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A "red shirt" or redshirt in videogames, television, and other media is a character who enters the story for the sole purpose of dying early on. By and large, they have little in the way of personality or backstory, and often go unnamed. If they do get a few lines of dialogue, they are usually new in some way (ex. a rookie in the army, a fresh transfer from another company, etc.). The death of redshirt is a plot device used to demonstrate the threat posed to the heroes and/or to motivate the main characters to vengeance for their fallen and little-known comrade without having to kill off anyone important. A technical term for a red shirt is an expendable.

Red shirts are not to be confused with mooks, which are the villain equivalent.


The trope was popularized and named by Star Trek, which killed almost any character wearing (you guessed it) a red shirt to introduce the enemy for that episode. Since everyone else on the show had a shirt color-coded to their station, anyone who was not a central cast member (aka anyone with the title 'Ensign') and wore a red shirt was more or less guaranteed to die.

Another example are the Clone troopers and later Stormtroopers from the Star Wars saga. They are known for dying very early in the story and are often used as cannon fodder.

Gears of WarEdit

In Gears of War, wearing a helmet is the equivalent of wearing a red shirt. Notable red shirts from the first game are Anthony Carmine and Gyules, as well as any unnamed Gear. Gyules is actually listed in the credits as being ranked "Redshirt". It may also be noted that "carmine" is a shade of red. In addition, the term Rojas (a Gear in Alpha Squad) is the plural feminine form of "red" in Spanish.

Despite dying early, Minh Young Kim is not a red shirt. He is a developed character with a backstory (if a small one), a personality, and a significant amount of dialogue.

Gears of War 2Edit

In Gears of War 2, Benjamin Carmine seems like the new red shirt. For all intents and purposes, he is more or less a clone of his brother from the first game: a helmet-wearing rookie who has difficulty reloading his gun (and even drops it). Before the tutorial is halfway over he nearly kills himself with his own grenade. Ironically, he proves a competent soldier and is the last main character to die in the game.

Throughout the game, Dom and Marcus remind Ben to stay behind cover, keep his head down, and watch out for snipers: all references to the death of Anthony. They don't mean to keep reminding Ben of how his brother died and is now dead, they just want to keep Ben alive.

In many battles when helmeted NPC gears appear, they will have their heads sniped off. This may be an allusion to Anthony Carmine.

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