What is a Redshirt? The StarTrek Insider explains

by Tobias

Among Star Trek fans, the term Redshirt is a well-known insider. However, this term is also used outside the science fiction universe.

This is what the term Redshirt means among Star Trek fans

When Trekkies talk about a Redshirt, like-minded people immediately know what is meant by it. But even outside the fan community, this term has long been established.

  • In Stark Trek, different uniforms indicate the different functions of the crew. In the classic series featuring Kirk and Spock (The Original Series), the high-ranking bridge officers wear gold, scientific and medical members of the crew wear blue, and technicians and security wear red.
  • Since the main characters mainly consist of bridge officers and scientists, they mainly wore gold and blue uniforms. These characters are also to remain in the series permanently as a permanent feature.
  • So, when a mortal danger threatens to take the life of a crew member, characters of lesser importance to the audience must die. These wore red uniforms almost exclusively. If such a redshirt was part of a mission on an alien planet, it was fairly certain that this person would not survive the adventure.
  • Redshirts, then, are pawns designed to add drama to the series without letting the main characters die. Even outside the Star Trek world, this term has become synonymous with roles whose imminent demise can obviously be foreseen.

Intriguing facts about the term Redshirt

Not every Star Trek series is about redshirts. And far from the infinite reaches of space, the term describes something completely different.

  • While the bridge crew in Star Trek – The Original Series wore gold, the colour of the high-ranking officers in other Star Trek series such as The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine is red. Accordingly, the colour of the uniform here does not indicate the certain death of the wearer.
  • The term redshirt is also known in sports. In American high school sports, however, it is not used to describe a cannon fodder, but a player who takes a one-year break from official games. During this time, he is allowed to train with the team but not participate in competitions. In this way, the player’s entitlement to play, which is only limited to four seasons, can be saved up.
  • If a player has to take a compulsory break due to an injury, he can also have this credited as a redshirt year under certain circumstances. In this case, it is referred to as a medical redshirt.

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