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Mauve Shirt

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Dr. Girlfriend: I gotta ask this, is there a reason you always use 21 and 24?
The Monarch: I know it sounds crazy, but they both have that rare blend of "expendable" and "invulnerable" that makes for a perfect henchman.
The Venture Bros., in regard to Those Two Guysnote 

Nobody in their right mind wants to be a Red Shirt — it's a death sentence even the most Genre Blind should be able to spot a mile away. It's been lampshaded to death and back, but it remains a very real trope with very real danger for the nameless fictional people under its thrall. So, if you're saddled with this Red Death what can you do? Change the color of your shirt!

In Star Trek: The Original Series, "Blue Shirts" were for science personnel and "Gold Shirts" were command staff; both had a much better life expectancy mostly due to rarely being sent away on team missions, the latter more so. The character is less vulnerable than a redshirt, but more so than blue.note 

Chromatic issues aside, the Mauve Shirt is a former Red Shirt who has managed to get enough screen time and lines to make him stand out from the rank and file, but not enough to be part of the main cast. It can also be accomplished by showing pictures of a spouse or baby (but be careful with that, as it's Tempting Fate all by itself), personal quirks, or just plain old giving them a name (whole or in part). The advantage to this is that they're less likely to be killed senselessly, because the audience cares for them and it would hit harder than some faceless redshirt no one cares about. The downside is that, since their death would now have more emotional impact, they are more likely to be Killed Off for Real to prove how bad the new villain is. If they're successful enough, they just might graduate from Mauve Shirt and become a "Gold Shirt" as part of the supporting cast or even the main cast.

Also, shows where Anyone Can Die love to kill off these characters — we're getting to know this guy, and he has hung around for more than a couple of episodes, so he must be important, then boom! He's dead, and the status quo remains safely in place. (If a Mauve Shirt mentions taking the gang out for drinks, he'll be iced tout de suite.) See also Hero of Another Story for a character starting as a Mauve Shirt. Compare Ensemble Dark Horse. See also A Death in the Limelight, where a minor character is granted more focus than usual for the course of a single episode, only to be killed off by the credits.

If the character is introduced early only to be killed off, they can be a Sacrificial Lamb. If they are a main character or the death noticeably changes the tone of the story, they may be a Sacrificial Lion.

For the villain equivalent, see Mook Promotion and Mook Lieutenant. For the in-universe version of people so competent and indestructible they're given a more important job, see Field Promotion. Compare Red Herring Shirt and C-List Fodder.

This is still a Death Trope, so expect spoilers.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan is filled with characters who are given a little characterization and then killed off. The body count for the story is quite high, but almost all deaths consist of these generally inconsequential characters who are often touted as experts or veterans yet drop like flies while the main cast stays nice and safe.
  • In Berserk, Hawk Raider Gaston is one of the few members of The Band of the Hawk outside of the main characters Griffith, Guts, and Casca and the other captains to have a name, a couple lines, and a little characterization to him. He's also the last Hawk to be seen alive in the Eclipse.
  • Chojiro Sasakibe, Yamamoto's lieutenant in Bleach. Complete wallpaper and never seen winning a fight, the only thing on his CV is that he's the first heroic character to be killed off.
  • Code Geass gives us all four named members of Ohgi's resistance: Kento Sugiyama, Naomi Inoue, Toru Yoshida, and Yoshitaka Minami. While Kallen, Ohgi and Tamaki get their own focus, the above four are treated as little more than named soldiers.
    • Inoue is stuck around as one of Zero's nameless lieutenants for the majority of the first season before she meets her fiery death as her Burai got struck by a shot from enemy mook's mech, causing it to explode. Her name is literally brought up by a shocked and grief-stricken Sugiyama right after her death.
    • Similarly, Yoshida never really does much else other than be a random soldier until Suzaku kills him by destroying the Raikou Cannon he was manning. Unlike Inoue, his name isn't mentioned until R2, where the Black Knights note the casualties they've suffered.
  • The Side: Despair portion of Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School reveals the whole Hope's Peak Student Council to be this. Mere minutes after we learn their names and what they actually looked like, we're treated to a montage of the group slaughtering each other in a panic-fueled frenzy. We even see bits of character from each of them before they die. Sato and Natsumi also fit the bill, as they were killed off at the end of the very episode they were introduced in. Granted, these characters were Doomed by Canon due to Side: Despair being a prequel to the first two games, but even then they died quicker than the audience would have thought.
  • While inmates in Dead Leaves are often killed off randomly and rapidly, Chinko Drill actually survived a lot, like repeatedly attacking 777 and just bouncing off. Unfortunately, he's not so lucky when the drill gets stuck in said guard's neck.
  • Death Note will frequently kill off unnamed criminals to further Kira's goals, but many side characters will be killed off, and some may forget about characters until they die. There are so many of these, it comes off as a surprise that as many make it to the finale as they do. The manga makes some shirts more noticeable than in the anime, however.
  • Daisya Barry in D.Gray-Man makes a flashy appearance on the scene. He's likeable, has cool powers, a great backstory, a unique character design, a name... then he meets Tyki Mikk.
  • Due to the Anyone Can Die and Death Is Cheap nature of the series, pretty much everybody in Dragon Ball Z dies at one point or another, many of which become important enough to be or downgraded to the level of Mauve shirts.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • The chimeras who follow Greed would qualify. All are likable anti-villains with distinct personalities and it's a real punch in the gut that all of them get killed off right in front of Greed and later, "Greedling" kills the only survivor during the period where he didn't have his memories. What Have I Done? follows immediately afterward.
    • Maes Hughes is also another possible example of this, due to the fact that as soon as he discovered that the locations of high amounts of war and bloodshed form a transmutation circle on the Amestris map, he was killed shortly thereafter. Also falls under this category because he always shows off the pictures of his daughter.
      • In Brotherhood, during the flashbacks in Episode 30, Mustang lampshades the trope conversationally:
        Mustang: Hughes, a little word of warning. This often happens in movies and novels. A guy on the battlefield who brings up stories of his woman...immediately dies.
      • Not to mention that Maes is actually seen in a purple shirt.
  • Full Metal Panic! doesn't really have Red Shirts, with most Mithril and Amalgam soldiers looking unique and being in named squads. National armies like the US, the Soviets, and the Chinese, on the other hand...
  • In Ginga Densetsu Weed, we meet Jerome and his pack. They're off hunting down the Kaibutsu, an experiment that has broken out of the lab he was created in. We learn the pack's names (North, Robert, Rocker, and Heuler) and we think that they're going to be main characters too. Surprise surprise, all of them are killed off in the space of two episodes, North by ambush and the rest while fighting to give Jerome a chance to kill the Kaibutsu. Happens relatively often, at least in the anime. If a dog hasn't had a ton of screen time and introduces himself before a fight, his chance of survival is very small.
  • Gundam series are frequently paved with the corpses of Mauve Shirts.
    • Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam has a flamboyantly mauve example: Lt. Apolly Bay of the AEUG in Zeta Gundam, who makes it through almost the entire show from his introduction in the beginning of the series without establishing solid personality characteristics. Lt. Apolly is in at least half of the episodes, a named character almost always with a speaking role, yet the poor guy is complete wallpaper. He's the one who gets to say "It's a kid!" and spoil Mineva Zabi's majestic entrance, yet he has no personality whatsoever. It's hard to imagine a mauver shirt.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED has two regular ZAFT pilots who seem to get involved most major battles, and witness Kira's new Gundams, but never get shot down lethally. They would seem to represent the average soldier in ZAFT, and their thoughts on new events as they unfold. They are even still seen in Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam 00 there's Joshua. He's shown as reckless and undermining and he breaks off from Graham's assault force to attack Lockon, who promptly blows him up just in time.
    • For a living version, Gundam Seed Destiny sidestory character Shiho Hahnenfuss. According to fan legends she was going to be voiced by singer Nami Tamaki (and presumably would suffer Dead Star Walking like T.M.Revolution's two characters), but Tamaki passed and Shiho lived, making background cameos in the anime, getting speaking roles in video games, and doing well enough in popularity polls to merit at least one figurine.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam AGE's Diva squadron falls into this during the third generation. Although the previous squads had been a focus — an unlikely trio on a then-rogue warship in G1 and a collection of rookies in G2 — the camera moved well away during Kio's time. Although they had a few notable moments in the spotlight, two of them never got anything more than a name. By the show's penultimate episode, they all die.
  • Heavy Object rarely develops the individual soldiers of the 37th Maintenance Battalion due to their status as a Red Shirt Army. Myonri was one of the few soldiers given a name and not immediately killed off, making several brief appearances as a side character. This changed in Volume 12 when she was shot and getting her a med evac was the driving plot of the first story arc. After recovering she received additional characterization and became a recurring support character, being a deadly marksman and skilled with multiple vehicles.
  • Highschool of the Dead: In chapter 18, Takashi and his friends met Asami, who was a newly appointed patrol officer, who'd been left in charge of the group of survivors at the mall. During their layover, which spanned the next seven chapters, they saw she was being used as a scapegoat, due to her inexperience. She also became a temporary love interest for Hirano, which created a love triangle between them and Saya. When she was offered the chance to join them, it seemed she'd become the main cast's newest member. But circumstance and her duty as a police officer didn't allow it to happen.
  • Initial D does this with some of the rivals of Takumi. None more so than his first opponent of Stage 4. The first time we see him, he's asking his long term girlfriend for money to fix his car. We find out that she wants him to quit racing and get serious about their relationship if he loses his next battle. Seeing how his next battle is against Takumi... Despite Takumi being the main character, you'll probably be rooting for the poor guy, especially because he expresses how much he loves racing and his girlfriend, and doesn't want to lose either. He tells her that he's going to quit racing after that, but she tells him that she was just mad, and doesn't want him to actually quit.
  • In Joker Game, Miyoshi made a big impression on the viewers, most of whom expected him to be the supporting lead. He disappears from the story after that, and when he shows up again in the penultimate episode, he's been killed due to an unforeseen incident while on a mission in Germany, and doesn't even get any lines in his own focus episode.
  • One of the K prequel side novels follows Takeru Kusuhara, a police officer who sees the Blue Clan, Scepter 4, in action and decides to join them. The novel is entirely from his point of view, and in the end, he dies taking a bullet for the Blue King. In later prequel manga, other Blue Clansmen remember him and comment on his short time with them.
  • Last Exile has Mullin Shetland, a member of the Red Shirt Army who is slowly built up and even gets a Love Interest. He has beat the odds and not died in the incredibly deadly Napoleonic style battles he's been in. He manages to survive 19 battles (the 20th promoting him out of the firing line) and even falls in love with a former enemy soldier when, predictably, he is shot in the final episode's boarding actions, wringing it for so much grief it's almost a "Shaggy Dog" Story. Subverted because he's seen giving a child a piggyback ride on Earth during the epilogue of the final episode.
  • Macross has Hayao Kakizaki and to a larger extent, Maximillian Jenius (Ben Dixon and Max Sterling in Robotech). Both are given distinctive personalities from the very beginning but frequently get pushed to the sidelines when it's time to focus on the Love Triangle. They often show up in episodes and have no dialogue or just one line. Despite the fact that Max survives the series, is undoubtedly the most skilled pilot of the cast, and is involved in a milestone plot development (his marriage to Zentraedi Mirya), he gets mostly ignored in later episodes yet again due to the need to resolve the Love Triangle between the main characters. Ironically, Max is the only human character from the original series to show up in sequel (such as Macross 7) while the main characters have faded into obscurity.
  • Boss from Mazinger Z and Great Mazinger was the Butt-Monkey Plucky Comic Relief character (a fact he lampshades) had not even a given name (a fact he lampshades). Every time he got in a fight he was beaten, trashed and humiliated, but he never was killed. In Shin Mazinger he lampshades it:
    Boss: We're here to get blown up but somehow never die!
  • Hayate Gekko from Naruto is a great example, dying soon after his introduction, but not so soon that he couldn't be voted as one of the series' 10 most popular characters at least once. His appearance also fits, as he wears a standard Chunin uniform with barely enough modification to be unique.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi had various minor but named characters in the Magic World arc, such Nodoka's adventuring party. After chapter 277, emphasis on "had".
  • Saikano, being a horrifyingly sadistic Anyone Can Die series, will often build up characters just to kill them off horribly in the war segments.
  • In Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas Wolf Junkers, Hydra Curtis, Bear Douglas and Lionet Bleriot sacrificed themselves to activate Athena's ship; and in anime only there were Vela Tsubaki, Puppis Lacaille and Pyxis Rusk who were Capricorn El Cid's subordinates.
  • Space Battleship Yamato has Yasuo Nanbu, called Dash in Star Blazers. He's the guy with Kodai's (Wildstar's) hairstyle but also wears glasses. He's actually wearing a red shirt, although in the Star Force, red is the apparent command color since Wildstar also wears red (more specifically red trim in this case since the uniforms in question are actually white, the division being denoted by the color of the signature chest arrow, collar, cuffs, and shoulder pips). Amongst the other backup bridge officers, Aihara (Homer) and Ohta (Eager), Dash is the blandest, having been given absolutely no signature personality quirks or lines. He's always just there. He even survives the events of Arrivederci Yamato which also spares the lives of Aihara, Ohta, and Shima (Venture). To many Star Blazers fans, he's just the one with the glasses.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann does this with Gimmy and Darry. Where entire waves of the Redshirt Mecha brigades they are a part of are getting blown away around them, invariably they are the only ones who survive... until the last time, when two other Mauve Shirts get blown away saving them.
  • Naoki Urasawa is practically a master of this trope, filling in the main story with short interludes centering on a seemingly random character. You get to know their name, perhaps their family, their motivations. Sometimes they stick around for a few chapters, sometimes they even cross paths with the main characters, but they almost always die, and it never gets any easier. Confound you, Urasawa.
  • Daisuke Saiki from X/1999. Not a Dragon of the Heaven (only nephew to one of them, Aoki) and not very accepting of Kamui at the beginning, but still a devoted ally that has a Bodyguard Crush on Hinoto and dodges death more than once. Until Fuuma fulfills his wish to die protecting Hinoto. Very messily.
  • In the Chapter Black saga of YuYu Hakusho, four fledgling psychics join the heroes. One of them gets curbstomped by Doctor and is hospitalized for the rest of the arc, and another gets eaten by Gourmet.
  • Any number of "hi-then-die" demons from Zatch Bell!, specifically Furigaro, Pokkerio, Donpoccho, Hogan, Elzador, Rogue Biper, Gani Fest, and pretty much all of the second arc's Quirky Miniboss Squad. They've all got names, elements, and tangential relations to the story, but they don't really seem to do much except get owned.

    Comic Books 
  • Batwoman: The Religion of Crime Sects have a few recurring members. The main sect has Shard, a Cyborg woman who menaced Renee, and now keeps coming after Kate. Abbot's group has Claire and Hayes, two shape-shifters who showed up in Abbot's debut in Batwoman's series, and are the only named Acolytes among his followers. Claire even gets Promoted to Killer Croc's Love Interest.
  • A good example of this would be Bob, Agent of HYDRA an Ensemble Dark Horse from Cable and Deadpool, Deadpool quickly to an interest in him to spite the fact that (or because) he has no last name, a generic first name and looks like a typical Mook. This was brilliantly parodied in a later issue when a HYDRA agent Deadpool thought was Bob turned out to be a different agent called Bob Oppenheim who Deadpool promptly kills to cover his tracks.
  • Since Dinocorps is a relatively short comic with several characters, almost everyone qualifies. Carl, Rex, Jarek, and arguably Theodore and Winston are the only characters in the comic who are fully fleshed out, while everyone else is mostly a supporting character.
  • In Judge Dredd if you're a Judge and not named Dredd, Anderson, or Hershey your chances of making it to the end of the story alive are not very good. They are better off than unnamed Judges or civilians though; it's generally a matter of whether Dredd needs someone to talk to the entire way through.
  • Kanan: Stance gets more fleshed out than any other non-officer member of Depa's battalion, befriends the title character and earns his name, before getting shot in the back during an ambush to impress on the title character that war is dangerous and has high costs.
  • A good example of a DC Mauve Shirt is Mr. America in the Justice Society of America arc "The Next Age". We are told about the reason he took up the mantle of the Golden Age hero Mr. America, see him investigate the murder of his own family — and then, at the end of the first part he gets brutally murdered himself, his dead body landing in the middle of the JSA meeting, kicking off the main plot.
  • Similarly, everyone in the Marvel Universe with a name and a superpower can be killed, though they do not have as much history as DC. The X-Men are particularly notable because they are so easy to create. Thunderbird is a classic example. He died only a few issues after joining the team (thanks to an editorial mandate), just long enough to give his demise some emotional weight, even though he lacked any real characterization or development.
  • In the Marvel Adventures: Avengers line, HYDRA Mook Carl has become one of these thanks to a running gag that he causes a lot of accidents that screw up HYDRA and any other group he joins.
  • In Mega Man (Archie Comics), Shadow Man was initially part of a Redshirt Army called the Kuiper Droids who were charged with protecting Ra Moon. Almost all the Kuiper Droids were killed by the Star Marshals, but he managed to survive the attack and guarded Ra Moon for 20,000 years on Earth before being upgraded by Dr. Wily.
  • Star Trek (IDW): Ironically, despite being billed as a Red Shirt, Hendorff averts many of the tropes and pitfalls associated with the role, and is seen to survive many threatening situations throughout the comics, eventually becoming a trusted companion to Kirk on many of his away missions (and still wearing the red security shirt).
  • Adam One from the New 52 Continuity Reboot of Stormwatch (2011). He's given a backstory and established as the team's leader...and is promptly killed off in issue #5.
  • Kole from the Teen Titans, who was created specifically to be killed as the team's editorially-mandated sacrifice in the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover. She only ever appeared in about five issues of New Teen Titans and six issues of Tales of the Teen Titans before her untimely demise.
  • The Tomb of Dracula: Edith Harker seems to be a Red Shirt Dracula victim before she drives him off with a crucifix and her father shows up to take her home before they meet Drake and Rachel. She spends the next several issues hovering around the main cast and providing some assistance (usually of a Mission Control variety). Sadly, Dracula succeeds in turning her less than a year after her first appearance.
  • The Transformers: Drift: The Circle of Light has most of their members go unnamed save Axe, the axe wielding warrior on the council, and Kayak (who only appears in the text story in Transformers: More than Meets the Eye).
  • Usagi Yojimbo: There are a few. The captain of one of Noryuk's allies helps Usagi and Tomoe fight off some assassins. Kimi is one of the few Neko Ninja to be named after Chizu, the leader, is cast out, Kimi is one of the few still loyal to her. Also present is Inspector Nii, a policeman serving as The Watson to Ishida, for him to inform about case evidence, and he constantly recurs despite many of Ishida's superiors proving to be corrupt.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Several of Alan Jonah's mercenaries get further characterization beyond their role as mere Mooks in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019). These include Tejada, and Sergeant Travis: one of them survives the events of the story after Artificial Zombies overrun Jonah's crew, the other one doesn't.
  • Johanna Mason: They Will Never See Me Cry: Lyme and OC victors Sandy from District 4 and Byte from District 3 all know Johanna fairly well and have a lot of scenes, but aren't involved in a lot of the main drama and intrigue of the story and all avoid the 3rd Quarter Quell.
  • Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race has Headless Joe, an unlucky Sniper Joe who befriended ProtoMan after losing his head.
  • Bait and Switch tends to lean on this rather than Red Shirt, with almost any Bajor crew member that Captain Kanril Eleya actually interacts with being given at least a name, if not a little bit of backstory and characterization.
  • RWBY Grimm Darkness has the two Atlesian soldiers that guarded the outside of Princess Aurina's room at Beacon, who were seen a few times before the end of Chapter 7. They end up killed by Vlad Schnee himself.
  • What Lies Beyond the Walls has dozens of these. Several characters are given full names, have a decent amount of screentime, and enough characterization so they avoid becoming a standard Red Shirt. But since there's zero Plot Armor, the Mauve Shirts are just as expendable as the Red Shirts.
  • The Legend of Total Drama Island has three interns who rise above the Red Shirt status normally accorded to members of that high-turnover brigade. All three have at least one big scene to differentiate themselves from the reds:
    • Alejandro is the story’s original mauve shirt, and the only one the author intended as such from the beginning. He has a big scene soon after his first appearance in the “Second Night” chapter and periodically appears or is mentioned throughout the story. Having been the dominant player in an earlier, failed elimination game show, Alejandro strikes up an Odd Friendship with the socially awkward contestant, Beth, and is implied to be mentoring her on an ongoing basis.
    • Dawn was originally meant to be a bit player with only a couple of brief appearances. According to the story’s notes, she ascended to mauve shirt status when the author’s decision to make the Boney Island curse real note  provided a logical setup to give her a couple of big scenes and an expanded storyline. Dawn’s debut scene — with Alejandro, ironically — is the story’s first interns-only scene, and she gets her guest star episode two chapters later.
    • Ella effectively becomes Dawn’s sidekick soon after their initial (separate) appearances, and with her makes up the resident Spotlight-Stealing Squad. Of the three mauve shirts, Ella has to wait the longest (four chapters) before getting her big scene, but she also makes the biggest impression on the rest of the cast.

    Film — Animated 
  • In The Incredibles Helen's friend (and former pilot) Snog was originally going to be the pilot of the plane to Syndrome's island and was to have been killed when it was shot down (in the commentary, Brad Bird even said that they needed to have a character who had enough characterization for the audience to sympathize with who could then be killed off to show the seriousness of the situation), but it was ultimately decided the scene would be better if Helen was the pilot. At least partially because they realized the fact that Syndrome was ready, willing, and able to destroy a plane that carried children more or less drove it home that the situation was grim.
  • The entire Ice Kingdom from The Super Mario Bros. Movie, while none of its penguin natives actually die, are still set up to demonstrate how much of a threat Bowser is, with him melting their Ice Palace in seconds after their Underequipped Charge. They're also the keeper of the Power Star, which grants them a degree of importance to the plot since Bowser steals it as part of his evil plan.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Armored: Jake Eckehart, a local sheriff's deputy who answered Ty's distress call about the robbery only to get shot by Baines, the trigger-happy member of the gang.
  • Maria Hill and Coulson from The Avengers. Coulson's popularity allowed him to graduate to Gold Shirt. He stars in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., though Joss Whedon still considers him dead in the main MCU.
  • A number of mauve-wearing cops show up in The Dark Knight, most of them part of Jim Gordon's Major Crimes Unit. Some of them — including Wuertz and Ramirez — are corrupt and work for The Mafia.
  • Eight Legged Freaks: Townsman Mark doesn't have any notable scenes in the first act or richly colorful quirks. However, when the spiders attack the town, he escapes the trapdoor spiders through the creative use of a ladder as other characters are dying all around him, and then gets a respectable number of scenes and lines for the rest of the film while most of the other survivors are main characters or extras.
  • Galaxy Quest:
    • Guy Fleegman parodies this because of being a Red Shirt in the original show, but bootstrapped himself to Mauve and eventually to main cast thanks to his paranoia and personality. And because he was lucky enough to be in a movie that liked to subvert the classic tropes. Amusingly, he's the one character in the climactic shooting spree that doesn't get shot. Which is probably why he got promoted to Security Chief on the Revival during The Stinger.
    • Played straight with Quellek, who gets some of the most focus of any of the Thermians before he is fatally shot and gets a drawn-out Death Is Dramatic moment with his idol Alexander.
  • In The Ghost and the Darkness, one of the random African workers reveals some knowledge of lions, and claims to have killed one with his bare hands. He's one of the first Africans to get killed by the eponymous lions.
  • The soldiers escorting Tony at the start of Iron Man received a few fleeting minutes of characterization before they were wiped out by Stark's captors.
  • Many James Bond movies have male characters on Bond's side who are not important to the series like Felix Leiter but have enough personality and screen time not to be just another Red Shirt. They are invariably killed off by the Big Bad's goons. Examples: Quarrel in Dr. No (who is wearing an actual red shirt when he buys it), Sir Godfrey Tibbett in A View to a Kill, the Turkish intelligence officer Kerim Bey in From Russia with Love, etc.
  • In Lethal Weapon 2, all the detectives who bet Riggs he can't escape from a straitjacket in the beginning get killed later on by the villain via The Purge.
  • Madril, the rather old and fatherly ranger who accompanies Faramir in The Lord of the Rings is a clear example of this. He gets just enough dialogue and screen time for the audience to warm to him over two films for us to hate the Witch King's right hand Gothmog when he coldly murders him.
  • MonsterVerse:
    • Kong: Skull Island: Among the expendable soldiers, five are prominently featured: Chapman, Mills, Cole, Slivko, and Reles. Interestingly, despite having the most characterization of the five, Chapman and Cole are the only ones who don't make it off the island.
    • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): Barnes stands out among Colonel Foster's G-Team subordinates for a level of characterization and passing comments on situations.
  • The American mercenaries in The Mummy (1999) are pretty much in the film just to be picked off by Imhotep. They get a little characterisation that separates them from normal Red Shirts: you have the sexist guy who's also the only dude who thinks the whole expedition is a bad idea, the boisterous trigger happy dude who likes bourbon, the Nice Guy with bad eyesight, and the greedy, cynical one.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean a handful of Jack's crew get enough lines and scenes to fall into this category. The popular ones, like Marty and Cotton, survive.
  • The Raid: The Police Squad gets whittled down to its core members pretty quickly when the gangsters counterattack, and few are left alive. Among them Bowo, an irritable officer with a dislike of protagonist Rama, who survives with a damaged ear and stomach wound. Rama takes him to a safe place, and he spends the rest of the movie out of commission. Dagu, a fairly quiet officer, also makes it out, and even gets in on the impressive fight scenes with the other leads, showing off his knowledge of taekwondo to contrast the other's silat fighting. Bowo is one of the few officers to survive the movie while Dagu is cruelly shot in the head by a Dirty Cop.
  • In Redneck Zombies, there is amongst the campers a slightly overweight guy who never gets a name, nor even a single line of dialog. He is one of the only two campers to survive the end. This was intentional, as the filmmakers wanted to play with the audience's expectations about who would survive and who would die, figuring people would expect the nameless guy with no dialog to die first.
  • The Sabata Trilogy: Manuel in Adios Sabata is just a nondescript revolutionary guerrilla, but, unlike several Red Shirts, he avoids being killed during the initial gold heist along with the more quirky and developed characters (Sabata, Escudo, Ballantine, Gitano, and Septembrie). When he dies about half an hour later, it's treated with some gravitas.
  • Star Trek (2009) and its sequel has Lieutenant Hendorff, a.k.a. Cupcake. His status is lampshaded in Into Darkness when Kirk tells him to take off his red shirt. It's not clear if he survives the second film or not, since he's never outright shown dying but disappears after Kirk and co. return to the Enterprise from Qo'noS. The ambiguity was (somewhat) cleared up when his actor returned for filming on Star Trek Beyond, his actor is visible for a few seconds in the back of a crowd shot. Amusingly, he's named after (and is presumably the alternate timeline version of) a Red Shirt who was killed in the Original Series episode "The Apple".
    • Hilariously enough, Hendorff actually had death scenes filmed for both Into Darkness and Beyond which were ultimately deleted from the final cut. His actor joked about playing the longest-surviving redshirt in Star Trek history.
  • Lieutenant Hawk in Star Trek: First Contact, the Enterprise's new Conn Officer. He's assimilated and killed a little more than halfway through the movie, but until then they did a pretty good job of keeping him involved with the action.
  • Star Wars has had a few, notably:
    • Biggs Darklighter, an old friend of Luke's and his wingman in the Battle of Yavin (the one who called Luke "the best bush pilot in the Outer Rim Territories"). In a scene cut from the original release of the movie (but it's in the novelization, Special Edition, and some deleted scenes on DVDs, as well as the NPR Radio Play) Biggs, who has been training at the Imperial Starfighter Academy, returns to Tatooine briefly and tells Luke he has a friend-of-a-friend who knows where the Rebels are hiding and he is going to join them. He's killed in the battle, but not randomly, and it's a hard hit to Luke.
    • Admiral Piett survives Vader's wrath in The Empire Strikes Back and was popular enough to be written into Return of the Jedi. He is killed in the battle when an A-Wing the Executor shot crashes right into his bridge.
    • Wedge Antilles was the only X-Wing pilot aside from Luke to survive the attack on the first Death Star. He appears in The Empire Strikes Back and helps to destroy the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi. And the Emperor's Fleet, manning the Millennium Falcon's gun turret, in The Rise of Skywalker.
    • Nines a.k.a. FN-2199 (formerly known as TR-8R the badass stormtrooper) from The Force Awakens could be considered a Memetic Mauve Shirt. In this film, his characterization was limited but memorable enough (shouting "Traitor!" to the hero and fiercely dueling him) to get the public attention. Following his surprise success, his backstory was revealed through the Expanded Universe.
  • Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat: When the Big Bad tries to wipe out all of the Vegetarian Vampires, most are killed in minutes, but aside form the main characters we also have some of the chemists working on the blood substitute, the pajama-wearing old man from the general store, The Big Guy gas station attendant, a couple of recently turned You Know Too Much campers, and half-a-dozen or so of the Big Good's bodyguards survive the initial sneak attack and spend the last twenty minutes or so of the film in a running gunfight with the army of evil vampires, with them making up a Dwindling Party, although a few of them ultimately survive.
  • X-Men: The Last Stand:
    • Psylocke appears for a bit, though mostly in the background, before turning into Ludicrous Gibs.
    • Kid Omega lasts quite a bit, kills one character and almost does so with a second.
    • Multiple-Man's only active part in the plot is distracting the military while the Brotherhood goes to San Francisco.

  • Lone Wolf:
    • Don't get too attached to any of the named characters who get characterization and accompany Lone Wolf on any of his adventures. If they stick around for more than a few page turns, chances are they're going to die horribly. Depending on the path taken, examples of ill-fated Mauve Shirts can be found in Books 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, and 18. In other words, more than half the series. The guy's called "Lone Wolf" for a reason. There are exceptions, however, notably Vakeros Warrior Paido, Guildmaster Banedon and Captain Prarg. If one of them happens to die while they accompany Lone Wolf, the hero meets his end shortly thereafter (making these books somewhat Escort Missions). The three of them get captured by the enemy at some point, but are later rescued by Lone Wolf. Sadly, Paido isn't an exception to the end. He is killed off-screen by Gnaag at the end of Book 10. Lone Wolf learns this in Book 20 when he finds Paido's soul being tortured in the Plane of Darkness. Ouch. Lone Wolf does manage to exorcise his soul so he'll go to heaven, though.
    • The four named Siyenese Rangers who team up with Lone Wolf's Lieutenant from Vampirium make it to the very final confrontation before they either die or wind up being left behind at the clutches of the Autarch Sejanoz.
    • Generally speaking, if the survival of that side character travelling with Lone Wolf isn't Lone Wolf's or his Lieutenant's mission objective (i.e.: Banedon in The Captive of Kaag or Karvas in Mydnight's Hero), then that companion is not going to make it to the end — this is almost guaranteed if that person is with the protagonist from the start of the book. If the character is specifically referred to as a "guide" for the protagonist, then his death/capture with subsequent death is almost certain — being designated as Guide to a Kai Lord is a death sentence. Captain Prarg is probably the most notable exception, as he survives the entirety of The Darke Crusade (despite being assigned as Lone Wolf's guide!), though he gets separated from Lone Wolf a few times, captured twice, even freeing himself from capture once, yet still makes it team up with Lone Wolf during the climax and live through it to cameo in a later book! And that's after he survived another bout of travel with Lone Wolf in The Dungeons of Torgar.

  • Adventure Hunters: Claude has enough characterization to be the fourth member of the hero team. This is why his suicide is a shock.
  • In Animorphs, that is most of the named "auxiliary Animorphs".
  • It is very common in Ciaphas Cain, HERO OF THE IMPERIUM, books to introduce about 4 or 5 mauve shirt characters per book. The majority of these characters die near the end of the book or they are not seen again because they are not in Cain's regiment.
  • Discworld:
    • Sergeant Abba Stronginthearm made his first appearance in Men at Arms as a mob member conscripted into Carrot's Militia, and made fairly regular appearances from then onward, rising in the ranks and becoming a mainstay of the reconstituted City Watch. His death offscreen in the opening of Night Watch serves to highlight just how important capturing Carcer is. We get chummy with at least 5 watchmen doomed to die by the end (7 graves, but the real Sergeant Keel is killed before we can meet him, and Reg Shoe becomes a zombie).
    • In The Light Fantastic, some mercenaries are introduced with a note stating that they are of Nominal Importance and will likely die as soon as they see action, so their names are not given. Needless to say, they live quite a while.
  • Most of the Spartan soldiers other than Master Chief in Halo: First Strike.
  • Harry Potter: Mad-Eye Moody in the seventh book. His death comes as a surprise considering how cool he is.
  • David Weber's standard procedure for the Honor Harrington novel series is to create a dozen or so new characters a book, make the reader love them, and then kill about half of them off in brutal, graphic, and sometimes senseless fashion. His explicit reason for doing this is that military fiction where only the bad guys die "isn't military fiction, it's military pornography." War Is Hell, and Weber wants his readers to know it. And also to make them cry.
  • Halloween's lieutenant Jasmine in Idlewild, who comes back from the dead. Twice.
  • This is SOP in the books of Brandon Mull, which can come as a shock, considering that they're children's books. His reasoning is much the same as David Weber's, i.e. the situations he writes are dangerous and scary, and realistically, not everyone would survive them. They tend to teeter the line between this and Anyone Can Die.
  • In Redshirts, it’s pointed out that, In-Universe, the main characters are these, that is random extras who are given backgrounds and a bit of character development in order to make their deaths hit the audience harder. When the characters visit present-day Hollywood and meet the actor playing Dahl, he practically spells out the trope definition, saying that he's got a small character arc but he's due to be killed off in the next couple episodes.
  • In the Redwall series, on occasion, certain vermin in the villain's army will be given some screen time and a chance to discuss the situation. These will usually be the only vermin aside from the Big Bad and his lieutenants to get names. Expect them to desert before the final battle. Some of the Redwallers or allies of Redwall are treated the same. More than likely, some will only pop up in a few scenes scattered throughout a book, while others will stick around for a few consecutive chapters before they're randomly killed in battle.
  • In the Stephen King novel The Regulators, a character is introduced and given a rather full backstory, such as the fact that she's on her way back from cheating on her husband, and how she realizes she's not wearing any underwear, while she's in the act of dying.
  • Oberyn Martell from A Song of Ice and Fire only becomes prominent halfway through the third book and does little more than die. He leaves a big impression on the reader, and his death has huge ramifications, but he was personable enough to regularly top favorite character lists.
    • When Catelyn and Tyrion attempt to fight their way past the mountain clans of the Vale, they are accompanied by ten others, all of whom can qualify as a Mauve Shirt. Six of the random goons die, leaving the fairly important Rodrik Cassel, Chekhov's Gunman Marillion, Red Herring Shirt Bronn who becomes a major character later on... and Willis Wode who so far hasn't turned up again. bar a single indirect mention in the fourth book.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Not uncommon in the X-Wing Series, where Anyone Can Die. Stackpole's books make heavy use of Red Shirts with a name, a species, and one or two lines, and now and again he kills off someone with slightly more pagetime. Emphasis on slightly. It's hard to care, even when the other characters remark about the loss of a teammate, when that teammate was barely ever shown doing what they reminisce about. Aaron Allston's books, on the other hand, have a Cast of Snowflakes, and no one dies without having thoughts of their own, developing, and showing the readers their Hidden Depths. It's often hard to tell who lives and who dies.
    • Honor Among Thieves: Sunnim, Baasen Ray's rather cowardly and dimwitted Bothan pilot and thug, stays with Baasen as he joins Han's party and they travel to Seymarti, only to die when a venomous but very pretty insect stings him, demonstrating Han's point about big ugly creatures often being less dangerous than small, colorful ones.
  • The crew of Bridge Four in The Stormlight Archive. Thanks to Kaladin, they manage a higher survival rate that most bridgemen crews, but that doesn't change the fact that a couple of them will die nearly every bridge run.
  • Warhammer 40,000 novels tend to be even worse than Gundam. Quite often, a chapter will begin with the introduction of a character, give parts of their life story up to that point, then kill them off at the end of the chapter once the plot-relevant part is over. Particularly egregious is the novel Dark Apostle. Throughout the book's course, all of the main human characters get killed off brutally. One survives... and gets captured and possessed by a demon.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24: There have been quite a few characters who end up as this, largely due in part to the writer's need to kill them off to establish the Anyone Can Die mentality, or to build up the next Big Bad. The most notable examples include:
    • Agent Aaron Pierce, who starts out as the mostly-silent bodyguard of Senator David Palmer and stays in this role for most of the first four seasons. He earned some fan support by being the only guy who stayed loyal to Palmer after he got thrown out by his own cabinet in the second season, but otherwise, he didn't make much of a wave. Cue the fifth season, where he suddenly starts gaining more prominence (he refuses a direct order from the President to stop Jack Bauer's attack on Walt Cummings, and he saves Martha Logan and the Russian President from a terrorist attack). It was assumed that his time was coming to an end, and he ends up disappearing for several episodes before it's revealed that he was placed under arrest by Charles Logan. The writers had intended to kill him off at this point, but Pierce's actor (Glenn Morshower) made such a strong impression with his performance that they hastily rewrote the story to keep him alive. As of the eighth season, he is one of the scant few characters from the first season that hasn't died during the series, and he's been a major player in the later seasons (he helps Jack take out General Juma and the surviving commandoes after Bill Buchanan sacrifices himself).
    • In Season 1, DEA Agent Krugman. He is part of a drug-busting team that raids a house where Kim Bauer is confronting Rick (the man who ended up helping her escape from Ira Gaines), and is the one to arrest Kim and put her in a holding cell. Krugman eventually releases her when he finds out who she is, and seems to show some genuine empathy once he realizes what had happened to her (the kidnapping incident) earlier in the day...until the car he and Kim are driving in is blindsided by Victor Drazen's men. While his fate remains unclear in the TV series, the novel 24: The House Special Subcommittee's Findings at CTU reveals that Krugman indeed survived.
    • In Season 2, a computer tech (played by Roseanne's Sarah Gilbert) joins CTU, and is set up to be a major character. She lasts for three episodes, then is crushed by a falling pillar during the CTU bombing. She holds on for long enough to talk Tony Almeida and Michelle Dessler through getting their systems up and running, then dies anticlimatically.
    • In Season 3, Claudia (Jack Bauer's Mexican girlfriend). She shows up in half the season's episodes with her family, talking about her past relationship and the need to escape the Salazar brothers' influence. She ends up being the one to rescue Chase Edmunds after he is captured in Mexico, but takes a bullet for her troubles (off-camera) when the pair escape from the Salazars in the back of her father's truck.
    • In Season 4, CTU field operative Lee Castle. He is introduced in the ninth episode butting heads with Tony Almeida, but then quickly establishes himself as the most competent CTU member in a long time. He helps Jack out on several missions, and is even the one to rescue him when he gets kidnapped by Marwan. In the second-last episode of the season, though, he and Tony get captured trying to find Mandy the assassin, and he is shot to death while on his knees. He almost made it to the end of the season, too.
      • There's also Paul Raines, Audrey's estranged husband. After learning that he's unintentionally made a deal with Big Bad Habib Marwan, he accompanies Jack to another company that's recently had ties with Marwan which he also had some involvement with to uncover more information... which leads to the heads in charge to try to eliminate them. By the end of it Paul is wounded, and later on in the season after seemingly being stabilized has to go back into surgery. But there's only one doctor on call working on him and Jack barges in needing treatment for a wounded suspect who's the only lead on Marwan, thus forcing him to save the suspect over Paul, who despite Jack trying to keep him alive dies from his wounds.
    • Played with during the nerve gas attack in Season 5. A security guard named Harry (trapped in a holding cell with the acting CTU Director [Lynn McGill] after the attack) takes the time to show McGill pictures of his young daughter, and complains to Jack Bauer that he doesn't deserve to die. Of course, he ends up dying after McGill runs out of the holding cell to filter the gas out of the building, and lets the gas into their saferoom.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: In confirming that Director Mace was Killed Off for Real in "No Regrets", the showrunners implied that he was created specifically to sacrifice in a situation that requires sacrifice when they're not yet ready to sacrifice anyone on Team Coulson.
    • Agent Piper is the other type of Mauve Shirt. She started showing up late into Season 3 as a recurring red-shirt-esque background agent who happened to get some lines, and as of mid-Season 5, she's pretty much the only remaining SHIELD agent other than the main cast .
    • Agent Davis. To the point where he has an amazing survival story that's never heard (to explain how he escaped the certain-death encounter in which he'd last been seen), we only see other characters' reactions to it. Then Izel pulls a Psychic-Assisted Suicide on him. Still, Davis makes it from midway through Season 1 until midway through Season 6.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003):
    • The re-imagined series loved this trope. The show had a huge cast of minor recurring characters — reporters, pilots, mechanics, marines, almost all of who had names, and, sometimes, personalities. Of course, in a show which really liked Anyone Can Die, this wasn't exactly a good thing... RIP, Gunny Matthias, Jammer, Racetrack, Skulls...
    • The extremes of this would be Kat and Sam on one side with Helo and Hot Dog on the other — Kat and Hot Dog were both "nuggets" (new pilots trained during the series), whereas Helo and Sam were guest stars for the pilot and in Season 2, respectively. Kat committed Heroic Sacrifice, whereas Hot Dog survived to the end. Helo was a Mauve shirt whose actor was so well liked that while he was left to die in the pilot, (and meant to die), a major arc of the first season (some would say the show) was written in to get him back. Sam was a love interest for a main character yet comes back, joins the main cast, and survives to the finale — to pilot the fleet into the sun.
  • Bones: One episode attempts to achieve this in five minutes — Sweets meets a kid on a subway who tells him that he's returning from a doctor, who has just given him the news that his cancer's in remission. He talks about how he's going to take this as a sign to live his life to the fullest — until the subway crashes, he hits his head on a pole, and is instantly killed, sending Sweets into Heroic BSoD for the rest of the episode.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Kendra, since she died in her third appearance.
    • Principal Flutie wasn't introduced in "The Pack"; he was in the first four episodes. Thus his death has more impact than previous ones.
    • Some of the Potentials from Season 7 graduated to mauve shirts, like Molly and to a greater extent Amanda. Others stayed red shirts until the end.
  • Cobra Kai: The original Cobra's included two short kids named Bert and Tim, who were used as ButtMonkeys during training sessions. Tim disappeared after season one, but a few new ones were introduced, such as Nathaniel, Chris and Mitch. They were introduced to give each character a Foil to fight during big fighting scenes. Season three gave more screentime to two unnamed background characters from previous seasons who had become EnsembleDarkhorses, Mikey and Rickenberger, but they left the show after season three. Season four gave us Devon Lee, the only girl in Eagle Fang, and Piper Elswith, the new Token Good Teammate for Cobra Kai.
  • Criminal Minds:
    • "Anderson", an FBI agent from the central office who's only had significant screentime twice in the series. He gets a name (or half of one, anyway) because both appearances were memorable, though short.
    • Also, Sheriff Eva Ruiz from "Rite Of Passage", who unluckily gets killed by Deputy Sheriff Ronald Boyd, aka Santa Muerte, the serial killer the team was after.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Played straight in the old series with Sgt Benton. He showed up as a Corporal in the first UNIT story, then slowly made his way up the ranks, becoming one of the UNIT regulars (and arguably a companion). He became UNIT's Regimental Sergeant Major before disappearing from the show.
    • In the new series, nearly any person who is given a name and a bit of sympathy for the Doctor and his companions dies. Davros lampshades this in "Journey's End".
      Davros: How many more are there, Doctor? How many have died in your name?
    • It's also important to note that anybody who gets asked to travel on the TARDIS before the end of the episode will die. See: Lynda-with-a-y, Astrid, Jenny, Rita, and Osgood.
    • "The Christmas Invasion" has Daniel Llewellyn and Major Blake, who have some screen time before being killed shortly after they and Harriet Jones, Prime Ministernote  are beamed to the Sycorax ship. Unlike most DW Mauve Shirts, they don't even meet the Doctor, as he spends most of the episode unconscious due to regeneration sickness.
    • "Army of Ghosts"/"Doomsday": Dr. Rajesh Singh, the Torchwood scientist in charge of the Sphere room. Rose tries to prevent the trope when the Daleks demand to know which of the three in the room is the "least important", but Singh dies anyway.
    • Makes this a Subverted Trope with Private Ross Jenkins. He gets a name, a bit of a personality in "The Sontaran Stratagem". He is killed in the second part, "The Poison Sky". He managed to get a rather large following on The Doctor Who Forum and a fan club there: Private Ross Jenkins' Widows. The Doctor even shouts about his death angrily, which is more than some of his old companions got when they left the show alive.
    • This is used for the Doctor's character development, as he eventually notices this trend and stops inviting people altogether... only to realise that he really, really needs a Morality Chain.
    • Parodied in "A Good Man Goes to War" with the Fat One and the Thin One, two Wrong Genre Savvy soldiers who seemed to exist solely for the purpose of proving Anyone Can Die as they incorrectly believed they weren't red shirts because they weren't generic enough; it says a lot that they were given a chance to say their names but refused.
    • An effective crossover example would be Frank Armitage, the headteacher at Coal Hill School, who appears in three episodes in series 8. When Class (2016) is set at the school, it's quite surprising to see him getting killed in the second episode by the Monster of the Week.
  • Falling Skies: Has quite a few mauve shirts: Jamil, Dai, Mike, Anthony, Lyle — the list goes on. But as of Season 2, the show has been trying to establish that Anyone Can Die. By the end of the second season finale, several of these characters have been killed off.
  • Farscape: Braca at first appeared to be just another mook, until the first season finale when Big Bad Scorpius tells him "I believe your star is on the rise," a signal to the viewers that he actually is going to be important and they should pay attention to him. He ends up surviving the whole show, along with his boss.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Jory is archetypical. The head of the Starks' personal guard, he has a name, has quite a few appearances, boasts a relation to another character, gets a few lines that give him character, follows people around a lot, and gets killed halfway through with little fanfare. If such a thing as red or mauve shirts can even be said to exist in this setting.
    • Rakharo is a recurring character in the first and second seasons. He is a loyal Dothraki bodyguard to Daenerys Targaryen. Following the birth of her dragons he is named a bloodrider by his Khaleesi. He is killed by a rival khalasar while scouting the Red Waste.
    • Irri is a young Dothraki woman who is given to Daenerys Targaryen as a Handmaiden, along with Jhiqui and Doreah. She teaches Daenerys the Dothraki language and customs. She swears fealty to Daenerys following the death of Khal Drogo and the birth of the dragons. She is murdered during the theft of the dragons in Qarth.
    • Alton exists mostly as just a device, but he does get some decent character-building prior to his brutal death.
  • Grey's Anatomy:
    • Plays this one quite straight. In last season, there was a merge between hospitals, and new characters appeared out of the blue. They didn't receive much attention, but they were not kicked out quickly. Nevertheless, when a shooter appeared and someone needed to die... guess who did die.
    • Granted, only half (two) of the new characters were killed, and it was only them because their characters became obsolete when Katherine Heigl left the show. Of the other two, Avery became quite popular, and Kepner had a short arc just after her introduction, and then played a major supporting role in the finale.
    • In Season 2, Episodes 17, Parts 1 and 2, Dylan Young has a mauve flack jacket. Not really, but he gets built up as an empathetic character with all this flirty nonsense, but we never find out if he has a family, or a significant other, or even a cat. He has many of the symptoms of a red shirt, yet catches more screen time than most ever do. Because of his unexpected death (and so invocation of Anyone Can Die) he has a mauve flack jacket (or shirt, but you can't see it under the flack jacket.)
  • Homicide: Life on the Street: Officer Chris Thormann was the only prominent, non-regular police officer in the first season and he got almost as much focus as the regulars. He was mostly Put on a Bus after being shot in the head and blinded, though he did make a few reappearances in later seasons.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider Gaim goes about this in an unusual way with Hase: when he first appears, his Kamen Rider Kurokage suit is as unique as any other, but immediately after he meets his demise at the end of the first act, Yggdrasil introduces their redshirts, which all look exactly like him.
    • Kamen Rider Geats goes through a revolving door of mauves throughout the show, as each season of the Immoral Reality Show brings a new batch of contestants. Some appear for only a few seconds, while others get a few episodes of characterization before being voted out or killed so that each season will ultimately end with just the main characters left. One of the villains actually smuggles himself into the show by first appearing as yet another mauve, only to survive the season and join the Jyamato.
  • Law & Order: During the first decade of this show, the only police character other than the regulars to be given any character development at all was Detective Tony Profaci, whose job it was to pop into the office, or even into the crime scene, to provide some sort of crucial new information or lab results, crack a few jokes, and leave. In the first nine seasons, Profaci appeared in 53 episodes. Unfortunately, his mauve shirt status was not sufficient to save him when, in the made-for-TV movie Exiled, he was found to be on the take from The Mafia and forced to resign in disgrace. After that, the attempt to give airtime and development to non-regular police characters was largely abandoned. Detective Moe Lamott, a burly and fairhaired cop once used to infiltrate a neo-Nazi group, was a rare exception. Only for a couple of seasons, though.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: This show is much better at establishing a large and rotating cast of Mauve Shirts. They always deal with the same internal affairs officer, the same TARU techie, the same CSU techie(s) until they were killed off, the same half-dozen rotating judges and defense attorneys... and, most notably, the same psychiatrist and the same M.E., both of whom got a Promotion to Opening Titles.
  • Lost has done this not once, but several times. Some of these characters are annoying and die ironic deaths; another trend involves a second in command villainous character who dies at the end of the season:
    • In Season 1, Leslie Arzt appears as a (seemingly) knowledgeable science teacher who accompanies the Big Damn Heroes to the Black Rock to help them properly handle the dynamite. Of course, as Arzt is in the middle of a lecture about dynamite safety, the stick he's holding explodes.
    • Season 2 introduced the tail-section survivors, who looked like they were going to become major characters, but all of them except Bernard, who was pretty minor anyway, ended up getting killed quickly. Even Mr. Eko, who was supposed to be in the show until at least the fifth season, ended up dying part-way through the third; but that was because his actor had recently lost his parents and returned to England.
    • Season 3 has Danny Pickett and Ryan Pryce, two security guard-like Others. Pickett has a short plotline in which his wife is killed and he takes it out on Sawyer; Pryce serves no purpose but being a villain. Picket is shot by Juliet and Pryce is run over by Hurley in a DHARMA van.
    • Season 4 brings Keamy's right hand man Omar. He gets blown up by a grenade Keamy accidentally kicks to him.
    • In Season 5, Neil "Frogurt" is introduced as an irritating, neurotic man who is literally wearing a red shirt and is constantly complaining about the others' inability to make fire. Cue a fire arrow straight through his chest.
      • Frogurt even gets an onscreen promotion to Red Shirt from mauve, moments before his death.
        Sawyer: [Holds up a literal red shirt] Whose shirt is this?
        Frogurt: Oh, that's mine.
    • Additionally, a random DHARMA Initiative security drone named Phil starts making frequent appearances in the latter half of Season 5. His increasingly annoying behavior — culminating with punching Juliet and Sawyer's vow to kill him in the penultimate episode of the season — seemed to indicate that he will be killed in the cataclysmic finale. He isn't killed by Sawyer, but from shrapnel caused by the magnetism of the Hatch's site.
    • One of the Ajira Flight 316 survivors steps forward and appears to be both the leader and really important. He has a lot of mystery about him, making you think he'll last for a while as he's clearly a big player...then he's abruptly shot by Ben, and second-in-command Ilana steps forward as the one who's really important (so much so that she's a regular in Season 6). And yet even she gets her ass blown to hell in Arztian fashion after doing little.
    • Season 5/6 has Ilana's henchman Bram, who, after seemingly being important, gets impaled on a wooden stake by the smoke monster in the sixth season premiere.
    • Season 6's "annoying mauve shirt villain" is Zoe, henchwoman of Widmore. In the penultimate episode Smokey slashes her throat.
    • Pretty much everyone introduced in Season 6 is this trope.
  • Merlin has Sir Leon, a previously unnamed knight who was given lines of exposition on behalf of Camelot's Red Shirt Army. He proved so popular that when the writers tried to kill him off at the end of Season 2, fan outrage ensured that he got better and returned with an even larger role in Season 3. In the DVD Commentary for "The Tears of Uther Pendragon", Bradley James comments that the biggest cheer they got at the screening was when the audience realized that Sir Leon was still alive. And then he ends up being one of only five regular characters to survive the Grand Finale.
  • Monk: In the penultimate episode of the seventh season, Monk's nebbish neighbor Kevin Dorfman is killed in the episode's beginning. He had been in a few episodes prior to this and had something of a fan following, so this was quite a shock to the viewers.
  • Motherland: Fort Salem: Lupe has a full name (Guadalupe Cortez), a nickname (Lupe), and characterization (she likes the Mothertongue class, and tries to give the Bellweather unit a head start while still following her orders), so she's a bit more known before being killed off.
  • Oz had no problem killing off main characters, and introduced plenty of recurring characters who could and would be killed off at any time regardless of how important they seemed. The most prominent were Kenny Wangler and Chuckie Pancamo, who were introduced in the first season and gradually became secondary only to the main cast in terms of prominence. Wangler was killed off early in Season 4 to serve as a Sacrificial Lion, while Pancamo survived until the end of the series.
  • Revolution: A number of characters do get lines, names, and roles...but it doesn't save them from death. "Kashmir" had Ashley get killed off, despite having a name, some lines, and a role. "The Song Remains The Same" had Nicholas killed off, despite having a name, a number of lines, and role in the episodes "No Quarter", "The Stand", and "Ghosts". "Clue" had Commander Wayne Ramsey and Jim Hudson killed off, despite having names, lines, and roles.
  • Carter in Robin Hood shows up in a total of two episodes, but shows himself to be a competent warrior, nearly equal to Robin in his skills with a bow. In his second appearance, he has become a close adviser to King Richard himself. Then he apparently forgets all his combat skills and runs blindly into a building straight onto the Sheriff's sword.
  • The Shield: Detective Ronnie Gardocki had no dialogue in the series pilot, and the actor who portrays him went uncredited. He appeared in about half of the episodes in the first season, and was a "recurring character" up through Season 4. According to That Other Wiki, fans originally suspected he would become a redshirt, and the series writers even toyed with this idea in Season 2. However, he survived and graduated to a regular cast member in the last three seasons, becoming increasingly important as the series went on.
  • Squid Game: While many of the players are a One-Scene Wonder, there are a few players who last a few rounds after their introduction. Most notable are player 244, a man who is always praying, player 276, Deok-su's most prominent lackey and players 069 and 070, a married couple.
  • Stargate Atlantis:
    • Major Lorne. Not one of the main cast, but a member of the security team who avoided death for five seasons. It doesn't help that Lorne usually leads the squad that gets killed, captured or fed upon.
    • Dr. Kate Heightmeyer, Atlantis's psychologist on staff, was a recurring character for three seasons until dying early in the fourth in an almost to-the-letter following of the trope.
    • Dr. Peter Grodin never got the spotlight but was still a constant presence on Atlantis throughout the first season, primarily as Dr. Weir's assistant. He was killed in the first part of the multi-part season finale, although he did at least manage to take a Wraith Hive-ship down first. For extra irony, the mission he died on also involved one main character (Dr. McKay) and one Red Shirt, both of whom made it out fine.
    • Grodin's replacement Mauve Shirt, Chuck the Gate Tech, might also qualify for this, although Chuck managed to survive the show.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • Almost every single Tau'ri who captains an Earth-built starship on this show and related shows. They're all given names and a little bit of backstory/personality, but only one survived more than a few episodes (Pendergast). One, a long-running secondary character, was killed the very episode he took command of his vessel.
    • First introduced as the pilot/weapons officer of the Prometheus, Lieutenant (later Captain, and then Major) Kevin Marks has almost no backstory and just barely a personality, but he manages to survive SG-1, Atlantis, Stargate: The Ark of Truth and Universe, despite having multiple ships shot out from under him.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
    • Even the Trope Maker for the Red Shirt had one bonafide Mauve Shirt — Lieutenant Kyle, who appeared in more episodes than Yeoman Rand, always had dialogue, even if it was just a Mandatory Line, and holds the distinction of being the only Red Shirt to have a consistent position on the Enterprise: Transporter Chief. (Yes, Kyle was the transporter chief, not Scotty). He even got to help save the day a couple of times (most notably in "The Doomsday Machine" and "Mirror, Mirror"). He also has a knack for appearing in good episodes, and even made a cameo in the best of the movies (that's him as the Communications Officer onboard Reliant, and unlike Chekov, was actually seen in "Space Seed", where Khan threw him around for a bit).
    • Lt. Leslie is also a good example. He also has the distinction of being killed and restored to life thanks to 23rd century medicine. This happened in the vampire cloud episode Obsession. He was seen alive and well in the background after his death and fans often attribute this to the show's tendency to keep a cadre of recurring extras on hand instead of going through the tedious paperwork of hiring new background actors for every episode. In truth, dialogue that was deleted from the script before shooting confirmed that Leslie was revived. And he would go on to appear as Leslie until the actor chose to leave the series.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • Colm Meaney started out as an unnamed helmsman in the pilot episode "Encounter At Farpoint", then eventually settles into becoming the regular transporter chief. In the episode "Unnatural Selection," he ascends to a Mauve Shirt and is given a name: Chief O'Brien, with the later episode "Family" giving him the full name Miles Edward O'Brien. He continues on to be a semi-regular character that had a family and interacted regularly with the main cast, and ultimately became a starring character in the next Trek iteration, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
    • Lieutenant Reginald "Broccoli" Barclay also qualifies. He's quirky and socially awkward but he has a knack for coming up with ingenious solutions to serious problems. Several episodes even give him a significant degree of Character Development as he overcomes his awkwardness and holodeck addiction and learns to make friends. His influence isn't limited to TNG either. He shows up in a few critical episodes of Star Trek: Voyager and is the main reason why Voyager and Starfleet can achieve limited two-way communication during the last few seasons.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • Morn was initially a nameless background figure in Quark's bar, but his appearance and demeanour were so striking that he was increasingly joked about (often about how the silent character apparently could never shut up off-screen). He eventually gets an episode of his own, and at one point the fate of the Alpha Quadrant depends on a coded message in the ribbon of a gift he brings to his mother — all the while never speaking a line on screen, and therefore not being credited.
    • Introduced Enrique Muniz, who had a strong aura of Red Shirt about him, being a previously unknown crew member in a highly dangerous situation. He survived, and recurred in a couple more episodes until finally being killed off early in Season 5.
    • Commander Eddington, who turns out to be a Maquis terrorist.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • VOY attempted this in the early seasons, giving goldshirts slated to be killed off a few episodes of screentime. This ended during around Season 3, and they starting bumping off anonymous ensigns by the shuttleload.
    • Lieutenant Joe Carey, who was tipped to be the new Chief Engineer before B'Elanna stole his thunder early in the series. He makes four appearances in the first season, and despite still being alive is then absent for the remainder of the series, except for time travel episodes that return to the timeframe of those early seasons. He finally makes a return appearance in the present day during Season 7, four episodes from the end of the series, and is killed off by the episode's villain in an attempt to show that he's Dead Serious.
    • Voyager also had Lieutenant Ayala, who kept such a low profile he survived through the entire show!
    • Hogan is a straight example. Recurred a few times, then died in the teaser for the Season 3 opening episode to establish how dangerous the planet they were stranded on was. Then his remains were discovered late in Season 3, which is far more thought given to the Ontological Inertia of security personnel's corpses than usual.
    • There's also Ensign Samantha Wildman, who has a half-Human/half-Ktarian daughter, Naomi Wildman born aboard Voyager.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise:
    • Crewman Cutler, who made several appearances throughout the first season.
    • The third season introduced a number of recurring MACO characters assigned to Enterprise, most notably their leader Major Hayes. Towards the end of the season, Hayes was Killed Off for Real.
    • Lt Kelby, who temporarily replaced Trip as chief engineer in Season 4.
  • Star Trek: Discovery: The main bridge crew -– Detmer, Owosekun, Bryce, Rhys and Airiam –- were promoted to Mauve Shirt status in Season 2 after spending all of Season 1 with almost no focus on them. Airiam was killed off in the episode that gave her A Day in the Limelight.
  • Supernatural uses this trope all the time. To be fair, Supernatural is commonly known as the series where everyone dies. Red Shirts, Mauve Shirts, Gold Shirts, Main Characters. Everyone. There are very few exceptions to this rule, particularly if a character appears in more than one episode. However, only the Main Characters and the odd Gold Shirt come back. Notable examples include: Ash, Jo and Ellen, Bella, Anna, Gabriel, Meg 2.0, Kevin Tran...the list is long. Some of these characters reappear as a ghost or in an alternative timeline, but their deaths were a big deal and they did not come back long term.
  • Top Gear: Steve, who is ostensibly the director of the "Top Gear Technology Centre." He was featured prominently in an episode in which the presenters need a racing car and a pit crew to compete in the Britcar 24-hour endurance race at Silverstone — and was honored afterward by appearing in the studio when the film aired to receive the audience's applause. Has appeared only once or twice since.
  • The Walking Dead (2010): Pick any character who isn't part of Rick's Badass Crew, and they will fall under this trope. Even then, some characters such as T-Dog, Noah, and even Jessie, didn't get much characterization before they died.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Pro Wrestling has its own equivalent of this — the "jobber-to-the-stars". Unlike pure jobbers, the jobber-to-the-stars usually has a defined character, a theme song, and is allowed to get offense in during his matches. He may even get wins over pure jobbers and other jobbers-to-the-stars in order to establish him as something more than a jobber. However, his primary role in the business is to make the higher ranked wrestlers look good. Jobbers-to-the-stars are usually either newer wrestlers who are scheduled to get pushed in the futurenote , older wrestlers who can still put on good matches but who management has no interest in continuing to push note  or trainers with some ring experience who want to help a student get established note 
  • WCW had the team of Disorderly Conduct - Tough Tom and Mean Mike. They were mainstays on WCW Saturday Night, and were actually very good at working old-school southern-style tag matches, mostly as the heels. They literally NEVER won, but most matches they were in, they tended to have extended periods of control, and when their opponents rallied back and won it always looked like an accomplishment. Also, Disorderly Conduct were literal mauve shirts, as their wrestling gear was horrendously gaudy mauve-on-black-with-gold-trim.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Many environments in Sentinels of the Multiverse feature named characters who help out the heroes, like Hunter Fulepet in the Court of Blood who helps keep down the vampire population, or Sheriff Pratt in Silver Gulch, 1883, who explicitly attacks non-hero targets only. Unfortunately, since most of them aren't immune to hero damage, they are vulnerable to Friendly Fire.

  • Parodied by Ed The Bit Part Demon Evil Dead: The Musical.
    Ed: I'm that guy you see in every horror flick/You probably don't remember me, I come and go too quick.
    Linda (a main character): We've listened to you talk for the past two minutes! You said a whole lot just now, just you! Aw, you're not a bit part demon any more, you're a lead player! A star!
    Ed: You're right! Now I see that this thread has been disrupted/I've said more than five words without being inturrupted/I'm a bit part no more, my character's had a swing/Now it's time for this demon to sing, sing, singgggggggggggg, I—
    Ash: Now you'll have a bit part, in hell!

    Video Games 
  • Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War has your second wingman PJ; after Pixy goes AWOL, he goes from Crow Team Butt-Monkey to the second Galm 2, continuing to retain his Gameplay Immortality and now actually able to (very infrequently) help you. Unfortunately, his Genre Blindness catches up to him when immediately after the Avalon attack he declares that he's going to propose to his girlfriend back at the base... "I even bought flowers!" Then you see a light in the distance, headed your way...
  • Company of Heroes' opening cutscene for the Invasion of Normandy campaign (which is a Shout-Out of the opening scene in Saving Private Ryan itself) shows a cinematic beginning of the first boats going on the beach, with a particular shot toward one. It has a sergeant in the boat state their orders and speaks some encouragement to the other men in the boat with him. They soon all die attempting to reach the safe(ish) mound of dirt in front of the German-entrenched hills. The game then cuts to another boat, turning the cinematic graphics to the actual in-game graphics, showing you the troops you will first command in the campaign.
  • In Cyberpunk 2077, you can meet the cyberpsycho woman from the game's 2013 teaser trailer during the quest "Bullets", and learn that after her arrest she went on to become a MaxTac officer.
  • In Darkest Dungeon each new playthrough starts with Reynauld the Crusader and Dismas the Highwayman as your first two heroes. They are just as mortal and vulnerable to the whims of chance as any of your other heroes, but there's an achievement for keeping them alive and bringing them to the final battle.
  • Daveth and Ser Jory in Dragon Age: Origins. Mhairi in Awakening gets hit even harder with this trope, as unlike the previous duo she can actually gain or lose approval when you're with her, making it look much more like she's going to go on to be a party member. And depending on your class, Bethany or Carver in Dragon Age II will end up as one, though the other might escape the fate depending on certain choices you make during Act One.
  • Final Fantasy VIII has Biggs and Wedge. They are a couple of reoccurring enemies, in mook uniform, who aren't distinguished from the other mooks very much, besides having names and slightly better stats. You fight them several times, and watch them rise and fall through ranks. They eventually just give up.
  • Final Fantasy VII has its incarnations of Biggs and Wedge, along with Jessie, as members of Avalanche handling technical tasks while your player characters do the fighting. They are each developed enough to serve as Sacrificial Lambs when Shinra drops the Sector 7 plate of Midgar on the slums beneath it.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics has Rad, Alicia and Lavian, a male Squire and two female Knights respectively, who fight with you in the prologue battle before joining you permanently in the second chapter (since the first chapter is a flashback). Statwise they have nothing to distinguish them from the random generic units you can recruit, and they have no role at all in the story, but the mere fact that they have fixed names rather than random ones leads to many players treating them as honorary unique characters and making a point of keeping them around.
  • Fire Emblem may be the supreme overlord of this trope, with nearly every character in the game being one, due to the fact that the only characters that cannot be Killed Off for Real are the Lords. The greatest example? The almighty 3-13 archer of course.
  • In Gears of War, Carmine (whose name is a shade of red) was a faceless Red Shirt squad member, the only man on the team to wear a helmet and mask (in fact his character model was identical to the baseline COG soldier) who has a handful of lines but dies after the first couple of levels to show that the situation is serious (he's 1 of 2 onscreen-named characters in the entire game to die). Due to being "a weird fan favorite", he unofficially returned in Gears of War 2 in the form of his brother, Ben Carmine, the next of the 4 Carmine brothersnote . With the extra screen time he received compared to his brother (surviving to the second act) and given more time to grow on you as a character, he was a true Mauve Shirt.
    • In Gears of War 3 the tradition continued with Clay Carmine, where the fanbase actually had control over his fate through an Xbox Live Marketplace charity drive (buy one of two shirts saying "Carmine Lives!" or "Carmine Must Die!"). As such the game made a Running Gag over his expendable nature, such as almost getting crushed by a thrown carnote  or sniped by an idiotic civiliannote . In the end, he gets shot down in a helicopter and after a brief fake-out with his discarded helmet, you see him putting it back on, triumphantly subverting the trope and surviving the events of the game.
  • Half-Life: Blue Shift's Barney Calhoun, who is a redshirt security guard, frequent ally and friendly casualty to Gordon Freeman... He survives the events of his own story and reappears in Half-Life 2, transitioning completely from a minor character to a central one. Arguably, Adrian Shephard from Opposing Force manages this too, being an HECU grunt (mainstay of the game's human enemies). Unfortunately for him, as of yet, he hasn't appeared in another game.
  • Halo has marines Chips Dubbo and Pete Stacker, the former being extremely recognizable by his Australian accent, who both survive to the ending of Halo 3 (with Stacker also showing up in Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach, and Halo 4). Not to mention Sergeant Johnson, who in the first game was likely meant to be a Red Shirt. Then Bungie realized how much people liked him, and a Retcon in the sequel novel Halo: First Strike got him off Halo alive.
  • Hadrin in Gauldoth's campaign in Heroes of Might and Magic 4. Gauldoth, a necromancer, kills him and resurrects him as a zombie to act as an emissary during negotiations with a vampire warlord. While Gauldoth initially intended for him to be disposable, when Hadrin returns from negotiations missing an arm but with tactical information on the vampire, Gauldoth takes the trouble to learn his name and employs him as a bodyguard.
  • I=MGCM: The Dark World Alternate Self of Lilly in Chapter 1 of the 2nd Arc serves as an important minor character that Tobio and the main universe heroines develop bonds with. Sadly, after a difficult fight against the Drake demon in Chapter 2 to Chapter 4 of the 2nd Arc, she's fatally wounded and dies dramatically because it's too late to heal her and the magical girls have healing abilities that are still in cooldown, although they manage to defeat Drake before that. While the Dark World version of Omnis seems to disintegrate into black liquid and her Executor went missing, it is possible his new Remote Body will be created by Kamisaman and the alternate version of Lilly can still be revived by her Executor using his Reality Warping ability or Kamisaman's Resurrection Teleportation technology.
  • Jagged Alliance is a fantastic example of this. Even though you can replace the occasional dead merc with relative ease (and in fact, the penalties for getting them killed are often lighter than those for firing them), they're all given names, personalities, and back-stories, making you feel like scum when they die. (Note however that other would-be contractors may notice a trend...) Except for Reuben, the remorseless mass-murderer. Die, bastard!
  • In Mass Effect, the Normandy crew are nameless and voiceless, save for Joker, Pressly, Chakwas and Adams. Come Mass Effect 2, Pressly is killed in the Collector's attack and is referenced several times by Shepard and other characters. Meanwhile, several members of the Normandy SR-2's crew are given names and personalities: Ken, Gabby, Gardner, Hawthorne, Patel, Rolston, Goldstein, Hadley and Matthews (as well as Joker and Dr. Chakwas returning from the first game). Every one of them aside from Joker can die in the Suicide Mission, but if some survive you can wander the Normandy and listen to them mourning the loss of their friends.
    • Kal'Reegar in Mass Effect 3 gets killed off-screen. This took a great many fans by surprise, as he was a rather popular and well-liked character. However, this was apparently due to Adam Baldwin being unable to reprise the role.
    • The N7 personnel you play as during multiplayer missions are easy to get attached to and start coming up with names and backstories for, despite the fact that they're technically random side persons with nothing but a name who can and will die frequently when you miss an extraction shuttle.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda:
    • Alec Ryder's Pathfinder team. The player has a chance to chat with them before going on their first mission, which goes very wrong, and some of them wind up killed. Exactly how many depends on the player's choices on the mission.
    • Lani Reed, a technician on the Hyperion, can be talked to, but never does anything dramatically plot-relevant. She gets a near-miss with the Big Bad and his head minion at the climax, but manages to come out of that alive.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater has Ivan Raidenovich Raikov. His design is a Discontinuity Nod, his name is a cruel pun, and his roles are that of a Morality Pet to the Big Bad, and of a hapless victim for the player to take out their frustrations with the series' Scrappy upon. Due to becoming a bit of a favourite in the fanbase for a few complicated reasons, he made a cameo in Portable Ops, despite the fact that he can be killed in 3 without causing a TIME PARADOX, where he got a little scene with some characterisation (vain, aggressive, fierce, and a little sociopathic, but mostly amiable).
  • Jonathan in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops exists for three reasons. The first one is to provide a sympathetic villainous point of view, so you understand why the Russian soldiers have decided to hook up with a crazy American anarchist with a Compelling Voice. The second reason is to be your first non-Snake character, so you can learn how the soldier system works, and he gives He Knows About Timed Hits tutorials to you. The third reason is to take a bullet intended for Big Boss during Gene's Moral Event Horizon, and provide a Player Punch. For the last reason, he and Snake cannot suffer permadeath in online play.
  • Johnny, the character who survives all the way through the main Metal Gear Solid series by being that one incompetent guard that you just can't shoot. By 4, he's on your side.
  • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes features several Galactic Federation troopers. While they're all dead on arrival, scanning their corpses reveals their logs, a portion of their character, and their lives and interactions before their deaths — there's the one who's gone crazy, there's the cynical snarker, there's the Straw Feminist type who idolizes Samus, etc.
  • In the erotic/fanservicey tower defense browser RPG Millennium War Aigis, player units come in six rarities, with their power correlating directly with their rarity. Iron units, the lowest rarity rank, are nameless Player Mooks that are largely too weak to function as anything other than experience point fodder for stronger units even when the player is first starting out. Bronze units, the second-lowest rarity rank, receive unique names and designs, and often play small roles in story missions, but lack the Relationship Values and Class Change mechanics that the four highest rarities have access to, causing them to have comparatively little characterization or potential in battle outside of the early stretches of the game. Unlike iron units, though, bronze units do continue to have niche utility even for experienced players, as their ease of acquisition, incredibly cheap cost and decent strength allow them to serve as Boring, but Practical Fragile Speedsters that can be deployed immediately on maps to hold off early enemy waves while the player builds up the resources necessary to bring out their heavy hitters.
    • Special mention goes to Royal Wizard Roy, who, despite having unimpressive stats, has the distinct advantage of being very cheap and easy to obtain for a mage, a class whose powerful splash attack magic is generally restricted by its high cost. As it turns out, having quick access to crowd-clearing magic of any kind can be a major boon in battle, and several players have taken it upon themselves to complete as many high-level maps as possible using nothing but a team full of carefully-placed Roys as a sort of Self-Imposed Challenge, which has in turn caused him to become something of a Memetic Badass among the fandom. Perhaps as a nod to this, Roy appears frequently in story missions, much more than several higher rarity units, which has allowed him to be solidly characterized as a Cool Old Guy despite lacking any character events or unique abilities.
  • Every hero not named Johnny, Sonya, or Raiden in Mortal Kombat 9.
  • In the real-time strategy game Myth: The Fallen Lords, all of the player's units could be considered mauve shirts, since the game tries to get you emotionally attached to them by giving the otherwise-identical units unique names and calling out "Casualty" in a grim voice whenever one of them dies.
    • Same thing for Cannon Fodder, of course.
    • There's also the fact that they gain experience with each kill, and that when they die they aren't replaced until the beginning of the next level.
  • In Resident Evil 4, Mike the helicopter pilot. He was named as Mike, Leon seemed pretty beat up about his death, and he was actually effective air support. Of course, he did make the dreaded promise of going to get drinks.
  • Star Trek Online has Duty Officers who you can send out on missions for various rewards while you do your own thing. Some of these missions are potentially fatal... however, if the rarity of the officer is uncommon or above (or rather, hold a rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade or above), they'll never actually die, just get sent to Sick Bay (Which is a good thing, because some officers are worth tens if not hundreds of thousands or even millions of Energy Credits on the exchange!). Even the fleet projects that require you to donate your officers won't accept any uncommon or better ones.
  • Super Robot Wars Original Generation adds a number of Mauve Shirts to fill out the Heroes' roster. So far, they've proven surprisingly durable, and even include a few Badass Normals (which, for a mecha show, means they pilot the grunt suits).
    • In most SRW games, certain series allow you to switch pilots freely within their own series, so some of the lesser characters get a chance to shine (putting Boss into a spare Mazinger Z when Kouji gets his Mazinkaiser is popular). In OG, this applies to every character and every mecha, so if you like a side character better than a "main" one using an appropriate robot, go for it. Just be aware that certain chapters will assert mecha ownership, especially if it's an ATX or SRX mecha in question.
  • Symphony Of War: When hiring new recruits from Barracks in order to build up each character's squad, there's a chance that one of the game's seventeen "Unique Mercenaries" will appear, who have special titles (like "Warlord" Tartar and Teriq "the Wicked") and pre-set classes and abilities instead of randomly generated ones.
  • Tales of Symphonia has lots of named NPCs with just enough background and emotional value, but the one that sticks out is Botta, the second in command of the Renegades. He starts out one of the first villain characters you see, interestingly, but the plot twists around so far that when he makes a Heroic Sacrifice to save the party, many players find it to be a genuine Tear Jerker.
  • Touhou Project: The fanmade game Touhou LostWord usually gives mook units some personality during events in the form of Flavor Text replacing their names. They could be fans of the named characters, have characteristics relevant to the segment, or have a preferred sweet (in the case of the Halloween Episode).
  • Discussed in Unavowed, where the playwright Zack decides to rewrite his whole script for a theater play after being struck by supernatural inspiration, one of the first things he metions is wanting to expand upon a minor character's role:
    "I mean, what was I thinking?! Killing off the hero's father in the first act!? He only has two lines. He needs more scenes. More engagement. So when he dies, we'll feel it!
  • In the X-COM squad-based tactical combat games, it's common for players to grow attached to soldiers who've survived a few encounters (especially in impressive ways or against the odds) and been given names and nice equipment... but of course, they're not that much more robust than a rookie and die all too easily when things go pear-shaped.
    • XCOM: Enemy Unknown has several specific examples as well. The Sole Survivor of the tutorial level, Operation Devil's Moon, has a randomly-determined name but is always an Argentine Heavy. Since he'll start the game proper with a level on XCOM's roster of Rookies, it's easy for him to become the backbone of a player's team, and for those players to grow fond of him. Story missions in the game's expansions add the former Chinese triad member Shaojie "Chilong" Zhang, French psionic prodigy Annette Durand, and the "Furies," a trio of gifted alien abductees, all of whom have custom names and in the first two's cases distinct voices, but they're just as mortal as their squadmates.
    • XCOM 2 has the soldiers who fight in the game's tutorial mission, Anna Ramirez and Peter Osei, who both die, and Jane Kelly, an Irish Ranger who is the only proper soldier who survives Operation Gatecrasher. The War of the Chosen even added a bit of chatter to the titular Chosen referencing Kelly by name, as well as two new Mauve Shirts in the form of faction representatives should you choose to do the "Lost and Abandoned" tutorial mission — Elena "Outrider" Dragunova of the Reapers, and Pratal Mox of the Skirmishers. Mox is guaranteed to get captured at the end of that mission but can be rescued later, but beyond that, his and Outrider's fates are up to the player and RNG. Of course, XCOM 2 helps any soldier become a Mauve Shirt thanks to extensive customization options, including character backgrounds and attitudes, and the ability to save soldiers to a "character pool" so they can return for subsequent campaigns.
    • Jane Kelly was given additional characterization in the Tactical Legacy Pack DLC for the War of the Chosen expansion for XCOM 2 which shows her leading a small resistance movement and getting recruited by Bradford as XCOM works to rebuild itself. XCOM: Chimera Squad reveals that she canonically survived the events of the game, attaining the rank of Colonel in the process, and worked alongside the Viper operative Agent Torque to train new recruits. She eventually became Chimera Squad's Director and serves as the game's Big Good.
  • Mwamba in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 joins the heroes for a few missions, and is generally a Nice Guy mentor to them, but the game makes it very clear that he won't survive long past the first hour or two. Surely enough, Moebius D does him in very quickly. He does end up coming back from the dead though, just not quite himself.

  • Bob and George Poor Mike. The title character doesn't want to risk his life for some piddling secondary character and is unmoved by tears.
  • Darths & Droids Episode 1259 had R2-D2 launch a laser sword into the air, intending Lando (an NPC ally) to catch it. He reasons that Luke and C-3PO won't use it, and Han and Chewbacca aren't able to catch it due to being tied up. In the following episode, Leia asks why R2 didn't simply give it to her, and R2 explains that he didn't want to risk the life of a PC. To R2's chagrin, Lando reveals he doesn't know how to use a laser sword and doesn't want to catch it.
  • As the body count rises during the siege of Gobwin Knob in Erfworld, Dora, and then Webinar are quickly added to the list. Misty, the Lookamancer who helped Parson with one of his plans, and Jaclyn, the only named Archon, both end up croaked.
  • Goldie from Everyday Heroes. Most of one chapter involves Jane Mighty explaining how Goldie was her mentor, teammate, and all-around bff. Then, just as the readers get to know her, she gets killed off by their backstabbing boss, which resulting in a Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal.
  • Girl Genius offers Sergeant Scorp of the Baron's Vespiary Squad, a Cool Old Guy in every sense of the term and possibly the least mad character in the entire series.
  • In Goblins, the survivors of the fight in Brassmoon City. Namely, the hobgoblin (Scrole), the kobold (Takn), the ogre-kobold duo (Pan & Yala) and that female creature whose creature type is yet unknown (fan-named Dorky or Undorky).
  • Legostar Galactica has several dozen, who are given some fleshing out in the Sunday "Second String" strips. Every member of the main cast has a second-in-command of their department that they can put in charge if they have to be absent, Medical, Engineering, and Security have full staffs, and then there's a whole mess of officers who fill various odd jobs like Lt. Chekhov the Historian, Lt. Lor in Accounting, and Lt. Bashford in HR, just to name a few.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Wonderfully used in "I'll Hold Them Off", where two soldiers save themselves from dying as part of the city's Redshirt Army by saying their names. One of them even keeps his last name in reserve to potentially save himself from another life-threatening situation. In fact, the two of them later become major supporting characters.
    • Also, in the same battle, the remaining members of the Sapphire Guard become Mauve Shirts, particularly Lien and O-Chul, while the rest are wiped out.
    • In Haley's Resistance group, Thanh, Isamu, and Niu were introduced and developed slightly. Isamu ended up (un)dying, and Thanh and Niu now lead the Resistance.
    • And now Niu's the Sole Survivor of the wiped-out Resistance, which included not only Thanh, but also a bunch of Elven characters who fell just short of the requirements for this trope (they died before getting names, making them Red Shirts instead).
    • Subverted with one Solt Lorkyurg who was a gnome traveler in comic 539 who met Haley and the group when traveling to Azure City. He's dead to show Belkar's impulsiveness and cruelty.
    • On the villain's side there's Jirix, one of the only Hobgoblins to get a proper name and some characterization. He's also the only member of the team who was introduced outside Start of Darkness to still be alive in the present. He's able to distinguish himself from the other Hobgoblin clerics with his different colored uniform.
    • The Cleric of Loki from Don't Split The Party, who, when alerted that Old Blind Pete betrayed him, exclaims that he doesn't want to die because he had only been in one strip so far. He not only lives, but he takes his revenge on Pete by smashing his head in with a mace (which is thankfully done offscreen).
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • Nick and Shep are lampshaded as Red Shirts by the narrator in their first appearance, and quickly prove the narrator wrong, followed by becoming Those Two Guys in the mercenary unit. Shep even lasts to reach a successful retirement.
    • John Der Trihs, wearing a red shirt per his rank of Lieutenant/Lieutenant Commander, often got either shot, blown or cut up but still survived.
    • The company's first doctor isn't so lucky, and so fits right in here. Ironically, just a few strips before his death he was lampshading Nick and Shep's red shirt status.
    • Shv'uu was well into the mauve.
    • Roddy and Wick are both background grunts that appear several times, and are established to be long serving members of the Toughs; Wick in particular comes up several times, being introduced as early as Book 3. This makes their sudden, horrible deaths at the hands of Balt Binion to be slightly shocking.
  • Bert from Sluggy Freelance was originally a one-off gag character, but was given a larger role during the "KITTEN" storyline. Of the dozen plus supporting characters in that Story Arc, he was one of only four to survive. He went on to become a recurring character ... until "KITTEN II" finished what the original couldn't. He did get to come back as a ghost, though.

    Web Original 
  • Most of the recurring public domain characters in Darwin's Soldiers are this. Examples are Neville Ivers, Cobalt Squad, Wayne Anthony, PFC Reynolds...
  • Some characters from The Pirates Covered in Fur are given a name and some characterization but aren't vital to the main plot. When everyone's Plot Armor vanishes, these characters are the first ones who bite it.
  • To Boldly Flee caused this to happen to Phelous due to, of all things, a conflict of interest. He acted in the belief that Red Shirts were important, a la Star Trek: The Next Generation while Paw believes that Red Shirts are...Red Shirts. Turns out they're both right. Phelous does die but keeps coming back to life due to the conflicting beliefs. Eventually, he just learns to dodge everything trying to kill him.
  • The radio station in Welcome to Night Vale employs interns who are usually introduced and killed off (or permanently disappeared) within a single episode. The longest-surviving intern to date is Dana (or her doppelganger), who survives the sandstorm by killing her double, then goes on to survive entering the forbidden Dog Park (and narrating her deeds to Cecil), although she suffers from hunger after becoming trapped within. She eventually moves to full Gold Shirt status when she is elected mayor of Night Vale in Episode 49.
  • Steven from We're Alive stepped out of the background to become something of a Red Herring for The Mole in Season 2 only to be killed off with the rest of the Red Shirts in "The Harder They Fall"

    Western Animation 
  • Played with in Futurama's Star Trek parody episode, "Where No Fan Has Gone Before". When the crew meets the cast of Star Trek, they are introduced to 'Welshie', a guy who joined the cast in the twenty-two hundreds. He is almost immediately killed off. On the other hand, the real reason he was there was James Doohan having refused to take part in the episode. It's also made funnier by the fact that even dead, Welshie is still the target of rage-induced killing mind-blasts.
  • Generator Rex: Captain Calan is the most prominent, usually informing the protagonists, carrying out the missions, and leading The Cavalry, even in Season 3 he's still around, serving as a mole in Providence for the heroes when they defect. The Second most common is Beasly, a Providence agent who's appeared thrice and his partner Wade, who only appeared twice. Kenwyn and several other unmasked providence agents also share this role. On the Villains side there's I-Bol and the Bouncer, two recurring non-speaking EVO creatures who usually serve some purpose, whether to hack/monitor or guard.
  • Justice League Unlimited: There are numerous unimportant heroes and villains who appear, and have some lines in every episode. Many of the villainous ones, like Shade, Weather Wizard, and Copperhead were killed when Killer Frost froze them and Darkseid blew them up. Characters like Evil Star, Atomic Skull and Heatwave barely did anything until the final episodes where they are some of the few villains to survive Darkseid.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • Officer Song, one of the few Metalbending officers who's named in story. He's known for getting slammed into a wall Korra made of Ice, and tackled by Bolin. Other than that he often appears in the background of most scenes, from press conferences, to Equalist confrontations, to being present with Lin and Raiko when the Unavaatu creature attacks.
    • More notable is Kuvira. She was a nameless guard up until the Season 3 finale, but quickly grows to be the main antagonist in Season 4.
  • Most of the Klokateers on Metalocalypse die brutal deaths the moment we see them on screens. It doesn't help that they are Faceless Goons and look identical. There is one exception though, a midget Klokateer who won Murderface's diamond-encrusted codpiece during employee appreciation day. This Klokateer is often seen in later episodes, sporting his prized codpiece.
  • Steve from The Owl House. He's shown up in a couple of episodes, like "Sense and Insensitivity", and went to Lilith's party during "Elsewhere and Elsewhen" despite her being a traitor to the Emperor’s coven, who he works for. He's become something of a fan favorite from these appearances, and as a result is being giving more screen time and plot importance as the series continues. Such as inspiring a Heel Realization in his superior The Golden Guard/Hunter, convincing him to rescue his new-found friends (from a problem he created) and try to make amends in "Any Sport in a Storm". Later in "O Titan, Where Art Thou" he goes on a road trip of self-discovery with King and ends up joining the C.A.T.S. Then in "Clouds on the Horizon", he helps Eda and Raine swap places at the Day of Unity to corrupt the Draining Spell by giving her a concealment stone and coven sigil.
  • In the second Robot Chicken Star Wars specials one sketch features a stormtrooper named Gary bringing his daughter along during the opening battle of A New Hope. He ends up so memorable and popular that he plays a prominent role in the third special (namely, accidentally causing the fire that killed Owen and Beru).
  • Star Wars: Clone Wars: The unnamed Clone commander who's always distinguishable by wearing red (he's on the show's page image). The manual lists his name as Fordo.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Any clone trooper given a name other than Captain Rex or Commander Cody who survives more than one minute on-screen. The same goes for pretty much any Jedi who didn't appear in the live-action films (and more than a few who did).
    • The third season episode "Supply Lines" provides an excellent example of "delayed casualty" version of this trope with the Jedi Master General Ima-Gun Di and his clone trooper Captain Keeli. Both get quite a few scenes devoted to them, they have interesting personalities and distinctive designs, and they're both pretty badass, so they're both going to survive the episode, right? Nope.
  • Superjail! has Jean and Paul, the gay couple (as of Season 2, they're married). They were Star-Crossed Lovers from rival gangs who terrorized Superjail for years. Their tryst united the two gangs and brought peace to Superjail, so the balance of prison society hangs on their relationship. Their survival is also ensured because they're the former leaders of the two most brutal gangs in Superjail means that the inmates wouldn't dare fuck with them.
  • Tangled: The Series has Stan and Pete, two members of the Royal Guard who are given names and become comedic Recurring Extras.
  • Deconstructed and played with in The Venture Bros. Two of the Monarch's Mooks, #21 and #24, become Red Herring Shirts due to their continued survival and regular appearances. After scores of Red Shirts have died around them, they start to get Genre Savvy and assume that they've got as much Plot Armor as the main characters. In the third season finale, however, #24 dies in an explosion, causing his scorched skull to land in 21's arms. His burning skull now carries his soul. #21 vows revenge and eventually becomes Monarch's #1 mook, but out of respect to his friend, he demands to keep his number as #21. Much later down the line, #21 survives the series long enough to pull a Heel–Face Turn, and subsequent Face–Heel Turn.
    • The trope is especially stripped to the wires in the episode "The Lepidopterists", by contrasting #21 and #24 with newcomer Henchman #1. The Monarch sends all three on a mission. Annoyed by the third wheel, #21 and #24 explain at length to #1 why he is "the guy that doesn't come back": He is unknown (versus their own established popularity), he's generically competent (versus their own charming bungling), he's willing to take any risks at all for the mission (versus their own top priority of self-preservation), and he "can't see a cliché coming". #1 is last seen in single combat with Brock Samson; as the Monarch put it, "I don't need to hear the rest."
      #1: My name is Scott Hall, okay?
      #24: Nope, won't help.
      #21: Now it's just pathos. So you're dying in my lap and I'm all 'Scott! Scott! Don't you quit on us, don't you dare!'
      #24: You've just made your unavoidable death: more pathetic.
    • #1's fate itself is later deconstructed too, as it turns out he wasn't killed by Brock and returns twice later, once as "Zero" to pit all of the other "incompetent sidekicks" against each other, and again as a member of The Revenge Society.
    • They mocked another newcomer, who they called Texas, the same way at the start of one episode but both times they were kind of wrong and kind of right. Scott Hall managed to survive the Curb-Stomp Battle with Brock Sampson but became jaded and bitter with everyone's What Measure Is a Mook? attitude, so he changes his name to Henchman #0 and becomes the villain of the week in the episode "Any Which Way But Zeus" where he manipulated an Old Superhero into capturing a bunch of other red shirts and mauve shirts and forcing them into Gladiator Games eventually trying to confront Henchman #21 personally, unfortunately for him Henchman #21 had taken a level in badass by then and "Zeus" had freed all of the prisoners. After this he joins The Revenge Society where he drop the henchman from his name and repeatedly insists he's not a Mook anymore unfortunately to spite his claims he ends up being unceremoniously killed by Brock Sampson as 21 and 24 had originally predicted. As for "Texas" they were right and he was quickly killed by Brock Samson but is then revived as "Venturestein".
  • Young Justice (2010): Kent Nelson in the first season and Aquagirl and Marie Logan in the second season. Got about an episode's worth of character development — just enough to give their deaths an impact, especially in a low-death setting.


Video Example(s):


Henchmen 21 and 24

That Rare blend of "Expendable" and "Invulnerable" thats' desirable for all Henchmen.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / MauveShirt

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