk someone important on.
Admiral Awesome: No you are a main character. It’s better to send in a unimportant background pony.
Spoofed mercilessly in Sev Trek: Pus in Boots (an Australian CGI spoof of Star Trek: The Next Generation). An alien asks the Enterforaprize to supply hosts for its young, as they're reputed to have "endless supplies of expendable ensigns". After the offer is curtly refused ("Each ensign is a valuable member of our crew!") the alien runs rampant on the ship causing the death of 47 ensigns, mainly due to Failsafe Failures and the lousy aim of the main characters. One dying ensign laments the fact that he would have been promoted to lieutenant in a few days, therefore becoming immune. Ensigns mentioned by name include Ens. Insignificant, Ens. Expendable, Ens. Cadaver, Ens. Bitpart, Ens. Anonymous, Ens. Disposable, Ens. Speakingpart, Ens. Deadmeat, Ens. Extra, Ens. Deathwish, Ens. Cannonfodder, Ens. Menial, Ens. Shortlived and Ens. Walkonpart.
(Alien leaps on an ensign and starts to absorb him; Lt. Barf raises his phizzer rifle to destroy it) Cptn. Pinchard: Don't, Barf, you'll kill the ensign! (Pinchard knocks aside Barf's phizzer rifle. The stray blast disintegrates another ensign who's just entered the room) Lt. Barf:With all due respect Captain, that man was dead from the moment he put on that ensign's uniform.
Played with in the Star Trek Online fic Bait and Switch. Four bit part crew members beam down with three members of the command crew. Two are low-ranking officers (an ensign and a lieutenant junior grade), another is a senior chief petty officer, and the third a crewman. The officers peel off early and act as a sniper and spotter, the senior chief gets shot in the chest but survives and is beamed out, and the crewman survives until near the end of the chapter when an Orion matron breaks his neck. In general the fic leans more on Mauve Shirts: Regardless of whether they die, almost any Bajor crewman Eleya interacts with is given at least a name, if not some minor characterization.
Films — Live-Action
Aside From Bond Himself, If you're a 00-agent early in a James Bond film, kiss your ass goodbye. Subverted in GoldenEye, when the Big Bad turns out to be the "dead" 00-agent.
In the Hellboy movies the random B.P.R.D. agents who accompany the big red guy on his missions all but define redshirt.
A film that seriously plays with the concept is Aliens. Who can forget Hudson's "Four more weeks and out" tirade? The movie does kinda play it straight with Crowe and Wierzbowski; one line from Crowe (said when he's offscreen), and no lines from poor Ski except a scream.
A discreet spoof in the movie The Running Man: Two contestants wore yellow jumpsuits while two wore red. Guess who died?
The countless native African servants and carriers in the Allan Quartermain movie adaptions exist only to be eaten by crocodiles or killed by traps so that the danger can be demonstrated without killing off a main character.
During the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indy is accompanied by two random native guides. They don't make it.
In the 2009 Star Trek movie, Kirk (in blue) and Sulu (in gold) are accompanied on a drop mission to take out a planetary drill by gung-ho Olson (in red). Guess which one of the trio dies? At first it seems to be a subversion, as he survives what seems to be the obvious fate of missing the platform and falling to his death from the upper atmosphere of a planet. Unfortunately for the poor guy, it's a Double Subversion; his final fate actually manages to be fairly spectacular. His parachute catches on the platform, and he gets vaporized by the drill. Of course, it was his own fault. Plus as he was the Chief engineer, he had to die so Scotty could become the Chief Engineer. This was completely intentional, according to the commentary — Abrams and the writers called this their "red shirt moment".
The sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness has Chekov moved to the position of chief engineer of the Enterprise due to Scotty's resignation prior to their mission. The look on his face and dramatic music when Kirk tells him to put on a red shirt is a priceless example of Leaning on the Fourth Wall. He doesn't die, but still. In fact, this trope was defied in this film, when Kirk ordered two nameless crewmen to take off their red shirts and change into casual gear for their mission to apprehend John Harrison on Qo'noS. Both survived an ensuing firefight with Klingons and successfully apprehended Harrison.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture: Two crew members die in a transporter accident, although they aren't seen to be wearing red shirts (in fact, no-one is). This is an odd case, in that one of the victims of the transporter was Lt. Sonak, who would have been a main character in the aborted Star Trek: Phase II. Mr. Sonak was to replace Cdr. Spock, as Leonard Nimoy would not reprise his role for the series. When Nimoy agreed to return for the feature, which was based on elements of Phase II, Sonak was killed so that there would be a vacancy for Spock to fill.
Ensign Lynch, an Enterprise officer who gets assimilated and ends up being one of the drones Picard guns down on the holodeck. Apparently, Picard attended his wedding. Something of a subversion, in that Captain Picard actually gets called out for how callously he dismisses Ensign Lynch's murder.
There's also another guy named Hawke. Hawke gets more play in the Expanded Universe. In fact, there's a novel dedicated mostly to him and an attempt by a Section 31 operative to recruit him. The novel also reveals that he's gay, not that it makes a difference to any other character. Hawke's partner calls Picard out on letting Hawke die. When Picard points out that Hawke was already assimilated, the guy points out that so was Picard. Assimilated people can be restored. Hawke didn't even get a chance to do that.
The Mummy. In the end, the only people who make it out are the four protagonists. Jonathan even lampshades this when recruiting an admittedly death-seeking Winston: "Well, everyone else we've bumped into has died, why not you?"
There are literal redshirts in Pirates of the Caribbean. Except Those Two Guys, although by the sequel they're wearing Company uniforms, which are a different color. They actually survive to the end of the original trilogy and join the crew of the Black Pearl. It's not clear what happens to them after that, especially given the fate of the Pearl.
Subverted in Smokin' Aces. Though many nameless cops bite it in the various shootouts, our hero is so distressed by the mass carnage that it sends him into a Heroic BSOD. He laments "So many people are dead!" even as his superiors try to get him to callously brush it off and do his job.
The security guard that Payne stabs in the ear at the beginning of Speed exists only to show that Payne is a bad guy —as though bombing a packed elevator isn't enough— and he completely vanishes from the movie once he's killed. Fan Wank claims that Payne used the man's body to fake his own death, but this theory still requires that law enforcement and the poor guy's employers never even notice he went missing, making it as straight an example as can possibly be.
In Congo, all of the African porters fit this trope. Also Richard. He wasn't even in the novel.
Beth Emhoff in Contagion is both this and a dead Living MacGuffin at the same time, being killed off within the first few minutes. Her recent interactions are then investigated throughout the rest of the film, and then the cause is revealed to be an infected pig being touched by a chef who then held her hand for a photograph.
The most notable example in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is the guard at The Pit who first witnesses the mole tunnelers arrive. He is not only visibly surprised but doesn't sound the alarm, just nervously levels his gun at them. Yep, G.I. Joe, only recruiting the A-list commandos.
In G.I. Joe: Retaliation the ninja troops Snake Eyes and Jinx fight on the mountain cliffs are wearing red uniforms. True to this trope, many of them die by falling (having their grapple ropes cut, being pushed off by a small avalanche).
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we have S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Pretty much anytime you see one that's not a named character from the comics (Nick Fury, Black Widow, Hawkeye, ect.), there's a good chance they're about to go bye-bye. Even as far back as Iron Man, we had S.H.I.E.L.D. agents getting squished and battered to death by Stane. This is actually a plot point. In The Avengers; Fury specifically says he created the team because S.H.I.E.L.D. was "Hopeless, hilariously" outgunned by the new wave of superhuman threats.
Averted in the Fighting Fantasy book Starship Traveller. Your security personnel are much more competent in both phaser and close combat; this is reflected by having all non-security characters take a -3 Skill penalty in combat — presumably showing that a character's Skill stat is for their particular job, not their ability in general. But then played almost straight in the fact that it is indicated that there are a great number of faceless nameless redshirts available in your crew for horrible things to happen to (if you play well — in a way that won't get your identified personnel killed) and that you and your crew repeatedly, if such things happen, suffer a critical giving-a-shit failure.
Played straight in the Lone Wolf series where the title character has the Aura of Death about him. Any companion or ally Lone Wolf picks up along his travels is extremely likely to die in horrible circumstances before the end of the current book. Any boat Lone Wolf is on will be attacked by pirates, sink, or both. And for Kai's sake, man, don't try to rescue a person in distress, of course it's a Helghast who murdered some random person and took their place just to have a shot at killing Lone Wolf.
Subverted in the Star TrekExpanded Universe novel The Eyes of the Beholders, by A.C. Crispin. The apparent red shirt for a mission not only survives but saves the rest of the away team.
Played with in the Day of Honor TOS novel. A redshirt got himself good and toasted... but it was in an honorable way to the Klingons. They decided to give this guy an annual holiday.
Obviously used in Redshirts, as the author named the book itself after this very trope page, though it is deconstructed and subverted all to hell and back.
Also brilliantly skewered in the James Alan Gardner novel Expendable.
Chapter 3: Lucky Red Shirt, from Hell’s Children by Andrew Boland. The Shirt does not turn out to be lucky.
The African porters of Congo, the movie or the Crichton novel, seemed to regenerate like clones. "Oh, look, there are three left. Oh, wait, the apes just killed them all. Hey, where did those other two porters come from?"
In the Christopher Moore novel The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror, one character decides to wear a Starfleet command shirt because it's a festive, Christmas-y red colour. Another character even comments on how the redshirts always died in that series. Guess who gets shot in the head when the lead zombie walk's through the door? Here's a hint. He's wearing a red shirt, and it ain't the guy in the Santa suit.
Even though the Warrior Cats series has a strict Anyone Can Die policy (and how), the seldom seen Tribe of Rushing Water is made up of about 75% Red Shirts, who get killed off in bunches pretty much anytime the Tribe is featured in a book.
In the prologue of Eragon, Arya is accompanied by two guards who are killed in the ambush quite easily. It's eventually deconstructed (albeit a few books too late), as she was great friends with one and in love (as much as elves can be anyway) with the other. Their deaths, along with, y'know, being tortured, are the reason she became The Stoic.
Stackpole's X-Wing Series novels tend to use this rather heavily. Any number of members of Rogue Squadron have few lines and no impact on the plot, and quickly get themselves killed in dogfights. Some of them stick around for a surprisingly long time, but they always get killed sooner or later; the characters will mourn and forget about it in about four pages. Notably in Isard's Revenge the only pilots who actually got killed were the ones who had been introduced specifically for that book. Novels by Aaron Allston in that same series avert this by use of Cast of Snowflakes and Mauve Shirt.
Interestingly, the leader of Rogue Squadron, Wedge Antilles, is sometimes cited as an Anti Red Shirt — a minor supporting character with little backstory who survives multiple dangers. In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, where he's not minor, it doesn't apply, but in the movies, it does.
The Rebel/Republic pilots all wear orange flight suits, not quite playing it straight, but not quite not.
Lampshaded by one Ciaphas Cain short story, where Adeptus Mechanus soldiers wear red uniforms. Ciaphas's narration even refers to them specifically as "redshirts" at one point, and predictably they're all slaughtered when the Necrons wake up.
DW is based on a slew of old myths, which reach their most "refined" form in Hindu mythology, which in turn of course derived from the original Star Trek episode "Planet of Wobbly Rocks where the Security Guard Got Shot".
All Quiet on the Western Front spends some time justifying this. The training received by German soldiers at the time didn't even remotely prepare them for combat, and a hefty percentage of the New Meat died horribly through not knowing something a veteran would know. A few survived by blind luck, learned what would kill them through seeing what killed everyone else, and became the Fire-Forged Friends the story centers around. They're not very effective at communicating their newfound survival strategies, so the waves of New Meat that supplement their ranks continue to get mowed down (and continue to get replaced.)
Played for Laughs in The Red Tape War: "Under no circumstances are you to jeopardize your life or your ship. The life of your companion, however, is absolutely and thoroughly expendable."
Utterly spindled, folded and mutilated by Night of the Living Trekkies, where the hero encounters a terrified man in a red shirt at a Star Trek convention attacked by the living dead. Turns out that "Ensign Willy Makit" has lost the rest of his group, several trekkies who claim to be from the U.S.S. Expendible... who died in ways completely unrelated to the zombies. (Willy didn't even know about them until the hero showed up.) It gets better: Willy's real name is Kenny Dyes, and he ultimately dies... in a way completely unrelated to the zombie attacks.
Averted in The Name of the Wind'', where the Adem, a warrior race whose mercenaries wear all red outfits, and are pretty unlikely to even be wounded.
Parodied by John Scalzi in his book Redshirts, told from the point of view of an ensign on a space exploration vessel:
The worms were in a frenzy. Somebody now was likely to die. It was likely to be Ensign Davis.
Their outfits never get described, but in Galaxy of Fear: Army of Terror the Millennium Falcon lands on Kiva carrying its usual famous crew and a number of Rebel grunts. They join the Arrandas and company, who have found a baby, and decide to help them evacuate. Guess what happens. The baby is actually a monster; he doesn't strike when either of the Arrandas or Luke Skywalker are holding him, but when a random Rebel has him and is out of view for even a moment... Not all of them die, but all the ones whose names are mentioned.
Walter from The Host. Up until his death throes, the only real characterization he has is "Supports Wanderer." When his death scene rolls around, it just serves to illustrate how caring and sensitive Wanderer is.
All Hands! is a major subversion, as every named character dies, while a large number of unnamed crewmen survive.
The first broadcast episode of the original series ("The Man Trap") has a body count of four minor crewmen, most of whom of course become monster chow shortly after beaming down to the planet. Ironically, the casualties are two blues, a gold and one unknown wearing a hazmat suit.
Despite it being the Trope Namer, quite a few of the characters that die in Star Trek: The Original Series are blue shirts or gold shirts. In fact, no red shirt deaths occur until the seventh episode. The dubious honor goes to Crewman Mathews, who is pushed into a bottomless pit in "What Are Little Girls Made Of?"
This is averted in "A Taste of Armageddon". Kirk, Spock, and three redshirts beam down to Eminiar VII where, upon landing, they are sent to be killed. All of them survive.
Scotty is practically the only named character to wear a red shirt in the original series, and he's one of the few characters to survive into "Next Generation."
An interesting case also occurs in "By Any Other Name". Two redshirts are turned into crystals, one of whom is a hot female yeoman, who would usually survive. The other is a more typical male security officer and is also black. It's the former that gets crushed into powder, however.
There is in fact an even more unfortunate color to be wearing, but it's more obscure: The twocharacters who wore the same beigey-yellow shirt both died in attacks on outposts, along with everyone with them.
Even the engineers (non-security redshirts during TOS) aren't safe, as shown in "The Ultimate Computer".
According to this article about analytics, red shirts do, in fact, die the most in TOS (74% of all Enterprise crew deaths.)
According to another set of statistics about Star Trek deaths, red shirt deaths actually only make up 58% of the deaths. However, since there are so many red shirts, their mortality rate is actually lower than the yellow shirts' (25 of 239 (about 10.5%) compared to 10 of 55 (about 18%)). In fact, even if you go by 43 being the number of red shirt deaths, the yellow shirts still have a slightly higher mortality rate.
Not always, though, as the helm officer on the Enterprise-D was generally a redshirted ensign whose main function was to underscore how great the danger to the ship was by being the person on the bridge to die because of exploding consoles/suddenly materialising aliens/subspace phenomenon of the week/sentient voids in space/etc. Probably the best known of these is Ensign Haskell, who died an energetic death in "Where Silence Has Lease".
Both Deanna Troi's father Ian and Wesley Crusher's father Jack were apparently literal red shirts in both uniform and death by Starfleet career while wearing said uniforms.
Since the station was Bajoran property, DS9 had only a small platoon of Goldshirts to handle station security, used only for special circumstances. They were run by a recurring character named Eddington, and were stationed on the Defiant during the exploration/space battle episodes. When Eddington went rogue, Worf took over ship security for all intents and purposes. (And even then, Worf knew that goldshirts are mostly incompetent so he let them wait outside while he took care of business.)
The real redshirts on DS9 were the Bajoran militiamen. Ensigns are Red and die the most often because that's what Reds do; the Goldshirts are beat cops who patrol the station's promenade, itself a magnet for Chicago-style shootouts; the Greys are the officer class, although they weren't immune to the odd exploding console.
The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "In The Pale Moonlight" also did this with some Romulans; when Garak is listing the casualties his scheming with Sisko incurred, he mentions Senator Vreenak, Grathon Tolar the con-artist and forger, and Captain Sisko's self-respect. As if to remind us how expendable the hired help are, he does not think to mention the four Romulan bodyguards who were also surely on Vreenak's shuttlecraft when it exploded, and Sisko does not think to call him out for this.
The crew never suffered any fatal casualties in the first two seasons - despite numerous near-misses and incidents like a Romulan stealth mine blowing away a section of the hull - no doubt so as to avoid the "phaser fodder" cliché. For those keeping score, the first death on Enterprise took place 53 episodes into the series.
Naturally, all this changed in the third season Xindi war arc, where crewman Fuller is killed just one episode after they enter the Delphic Expanse ("Anomaly") and eighteen other crewmen are killed in "Azati Prime" alone. The trope is lampshaded in "The Forgotten", when Trip has to write a letter to the parents of a dead crewmember but can't remember much about her, so he keeps getting her mixed up with his dead little sister.
There's also two classic redshirt incidents: in "The Council" an away team takes along a MACO when entering one of the mysterious Spheres, and in Season 4 "Daedalus" Reed goes searching through a dark room for a Negative Space Wedgie with an unnamed crewmember — no guessing who gets killed on both occasions.
Deliberately parodied in "In a Mirror, Darkly" where the first human crewmember they come across on the Defiant is a dead redshirt. Mirror Reed later puts on an Original Series redshirt, only to be nearly critically injured by an explosion shortly afterwards. It's unclear whether he actually survived or not, but it's mentioned the crew already started a betting pool on the outcome.
Starfleet Security's motto, according to one forum, was "Taking one for the team since 2151"
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Notably a Deconstructed Trope in the episode "Lower Decks." The episode was told almost entirely from the point of view of four low-level ensigns on the Enterprise, revealing how normally anonymous crewmembers deal with being kept in the dark about missions and being forced to constantly fight for the main characters’ respect. In the end, after one of them doesn’t make it back from the mission of the week, it deals with Captain Picard’s guilt and remorse at sending a comrade to her death.
Star Trek: Voyager. An Averted Trope in the early seasons by giving some screen time to crewmembers who were slated for death in later episodes (i.e. Hogan, Jonas, Carey). But eventually they reverted to bumping off anonymous ensigns by the shuttleload.
"Latent Image" is a rare deconstruction of this trope. The Doctor is guilt-ridden over his choice to save Harry Kim as opposed to the expendable ensign.
And Harry Kim seems to have been intended as a subversion, as an Ensign without much of a real job on the ship, yet he's a major character. Who never, ever makes it past Ensign (except in alternate futures). And to be fair, Harry Kim does die an awful lot (he gets better).
The aversion is a Justified Trope because of Voyager's premise. They are on the opposite side of the galaxy from Earth and 75,000 lightyears away from the closest starbase, so they don't have a practically infinite number of Starfleet recruits to replace them and they only have about 150 crew members, 100 being stated as the minimum to run the ship (though proven false on multiple occasions). Thus they can't afford to have crew members to die all the time. However, they shaved about 1/7th of their time off every season, and got a few more crew in later, so the writers could start being more lenient and allow more deaths a few seasons in.
24: Any CTU field agent who isn't Jack Bauer or the season's Colonel Makepeace is a red shirt. In season 4 and part of season 5, CTU HQ's security officers actually wore red shirts — that is, until they were all killed at once in a nerve gas attack.
Babylon 5: Played straight with the homeless bums in Downbelow, the outer space equivalent of The City Narrows where it's easy to wind up dead. Security personnel and, less often, Starfury fighter pilots, were also prone to being killed off to establish a threat in an episode.
Played straight in the re-imagined series and averted in one notable example: Helo was originally supposed to die during the miniseries, but the fans took a liking to him so the writers brought him back. Helo has since gotten his own season-long subplot, his own episode and has started a family with one of the core characters, as well as displaying morality that is more admirable and consistent than almost any other character on the show.
The Big Bang Theory: Referenced. Sheldon is telling Leonard how he needs to keep dating Dr. Stephanie Barnett because she'll round out their "landing party". Leonard is Captain Kirk, Sheldon is Mr. Spock, Wolowitz is Scotty, Raj is the nameless Ensign who always gets killed, and Dr. Barnett is Bones.
Blake's 7: Having been designed in response to Star Trek, features a character announcing, "I am not expendable, I am not stupid, and I am not going."
Random military types often are used as cannon fodder. UNIT personnel are frequent victims and in the New Series, red berets are part of the uniform. This has been a Subverted Trope a few times too. At least twice the Redshirt Army has beaten aliens the Doctor claimed they couldn't.
In the episode "Resurrection of the Daleks", the two who die in the Daleks' first assault have red hats.
In "Victory of the Daleks", new Daleks are created with colours according to their rank. Those with the rank of 'Drone' are red. We don't know if this was intentional.
Clara wears a lot of red. Guess what happens in several of her appearances?
Human Target: The season 1 episode "Rewind" has Laura, an antagonist assassin posing as a flight attendant, take the time to put on a stylish red jacket before getting into a fight with Chris Chance in the fuselage that leads to her falling out of an open hatch somewhere above Portland.
It should perhaps be considered that along with the copious amounts of very predictable redshirt deaths, a lot of main characters bite it.
During a conversation with Lock, Boone was tying red shirts to trees. Eight episodes later, he died (and was the first main character to do so.) Lampshade Hanging and Foreshadowing at the same time. This scene is even more ironic because the actor who played Locke had been in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, in which he wore, you guessed it, a red shirt. He didn't die in the episode. Being that his Star Trek character got court martialed and imprisoned for his poor decisions as Captain which resulted in the deaths of his almost his entire crew and loss of his ship, he definitely doesn't have the right to call Kirk "a piss-poor Captain". (Although Kirk had his fair share of court martials as well, he only got a few redshirts killed at a time, not an entire crew in one go).
The show itself performs many a Lampshade Hanging on its actualred shirts. The characters Scott and Steve, for instance, are always confused by important characters, even after one of them dies (Hurley's eulogy for him boils down to "Sorry I could never remember your name.") The character Dr. Arzt is introduced near the end of season 1 and complains about how everyone (i.e., the main characters) acts like a high school clique. What happens to Arzt? He gets blown up an episode later.
A final point of irony in this quote comes from the fact that J.J. Abrams (the show's co-creator) went on to direct and produce the 2009 Star Trek movie (see above).
It's taken to pretty much the ultimate level in a Season 4 episode where one Red Shirt after another comes running out of a house during a huge gun battle, and each one is immediately mowed down. What makes it gold is that Sawyer screams at each one to go back in the house, and none of them listen.
So in conclusion, hopefully any background castaways have learned to duck and cover if one of their fellows starts to do anything more but help out quietly.
They haven't learned: in the second episode of season 5, Neil "Frogurt" gets hit by a flaming arrow while wearing a red shirt. Sure enough, several more redshirts get killed while the main characters successfully escape into the jungle.
The Canaries in Red Dwarf are meant to fulfill this role, though they wear yellow in homage to their name (a reference to canaries carried down into mines who died if the air grew too foul). They are prisoners sent onto abandoned spaceships so if any of them get killed, the captain will know it's too dangerous to send anyone else. Fortunately the protagonists Got Volunteered for the Canaries, passing on their Plot Armor by default.
Revolution: A number of unnamed Rebels in the show get killed off in the episodes "Kashmir", "The Stand", and "The Song Remains The Same". The sad thing is that a number of Rebels in those same episodes actually did have names, but it didn't prevent them from being killed off anyway.
Stargate Atlantis: Any character who makes a premier appearance just as something is discovered is destined to meet a quick demise. The Red shirt du jour is introduced that episode, often by name. As the series' regulars investigate new technology or a recent discovery the newly introduced Red shirts keeping watch get toasted/Wraith-ed/introduced to the Monster of the Week.
Averted in "Duet", where Cadman at first looks like she's going to be set up for this when she gets beamed up by a Wraith along with Rodney. Luckily for her, they manage to shoot the Dart down before it escape through the Stargate. Unluckily for her, their attempt to rematerialise her from the damaged Dart leaves her consciousness ends up trapped inside of Rodney for most of the episode, before they manage to separate them.
Done for shock value when recurring gate-technician, Peter Grodin unexpectedly dies at the end of season one, performing a Heroic Sacrifice by remaining behind on the Ancient satellite weapon and taking down a Wraith Hive Ship as his final act.
Several other SG teams were this, particularly SG-11 who were wiped out at least twice.
This was lampshaded in an episode where a couple of Mauve Shirts are trying to rescue SG-1, and one of them says they might as well be wearing red shirts.
Lt/Capt Laurence Conner is a mixture of this and a Doom Magnet. Whilst serving in SG-9, his commanding officer went insane, proclaimed himself a God and executed the rest of his team for "heresy". After becoming the leader of SG-11, he was captured along with the rest of his team by the shape-shifting aliens protecting the Salish tribe, while his second mission ended with his entire team being executed by Apophis.
The Suite Life on Deck: Parodies this in the episode "Starship Tipton". Marcus says something along the lines of "Why do we have to wear these outfits? And the guys in red always get killed." Then a guy in a red shirt opens a hatch and gets sucked into space. Marcus replies "See?"
The Season 5 episode "Good God, Y'All" has a whole town full of them divided into thinking that the other side are demons so that Sam and Dean can figure it out and meet War, the Apocalyptic Horseman.
In season 6, Sam is called out for using the sheriff who fitted the monsters M.O. as bait to lure out the monster, and lead it back to its nest. In fact the trope was called by name.
Every girl Sam sleeps with With the exception of Cara in "Sex and Violence."
Todd and the Book of Pure Evil: The student body of Crowley High frequently serves as victims of the user of the Book of Pure Evil (often another Crowley student). Lampshaded when the bodies of three students flayed alive are identified using the school's own set of dental records (created for such an occasion).
Tremors: In the TV adaptation, nearly every episode starts off with some random construction worker/tourist/passer by getting brutally killed by some monster.
The Vampire Diaries: Introduces many characters only for them to be killed off by vampires. Often overlaps with Black Dude Dies First, especially in the case of the black boy introduced to Bonnie as a crush, who is promptly killed off.
Parodied many times over in filk, from Leslie Fish's "Landing Party Blues" to "Redshirt's Lament":
Tis a gift to wear a gold shirt or a blue, you see But look, my dear, what they have done to me Even Engineering would a blessing be But no, they've made me Security Whe-en the landing party's gone I'll be there with my red shirt on I'll make sure my estate's all orderly Because that is the last that you'll see of me
Ever notice how in snooker it's the red balls that have the lowest value and don't get put back on the table after they've been potted?
In a way, American football averts this. When practicing, quarterbacks will wear red shirts so defenders will know not to hit them and thus not risk injuring them. This is because quarterbacks are the most important player on the offense and at the pro level, they're worth the most amount of money, so the quarterback is actually in the least amount of danger. However, it's played straight with college freshmen and rookie pros, who traditionally go through a "redshirt" year where they only play during practice.
Eddie Izzard has a routine poking fun at this, in which Steve from the accounts department beams down alongside Captain Kirk.
Paranoia has the players taking the roles of Troubleshooters tasked with the job of shooting trouble wherever it should arise in Alpha Complex. The starting rank is "Red". As each character is part of a six-pack of clones, the body count can rack up astronomically quickly....
A minor setting in Warhammer 40,000 is Kill Team, where a squad of highly trained specialists go up against countless enemies, and they can purchase upgrades. The most useful: Red Shirt, a minor character who, according to the other Kill Team members, is probably going to get killed in a variety of gory ways. Can be averted in that if the Red Shirt survives, he becomes a member of the Team, and upgraded accordingly.
Acolytes in the 3rd edition Inquisition codexes were essentially extra Wounds for your Inquisitor. Similarly Shield Drones for the Tau Commander is purely to give him an extra body to take excessive wounds (it only has 1 wound, but it can have any number allocated to it, and any extras that it suffer will simply be discarded).
Most heavy weapon squads can only carry 4 weapons, and come as a base squad of 5 with an upgrade that can boost their squad numbers to 10. While some have special rules attached to the extra members, they are largely seen as padded wounds to protect the actual weapon gunners. This also applies to many of the other choices, such as taking a command squad/retinue for your commander, or the Scout Neophytes for the Space Marine Initiates for Black Templars.
In Star Munchkin, there is a hireling called a red shirt. Their only use is to die when you lose a battle, thus preventing the "Bad Stuff" from happening to you. However, they have, on a success, a one in six chance of getting overexcited and sacrificing themselves anyway.
The Good, the Bad and the Munchkin has the greenhorn, whose only purpose is to be fed to a monster so you can steal its stuff and run away while it's busy chewing.
The Grave Robbers from Outer Space series of B-movie games has a character in at least two whose special function is that other players have to kill them before any of your other characters, acting as a kind of MeatShield.
Scion hangs a big lampshade on this with the rules for extras. Extras are red shirts in all but name.
Which it inherited in their entirety from its papa-game, Exalted. The Exalted community has long referenced Extras as 'Mooks', and the game encourages them to be considered little more than ambulatory scenery for the awesome epic melodrama that is the Player Characters' lives.
The Star Wreck Roleplaying Game literally has Redshirts instead of hit points.
Spirit Of The Century has minions. In a bit of a switch these are mostly for the villains, but they go down right quick, and, if they are attached to a character, must quite literally die before the character can even be hurt.
For a long time in the BattleTech universe, anyone who was in the military but wasn't a Mechwarrior or Aerospace pilot was regarded as this trope, with the exception of a few factions that were noted for having high regard for ground armor or infantry. This has become less prevalent in later time settings as combined arms has become more and more popular (in universe) though there are still a few factions that are noted as considering infantry units as little more than cannon fodder.
The Star Trek: The Next GenerationCollectible Card Game has a card called "Security Sacrifice," which allows you to make your gold-shirts pay the ultimate price. (Though the picture on the card is of Tasha Yar, who was a major character in the first season before succumbing to her fate.)
Parodied with the Tortuga Twins live show "Tortuga Spies" where the show's villain has two minions in pink shirts. During the second act, a third minion wearing a red shirt is added and immediately shot and killed. It's then Lampshaded in that the villain comments about getting the joke as the minion is dragged off stage.
The soldiers of Archbishop Olav Engelbrektsson in Opera Olav Engelbrektsson are all dressed in red uniforms, and dead by the end of the play.
In Star Trek: 25th Anniversary, you lead a landing party consist of Captain Kirk, Commander Spock, Dr. McCoy, and a lunkhead security officer in every mission. Guess which one can be easily killed (in some missions, more than one way)? In fact, getting a 100% mission rating requires you to keep him alive, which in later missions is a puzzle in itself. Sadly this feature is removed in its sequel, Judgment Rites.
The Star Trek: The Next Generation 16-bit game (SNES/Genesis) has over a dozen Ensigns who can accompany you on away missions, despite there being no advantage in doing so; series regulars like Data and Worf have more health, while Dr. Crusher has healing packs. On the plus side, you can kill off as many Ensigns as you want, whereas losing two officers will abort the mission. Even the game doesn't care if they die.
Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force: The game lampshades this by giving the "Redshirt Award" to the teammate who died the most during a Capture the Flag or Team Deathmatch game.
The "Virtual Voyager" Mode of the expansion plays with this in the death message, (Like drilling a hole through Neelix, or arming the ships self-destruct causing crew members to whip out phasers on you) saying "What color shirt are you wearing?".
Your ship's crew is made up almost entirely of these. The crew is represented as a bar shaped like a line of people, and it gets colored and goes dark as you take damage in space. On the ground, any party member spot not filled with a bridge officer has a generic security officer to fill the spot, who is not customizable or upgradable. The only exceptions are the Captain (the player's character) and his/her NPC senior officers.
This trope is inverted in the Federation tutorial when your Captain sends you over alone to a ship infested with Borg, a total red shirt mission. Instead of the Borg killing you, they board your ship and kill off every officer aboard. This leaves you, an ensign, as the senior surviving officer and thus in command of the ship.
A captain-tier Tactical ability, "Security Escort," allows you to beam in a couple redshirts from your ship to back you up in ground combat. Unlike your regular party of bridge officers or generic security guys who will be Only Mostly Dead at worst, these can and probably will actually die. And nobody cares because you can beam in more every few minutes.
Anthony Carmine (whose name is a shade of red) is a rookie squadmember who is the only main character to wear a helmet which covers his face. He's also the first squad member to die in the game (and actually one of the only two characters who die), shot in the head by a sniper after the first couple of levels. His Redshirt status was lampshaded in "Gears of War 2" by a conversation between Ben Carmine and Dom.
In Gears of War 2, Benjamin Carmine (Anthony Carmine's youngest brother) joins the squad, but survives almost to the end of the game, making him a Mauve Shirt.
Averted in Gears of War 3 with Clayton Carmine, the eldest Carmine brother. Several times he dodges death, but makes it to the end of the game alive. His helmet even deflects a sniper's bullet, a Call Back to how Anthony Carmine died.
Surprisingly he was the least armored of the three brothers, wearing sleeveless armor rather than full body armor.
Also in the first Gears of War, the member of Alpha Squad who runs off and is instantly killed by the berserker is listed in the credits as Redshirt Gyules.
Almost every friendly NPC in the first-person shooter Half-Life is a redshirt. The security guards tag along and give support, but their low hit points and wimpy pistols mean they never last long. And the scientists, oh those poor scientists. Almost all of them only exist to die in scripted set-pieces to remind you of how insanely dangerous everything is. (One of the guards, however, got his own spin-off. You don't mess with Barney.)
Fairly frequent in L.A. Noire's street crime submissions. Valiant police officers are usually picked off in beginning cut-scene for the mission, and you'll never see or hear of him again. They're never even mentioned when you report back for a coroner at the end of the mission. No "officer down" or "notify this nameless cop's family he's been shot," just get a coroner for, most likely, the guys you shot.
Parodied in Space Quest 5, where miscellaneous crew members all wear blue shirts, and Roger Wilco, the protagonist (and ship's captain) is the one who wears a red shirt. Guess who gets shot at all the time?
Droole: This may be dangerous, lets split up so we can cover more territory. Roger: Don't you think we should stick together? Droole: Only if you do a quick wardrobe change, sir. Roger: This is hardly a time to play fashion critic. Droole: It's not that, it's your shirt... it's... well... so red... It's bad luck. (they separate, only for Roger to be attacked later)
Also, Droole is issued a weapon, while Roger isn't. That's right, the ship's captain can't get himself a weapon. To be fair, though, the crew is so tiny that there may only be one weapon aboard, and it must go to the tactical officer. Plus, nobody would trust Roger with a gun.
It's not entirely clear who gets what color uniform. In Space Quest V, only Roger has that color. Captain Raemes T. Quirk has a purple uniform, possibly because he captains StarCon's flagship. In Space Quest 6, Captain Kielbasa has a red uniform. The DeepShip 86 certainly looks like it could be the new flagship after the Goliath's destruction.
The amateur PC Adventure GameAdventures in the Galaxy Of Fantabulous Wonderment, which is pretty much what it sounds like, takes the trope to its logical extreme by making redshirts into a commodity cloned and sold in 5-packs. They die in a great number of interesting ways. In fact it's actually impossible for an away mission to end any way but the death of the redshirt.
In Mass Effect 1, the introductory mission on Eden Prime begins with a squadmate named Richard L. Jenkins. Guess what happens the first time you encounter any enemies. Go on, guess. In a later mission, several Normandy marines are assigned to defend a device from the Geth. Your squadmate may or may not be the only survivor.
In Mass Effect 2, Pressly and at least twenty other crewmen are also killed during the destruction of the Normandy at the beginning of the game. One of the DLC allows Shepard to venture to the crash-site, where they are tasked with recovering the dogtags of the fallen crewmembers, as well as erecting a memorial. Another memorial plaque listing these names adorns the second Normandy in Mass Effect 3, after being appropriated and refitted by the Alliance.
Introversion Software, creators of Uplink, included a bunch of bonus materials with the game. The catch? They (weakly) encrypted them via a encryption called "Red Shirt". Guess how long they expected it to take the fans to break the encryption? They also encrypted some game data (most notably, saved games) with the method, and replaced it with an update, called Red Shirt 2, in later versions. Their next game, Darwinia, also use a modified version of Red Shirt 2 for its saved games.
In Uplink itself, the LAN admins give their co-workers surprisingly obvious passwords, as if they want their friends' machines to get hacked into.
Not quite. Passwords start out weak, and are crackable with a dictionary attack (which is faster than brute force). However, as security breaches become bigger news, passwords get stronger and the dictionary attack becomes useless.
Secret Files 2: Puritas Cordis lampshaded this. All the named characters who died appear in the ending... in pictures, wearing red shirts.
The oarsmen on the ship to Tolbi in Golden Sun exist only to be slain by sea monsters, thus giving the player a chance to veer the ship off its course — and they're all wearing red bandanas.
In Fire Emblem, since the games are known for having Loads and Loads of Characters, you would think that there would not be many red shirts. However, on numerous occasions green colored "Other" units will be found either as generic guards or NPC reinforcements. They are usually of the class "Soldier", which no characters that you recruit will ever have (though they are also sometimes seen as enemy units). Worse still, they have some of the lowest stats in the game. Soldiers are given better stats and made into a playable class in Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, but they still seem to be the go-to class for neutral units.
Quest for Glory V has "Kokeeno Pookameeso" as one of your competitors for the throne. This translates into "Red Shirt". Guess which of your competitors is first to die? (If you do the side quests, Kokeeno acts a bit more like a Mauve Shirt, getting a good amount of dialog that shows him to be a good and honorable man with admirable reasons for entering the Rites of Rulership. Sadly, it doesn't do him a lot of good.)
Male Patsy: I'm not dying to prove the situation is critical! I won't go down like a goddamned redshirt! The Tudor: You know, we're all wearing red shirts... Female Patsy: Oh, *** me, none of us are safe! He could kill one of us at any time...! Mastermind: While I appreciate, and thank you for, the Star Trek reference, you got me. I was going to test this portable Doom Laser out on one of you.
In Spore, there is an achievement called "Red Shirt" to obtain it you must lose 100 crew members while playing adventures.
In FTL: Faster Than Light, there is an achievement called "No Redshirts Here", which is unlocked if the player reaches the final sector without losing a crew member.
The repair team in Dead Space consist of three named characters and some additional guards. None of the latter survive the first act.
The first two redshirts pop up right after the tutorial (one of them is only in existence on Easy or Normal). One of the crewmen who was guiding your tutorial is gunned down by Elites, and the other is killed by an explosion as soon as he leaves the room.
Sergeant Johnson was likely intended as a redshirt until Bungie realized how much the fans liked him.
In fact, when Halo is blown up, it was very likely that every marine on it was dead. And if it wasn't... well, they're dead now. Except four marines manage to escape, including the previously mentioned Sergeant Johnson. Three of them die on the way back. Guess who the survivor is.
In the whole Halo series, marines will shoot you if you murder or accidently kill a few of them. For some reason, they are much more competent when fighting you than the actual enemy; they shoot more accurately, more in general, and, somehow, their shooting does more damage. That's right, your allies are better at killing you than the enemy.
Bungie is not new to Red shirts. They had them first introduced in Marathon. Marathon introduced the first AI controlled allies in video games, which were defense drones with machine pistols. It also introduced people who ran around in random directions screaming "They're everywhere!" during an alien attack. Guess which one you'll be seeing more of. There are even some of these people, known as BoBs, dressed in red, and they are the weakest color aside from yellow. In the sequel, however, all Bo Bs carry handguns, and the red ones are security guards, and are stronger than the other BoBs.
Bo Bs also have the similarity of marines in shooting you when you start to murder them, with even unique dialogue for that situation (pretty good for 1995). Bungie actually encourages you to kill them, with quotes like "Bo B-jam? Apply grenades liberally!" However, when you do fight them, they are some of the hardest enemies in the game because their pistols are very accurate and, unlike alien projectiles, you can't dodge a bullet. In some levels of Marathon Infinity, you have to fight both regular Bo Bs and armored vacuum suit wearing Bo Bs, but the armored ones have slow-firing fusion pistols, making them easier to kill than the normal guys with pistols.
In Final Fantasy VII, the blue-clad Shinra Army can often be cut down by the weakest of hits. It's worse in Crisis Core, where 1000 Shinra infantrymen are unable to defeat Zack in an optional mission. In Dirge of Cerberus, the white-shirted WRO serves this purpose.
Played with in the original game in Cloud's flashback, and the ultimate resolution thereof. Sephiroth goes into the mountains near Nibelheim with Cloud, Tifa (as a guide), and two unnamed grunts. One of the grunts gets thrown off a bridge. He dies. The other is attacked later when Sephiroth goes nuts. Not only does he survive, he's Cloud. The "Cloud" that we saw in Cloud's flashback was actually Zack.
Final Fantasy VIII has the Galbaldian soldiers, who in a funny way look like Shinra Army, who are also easily cut down. This really shines bright in the SeeD final exam part of the game when the anxious Galbaldians who attempt to ambush your party try to fight at obviously unwinnable odds. Their are even soldiers in Red uniforms as well as the blue.
During a surprise attack on a supply depot in Growlanser 2, the mildly Genre Savvy enemy commander has the following exchange with a guard:
Byron: You... token guard that's gonna die anyway... try and slow them down! Burnstein Soldier 6:Uh... okay...
In the Cataclysm expansion of World of Warcraft, there's a quest named "Madness" in which you are to accompany a Horde Negotiator to speak with the leader of the Dragonmaw clan of Orcs. You're informed that two have already been sent and not returned, but the quest giver feels assured that if you accompany the negotiator, the clan leader will respect your strength. Along the way, the developers attempt a trope overload, as the Negotiator lampshades Retirony, informs you that "After these negotiations, I am looking forward to a long and prosperous life." If talked to, he questions you "Hey, does this red shirt make me look expendable?" Once you begin negotiations, as one might predict from the quest name, the following conversation eventually takes place: "This is madness!" "This is... DRAGONMAW!" with an accompanying sparta kick into the fire for the poor Red Shirt.
One particular player we all know about happens to have been in a party all wearing red shirts when his name became immortalized. Maybe that's why Leeroy...Leeroyed.
Subverted in a trailer for Marvel vs. Capcom 3: When Chun Li's helicopter is brought down by Super Skrull, both she and Captain America actually take care to save and protect the nameless pilot.
Any non-plot-critical NPC's in the Medal of Honor series. Sometimes, your allies are scripted to automatically drop dead if they aren't killed prior to a certain point. Plot-essential NPC's will generally become these after they've served their purpose.
In EVE Online, there's a mission where the objective is to find a man named Red. When he's found he's dead and described as wearing a red shirt.
Touhou has both the fairy maids of the Scarlet Devil Mansion and the rabbits of Eientei, alternating between Red Shirts and Mooks depending on perspective, whose sole purpose is to get slaughtered by vastly more powerful characters, with Silent Sinner in Blue in particular not being kind to them. Fortunately for them, in Gensoukyou Non Lethal KOs are the law.
In Fallout 3, the power armored soldier in Operation Anchorage who runs into the pulse field and dies is labeled a Red Shirt in the GECK.
In the main game, the first named Brotherhood of Steel soldier to die during gameplay is appropriately named Reddin.
In the Team Fortress 2 "Meet The Videos" this trope is inverted with the RED team mercenaries regularly defeating BLU mercenaries.
The Gallian army in Valkyria Chronicles. If the raw deal a Redshirt normally gets is a sushi platter, the one these guys get is still flopping on the deck with its eyes bugging out. For starters, their only representative is an asshole and none of them have faces, defining traits, or redeeming value (when their enemy counterparts get two cutscenes to show how human they are). Then the vast majority gets burnt alive in an explosion, which is par for the Redshirt course, except the explosion was a woobiefying moment for the person who blew them up, and no one cares that they're all dead afterward. And as if that wasn't enough, if the player somehow manages to kill off all the distinct personalities of Squad 7, they'll start filling slots in the militia, and still have no faces or final words, fully prepared to die in thankless, anonymous droves (and if the player didn't care about Squad 7, they probably won't mind killing off what amounts to ordinary, faceless Player Mooks). Apparently the difference between the militia and the army is that the army can train soldiers to be more disposable than toilet paper.
When you go to trap the dragon Odahviing in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the people on the Dragonsreach balcony are you, the Jarl of Whiterun, his adjutant, and some nameless guard. No points for guessing which one gets snapped up and flung into the distance on Odahviing's first pass.
Subverted in Metro 2033. Since he appears, the character Danila seems set up as a throw-away Gas Mask Mook like the many other faceless mooks you encounter. Several times it appears that he is going to be killed off by Demons only for him to escape just in time. In the end a Demon crashes through a window of the building you're in, grabs Danila and tries to fly away, only to drop him when Miller(and possibly the player) opens fire. He falls a good distance to the ground but still manages to survive, though with serious injuries. Miller sends you on ahead as he gets Danila back to the station for medical attention.
Red Shirt, unsurprisingly, is entirely focused upon the existence of redshirt characters, most specifically their social lives and the relatively mundane role they play in a much-mentioned but never seen intergalactic war.
Space Command has tactical crewmembers (The Bridge crew, weapons operators, armory crew) wear red uniforms. In a subversion, they are the only ones capable of fighting off enemy boarders. In this case, it seems like anyone wearing a blue or a yellow shirt is the Red Shirt, although they have alternative means of surviving (engineers/yellow can deploy sentry drones to defend them if the appropriate room is built, and scientists/blue can heal and revive one another).
Completely subverted in Starslip Crisis with the introduction of Quine, a "Protocol Officer" who's in charge of building relationships with new species. While he has a tendency to die on every "away mission", upon death, a clone is awakened on ship with all of his memories up to the time of death intact. The trope is outright inverted by the fact that he's the only member on the ship with this privilege (due to the rarity and importance of the protocol officer).
The appropriately red-shirted Lieutenant (later Lieutenant-Commander) Der Trihs (Red Shirt spelled backwards) is a subversion, as he's repeatedly injured in various grievous ways, including being reduced to a head-in-a-jar a couple of times, but never actually dies. Instead, he actually "wins the game" by retiring from the mercenary business to live with a pretty girl on a paradisaical vacation-planet. It is revealed at one point that his skull is quite nearly impervious to harm.
Intragalactic has its Enstant Ensigns, who are apparently mass-produced disposable clones in stylish red outfits. They work hard and die with great efficiency, some even climbing into their disposal Ensacks before the ship crashes, to save time. Then, when the ship docks, they are taken off to the Ensignerator.
Sluggy Freelance has been around long enough to have hit this trope dozens of times. Without even bringing in the number of disposable elves who die in the formerly annual Christmas messes, there's:
This and this strip from the "Stick Figures in Spaaaaace" series of stick-figure Filler Strips have characters with red shirts getting killed by random gunfire.
During "Oceans Unmoving", Quartermaster Flipp complains about not getting any characterization... and is knocked overboard to certain death in the very next strip. Of course, it's subverted when, after the whole plot and the deaths of many major and minor characters, it's revealed that he didn't die, but instead is sent through time.
Shipman. You know when a monster or ninja or something sneaks on board and attacks a crewman to show how evil it is? Well, the person it attacks is McFipt, and he's getting pretty tired of it.
Parodied in Legostar Galactica where one of the main characters is Ensign Redshirt and is continually being killed yet is always brought back to life. It's to the point that a laser shot in the opposite direction will actually bend just to hit him. It is subverted later, however, when a series of accidents fall on another character while sparing Ensign Redshirt, who's the first surprised.
Played with in Strip 480 of Metroid: Third Derivative in which Joey asks for red paint so he can paint a Redshirt on all the other degenerates.
Cdr. Cody: Although, we could go in first to see if it's a trap. Obi-wan: That's... very nice of you. But don't worry. I'm sure it's a trap. Cody: We could go in first and trigger the trap. Obi-wan: You guys need a union.
Early on in Bearmageddon, Ethan sold cameo appearances in the comic to interested readers, for crowd shots of people getting mauled by bears. More expensive cameos cameos involved appearing in the foreground and saying one or two lines before they went out.
SFDebris theorizes the goldshirts are so incompetent because they're all algae scientists or astronomers, unwittingly enlisted into combat once Starfleet re-militarizes during TNG. They're trained to measure soil toxicity, not kick-box with Borg.
Worf: PREPARE FOR RAMMING SPEED! Goldshirt(sobs) I just wanted to be a botanist!!
The French Web writer ASP Explorer, in the 9th story in his work Les Fantastiques Aventures de Morgoth l'Empaleur (not related to this Morgoth), plays with this hilariously: the adventuring party meet in jail a young and idealistic 1st-level mage called Tiberius K. Redshirt. He wishes to accompany them when they escape, and shortly later we learn that his middle name is Kenny. One of the main characters explains stealthily to the hero that nobody else expect him to last alive very long, because he doesn't have the thing, whatever it is, that make an adventurer. He open doors, he pull levers, he press switches and not only lives through the dungeon, which ironically is not the case of the character who distrusted him, though it is unrelated, but gains enough XP to become 8th-level innkeeper when he quits adventuring. He then lives a long and peaceful life until the age of ninety-three years, when he dies by falling from a staircase.
And his death is later retconned away when he gains another bunch of levels and more-or-less ascend to godhood.
The Double Subversion comes a few in-story years later with Morgoth's space program: The ship gets a lot of soldiers "named in homage to a friend of the Emperor's", and those die in troves without anybody caring.
All D-class personnel of the SCP Foundation are this. Class D is the designation given to those who handle the more dangerous SCP items, and they tend to be brutally killed en masse. Being demoted to Class D is considered a Fate Worse than Death.
Although they're less Redshirts and more lab rats.
And if they survive to the end of the month, they're executed anyway.
Needless to say, it gets lampshaded a lot. One of the things that Dr. Bright is no longer allowed to do at the Foundation is swap out D-Class uniforms with red leotards.
Cheat Commandos parodies this with its Green Helmets. "We've got, like, fifty of them!" Taken further as Green Helmet action figures come in packs of three, and are advertised as being "extra melty".
On Stone Trek this is consistently lampshaded: Every time a redshirt dies, a "Dead Redshirt Count" is shown.
It's also played with in the episode Star Trekkin just about everyone but Kirkstone, Sprock, and RcKoy dies, though Sprock is transformed into one of the creepy jellyfish (his head on their tentacles).
Lampshaded in Worms Trek Rhapsody. One gets hit by a Klingon missile (Scotty's line "Hit by Klingon missiles, no!"), another gets fired out of a torpedo bay ("Photon torpedooooooos!").
The College Humor short Jurassic Park Character's Awful Realization is explicitly about this, wherein the main cast are arguing over who should distract the T-rex with a flare. Gennaro (played by the original actor) is elected for this, and accuses the others, "I'm only here to die, aren't I?" The other characters fail to reassure him ("You're a very important character!") and an argument ensues wherein Genre Savvy Gennaro insists it's unfair to ask the most obviously doomed character to go out there, saying Grant and Ellie are both needed experts, Malcolm is the tension-relieving comic relief, and Tim and Lex are kids, and he's simply "the lawyer." The others try and convince him maybe he's a Mauve Shirt instead. Malcolm ultimately tosses him out of the Explorer and after a failed attempt to persuade the T-rex he's plot relevant by saying he's Tim and Lex's real father, he gets nommed.
We're Alive had The Tower with about 30 unvoiced survivors. They all got killed off in the Second Season finale "The Harder They Fall"
Phelous in To Boldly Flee is one of these. Strangely, this gives him functional immortality, as on the one hand, there are always more redshirts just like the killed ones still on the ship, and on the other hands, he's the only one they have. So, whenever he's killed, another Phelous is suddenly alive on the ship.
Or to explain it in another way, he's simultaneously running on the Original Series rules (this trope) and Next Generation rules (he's important to the plot). Which was also lampshaded.
To celebrate Star Trek's 46th anniversary, Google converted the letters in its logo into Star Trek characters, with the "e" wearing a red shirt and looking nervous. If you click on the turbo-lift, he and an "o" (Kirk) beam down to a planet to fight Gorn, but the "e" keeps getting caught in the cross-fire. He doesn't die, but he goes back to the bridge unhappy.
In the podcast series Crogan Adventures episode Island Lost To Time a background character volunteers to go with the leads on an expedition to find dinosaurs. The captain scathingly points out that he's new, they don't know anything about him except his name and while in her experience it has been useful the way guys like that get killed right off to tell the others how dangerous things are she'd rather skip that step and just assume this will be dangerous from the start. Once on the island they immediately meet a new guy though and...
Welcome to Night Vale has the constant deaths of the community station's lowly interns/staffers. Cecil will mention their "sacrifice" to the station's cause.
There are also Intern t-shirts in the TopatoCo store. Guess what color they are.
Averted in Star Trek: The Animated Series; where nobody on the Enterprise died in two seasons. In fact, nobody at all died (except in backstories of abandoned civilizations and such) except in "The Slaver Weapon", where three Kzinti are exploded on screen by Self-Destructing Security.
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: The Princesses' Royal Guard has, to put it nicely, a disastrous track record in about anything. They never actually get killed (this is My little Pony we're talking about, after all), but anything they can recover from is fair game. Arrest someone? They get zapped. Find a stolen bird? They get bluffed by the culprits. National Emergency? They're not even there. Guard the Archives? They unlock the doors for the intruders. Monitor wedding preparations? They get infiltrated. Capital under attack? They get overrun without effort. Neighbouring state in peril? They play messenger. Seeing how they're Bodyguarding a Badass, one has to wonder what their purpose is beyond projecting authority.
Perfectly parodied in the South Park episode "City on the Edge of Forever". The school bus is trapped teetering on the edge of a cliff and the bus driver leaves to find help, ordering the kids to remain on the bus or else a big black monster will eat them. After a long time of waiting, the children grow nervous and antsy. One of the kids — a child wearing an actual Star Trek Redshirt outfit — can't take the waiting and leaves the bus to find help. No black monster appears and the kid even waves back to the other kids, causing remarks from the main characters about how the bus driver must have lied... only for the big black monster to immediately appear and eat the red-shirted kid.
Parodied in the Trapped in TV Land episode called "Dimension Twist", when Kim is temporarily sent to a Star Trek-esque TV show and appears in a red uniform:
Wade: This is the part of the show where they pick series regulars to go on a mission. Just make sure you're not the one wearing... Kim: ... A red shirt? Pseudo-Kirk: And... (to Kim) you! You're expendable.
And parodied again in another episode with a cheese tour guide wearing a red dress and a logo that resembles Starfleet's. She is last seen swept away in molten cheddar, no sign of Kim rescuing her or anything.
Parodied in the same episode that the quote at the top of this article comes from: when Peter is running in the road with William Shatner, the latter gets hit and killed by a car. The camera then pans to Ensign Ricky, who declares: "I did not see that coming."
Played straight in The Simpsons "Trouble with Trillions", where a man in Moe's we've hardly ever seen before is arrested for admitting to being part of a militia which plans to beat up US government officials. lampshaded in the DVD Commentary.
The episode "Lair of Grievous" makes use of this trope; Jedi Master Kit Fisto is accompanied on his mission by his never-before-mentioned Padawan Nahdar Vebb and a group of clone troopers. Predictably enough, each of them had died a horrible death by the end of the episode. The writers were aware of this convention and gave the clones red-striped body armour.
Any clone that bears completely white armor would be dead by the end of the episode.
Any clone that doesn't have a name in any episode.
Many clones who DO have names also die. Their death is just more noticeable and sudden, and gives a name for the main characters to scream out in sorrow. Matchstiiiiiiick!!!
Lampshaded endlessly in an episode of The Venture Bros., where Mauve Shirt Henchmen #21 and #24 repeatedly taunt the previously unseen Henchman #1 for his red shirt status. By the end of the episode, #1 is beaten to death by Brock Samson, as the Genre Savvy #21 and #24 miraculously escape harm. Although, bizarrely enough, it later turned out that #1 Wasn't Quite Dead after all...
Facebones: And most important, remember — death is an everyday part of the workplace! So, when you see a dead body, don't freak out! Toki:(is taking out the trash and comes across a rotting corpse) Wowee! Facebones: Just... ring your Deth-bell! Toki:(rings his Deth-bell)
Providence soldiers in Generator Rex. Not only are they merely cannon fodder, they're also completely useless when battling against actual EVOs, presumably so Rex can come and save the day. It gets horribly ironic in the episode "Basic", when Rex and Noah take up Providence's basic training - the trainees are expected to take down one of the strongest EVOs in the series (one that not even Rex was able to defeat, even with his powers). Each of them, alone. With just a gun. It's not so much Training from Hell as it is a ridiculous joke.
Naturally this rule doesn't apply to any Providence Soldier whose seen Without AHelmet, they're all Mauve Shirts and generally fair pretty well, though the rules of Family-Friendly Firearms seem to dictate that they can never accomplish anything meaningful with their rifle-err, "Blasters".
"Basic" did provide some justification, however. The purpose of the grunts being more to distract the EVOs and keep them away from civilians while stalling them long enough for Rex or another main character to actually take said EVOs down. Granted they tend to take insane casualties, with a few exceptions, such as "Leader of the Pack" (where the redshirts respond to an ineffective Five Rounds Rapid against a giant worm by calling in a gunship and ripping the EVO apart) and most notably "The Forgotten" in which a team of redshirts (and a Mauve Shirt) survive being trapped inside a city of hostile EVOS.
Lampshaded in the Tiny Toon Adventures episode "Duck Trek". Plucky (as Captain Quirk), Hamton (as Mr. Spork), Furrball (as Dr. Furr), and three Red Shirts (Shirley the Loon, Sweetie Pie, and Saul Sheepdog) are on a planet covered in hair.
Plucky: Spork, Doc, you come with me. (To the Red Shirts) You extras wander off that way and disappear. (And they do)
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero: The Joes had "Greenshirts" as they would come to be called. Their look was based on Grunt who was the most generic looking character of all the Joes, probably hence the name "Grunt". They weren't used as cannon fodder per se in the cartoon, for obvious reasons. But they did make animating large battle scenes easier due to the fact that all the main characters had unique appearances and animating a large number of them onscreen at the same time often proved laborious. Typically, one or two main characters would be fully animated in the foreground while several Greenshirts served as background employing more limited animation. Also, the addition of generic soldiers solved the problem of Cobra troops outnumbering the Joes.
Adventure Time: The titular character of "James," who wears a red radiation suit, is sacrificed by Bubblegum to the zombies of the crater, and then subverts the trope because he's an Expendable Clone like most of the candy people. And then further subverts the trope when his original body becomes undead and leads the zombies out of the crater.