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Redshirt was a colloquialism among Starfleet personnel referring to expendable individuals who died in the line of duty. The term was derived from the mid-23rd century Starfleet uniform, which featured bold red shirts for members of Starfleet ground forces and/or security personnel. Despite 24th century Starfleet security personnel wearing mustard-yellow uniforms, the term stuck.

The men and women of Starfleet Security are tough, well-trained, and armed with state-of-the-art combat weaponry. Federation security personnel have a lower survival rate than other Starfleet officers, but they knew the risks when they signed on.

USS Enterprise security chief Greg Collier disliked being referred to as a "redshirt" (TOS novel: Death's Angel).

Vin Asunder had a pet tribble named Spike which he took with him on all away team missions believing it would bring him good luck and prevent him becoming a "redshirt" (TNG video game: Away Team).

Quark once noted that Federation "hew-mons" working for Starfleet Security were called "red-shirts," despite wearing yellow (DS9 novel: Legends of the Ferengi).

Quark also notes, in comparing the lifespans of various lifeforms, that redshirts "rarely survive beyond the second act break".

Benjamin Maxwell knew a joke about redshirts. (DS9 novel: Force and Motion)

Personal weaponry, common[]

  • Stunrod (short range; see below)
  • Tetryon pulse launcher (long range; see below)


These energized melee weapons are used by planetary police throughout the Federation. Said weapon consists of a padded club which inflicts phaser-like effects upon anyone it hits. A stunrod has the following stats:

Size: 50 cm x 3 cm

Mass: 0.5 kg

Settings: 1-3 (light-to-heavy stun)

Energy: 200 charges (good for 66 strikes on maximum setting)

Tetryon Pulse Launcher (TPL)[]

This is perhaps the most powerful hand-held weapon in Starfleet's arsenal. The device was designed as a single-person plasma cannon for use against small craft and/or heavily-fortified emplacements. The TPL is effectively a miniaturized version of the pulse-phaser used on starships.

The beams fired by the TPL are focused pulses of superheated, rarefied plasma; the weapon emits energy comparable to a shuttlecraft-mounted phaser.

Settings: 10-18

Range: 5-175 meters

Length: 135 cm

Mass: 3.1 kg

Energy: 4,000 charges


Real-world useage[]

The term "redshirt" has spread from its in-joke origin of the quickly killed supporting characters in Star Trek: The Original Series. The term has been used to refer to expendable characters in other fictional works, as well as by creators of those works.

The notion of the "redshirt" is commonly parodied in other science fictions and comedies, and even in Star Trek publications - the Star Trek: The Manga book Kakan ni Shinkou featured two short comic strips by David Reddick titled The Red Shirts which depicted the ironically comical mishaps of two red shirts (though because it was in the manga book they were depicted in black and white).

External links[]