redshirt n.

a character who is not portrayed in depth; (esp.) a character whose main plot function is to be killed

After the red shirts worn by security personnel in Star Trek, who were often killed on duty.

Memory Alpha

Star Trek

  • 1985 Major Inconsistancy, in Usenet newsgroup net.startrek 28 May

    You’re right, Redshirts are never allowed to survive an episode.

  • 1994 SFRA Review July–Aug. 43

    The weakest part of the book was the use of the dreaded ‘redshirt syndrome’.

  • 2001 Entertainment Weekly 10 Sept. 83

    Redshirt Blues…is an amusing riff on the hapless Starfleet crewmen whose uniforms invariably mark them for untimely deaths.

  • 2005 I. McDonald River of Gods xlvi. 466 Ian McDonald

    I am every secondary character and minor character and walk-on and redshirt.

  • 2006 D. Itzkoff On ‘Lost,’ the Castaway Who Stands Out Without Even Trying in N.Y. Times 14 Mar.

    Before he was cast, the role was essentially a cipher, a working-class man of unspecified age and ethnicity, whose earliest character sketches described him as a ‘red shirt,’ a term used by ‘Star Trek’ fans to denote a supporting player who gets killed off quickly.

  • 2012 J. Scalzi Redshirts 288 John Scalzi bibliography

    Abnett smiled wryly. ‘So I get to be the redshirt on this one.’

  • 2015 SciFiNow (#114) 25/1 page image

    Do shots every time the Enterprise has a tech failure or a Redshirt gets killed.

  • 2016 SFX (#276) Aug. 110/4

    Follow the daily disasters and misfortunes of a hapless redshirt.

Research requirements

antedating 1985

Last modified 2021-01-09 20:34:05
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.