Red Shirt

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"He's dead, Jim."
— Dr. Leonard McCoy
Starfleet security, TOS-era: These men are doomed to die.

Red Shirt is a nickname for Starfleet's security personnel, named for the distinctive red shirts they wore in the original Star Trek series. Red Shirts are notable for their high casualty rate, as Red Shirts who accompany senior officers on missions frequently die. The name was retained even after security switched to yellow shirts in the post-TOS series.

Although their job description suggests that their role should be limited to providing security on starships, Red Shirts seem to be the only foot soldiers available to the Federation in the 23rd and 24th centuries, performing the roles of army and marines in addition to shipboard security.


Starfleet security, TNG-era: We're about to get our asses kicked.
Helmets and Breastplates, still useless....

In the 23rd century (TOS-era), Starfleet security personnel carried a communicator and a hand phaser. The leader of a team might carry a tricorder, as well. A phaser rifle was seen once,[1] but it was not standard issue; similarly, photon grenades existed but were seldom used.[2] The security uniform consisted of black trousers and a red shirt.

In the 24th century (TNG-era), security equipment is similar: a communicator and a hand phaser. Officers might also carry a tricorder programmed for security functions. Phaser rifles of various types are available for overtly military missions. The security uniform consists of a black-and-gold jumpsuit or black trousers and a black-and-gold shirt.

In both eras, Starfleet security is notable for its lack of protective gear. Troops rarely wear body armor or environmental protection of any kind. During the TOS movie era, some Red Shirts are seen wearing helmets and a breastplate over their standard uniforms, but what protection these provided is unknown.

Casualty Count

Note: This counts only specific security guard deaths; not other crewmen.

  • TOS Era: 21 Deaths from Television to Movies.
  • TNG Era: 6 Deaths from Television to Movies.
  • DS9 Era: 4+ Deaths in Television Series.
  • Voyager Era: 1+ Deaths in Television Series.
  • Enterprise Era: 3+ Deaths in Television Series.
  • Total Deaths: 35+ Deaths

See Also


  1. TOS "Where No Man Has Gone Before"
  2. TOS "Arena"


  • Because Red Shirts often exist just to get killed, the term Red Shirt has been adopted by fans of other franchises as a label for characters that appear just to get killed.