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Enforced: "We need to kill some good guys, but all our main characters have Plot Armor. Insert some expendable red shirts."
"Why is it always the new guy?"
The Big Bad doesn't care when he sees a bunch of extras coming after him since he knows they can be killed easily enough. It's the main hero he knows he has to worry about.
Exploited: An Anti-Hero decides to send the extras into the front-lines, giving the bad guys a distraction while he and the other main characters sneak in to their base.
Defied: Knowing that they don't stand a chance on direct confrontations due to their lack of power, the extras start relying on a guile oriented approach to combat, employing cunning strategies to compensate deficiencies. In the process their effectiveness increases, while also decreasing their casualties' ratio.
Discussed: "Isn't it strange how we never get hurt but all of these random people die?"
Conversed: "Do the writers expect us to feel any sort of tension when it's obvious all those extras in the background will die before the main characters do."
Implied: The heroes come back from an offscreen battle and mention that there were "many deaths". Considering all the main characters are alive and well, it's obvious only nameless characters died.
Deconstructed: The families of the deceased red shirts sue the main characters for negligent death.
Reconstructed: The hero shows that they went into battle of their own free will and actually put up a brave fight, considering they were facing certain death. The families drop the suits and statues are erected to honor their memories.
Played For Laughs: "Don't worry. We're the leaders of The Rebellion. We always come back... Feel really sorry for those guys over there, though. I don't even know their names."
Played For Drama: The hero is the only survivor of a vicious battle. He laments that he was unable to save his men and the fact that he never even took the time to know them fills him with even more remorse.