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Why it is okay to be a redshirt…

Recently, an acquaintance told me not to be a redshirt. The term comes from Star Trek. In the original series, any time a junior security officer wearing a red uniform shirt joined an away mission, the character would be the first to die. No surprise that people quickly came to define redshirt characters as those whose only purpose was to die.

After a little time to mull it over the term (that I’d always enjoyed until now) started to bug me.  It suddenly struck me that nearly every Star Fleet captain after the original series wore a red shirt. That’s because subsequent movies and series used a different color scheme for uniforms.

While originally gold(or Chartreuse) indicated helm or command positions and red indicated engineering or security, their meanings were reversed in The Next Generation. The new color scheme stuck all the way through Voyager. For continuity sake, Enterprise went back to something close to the original color scheme.

So, by telling me not to be a redshirt, was he telling me to stay safe ro to avoid command. I’ve always wanted to command my own starship, so the second option didn’t sit well.

Maybe it is time to rethink the way we use the term redshirt. What do you think?

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5 thoughts on “Why it is okay to be a redshirt…

  1. I think I read somewhere that one of the “later” captains wore a red uniform because he/she was in the engineering corps before becoming a captain. (Why, yes, I have read almost all of the ST/NG and ST/Voyager novels, plus quite a few of the ST/TOS books. That’s more than 100 books. Who said TV makes people read less? And, yes, I did read them in order, ’cause that’s how I roll.)

    BTW, I love how WordPress changed your spelling of “redshirt” to “readshirt” in your post. Considering I’ve “read” far more of the series’ stories than I’ve watched, I found it oddly appropriate.

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  2. Oh gosh – Dang autocorrect!

    I thought the red might be a past path of promotion thing too, but it is pretty clear Janeway came up through science-blue. And then I realized engineering switched to gold.

    I’m impressed with your reading! That’s a lot of star trek books!

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  3. While I associate redshirt with the person who bites it first in a ST episode rather than the later command ranks, more often than not I use the term “Ensign Jones” to designate pulser fodder. No color confusion 🙂

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