Tips for Survival: Never Beam Down in a Redshirt

by M-Gillies

Leonard Nimoy a.k.a. Mr. Spock, wore a blue shirt in all the episodes except for one. In all his Vulcan wisdom he did have this to say about death though, "In the strict scientific sense, Doctor, we all feed on death, even vegetarians".

“I’m not even supposed to be here. I’m just Crewman #6 – I’m expendable. I’m the guy in the episode who dies to prove how serious the situation is. I’ve gotta get outta here,” Guy Fleegman, Galaxy Quest.

With the Starfleet medical facility offering medical tricorders for quick analysis and medical diagnostics, and a sickbay so technologically advanced that the laser wounds and illnesses can be fixed in a matter of seconds, there is one thing even futuristic medical science has yet to improve, it’s the cure for death.

After the graduation from Starfleet Academy, where you sat through tactical and strategical ground maneuver lessons and studied interspecies protocol, you’ve been recruited as a Federation Security Office onboard the Star Ship. As such, your duties include the protection of Starfleet and Federation assets, the prevention and investigation of crimes, and personal protection of Starfleet officers and Federation or foreign dignitaries.

With those kinds of credentials, the Academy training must have been top-notch, and because of such critical assets as the skills listed, it isn’t any wonder you’re chosen among the 430 crew members of the original Star Ship Enterprise to provide defensive support to a party lead by commanding officers.

What better way of making your mark by impressing your superiors with your skill and climbing the ranks of the operational personnel. Well, as any die-hard Trekkie knows, beaming down onto a foreign planet with the likes of Captain Kirk is more likely than not, going to seal your death; Especially when you’re the security officer wearing the red shirt.

In typical television drama, the death of a redshirt crew member was simply a means of conveying to the viewer the seriousness of the situation. It was the writers’ way of telling you, had it not been for this expendable crew member, the death would have been a character in whom you had developed an emotional tie.

In fact, the running gag of redshirt deaths has been parodied and referenced in numerous television shows ranging from Futurama, Family Guy and Lost.

One website, however, has even gone as far as documenting analytical research on the statistical life expectancy of redshirts in comparison to the rest of the crew, showing just how dangerous it is to be on an expedition with Captain Kirk and the top commanding officers of the Star Ship Enterprise.

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