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Redshirt Army

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Unknown Speaker: Just give me rough projections on Marines casualties.
1st Lt Darren Alpaugh: Approximately 1,000 to 2,500.
Unknown Speaker: Total?
1st Lt Darren Alpaugh: No sir. Per week.

The Cavalry has arrived! Unfortunately, they're all Red Shirts... and they all graduated from the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy. Uh-oh.

The Hero, who may or may not have any special training or powers, is to be escorted into a "hot zone" by a team of Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, Space Marines, a SWAT Team, or some other heavily-armed and, one would assume, well-trained unit. Invariably, mere minutes into the mission, they've all been ambushed and killed off by the platoon-load, leaving only the hero alive to finish the job.

Happens all the time in action shows; so often, in fact, that it makes one wonder how these guys ever passed muster (heck, even survived long enough) for assignment to an elite military or security force if they drop like mayflies in every tactical situation.

This often massive loss of life will rarely be noted by anyone or have any direct effect on the plot, unless the heroes need to emote over how senseless the situation is. These guys are spear carriers in the finest Joseph Campbell tradition.

Provides a convenient demonstration of just how scary the villain is and also explains why the villain gets away all the time (at least at the time).

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  It's simply that of the men who do die under Kirk's command, they're far more likely to be wearing a red shirt than a blue or gold one.note 

This is sometimes justified by the idea that the doomed Red Shirts are actually quite competent, especially in other areas, but they've never had any formal training in how to fight beings that can kill them simply if you look at them funny. In other words, take The Worf Effect and apply it to an entire military.

As the singular Red Shirt is the "good" counterpart to Evil Minions, the Redshirt Army is the "good" counterpart to the endless hordes of Mooks (and thus where to go when looking for easily-killed bad guys). The Badass Army is the logical opposite to this; take note how often (as in the example above) Red Shirt Army is, in fact, a subversion of Badass Army via The Worf Effect. Another opposite are the Men of Sherwood, who aren't quite badass enough to qualify as a Badass Army, but who are at least competent enough at their jobs not to be wiped out on the spot.

See Gideon Ploy for when no such army is arriving. See also Vanilla Unit, which tend to make up playable Redshirt Armies.

Often precedes Monster Threat Expiration.

See Also: A-Team Firing, Cannon Fodder, Conservation of Ninjutsu, Curb-Stomp Battle, Lemming Cops

Also: A Red Shirt that has, through luck, moxie, or through the endearment of the fanbase may become a Mauve Shirt...clothed in the most powerful of Plot Armor. The Mauve Shirt will often accompany the army as their leader or representative...and generally makes it out alive. That is, until the Plot Armor wears off.

Not to be confused with Giuseppe Garibaldi's Italian Redshirts, who were a real-life Badass Army. Or with the British Redcoats, the land component of one of the greatest military forces in history.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Any friendly force in a Humongous Mecha series that isn't equipped with Humongous Mecha. (The AD Police in the Bubble Gum Crisis OVAs count here, despite the fact that they had mecha — the mecha they had were the mass-produced tin-can-death-trap variety.) If all the main characters have unique mecha, then any friendly force that does have mecha but only has one or two different models that qualify. For example, the allied armies in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann are simply cannon fodder.
  • Most of the characters from Attack on Titan are in one. Military training is essentially designed to weed out the weaker, less skilled, and less determined of the bunch by being physically and psychologically grueling, but even the hardy recruits who manage to graduate can easily die in battle against the Titans. The manga has tons of characters, but after the front line troops in the Survey Corps suffer several high casualty events, the only survivors of the final engagement are the main characters and one random guy.
    • This seems to apply no matter which side of the conflict you're on, as is also shown with both Marleyan soldiers and the Mid-East Alliance army.
  • In Berserk any army that doesn't have a main or plot important character in it is dead meat. There's also what happened to a lot of the Hawk's Raiders whenever the Hawks went up against an Apostle. Or what happened to nearly everyone in the entire Band when the Eclipse went down. It's easy to believe the band of the Hawk consists of only Guts, Casca, Griffith, and the Raiders. Their actual numbers are somewhere around 5,000 men, but all focus is put on the former mentioned members.
  • In Bleach the shinigami are completely useless against ANY threat which comes to them and have to be bailed out by the main heroes. Only the Lieutenants and Captains manage to be useful and avoid this, even though they are subject to The Worf Effect at the same time. Lampshaded and acknowledged when the captains acknowledge there's maybe ten people in Soul Society who are up to fighting with Aizen, they know it, and they make up the bulk of the Gotei 13's fighting power. Also, Ichigo is apparently twice as strong as they are, which is why they suck compared to him.
  • Ditto Paradigm City's Military Police forces in The Big O. The lone ones that don't give up by the finale and actually try to join the fight on Roger's side get vaporized in fairly short order. This actually becomes a plot point in Season 2. The commissioner is shown many times to be struggling with the fact that he and his men are almost completely useless against the giant robot-threats that keep popping up everywhere. Its also indicated that this inferiority complex was the reason he was so hostile toward Big O in Season 1.
  • Lampshaded in the cover of chapter 144 of Blade of the Immortal manga which features a dartboard with bullseye being taken up by a picture of the leader (100 points for hitting it) while the outermost ring is a picture of a faceless goon (10 points for hitting it). See it here.
  • The AD Police of the Bubblegum Crisis universes. Slightly lampshaded in the non-canon Bubblegum Crisis: Grand Mal comic where an AD Police grunt stands in front of a wall memorial of fallen officers and retorts against a comment on how overarmed and overpowered the AD Police are.
  • 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 exist within the Corps - only nine Hashira at most are accounted for when the roster is complete.
  • Dragon Ball Z sees multiple cases of Redshirt armies ripped apart by horrifically powerful aliens and androids. By the time the Buu saga rolls around you'd think they'd have learned that when someone is spotted who flies and uses Ki Attacks its best to just sit back and wait for those other flying folks to take care of the job before sending waves upon waves of men to die.
  • Fairy Tail: Whenever the military of Fiore tries to dispose of villains, they're often utterly curb stomped, or forced to retreat.
  • Gantz: Any and all non-Gantz hunters will be utterly useless when it comes to fighting the aliens, as seen from the Osaka arc onwards. Many Gantz hunters and whole teams die in their fights, with the ship infiltration in the End of the World arc being an exemplary instance.
  • Gundam:
    • The Federation forces in the original Mobile Suit Gundam had the GMs, mass-produced mecha whose sole purpose was to die in droves against Char's Gelgoog, Zeong, or Dozle's Big Zam (which weren't mass produced), as well as the M61 Main Battle Tank for when they needed something that Zeon's own mooks could threaten.
    • As the structural analogue of the Earth Federation military in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, the various military branches of the United Earth Sphere Alliance occupy a similar role against the five titular Gundams. It doesn't help that they've spent the last sixty years in much more mundane and complacent roles, and more conventional forces — particularly aircraft, mechanized infantry, tanks, and warships — are as least as numerous as their mobile suit forces. The first of multiple coups sees the Alliance military disbanded and the Special Mobile Suit Troops, OZ's formal cover, replace them (who enjoy more success against the Gundams, after a lot of work)
    • Both the Earth Alliance and ZAFT in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED and Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny were this way. Whether it was Strike Daggers and GINNs, or Windams and ZAKUs.
    • The whole of the Earth Sphere Federation forces in Gundam 00: A Wakening of the Trailblazer. In their defense, they were outnumbered 10,000-to-1. Nobody's going to do particularly well with those odds.
    • The rebel group Katharon of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 looks like the AEUG to the A-Laws Titans, except that the AEUG had great mechas and pilots while the Katharon go into battle with mechas that where useless in the previous season that takes place four years ago. Their only purpose is to momentarily distract the A-Laws while Celestial Being does all the actual fighting. You have to wonder why they even bother if all they do is die. Briefly subverted when A-Laws brings out anti-beam smoke. Even the mighty 00 is hampered by its reliance on beam weapons and it falls to Katharon and their obsolete solid guns to pull CB out of a tight spot. Fortunately for them A-Laws relied heavily on beam weapons too.
    • In the first season of Mobile Suit Gundam 00, anyone who ever pilots an AEU-MS are automatically members of the Redshirt Army. During the battle in Moralia, there were more than 200 Hellions and several brand-new Enacts. The survivors ran away when the Gundam Meisters had slain about 200 soldiers in minutes.
    • The first part of Mobile Suit Gundam AGE introduces the Genoace, which, upon inspection, seems to have been made with very little regard to combat effectiveness. Its weapons are rather poor excuses for the title (a beam spray gun and a heat stick,), it's lightly armored, and to cap it all off, the Federation was still using it despite the fact that they had failed to claim a single victory with the thing over the first fifteen years of the Vagan war.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans has a subversion with it's GM expy, the Shiden — while the suit fills most of the roles that the GM normally would have, although unlike the GM, the amount destroyed is rather small in comparisonnote . Playing this straight, however, are the Grazes and Reginlazes in the faction loyal to McGillis Fareed, which much like the ones used by the villains, go down rather easily.
  • Heavy Object: Units attached to Objects serve as this, primarily existing to die in droves in order to support their Elite and inconvenience the protagonists. The 37th Maintenance Battalion is no exception aside from the protagonists and a handful of side characters like Myonri who lived long enough to get a second appearance.
  • Both the unpowered human soldiers of the Hellsing organization and their Wild Geese mercenary replacements fall into this, being near-useless against the enemy vampires in close range (to their credit, the Wild Geese were well-aware of it and took pains to engage the vampires at long-range, but unfortunately were unable to keep it up). The ghouls fall into this category as well since they are little more than vampire-controlled, mindless zombies.
  • They may not wear red, but the generic Combat Mages of Lyrical Nanoha have a tendency to get mowed down whenever they encounter the current villain's main forces. They're pretty good at keeping Mecha-Mooks at bay though, and they were able to contain the Wolkenritter until their Mysterious Protector appeared. In their defense, the main villains of the series are way out of their league. They're essentially cops, and you expect them to be able to take on an insane and insanely powerful mage (albeit with a bit of an Informed Ability), One-Man Army magic knights from an Artifact of Doom and a Mad Scientist and his super-powered cyborg minions and countless attack drones.
  • Macross: The regular UN forces in Macross 7 and later Macross Frontier (who in both cases were mostly flying outdated Humongous Mecha and had limited, if any, combat experience; this is even a plot point in Frontier and is used to explain the existence of Private Military Contractors).
  • The entire UEAF navy in Martian Successor Nadesico seem to exist purely for blowing up. They rarely do anything and in one episode when the Nadesico's mechs start firing on them accidentally, easily destroy ships which allegedly cost more than the titular ship.
  • Mazinger Z: In the last Go Nagai manga arc, the Japanese army created the Mazinger army — a squad of mass-production, piloted Mazingers — to try and defeat Big Bad Dr. Hell once and for all. 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. The entire army but one got annihilated, and you will never guess who was the single survivor. Sayaka. The Mazinger army reappeared in Mazinkaiser, and all of them were quickly destroyed and killed by the Mykene empire army. Only Tetsuya and Jun survived, and only Tetsuya put out a good, actual fight.
  • All of the soldiers stationed in the castle at the beginning of Murder Princess are easily wiped out by a bunch of trolls and a Tyke Bomb mechanical doll.
  • In Naruto, despite the ANBU Black Ops supposedly being the strongest ninjas, with many of the best ninjas in the series being former members, they are usually killed off pretty quickly. Similarly, the Great Shinobi Alliance pretty much just exists to die in large numbers. After one day of fighting, a full half of the army was dead.
  • The Magical Teachers and Students in Negima! Magister Negi Magi during the Mahora Fair arc were woefully unprepared for the fight... so Negi cons the entire student body into making a second Redshirt Army for this fight.
  • And the Japanese Strategic Self-Defense Forces in Neon Genesis Evangelion (which are also prone to Five Rounds Rapid); in fact, all portrayals of the JSDF in anime. On the other hand, they do learn after a while and only use remote control missile barrages, and those are usually just distractions.
    • ...or in kaiju movies (e.g. Godzilla) either, for that matter, where any reference to the necessary reality that there are people inside all the tanks and jets being uselessly thrown at the monsters (and by extension, the sanity of continuing to order such futile engagements) is the exception rather than the rule.
    • Subverted in early episodes of Kotetsushin Jeeg, however. The JSDF display competent tactics in their battle against Himika's Phantom Gods, and although Jeeg spearheads their attacks, he can't do it alone.
    • And in Bokurano the JSDF are essential in many of the fights between the Humongous Mecha.
    • Gasaraki also subverts this with the JSDF having a unit of mechs with the protagonist piloting the same suit as his squad mates. Even though he is a little more skilled at it none of them are pushovers.
  • One Piece:
    • The Marines, despite antagonizing the protagonists, who are pirates, are full of people who legitimately want to make the world a safer place, Knight Templar Well-Intentioned Extremist members aside. However, they are mostly victims of The Worf Effect, and by the time of the Paramount War arc, anyone who isn't a member of the admiralty can get swept aside with ease.
  • Rebuild World: Hunters in general end up like this, being Private Military Contractors cut down in droves by Kain's Mini-Mecha, or in the Urban Warfare in Mihazono, for instance. For Katsuya, who leads Boisterous Weakling young Drankam hunters, the loss of his forces like this is Played for Drama with his Survivor Guilt. While for several other named hunters like Kurosawa, Tatsukawa, Mercia, and Xellos, they put The Men First and lead their hunters well, keeping casualties to a minimum since they aren't burdened by being a Glory Seeker like Katsuya.
  • Strike the Blood: The Island Guard. They haven't managed to kill or subdue a single monster on their own, but are almost always victims of a Curb-Stomp Battle. It's quite questionable why people want to become an Island Guard with the high casualty rates. Is the pay really that good?
  • Super Atragon provides a rare, naval example: The massive US-led, UN fleet gets swept from the ocean in one shot.
  • The Tower of Druaga has the Army of Uruk and some miscellaneous Climber parties perform a bit better than the rest of the examples of this page, but they're still not as good as the heroes. Season 2 introduces the Golden Knights, who are completely worthless against anyone with a modicum of fighting experience.
  • Uzumaki: When The Cavalry arrive in the form of a large fleet of rescue ships, it seems like the heroes of the story might be saved. Unfortunately, the would-be rescuers last all of a single page before being swept to the depths of the sea by a Mega Maelstrom. There's no hint that they're particularly incompetent, but in the face of a nightmarish Eldritch Abomination, there's never any real chance that they'll survive.
  • Hibiki from Vandread runs into a Space Navy version in episode 11. They share their backstory with him just long enough to be wiped out by the bad guys and cause him to suffer some Survivor's Guilt. Another fleet shows up when Gondor Calls for Aid in the Finale, and they actually acquit themselves fairly well in the final battle.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!, in both the anime and real life. Think about it. All monsters in the game have the highly specific role of acting as a meat shield between you and your opponent's monsters. They can die incredibly easily if you have the right deck. On the other hand, they can be upgraded into a Badass Army with Equip Spell Cards.

    Comic Books 
  • Quite often, police officers and security guards are easily thwarted by even the lowest D-list super villain, who usually treats them more as irritating pests than serious threats, although he naturally has a harder time against the hero. Similarly, the Army proves useless when the Earth is invaded by aliens or monsters from another dimension. The exception is when the trope du jour is The Real Heroes.
  • The DCU:
    • Superman: The Atomic Knights are a step up from the usual. While they do have top-notch training, good teamwork and state of the art equipment, they're still essentially Red Shirts.
    • In the beginning of The Coming of Atlas, several members of the Science Police are futilely trying to stop a giant monster from rampaging through Metropolis. Then, villain Atlas shows up, kills the monster single-handedly, and proceeds to utterly decimate the whole M.S.P. squad.
    • Supergirl: In Bizarrogirl, the Bizarro Justice League is blasted into oblivion by Godship very, very quickly.
    • Green Lantern: Same thing with the Green Lantern Corps, with an added element of Conservation of Ninjutsu. An individual Green Lantern (Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, Kilowog, Arisia etc.) is a powerful hero, but masses of nameless background Green Lanterns die in droves.
    • Wonder Woman: Even though Themyscira is composed of nothing but immortal women with hundreds of years of combat training, don't expect them to last long against any invader unless Wonder Woman herself is leading the charge. During the '90s and '00s, it was almost a tradition for the Crisis Crossover du jour to kill hundreds if not thousands of Amazons off-screen.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • In Avengers: The Initiative, the covert-ops Shadow Initiative is re-imagined as a redshirt army in the aftermath of Secret Invasion due to the Thunderbolts now serving that function. Consisting of choice members of the original team, third-rate villains, and Initiative washouts, the Shadow Initiative is sent into hot engagements to soften up the enemy for the big guns. Of the 14 members who went on their first mission, 8 came back alive.
    • S.H.I.E.L.D. is a very good example. Until they got reformatted as HAMMER, which threw a pint and a half of mook into the mix, along with a dash of Villain with Good Publicity. They are supposed to be the best agents, operatives, commandos and so on in the world. However, agents would be massacred both individually and en masse by both super villains and normal Mooks. In the Ultimate Marvel universe you just wonder how they recruit. Some 30,000 agents and commandos are killed during the first strike of an Alien Invasion, and later get outmatched by superhumans on multiple occasions, usually while pulling guard duty on super-villains. And one time, their HQ was blown up, they were crippled, and then they got hammered by an army of super powered terrorists led by the Liberators.
    • Most of Marvel earthbound superheroes in Jim Starlin's Thanos stories are treated as expendable and ineffectual secondary characters that get eliminated easily to show how reality warping antagonists (Thanos with the Cosmic Cube, Thanos with Infinity Gauntlet, the Magus, the Goddess, Akhenaten and a cosmically empowered Annihilus) are way above their tier.
  • The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers is a deconstruction of this. It shows you what it would be like to be a part of a Red Shirt Army. A large part of the story involves the characters either trying to avoid their presumably inevitable demises or flat out pretending they aren't at risk of dying. The Followup The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: Has a two issue arc where 6 of the lowest ranking Decepticons scour a battlefield, lamenting on the death and destruction everywhere. One even mentions how the battle took place, Megatron and Optimus both locked themselves in pods feeding them information from all combatants on their side, he mentions how an entire army was reduced to a set of statistics.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): In this Godzilla MonsterVerse fanfiction, there's the Gamma-5 "Wrecking Crew" assault team whom are sent into the Artificial Zombies' territory alongside Tejada and the Theta team. None of the Wrecking Crew's names are given, and they all end up killed in action or taken for a Fate Worse than Death.
  • An Impractical Guide to Godhood: The legionnaires sent after the Golden Fleece suffer rapid attrition against the various threats in the Sea of Monsters, and few of them survive direct combat with a serious enemy unless that enemy wants prisoners or defectors. Only five ships out of thirteen survive long enough for Athena to recommend withdrawing their forces from the region, and one of those ships is too damaged to leave the island it settled on.
  • Because Of The War: Taylor triggers at a 100-strong gang war(started specifically to kill her and kidnap proto-love interest Canary). No gang members survive.
  • The Night Unfurls: Subverted and defied in the original version. The Rad Arc builds up the threat level of Shamuhaza’s mutated monstrosities by having Kyril’s soldiery, who are previously shown as competent Men of Sherwood, struggle for the first time, taking more casualties than usual. However, these people go to great lengths to avoid being expendable, such as securing the flanks in battle, planning their next actions, freeing the other scattered forces, and replenishing their strength. As the battlefield moves to the Fortress City of Rad (i.e., the climax), Kyril opts to lead a band of twenty to sneak into the fortress city rather than putting all his eggs in one basket. In order to minimize casualties, he diverts the troops to a less problematic area while he and his apprentices press on towards the hornet’s nest. In the end, the hard-fought battle is won, but the narrative treats the losses sustained in Kyril’s company seriously by putting emphasis on the burials, the mourning, and the rebuilding process.
  • Resident Evil Abridged: From the moment S.T.A.R.S. Alpha team arrives outside the Spencer Mansion, Joseph is the first one to bite it, barely two minutes in. By the time the mission ends, Chris, Jill, Barry, and Brad are the only ones left from Alpha, and Rebecca is the only one left from Bravo Team.
  • In RWBY Grimm Darkness, countless Atlesian soldiers become this at the end of Chapter 7, when Weiss's father is revealed to be the main villain and has every soldier aboard his ship mercilessly slaughtered by the Dark Trinity and Neo. Then he has a whole military base of them killed off by combat mechs he commissioned for the military, and then has his ship open fire on the two escorting it, killing all soldiers aboard them!
  • Any group of players in Sword Art Online Abridged who are not recurring characters, are almost always completely helpless on their own. Not because they're too weak, mind you, but because they're too stupid.
  • In Ultra Fast Pony, the allegedly elite squad of military pegasi are (initially) known as the Ineffectual Flight Team, and they're every bit as good as their name implies. Several episodes later, they reappear with the new title of Super Effective Flight Team. Unfortunately, "Changing their name did nothing to help their ability to fly!"

    Films — Animation 
  • Taken to absurd levels in The Adventures of Tintin (2011); Sir Francis's crew has British soldiers wearing red. When the pirates board the ship, they are effortlessly wiped out by the pirates leaving Sir Francis to fend off the pirates on his own. Despite Sir Francis's efforts, the battle is lost and the surviving crew members are forced to leap off the ship later anyways.
  • In Aladdin and the King of Thieves, of the Forty Thieves, the ones that get the most focus and screentime are Aladdin's father, Casem, Big Bad Saluk, and seven others. As such, the other 31 end up getting arrested and imprisoned by the film's midpoint.
  • Mulan:
    • The Imperial army, led by Shang's father, stakes out at a village in a mountain pass they expect Shan Yu and the Huns to take to the Imperial City. Unfortunately, thanks a doll from the village providing the Huns with GPS Evidence, the entire army ends up getting Killed Offscreen, with the recruit army discovering the aftermath. It helps to demonstrate how vicious the Huns are.
    • On the subject of the Huns, they aren't immune to this either, as thanks to a Hair-Trigger Avalanche set off by Mulan, the majority of them are wiped out, the onlys left being Shan Yu, his hawk, and his five top generals.
  • Invoked and hilariously subverted in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut; a US General Ripper intends to use all of the black men as a massive Human Shield to save them from the Canadians' gunfire. Chef, the leader of the group, is very against this plan and, when the time comes, orders his men to duck.
  • The direct-to-video release Superman: Doomsday had members of said army lampshading this before they fight Superman's evil clone.
    Soldier 1: What are we doing? We can't fight Superman.
    Soldier 2: You're right. We can't fight Superman.
    Soldier 3: Dead men walkin'.
  • Averted in Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo. The Japanese Self Defense Force is actually so competent, it shocks the heroes. There's a reason for this….
  • In Toy Story 3, the Sarge (played by R. Lee Ermey) and two other soldiers are the only survivors of the Green Army Men after the Time Skip from 2. "When the trash bags come out, we army men are the first to go." Accepting their mission is complete because Andy has grown up, they parachute out of the window in search of greener pastures. They eventually land at Sunnyside Daycare, after Ken & Barbie have turned it around.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The armed forces in any monster movie.
    • A good example is the National Guard from Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem who don't even last five minutes before being wiped out, although that left the heroes with weapons and equipment, most notable a Stryker APC.
    • Although the army in D-War: Dragon Wars did a good job of killing Buraki's forces, the problem was there were too many of them to deal with.
  • Peter Jackson:
    • The Lord of the Rings trilogy uses this a lot. There's Haldir's Elves at Helm's Deep; Faramir's company in both the defeats at Osgiliath; most of Minas Tirith's guard; and most of the Rohirrim when going up against the Mûmakil.
    • King Kong (2005) also has this with the crew of the SS Venture seemingly existing only to die by the hands of the many dangers of Skull Island. Although later in the film it is mentioned by Carl Denham that only 17 of the party apparently died, it seems to be a lot more.
  • The President's Secret Service detail in Air Force One is completely wiped out without so much as wounding a single terrorist. Then again, the terrorists did have a traitor on their side, massive surprise, and managed to secure the plane's arsenal of assault weapons and body armor before the Secret Service even realized they were under attack. No unarmored security detail outfitted with only sidearms can realistically stand up against heavily-armed and armored commandos in close-quarters. That said, the Secret Service actually did achieve their primary goal: they managed to hold off the badguys long enough to get the President to his escape capsule.
  • The Colonial Marines boast extensively of their badass prowess at the start of Aliens, but it only takes a few minutes for most of them to die. Except for the heroes.
  • In Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery; the Ministry of Defense's assault team is adorned with red getup as they charge Dr. Evil's lair.
  • In Bats, the U.S. military detachment in charge of dealing with the bat problem goes to the spot where the bats nest, at night, and is completely annihilated.
  • The soldiers accompanying the scientists in The Blob (1988) are useless. Though their poorer performance compared to the main characters when fighting the Blob might be attributed to the heavy NBC gear they are wearing.
  • In The Chronicles of Riddick the Necromongers defeat the Helion forces in a single night, which only takes a few minutes onscreen.
  • Con Air: The National Guard sent to apprehend the con's at the boneyard, who come there in a rescue operation. Driving straight down through rows of junked airplanes that just screams "perfect spot for an ambush" they proceed to indeed get ambushed by forewarned cons, who kill most of them easily.
  • The Gotham Police Department in The Dark Knight fits under this, if only due to their body count, even though they actually prove to be quite competent — especially at the end of the movie, when the SWAT teams storm the building. The only problem is that "competent" just doesn't cut it with someone as Crazy-Prepared as the Joker and badass as Batman. Almost subverted with the faceless police van driver, except it turns out to be Gordon. Their competence becomes clear once Batman made it clear who they are supposed to target. We are given shots of SWATs knocking out and suppressing Joker's henchmen with ease.
  • The police SWAT teams in both Die Hard and Die Hard 2. The second one is really blatant — an entire five man SWAT team escorting Barnes to a satellite array is ambushed and killed by a team of Colonel Stuart's men who are disguised as painters. They only manage to kill one of the henchmen (Shockley) before all five are offed (one by O'Reilly, two each by Sheldon and Mulkey). That SWAT team can't take out four men armed with automatics, but McClane can with little more than a pistol.
  • Occurs in Doomsday, when a group of highly-trained, heavily-armed British special forces in armored personnel carriers get killed in a matter of minutes by some punks with ice picks and a crossbow.
  • The Ottoman Army in Dracula Untold. A Million Mook March against a small number of vampires, while Dracula settles things with Mehmet in his tent, to save his captive son. By the time he's done and gets out of the tent, the vampires left absolutely no survivors... except one.
  • In Eastern Condors, the squad of Boxed Crooks commanded by Sammo Hung were supposed to act as a distraction while an elite special ops unit went into to destroy the weapons stockpile. However, the plane carrying the special ops troops is shot down before it reaches the drop zone, leaving Sammo and his team to attempt the main mission.
  • Face/Off has FBI agents, cops, special forces and security staff who are reduced to the role of red shirts when they must face Castor Troy in a gunfight. It's as if only Sean Archer has ever taken on Castor and lived to tell the tale.
  • Lampshaded by Sgt. Hartman in Full Metal Jacket:
    Marines die. That's what we're here for.
    • The above is somewhat undercut by Hartman's own words earlier in the film: " will become dead marines. And then you will be in a world of shit. Because marines are not allowed to die without permission!"
  • In The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, Leo orders one of his employees to fill out 50 character sheets for the same character. He then sends them one by one into battle just to get instantly killed. Eventually, Luster uses the "pile of dead bards" as a hiding place.
  • In G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, the US Army and generic Joe troopers are like this, easily getting slaughtered by MARS's elite soldiers and vastly superior technology.
  • An odd variation occurs in Inception. The resident Badass Crew has to deal with constant attacks by heavily armed soldiers/bodyguards while moving through the dreamworlds, but this is because they're "projections" created by the dreamer's subconscious, whose primary purpose is to protect that dreamer. In effect, they're a sort of mental security force. Fortunately, being projections, they aren't actual people, though depending on how well-trained the dreamer is at resisting mental intrusion the projections can be anything from an angry mob of unarmed civilians to highly-trained and heavily-armed soldiers.
  • In Jack the Giant Slayer the majority of the guardians who climb up the beanstalk to rescue Isabelle don't even make it up the beanstalk before facing their demise. All the others are killed by the giants quickly. Doesn't help that most of the Guardians are wearing red shirts.
  • James Bond:
    • Thunderball: The American Coastguard frogmen sent against Emilio Largo and his SPECTRE frogmen team carrying nuclear bombs off the coast of Miami in the climax. An epic underwater battle with harpoon guns as primarily weapons ensues, with plenty of deaths on both sides. Then Bond arrives and turns the tide of the battle.
    • The Spy Who Loved Me: The British, American and Soviet submarine crews Bond frees onboard the Liparus, who then raid the ship's armory and battle Karl Stromberg's army, with many gloriously dying against them including the British captain. Amusingly, Stromberg's mooks wear literal red shirts.
  • In Jason and the Argonauts, Jason recruits only the best athletes and warriors in all of Greece to accompany him in his quest, but they never actually do much except distract Talos while Jason goes around to get his ankle. Oh, and those two guys who admittedly put up an admirable effort (but still both die) against the skeletons at the end. Oh, and that one guy who jumps in the sea after the traitor Acastus and subsequently gets killed in an underwater fight by said traitor.
  • The ACU personnel from Jurassic World; they appear to be highly competent at what they do (reinforced when they respond to and quickly quell the Pteranodon rampage), but the Indominus rex is far beyond what they're prepared to handle and a whole team of them are slaughtered. Later, when Owen's raptors turn on him and adopt the Indominus rex as their alpha, the group of very well armed men they brought with them are slaughtered in minutes.
  • The British Army in The Last of the Mohicans fits this trope perfectly, since they not only wear actual red coats, but are unable to hit a single target in the enemy's Bad Ass Army. For that matter, they also can't land any blows during hand-to-hand combat, thereby forcing them to rely on the main protagonist's Improbable Aiming Skills to see them through.
  • In many crime-related action movies or shows (the Lethal Weapon movies, for example), any uniformed police officers and / or detectives who are not the protagonists are usually little more than easily-disposable cannon fodder. Sometimes it is because they face an opponent against whom they genuinely have no chance against (such as a Terminator); other times, particularly when opposed to a small criminal syndicate, it is because they display incompetence which is nothing short of alarming for members of a modern metropolitan police department.
    • An exception to the above is Hot Fuzz, in which the uniformed officer is the badass action heroes and the detectives are the incompetent boobs. Doubly averted when, in the big climactic fight, the detectives prove that they're just as competent as the next man if you load them up and give them riot gear.
    • Zig-zagged in the John Woo movie Hard Boiled. In the tea house shootout, anyone other than Tequila and his partner is just another red shirt. The undercover cops and the SWAT team in the big hospital shootout later on, however, do hold their own quite satisfactorily despite losing a good portion of their number and get the hostages out while Tequila and Alan kick serious ass.
    • Played excruciatingly straight in Die Hard.
  • The US military in Man of Steel. They're actually competant, just massively, massively outmatched by their Kryptonian opponents, a bunch of invunerable soldiers with Super-Strength, Super-Speed and highly advanced weaponry and technology.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • MonsterVerse:
    • The US military in Godzilla (2014). Not that they're incompetent though, just that they're facing off against something that can emit electromagnetic pulses which disables electronics, something that the military relies on heavily. And small arms fire, or even tank shells against heavily armoured creatures that even nukes can't really harm doesn't do much to slow them down. Fortunately they realize that Godzilla is more interested in hunting the MUTO's than attacking humans. The army is well aware of their red shirt status, but they're willing to bite the bullet to save as many lives as they can. This trope is actually something of an Invoked Trope /Discussed Trope, as when the Mutos and Godzilla are heading towards San Francisco Admiral Stenz says something along the lines of "I am throwing away hundreds of lives every minute just trying to steer one of those things away from populated areas, and there are two more of them." Downplayed with the drop troops in the climax, as they manage to take back the stolen nuke from the MUTO's nest and take it to a near by boat. Although they do get killed by the Female MUTO, they manage to distract her long enough for Ford Brody to move the boat.
    • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): Many soldiers, with the exceptions of the core G-Team members whom get enough screentime to show their characters, drop like flies against the Titans. One notable Army is Monarch's Gold Squadron, whom get thoroughly trounced and annihilated when they engage Rodan.
  • Oblivion (2013): Aside from Sergeant Sykes and a female subordinate, the Scavenger soldiers are wiped out to a man during the second drone attack on their base, to the point of only Sykes and his subordinate are left to fight off the much bigger third wave. Good things the drones are a Keystone Army...
  • Olympus Has Fallen: All of the secret service agents and Capitol Police guarding the White House get slaughtered by the bad guys (though they at least do take a lot of terrorists with them), and the rescue attempt by the military fails spectacularly with the deaths of most of soldiers, forcing Gerard Butler to save the day himself.
  • The S.T.A.R.S. operatives in Resident Evil: Apocalypse fit the bill. Their rooftop sniper, who had previously been headshotting zombies left right and center, instead chooses to shoot Nemesis in the chest repeatedly and is promptly blown up. The rest of them don't learn his lesson, and fire ineffectively at Nemesis for a short while before they're all mowed down, too.
  • Very plausible example from The Rock. Commander Anderson's SEAL team enters Alcatraz through the shower room, and as they are about to move up, they encounter what appears to be a laser tripwire. In reality, said tripwire is a custom-designed motion detector built to look like a tripwire; disarming it like it is a tripwire results in it signaling an intrusion. As the SEAL team disarms it, Hummel's Marines realize what's happening and surround the SEALs as they enter the showers from an elevated position, boxing them in from good cover. In the subsequent shoot-out, the SEAL team is slaughtered to the last man. note 
  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)
  • The Mobile Infantry of Starship Troopers seemingly exist only to get killed in huge numbers. It's only due to gross mismanagement. It is worth noting that the trope is more than likely intentional as it is meant to show just how callous the fascist government is towards its troops, and may also be a deconstruction of Hollywood Tactics by showing what actually happens when you try to use them.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek (2009), of course. The Narada wipes out Earth's entire defense fleet in seconds and most of the Starfleet Academy graduating class with it. The only reason the Enterprise survived was that it got there late thanks to Sulu leaving the parking brake on, and Nero chooses to let them watch as he destroys Vulcan.
    • In Star Trek: First Contact we have the Starfleet task force fighting the Borg at Earth prior to the arrival of the Enterprise. They are doing far better then the fleet at Wolf 359 years prior, but they're still getting curb-stomped.
      • The Enterprise security force continues the franchise tradition. However, they are shown to be quite competent, it's just that they're facing off against the Borg who can No-Sell pretty much everything the security officers can throw at them.
  • Star Wars:
    • The opening scene of A New Hope is a Rebel squad getting wiped out by inexplicably competent Imperial stormtroopers. Later, in the Battle of Yavin, the Y-wing squadron is completely wiped out and only a handful of pilots from the X-wing squadron survive.
    • Similarly, in The Empire Strikes Back, the Rebel troops are routed at the Battle of Hoth with Luke's heroics providing much of the offense.
    • And it happens yet again in The Force Awakens, when many of the Resistance fighters are easily wiped out while attacking Starkiller Base.
    • In Attack of the Clones the Jedi rescue team that Mace Windu brings to Geonosis to save Obi-Wan, Anakin and Padme counts. They make a dramatic entrance at the Geonosian Arena, and are promptly surrounded by an army of battle droids with nearly all of the Jedi being killed within a few minutes.
    • Towards the end of Revenge of the Sith, nearly the entire Jedi order are wiped out within the space of 60 seconds or so, with the exception of Yoda who survives but gets his ass handed to him by Darth Sidious and Obi-Wan who dove into the water. Jedi throughout the series had been presented as tough, badass dudes that are hard to kill and deceive, but it took clone troopers to wipe them out no less. The difference with the clone troops is that they took the Jedi by surprise. The clones had been their loyal and trusted men, and suddenly they all pointed their guns at them and started shooting — they never saw it coming.
    • The clone troopers from the prequel trilogy generally are this. While competent, they are definitely expendable, and die all the time.
  • Inverted in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. After retrieving a weapons cache in the face of a small army of police, with much automatic gunfire and several police cars blown up, the T-850's visual display shows a tally of rounds expended and "human casualties: 000". This has been given as an example of A-Team Firing, but it was deliberate on the Terminator's part.
  • In the execrable movie Time Chasers (mocked on Mystery Science Theater 3000), the main character is rescued by his past self, who sought aid from the Continental Army... who can't subdue a single Corrupt Corporate Executive with a semi-automatic weapon. Their suckage is lampshaded by the hero's past self commenting "I don't think they've ever seen an Uzi before."
  • Zig-zagged in the Transformers Film Series. On one hand, there are cases where military units get wiped out to showcase the enemy's strength. The first scene after the introduction has a US military base completely wiped out by a single Decepticon. The beginning of the sequel also shows many human NEST soldiers being killed off-hand. On the other hand, there are notable instances where military units are portrayed as competent. When the special forces unit calls in the cavalry, the cavalry actually manages to kill or drive off the giant alien robots. Their effectiveness is bolstered in the sequel, managing to support a handful of Autobots in holding off a small army of Decepticons. It's really the extensive training in killing Cybertronians that the soldiers receive from Autobots that allows them to hold their own (despite massive casualties) in the second and third films.
  • The Cleaners in Underworld: Evolution are a group of well-trained Badass Normals from special forces all over the world. They get quickly slaughtered by Marcus Corvinus. By the end of the film, the remaining few are mauled by his brother William and turned into first-gen Lycans. Then again, their primary job wasn't to fight vampires or Lycans but to hide any evidence of their existence from Muggles. Additionally, when going after William, they reveal that all they packed is UV ammunition, which is mostly harmless to Lycans.
  • The human footmen in Warcraft (2016) die in droves every time they show up on screen. To their defence, there hasn't been any war in Azeroth in centuries, while their enemies are battle-hardened veterans from a dying world, and remarkably enough, the "red shirts" manage to accomplish all of their goals through magic support and sheer determination.
  • The HBO film When Trumpets Fade is built around this trope. Explained by Sgt. Manning:
    Last time I had a hot meal was five days ago. Since then my entire platoon has been wiped out. That's why you're here. You're just a bunch of guys in line to get shot so they can bring in a bunch of other guys. See how that works?
  • The same can be said for the secret service, capitol police, national guard, and especially Delta Force, in White House Down. White House Down offers a particularly glaring example, as the entire White House is taken over be a mere handful of terrorists who suffer no casualties in the process
  • In fact, individually deadly warriors often become hopelessly inept in large numbers. Consider the phenomenon of ninjas in groups, and the army of mutants in X-Men: The Last Stand; in the latter, less than a dozen demonstrated any special ability except rushing forward blindly, to the point that the previously completely ineffective human army kicks their butts. It was mentioned that those mutants were the ones with lame powers. Plus, the army had power-neutralizing weapons. A flesh wound in the shoulder turns Joe Random Rock Thrower into Joe Blow. And for the most part the mutants were all untrained civilians. The most they could do was rush forward blindly and get cut down.

  • Lone Wolf's mission in Book 4 at first is to discover the fate of a hundred strong unit of cavalry led by Captain D'Val. Lone Wolf sets off with a force of fifty Rangers; the medieval equivalent of Special Forces. True to the trope, regardless of whatever decisions the player makes, the entire force is either forced to return home, ends up missing, or killed in increasingly unlikely ways (e.g. bandit ambushes, falling through floorboards in a mine, eaten by a giant squid, eaten by a giant worm, eaten by giant cats, falling into a pit trap). Averted with the actual cavalry Lone Wolf was sent to find. During the book's climax battle they live up to their reputation as fine soldiers and rout their numerically superior foe. Lone Wolf's involvement in that battle isn't actually that significant (no One-Man Army scenario here).

    If anyone is wondering why the pit trap death is silly, it was located in the middle of a corridor, activated when Lone Wolf unlocks the door at the end. If its purpose was to keep an intruder from opening the door, it's the most poorly designed trap ever. It was very obviously designed to kill anyone accompanying an intruder opening the door.

  • The German soldiers in All Quiet on the Western Front are very, very badly trained, and tend to die in swarms doing things that every experienced soldier knows not to do. The protagonists all survived their first few battles through sheer luck, and by seeing how other people died they've learned how to keep themselves alive — but they despair of explaining this to the New Meat, who continue to get themselves killed. (Given the accuracy of the rest of the novel, this may be Truth in Television, and it would certainly go a long way towards explaining WWI's casualty rates.)
    • In World War II, it was noted that replacements (including officers) died at a much higher rate than experienced troops.
  • The battle in the next-to-the-last Animorphs book involves one that survives. The US army launches a military force consisting, essentially, of hundreds of soldiers accompanied by a couple dozen Sixth Rangers. And this military force's goal is a suicide mission worthy of the best of them: to launch an attack, in plain view, against a spaceship that "could blow asteroids out of the sky." Ordinarily a Sixth Ranger ranks much higher on the Sorting Algorithm of Mortality. But in this case, Visser One orders the Sixth Rangers killed first, because he takes them more seriously in both a strategic and a personal sense. And the Animorphs manage to sabotage his ship too late to save the Sixth Rangers, but in time for the ordinary soldiers to survive. When they are the survivors, and some kids with superpowers are the casualties, it's a clear example of a plot that thwarts the usual laws of the Sorting Algorithm of Mortality. Toby's Hork-Bajir army get killed a lot, too, near the end of the series.
  • In Eric Flint's Belisarius series Rana Sanga comments on the battle described in the Bhagavad Gita, how it is the most famous battle in all of Indian history and how no one remembers even one of the names of the mere mortals who did all the dying.
  • Ciaphas Cain:
    • Each of the HERO OF THE IMPERIUM novels will inevitably feature a part where Cain is forced to enter the jaws of hell, usually accompanied only by his sidekick and army (possibly with a few Mauve Shirts thrown in). The trope is however subverted as often as it's played straight, to the end that you can usually never tell if the book's army will survive or not: Several Mauve Shirts in the series actually came from Cain's (more successful) escort missions.
    • Amusingly, he once refers to a group of allied soldiers as redshirts. Granted, they are wearing red since they're Mechanicus troops, but they end up slaughtered to a man nevertheless.
  • Averted in the Destroyermen series. USS Walker's Lemurian allies do take heavy losses over the course of the series, but they inflict casualties several orders of magnitude worse on the Grik.
  • The deghans in the Farsala Trilogy are the ruling and fighting class of Farsala, but when the Hrum launch an invasion they're all dead within two chapters.
  • Played with in Gaunt's Ghosts. Occasionally the Tanith First-and-Only is a Redshirt Army, and occasionally they're hyper-competent badasses. It all seems to depend on how prepared they are, and how many of them there are. Some books also contrast their performance, usually favourably, with other units', such as the local armies on Aexe Cardinal in Straight Silver and AT 137 in The Armour of Contempt. The Tanith First-and-Only specialize as scouts and skirmish troops and are excellent in missions of that nature. When used as frontline troops where stealth and mobility is not that useful, they take casualties similar to other units.
  • God's Demon. The character Sargatanas increases the ranks of his military with an army of souls, which are normally either mounted as artwork or turned into bricks by the demons (and only doing this because the soul Hani offered to form it after restoring the memories of his former life. This has never been done before (meaning the soul army has a partial element of surprise), as well as the souls using one of their common fates to get behind the enemy army and attack the flanks.
  • Clodge ball teams in Idlewild fit: virtual armies of cyborgs, nightgaunts, hobgoblins, and gangsters that are expected to die in large numbers every fight.
  • The Invisible Detective: In the climax of Ghost Soldiers, the eponymous monsters end up in a running gunfight with about a dozen human soldiers who encounter and end up protecting the four young detectives. Only three of the heroes' protectors survive the fight.
  • Odysseus' men in The Odyssey may be history's first redshirt army: low survival rate (0%) and futile in every battle, Odysseus makes better progress once they're all dead.
  • Subverted and used in Old Man's War by John Scalzi. Subverted because the military arms its soldiers with the most advanced weaponry around, gives them telepathic links to each other and their guns and trains them to be incredibly effective soldiers. Used because the universe is just that damn dangerous and 75% of them don't last more than 5 years anyway.
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: In Dawn of the Dreadfuls, Captain Cannon's company is made up of young men who wear red uniforms and flee from their first several battles. Save for their surgeon and possibly a few men who were wounded earlier, they are wiped out in the last act (albeit during a Hold the Line Suicide Mission, and in a surprisingly fierce Do Not Go Gentle manner). Averted with Lord Paget's regiment in the climax of the same book, who are a Badass Army of cavalrymen, musketeers, and ninjas and also act as The Cavalry.
  • The Prophecy of the Stones. Whenever the good guys fight in a battle, expect the vast majority of unnamed characters to die. At the beginning of the final battle, the Army of Light and the Army of Darkness (guess which sides they belong to) are evenly matched in the thousands, but by the end of the battle the Army of Light is reduced to hundreds and hasn't even made a dent in the Army of Darkness. Either the Army of Darkness is scarily competent, or the good guys suck.
  • The Martian army in Kurt Vonnegut's The Sirens of Titan are deliberately constructed to be utterly wiped out on the moment of contact, in order that the course of human society can be changed by making them feel guilty for slaughtering the poor bastards.
  • The Cleavers in Skulduggery Pleasant count as this trope, as every major battle they are in ends with all of them dead. Partly lampshaded as it is said that their numbers have been devastated.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe novels, there are a series of flash-trained clones grown in special cylinders meant to help supplement the woefully undermanned Grand Army of the Republic. Sadly, these quick-cloned troopers aren't nearly as effective as the properly trained ones. Furthermore, as the Clone Troopers transitioned into Storm Troopers, there were at least some lackluster examples due to a variety of reasons, from the transitioning from Jango clones to less impressive specimens, recruitment from non-clones, and the fact that the Kaminoans rebelled, so the Empire lost some of its best trainers at the time.
  • Treasure Island: Trelawney's three manservants are all given single cabins, as if they were important passengers; yet they are all quickly slain and receive little characterization (although old Tom Redruth plays a slightly bigger role).
  • The War of the Worlds (1898): The British Army is wiped out by the Martian tripods wielding heat beams and poison gas. Only artillery is effective against the machines, but the guns rarely got a first shot, let alone a second. The Martians themselves are red-shirted, courtesy of Terran microbes.
  • Justified in The Winter War by Antti Tuuri. While the Russians resume their offensive with even bigger numbers, a fresh but unexperienced regiment takes over the Taipale front, as the narrator's unit moves to rest. The front line doesn't hold for a day.
  • Wool: The scores of workers from Supply add a lot of useful strength and logistics to the mechanics' rebellion, but few of them have names or major roles, their leaders are killed fairly early on, and many of the remaining Supply rebels quickly desert the fight.
  • Xeelee Sequence: The Green Army combines this with Child Soldiers. Over a million die by the day fighting a Forever War with the Xeelee.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24:
    • CTU field teams will succeed in their mission only if either Jack Bauer, Curtis Manning, or both are present. If they appear to be completing their mission without a main character, that probably means they're about to be vaporized by a nuclear bomb. This rule also applies to any other armed detail mentioned, including the LAPD, Secret Service, and the freaking Delta Force, all of whom have completely bought the farm at one point or another (for some, repeatedly) while "setting up a perimeter," (a common 24 portent of doom), guarding something or somebody important, or intercepting a fugitive, respectively.
    • The Season 7 finale actually subverts audience expectations with the airport security guards when they attempt to rescue Kim Bauer. While most of them are killed, they actually do manage to kill both of her captors, a pair of extremely well-trained agents. One of them actually manages to shoot Kim's male captor through a car windshield one-handed after already getting shot by said captor.
    • Special mention goes to the often mocked CTU security guards who, on Days 4 and 5, actually wore red shirts.
  • Babylon 5:
    • In the Wham Episode, "Severed Dreams", this trope is tweaked with Security Chief Garibaldi arranging sensible defensive tactical positioning for his troops for expected invaders. However, the Narn troopers under his command insist on charging headlong into the fray and the regular guards have no choice but to follow them.
    • The episode "GROPOS" has Franklin's father use the station as a staging area before deploying his men to take a heavily guarded fortress. They take the fortress, but most of the men (Including every named character among them apart from General Franklin) die.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The Initiative soldiers in Season 4, who took a little under an hour to catch up to the Slayer, and took her 17 seconds to disable the lot of them. This was in training; they lasted less time in actual combat.
    • Appears throughout Season 7 with the Potentials. When the army of Potentials storms both the winery and the Hellmouth in the series finale, they take massive losses. Justified Trope by their lack of Buffy-level superpowers and training. Season 8 has newly activated slayers taking up this role.
  • Doctor Who:
    • UNIT has a tendency to fall into this category, their role generally being to hold off the enemy Mooks in a losing battle until the Doctor can figure out how to beat them all in one stroke. Although in some appearances, they buck that trend.
    • In their introductory story "The Invasion", they defeat the Cybermen in a conventional battle and their coordination with the RAF and the Russians sees them win the day with the Doctor taking a backseat to most of it.
    • In "The Ambassadors of Death" and "The Mind of Evil", they fight normal humans who aren't as well equipped as them.
    • In "The Poison Sky", they start off looking like this when the Sontaran army uses a field that makes copper-jacketed bullets expand inside guns to jam them. A fair number of UNIT troops are thus slaughtered when their guns fail. UNIT, upon being told this, gets steel-jacketed bullets and teaches those arrogant bastards that the human race is not to be messed with. The Sontarans' claims of "sport" aside, clearly they aren't that used to their prey fighting back.
    • In "Planet of the Dead", they use surface-to-air missiles against the Horde of Alien Locusts, and upon seeing their effectiveness, Captain Erisa Magambo exclaims "I don't believe it! Guns that work!"
    • As of 2005, if your security is wearing black uniforms and have guns, you've probably hired one.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • In Season 5, the Unsullied, stated repeatedly of being the best army in the world, are turning into this. They have seemingly forgotten their basic training of forming up shoulder to shoulder into a shield wall and seem to be no more skilled man-to-man than a group of rebel Meereenese.
    • Stannis Baratheon's army becomes this when they face the much larger and less weary Bolton cavalry.
    • The Night's Watch is composed mostly of thieves and murderers who join to avoid their punishments. The rest of the kingdom forgets about them as they freeze and fight.
    • Robb's diversionary army is seen as completely expendable in-universe.
    • Whilst they start off winning a few series of victories against the Tullys when led by Jaime, the Lannister army starts to lose battles and suffers staggering losses in each engagement once Robb Stark enters the fray. For example, that huge force Tywin musters to pillage the Riverlands? Precisely half of it is destroyed when Robb defeats and captures Jaime. The replacement army at Oxcross? Robb destroys that one, too. By the end of Season 3, Tywin has given up trying to beat Robb conventionally, and does so by playing to his own strengths: politics and intrigue.
  • Heroes: If Sylar is under attack from Company Agents (excluding HRG and The Haitian), those agents are probably going to die.
  • Jericho (2006): The fictional company Ravenwood (a loose allusion to Blackwater), who is supposed to be full of ex SEALs and other Special Ops guys, gets their ass handed to them by guys with no military experience, including a deaf mute girl with a shotgun.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: A side effect of the Plot Armor the main characters have, only the Numenorian warriors and nameless villagers are killed by the pyroclastic flow of Orodruin.
  • Lost:
    • Every major battle involves one group of redshirts attacking another group of redshirts with the main characters from both sides escaping unscathed:
    • The mercenary attack on the Barracks in the fourth season, where three redshirts (and presumably a fourth who was unaccounted for) are shot by redshirt mercenaries in the jungle. They then proceed to open fire on Sawyer, but their Stormtrooper training prevents them from hitting him.
      • Subverted Trope if one subscribes to the theory that Claire was killed when a redshirt mercenary with a rocket launcher blew up her house.
      • Subverted again when Ben unleashes the smoke monster on the redshirt mercenaries, but only one dies, even after hearing several minutes of terrified screams.
    • At the end of the fourth season, a group of redshirt Others attack the redshirt mercenaries and kill them all...with, you guessed it, the exception of their leader.
      • Which is even more ironic when said leader kills one of his own redshirts accidentally by kicking a grenade over to their position.
    • In the fifth season, the Others use fire arrows to attack the mass of redshirt survivors in 1954. Again, the main characters escape, but most, if not all, of the redshirt survivors are finally killed, ending four seasons of slaughter.
    • The DHARMA Initiative seems to have its own redshirt army. In a subversion of this trope, however, a shootout involving Jack, Kate, and Daniel versus Radzinsky and two DHARMA mooks ends with no casualties, not even the redshirts.
  • Merlin (2008): The Knights of Camelot, apart from the named ones...and even many of them got it eventually. Or in the case of Sir Leon, a couple times.
  • Revolution: As the first season goes on, the Rebels and the Georgian Federation join forces to form an army of 300 men ("The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia"). In the episode "The Longest Day", one Monroe Republic drone strike reduces the number from 300 to 30. President Foster states that this is half of her army wiped out, and she assigned 200 Georgian troops to Miles Matheson.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • Any team that accompanies SG-1 through the Stargate. At the same time though...
    • SG-11 seem to be hit the worst by this, having their entire team wiped out at least twice.
    • The Free Jaffa exist so that the current threat can kill hundreds of thousands of them without actually hurting the real protagonists.
    • Any Russian character appearing on the show had a 99% chance of being killed, unless they were female. Even recurring character Colonel Chekov eventually bites it after gaining command of the first Russian starship. Which is promptly destroyed.
      • Similarly, the first Chinese starship also gets blasted (although it's not entirely destroyed), off-screen this time. However, before anyone starts saying how anything Russian- or Chinese-made is of poor quality, both ships were US-manufactured, then given to the Russians and the Chinese.
    • The Air Force security forces that guard the Cheyenne Mountain complex are a perfect example. They're routinely killed off by various offworld enemies to demonstrate how threatening they are.
  • Star Trek: Despite it being the Trope Namer, quite a few of the characters that die in Star Trek: The Original Series are blue shirts or gold shirts. The first broadcast episode of the original series ("The Man Trap") has a body count of four minor crewmen, most of whom of course become monster chow shortly after beaming down to the planet. Ironically, the casualties are two blues, a gold and one unknown wearing a hazmat suit. In fact, no red shirt deaths occur until the seventh episode. The dubious honor goes to Crewman Mathews, who is pushed into a bottomless pit in "What Are Little Girls Made Of?". In addition, this trope is completely averted in "A Taste of Armageddon": Kirk, Spock, and three redshirts beam down to Eminiar VII where, upon landing, they are sent to be killed. All of them survive. And those redshirts in the page image? They actually all survive that episode ("The Devil in the Dark") — the one redshirt casualty in that episode isn't even in that shot!
    • Scotty is one of the few characters to wear a red shirt in the original series, and he's one of the few characters to survive into "Next Generation." He does get killed once, but he gets better.
    • As Nichelle Nichols points out in one of her ME-TV promos, she wore red all the way through the series — "guess I just wore it better!"
    • According to this set of statistics about Star Trek deaths, red shirt deaths actually only make up 58% of the deaths. However, since there are so many red shirts, their mortality rate is actually lower than the yellow shirts' (25 of 239 (about 10.5%) compared to 10 of 55 (about 18%)). In fact, even if you go by 43 being the number of red shirt deaths, the yellow shirts still have a slightly higher mortality rate.
    • All in all, Star Trek being the Trope Namer makes this an Unbuilt Trope: Despite some showings of Hollywood Tactics, the Federation's land-based military forces are repeatedly shown to be highly competent, and rarely are deaths of any magnitude simply forgotten, or simply considered unimportant to the plot. As these scenes demonstrate, later shows had the nameless background characters averting Hollywood Tactics and demonstrating great combat skill and effectiveness, even when very poorly supplied and heavily understaffed.note 
  • Supergirl (2015): In numerous episodes, Supergirl and other heroes will be accompanied into battle by various DEO agents. Chances are, they won't last long.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Notably used in the last episode of Season 1, in which Agent James Ellison takes a fully tooled-out FBI Hostage Rescue Team in to storm a terminator's motel room. The HRT is some 20 or so members strong, fully tooled for bear with bulletproof vests, assault rifles, and helmets, and is merrily dispatched in the space of about two minutes to the beautiful crooning of Johnny Cash.

  • Gloryhammer
    • The dwarves that fight Zargothrax in "Apocalypse 1992":
    It's the rage, the cosmic rage
    The cosmic rage of astral dwarves from Aberdeen
    From their mines they will arise and fight
    The rage of the dwarves is tonight!
    Then they died.
    • In the music video for "Hootsforce", the good guys' space submarines keep being blown up by Zargothrax's ships until Angus McFife XIII personally knocks him out with the Hammer of Glory.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • In her mission to "purge" the SHINE promotion, Leva Bates amassed a following of men in white masks who sometimes physically interject themselves into conflicts, sometimes without prompting on her part. Most wrestlers don't find them hard to beat up but they can often ward off superior opponents through sheer numbers. And despite the implications they are a baby face group, once saving Su Yung, a Bates target, when Yung was thrown off a balcony by Jessicka Havok.

  • This has invariably happened a few times in Dino Attack RPG, among the cases one minor group of disguised agents is accidentally gunned down in a friendly fire incident. Believe it or not, this was actually inverted during the final battle. After Trigger deserted the team he was relentlessly pursued by Pharisee who led a small squad of agents, the only one given any particular development being his second-in-command Montgonel. These events culminated in a violent confrontation between Trigger and Pharisee that resulted in the other being knocked out. When facing the others, Montgonel was critically wounded (he survived, but was out of commission for the rest of the RPG) and Trigger was fatally wounded, while at least three of the aforementioned redshirts that accompanied Pharisee emerged unscathed.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ars Magica: Grogs are mundane minor characters who do ordinary jobs for Magical Society, like guarding gates and binding books. When roped into magical adventures, they tend to get killed, possessed, stolen by fairies, laid low by magical plague, and/or afflicted by other Butt-Monkey misfortunes.
    As minor characters, grogs tend to have bad things happen to them.
  • BattleTech the Clans treats its Solahma units as this, they are composed of older warriors who are assigned in menial tasks or send out as shock troopers so they can die fighting.
  • "Weenie" decks in Magic: The Gathering follow this principle. A Weenie is a cheap (usually one-drop), efficient Creature. A Weenie deck will use a horde of these Creatures to swamp the enemy, usually sustaining heavy casualties in the process. This is also true in the case of tokens; cheap, disposable creatures usually generated en masse from other cards. A particularly successful weenie or token attack with few casualties averts this trope, and becomes a Zerg Rush instead.
  • In Paranoia, player characters take on the role of Trouble Shooters, whose job it is to track down trouble in Alpha Complex and shoot it. Given that the PCs are supposed to get in over their heads and die horribly, this means the player characters are the example. They even start as Red-class citizens, which comes with uniforms in the appropriate color...
    • In the latest edition, players can also be IntSec Agents with a higher clearance or even Ultraviolet-clearance High Programmers.
  • A few environments in Sentinels of the Multiverse include cards representing hero-friendly characters, such as Police Backup in Megalopolis and F.I.L.T.E.R. agents in The Block, who usually focus on attacking villains or hostile environment targets. These are usually very fragile allies who die when they catch any real villain attention.
  • Planetary Defense Forces in Warhammer 40,000 are almost uniformly treated as speed bumps by any invader, or for Chaos, a ready supply of expendable minions, generally getting wiped out in the first ten minutes or so of any invasion. The Imperial Guard also fulfills this function when the Space Marines are the protagonists.
    • It's been joked that the PDF is the Redshirt Army for the Redshirt Army. Hardly surprising, considering manpower is the only resource the Imperium has in excess, with their commanding officers even more inept than the Guard's, and often inbred Upper Class Twits to boot.
    • Averted in that some PDFs are as good as their Imperial Guard counterparts. Also justified, as the PDFs best soldiers and units are usually taken to fill up the ranks of the Imperial Guard. It's basically light infantry vs. the legions of hell. Also the only reason that they are considered one is because everything else is genetically modified, sports ridiculous technology, comes in numbers much larger than theirs or backed by a god of some sort. So the fact that they go up against them anyway makes them a Badass Army if anything.
    • The Imperial Guard have been known to subvert this, though, for one very good reason. Sure, the soldiers usually fit the Red Shirt line. But they also have tanks. Lots and lots of tanks.
      • And more so, lots of lots upon lots of lots of lots of men. They will drown their enemies in their blood, and bury them under their corpses. The only resource the Imperium of Man is never short is manpower. Your soldiers being worth 20 of theirs isn't much good if they can field 50 times the amount of your soldiers.
      • No-where is this made more evident than in the Siege Of Vraks books. The Imperium needs to re-take a world but it's an absolute fortress that would take a vast (even by Imperial standards) deployment of forces to just go take it back today. The alternative option? A 12 year siege that will "only" kill 9 million guardsmen. And then that doesn't even go to plan anyway.
      • The average Guardsman is tithed from the top 10% of his world's PDF. He is equipped with armour that'll hold well against most modern small-arms, and armed with a beam rifle that hits like a 7.62mm round (sans the recoil and casing drop) and can be recharged by virtually any power source (including body heat and open flames, though the former option is slow and the latter drastically reduces shelf-life). They are often trained on Deathworlds — planets that, while technically habitable, are so inimical to human life that Siberian winters, the middle of the Amazon, and high noon in the Sahara Desert all look downright hospitable in comparison. If lucky, they face things that want to kill them or possibly eat them. If unlucky, they face the prospect of being enslaved or being tortured to death over decades or even centuries. At worst, the long, drawn-out death is only an overture to an eternity in a Hell that makes Dante's Inferno seem like a Hotel & Spa vacation. And still they hold the line, not because they're particularly brave (by the standards of the setting) but because it's the only option they have. If they fail they die, if they flee they die because now not only does the enemy still want them dead but so do their former comrades, and if they do hold the line then there's almost certainly another chance to die horribly. Crapsack World indeed.
      • Want a good way to be scared of this universe? Consider that the standard-issue lasgun has more firepower than most conventional modern ballistic weapons, and standard-issue flak armour can stop a lasgun shot cold while bulletproof vests today can only reliably stop shotgun shells and pistol bullets. Imperial Guardsmen are often better equipped, trained, and supported than any current-day elite soldiers, yet they die in droves. If the real Earth was invaded by an Aeldari warhost, an Ork WAAAGH! or a Tyranid Hive Fleet, we certainly wouldn't last very long at all.
    • In light of the above, what prevents Guardsmen from deserting first chance they get? The local Kommissar , who will be happy to reinforce morale, stiffen resolve, remove dissenters and punish heresy in a single *BLAM*. In Dawn of War, you don't even need to wait for a squad to be demoralized to use the commissar's Execute ability, as using it straight off the bat prevents morale damage and increases attack speed in surrounding squads. That's right: in 40K, the redshirts sometimes die before even seeing battle.
    • Ork armies also count. They are more numerous than every other race in the galaxy (except the Tyranids, if we include the large force of Tyranids who haven't entered the galaxy yet). They die in droves, but many more are ready to take their place.
    • Speaking of Tyranids, the average gaunt warrior is born with no digestive system; they're expected to die in combat looooong before starving to death is even a remote possibility, though they're closer to the role of Mooks.
    • If the men and women of the Imperial Guard are pathetic, than Chaos cultists are even more. Most cultists are armed with autoguns (basically just classic gunpowder firearms) and improvised melee weapons and armour with the odd flamer or heavy stubber. Most of them don't even have combat training, they just rely on sheer zeal. As far as the Chaos Astartes are concerned, cultists are only good for using up the enemies' ammunition or as unwitting fuel for their profane rituals (if the legion is the Iron Warriors, they can also dig trenches and be used as field rations). However the Alpha Legion actually bother training their cultists, and as a result they can be scarily competent as saboteurs and field agents.

    Video Games 
  • The all-time kings of this trope have to be Multiplayer Online Battle Arena games and their creeps/minions/reinforcements/whathaveyou. Left to their own devices, the Mooks of each side are perfectly matched and will fight themselves to a total stalemate. Their only purpose is to be killed by the tens by opposing Heroes for gold and experience.
  • This is common in First Person Shooters. Redshirt Armies can be used as part of the Back Story, explaining why It's Up to You. Other times, the Redshirt Army is made up of NPCs who are pathetically weak, die easily, and can barely shoot, especially when compared with the main character. It's usually difficult to keep these allies alive, and the player is rarely offered any incentive or reward for doing so, beyond, perhaps, personal satisfaction — or a hefty penalty if they die.
  • Real Time games, in which the player temporarily controls a unit and micro-manages them, can have this problem as well. Once the player stops controlling a unit, its AI takes over and IQ plummets dramatically. In War Craft II, the wizard units have deadly artillery style spells, but, under the AI, attack in hand-to-hand combat.
  • Ace Combat regularly has the PC flying alongside allied squadrons, but while they do get the occasional kill in they still are considerably less capable than you are. Averted in Ace Combat 6, where your allies will actually attack the enemies to great effect if you order them to.
  • ANNO: Mutationem: During Ann's traversal through Freeway 42, The Consortium sends a tactical squadron to a different location to retrieve The Varanus after it escaped captivity. After the squad comes into contact with it, The Varanus attacks and kills all of them after unleashing an attack when they were in its line of sight.
  • The Army Men franchise has a particular habit of doing this. In the original top down game, which were more Strategy than shooter, all of your units save for your starting squad generally had the same stats as the enemy, so friendly paratroopers died of quickly. In the Sarge's Heroes games, allied units could be found on the map, particularly in the first mission of the first game, but they usually got killed. If you saved them, they just ran off to stand by some boxes somewhere.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum has the guards of the title Bedlam House, who end up overpowered by the Joker and his army of transferred prison inmates. Although for the player, the inmates are a villainous case, as the guards can't stop an army of murderous felons, but those same felons can't even stop what is ultimately, as Joker himself lampshades, just one man. ("One man dressed like a lunatic and armed to the teeth.")
  • In Battlefield: Bad Company and Bad Company 2; the player's squad are the members of the titular unit. Bad Company is sent in before the specially-trained assault troops; because those guys are "too expensive to waste". So technically, you are a member of one in those games. And you get the job done, better than any "special-ops douche-bags with pussy-ass heartbeat monitors on their guns". The regular United States Marines during the mission High Value Target could be counted as a redshirt army, given that no matter what, every single one of them dies during or immediately following the ambush.
  • Beyond Good & Evil has the events of the game leading to a civil uprising only to have it be a trap that kills off everyone.
  • Completely averted in Blue Dragon. While it at first looks like a classic scene where a Curbstomp Battle is about to occur between the Jibral Military and the Big Bad Nene, the Jibral Military proves itself extremely competent and actually routs Nene's ship and forces him to retreat without any noted casualties. They are so good, in fact, that you feel safe leaving your village in their hands.
  • In Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, all the assaulting forces of the Us in Innsmouth get killed, leaving to you the battle
  • Though Call of Duty squadmates can be capable in their own right, they merely exist to hold off the mooks until you can blaze a trail through them. An interesting aversion are the plot-critical redshirts, who absolutely refuse to take any damage until just after their usefulness runs out.
  • Chaos Heat have several levels where you're accompanied by some marines, but don't expect any of them to survive by the end of the stage they appeared.
  • In 6 Days a Sacrifice, the final game in the Chzo Mythos, Theo has an unending supply of Trilby clones to protect him.
  • Longbow in City of Heroes are a paramilitary group who actually wear red, and white. Established by a superhero (the granddaughter of the setting's Superman equivalent), their costumes and ethos are styled after four-color superheroes, and they even use similar weapons and powers. They're the most common enemy in City of Villains, to the annoyance of the player base.
    • While Longbow are clearly a reference to this trope, the only reason they're not likely to win against Arachnos is because their opponent consists of much more versatile Charles Atlases and spider-shaped cyborgs. They easily qualify as Goddamned Bats later in the game.
    • The change that allowed both hero and villain characters to use any character archetype meant that players could make their own redshirt army by playing a heroic Mastermind. The Thug Mastermind's "Gang War" power, in particular, summons a large number of individually weak gang members for a short time.
  • Subverted in the first mission of Command & Conquer: Renegade. A GDI convoy is ambushed, but with the help of a commando (the player), all the ambushers are killed.
  • The premise of Conqueror's Blade is that you are a Frontline General commanding and fighting alongside his troops on a medieval battlefield. The troops under your command are essentially disposable, with your goal usually being to "trade" them for as many kills (especially of enemy heroes or high-tier troops) as possible before they all die.
  • Dead Space:
    • While the main character (an engineer in his forties, in average shape) is able to dispatch Necromorphs by the dozen, a military ship (~100 soldiers) is taken over by a single, bog-standard, non-replicating Necromorph. Fail. This can be somewhat justified by the fact that standard military weapons are less effective against necromorphs. However, even that necromorphs are more resilient to body shots than dismembering, they CAN be killed that way, it just needs a lot of firepower (about whole ammunition clip, depends on difficulty). Which fully armed warship with contingent of marines definitely HAD. So that's a very weak excuse. Clearly,, the government should send their marines to engineering school.
    • Also in its sequel game Dead Space 2, when Isaac tries to enter the Government Section on the Sprawl and takes out the power grid in order to access to the Section, the entire villain's military force is immediately overrun and crushed by hordes of Necromorphs.
    • Not that that wasn't a realistic loss on their side though. In the minute or so following the power grid failure you can see hundreds of Necromorphs if you point a flashlight out the window. That's more then Isaac ever had to contend with at any one time. Also note that the military force was equipped with firearms designed to kill humans, which are much less useful on necromorphs than repurposed mining equipment due to fact that necromorphs are vulnerable to dismembering, not to body and organ puncturing. Isaac can utilize even those weapons against necromorphs effectively, however considerable skill and expertise are needed for them to work, which the soldiers probably didn't have. Standard body shots are going to kill a necromorph eventually, but it takes much more time than dismembering. Against one or a few necromorphs this could stand, but as they were being overrun by such immense numbers, they couldn't stand a chance.
    • In addition to the above point, the massive Necromorph swarm was spearheaded by the Ubermorph, which is invincible. The marines would have lost if that one had sauntered in alone.
  • Dolphin Blue have the La Résistance opposing The Empire, and doing a terrible job at it. Right off the first level, the resistance soldiers are shown getting slaughtered, with a handful of them surrendering until the player suddenly drops in and starts kicking ass. The resistance returns in the final stage, but they're useless on their own with the player entering new areas and finding dead or injured resistance members before them.
  • In the original Doom, the protagonist's entire military unit is wiped out before the game starts (the protagonist then blasts his way through a demon-filled complex that bested an entire unit of elite soldiers).
    • You find their corpses all the way through hell though, so it's obvious some of them managed to progress (and they probably reduced the number of enemies you face...). I'd say they were quite badass, just not badass enough.
    • Given DOOM has a love of invisible teleports, sudden ambushes and all other life-ending trickery liberally scattered around every map, it's more likely that these marines were minding their own business and then suddenly found themselves being whisked away and killed off horribly in the space of a few seconds.
  • Bravo Team in Doom³ gets wiped out before you even find them. Except for two, one is picked off by a Wraith shortly after you meet him and the other one manages to survive and escape on his own.
  • Dragon Age:
    • While NPCs have varying degrees of effectiveness in Dragon Age: Origins, the cutscene where the Warden encounters the Archdemon atop Fort Drakon plays this trope straight, as a company of soldiers is fighting the dragon just as you appear on the scene. The dragon quickly disposes of them all, leaving you to face it alone (barring any troops you may summon).
    • Much of Origins plot revolves around the player trying to gather forces to replace the one lost at Ostagar after Loghain's betrayal handed victory to the Darkspawn. Whether or not they would have won had Loghain played his part is debatable — while King Cailan was sure they could win, Loghain thought defeat was so certain it was better to cut his losses and escape with his army intact. Duncan was less confident about the battle than Cailan, but seemed to agree with his decision to fight nonetheless.
    • It was mentioned before the battle that the army had already won three major battles against the darkspawn, so the plan quite possibly would have worked. Considering that in the final battle the darkspawn start retreating once you kill the Archdemon, that probably was the plan; make the battle enough of an impending loss that the Archdemon itself would have had to intervene, where it would be engaged by the Grey Wardens among the army.
    • Apart from Alistair, the general value of Templars in Ferelden ranges from "utterly useless" to "more harm than good" — despite having trained to kill abominations, maleficarum, and demons, the Templar garrison in the Circle Tower exists mostly to die and/or become possessed when things go to hell, meaning that when the Warden actually comes through to kill everything that moves, the only Templars who influence your success in any way are the ones who are being used as body gloves by demons and so are opposing you.
  • Having a poorly trained military Dwarf Fortress will result in them easily dying in droves.
  • Echoes: Operation Stranglehold has the UEN Combat Marines. Most of them have little to no training or combat experience, and are going up against a technologically and numerically superior force whose Mooks are still cybernetically enhanced soldiers programmed to fight.
  • For much of The Elder Scrolls series and its backstory, the Imperial Legion has been the best professional army in the history of Tamriel, and has aided in taking over most or all of Tamriel three times. However, following the Oblivion Crisis, the secession or loss of over half the Empire's provinces, and the Great War with the Aldmeri Dominion, the Legion is not in much better shape than the Empire it serves. Still, it managed to force a stalemate with the Dominion, though Lost The Peace by agreeing to the unfavorable White-Gold Concordat, which led directly to the Skyrim Civil War. Due to the losses suffered during the Great War and the need for the protection of the remaining Legions in Cyrodiil, the Legionaries in Skyrim are stated to be local recruits who are nowhere near the level of the highly disciplined Legionaries of the past, Justifying the trope. Whether or not they win the war is up to the actions of the Player Character during the Civil War questline.
  • A damn near literal example in Fable III. When you're fighting against Logan's army in the (first) Battle of Bowerstone, the guys on your side that aren't named are an army of guards wearing red shirts. They don't have names. They're just there to shoot the purple-coated guards and get killed.
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout 3 has the Brotherhood of Steel Initiates play the part, justified, not just because they're initiates, (Usually initiates are born into the Brotherhood and are very efficient by adulthood) but because they're recruited from (presumably) radiation weakened Wastelanders, who are untrained, and can hardly hold their own against the mutated creatures of the waste, much less the Pure strain, highly trained, descended from U.S. military Enclave soldiers Might be played straight with the more experienced Knights and Paladins depending on the difficulty level, and what kind of enemies they're fighting.
    • Fallout 4 has the Commonwealth Minutemen: the Brotherhood from 3 return as the game's Badass Army. Minutemen are stated to be citizen-soldiers who take up weapons to defend their small settlements from threats, and it shows from their equipment: they can be packing crude pipe guns and wearing rags and baseball gear for protection, to wielding Laser Muskets and clad in metal body armour, and anything in between. You can call in a squad of Minutemen reinforcements with the flare gun you receive from Preston Garvey early on, but because of their kitbashed equipment and low level, they usually just present something for your foes to shoot at other than you, and mostly die in droves. Absolutely Averted if you lead them to victory against the Institute, as post-ending the Minutemen will start patrolling the roads and taking up positions in checkpoints as well as Diamond City, and they're much better trained and equipped: they'll mow down Gunners and Raiders with little trouble and can even give Deathclaws the fight of their lives.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • SeeD in Final Fantasy VIII. Understandable as, even though they're trained to be elite mercenaries contracted by governments, they're still teenagers with very little real combat experience. Fortunately, they're still able to protect their home base from an invasion by the current military superpower, and hold it off long enough for the protagonists to take down the enemy commanders.
    • Final Fantasy XII averts this trope by having wandering NPCs that can help you out in fighting monsters. Until you reach the Seeq hunters who randomly piss-off Garudas only to flee in terror until their inevitable deaths.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Green units, unless they're villagers or other non-fighting units, are suicidal. Come to think of it, most enemy units are suicidal too. Plus, in cut scenes, you frequently get to see the green units getting destroyed by fairly weak enemy units.
    • Somewhat averted in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, the tenth game of the series. Not only are the Green and Yellow units able to stand up against the enemies, some of them are just plain necessary to get by a battle with minimal casualties, and you can give orders to the yellow units, to say, block a path of enemies to serve as meat shield.
  • In F.E.A.R., the protagonist is supplemented (twice) with Delta Force squads, who are very quickly killed (twice). The first group of three are slain by Alma near the very start of the game, and the second group of two are instantly shot to death by Replica soldiers as the helicopter carrying them to the Armacham building lands.
  • In Gears of War 2, the purpose of the rest of the (helmeted) Gears seems to be getting shot. Frequently in the head, for extra fun.
  • Most of the other members of the protagonist's Badass Biker gang Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned turn out to be, only really being useful as meat shields in the gang wars side-missions.
  • Happens in several Guild Wars missions. On a story level scale, in the consulate docks mission. The sunspears easily defeat the regular Kournan army, but then are killed in a cutscene by Varesh's demons, leaving the players to continue the story on their own.
  • The final stages of Half-Life are filled with corpses of Black Mesa Expeditionists. If only they knew you were capable of single-handedly wiping out all Mooks and defeating the Big Bad, they could've saved all those lives.
  • Halo is one series to have a "plausible" explanation for this; the protagonists are usually unique Super Soldiers inherently superior to normal soldiers. Halo also does the "senseless loss of life" nod to the other characters, with NPCs like Cortana often expressing disappointment and regret if an entire unit of Marines is wiped out. That said, allied AI is stupid even by "normal soldier" standards. Their Artificial Stupidity makes them Too Dumb to Live.
    • For the most part, allied AI improved somewhat each game. By Halo: Reach, they even started to comprehend blast radii... In general, the Marines and other human troops can be useful allies to have, but they die faster than an ice cream cone in a volcano if the player isn't careful. Unfortunately for you, the enemy's AI got correspondingly smarter as your allies' did.
    • Some of the Pillar of Autumn's crew in Halo: Combat Evolved even wore red.
  • Queen Deirdranna of Jagged Alliance 2 uses an actual army wearing red shirts. On high difficulty levels you get to kill hundreds of them. That is, until the ''Black Shirt'' elites show up!
  • In Kane & Lynch, your named teammates (Lynch, Thapa, Rific and Shelly) are surprisingly not a Red Shirt Army. You'll rely on them a lot, and they can take a lot of fire before they go down. However, in the civil war level 'Freedom Fighters', Lynch, Thapa, Rific and Shelly each get their OWN squad of four men to command, which all die after one shot.
  • Koei's Warriors
    • With a few exceptions, every single soldier and generic officer in Dynasty Warriors are only there for the heroes to take out en masse, and barely constitute a threat (unless you play on the hardest difficulty where even a simple spearman can deal a good chunk of damange to you if you decide to fool around).
    • The Mooks of the Dynasty Warriors: Gundam games are pathetically weak, and exist only to get killed in massive droves by the Aces of each team. They can very occasionally capture enemy fields or even take down Aces, but generally only if said field/Ace has been severely weakened first.
  • Kid Icarus (1986): You can free warrior angels in the fortress levels, and they will appear to help you fight the fortresses' respective bosses. Unfortunately, they're so laughably ineffective that it's hardly worth the effort to collect them.
  • In L.A. Noire, you are frequently aided in shootouts by uniformed LAPD officers. While your plainclothes partners are invulnerable, the unis are not, and will often be gunned down in the first 30 seconds.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Hyrulian guards in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Despite being heavily armed they are completely outclassed by the shadow beasts (the same goes for most of the NPCs) and most of them are actually shaking with fear during the encounter. The fact that Zant himself enter minutes later does not help their odds.
    • In Hyrule Warriors, Link is joined by the knights of Hyrule for the first time. They're nowhere near as powerful as Link (or any other playable character), and they tend to die a lot, so he still has to do most of the work.
  • In Making History II, militia units have just as many soldiers as regular military divisions, but are extremely weak, and will get massacred by the thousands against well-trained and equipped armies.
  • In the first Majesty, this would be the definition of your henchmen. They do their jobs with no concern for self-preservation. Two of the three guard henchmen, city and palace guards, even come dressed in red. The other guard, the veteran guards in blue, can replace city guards. They serve little actual combat purpose other than the occasional kill, being distractions for heroes, and not costing anything to replace if (or when) they die.
  • Marathon had the Born on Boards, (Bob, for short) that were the very definition of this trope, existing only to die horribly (by the player or by the Pfhor, it really doesn't matter) while shouting "They're everywhere!" The second game actually gives them pistols; however, they are still more or less useless save for a single prison break operation.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Mass Effect 2: We get to see the quarian flotilla's marines on four separate occasions. In the first occasion, we see them get unceremoniously slaughtered by a heavy mech after disobeying their commander and rushing at it. In the second, we see them get overrun by a huge geth force and slaughtered (except Kal'Reegar, who's more like a Mauve Shirt). In the third occasion, a group of what's explicitly stated to be their "best marines", get massacred by minor enemies off-screen... This is actually a plot point, because the flotilla's politicians want to go to war with the geth. Kal'Reegar says that the only way for them to win, would be to fight from orbit, taking full advantage of quarian tech expertise, because a front-line conflict would be such a slaughter. On the fourth occasion (in an optional side mission), a squad crash lands on an uncharted planet, and all but one of them (who Shepared rescues) get slaughtered by varren (wolves IN SPACE).
    • In the opening scene aboard the SSV Normandy, we see a new NPC called "Ensign". She dies.
    • In Mass Effect 3, every army in the galaxy effectively becomes one of these…which is only to be expected, since they're fighting endless swarms of Reapers. To put this in perspective, the Big Bad of the first game was a single individual Reaper.
  • Also averted in MediEvil, when Sir Dan summons a group of knights to help him battle the Big Bad's minions. The knights Sir Dan summons are actually quite competent fighters, and they need to be-if they die, it's game over.
  • Medal of Honor: Allied Assault has similar plot-important redshirts who sometimes spontaneously die after they have served their purpose. Unlike COD's, they completely lack Plot Armor, requiring you to protect them.
  • Mega Man:
    • The Resistance members in the Mega Man Zero games were woefully under-trained and outgunned in every engagement they were in. One wonders how the Resistance was able to hang for so long before Zero came in to save their hides from giant mechs and enemy generals. To their credit from about half-way through the second game the Resistance manages to AVOID this trope, since Zero pledges to keep any more redshirts from getting killed, and he keeps that promise! In the third game, the rebuilt Copy X states that he was holding back because resistance leader Ciel is human, and he is (mostly) bound by the first law of robotics. That said, there's probably no excusing the fact that it wasn't just the Resistance fielding an army of red shirts, but also the Neo Arcadian forces. The typical foot soldier of the army, the Pantheon model, has very little purpose in life other than to explode into tiny pieces.
    • Mega Man ZX has another group of these, the Guardians. They do much better than the resistance, but when Serpent sends his forces to take out the Guardian airship, it's up to Vent/Aile to bail them out...Then again, all they did was destroy an air-ship and fight off the Psycho for Hire. The Guardians did most of the work defending their own ship, it seems, even aiming to score clean hits to minimize the debris that falls to the cityscape below.
    • The Hunters in the sequel get special note for averting the trope, in fact, they survive the resident Psycho for Hire, and stole the Biometal out from under his nose. The only losses they sustain are the two Hunters who stumbled upon Grey's capsule and accidentally tripped the security alarms and, even then, the one surviving member (after his partner got killed) managed to take out the Galleon patrols despite being outnumbered 1-4 before eventually dying.
  • Metal Gear:
    • In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, the Marines on the tanker get effortlessly slaughtered by Russian mercenaries, and that's just the one's posing as the crew of said tanker (as carrying assault rifles would make them suspicious). Then they just stand around doing nothing while Ocelot murders their commanding officer and sets off explosives to sink the ship. Later on, the Navy SEALs are doing pretty well until a super-speed vampire and a woman packing an energy shield and a BFG came along). To be even more fair, it did turn out that the Patriots sent them in so they would fail.
    • In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Snake is held up by an apparent Mook and obediently drops his gun, then turns to face his attacker. He promptly notices that the safety on the mook's gun is still on and points this out, calling him a rookie. The rookie instantly corrects Snake, stating that he's a ten-year vet. A noticeably confused Snake immediately disarms the rookie and throws him to the ground, wondering how he managed to make it ten years. Oddly enough, despite his bumbling nature, the guy is not a Red Shirt, confusing Snake even more (he is actually recurring Joke Character Johnny Sasaki). Even more baffling, this goofball gets Snake's girl, Merryl whom many expected he'd be shipped with. He turns out to be something of a badass during the game's conclusion. Also in 4, gameplay occurs between a PMC and local army. Both sides are guilty of spawning and then running in front of snipers, gun emplacements, and die quickly.
    • In Metal Gear: Ghost Babel for the Game Boy Color, Snake is meant to assisted by a platoon of Delta Force commandos. They (You've guessed it) are wiped out before you've got through the first stage.
    • In the first mission of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, the two unnamed suit-clad Maverick cyborgs do quite well against Desperado mooks but get their arses handed to them quite easily by Sundowner. Jetstream Sam mops the floor with the rest. At least the Maverick guys get to die to bosses, though; the soldiers of the African country are slaughtered en masse by the mooks you go through by the dozen.
  • Metal Wolf Chaos has the Resistance forces, whose sole skill is "thorough knowledge of how to escape" helicopters that have been shot down. Note, please, that the only reason the helicopters are being shot down is because they are being deliberately piloted into missiles.
  • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption had an encounter between three Space Pirates and three Galactic Federation Marines. Two of the Marines get gunned down, and then the third activates his PED and owns the Space Pirates on his lonesome. He's not the only PED trooper; in the next room you see one wasting a Pirate who's focused on you, and another shoots down a pipe and kills two of them in one go. The GFM troopers remain fairly competent for the remainder of the game as well. Until the obligatory escort mission where they forget that their mission is to survive. Instead they throw themselves suicidally at enemy forces, despite knowing full well their bodyguard (you) could handle all the combat solo.
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • Ever since Warner Brothers bought out the series, there's been a stronger focus on story for Mortal Kombat 9 and Mortal Kombat X. Since these games now feature several invasion storylines, Earthrealm has its own Special Forces army, and Kotal Kahn has his masked legions — both are basically ineffective against the demonic armies of Netherrealm, let alone any of the Kombatants. Even the weakened Quan Chi and his small cadre of revenants still kill them off easily. The assassin clans of the Lin Kuei and Shirai Ryu fare better — even their nameless generic members are extremely competent and equally dangerous in the storyline.
    • The Shaolin Monks other then Lui Kang and Kung Lao are slaughtered by the dozen, during the Tarkatan's raid on their academy in Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks.
  • The entire point of Mount & Blade is to raise one and have them fight the armies of everyone opposed to your kingdom. Or just everyone, if you feel like being a total sociopath.
  • In Paradox Interactive games, you can make your own Red Shirt armies — just focus on sheer weight of numbers while ignoring technological advantages or leadership. You can also be on the other end: an advanced, disciplined army will usually kill dozens to hundreds times more soldiers than it will lose.
    • The Elite Mooks Blackwatch set up to have the marines be this, expecting them to be killed off by the thousands each week. Though in a Give the Dog a Bone twist, they were given the full credit for saving the people of New York from the outbreak.
    • Blackwatch themselves are this. They're built up as an unstoppable Badass Army that's made of the best of the best and are humanity's best chance of fighting back, but in practice they're just useless red shirts and mad scientists who accidentally released two different zombie viruses on Manhattan within one week and have no real accomplishments throughout the game. Their incompetency goes unacknowledged until the sequel, where it's made clear that the organization is deeply corrupt and infiltrated by saboteurs.
  • Subverted in Quake IV. Sure, a lot of Marines do die over the course of the game, but hey, it's war. At least they're able to hold their own very well in individual firefights, and they actually do manage to win the war while the player character merely spearheads the most essential operations. In fact, in most cases when Marines leave the player character it's because they have orders to hang back and secure a checkpoint, rather than because they were killed off by the enemy.
  • Red Dead Redemption 2: Dutch and his gang are terrified of the prospect of drawing the attention of the US Army, but when they actually show up, they're pushovers — scared farmers' sons and city boys with little training and even less experience, no match for hardened career outlaws even with sheer numbers on their side. The fact that the colonel in charge of them is an incompetent Miles Gloriosus looking for one last bit of glory before he retires and even tries to get his Only Sane Man second-in-command court-martialed and hanged for treason because he tried to sue for peace with the Wapiti.
  • Red Faction's AI wasn't the best, but your allies were especially terrible.
    • Fellow miners would often die 20 seconds after you meet them, and couldn't at all keep up with the regular mook three-on-one even with the same weapon. And the Red Faction soldiers may as well be called the Red Shirt Faction due to their tendency of being terrible shots and being easily killed.
    • The AI in "Red Faction: Guerrilla" isn't much better. Guerrillas last longer than they did in the first game, eventually get weapons on par with the EDF, and are smart enough to use cover, but are not nearly as efficient as the enemy, who will swarm you with loads of soldiers and gun your ass down before you can even blink.
  • Resident Evil
    • S.T.A.R.S. from the original game. By the time Alpha Team reached the mansion, one of their own members is already dead (Frost), half of Bravo Team is dead too (Dooley, Dewey, Sullivan, and Speyer), two of the other members were mortally wounded (Aiken and Marini) before they were later killed off as well, and only Chambers (depending on how you play the game) manages to survive with Redfield and Valentine (and Barry Burton if playing as Jill; although Rebecca doesn't appear in that scenario, they all survive according to Word of God).
    • The U.S.S. from Resident Evil 2 do not act in any manner expected from a special forces unit, and has a tendency of being killed to the very B.O.W.s they are trained specifically to handle. The only exception is Hunk, aka Mr. Death, a gas mask soldier who works for the Umbrella Special Forces unit always lives no matter what he's up against because in his words: "You can't kill Death".
    • The U.B.C.S. in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis don't put up much of a fight, unless they were named. Somewhat justified, as Umbrella intended for them to fail so that the Supervisors could collect data on how their monsters fared against trained soldiers. The SWAT team from the start also counts.
    • The BSAA troops in Resident Evil 5 actually do put up a decent fight when onscreen, but offscreen they tend to get surprised and slaughtered by boss monsters — except for those poor bastards in the marshlands, who are killed by the Ndipaya Tribe.
    • In Resident Evil 6, The BSAA squad led by Chris Redfield pretty much counts during one part of the China level. They're hunting down a gigantic viper that can turn invisible at will. The squad, while marginally helpful up until now, begins helplessly dying off one by one. Some of them even need to be bailed out, but will still bite the dust at some point. In fact, they pretty much exist for the sole purpose of making the snake boss seem all that much more intimidating. Only one squad member survives the ordeal, only to be killed by Ada/Carla a little bit later.
  • In the Resistance series, the soldiers are often treated as red shirt, killed in scripted events for the introduction of new Chimera enemies, killed in other scripted events, though it is possible to save a few from a few scripted events where you could still move. In R:FOM's case, they were more than redshirts, seeing that you are the only survivor out of the entire army that were sent/left to defend England.
  • With the notable exception of Lisa Hui's unit, just about every single Orochi Group security team in The Secret World ends up obliterated — either getting slaughtered while out on patrol or conquered from within while back at base camp. Comes to a head in Tokyo, where the entire tank unit sent to regain control of the city was stopped in their tracks when the Black Signal seized control of the tanks' electronic systems, leaving the helpless drivers and gunners within to Go Mad from the Revelation when the victorious Signal started talking to them.
  • In Sengoku Basara, friendly camps occasionally spawn units of your own troops to defend them from enemy mooks. They're even less useful than said mooks as they'll automatically lose against anyone with a name, including enemy mooks with a named squad leader, and won't even damage enemy bosses if they show up to the boss fight.
  • Mostly played straight in the Silent Storm games, whenever you have NPC allies. However, this is usually because the enemy (governed by the same AI) has better weapons and more numbers. Several early missions in the first game involve you coming upon a battle between the Allies and the Axis. If you do nothing, your side loses, but they also take a fair number of the enemy troops with them. Additionally, one of the final missions in Silent Storm Sentinels has you defending you base from heavily-armed THO troops, some of whom are wearing Panzerkleins. Despite the base having trenches with machinegun emplacements and a number of friendly troops in advantageous positions, they ''will' get slaughtered, leaving it all up to your squad (who also should have Panzerkleins by that point). Especially since small arms do no damage to Panzerkleins, and the friendlies are likely to have few to no heavier arms like bazookas. Oh, and the guy in charge of the assault is wearing a Panzerklein armed with energy guns that slice through other Panzerkleins like butter.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: G.U.N. in Sonic Adventure 2 and Shadow the Hedgehog. On one hand, you got the basic robotic mooks, easily taken down by spin attacks. On the other, you have the actual humans who are competent enough to capture the world's (naturally) fastest hedgehog twice. In Shadow, though, it's not uncommon for the Ultimate Lifeform to have to go save a few along the way, and that is if you decide to help them.
  • Starcraft:
    • Also used in the story of Starcraft I. Arcturus Mengsk sends Sarah Kerrigan and a large group of soldiers to a suicide mission to cover his ass. Jim Raynor spends the rest of the franchise on a vendetta for what Mengsk did to Kerrigan, and none of the redshirts with her are ever mentioned.
    • Lampshaded in StarCraft II with one of the Marines' annoyed lines: "Has anyone else noticed how no one seems to come back IN to the barracks? They happen to be so expendable that when medics where introduced in Brood War, their life expectancy has extended... to a whooping nine seconds.
  • Star Wars:
    • Mostly averted in the last levels of Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy. In order to show how much less disciplined the Reborn are compared to real Jedi, real Jedi fight and kill them. They still require Kyle Katarn's/Jaden Korr's help to actually make any progress, though.
    • Not averted in X-Wing, Rogue Squadron and other similar flight titles, where allied pilots are about as useless as a sack of hair.
    • But rather scarily inverted in X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, where the AI pilots, at higher levels, can sometimes leave the player feeling like a fifth wheel. This make sense as the game was designed primarily for multiplayer, so if a single player didn't have smart wingmen and enemies, he would get flattened or be unable to keep up in multiplayer against more skilled human opponents and allies.
    • Played straight in Knights of the Old Republic during the attack on the Star Forge. The Jedi Council sends you an "elite" strike team of Jedi Knights... all of whom get (easily) killed by the various Mooks the place has to offer.
    • The Clone Troopers in the Utapau and Jedi Temple levels in Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith are ridiculously weak and inaccurate, so will nearly always get killed only a few seconds in. Their only saving grace is that more constantly spawn to replace them, but never more then two or three at a time. What makes this particularly frustrating is when you have to fight against the clones after Order 66 comes down, not only are they suddenly a lot tougher, more accurate with their weapons and come at you with dozens of men at a time but you will also have to battle even tougher variants of the Clones, such as the Flame Troopers and the Clone Assassins.
  • Whenever a bunch of NPC allies appear in a Super Robot Wars game, they will die before the cut scene is over. The non-OG games usually use GMs or other weak Real Robots, but the Original Generation games give this duty to the Gespensts. Ironic thing is, Badass Normal and one-man-army Kai Kitamura pilots one of those Gespensts, and just will not be shot down easily. Hilariously subverted in Z's Special Disc scenario. In one route, YOU control the redshirts (later backed up by the Big O). They have grunt mechs and grunt pilots going against a fairly large group of Mooks. Even without the Big O, they can handle them with decent strategy.
  • System Shock 1 & 2 also show one as deceased bodies waiting for you to take their loot and diaries to finish the job they couldn't.
    • To be honest, player character in System Shock 2 had the advantage of some illegal neural implants and guidance of insane AI considering him her avatar, though the latter eventually meant additional Big Bad to deal with.
    • Protagonists from both games also have the advantage of the experience of everyone that died before. For example, most people who died in the early hours didn't know about the cyborg conversion chambers, the CPU core controls on the elevators, and so on.
  • Done almost to the point of parody in Tiger Road. In the intro, some Mooks kidnap the villagers, then a single mook stays behind and slaughters the entire city guard.
  • The Total War series is bad about this. Rome: Total War — a game generally considered accurate enough to have been used in several actual documentaries — is a particularly major offender, drawing complaints from historians about the ludicrous amount of mutual bloodshed in the typical battle, and the fact that nobody really bats an eye if you go out and lose 75% of your army in a "close victory."
  • While statistically fought against more then with in the main games, fairies in the Touhou Project series generally fill this role in the fan spin-offs revolving around strategy as relatively weak allies and foes to be shot down by more powerful (and intelligent) characters. Luckily, non-lethal spellcard rules means that fairies rarely actually die in spite of their criminal incompetence, and even when that isn't the case, fairies rarely ever stay dead with the ability to regenerate almost instantly.
  • In Transformers: War for Cybertron and its sequel Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, both the Autobot and Decepticon factions have endless waves of generic unnamed members whose sole purpose seems to be to get slaughtered by the dozens by the named (usually playable) characters on the other faction. There are several times in both games where you are accompanied by whole squads of redshirts from the faction you're currently playing who almost invariably fail to survive until the end of that level. When playing as a 'con you get to kill droves of Protectobots, and when playing as a 'bot you get to see droves of them already dead while passing through most levels. Most of them are painted in red. And if that seems like a coincidence, the strongest basic soldiers come in blue and gold.
  • Valkyria Chronicles has the entire Gallian army. Whenever something needs to be blown up to prove what dire straits we're in, it's the army, and eventually the whole thing gets blown up at Ghirlandaio. No one cares because the army is a bunch of faceless, unsympathetic mooks even to the heroes, and the core group of Squad 7 is more worried that Alicia is capable of an explosion like that than the deaths of some thousands, possibly tens of thousands of people.
  • A mission in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne has Kael defending a Draenei village from Fel Orcs. The Draenei return the favor by allying with Kael.
  • Earth's military in War of the Monsters stand no chance for the monsters, who are seen casually destroying tanks and helicopters in cutscenes.
  • XenoGears: In the desert operation, Fei leads a team of fighters who all pilot red-colored Gears who all get killed after Vanderkaum received a power-up from Grahf.
  • In the X-COM games, you start out with a team of these. Expect casualties.
    • It gets worse. If you ever lose one of your trained and effective soldiers (and it will happen), you get to replace him or her with...Ricky Redshirt. An expected and encouraged use of your forces is as follows: trained soldiers in the back, tanks (don't improve and are always the same stats) in the middle to take any explosive damage, and Ricky Redshirts in the front, to die repeatedly.
    • Save Scumming also works, although it's made more annoying that you can save but not load in Battlescape.
    • Naturally, in X-Com's Spiritual Successor, Xenonauts, it's happening again!

    Web Animation 
  • The Green Helmets of Cheat Commandos aren't held in terribly high regard by Gunhaver — he hangs up on one pleading for support in a tough battle so that he and the other main characters can celebrate Thanksgiving, dismissing Silent Rip's concerns for their safety by pointing out that they have "like, fifty of them". Even the action figures are viewed as disposable — the straplines on the packaging of their discount 3-packs boast that they're "Extra Melty!".
  • The titular Red and Blue armies of Red vs. Blue are an invoked version of this trope. They're made up of the most expendable soldiers in the army, told to fight a made up war, so Project Freelancer can have a realistic training environment for their elite agents.
  • Wolf Song: The Movie: the alphas of four packs ultimately side with Damien and rush off to battle, but since they were introduced in that scene, this late into the movie (when there is about 15 minutes left), within the first minute of the battle, they are all either killed off or at the very least incapacitated while doing hardly a scratch to the Big Bad. Oh and said villain doesn’t just kill Red Shirts (yep even major characters aren’t safe from him)

    Web Comics 
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: "Futures Trading", the author says in the Alt Text before the Final Battle: "I think a lot of these soldiers are going to die VERY quickly, because Anthony and I are getting VERY tired of drawing all of them." Also, they're humans fighting against an army of intelligent dinosaurs with better weapons, so it's no wonder they're a bit squishy. Even the Doctor as one of their leaders can think of no better Rousing Speech to give them than to say that they're probably going to die but at least they'll get to punch a dinosaur first.
  • In Goblins, they wipe out part of an army by using a shield that triggers random major magic effects whenever it's hit. [1] This tends to subvert the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy in that the redshirts that do hit are probably doomed while those who miss may live, or perhaps the goblin is doing a redshirt-type act, as in the background it hints at the word "redshirt" not "redshirts" — which reminds long timers that the shield is random enough to backfire killing the goblin, upgrading the enemies, summoning weird dangerous stuff, or worse.
  • In Homestuck, the pawns serving both armies on the Skaian battlefield are examples of this.
    "'A Foot Soldier's Guide to Combat'
    most of the diagrams in this book involve a soldier advancing by a single tile, either straight ahead, or diagonally when lunging with a weapon.
    No wonder these guys are so easy to kill."
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Averted where the Azure City Army gives a damn good accounting of itself. Yes, they lose but they take a lot of Mooks with them and manage a fighting retreat in good order.
    • Played for Laughs with Tarquin's forces from the Empire of Blood. He has an entire army surround the heroes for no other reason than to provide dramatic tension, though they're also trained in plot-critical reveals.
      Random Soldier: General Tarquin has been in control of the empire the whole time!
      Tarquin: Yes, yes, we did that one already.
  • The Senkari were intended as a redshirt army.
  • Sidekicks: Whenever the Under Corps are lending their help in a major crisis, they turn into this.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar:
    • Actually averted in Avatar: The Last Airbender, where Zuko voices out against sending in a team of right out of training cadets into battle to be used as a diversion in the war. However it was this action that prompted his father to scar his face and banish him in the first place. Played straight almost all the time, to show the heroes/villains as prodigies, or tougher than the norm. The Heroes commonly go off against greater odds (like the earth kingdom palace guard) and come out on top, the entire Earth Kingdom army failed to stop the Fire Nation Invasion, and an elite team all went down against Ty Lee. During the Seige of the North Pole, this trope was combined with mooks, during the day, the (sun-empowered) Fire-Nation began defeating Water Benders left and right, during the night, the (moon-empowered) water benders beat them with ease.
    • The Legend of Korra:
      • The Metalbending Police appear to fill this role considering how the Equalists use electric gauntlets and Mini Mechas made of platinum that the former are no match for.
      • The White Lotus mooks guarding Zaheer's happy little bunch. Zaheer and Co. cut through them like a hot knife through butter. This is somewhat justified though, as none of them were prepared for the idea of Zaheer gaining Airbending abilities.
      • Averted with the Metal Clan, who are able to hold their own against Zaheer of all people, in a world where even the most skilled fighters are usually no match for airbenders due to lack of experience.
  • In Exo Squad, the other exosquads are treated like this. Especially Baker Squad. In early episodes, the Jumptroopers were also treated this way, but once the Charlie-Fives show up, this ceases.
  • Futurama. Suicidal redshirt charges are the only page in Zapp Brannigan's playbook.
    Zapp Brannigan: Stop exploding, you cowards!
    • Brannigan even brags about how he defeated an army of killbots by sending wave after wave of redshirts at them until the killbots exceeded their kill limit.
    • In "Into the Wild Green Yonder"
      Zapp: We made it through, Kif. How many men did we lose?
      Kif: All of them.
      Zapp: Well, at least they won't have to mourn each other.
  • Generator Rex Zig-Zags this. On one occasion they failed to take on a gang, armed with Crossbows and the element of surprise note . When stuck in the Bug Jar, Calan and 4 others (two masked, two unmasked) stand by the heroes and fight off the enemies admirably. During the attack on the base, they're taken down, but by the end of the episode, they regroup to fight off the enemy Mooks. Most of the time, they just shoot ineffectively at the monster and the heroes save the day.
  • The CDF troops in Iron Kid are a prime example. When their general tells them to guard his defeated foe (who was a VERY dangerous villain), you just know how this will end....
    • If you thought it was going to end with "Villain wakes up, pounds the troops, then runs." then you would be wrong. It was more: "New guy pounds the troops, takes other villain and runs." To make it more embarrassing, said new guy was just a normal Flying Mook.
  • Johnny Test has Sky Brigade, which is essentially a Red Shirt Fighter Squadron. When the Monster of the Week terrorizes Porkbelly, they either get shot down in what effort they make to save the day, or retreat as if they can't deal with the problem themselves without Johnny and Dukey's help.
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes: In "POINT to the Plaza", the rank-and-file P.O.I.N.T. troopers don't accomplish much in the fight against the giant Gloop aside from a few of them getting eaten.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: In "No Small Parts", the crew of the Solvang show up just long enough to establish that the Pakleds have become a serious threat (even if they're still pretty stupid) before the ship is destroyed with no survivors. Oh, and it's probably no coincidence that the Solvang herself is adorned with a red stripe.
  • Star Wars:
    • Star Wars: Clone Wars: When Anakin Skywalker takes off alone to chase an enemy Force-user, Obi-Wan orders a squadron of clone troopers to follow him and save him from getting himself killed. When the clones arrive, they proceed to split up and get wiped out over the course of about three minutes, without ever seeing the enemy. Amusingly enough, clone troopers are the predecessors of storm troopers, perhaps indicating that the trope is inheritable.
    • Star Wars Rebels: Phoenix Squadron, introduced in Season 2. First appearing in "The Siege of Lothal", the Squadron is shown to do pretty well against average TIE fighter squadrons, but near the end, find themselves on the receiving end of a Curb-Stomp Battle from Darth Vader, with only a small number of them surviving. Afterward, they usually have at least one unnamed pilot getting killed whenever they get a space battle scene.
  • Steven Universe has a Fantastic Caste System/Hive Caste System that the Gem Homeworld has for every type of Gem, such as the Ruby Soldiers, who are a literal example of this trope, often stated as common, disposable soldiers that can be shattered and replaced at their masters' whim.
  • Averted in Superman: The Animated Series in the episode "Apokolips...Now!" The well-equipped and well-trained Metropolis Police fend off the storm troops of an extraterrestrial invasion all by themselves with no help from Supes at all. They also had to act without any help from the military, the local base having been destroyed in an earlier pre-invasion attack.
  • The Enforcers in SWAT Kats serve as nothing more than mere cannon fodder against the Villain Of The Week before the titular characters swoop in to save the day.
  • Averted in The Venture Bros. The OSI's grunts are stunningly effective at slaughtering villainous henchmen. In fact, they seem to enjoy it a little too much.


Video Example(s):


UNIT Turnover

UNIT soldiers die a lot. Clip from 'UNIT recruitment film'.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / RedShirt

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