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Will Redshirts by (Mefi's Own) John Scalzi have to be rewritten?
February 20, 2013 11:35 AM   Subscribe

Bayesian analysis shows redshirts are not most likely to die on Star Trek:TOS. Although Enterprise crew members in redshirts suffer many more casualties than crew members in other uniforms, they suffer fewer casualties than crew members in gold uniforms when the entire population size is considered. Only 10% of the entire redshirt population was lost during the three year run of Star Trek. This is less than the 13.4% of goldshirts, but more than the 5.1% of blueshirts. What is truly hazardous is not wearing a redshirt, but being a member of the security department. The red-shirted members of security were only 20.9% of the entire crew, but there is a 61.9% chance that the next casualty is in a redshirt and 64.5% chance this red-shirted victim is a member of the security department. The remaining redshirts, operations and engineering make up the largest single population, but only have an 8.6% chance of being a casualty.
posted by Cash4Lead (75 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
What is truly hazardous is not wearing a redshirt, but being a member of the security department.

I think the problem is that he is taking "redshirt" too literally whereas I always understood it as shorthand for "those red-shirted security guys that beam down are the most likely to not come back up" Or is it just me that was thinking that way?
Nice analysis, though.
posted by vacapinta at 11:40 AM on February 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


FWIW I agree with vacapinta. "Red Shirt" doesn't literally mean "someone wearing a red shirt," it means one of the nameless, chisel-faced men on the away team.
posted by muddgirl at 11:44 AM on February 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is fantastic, but it strikes me that basing your statistics on the total crew numbers from Star Trek Blueprints leads to a very different picture than basing them on the crew depicted on the actual show. That is, by treating the population as the entire crew of the Enterprise — which is strictly part of the imaginary universe rather than the depiction of the imaginary universe on screen — you're probably already conceding too much. The on-screen-depicted population is probably far heavier on red uniforms, and specifically security staff, than the imagined totality of the crew.
posted by RogerB at 11:46 AM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


And I thought I was nuts for posting an Askme concerning the social accuracy of the old BBC sitcom 'Are You Being Served?'
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:50 AM on February 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah, category error - it's the Red Shirts on the Away team that earned them their notoriety, not aboard the ship. Also, any junior officer in Security who is introduced to the company of the Captain and his bridge officers is likewise toast, planetside or not.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:54 AM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes, vacapinta and muddgirl are right. Wearing a red shirt is a necessary but not sufficient condition for being a Red Shirt.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:55 AM on February 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


The on-screen-depicted population is probably far heavier on red uniforms, and specifically security staff, than the imagined totality of the crew.

This and also the sorts of expeditions that are likely to result in casualties are exactly the sorts of expeditions that are likely to wind up on screen, which skews our perceptions (and the stats).

Star Trek's producers never got around to airing all those episodes about routine planetary visits where things are pretty much a-ok.
posted by notyou at 11:55 AM on February 20, 2013


"FOR ALL YOU KNOW I'M JUST CREWMAN #6!!!"
posted by mcstayinskool at 11:55 AM on February 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


I never wear red. It would suck for the universe to realize I'm one of the engineering guys a few seconds too late.
posted by BeeDo at 11:56 AM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


BOOK SPOILERS

And if I recall correctly (correct me, Scalz, if I'm not) more of the 'endangered' redshirts in his book were from engineering than in the original TV show (one of my favorite elements of the book was the "black box" in engineering that provided scientific solutions to intractable problems right before they were due - the one true sign of living in a poorly-written fictional universe).

Then again, the fictional universe was not that of Star Trek, but a cheaply-produced cable TV copy series.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:59 AM on February 20, 2013


muddgirl: “FWIW I agree with vacapinta. "Red Shirt" doesn't literally mean ‘someone wearing a red shirt,’ it means one of the nameless, chisel-faced men on the away team.”

NB: preferred nomenclature on TOS is "landing party," not "away team." I never understood where Next Generation got "away team," since I always hear that term as the opposite of "home team," but of course that's sports slang which seems to be highly regional.
posted by koeselitz at 12:08 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm wearing a red sweater. Am I okay?
posted by madcaptenor at 12:08 PM on February 20, 2013


I Don't Always Play a Red Shirt on Star Trek. But When I Do, I Survive The Whole Episode.
posted by radwolf76 at 12:09 PM on February 20, 2013 [19 favorites]


Bah: the Memory Alpha casualties page also lists revivals: at least three redshirts (including Scott) died but later got better, which is a better figure than any other branch. Is this taken into account?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:10 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


madcaptenor: I'm wearing a red sweater. Am I okay?

Security or Engineering?
posted by Rock Steady at 12:10 PM on February 20, 2013


"Red Shirt" doesn't literally mean "someone wearing a red shirt," it means one of the nameless, chisel-faced men on the away team.
No, listen to me: This is a man, and he has a name. And it's G.P. Herndoff. OK?

G.P. Herndoff?

He's a man, and he's dead now because of us. All right? Do you understand that?

I understand. In death, a member of Project Redshirt has a name. His name is G.P. Herndoff.

His name is G.P. Herndoff.

His name is G.P. Herndoff.

His name is G.P. Herndoff.

His name is G.P. Herndoff.
posted by Flunkie at 12:14 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Useful redshirt trivia: the only female redshirt to cash in in the series was Leslie Thompson, played by Julie Cobb. Cobb was married to James Cromwell for twenty years; Cromwell has a bit of a Star Trek presence himself.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:14 PM on February 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


madcaptenor is a mathematician if I'm remembering right, so probably Engineering.
posted by rtha at 12:15 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hmmm... or maybe his name is Hendorff.
posted by Flunkie at 12:20 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Computers ruin everything.
posted by vibrotronica at 12:21 PM on February 20, 2013


in Galaxy Quest, it was the designation "Crewman #n" that was destined to die, so another study is required.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:21 PM on February 20, 2013


Good news for Ensign Ricky!
posted by ssmug at 12:22 PM on February 20, 2013


This thread tickles me.

What I write next may have spoilers.

1. In point of fact, I never describe the color(s) of the uniforms of the Intrepid's crew during the course of the book.

2. Likewise, our protagonists don't hear of the phrase "redshirt" until well into the story.

3. I would agree that "redshirt" is more of general category than a literally accurate description, much in the way "pulp fiction" these days tends not to actually be written on pulpy paper.

4. One of the things that indictaed to me that "redshirts" was a phrase that had some general currency was when I was the creative consultant on Stargate: Universe, and there was a scene in a script with the direction "REDSHIRT walks down the hall," and I remember thinking, "that dude's not going to get to the end of the hall," and I was right. If the term was common enough to be used as screenwriting shorthand, it was common enough for my title.

5. On the small chance that Paramount would give us grief for the title Redshirts, we had an alternate title queued up and ready: Away Team. Obviously, I prefer the first.

6. I won't be renaming the book. TAKE THAT, STATISTICS.
posted by jscalzi at 12:26 PM on February 20, 2013 [53 favorites]


I would be curious to read a good story titled "TAKE THAT, STATISTICS".
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:29 PM on February 20, 2013


I would be curious to read a good story titled "TAKE THAT, STATISTICS".

Scalzi better write it quick before Doctorow swoops in and snags it.
posted by aught at 12:32 PM on February 20, 2013


You wanna stay out of the landing party? Better look busy.
posted by steef at 12:33 PM on February 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


I would be curious to read a good story titled "TAKE THAT, STATISTICS".

It would be about a supercomputer that extrapolates information based on personal experience and supposition - an anecdatabase that can process dim guesses into hard data.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:34 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just finished Redshirts. I don't recall ever seeing a mention of the exact color of the main protagonists' clothing. But, I may have skimmed over it. On preview, what scalzi said.

The best "redshirt" joke I ever witnessed was at the Star Trek Experience café at the Las Vegas Hilton. A klingon wandered around, stopped at a table of four to chat. As he left, he pointed to one of the guys, who was wearing a red T-shirt, and exclaimed, "And whatever you do, stay away from this guy!"

Our table cracked up, but we were the only ones. Anyway.
posted by CancerMan at 12:34 PM on February 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


I don't know if this analysis accounts for the decimation of the engineering crew in Khan. Although I guess if you really want to be a stickler, they were all wearing white spacesuity things when the shit went down.
posted by COBRA! at 12:36 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm buying a lottery ticket. TAKE THAT, STATISTICS.
posted by Area Man at 12:50 PM on February 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's probably true that being in the US cavalry and saying "I
I don't like it, it's too quiet" didn't guarantee an immediate arrow in the chest.
posted by Segundus at 12:56 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would be curious to read a good story titled "TAKE THAT, STATISTICS"

I'm pretty sure that would be a Laundry novel where some doofus unwittingly gives acausal logic to some eldritch hyperdimensional evil, and we only know because Bayesian updating stops working, and only Bob and Mo can save the timeline from collapsing into a pile of goo.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:58 PM on February 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think the problem is that he is taking "redshirt" too literally whereas I always understood it as shorthand for "those red-shirted security guys that beam down are the most likely to not come back up" Or is it just me that was thinking that way?

That applies to jscalzi's book as well. Or at least crewmembers went out of the way to avoid going on away missions, as they were particularly dangerous.
posted by brundlefly at 1:10 PM on February 20, 2013


/makes report into geometric solid, crumbles it into dust.
posted by Artw at 1:12 PM on February 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm embarrassed to realize that I've spent the last 25 years thinking that the phrase "Away Team" was a U.S. naval term that the makers of ST:TNG started using.

Because, you know, our navy did so much exploring.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:14 PM on February 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


preferred nomenclature on TOS is "landing party," not "away team.

Scotty, you're out of your element! Dude, the away team is not the issue here!
posted by zombieflanders at 1:16 PM on February 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


Wearing a red shirt is a necessary but not sufficient condition for being a Red Shirt.

It's not even a necessary condition. Anonymous cannon-fodder crewmen in the later shows are still redshirts, no matter what the color of their garments.
posted by steambadger at 1:20 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


NB: preferred nomenclature on TOS is "landing party," not "away team." I never understood where Next Generation got "away team," since I always hear that term as the opposite of "home team," but of course that's sports slang which seems to be highly regional.

I think Trek did away with "landing party" because outside of the occasional shuttlecraft jaunt (and/or crash), they weren't really landing on anything, but instead simply beaming down to the surface.
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:29 PM on February 20, 2013


It's not even a necessary condition. Anonymous cannon-fodder crewmen in the later shows are still redshirts, no matter what the color of their garments.

It's true. Security in Next Generation wears gold, but they're still redshirts.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:30 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I kind of hate to be the stats pedant*, but this isn't a great example of a Bayesian analysis. By which I mean that the calculations are wrong.

Take the first calculation of "the probability that somebody is wearing a red shirt (A) if they are a casualty (B)". Intuitively, you'd think that this number should be just the same thing as the proportion of on-screen casualties that are redshirts, right? So you could just read it off the first pie chart, rather than do all these messy Bayesian calculations. Like the original author, I'll ignore the "unknown" casualties (statisticians would call this the assumption that the data are missing completely at random, and would also call me lazy for ignoring the data, but let's stick to the same assumptions as TFA shall we?). And similarly, I'll stick to the "everyone in a red shirt is a redshirt" assumption...

The proportion of casualties that are redshirts, as per the chart, is 24/(24+7+9) = 0.6. So if you just read the numbers off the pie chart, you'd conclude that the probability that a random casualty is a redshirt should be 60%. But the "Bayesian" calculation in TFA gives a slightly different answer of 61.9%. What gives?

The problem is that the numbers that have been stuffed into Bayes' theorem are the wrong ones. Here are the right ones for that particular calculation:

Priors:

P(A)
= probability that a randomly chosen crew member is a redshirt
= 239/430
= .555814

P(not A)
= probability that a randomly chosen crew member isn't a redshirt
= 191/430
= .444186

Likelihoods:

P(B|A)
= probability that a randomly chosen redshirt is a casualty
= 24/239
= .1004184

P(B|not A)
= probability that a randomly chosen non-redshirt is a casualty
= (7+9)/(55+136)
= .08376963

So P(A|B), the posterior probability that a randomly chosen casualty is a redshirt, is

P(A|B)
= P(B|A) P(A) / [ P(B|A) P(A) + P(B|not A) P(not A) ]
= (.1004184 * .555814) / (.1004184 * .555814 + .08376963 * .444186)
= 0.6

Surprise, surprise... it's exactly the same number that you get if you just read the numbers off the chart.

Personally, I'm all for Bayesian analysis of stuff, both important and silly, but this isn't a situation where Bayes' rule buys you a lot. More importantly, statistical calculations don't work very well if you insert the wrong numbers.

[* Oh, who am I kidding? I love being a stats pedant.]
posted by mixing at 1:44 PM on February 20, 2013 [20 favorites]


Forget which website I saw this hypothetical on, but Redshirts vs. Imperial Stormtroopers in a firefight.
posted by radwolf76 at 2:00 PM on February 20, 2013


They would all have fantastic aim. It is only main characters that they miss.
posted by BeeDo at 2:05 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


From the WWWF Grudge Match, Red-Shirted Ensigns vs. Stormtroopers.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:12 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I believe radwolf76 may be thinking of the WWWF Grudge Match: Red-shirted Ensigns vs. Stormtroopers.

(The Grudge Match also has learned analyses of other battles, such as Jeanie vs Samantha and a Rottweiler vs a Rottweiler's weight in Chihuahuas.)
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 2:13 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


There was a recent previous thread on Ask about the redshirt phenomenon, but there was an awful lot of... misunderstanding going on.

I don't know if "away team" gets used in sports much anymore. I think "road team" is more common, although that's archaic in itself since most teams fly nowadays.

TAKE THAT, STATISTICS would probably be the name of the book documenting Miguel Cabrera's "historic" 2012 MVP season. And it probably would not be available as an e-book.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 2:30 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


The unluckiest redshirt of them all: Ensign Haskell.

Ensign Marty Stu Roddenberry takes a quick trip to the head and Haskell takes over the helm just long enough to be available for pan-dimensional Nagilim to lay a Folsom Prison Blues hurt on him. Literally kills him just to watch him die. And Marty Stu is back at the helm after the next commercial!

Redshirts have died feeding salt-vampires and hemo-goblins, impaled by giant cavemen, stabbed to death by Jack the Ripper, vaporized by hungry computers, and accidently transported into deep space.

But with the possible exception of the gal who got her face erased by Charlie X and the two people turned inside out by the transporter in the first movie, Ensign Haskell got the worst gig in all of Trek -- and he never left the bridge

At least the yeoman who got her cube* crushed by the Andromedaries was immortalized (sort of) in a Franklin Ajaye monologue.


*Yes, yes, I know. I took geometry when you parents were in diapers.
posted by Herodios at 2:41 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


This has a 86% chance of being my favourite post.
posted by njk at 2:45 PM on February 20, 2013


I kind of hate to be the stats pedant*, but TAKE THAT, STATISTICS!

...

since I always hear that term as the opposite of "home team," but of course that's sports slang

GBooks shows no non-sports usage of "away team" prior to the TNG production era. I think it was an elegant invention of the TNG writers, perhaps Roddenberry himself. The 1987 bible, interestingly, refers to "away missions" and "away" as a general term, but also uses the phrasing "landing team" and "shore parties" in conjunction with "away team" being a highlighted term.

Oh, in regard to a recent AskMe, the bible also insisted that Data's name was pronounced "that-a" (and the bible introduced the phrase "fully functional" as well...). It's an interesting read -- very little would change in production, although not all the character notes were carried through, but in particular Roddenberry's overall vision is firm throughout, e.g. that humanity has advanced ethically, that technology just works, that Starfleet is not military, Starfleet officers do not simply abandon their oaths to take up with space princesses, and so forth. It also lays out important scientific terminology such as light speed, light-year (as a measure of distance), and show terms such as warp factor, for consistency and believability.
posted by dhartung at 2:45 PM on February 20, 2013


I don't know if "away team" gets used in sports much anymore. I think "road team" is more common, although that's archaic in itself since most teams fly nowadays.

We use the home and away designation every softball season (and in baseball growing up).

(on preview what dhartung said) I did a google word analysis on the use of "away team" and interestingly, it's usage spiked around the time TNG premiered and didn't really start dropping until the TNG era Trek shows began disappearing. In contrast, "landing party" pops up quite a far ways back, centuries, speaking.

Even though we criticize the Trek shows for the bridge officers running off on away missions, that isn't necessarily a wrong depiction. One of history's greatest admirals, Horatio Nelson, was seriously wounded while leading a landing party (as a captain) in Central America if I remember right.
posted by Atreides at 2:48 PM on February 20, 2013


I suspect that it's nerdy2 to run a hypothesis test on one of the greatest bits of fan folklore using Minitab on data from a merchandising tie-in.

One of history's greatest admirals, Horatio Nelson, was seriously wounded while leading a landing party (as a captain) in Central America if I remember right.

Cpt. Cook comes to mind as a captain who died as a part of hijinks worthy of a TOS episode.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:54 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


TheSecretDecoderRing: "I don't know if "away team" gets used in sports much anymore. I think "road team" is more common, although that's archaic in itself since most teams fly nowadays. "

I think I would use "visiting team" or "visitors."

Although not the Jane Badler kind of visitors.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:58 PM on February 20, 2013


I guess I was thinking more pro/college sports colloquialisms. Home vs Away/Visitor is probably more common in a rec league, say, when neither team is really "home."
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 3:04 PM on February 20, 2013


What if they're the plucky sidekick?
posted by spacely_sprocket at 3:26 PM on February 20, 2013


I would be curious to read a good story titled "TAKE THAT, STATISTICS".
Remember Romney didn't have a concession speech ready? It's because he was working on a piece with that name instead.
posted by Flunkie at 3:28 PM on February 20, 2013


In the words of Captaun Pike: Beep.
posted by Artw at 3:39 PM on February 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


So when I was a freshman in college a group of us used to watch TOS and TNG on the big dorm tv (when we could get there before the sports guys), and we took to calling those ill-fated away team members Ensign Expendables. I didn't actually hear the term "redshirt" until much later, in part I guess because until college I didn't actually know anybody (besides my dad) who watched Star Trek.

Given that Ensign Expendable makes the whole shirt color issue irrelevant*, you all have my permission to start using that term instead.

You're welcome.



*Yes I realize somebody will probably point out that they weren't always ensigns who died, but we can't have everything.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 3:54 PM on February 20, 2013


One of history's greatest admirals, Horatio Nelson, was seriously wounded while leading a landing party

Pub trivia: Who was the first man to circumnavigate the world? Hint: it wasn't Magellan....
posted by dhartung at 3:57 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I never understood where Next Generation got "away team," since I always hear that term as the opposite of "home team," but of course that's sports slang which seems to be highly regional.

"Redshirt" is also a piece of sports terminology that has nothing to do with its sci-fi meaning.
posted by painquale at 4:40 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


"But with the possible exception of the gal who got her face erased by Charlie X..."

I always thought the Thasians restored her (and Charlie's other victims) at the end of the episode. Probably not that other ship he blew up, though.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:53 PM on February 20, 2013


The important bit was that on-screen redshirt deaths became common enough that they turned into a fan joke, and once you see it, you can't unsee it. I think an equivalent for TNG is "Worf Denied."

And in my opinion, it's what's going onscreen that matters. Handling of Enterprise crew beyond mere set-dressing extras is terribly inconsistent, and they seem to vanish entirely in many of the episodes and movies.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 5:08 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ensign Expendable

That's the term I knew before "redshirt" as well. I want to say it came from MST3K or something, maybe?
posted by Rock Steady at 5:25 PM on February 20, 2013


I had some bad experiences with college football back when I was in school--the day of the first home football game my Freshman year, the jet flyover followed by fireworks had me huddled under my bed in two seconds--but nothing really compared to the first time I heard a TV commentator talk about a "redshirt freshman."

I was scandalized! What did that poor kid do?
posted by thecaddy at 5:29 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, guys, we get it. No true redshirt...
posted by pompomtom at 6:07 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I actually won the "Prince vs. Michael Jackson" GOTW way back when, under my slashdot moniker.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:04 PM on February 20, 2013


I think I first heard of away teams back in an issue of Trek magazine, where a fan pointed out the insanity of the commanding officers going down to unexplored planets, and proposed a highly trained group of explorers should be the ones to do the job. He even recommended splitting the dramatic time between the captain and the more reckless away team lead. I'm pretty sure that Roddenberry picked up on that and similar commentary.
posted by happyroach at 7:52 PM on February 20, 2013


Watching that Worf Denied clip is fascinating for just how often Worf is dead right (and how useless it would be to plot lines if people listened to him).
posted by dry white toast at 7:56 PM on February 20, 2013


I think I first heard of away teams back in an issue of Trek magazine, where a fan pointed out the insanity of the commanding officers going down to unexplored planets, and proposed a highly trained group of explorers should be the ones to do the job. He even recommended splitting the dramatic time between the captain and the more reckless away team lead. I'm pretty sure that Roddenberry picked up on that and similar commentary.

David Gerrold was making that point in the seventies, so the idea has been around for a while.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:50 PM on February 20, 2013


Ensign Expendable

That's the term I knew before "redshirt" as well. I want to say it came from MST3K or something, maybe?


Ooooh, I bet it you're right. I assume one of our MST3K über fans will confirm this, as my source is currently sleeping.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 9:37 PM on February 20, 2013


You may also wish to note that the Scalzi Redshirt universe is never stated to be Star Trek, the same way that Glaxay Quest isn't stated to be Star Trek.

FWIW, it damaged me to find out that Star Trek is really a derivative work itself having been pitched as "Wagon Train to the stars" and in reality most of these shows are only slightly more than Soap OperasDaytime Dramas in space. In Star Trek (TOS, TNG, VOY, ENT), they go to the plot device (Wagon Train), in DS9, the plot device generally comes to you (General Hospital). Just saying.
posted by plinth at 5:36 AM on February 21, 2013


That's more of a description of format than anything else, despite all the silly crape people have come up with by taking it seriously.
posted by Artw at 7:28 AM on February 21, 2013



My father (never a fan) along with many many others, both fen and mudane, called Trek out on this point way back during the long dark tea-time of syndication (the 1970s), when all of its manifold faults, large and small, were first laid bare. "You sure don't want to get beamed down if your uniform is red," he'd say.* Not so sure when 'redshirt' itself became an epithet, but I'm dead certain it was before MST3k.

One thing I haven't seen mentioned here is that TOS security redshirts represent the Royal Marines -- whose job during the age of sail was never to sail the ship or decide where to sail, but specifically, to boldly go directly into danger by land while wearing bright red uniforms.

I blame Shakespeare for starting it all by introducing ensigns Rosencranz and Guildenstern and crewman Servant**.

But then Odysseus's entire crew must've worn red tunics, those beefeaters.


*He'd also say, "Call me if it's the one with green girl."
** First name (non-canonical) "Glowsters".

posted by Herodios at 8:10 AM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


despite all the silly crape people have come up with by taking it seriously

I hope I'm not the only one who misread that as "Despite all of those things the silly Crepe People have accomplished through the means of taking it seriously." I figured you meant those floppy parasite things from TOS that Spock had to be blinded but then OH YEAH THEY HAVE EXTRA EYELIDS EVERYONE TOTALLY FORGOT.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:15 AM on February 21, 2013


Herodios: Not so sure when 'redshirt' itself became an epithet, but I'm dead certain it was before MST3k.

Oh yeah, I don't doubt it, I just think "Ensign Expendable" was maybe more widespread amongst casual fans until probably (pulling this out of my ass) the early 90s. In further thinking about it, I don't think I heard "Ensign Expendable" on MST3K. I'm now thinking it was a stand-up comedian (Kevin Pollak doing Kirk, maybe?) or possibly an SNL or other sketch comedy skit.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:25 AM on February 21, 2013


It seemed to me (without statistical analysis) that in TOS the male redshirts would die and the female redshirts (redskirts?) would get married and leave the ship. I guess it falls under "eh, married or dead, either way you're not coming back..."
posted by Karmakaze at 8:56 AM on February 21, 2013


You may also wish to note that the Scalzi Redshirt universe is never stated to be Star Trek, the same way that Glaxay Quest isn't stated to be Star Trek.

It's definitively stated to not be the Star Trek universe. They talk about Star Trek within the novel, and the relation between it and the Intrepid's universe.
posted by painquale at 9:39 AM on February 21, 2013


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