Notable Red Shirts of ‘Star Trek’
When it comes to the division of labor Starfleet came up with an easy to remember color coding system. Those in gold are command and navigation. Those in blue are science and medical. The poor unfortunate souls in red….are cannon fodder. Or so says the joke as they fill out the roles of security, engineering, and miscellaneous. But a good number of those who donned red played key roles in the Star Trek franchise and here are some notable red shirts in Star Trek in no particular order.
Montgomery “Scotty” Scott: Perhaps the most popular Star Trek character to put on a red shirt. This Scotsman can hold his liquor and engineer a powerful starship better than anyone. No matter how dire a situation is Scotty never fails to work a miracle to keep the Enterprise flying. His character is such an icon even people who have never seen a Trek show or film know who to call when they need to beam up. The respect for Scotty is so extensive that actor James Doohan has even awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Engineering.
Uhura: Breaking glass ceilings and being so very cool in the process is the Enterprise‘s resident linguistics expert. Starting as a prodigy cadet under Captain Pike she soon became a mainstay on the bridge. Beyond being able to speak any language, Uhura is an expert on a number of different topics. Cementing her status as an undisputed badass, Lt. Uhura was the first black woman to serve as an important featured character on a television series.
Hemmer: The crusty but brilliant head engineer on the Enterprise may not have the ability to see but his instinct and limited telekinesis make him one of the best in the Federation. With his introduction to the audience during Captain Pike’s dinner party Lt. Hemmer has become an instant fan favorite. The brilliant Aenar may be a sarcastic curmudgeon does have soft spot for those he serves with and will always come through for them.
Lieutenant Stadi: Not only did this Betazoid have the honor of transporting fan favorite Tom Paris to the USS Voyager but is given the go-ahead from Captain Janeway to take the conn. Perhaps if she had worn a different color shirt on this day it would have been the beginning of a long and storied career. Despite this Stadi earned her place in Star Trek history by being the one at the helm when the displacement wave sent Voyager into the Delta Quadrant. Thrilling heroics were attempted but Stadi sadly perished in the event leaving her position for Paris to takeover.
Crewman Compton: Often red shirts are merely sent down to the dangerous alien planet to meet their maker. But in the third season episode “Wink of an Eye” Crewman Compton actually plays an integral role in the story. He begins the first to be exposed to the hyperacceleration caused by the Scalosian water. The effects causes him to join the evil Deela in her attempt to takeover the Enterprise. But when Captain Kirk is in danger he snaps back to his senses even if it does cost him in the end.
Yeoman Leslie Thompson: Usually when red shirts go to join the choir invisible James T. Kirk is mildly inconvenienced. But when Leslie Thompson meets a grizzly fate when Rojan of the Kelvan Empire makes an example out of her, it haunts the captain. The Yeoman is reduced to minerals before being crushed into dust. Despite only a brief time on the series Thompson became a fan favorite and was even given an incredible backstory in comic book form.
Marla McGivers: On a star ship in the far flung future a historian may not have much to as even Kirk himself alluded to. But in the classic episode “Space Seed” Marla McGivers gets the chance to finally put her skills to use when they encounter a true figure from history. Unfortunately for the crew of the Enterprise this is the cunning super soldier Khan. McGivens finds herself enamored by the charismatic warrior and even chooses to go with him to establish a new civilization…..which does not go well.
La’an Noonien Singh: Speaking of Khan, he was probably spinning in his suspended animation that one of his descendants would serve in Starfleet. But La’an Noonien Singh brings every bit of her ancestor’s brilliance, determination, and willpower to her role as Head of Security. After being rescued from the Gorn by the USS Martin Luthor King Jr. she started on her current career path. While she fulfills her duty with a strong stoicism La’an does share a special bond with Number One.
Chief Engineer Olson: Even in the earliest stages of his career Kirk knew when beaming down on a dangerous mission you needed one of the main cast members and a guy in a red shirt to take the brunt of what’s coming. With the Romulan crew of the Narada drilling into Vulcan and a precise skydive is the only way to stop it. Of course Olson pulls his too late getting himself obliterated in the process. While the current batch of Star Trek flicks are in a different timeline the rules of wearing a red shirt still apply.
Ensign Rizzo: One of the most famous red shirt of the original series mainly based on the horrible stupid fate he suffered. Beaming down along with Spock and Scotty to Argus X. It was here he was attacked by a vampiric cloud. Unlike many of his brothers in red, Rizzo was actually able to make it back to sick bay where Nurse Chapel revives him just long enough to tell Captain Kirk about how the creature smelled.
Ortegas: If you are going to take the helm of the greatest ship in Starfleet you got to have an earned sense of ego. Lt. Ortegas has definitely earned every bit of the confidence she has. The hot shot pilot lives to hear Captain Pike’s order of “Punch it!” so she can show how good she is. Cool in a crisis and always ready to crack a joke Ortegas has a certain roguish charm rarely seen in Trek.
Tom Paris: Mentioned in a previous entry Tom Paris has become a big time favorite among Trek fans. Stranded 70,000 light years from home the responsibility of flying Voyager home falls on the son of a Starfleet Admiral who was intended to be there only for a single mission. Despite not being particularly popular among the crew he eventually wins them over, forging a particularly close friendship with Ensign Harry Kim. Over the course of 7 seasons audiences watch as he evolved from a young arrogant troublemaker into an integral part of the crew.