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Red Shirt

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A Red Shirt in his natural state.

Kirk: All right, men, this is a dangerous mission. And it's likely one of us will be killed. The landing party will consist of myself, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, and Ensign Ricky.
Ensign Ricky: Aw, crap.

This is the Good Counterpart of Evil Minions and Mooks — set filler for our heroes' side. Their purpose is almost exclusively to give the writers someone to kill who isn't a main character, although they can also serve as Spear Carriers. In a series where The Main Characters Do Everything, if you suddenly see someone else who you've never seen before involved in the main story, they are probably Redshirts.

They are used to show how the monster works, and demonstrate that it is indeed a deadly menace, without having to lose anyone important. Expect someone to say "He's Dead, Jim", lament this "valued crew member's senseless death", and then promptly forget him. Security personnel in general fall victim to the worst shade of this trope, as most of the time their deaths aren't even acknowledged at all; according to Hollywood, you could walk into a bank and shoot a security guard right in the face without anyone making a fuss. If you shot anyone else afterward, the headline would just read "Bank Customers Killed", and rarely is their death even considered much of a karmic strike against their killers (i.e. if the protagonists of a story are bank robbers, they can often kill plenty of security guards in highly dubious "self-defense" and still be treated sympathetically by the plot).

Please note: this Trope is actually very inaccurate when you compare it to Real Life. If you were to watch every episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, count the number of casualties that the Enterprise had, and then compare that to an actual military, you'd see that Kirk's record as a leader in this regard is excellent, far better than any general in U.S. history. Even war heroes like George Washington and Dwight D. Eisenhower had proportionately more casualties among their troops.note 

In mass quantities, they make up the Red Shirt Army.

Finally, the problem with the Red Shirts is that they can be far too obvious. The death of an extra is used for a particular reason (see the choices just below) so it is shown with some emphasis; but background characters surviving isn't interesting at all, so when they do, it happens almost unnoticed, e.g. Star Trek S1 E8 "Miri".

Compare to The Worf Effect (a strong character is defeated to show the enemy's strength), Sacrificial Lion (a strong and important character is killed to show the enemy's strength or seriousness), The World's Expert (on Getting Killed), Retirony, Mauve Shirt, Sacrificial Lamb, Disposable Sex Worker, Anyone Can Die, Little Dead Riding Hood, C-List Fodder (who are pre-established named characters but are still much more disposable than main characters), A Million Is a Statistic, and Monster Munch.

Contrast Plot Armor and Red Herring Shirt. See also Bring My Red Jacket, which is literal "wearing red is just asking to get hurt".

For John Scalzi's novel Redshirts, which deconstructs this trope, go to Literature.Redshirts, and for the sci-fi social networking simulator, go to VideoGame.Redshirt.


Example subpages

Other examples:

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  • In honor of the 2009 Star Trek movie, a company released a Red Shirt cologne. The slogan? "Because Tomorrow May Never Come." The packaging features a red-shirted officer in a set of crosshairs, and a Starfleet security badge with a bullet hole next to it.
  • You Deserve The Redshirt Treatment. An ad campaign by insurance company Independent Health sends the unintentional message of "You deserve to die horribly so William Shatner can emote over your dead body". One Google search would have prevented the epic irony of that health care company's slogan.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan utilizes this trope with many of the unnamed members of the military. However, that's not to say that named characters are exempt from death, either.
  • In Bakuman。, a non-fatal variant happens to certain manga series whose cancellation is announced whenever named characters get serialized, often with titles that would make one wonder whether anyone would want to read them. Arai, a minor character, is a recurring producer of "Red Shirt" series, although the fact that his series "Cheese Crackers" got canceled fairly soon after serialization in spite of Miura's confidence in it makes the main characters wonder if they're really safe.
  • In Bleach, when Ichigo and friends invade the Soul Society, anyone without a rank is pretty much dog food.
  • Code Geass: The Burai Knightmare Frames are Japanese custom versions of the old 4th Generation Glasgow models that originally served the Holy Britannian Empire before being decommissioned. Through much of Season 1, the Burai are the standard troop Knightmare of the Order of the Black Knights, being incredibly expendable in combat. Many scenes depict them either getting skewered by the pike of Princess Cornelia li Britannia and her modified Gloucester, or being completely annihilated by Suzaku Kururugi and his Lancelot. Early on, Lelouch vi Britannia pilots a Burai of his own with a distinctive headpiece to show that he is fighting on the battlefield with his troops, as per his philosophy...
    Lelouch: If the king does not lead, how can he expect his subordinates to follow?
    • Interestingly, one of the Britannian Red Shirts (or should that be Mooks?) served as a Plot Point. One of them happened to be Shirley's father, who was killed by Lelouch, Shirley's crush, in a landslide in the battle of Narita. It starts Shirley's cutie-breaking which progresses throughout the series.
    • As the series goes on, the Burai are more or less replaced by the faster, more powerful Gekka Knightmares that are modeled after Kallen Kozuki's Guren. In R2, the mass-produced 7th Generation Akatsuki later serves as the main rank-and-file for the Black Knights, being the next-generation version of the Gekka that can equip Air Glide Systems and fly.
  • Oh, Matt of Death Note. 10 panels. He gets gunned down. Notable in a manga where Anyone Can Die because he wears a red striped shirt in the anime, and often gets fan-colored with red hair.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, the lower ranked Slayers are easily disposable and they die frequently, the setting doesn’t even bother stating an exact count of how many active Demon Slayers exists within the Corps, only the elite, the Hashira, are accounted for to be nine members at most when the roster is complete, because even the elite aren’t immune to dying, they just don’t die frequently.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, Nappa blows up a "news helicopter" which, upon closer inspection by a keen-eyed viewer, is actually a shuttlecraft from the Enterprise-A, identical to the ones from the films and even including the registry number (NCC-1701-A) — making this a possible instance of actual red shirts being killed.
  • Gantz: Every single time the group is sent on a mission, at least 75% of them are Red Shirts.
  • Yano in Ghost in the Shell. In the manga, one chapter starts off with Batou and Motoko sending their regards to his family since he was already killed in a training exercise. At least in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, he's given a minuscule amount of screentime as one of two new recruits, but ultimately gets killed in battle later on.
  • Jujutsu Kaisen: Junpei Yoshino only appears during a single story arc, and dies after being transformed by Mahito.
  • Gundam:
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam, the mass-produced federation mooks were called RGM-79 GMs, which exploded by the dozens any time they were shown in a fight. Their standard armor was colored like a red T-shirt. Joining them was the Type 61 Main Battle Tank, which existed a rung lower to be roughed up by the opposing side's own mooks, but also got their own share of victories to keep Zion's Zaku IIs from seeming too threatening.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket, this extends to the GM Command Spacetype, which has a red torso and a tendency to die a lot. Similarly, Scarlet Team is described as a rapid response team and consists of a pair each of GM Command, GM Sniper II, and Guncannon-MP mobile suits, the latter of which are predominantly red; they are all unceremoniously killed off in their only scene by the lone MS-18E Kampfer.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, Athrun Zala's buddy Rusty Mackenzie (who never shows his face or has any dialogue) is killed in the first episode trying to steal the Strike Gundam. He's wearing red, which ironically is supposed to be the uniform of ZAFT's elite. Nicol Amalfi gets the same treatment. So does Heine Westenfluss from SEED Destiny.
      • The Orb Union has the MBF-M1 Astray, a Mobile Suit notable for its Gundam-like appearance as they carry the same robotic eyes and V-Crest. It is also noted for its white and red coloration, and the fact that they are in no way as powerful as the GAT-X or ZGMF-X series Gundams that can easily take them out. They are later succeeded in Destiny by the MVF-M11C Murasame, which can transform into a fighter mode. Better specs, but still easily destroyed by the dozens.
      • Subverted with the Alliance side; the GAT-01 Strike Dagger serves much the same purpose as the RGM-79 GM in the original (and also closely resembles the older mobile suit), but as the main cast goes against the Alliance as well as ZAFT, the Strike Daggers are better classified as Mooks.
  • Lyrical Nanoha: The Soldiers of the Time-Space Administration Bureau are, on the surface, highly trained individuals capable of solving most inter-dimensional threats... it's a shame, then, that the show mostly shoves them in situations only girls half their age can properly handle.
  • Mazinger Z: In the last Go Nagai manga arc, the Japanese army created the Mazinger army — a squad of mass-production Mazingers — to try and defeat Big Bad Dr. Hell once and for all. Since the robots needed trained pilots, several new characters were introduced, like the blonde twins Lori and Loru. However, as Kouji was performing test flights with the Jet Scrander, Dr. Hell threw a massive attack involving several mobile fortresses and several dozens of Mechanical Beasts. Main character, Love Interest and Battle Couple Sayaka Yumi and the Mazinger army flew to meet the Hell's army. Only one of them survived, and you will never guess who. Sayaka. Loru and Lori also showed up in Mazinkaiser, repeating their roles. They died in the first battle that they took active part in.
  • In Naruto:
    • In several scenes in Naruto, including Kabuto's attempted assassination of Sasuke, several ANBU Black Ops are easily killed. This is to show how powerful the invaders from the Sound and Sand villages actually were.
    • There's also the samurai of the Land of Iron.
    • The movies have many cases of Mooks being killed en masse, often by the heroes or the main villains.
    • It's basically a rule that if you're a Konoha ninja who isn't named and you're shown on screen, you're probably going to die very soon. And even if they're not killed right away, they never get to kill any enemies besides mooks. Their jutsu almost always fail to damage any major villains.
  • Absolutely any military vehicle that is not an Evangelion in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Their job is shoot ineffectually at the Angels so we can see just how invincible they are as they lazily annihilate the forces in their path.
  • On the way to a battle with the forces of Marmo in Record of Lodoss War, protagonist Parn chats up a fellow soldier who is very optimistic about the whole thing. Naturally, as soon as the battle is over and the heroes lament the losses, they find the soldier's body. It was his fault — he really shouldn't have shown Parn that good-luck charm his child made for him.
  • In Saki, there are often many opponents who are shown just after being defeated by the main characters or their rivals. Interestingly enough, Kyoutaro, when entering the males' individual tournament, goes up against some characters who would seem to be this type, and loses.
  • In Sekirei, there are 108 alien beings forced to take part in a game of There Can Be Only One. The vast majority are there simply to be terminated, and never had a chance to begin with. Many are aware of this fact, and desperately attempt to flee the capital — the Discipline Squad hunts them down.
  • This happens often in Super Dimension Fortress Macross and its adaptation Robotech. Destroids are common victims of battle for dramatic tension, but the series likes to kill off unnamed rookie pilots in brown-colored VF-1A's, known commonly among fans as 'Brownies' and playing much the same role as Gundam's aforementioned GM. In-universe, it's been noted that Zentraedi aces bully and target the tan fighters because the know that color indicates a new, unskilled, or weak pilot. Somewhat Truth in Television: If a pilot has managed to survive 10 missions, their chances of survival in combat to the end of the war skyrocket. This is the reason why the United States Air Force invented the Red Flag exercises: To get its young pilots through those first 10 combat missions.
  • All of Duel Academia in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, save the main characters, especially in Season 3.

    Comic Books 
  • Phil Foglio's Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire series has the evil "X-Tel" corporation, whose security forces' uniform consists of grey shirts... and red PANTS.
  • Caballistics, Inc.: During the group's first mission to stop a zombie incursion in the London Underground, they're accompanied by a group of special forces who are clearly there to serve as cannon fodder.
  • Empowered, being a superhero comic (albeit a parody) also has Mooks, but one supervillain ThugBoy worked for really took the cake when he made his Witless Minions wear shirts with an emblem looking like a bullseye. Wow. Now that is...
  • Great Lakes Avengers: Mr. Immortal got a red shirt for his X-Mas present since he's a redshirt army all by himself.
  • Green Lantern comics consistently depict unnamed (and occasionally, named) Green Lanterns getting slaughtered whenever a new bad guy shows up. Even though every one of them wields "the most powerful weapon in the universe," they inevitably suffer gruesome, meaningless deaths. This also highlights the completely arbitrary nature of combat between ring-wielders.
  • The sad fate of the 90's-DC-space-police-Green-Lantern-wannabes the Darkstars. During the time when DC decided to get rid of the whole Green Lantern Corps and just have one guy being the Lantern, they introduced the Darkstars who would try to take the then-extinct Corps' place. But with the comic not catching on, despite having characters like Donna Troy and John Stewart drafted into it, the group slowly dwindled; each time they showed up in a comic, at least one of them dies for the sake of showing how dangerous the threat is. Finally in the Adam Strange Planet Heist miniseries, the remaining few Darkstars show up ONLY in the climactic battle… just to die to the last man. And yes, they wore red jumpsuits.
  • Hunter's Hellcats would occasionally feature additional, previously unseen, members of the squad who would die during the opening scenes to show how dangerous the current mission was.
  • MAD was one of the first to parody this. Though they did not use the term 'red shirts' they mocked this trope in their Star Trek: The Musical where Kirk, on the tune of Age of Aquarius, sings:
    As your ship goes through the galaxy
    To distant worlds way past Mars
    Make sure that your adventures
    Do not kill off your stars.

    And you can do it with
    a crew that's dispensible
    a crew that's dispensible
  • Marvel Universe:
    • In a Taskmaster mini-series, the main villain is a former mook turned leader who actually calls himself Red Shirt. He's the only one that doesn't get the joke. He also doesn't get why it's funny that he calls his organization the Minions International Liberation Front.
    • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. who are not major characters could just as easily be called Blue Shirts with the number of times SHIELD agents are killed en masse.
    • The same goes for former Marvel supervillain prison, The Vault which was not only a Cardboard Prison but was staffed by an army of men wearing armor based on Iron Man suits called The Guardsmen. Every time there was a breakout, several of them would be killed. In fact, Venom once killed a group of Guardsmen during one of his many escapes and the guards' friends and family became an armored Super Team intent on killing him.
  • A Nodwick parody of the classic Dungeons & Dragons module "Queen of the Demonweb Pits" has Lloth's giant spider-ship done as a parody of the Enterprise, complete with the demon crewmembers wearing Starfleet uniforms. Once the heroes get on board, they tell the demons who come to attack them to go ahead and surrender because "you've made the tactical error of wearing red shirts!" Cue the demons face palming and lamenting their decision to not go into medical or engineering.
  • In an IDW Star Trek comic, a Red Shirt security officer named Boyd outright complains about this to Chekov, Bones, and two other security officers. His words: "You're not redshirts, you two are fine. Security doesn't always make it home as much as you guys."
    • Another IDW Star Trek comic told from the perspective of a security officer justified the trope by observing that more officers in Starfleet wore red uniforms (for engineering, security and ships operations) than both gold (command) and blue (sciences) combined. So statistically the Red Shirts are more likely to die during Starfleet missions.
  • Star Wars: Invasion: Jedi Master Lar Le'Ung is killed a few issues after his introduction to establish the threat posed by the Vong.
  • Transformers:
    • According to, across all Transformers media, this happens with characters that don't have toys in the toyline, in order to keep selling toys of the characters that have. Though the Marvel series did subvert this once with the Seacons, the most recent combiner team, getting introduced and killed off in a span of four issues, even though they were still on the toy shelves.
    • The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers: The whole mini-series is basically a Transformers story told from the viewpoint of a bunch of Red Shirt second stringers. In fact a large part of the characters' portrayals are built around the fact that this trope applies. Pyro fears that he'll die a meaningless death so he's spent most of his life trying to plan the perfect death. Ironfist is basically in complete denial about his role as a Red Shirt until later in the story where he seems to almost quietly accept his perceived unavoidable death. It helps to mention the writers openly referenced the story as "Last Stand of the Wreckers is a story about redshirts." on one of the opening pages of the Hardback copy.
  • The X-Wing Rogue Squadron comics started to display this later on. There were complaints after the first several arcs that, while people quit or transferred out, no-one ever died. Promptly someone who'd been there since the beginning and one who'd been around for an arc got killed in Requiem for a Rogue, and in the arc after that four new pilots were introduced. One instantly immersed himself in a subplot, another took equally little time to establish her status as part of a rather pragmatic Proud Warrior Race. The other two failed to do anything but sort of hang around in the background, and by the end of the book those two had been shot down and killed within two pages of each other.

    Comic Strips 
  • Parodied in a FoxTrot strip:
    Jason: I decorated my gingerbread men in little Star Trek uniforms.
    Paige: Good lord, could you be a bigger geek? [Jason eats a cookie] Why are they all wearing red shirts?
  • In one issue of Toyfare's Twisted Toyfare Theatre, Kirk returns from a mission in which "only a dozen redshirts died," to find himself in the Mirror Universe, where the meek and pragmatic Mirror Kirk is protected by the immortal Redshirts. TTT loves playing with these. There are usually Redshirts around to die in stories featuring Captain Kirk, and the title page of one of the trade paperbacks shows Kirk and Spock standing amidst a sea of Redshirts while Spock looks around uneasily.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): In this Godzilla MonsterVerse fanfiction; although he's one of the examples that has a name, Lieutenant Krupin is first introduced being part of the joint rescue mission between Team Mauzer and Monarch's G-Team into Artificial Zombie territory, and he dies in the same chapter that he's introduced.
  • In the All Guardsmen Party, the guardsmen are typically grouped with several less combat-focused teammates. Most of them don't survive.
  • Played with in the Star Trek Online fic Bait and Switch. Four bit part crew members beam down with three members of the command crew. Two are low-ranking officers (an ensign and a lieutenant junior grade), another is a senior chief petty officer, and the third a crewman. The officers peel off early and act as a sniper and spotter, the senior chief gets shot in the chest but survives and is beamed out, and the crewman survives until near the end of the chapter when an Orion matron breaks his neck. In general the fic leans more on Mauve Shirts: Regardless of whether they die, almost any Bajor crewman Eleya interacts with is given at least a name, if not some minor characterization.
  • Foot soldiers in Farce of the Three Kingdoms are usually referred to as "redshirts." Their survival rate is... poor.
  • I Am NOT Going Through Puberty Again!: Invoked by Ko Hyuuga word for word in describing himself after he's sent to retrieve Hinata shortly after "The Hinata Massacre".
  • The Pony POV Series parodies this trope in the Shining Armor Arc, with the Hooviet Commisars, none of whom go past a single scene without dying. It's suggested in-universe that Makarov, Genre Savvy Large Ham that he is, is using his abilities to deliberately invoke this trope for the sake of telling a better story.
  • In Risk It All, one of Ren's prestige ranks invokes this trope, being the next step up from Minor Character and just below Named Character, indicating that Ren's super identity is starting to become well-known in Gotham after his viral video of him fighting a mobster who gets shot dead.
  • Rocketship Voyager. The Space Marines assigned to Voyager used to have bright-red space armor "designed by the psychotechs to intimidate food rioters" which they've long since burnished down to bare metal and repainted in disruptive pattern camouflage. Also red coveralls are worn by Spacefleet crewmen who handle munitions or hazardous waste. In the final chapter a scratch team of UN space marines, Maquis rebels and Spacefleet ensigns are sent on a rescue mission that kills eight of them, most in a similar fashion to how their Mauve Shirt characters died in Star Trek: Voyager.
  • Poked fun of in RWBY Thoughts. When the aircraft Weiss gets attacked, the pilot worries that they'll crash. Weiss knows she can't die as a main character, but the unnamed pilot isn't so lucky:
    Pilot: We're not gonna make it!
    Weiss: Uh, there's a main character on this ship and that's my character song playing, so I think I'm fine. But as for you...
  • The Finnish Star Trek/Babylon 5 spoof Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning puts the Trek redshirts against the B5 security forces. The carnage was horrible. The redshirts throughout the Star Wreck series are also given names that reflect their expendable nature, such as "Lt. Suicide", "Sgt. Manshield", and "Lt. Cannonfodder".
  • Cleverly spoofed in a short Star Trek parody film, ''Steam Trek: The Moving Picture'' (premise: Trek as it would be done 100 years ago by George Melies), where the expendable member of the away team wears a shirt with a target on the back. Also, this character is listed in the opening credits as "Ensign Expendable".
    • The same target gag is used in Star Trek: The Pepsi Generation. Ensign Expendable is killed during the transport to the planet's surface, so he doesn't even get a heroic death from a Monster of the Week.
  • Notorious Star Trek: The Next Generation fanfic author Stephen Ratliff unironically(?) gave us Ensign Throwaway in his Marissa Picard stories.
  • This is frequently played with in Trek fanfics. A typical example is here.
  • Things I Am Not Allowed to Do at the PPC: Attempting to invoke the phenomenon of expendable extras by having people go to the Star Trek continuum while wearing red shirts is banned, even as an April Fools' Day prank.
  • "Those Poor Guys In Red" by Vlad G. Pohnert is an excellent compilation set to "Another One Bites The Dust" by Queen providing an impressive number of examples of why those guys in Star Trek: The Original Series were the Trope Namer.
  • Background ponies in Twillight Sparkle's awesome adventure are treated as this by everyone in the story. This includes the good guys sending them on missions which are too dangerous to risk someone important on.
    Admiral Awesome: No, you are a main character. It’s better to send in a unimportant background pony.

    Films — Animation 
  • Spoofed mercilessly in Sev Trek: Pus in Boots (an Australian CGI spoof of Star Trek: The Next Generation). An alien asks the Enterforaprize to supply hosts for its young, as they're reputed to have "endless supplies of expendable ensigns". After the offer is curtly refused ("Each ensign is a valuable member of our crew!") the alien runs rampant on the ship causing the death of 47 ensigns, mainly due to Failsafe Failures and the lousy aim of the main characters. One dying ensign laments the fact that he would have been promoted to lieutenant in a few days, therefore becoming immune. Ensigns mentioned by name include Ens. Insignificant, Ens. Expendable, Ens. Cadaver, Ens. Bitpart, Ens. Anonymous, Ens. Disposable, Ens. Speakingpart, Ens. Deadmeat, Ens. Extra, Ens. Deathwish, Ens. Cannonfodder, Ens. Menial, Ens. Shortlived and Ens. Walkonpart.
    [Alien leaps on an ensign and starts to absorb him; Lt. Barf raises his phizzer rifle to destroy it]
    Cptn. Pinchard: Don't, Barf, you'll kill the ensign!
    [Pinchard knocks aside Barf's phizzer rifle. The stray blast disintegrates another ensign who's just entered the room]
    Lt. Barf: With all due respect, Captain, that man was dead from the moment he put on that ensign's uniform.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alien:
    • A film that seriously plays with the concept is Aliens. Who can forget Hudson's "Four more weeks and out" tirade? The movie does kinda play it straight with Crowe and Wierzbowski; one line from Crowe (said when he's offscreen), and no lines from poor Ski except a scream.
    • Alien vs. Predator: Several notable members of the expedition into the ancient pyramid become this once they get locked inside the sacrificial chamber with Facehugger eggs and are impregnated with Chest Bursters, dying to remind the audience of how the Xenomorphs reproduce and the threat they pose. It's even somewhat lampshaded by Adele, one of the named Red Shirts, having a red shirt which the Chestburster explodes out of.
  • The countless native African servants and carriers in the Allan Quartermain movie adaptions exist only to be eaten by crocodiles or killed by traps so that the danger can be demonstrated without killing off a main character.
  • Hilariously lampshaded in Austin Powers in Goldmember. British agent Nigel Powers knocks out a couple of Dr. Evil's henchmen, then when a third has the audacity to point his gun at him...
    Nigel Powers: Do you know who I am?
    Nigel Powers: Do you know how many anonymous henchmen I've killed over the years?
    (guard nods again)
    Nigel Powers: And look at you, you don't even have a name tag! You've got no chance. Why don't you just fall down? Go on, son.
    (the guard obligingly does so)
  • Cliffjumper in Bumblebee is a literal example, due to his red color. His only notable scene in the film is being killed at the hands of the movie's main villains, Shatter and Dropkick.
  • Commando: When John Matrix is informed of the deaths of his former teammates, his former superior officer General Kirby leaves two soldiers with him to guard Matrix and his daughter. Within minutes of Kirby leaving, both soldiers are killed in a raid on Matrix's house.
  • In Congo, all of the African porters fit this trope. Also Richard. He wasn't even in the novel.
  • Beth Emhoff in Contagion (2011) is both this and a dead Living MacGuffin at the same time, being killed off within the first few minutes. Her recent interactions are then investigated throughout the rest of the film, and then the cause is revealed to be an infected pig being touched by a chef who then held her hand for a photograph.
  • In World War I aerial combat film The Dawn Patrol, New Meat flight school graduate Donny exists, and is killed off, to be a source of conflict between his older brother Scott and squad commander Courtney. Donny arrives at the squad, has two scenes, and is shot down, thus rupturing the friendship between Scott and Courtney.
  • This trope was parodied very effectively in Galaxy Quest in the character of Guy Fleegman, "Crewman Number Six" — who is the only cast member NOT shot or killed during the climactic final battle! (Although a bit of time travel makes everyone else better). Lampshade Hanging at its finest (also see Plucky Comic Relief). In the end, he gets a major role in the new Galaxy Quest series, in a reference to the fact that Star Trek: The Next Generation featured a Security officer as a main character throughout its entire run and in general saw far fewer redshirt deaths. Just to ensure his survival however, Guy's new character has an awesomely non-generic name.
  • G.I. Joe:
    • The most notable example in GI Joe The Riseof Cobra is the guard at The Pit who first witnesses the mole tunnelers arrive. He is not only visibly surprised but doesn't sound the alarm, just nervously levels his gun at them. Yep, G.I. Joe, only recruiting the A-list commandos.
    • In G.I. Joe: Retaliation the ninja troops Snake Eyes and Jinx fight on the mountain cliffs are wearing red uniforms. True to this trope, many of them die by falling (having their grapple ropes cut, being pushed off by a small avalanche).
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): In the movie, backgrounded G-Team member Master Sergeant Hendricks is there solely to establish the mentality of Ghidorah when Hendricks and several soldiers hail Ghidorah with gunfire to no effect, which prompts the three-headed monster to use his Breath Weapon to gleefully blast Hendricks and his compatriots into oblivion with a slasher smile; and also to establish that people are gonna die to Ghidorah and his Titan army, in what has remained the MonsterVerse's most apocalyptic and high-stakes movie so far as of 2023.
  • In the Guillermo del Toro Hellboy movies the random B.P.R.D. agents who accompany the big red guy on his missions all but define redshirt.
  • Aside From Bond Himself, if you're a 00-agent early in a James Bond film, kiss your ass goodbye. Subverted in GoldenEye, when Alec Trevelyan, 006, seems to die early in the movie, but is revealed to have faked his death.
    • Also, if you're a Bond girl, billed after the main one, your days are numbered...
  • Jurassic World has perhaps one of the most badass ones in film history. ACU Trooper Miller essentially flips off the Indominus rex by standing his ground and firing his shotgun repeatedly at it. He gets eaten, but by doing so, the last three soldiers — one of them severely injured — survive the attack and escape I. rex pursuit, thanks to his badassery. If you look closely, he's not just holding his ground; he's calmly striding toward the damn thing as it's charging right at him.
  • In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we have S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Pretty much anytime you see one that's not a named character from the comics (Nick Fury, Black Widow, Hawkeye, etc.), there's a good chance they're about to go bye-bye. Even as far back as Iron Man, we had S.H.I.E.L.D. agents getting squished and battered to death by Stane. This is actually a plot point. In The Avengers, Fury specifically says he created the team because S.H.I.E.L.D. was "Hopeless, hilariously" outgunned by the new wave of superhuman threats.
    • Played with in Iron Man 2: Right after Justin Hammer leaves Ivan Vanko alone with the two burly security guards, it becomes immediately obvious that they're not going to last very long. It's such a foregone conclusion that the film doesn't even bother showing their deaths—the next time we see Vanko, he's alone at his hacking workstation and the officers are nowhere to be seen. It's only when Natasha and the chauffeur arrive at the Hammer headquarters and enter the room itself that we see the two guards hung from the ceiling, just to confirm what happened to them.
  • In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, this trope comes into play when King Arthur and his Knights fight the Killer Rabbit. Three Knights, who had only one appearance prior to this scene are killed. Arthur even sends one to originally kill the rabbit, despite the arguable fact that Sir Lancelot is the most aggressive knight Arthur has.
  • The Mummy (1999). In the end, the only people who make it out are the four protagonists. Jonathan even lampshades this when recruiting an admittedly death-seeking Winston: "Well, everyone else we've bumped into has died, why not you?"
  • There are literal redshirts in Pirates of the Caribbean. Except Those Two Guys, although by the sequel they're wearing Company uniforms, which are a different color. They actually survive to the end of the original trilogy and join the crew of the Black Pearl. It's not clear what happens to them after that, especially given the fate of the Pearl in On Stranger Tides.
  • In Planet of the Dinosaurs, the cast wears various colored uniforms, but those killed die in no particular order.
  • During the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indy is accompanied by two random native guides. They don't make it.
  • A discreet spoof in The Running Man: Two contestants wore yellow jumpsuits while two wore red. Guess who died?
  • Subverted in Smokin' Aces. Though many nameless cops bite it in the various shootouts, our hero is so distressed by the mass carnage that it sends him into a Heroic BSoD. He laments "So many people are dead!" even as his superiors try to get him to callously brush it off and do his job.
  • The security guard that Payne stabs in the ear at the beginning of Speed exists only to show that Payne is a bad guy —as though bombing a packed elevator isn't enough— and he completely vanishes from the movie once he's killed. Fan Wank claims that Payne used the man's body to fake his own death, but this theory still requires that law enforcement and the poor guy's employers never even notice he went missing, making it as straight an example as can possibly be.
  • Star Trek movies:
    • Star Trek: The Motion Picture: Two crew members die in a transporter accident, although they aren't wearing red shirts (in fact, no-one is - Starfleet's uniform designers were apparently going through a pastel phase). One of them is Commander Sonak, the successor to the then-retired Cdr. Spock as science officer, who had just been introduced moments earlier at Starfleet Command. His death cleared the way for Spock's return in the second act. The other transporter victim wasn't identified in the film, but the novelization identifies her as Vice Admiral Lori Ciana, Kirk's current girlfriend, who'd come to see Kirk off.
      • Commander Branch and the crew of station Epsilon IX fell victim to V'Ger, after having earlier observed the Klingon encounter with the cloud. Branch was played by David Gautreaux, who was originally signed on to play the Vulcan Lt. Xon in the aborted Star Trek: Phase II series. Sonak was created to die in Xon's place as the concept of Xon (an emotionless alien looking to understand human feelings) seemed too good to waste (the concept was eventually evolved into Data).
    • Starting in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, for the rest of the original cast movies every Starfleet officer wears completely or predominantly red uniforms (with trainees and cadets wearing red turtlenecks), so maybe it wasn't surprising that Spock would die in the end.
    • Star Trek: First Contact
      • Ensign Lynch at least gets a name. He was assimilated by the Borg and ends up being one of the drones Picard guns down on the holodeck. Apparently, Picard attended his wedding. Something of a subversion, in that Captain Picard actually gets called out for how callously he dismisses Ensign Lynch's murder. The other Borg drone Picard kills along with Lynch isn't mentioned at all.
      • There's also another guy named Hawke, who goes outside the Enterprise in a space suit along with Picard and Worf. Hawke gets more play in the Expanded Universe. In fact, there's a novel dedicated mostly to him and an attempt by a Section 31 operative to recruit him. The novel also reveals that he's gay, not that it makes a difference to any other character. Hawke's partner calls Picard out on letting Hawke die. When Picard points out that Hawke was already assimilated, the guy points out that so was Picard. Assimilated people can be restored. Hawke didn't even get a chance to do that.
    • In Star Trek (2009), Kirk (in blue) and Sulu (in gold) are accompanied on a drop mission to take out a planetary drill by gung-ho Olson (in red). Guess which one of the trio dies? At first it seems to be a subversion, as he survives what seems to be the obvious fate of missing the platform and falling to his death from the upper atmosphere of a planet. Unfortunately for the poor guy, it's a Double Subversion; his final fate actually manages to be fairly spectacular. His parachute catches on the platform, swinging him right into the drill's beam, where he's immediately vaporized. Of course, it was his own fault. Plus as he was the Chief engineer, he had to die so Scotty could become the Chief Engineer. This was completely intentional, according to the commentary — Abrams and the writers called this their "red shirt moment".
    • The sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness has Chekov moved to the position of chief engineer of the Enterprise due to Scotty's resignation prior to their mission. The look on his face and dramatic music when Kirk tells him to put on a red shirt is a priceless example of Leaning on the Fourth Wall. He doesn't die, but still. In fact, this trope was defied in this film, when Kirk ordered two nameless crewmen to take off their red shirts and change into casual gear for their mission to apprehend John Harrison on Qo'noS. Both survived an ensuing firefight with Klingons and successfully apprehended Harrison. Sadly, Anton Yelchin, the actor who played Chekov in the reboot films, died in a car crash a month before the release of Star Trek Beyond.
    • Star Trek Beyond goes above and beyond in its crew killing, due to only around forty crew members of the Enterprise survive the movie. The rest are either shot, electrocuted, blown up, drained of their life energy, disintegrated or simply jettisoned into space. Special mention goes to Ensign Syl, who gets maybe three lines of dialogue before handing over the MacGuffin to Krall to save Sulu, then is killed in her very next scene to establish what it does (disintegrate people).
      • Crewman Herndoff (aka "Cupcake") has survived all three movies thus far by virtue of his filmed death scenes being removed from the movie for pacing. The immortal Redshirt?
  • Star Wars:
  • Utu: The enlisted British soldiers from Lt. Scott's unit are little more than cannon fodder for the rebel villain protagonist to kill. Although historically the British army wore red coats as full dress, in this film they wear the blue overseas campaign uniform.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: The Last Stand: Most of the mutants in Magneto's army and the human soldiers deployed to Alcatraz Island were quickly obliterated by the Phoenix.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Warpath, Blink, Bishop, Sunspot and Colossus are glorified extras whose main purpose in the story is to serve as cannon fodder for the 2023-era Sentinels.

  • Averted in the Fighting Fantasy book Starship Traveller. Your security personnel are much more competent in both phaser and close combat; this is reflected by having all non-security characters take a -3 Skill penalty in combat — presumably showing that a character's Skill stat is for their particular job, not their ability in general note . But then played almost straight in the fact that it is indicated that there are a great number of faceless nameless redshirts available in your crew for horrible things to happen to (if you play well — in a way that won't get your identified personnel killed) and that you and your crew repeatedly, if such things happen, suffer a critical giving-a-shit failure.
  • Played straight in the Lone Wolf series where the title character has the Aura of Death about him. Any companion or ally Lone Wolf picks up along his travels is extremely likely to die in horrible circumstances before the end of the current book. Any boat Lone Wolf is on will be attacked by pirates, sink, or both. And for Kai's sake, man, don't try to rescue a person in distress, of course it's a Helghast who murdered some random person and took their place just to have a shot at killing Lone Wolf.


  • All Hands! is a major subversion, as every named character dies, while a large number of unnamed crewmen survive.
  • All Quiet on the Western Front spends some time justifying this. The training received by German soldiers at the time didn't even remotely prepare them for combat, and a hefty percentage of the New Meat died horribly through not knowing something a veteran would know. A few survived by blind luck, learned what would kill them through seeing what killed everyone else, and became the Fire-Forged Friends the story centers around. They're not very effective at communicating their newfound survival strategies, so the waves of New Meat that supplement their ranks continue to get mowed down (and continue to get replaced.)
  • Barkwire junior editor Ron Christianson never returned after being sent to review an unusually large and unfriendly dog named Scar.
  • Lampshaded by one Ciaphas Cain short story, where Adeptus Mechanus soldiers wear red uniforms. Ciaphas's narration even refers to them specifically as "redshirts" at one point, and predictably they're all slaughtered when the Necrons wake up.
  • In The Cold Moons, named badgers are unlikely to be randomly killed off. Most badgers either die nameless or are only first mentioned after their death.
  • The African porters of Congo, the movie or the Crichton novel, seemed to regenerate like clones. "Oh, look, there are three left. Oh, wait, the apes just killed them all. Hey, where did those other two porters come from?"
  • Discworld:
    • Spoofed in The Light Fantastic with the barbarian heroine's gang of mercenary minions. The narration says they're all probably going to die so it won't bother naming them, but most of them actually live, despite some spirited attempts from the Luggage.
    • Played seriously in Night Watch with Nancyball. He's the first of the Night Watch killed, when he's suddenly hit with a grappling hook in the stomach and dies. Unlike near every other character in the setting, he doesn't even get a visit from Death to flesh him out. Afterwards, the other coppers try talking about him, and they can't even think of anything about him, noting he never said much to anyone.
    • Pratchett in the introduction of Guards! Guards! invokes the trope by saying that the guards' ungrateful role in fantasy stories is to always get slaughtered to show how dire the threat is, and he wrote Guards! Guards! as an homage to those fine men.
  • A Terry Pratchett post in his fan newsgroup:
    DW is based on a slew of old myths, which reach their most "refined" form in Hindu mythology, which in turn of course derived from the original Star Trek episode "Planet of Wobbly Rocks where the Security Guard Got Shot".
  • The Dragon Business: Sir Tremayne's fellow knights in the first book, the mercenary fishermen after the lake monster in the second book, and the castle guards in the second book all end up slaughtered after a few chapters of page time. This gets lampshaded with the fishermen when, right before they introduce themselves, Reeger complains that this is a waste of time due to how those people are about to get eaten.
  • Parodied in The Dresden Files, when Molly is fighting a psychic battle. Her Headquarters for the fight is a copy of the classic Enterprise, complete with Kirk!Molly, Spock!Molly, Scotty!Molly, and a (construct) Redshirt!Molly who dies at the first real trouble. Harry is just miffed that she didn't use Star Wars.
  • Duncan Idaho from the Dune series is a strange example. He dies early on in the first book, but thanks to the magic of cloning, he keeps popping up again and again (and getting killed again and again,) and actually manages to be an important character regardless of his obvious red shirt status.
  • Dungeon Crawler Carl: Lampshaded by Tran, when he's being recruited for a highly dangerous trip into the ocean full of monsters. Tran actually survives, while Vadim doesn't.
    Tran: Do you own a red shirt? I feel as if I should put one on.
    Vadim: What does that mean?
  • In the prologue of Eragon, Arya is accompanied by two guards who are killed in the ambush quite easily. It's eventually deconstructed (albeit a few books too late), as she was great friends with one and in love (as much as elves can be anyway) with the other. Their deaths, along with, y'know, being tortured, are the reason she became The Stoic.
  • Late in The Fold our heroes call for military backup. They get sixteen Marines, all of whom are dead after the next fight.
  • Their outfits never get described, but in Galaxy of Fear: Army of Terror the Millennium Falcon lands on Kiva carrying its usual famous crew and a number of Rebel grunts. They join the Arrandas and company, who have found a baby, and decide to help them evacuate. Guess what happens. The baby is actually a monster; he doesn't strike when either of the Arrandas or Luke Skywalker are holding him, but when a random Rebel has him and is out of view for even a moment... Not all of them die, but all the ones whose names are mentioned.
  • Chapter 3: Lucky Red Shirt, from Hell’s Children by Andrew Boland. The Shirt does not turn out to be lucky.
  • Walter from The Host (2008). Up until his death throes, the only real characterization he has is "Supports Wanderer." When his death scene rolls around, it just serves to illustrate how caring and sensitive Wanderer is.
  • In The Land: Forging, a literal example is seen. A wood sprite joins Richter to fight at his side - with specific attention called to his red shirt - only to be killed moments later.
  • In The Maze Runner Series, the Gladers that aren’t Thomas, Teresa, Minho and Newt are basically Cannon Fodder. It’s even lampshaded when the main characters are given special roles, whilst the unnamed Gladers are simply given the text ‘to be killed by lightning/cranks/other horrific ways to kill off nameless extras’.
  • Averted in The Name of the Wind, where the Adem, a warrior race whose mercenaries wear all red outfits, and are pretty unlikely to even be wounded.
  • Utterly spindled, folded and mutilated by Night of the Living Trekkies, where the hero encounters a terrified man in a red shirt at a Star Trek convention attacked by the living dead. Turns out that "Ensign Willy Makit" has lost the rest of his group, several trekkies who claim to be from the U.S.S. Expendible... who died in ways completely unrelated to the zombies. (Willy didn't even know about them until the hero showed up.) It gets better: Willy's real name is Kenny Dyes, and he ultimately dies... in a way completely unrelated to the zombie attacks.
  • Parodied by John Scalzi in his book Redshirts, told from the point of view of an ensign on a space exploration vessel:
    The worms were in a frenzy. Somebody now was likely to die.
    It was likely to be Ensign Davis.
  • Played for Laughs in The Red Tape War: "Under no circumstances are you to jeopardize your life or your ship. The life of your companion, however, is absolutely and thoroughly expendable."
  • Subverted in the Star Trek Expanded Universe novel The Eyes of the Beholders, by A.C. Crispin. The apparent red shirt for a mission not only survives but saves the rest of the away team.
    • Played with in the Day of Honor TOS novel. A redshirt got himself good and toasted... but it was in an honorable way to the Klingons. They decided to give this guy an annual holiday.
    • Played for Laughs in the Star Trek: Enterprise novel By the Book, in which several minor characters play an RPG in the mess hall between shifts. One character, Crewman James Anderson, sees his characters repeatedly killed in the adventure, much to the amusement of everyone else. Once its status as a Running Gag is established, he decides to have fun with it and name his characters in alphabetical order.
  • In the Christopher Moore novel The Stupidest Angel, one character decides to wear a Starfleet command shirt because it's a festive, Christmas-y red colour. Another character even comments on how the redshirts always died in that series. Guess who gets shot in the head when the lead zombie walk's through the door? Here's a hint. He's wearing a red shirt, and it ain't the guy in the Santa suit.
  • In Super Minion, defied with Hellion's minions, especially unpowered ones. Everyone who goes on missions gets bulletproof clothing, and regular minions are generally expected to just surrender if confronted by a hero without boneheads or villains to protect them. Because of Fortress City's weird laws, it's almost impossible to make any charges stick against regular minions, and HH has very good lawyers who represent even regular minions.
  • There are pairs of minor backup agents in Thursday Next who tend to only show up to get killed and have punny names like Khanon and Fodder, or Deadman and Walken.
  • The Tough Guide to Fantasyland:
    • Type 1 Caravan Guards, who exist to get killed by bandits. Though they do have names and even personalities, it's said the protagonists shouldn't bother to learn them because of this.
    • The Serious Soldier, who lacks personality and whose role in the story consists mainly of helping out in the fight scenes and inevitably dying at a dramatically appropriate moment.
  • In Tress of the Emerald Sea, Hoid announces that he's going to call all the crew of the Crow's Song except the half-dozen or so with plot-relevant roles "Doug", to avoid the reader having to keep track of all their names. Surprisingly, only one Doug gets killed over the course of the story.
  • Villains by Necessity: Kimi is introduced shortly before the first Test and dies attempting it, in order to hammer home to the party that the Tests are potentially lethal.
  • Even though the Warrior Cats series has a strict Anyone Can Die policy (and how), the seldom seen Tribe of Rushing Water is made up of about 75% Red Shirts, who get killed off in bunches pretty much anytime the Tribe is featured in a book.
  • David Weber hands out "Redshirt Awards" to fans who spot errors in his books. In the next book, he names a character after the fan, and kills him. Some of the later Honor Harrington books have had entire ships crewed by Redshirts, which then get blown up.
  • Stackpole's X-Wing Series novels tend to use this rather heavily. Any number of members of Rogue Squadron have few lines and no impact on the plot, and quickly get themselves killed in dogfights. Some of them stick around for a surprisingly long time, but they always get killed sooner or later; the characters will mourn and forget about it in about four pages. Notably in Isard's Revenge the only pilots who actually got killed were the ones who had been introduced specifically for that book. Novels by Aaron Allston in that same series avert this by use of Cast of Snowflakes and Mauve Shirt.
    • Interestingly, the leader of Rogue Squadron, Wedge Antilles, is sometimes cited as an Anti Red Shirt — a minor supporting character with little backstory who survives multiple dangers. In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, where he's not minor, it doesn't apply, but in the movies, it does.
    • The Rebel/Republic pilots all wear orange flight suits, not quite playing it straight, but not quite not.
  • Yeoman, a short story by Charles Yu, parodies/deconstructs the trope. Everyone on the ship knows that the Yeoman is going to die, because they do every week. It's literally in the job description: "Yeoman, Second class: be prepared to die for no good reason". So the ship gives our protagonist a mental health counselor (if not a very good one), and he has a candid talk with his pregnant wife about what to do with the life insurance money. At the same time, the poor doomed soul can't help but feel excited he's finally going down with a landing crew. In the end, he survives, but only because his wife was not going to stand by and let it happen like everybody else (including the Yeoman).

  • Parodied many times over in filk, from Leslie Fish's "Landing Party Blues" to "Redshirt's Lament":
    Tis a gift to wear a gold shirt or a blue, you see
    But look, my dear, what they have done to me
    Even Engineering would a blessing be
    But no, they've made me Security
    Whe-en the landing party's gone
    I'll be there with my red shirt on
    I'll make sure my estate's all orderly
    Because that is the last that you'll see of me
  • Jonathan Coulton wrote the song "Red Shirt" as a theme to Redshirts, a book by John Scalzi
    They said this air would be breathable
    Get in, get out again and no one gets hurt
    Something is pulling me up the hill
    I look down in my red shirt
    I look down in my red shirt
  • Voltaire's "Expendable" from BiTrektual features a duet by a Redshirt and an Imperial Stormtrooper.
  • Funimation voice actor Vic Mignogna (who also plays Kirk in the webseries Star Trek Continues) wrote a song about the Redshirt anime equivalents, called "Soldier A":
    Soldier A, Soldier A
    The unsung hero of anime
    Hip hooray for Soldier A
    He only has one line but saves the day
    He's called upon to grunt or yell or scream
    Even if his mouth is never seen
    Through the fray with ne'er to say
    He'll lead the way, he's Soldier A

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Despite it being their job, security guards in Professional Wrestling are only good at restraining audience members. When called in to restrain or subdue an out of control Monster Heel, they are usually outmatched and knocked out within seconds despite having the numerical advantage. The WWE in particular seems to like using their poor security guards as cannon fodder for heels.
  • Armageddon 2000, Hell in a Cell. The Undertaker vs. The Rock vs. Kurt Angle vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. Triple H vs… Rikishi. Guess who gets chucked off the cell into a flatbed truck?
  • TNA used the fire dancers who performed in Samoa Joe's entrances whenever they were unfortunate enough to or brave enough to try and help him during wrestling matches or when fights broke out. None of them died, though, just got anticlimactically beaten up and thrown aside.
  • The Boys who wait on Dalton Castle in Ring of Honor. However, the main two who serve as his personal mooks got upgraded to just that, serving as Tag Team Twins who eventually helped him win the World Six Man belts from The Briscoes and Bully Ray. Yes, the latter team imploded on their route to winning the belts from them, but Castle and The Boys retained. That said, the large majority of Boys remained what amounted to red shirts.
  • Before the Ministry of Darkness’ abduction of Stephanie McMahon, her father Vince stationed a bunch of security guards outside the room where Stephanie and Shane were staying and left to face the Ministry (who had taken Sable hostage). When Vince returns, he finds the corpses of two security guards and an empty room. Turns out Shane had left the room when Vince specifically told him not to, and the security guards were taken out with ease.
  • A related concept in Professional Wrestling is the Jobber, who exists as a disposable wrestler that a promotion can use to help establish a new wrestler. These are often used when creating an indestructible Wrestling Monster, who proceeds to beat up the Jobber very badly. A promotion will often hire a local independent wrestler for a one-time appearance to fill this role, so they are often never seen again in the promotion afterwards.

  • Ever notice how in snooker it's the red balls that have the lowest value and don't get put back on the table after they've been potted?
  • In a way, American football averts this. When practicing, quarterbacks will wear red shirts so defenders will know not to hit them and thus not risk injuring them. This is because quarterbacks are the most important player on the offense and at the pro level, they're worth the most amount of money, so the quarterback is actually in the least amount of danger. However, it's played straight with college freshmen and rookie pros, who traditionally go through a "redshirt" year where they only play during practice.

    Stand-up Comedy 
  • Suzy Eddie Izzard has a routine poking fun at this, in which Steve from the accounts department beams down alongside Captain Kirk.

    Tabletop Games 
  • For a long time in the BattleTech universe, anyone who was in the military but wasn't a Mechwarrior or Aerospace pilot was regarded as this trope, with the exception of a few factions that were noted for having high regard for ground armor or infantry. This has become less prevalent in later time settings as combined arms has become more and more popular (in universe) though there are still a few factions that are noted as considering infantry units as little more than cannon fodder.
  • Brik Wars gives Hero units the explicit ability to make other units Redshirt.
  • Champions. In the "Legions of Hell" adventure from one of the old Adventurers' Club newsletters, the heroes are tasked by a witch to journey to Hell itself and rescue her daughter, and are accompanied by some NPC villains to help out. In reality, the villains are there to be periodically picked off to remind the players they're in a very unfriendly place.
  • Dungeons & Dragons, Dungeon magazine #49 adventure "The Dark Place". The adventure recommends that the Dungeon Master have the gacholoth fiend kill off one of the NPC crewmen to demonstrate to the PCs how dangerous it is.
  • The Grave Robbers from Outer Space series of B-movie games has a character in at least two who is meant to represent some minor character who's killed early on in the movie to make the danger seem real. They're accordingly weak but their special ability is any attacks against your characters have to be directed at them before anyone else, acting as a kind of meat shield.
  • Munchkin:
    • In Star Munchkin, there is a hireling called a red shirt. Their only use is to die when you lose a battle, thus preventing the "Bad Stuff" from happening to you. However, they have, on a success, a one in six chance of getting overexcited and sacrificing themselves anyway.
    • The Good, the Bad and the Munchkin has the greenhorn, whose only purpose is to be fed to a monster so you can steal its stuff and run away while it's busy chewing.
  • Paranoia has the players taking the roles of Troubleshooters tasked with the job of shooting trouble wherever it should arise in Alpha Complex. The starting rank is "Red". As each character is part of a six-pack of clones, the body count can rack up astronomically quickly....
  • Redshirts is a game in which the very objective is for the player to get all of their titular crew members killed by attempting (and failing) away team missions.
  • Scion hangs a big lampshade on this with the rules for extras. Extras are red shirts in all but name.
    • Which it inherited in their entirety from its papa-game, Exalted. The Exalted community has long referenced Extras as 'Mooks', and the game encourages them to be considered little more than ambulatory scenery for the awesome epic melodrama that is the Player Characters' lives.
  • Spirit of the Century has minions. In a bit of a switch these are mostly for the villains, but they go down right quick, and, if they are attached to a character, must quite literally die before the character can even be hurt.
  • Star Fluxx includes an Expendable Crewman card, and its artwork features a crewman wearing a red uniform. When a player is required to discard another card, he or she can discard the Expendable Crewman instead.
  • Given that there was inevitably a Collectible Card Game based on Star Trek (actually, more than one), and given CCG Importance Dissonance, there were inevitably actual Redshirt characters you could deploy. Having said that, once players hit on the idea of sending in a single character to set off all the opponent's traps, that tactic was inevitably called "Redshirting" as well.
    • For the Star Trek CCG made by Decipher, one character was specifically designed for this: Lt. Grant, who had an ability to sacrifice himself in place of other personnel in certain situations (and yes, he wore a very prominent red shirt, and the strategy article on the official site hung a big lampshade on his role). Additionally, there was the card "Security Sacrifice," which allows you to make your gold-shirts pay the ultimate price. (Oddly enough, the picture on the card is of Tasha Yar, who was a major character in the first season before succumbing to her fate.)
  • The Star Wreck Roleplaying Game literally has Redshirts instead of hit points.
  • There is an obscure German rpg based on this trope Die unglaubliche Robert Redshirt RPG Show (translated: The Incredible Robert Redshirt RPG Show). In it, the players play the production crew of a TV station producing a show (pure fiction or scripted reality) featuring an actor called Robert Redshirt. The crew tries to create dangerous situations for RR and then save hin from mortal danger, all in order to increase their viewer ratings.
  • Warhammer makes the trope a game mechanic: in any unit with a Hero or Lord-level character, when the unit takes wounds, the "Look Out, Sir!" rule allows you to sacrifice rank-and-file members of the unit if the named character would take a hit. This doesn't always apply; for example, Thorgrim Grudgebearer, king of the Dwarfs, is carried into battle on a Cool Chair (the Throne of Power, which the king is required by dwarfen law to protect at all times), but because he's so high above his men they can't get in the way of oncoming attacks, so he can't benefit from "Look Out, Sir!".
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Acolytes in the 3rd edition Inquisition codexes were essentially extra Wounds for your Inquisitor. Similarly Shield Drones for the Tau Commander exist purely to give him an extra body to take excessive wounds (a Shield Drone only has 1 wound, but it can have any number allocated to it, and any extras that it suffer will simply be discarded). You can tell that the Tau are an unusually nice faction because they use nonsapient robots as shields rather than living underlings like everyone else.
    • Most Space Marine Devastator squads can only carry 4 heavy weapons, and come as a base squad of 5 with an upgrade that can boost their squad numbers to 10. While some have special rules attached to the extra members (and even if they don't, they have the same stats and loadout as a Tactical Marine, so they're hardly negligible), they are largely seen as padded wounds to protect the actual weapon gunners. This also applies to many of the other choices, such as taking a command squad/retinue for your commander, or the Scout Neophytes for the Space Marine Initiates, for Black Templars, or the three Guardsmen in the Imperial Guard six-man special weapon squad who aren't carrying special weapons.
    • A in the Spin-Off Kill Team, where a squad of highly trained specialists go up against countless enemies, and they can purchase upgrades. The most useful: Red Shirt, a minor character who, according to the other Kill Team members, is probably going to get killed in a variety of gory ways. Can be averted in that if the Red Shirt survives, he becomes a member of the Team, and upgraded accordingly.
    • In the Only War RPG each player character has an NPC comrade accompanying them. While comrades can help out with basic actions, their primary purpose is to flesh out the squad and die horribly.
    • The Commissar's memetic execution ability (shooting a Guardsman for showing cowardice in front of the enemy, refusing to carry out a suicidal order, or commenting that their battle plan suck grox bal-*BLAM*) is used on any member of the squad, targeting Guardsmen without special weapons first, officers and specialists second, and himself never despite the undeniable boost in morale this would cause.

  • The soldiers of Archbishop Olav Engelbrektsson in Opera Olav Engelbrektsson are all dressed in red uniforms, and dead by the end of the play.
  • Parodied with the Tortuga Twins live show "Tortuga Spies" where the show's villain has two minions in pink shirts. During the second act, a third minion wearing a red shirt is added and immediately shot and killed. It's then lampshaded in that the villain comments about getting the joke as the minion is dragged off stage.

  • Early on in Bearmageddon, Ethan sold cameo appearances in the comic to interested readers, for crowd shots of people getting mauled by bears. More expensive cameos involved appearing in the foreground and saying one or two lines before they went out.
  • In Captain Ufo, Ufo sometimes treats low-rank crewmembers in the military division as this. They do wear a red uniform too.
  • The clone troopers in Darths & Droids. Amusingly, in some cases they're eager to die.
    Cdr. Cody: Although, we could go in first to see if it's a trap.
    Obi-wan: That's... very nice of you. But don't worry. I'm sure it's a trap.
    Cody: We could go in first and trigger the trap.
    Obi-wan: You guys need a union.
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse: The poor vargas who woke up Broly. And things don't seem to be going any better for the ones who tried to send Buu back to Universe 4.
  • Played deliberately straight by the crew of the Enterprise in the Star Trek DeviantArt web comic, Ensign Sue Must Die. The crew quickly find out that Ensign Mary Sue is EXTREMELY annoying. Virtually all attempts to get rid of her fail. Including shooting her! She's spent the past few years building up an immunity to phaser blasts. So the crew turn to the one guaranteed way of killing off a crew member. They give her a promotion which changes her shirt colour from blue to red. They waste no time and go on an away mission, where she is killed almost immediately.
  • Freefall: Sam invokes it with his deployment orders during a pie fight: "Red shirt guy, intercept incoming pies".
  • Officers Gets killed and Oneshot in Girly. Amusingly, neither of them die, and Getskilled goes on to become a minor part of the ensemble until at last he meets his eventual fate. It's pretty cool. Oneshot, on the other hand, just never shows up again after not dying.
  • Intragalactic has its Enstant Ensigns, who are apparently mass-produced disposable clones in stylish red outfits. They work hard and die with great efficiency, some even climbing into their disposal Ensacks before the ship crashes, to save time. Then, when the ship docks, they are taken off to the Ensignerator.
  • Parodied in Legostar Galactica where one of the main characters is Ensign Redshirt and is continually being killed yet is always brought back to life. It's to the point that a laser shot in the opposite direction will actually bend just to hit him. It is subverted later, however, when a series of accidents fall on another character while sparing Ensign Redshirt, who's the first surprised.
  • Played with in Strip 480 of Metroid: Third Derivative in which Joey asks for red paint so he can paint a Redshirt on all the other degenerates.
  • Subverted in The Order of the Stick: Two heroic soldiers (to whom Belkar had even referred as "the two redshirts") make a stand to let Elan escape. Elan stops to explain the trope to them in some detail. One of them is fatally injured in the ensuing battle, and tells the other his given name, at which point he is suddenly healthy and no longer in danger of death. He saves revealing his family name "for an emergency". The pair of them become secondary characters as the plot continues.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • Subverted in that most characters who die are both well-established and wearing aquamarine uniforms rather than red ones. Officers wear red uniforms, but they seem to survive very well.
      • Lieutenant (later Lieutenant-Commander) Der Trihs (Red Shirt spelled backwards) is one of these officers. He is repeatedly injured in various grievous ways, including being reduced to a head-in-a-jar several times, but never actually dies. Instead, he eventually retires from the mercenary business to live with a pretty girl on a paradisaical vacation-planet. It is revealed at one point that his skull is quite nearly impervious to harm.
  • Sluggy Freelance has been around long enough to have hit this trope dozens of times. Without even bringing in the number of disposable elves who die in the formerly annual Christmas messes, there's:
    • This and this strip from the "Stick Figures in Spaaaaace" series of stick-figure Filler Strips have characters with red shirts getting killed by random gunfire. Not an actual straight example but Parodied Trope.
    • During "Oceans Unmoving", Quartermaster Flipp complains about not getting any characterization... and is knocked overboard to certain death in the very next strip. Of course, it's subverted when, after the whole plot and the deaths of many major and minor characters, it's revealed that he didn't die, but instead is sent through time.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent:
    • The main characters are viewed as this by their employers. After all, the employers in question are not going on that expedition into the Forbidden Zone themselves because they don't want to die. This makes the fact that Emil is said employer's own nephew an element of the story's Fridge Horror. And let's not get started on the two other members of Mission Control who roped in two of their distant cousins and a woman to whom they're a Honorary Uncle respectively.
    • The recruitment poster for the Cleansers has fine print mentioning that joining them voids all life insurance.
  • Completely subverted in Starslip Crisis with the introduction of Quine, a "Protocol Officer" who's in charge of building relationships with new species. While he has a tendency to die on every "away mission", upon death, a clone is awakened on ship with all of his memories up to the time of death intact. The trope is outright inverted by the fact that he's the only member on the ship with this privilege (due to the rarity and importance of the protocol officer).
  • In Survivor: Fan Characters, Orwell in Season 13 was a Star Trek fan character who wore a red shirt and barely avoided dying from freak accidents multiple times. Ironically, he actually ended up being one of the season's luckiest characters as not only did he never actually die, but the comic's creator changed his elimination to occur much later in the season than initially planned.
  • Subverted in Tower of God: You'd think the bunch of Regulars that got killed off or beaten up in some way would be nameless extras, but as their unique character designs might hint, a lot of the get names. Weird names, but still.
  • What's New? with Phil and Dixie strip on "Weatherlight" Saga has "Snapper" McFipt:
    Shipman. You know when a monster or ninja or something sneaks on board and attacks a crewman to show how evil it is? Well, the person it attacks is McFipt, and he's getting pretty tired of it.
  • Wonderlab:
    • The character of Parker only exists to spout exposition about the branch of Lobotomy Corporation the story takes place in. After that, they are killed to demonstrate Dingle Dangle's powers and Catt's badassery.
    • Narae is pretty much Cannon Fodder in the form of a character. They exist to demonstrate that Abnormalities are capable of killing employees even if they do the right thing. While Attachment work was the right thing to use on My Sweet Home, they spent an unnecessarily long amount of time in the Containment Unit. As a result, they gave into My Sweet Home's temptations and fused with it, resulting in Narae's death.

    Web Original 
  • The French Web writer ASP Explorer, in the 9th story in his work Les Fantastiques Aventures de Morgoth l'Empaleur (not related to this Morgoth), plays with this hilariously: the adventuring party meet in jail a young and idealistic 1st-level mage called Tiberius K. Redshirt. He wishes to accompany them when they escape, and shortly later we learn that his middle name is Kenny. One of the main characters explains stealthily to the hero that nobody else expect him to last alive very long, because he doesn't have the thing, whatever it is, that make an adventurer. He open doors, he pull levers, he press switches and not only lives through the dungeon, which ironically is not the case of the character who distrusted him, though it is unrelated, but gains enough XP to become 8th-level innkeeper when he quits adventuring. He then lives a long and peaceful life until the age of ninety-three years, when he dies by falling from a staircase.
    • And his death is later retconned away when he gains another bunch of levels and more-or-less ascends to godhood.
    • The Double Subversion comes a few in-story years later with Morgoth's space program: The ship gets a lot of soldiers "named in homage to a friend of the Emperor's", and those die in troves without anybody caring.
  • Cheat Commandos parodies this with its Green Helmets. "We've got, like, fifty of them!" Taken further as Green Helmet action figures come in packs of three, and are advertised as being "extra melty".
  • The Codeless Code has the abbots. If they mismanage a project, they probably won't survive to the end of the story. Lampshaded in Case 125, where the head abbot is looking for replacements. A footnote notes that "abbots of the Spider Clan have life expectancy of a dolphin in the Gobi desert."
  • The CollegeHumor short Jurassic Park Character's Awful Realization is explicitly about this, wherein the main cast are arguing over who should distract the T. rex with a flare. Gennaro (played by the original actor) is elected for this, and accuses the others, "I'm only here to die, aren't I?" The other characters fail to reassure him ("You're a very important character!") and an argument ensues wherein Genre Savvy Gennaro insists it's unfair to ask the most obviously doomed character to go out there, saying Grant and Ellie are both needed experts, Malcolm is the tension-relieving comic relief, and Tim and Lex are kids, and he's simply "the lawyer." The others try and convince him maybe he's a Mauve Shirt instead. Malcolm ultimately tosses him out of the Explorer and after a failed attempt to persuade the T. rex he's plot relevant by saying he's Tim and Lex's real father, he gets nommed.
  • Most of the guards in COPS: Skyrim. Especially when facing things like dragons, trolls, or giants.
  • In the podcast series Crogan Adventures episode Island Lost To Time a background character volunteers to go with the leads on an expedition to find dinosaurs. The captain scathingly points out that he's new, they don't know anything about him except his name and while in her experience it has been useful the way guys like that get killed right off to tell the others how dangerous things are she'd rather skip that step and just assume this will be dangerous from the start. Once on the island they immediately meet a new guy though and...
  • To celebrate Star Trek's 46th anniversary, Google converted the letters in its logo into Star Trek characters, with the "e" wearing a red shirt and looking nervous. If you click on the turbo-lift, he and an "o" (Kirk) beam down to a planet to fight Gorn, but the "e" keeps getting caught in the cross-fire. He doesn't die, but he goes back to the bridge unhappy.
  • Finding creative ways to kill off redshirts was part of the fun for some of the writers of the League of Intergalactic Cosmic Champions (other writers thought they were sick).
  • In RedLetterMedia's review of First Contract, one of the goldshirts (an anonymous extra in the background) pipes up and protests the suicidal nature of his mission.
    "Have Sanchez do it! Or McGillicutty! …I-I'll be in the back, supervising!"
    • SFDebris theorizes the goldshirts are so incompetent because they're all algae scientists or astronomers, unwittingly enlisted into combat once Starfleet re-militarizes during TNG. They're trained to measure soil toxicity, not kick-box with Borg.
    Goldshirt: [sobs] I just wanted to be a botanist!!
  • SCP Foundation:
    • All D-class personnel of the Foundation are this. Class D is the designation given to those who handle the more dangerous SCP items, and they tend to be brutally killed en masse. And if they survive to the end of the month, they're supposedly executed anywaynote . Some of the potential guilt over sacrificing so many people is mitigated by the fact that D-class personnel are either death-row convicts (meaning they are marked for death anyway and probably deserve it) or personnel who screwed up so badly that they got demoted to Class D (meaning a massive breach of ethics and/or causing a containment breach). Needless to say, it gets lampshaded a lot. One of the things that Dr. Bright is no longer allowed to do at the Foundation is swap out D-Class uniforms with red leotards.
    • One of the SCPs is a Portal Pool that cycles through its destinations whenever someone goes through it. Unfortunately, several of those destinations are near-instantly fatal (several of them are in space), so several D-Class personnel are deliberately sacrificed to send people where they need to go (although they do give the D-Class poison so they won't have to wait too long).
    • The original Star Trek red shirts (and the main character's Plot Armor) was briefly parodied in SCP-674, a Nintendo Entertainment System Zapper that can shoot fictional characters on screen. It's all but stated that the tester tried shooting at the bridge crew of the Original Series, but only was able to hit the Red Shirts.
  • On Smosh, in this video.
  • On Stone Trek this is consistently lampshaded: Every time a redshirt dies, a "Dead Redshirt Count" is shown.
    • It's also played with in the episode Star Trekkin just about everyone but Kirkstone, Sprock, and RcKoy dies, though Sprock is transformed into one of the creepy jellyfish (his head on their tentacles).
  • Phelous in To Boldly Flee is one of these. Strangely, this gives him functional immortality, as on the one hand, there are always more redshirts just like the killed ones still on the ship, and on the other hands, he's the only one they have. So, whenever he's killed, another Phelous is suddenly alive on the ship.
    • Or to explain it in another way, he's simultaneously running on the Original Series rules (this trope) and Next Generation rules (he's important to the plot). Which was also lampshaded.
    • It gets lampshaded/parodied like crazy later on, with the methods of killing Phelous getting more and more ridiculous. And then he just dodges everything trying to kill him.
  • Welcome to Night Vale has the constant deaths of the community station's lowly interns/staffers. Cecil will mention their "sacrifice" to the station's cause.
    • There are also Intern t-shirts in the TopatoCo store. Guess what color they are.
  • We're Alive had The Tower with about 30 unvoiced survivors. They all got killed off in the Second Season finale "The Harder They Fall"
  • Lampshaded in Worms Trek Rhapsody. One gets hit by a Klingon missile (Scotty's line "Hit by Klingon missiles, no!"), another gets fired out of a torpedo bay ("Photon torpedooooooos!").

    Western Animation 
  • Star Trek:
    • Averted in Star Trek: The Animated Series; where nobody on the Enterprise died in two seasons. In fact, nobody at all died (except in backstories of abandoned civilizations and such) except in "The Slaver Weapon", where three Kzinti are exploded onscreen by Self-Destructing Security.
    • Surprisingly enough, this is one aspect of the franchise that does not get played straight and is barely parodied by Star Trek: Lower Decks. The only member of Cerritos crew who is killed during the first season is Lieutenant Shaxs, Cerritos security chief and a fairly significant character.note  And this despite the show not wasting time in having a transporter or holodeck malfunction episode. And he comes Back from the Dead in season 2, although we're never told how — with good reason, apparently. Hilariously, Boimler does die three times and is revived in the series', as of this writing, four seasons — he drowns at the end of Season 2, suffers from heat stroke and dehydration in Season 3, and is blown up in Season 4. He comes back after each incident, his status as a Butt-Monkey being the only reason.
    • That said, the term "Red Shirts" gets used in-universe, by a group of ensigns who are hoping to progress up the command ladder and take Boimler under their wing. He ends up telling off their leader for trying too hard to copy other famous captains, as all they did during a crisis was make simultaneous speeches, while Boimler weaponized his own clumsy nature to calm down the angry mutant scorpion form of Tendi (long story). The Dramatic Irony is intentional.
  • Adventure Time: The titular character of "James," who wears a red radiation suit, is sacrificed by Bubblegum to the zombies of the crater, and then subverts the trope because he's an Expendable Clone like most of the candy people. And then further subverts the trope when his original body becomes undead and leads the zombies out of the crater.
  • Parodied in an episode of Bojack Horseman when they're planning to break into a museum and after Bojack says one of them might die, the camera pans to Alan the cable guy (who happened to be wearing a red shirt), who they then forced to come along. After being told repeatedly that he's definitely going to die, he's then shot by the police when Margo Martindale uses him as a human shield but his phone blocked the bullet.
  • Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys: The holo-boons, Hard Light baboons in red jumpsuits.
  • Duckman did a full-blown parody of Star Trek: The Original Series ("Where No Duckman Has Gone Before"), with the various characters playing Kirk's crew. Fittingly, the red shirts were Fluffy and Uranus.
    Duckman: [doing the captain's log] As purely extraneous cast members, Fluffy and Uranus's sole purpose is to be killed upon arrival, thus allowing the rest of us to get on with the damn story. [beat] Aw, the hell with it. [shoots them himself]
  • Family Guy: Parodied in the same episode that the quote at the top of this article comes from: when Peter is running in the road with William Shatner, the latter gets hit and killed by a car. The camera then pans to Ensign Ricky, who declares: "I did not see that coming."
  • Futurama:
    • Parodied in "Where No Fan Has Gone Before", in which the entire Star Trek: The Original Series cast is threatened by a jealous energy being, but only Welshy (a parody of a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for Scotty), who's dressed in the classic red shirt, gets killed. Three times over.
    • In the same episode, a flashback of the so-called Star Trek Wars is shown where some officials are throwing redshirted Star Trek devotees into a volcano while chanting "He's dead Jim."
    • Additionally, Zapp Brannigan's entire brigade all wear red which accurately shows how he often sacrifices them freely and considers all missions suicide missions.
    • Parodied again in "Murder on the Planet Express," where the regular crew and Scruffy the Janitor's heretofore-unseen apprentice, Jackie Jr., go on a team-building retreat that turns deadly. Subverted in that the entire situation was staged and everyone "eaten" by the monster is alive and well.
      Farnsworth: Oh my, adrift in deepest space with a vicious alien killer aboard! Any one of us could be next. Fry, Bender, Jackie Jr., Leela—
      (Monster descends from the ceiling and snarfs up Jackie Jr. in one gulp.)
      Bender: (aside to Fry) That took longer than I expected.
  • Providence soldiers in Generator Rex. Not only are they merely cannon fodder, they're also completely useless when battling against actual EVOs, presumably so Rex can come and save the day. It gets horribly ironic in the episode "Basic", when Rex and Noah take up Providence's basic training - the trainees are expected to take down one of the strongest EVOs in the series (one that not even Rex was able to defeat, even with his powers). Each of them, alone. With just a gun. It's not so much Training from Hell as it is a ridiculous joke.
    • Naturally this rule doesn't apply to any Providence Soldier who's seen Without A Helmet, they're all Mauve Shirts and generally fair pretty well, though the rules of Family-Friendly Firearms seem to dictate that they can never accomplish anything meaningful with their rifle-err, "Blasters".
    • "Basic" did provide some justification, however. The purpose of the grunts being more to distract the EVOs and keep them away from civilians while stalling them long enough for Rex or another main character to actually take said EVOs down. Granted they tend to take insane casualties, with a few exceptions, such as "Leader of the Pack" (where the redshirts respond to an ineffective Five Rounds Rapid against a giant worm by calling in a gunship and ripping the EVO apart) and most notably "The Forgotten" in which a team of redshirts (and a Mauve Shirt) survive being trapped inside a city of hostile EVOS.
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero: The Joes had "Greenshirts" as they would come to be called. Their look was based on Grunt who was the most generic looking character of all the Joes, probably hence the name "Grunt". They weren't used as cannon fodder per se in the cartoon, for obvious reasons. But they did make animating large battle scenes easier because all the main characters had unique appearances and animating a large number of them onscreen at the same time often proved laborious. Typically, one or two main characters would be fully animated in the foreground while several Greenshirts served as background employing more limited animation. Also, the addition of generic soldiers solved the problem of Cobra troops outnumbering the Joes. They're all males throughout the series. But a few female Greenshirts are seen, especially in "Spell of the Siren".
  • Pretty much any GL Corps member seen in Green Lantern: The Animated Series that doesn't come from the comics. For instance, the pilot introduces us to a GL named M'ten, just to have him violently killed off in order to establish the Red Lanterns as a threat.
  • Kaeloo: If you're one of the talking flowers, there's a ninety-nine percent chance you won't survive till the end of the episode.
  • Kim Possible:
    • Parodied in the Trapped in TV Land episode called "Dimension Twist", when Kim is temporarily sent to a Star Trek-esque TV show and appears in a red uniform:
      Wade: This is the part of the show where they pick series regulars to go on a mission. Just make sure you're not the one wearing...
      Kim: ... A red shirt?
      Pseudo-Kirk: And... [to Kim] you! You're expendable.
    • And parodied again in another episode with a cheese tour guide wearing a red dress and a logo that resembles Starfleet's. She is last seen swept away in molten cheddar, no sign of Kim rescuing her or anything.
    • Also, Drakken's rank-and-file henchmen wear red uniforms. They don't get killed because it's not that kind of show, but they are generally easily defeated by Kim.
  • The Klokateers in Metalocalypse
    Facebones: And most important, remember — death is an everyday part of the workplace! So, when you see a dead body, don't freak out!
    Toki: [is taking out the trash and comes across a rotting corpse] Wowee!
    Facebones: Just... ring your Deth-bell!
    Toki: [rings his Deth-bell]
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: The Princesses' Royal Guard has, to put it nicely, a disastrous track record in about anything. They never actually get killed (this is My Little Pony we're talking about, after all), but anything they can recover from is fair game. Arrest someone? They get zapped. Find a stolen bird? They get bluffed by the culprits. National Emergency? They're not even there. Guard the Archives? They unlock the doors for the intruders (though in this case, the intruder, being Celestia's personal student, had every right to be in there anyway). Monitor wedding preparations? They get infiltrated. Capital under attack? They get overrun without effort. Neighbouring state in peril? They play messenger. Seeing how they're Bodyguarding a Badass, one has to wonder what their purpose is beyond projecting authority.
  • Robot Chicken:
    • The Redshirt gets his revenge in a Star Trek sketch. When the crew teleported down to a planet to survive the Enterprise exploding, the crew reasons that to survive one of them must be sacrificed as food. Obviously they choose the Red Shirt first, but the Redshirt tells them off by saying "On behalf of all the redshirts that fell before me, it makes me very very proud to speak the following sentence... I'm the only one who brought a gun." He proceeds to kill and eat them all.
      "Mmm... that's good ham."
    • Of course, they also played it straight in another sketch.
  • Played straight in The Simpsons episode "Trouble with Trillions", where Homer is trying to get someone to confess to a crime and his rarely seen co-worker Charlie is arrested for admitting to being part of a militia which plans to beat up US government officials. Lampshaded in the DVD Commentary.
  • Perfectly parodied in the South Park episode "City on the Edge of Forever". The school bus is trapped teetering on the edge of a cliff and the bus driver leaves to find help, ordering the kids to remain on the bus or else a big black monster will eat them. After a long time of waiting, the children grow nervous and antsy. One of the kids — a child wearing an actual Star Trek Redshirt outfit — can't take the waiting and leaves the bus to find help. No black monster appears and the kid even waves back to the other kids, causing remarks from the main characters about how the bus driver must have lied... only for the big black monster to immediately appear and eat the red-shirted kid.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
    • The episode "Lair of Grievous" makes use of this trope; Jedi Master Kit Fisto is accompanied on his mission by his never-before-mentioned Padawan Nahdar Vebb and a group of clone troopers. Predictably enough, each of them had died a horrible death by the end of the episode. The writers were aware of this convention and gave the clones red-striped body armour.
    • Any clone that bears completely white armor would be dead by the end of the episode.
    • Any clone that doesn't have a name in any episode.
    • Many clones who DO have names also die. Their death is just more noticeable and sudden, and gives a name for the main characters to scream out in sorrow. Matchstiiiiiiick!!!
  • It's also not hard to tell who is disposable in any given episode of Star Wars Rebels, if you pay attention to the character's headgear. Specifically, if you can see their eyes, they're safe for at least one episode, though the series does have a number of Mauve Shirt characters too. Obviously, there are Imperial Stormtroopers, TIE Pilots, and weapons technicians, who have always had full helmets anyway, but Imperial Officers who fall under this trope will have their hat pulled down far enough that it obscures their eyes. Even on the side of the Rebellion we see this, with Troopers in this series wearing a helmet that features orange-tinted goggles. Rebel pilots who aren't important also wear helmets similar to the ones used by A-Wing pilots in Return of the Jedi, but with an opaque orange visor.
    • Interestingly, the season finale of Season 2 introduced a new Inquisitor, the Jedi Hunters that served as main antagonists for the first two seasons, called the Eighth Brother who wears a full-faced helmet. Guess who dies in his first appearance.
    • This is also somewhat true of Mandalorian characters. If a Mandalorian is shown without their helmet at any point, they’re safe for at least one episode. Anyone else might as well be wearing wet tissue paper instead of Beskar.
  • Steven Universe: Rubies are part of the Hive Caste System that the Gem Homeworld has for every type of Gem, and their role is common, disposable soldiers that can be shattered and replaced on a whim. They're even literally red (as are their shirts).
  • Lampshaded in the Tiny Toon Adventures episode "Duck Trek". Plucky (as Captain Quirk), Hamton (as Mr. Spork), Furrball (as Dr. Furr), and three Red Shirts (Shirley the Loon, Sweetie Pie, and Saul Sheepdog) are on a planet covered in hair.
    Plucky: Spork, Doc, you come with me. (To the Red Shirts) You extras wander off that way and disappear. (And they do)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) mocked this in an episode of its first Show Within a Show, Space Heroes. The captain specifically brings two crewman along when he beams down to a dangerous planet so they'll get shot instead of him.
  • The interns in Total Drama and its Spin-Off Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race are most definitely this as they're used to set up and test the extremely dangerous challenges before the contestants get to them. Many don't make it out alive or are horribly injured at the very least.
  • Parodied and averted with Red Five in Transformers: Cyberverse. He has the same design as the generic Autobot soldier, but with a bright red paint job. He's introduced suddenly in "Escape From Earth" with no build up and his starfighter is destroyed shortly after the mission begins. As the mission continues, named character's fighters are destroyed and it's revealed that the starships were unmanned. The whole operation being a distraction and everyone is fine.
  • Lampshaded endlessly in an episode of The Venture Bros., where Mauve Shirt Henchmen #21 and #24 repeatedly taunt the previously unseen Henchman #1 for his red shirt status. By the end of the episode, #1 is seemingly beaten to death by Brock Samson, as the Genre Savvy #21 and #24 miraculously escape harm. He's shown to have survived, and tries to make it as a villain on his own under the name Zero, but fails to escape his red shirt status as his neck is snapped by Brock on Gargantua-2 three seasons after their previous encounter.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Red Shirts


Olson the Red Shirt

In the 2009 reboot of Star Trek, one of the crew members assigned to disabling the Romulan drill, Olson, wanting to show up the rookies and thinking the drop is all fun and games, waits until the absolute last moment before popping his parachute. Kirk (who normally is reckless but makes the smart decision here) and Sulu pull their chutes at a safe distance above the platform, but Olson turns out to have waited too long, and winds up bouncing off the platform of the drill and dropping right into the path of the mining laser beam, completely vaporizing him and the explosive charges he was carrying for destroying the drill.

How well does it match the trope?

4.89 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / TooDumbToLive

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