Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Those Star Trek Red Shirt Casualties

One of Eddie Izzard's many hilarious routines focused on the poor "Stevens" in a red shirt, going down to the planet with Kirk, McCoy and Spock. It was, of course, inevitable that the said Stevens would be the one not to return to the Enterprise. Here he is on YouTube, doing his stuff about Star Trek (Stevens in the red jumper at about 4'50"):

Well, one sometimes wonders if the memory distorts these things. Were there really more red shirt casualties on Star Trek than there were mustard shirt and blue shirt casualties? On Locusts and Honey, Red Shirt Casualty Statistics, John links to a great analysis of this question:

Analytics According to Captain Kirk
By Matt Bailey

. . . We need to segment the overall mortality (conversion) rate in order to gain the specific information that we need:

* Yellow-shirt crewperson deaths: 6 (10%)
* Blue-Shirt crewperson deaths: 5 (8 %)
* Engineering smock crewperson deaths: 4
* Red-Shirt crewperson deaths: 43 (73%)

So, the basic segmentation of factors allows us to confirm that red-shirted crewmembers died more than any other crewmembers on the original Star Trek series.

However, that's only just simple stats reporting - ready for some analysis?
There's lots of it -- and some great tips for avoiding death if you ever find yourself stuck in an episode of Star Trek wearing a red shirt.


Anonymous said...

Doesn't actually tell us the most important piece of information, though.

What proportion of the crew were red shirts? If 73% of the crew are red shirts then the deaths are proportional to their numbers.

You could also look at the roles of the different colours - if red shirts signify a 'combat' role then of course you'd expect more fatalities.

Doug said...

Curiously I was watching this just the other day, having found a bargain boxed set of Izzard's performances on DVD in the sales. But have you seen the wonderful spoof Galaxy Quest which also makes a great deal about the new actor in the episode being the one who will be blasted to bits in his red shirt.

Mark Goodacre said...

Richard: good point there! I suppose he assumed that the crew were evenly divided between the three colours, but that may not be a valid assumption.

Doug: yes, I loved Galaxy Quest but had forgotten that bit. Thanks for the reminder.

Unknown said...

The usual red-shirt casualty hailed from the Security department (though Engineering, Communications, and other support personnel also proudly wore the crimson). According to Franz Joseph's Star Trek Blueprints (which I bought when I was 12 and still have stuck away in a drawer), 84 of the Enterprise's 430 crew complement were "security specialists" (rank of ensign) and 5 were "security officers" (rank of lieutenant), with one "security chief" (rank of lt. commander), whom I only recall seeing in the episode "Devil in the Dark" (and he wasn't a casualty). So the red-shirts exposed to danger via planetfall would have constituted 20.7% of the crew. (The captain of my high school's drill team has assured me recently that I was "not a geek." But I suspect she was just being kind.)