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Playing With / Red Shirt

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Basic Trope: A "red shirt" is an expendable extra character, whose only job is to die while accompanying the main characters through danger.

  • Straight: The main characters bring along a few nameless extras for a dangerous mission. The extras die horribly, and the main characters complete their mission.
  • Exaggerated: An entire Red Shirt Army dies but every named character survives without a scratch.
  • Downplayed:
    • The red shirts are always clones or robots. Whenever one dies, the team creates an identical replacement.
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    • All of the characters can die, but the main character tend to die dramatic deaths.
    • Red shirts get smacked around a lot but none of them ever die.
  • Justified:
    • The main characters have more experience. It's only the new guys who get themselves killed.
    • The extras in question wear their red shirts in a hostile jungle, making them obvious targets. The main characters are smart enough to wear camo, so they don't get hit.
  • Inverted: The main characters all die. The only survivors are new guys with no names and no previous role in the narrative.
  • Subverted:
  • Double Subverted: The extra narrowly escapes, only for a second, hitherto unnoticed peril to claim her.
  • Parodied:
  • Zig Zagged: The extra becomes a Mauve Shirt, but finally dies as a Sacrificial Lion. This isn't exactly a double subversion, because she is now too important to be a Red Shirt.
  • Averted:
  • Enforced: "We need to kill some good guys, but all our main characters have Plot Armor. Insert some expendable red shirts."
  • Lampshaded:
  • Invoked:
    • The villain wants to capture the main characters alive, and deliberately kills only the extras.
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    • An Anti-Hero decides to send the extras into the front-lines, giving the bad guys a distraction while he and the other main characters sneak in to their base.
    • "Curse of the Red Shirt" is an Intristic effect on red garments that randomly Draw Aggro's enemies.
  • Exploited: The Hero uses the redshirt deaths to inspire a Remember the Alamo-style speech.
  • Defied:
    • The main characters go by themselves, without any extras.
    • The Hero tells his subordinates to "lose the red shirts" for an upcoming mission, and nobody gets killed.
    • Knowing that they don't stand a chance on direct confrontations due to their lack of power, the extras start relying on a guile oriented approach to combat, employing cunning strategies to compensate deficiencies. In the process their effectiveness increases, while also decreasing their casualties' ratio.
  • Discussed: "I see an army coming, but who cares? It's all Red Shirts, and everyone knows how easily they can be killed."
  • Conversed: "Do the writers expect us to feel any sort of tension? It's obvious that all those extras in the background will die long before the main characters do. That is, if the main characters die at all."
  • Implied: The heroes come back from an offscreen battle and mention that there were "many deaths". Considering all the main characters are alive and well, it's obvious only nameless characters died.
  • Deconstructed: The families of the deceased red shirts sue the main characters for negligent death.
  • Reconstructed: The hero shows that they went into battle of their own free will and actually put up a brave fight, considering they were facing certain death. The families drop the suits and statues are erected to honor their memories.
  • Played For Laughs:
    • The nameless extras go around wearing targets or "shoot me" signs.
    • "Don't worry. We're the leaders of The Rebellion. We always come back... Feel really sorry for those guys over there, though. I don't even know their names."
  • Played For Drama: The hero is the only survivor of a vicious battle. He laments that he was unable to save his men and the fact that he never even took the time to know them fills him with even more remorse.

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