Redshirt (stock character)
A "redshirt" is a stock character in fiction who dies soon after being introduced. The term originates from the original Star Trek (NBC, 1966–69) television series in which the red-shirted security personnel frequently die during episodes. Redshirt deaths are often used to dramatize the potential peril that the main characters face.
In Star Trek, red-uniformed security officers and engineers who accompany the main characters on landing parties often suffer quick deaths.
The first instance of what now is an established trope can be seen in the episode "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" (1966). Of the 59 crew members killed in the series, 43 (73%) were wearing red shirts. The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine book Legends of the Ferengi says Starfleet security personnel "rarely survive beyond the second act break". An episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine titled "Valiant" (1998) also references red as a sort of bad luck omen, in which the plot centers around a group of cadets calling themselves "Red Squad", almost all of whom die in the episode. The cinematic reboot of the franchise features a character named Olson (portrayed by Greg Ellis) who dies early on during a mission; he wears a red uniform in homage to the trope from the original series.
Galaxy Quest (1999), a comedy about actors from a defunct science-fiction television series serving on a real starship, included an actor who is terrified that he's going to die on an away mission because his only appearance in the show was as an unnamed character who was killed early in the episode. Redshirts is a novel by John Scalzi that satirizes the trope, as is the PC game Redshirt.
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