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.
The main characters go by themselves, without any extras.
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: "I see an army coming, but who cares? It's all Red Shirts, and everyone knows how easily they can be killed."
Conversed: "Do the writers expect us to feel any sort of tension? It's obvious that all those extras in the background will die long before the main characters do. That is, if the main characters die at all."
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:
The nameless extras go around wearing targets or "shoot me" signs.
"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.