Star Trek started a strange trend which has become a part of regular science fiction. Kirk and would beam down to a planet with some guy in a red shirt, and he would be killed off within seconds! This happened more times than I can count!
Here are some examples :
“The Apple”-No less than five red shirt deaths all from different sources
“Obsession”-Another five red shirts (maybe six) all from the same cause this time. One killed was popular recurring character Mr.Leslie. But don’t worry, he was back to life a few episodes later.
“The Changeling”-Nomad zaps several people, but it’s only four red shirts who get flat out vaporized
“And The Children Shall Lead”-I always loved this one when Kirk beams two red shirts into the icy cold of space! Long story it wasn’t his fault.
“Where Silence Has Lease”-TNG is not exempt, take this episode where the alien kills a random helmsman (who was conveniently in Wesley Crusher’s place)
“Genesis”-The only person flat out killed in this episode was the unfortunate con officer, wearing a red shirt of course!
Even the movies were not free from this. Just look at Lt.Ilia in The Motion Picture. Heck, when we meet Lt.Hawk in “First Contact”, is there any doubt how his character is going to end up?
I did like in TOS how Kirk grieved every red shirt death. They series considered them disposable characters but in universe Kirk did not. He has a great seen in The Apple where he is grief stricken and Spock has to talk him down. I think that helped to keep the constant death’s from getting ridiculous.Â By the way while most of these examples were classically wearing “red shirts”, it’s not a requirement to be an expendable character there to be killed off. Gold can be a dangerous color too, and even blue isn’t safe!
What I wanted to talk about today was when female characters get the “red shirt” treatment. For whatever reason, these scenes are often more dramatic than when the male crewmen are killed. Maybe a case of “women in refrigerators”, but when it’s a woman officer killed it just seems to lead to more drama. Here now are five times a female character is introduced just to be unceremoniously killed of!
#5.Ensign…Unknown “Scientific Method” Voyager
Yeah this character doesn’t get a name, but the scene was still pretty inyense. This episode is a favorite, long overdue for a “Underrated Trek” article. Long story short, aliens are perfofrming medial experiments on the crew. The senior officerd are discussing the siutatiom when they get a call of a woman going into cardiac arrest on the Bridge. Janeway tries in vane, but the woman dies. What Janeway does after…it subject for another day. Yep, that article is way overdue….
#4.Lt.Stadi “Caretaker” Voyager & Lt.Monroe “Disaster”
Tie because it was the same cause. As I’ve noted it’s very popular for the conn officer to be killed. When the pilot began, we see Lt.Paris in a shuttle with a lovel Betazoid. This is teh fi reveal of Voyager parked at Deep Space Nine (beaitful image by the way). So what happens to this Betazoid? About ten minutes later, the ship is hurled into the Delta Quadrant and is killed when her conn station esplodes on her.
#3.Lt. Arlene Galway-The Deadly Years
Again, not wearing a red shirt techincally. But she sure fits the profile, for the most part. This is the episode where the crew gets hit with an aging disease (technically not a disease, but I digress). Galway doesn’t take it very well, and ages faster than the others before she suddenly dies. It’s a grim scene as Kirk and McCoy know they don’t have much more time left themselves. Thank goodness for adrenalin!
#2.Lt.Van Mayter “In Theory”
Ok techncally she is wearing gold. But it’s a great example nevertheless. The Enterprise is experiencing odd occurrences, and LaForge is trying to find the source with Lt.Mayter and some other officer. LaForge sends Mayter down another hallway while he walks the other way with the other officer. Suddenly they hear a scream…and they find Mayter has fallen through the floor. It’s an eerie image (as you can see).
#1.Yeoman Thompson”By Any Other Name”
There was a time when EVERYONE knew this one. As some may know, this is not a favorite episode of mine. The landing party is being held captive by the Kelvans, and Kirk and Spock come up with a way to escape. However, it doesn’t go well and the Kelvans decide to punish Kirk. They have a way to reducing a person’s body to their basic chemicals, leaving them a cube. He does this two two officers, a male officer and Yeoman Thompson. The Kelvan then crushes once cube, saying that person is now dead. When he restoresÂ the other cube, we see the male officer! Thompson is dead and Kirk is devastated…powerful moment.
Ah, Star Trek. Never change.