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Even people who have barely heard of Star Trek probably know about the Red Shirts. They were the expendable crew members of the Enterprise, the non-regular cast members identifiable by he color of their uniforms who could be killed off on various away missions without causing any kind of hysteria. It's become a joke in pop culture much in the same way that "black characters always die first in horror movies" has. But the reality is that red shirts may not be as bad off as most people make them.
Fans over at Star Trek wiki Memory Alpha (via io9) have crunched the numbers and have discovered that while Red Shirts die more frequently than anyone else in the three original seasons of Star Trek, based on population percentages they are actually better off than those in gold uniforms. Reads the report:
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 72.2% 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.
The only problem? The pop culture button on this is pretty well stuck and Red Shirts will likely continue to be the unlucky souls they've been painted as for years to come. Let's hope that Benedict Cumberbatch doesn't treat them too harshly in Star Trek Into Darkness.