“Security Doesn’t Make It Home as Much as You Guys”: Star Trek’s Redshirts Knew They Were Cannon Fodder – Making Their Deaths Even Darker

Star Trek’s red shirts are the subject of internet jokes and memes, but the reality is far darker than fans ever thought.

Star Trek Original Series Redshirts


  • Star Trek’s red shirts know they are expendable, adding a dark layer to the franchise’s famous meme.
  • Red shirts engage in risky behavior, knowing their short lifespans make them cannon fodder.
  • The anxiety and fear among red shirts could potentially lead to catastrophic outcomes on missions.

Star Trek’s red shirts know they are cannon fodder—and this makes their deaths even darker. On board the Enterprise, the red shirts are security personnel, putting themselves repeatedly on the front lines. This leads to a higher than average death rate among the red shirts, and over the years this has become a popular joke among fans. Yet as seen in Star Trek: Mission’s End #3, it is far darker than fans thought.

Star Trek: Mission’s End #3 was written by Ty Templeton and drawn by Steve Molnar. An away team, consisting of Doctor McCoy, Chekov and some random security officers, are planet side. Boyd, one of the security officers, is tense about the situation, and McCoy tells him to relax. Boyd retorts that it is impossible for him and the other security personnel, as they are wearing the wrong colors.

Five panels of a red shirt explaining to McCoy and Chekov why they do not come back from missions as often as others.

McCoy presses Boyd, and he replies that the red shirts, or security personnel do not “always make it home as much as you guys,” referring to command and science officers.

Star Trek’s Red Shirts Are a Dark Franchise Joke

Star Trek Redshirts

This acknowledgment adds a dark layer to a popular franchise meme. During Kirk’s first five-year mission, security officers were part of Operations, which also included engineering. Personnel in these divisions wore red, leading to the birth of the term “red shirt.” In numerous episodes of the Original Series, hapless security officers would beam down to planets with Kirk, Spock and McCoy and often meet gruesome ends. This happened so often, it became a running joke among fans and inspired countless internet memes. Later incarnations of the franchise dialed the deaths down, but the red shirt meme persists.

Yet, Star Trek: Mission’s End shows the red shirts know they are highly expendable. Boyd, the security officer who explains this to McCoy and Chekov, is very aware of this fact. Boyd reveals that his fellow security personnel, knowing they are essentially cannon fodder with short lifespans, engage in risky behavior, of the type that gets them killed. While Mission’s End does not come out and say it, this also could lead to anxiety among the ship’s security officers, and reinforces what Boyd says. A Starfleet officer suffering from anxiety prior to a mission will more than likely not be on point, potentially leading to catastrophe.

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Star Trek’s Red Shirts Are Some of the Ship’s Bravest Officers

Image of Captain Kirk standing with three red shirts.

All of this makes Star Trek’s red shirt meme darker. The anxiety and the fear red shirts feel was never acknowledged in the Original Series, but Mission’s End puts it out there for all to see. Given that the red shirts know they are disposable, this could lead to an insurrection among them–yet it never does. This is because Starfleet personnel, be they security or science officers, also acknowledge that space is dangerous, and risk is part of the job. Red and gold shirts alike know every mission could be their last, and it shows the unwavering loyalty they have to Starfleet and the Federation.

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