Star Trek has always needed random crewmembers to die during its missions.
With a few exceptions, the main characters don’t get offed, so this lot – with their name taken from the red security/operations shirts worn by crew in Captain Kirk’s time - ended up on the losing end of confrontations with aliens, monsters, anomalies and, er, plants.
We’re glad to see that JJ Abrams is keeping this fine tradition going in the new film, so we thought we’d celebrate just a few that the various series have lost through the years…
1. Crewman Hendorff
Episode: ‘The Apple’ (Star Trek, Season Two)
Actor: Mal Friedman
Death by: Killer plant.
Captain’s log: While other crewmembers are murderlised before him, Hendorff has the distinction of being among the group of four redshirted crewmembers who die in the space of one episode, launching the pop cultural sensation that is the red shirt.
Beaming down to Gamma Trianguli VI, Hendorff notices a spiky, colourful plant moving in his peripheral vision. Because he thinks plants can’t kill people, he naturally goes to investigate.
One lethal spore shot later, he's a goner. Be warned, kids: flora can kill!
Sample from death note to family: “Dear Mr and Mrs Hendorff. I must sadly inform you that your son, whose first name escapes me at this juncture, has been killed by a vengeful vegetable on Gamma Trianguli VI.
We are therefore opening the Hendorff Memorial Garden on the ship in his name and would like to invite you on a free trip to visit the charming display of Venus Flytraps and Triffids we have on display.
Please note, the pass is good for one visit only, and is valid for one single space year. Yours, James T. Kirk, Captain.” [page-break]
2. Security Officer Matthews
Episode: ‘What Are Little Girls Made Of’ (Star Trek, Season One)
Actor: Vince Deadrick (good name!)
Death by: Sudden deceleration.
Captain’s log: Matthews accompanies the captain and nurse Christine Chapel down to the surface of the planet Exo III.
Unfortunately for Matthews, his time on the barren rock doesn’t last very long as he’s shoved (offscreen - the indignity!) into a bottomless pit by an android who looks a lot like Lurch from the Addams Family TV show. Which might be because he’s played by Ted Cassidy, who had that role.
Sample from death note to family: “Dear Mrs Matthews, I am writing to inform you of the tragic loss of your son.
He was an exemplary officer who was sadly killed when he fell into an endless cavern.
I was going to ask that you instruct any surviving children to stay away from the edge of bottomless holes, but it turns out he was murderlised by an android.
Still, safety is important, so think about it. Yours, James T. Kirk, Captain.”[page-break]
3. Lieutenant Leslie
Episode: ‘Obsession’ (Star Trek, Season Two)
Actor: Eddie Paskey
Death by: Extreme blood loss.
Captain’s log: Quite possibly the most accident-prone red shirt in Trek history, Leslie was, during his time on the Enterprise, knocked unconscious through psychic power, infected with more than one nasty virus and, um, turned into a solid block of matter.
If that wasn’t enough, his encounter with the dikironium cloud creature saw him sucked dry of red corpuscles. Not a good way to go.
There’s a happy ending, though – while he was presumed dead, he recovered and managed to appear in a few more episodes. Lucky git.
Sample from death note to family: “Dear Mr and Mrs Leslie, I regret to inform you of the death of your son.
He has been an adaptable member of my crew for years now, seemingly turning his hand to every part of ship life, including, I’m sorry to say, death. Hang on – there’s someone at my door.
Oh. I’m now informed that he’s alive again. Sorry for the inconvenience, hope this message didn’t cause undue worry. Yours, James T. Kirk, Captain.”[page-break]
4. Ensign O’Hierly
Episode: ‘Arena’ (Star Trek, Season One)
Actor: Jerry Ayres
Death by: Reptile.
Captain’s log: O’Hierly beams down alongside Kirk, Spock, Dr McCoy and several other expendable (though thoughtfully red shirt-free) security types. So guess who gets it in the neck?
Yes, the unfortunate ensign is quickly disintegrated by Gorn soldiers - large, humanoid lizard types with a lust for combat and armour that looks like they made it out of squashed bottle tops.
O'Hierly briefly looks like he's overdosed on Ready Brek but at least he got to appear in one of the series’ most famous episodes.
Sample from death note to family: “Dear Mrs O’Hierly. I must sadly inform you that your Starfleet-serving son has been wiped from existence by the disintergrator cannon of a walking lizard.
Such hazards are common here among the stars, but he displayed a notable lack of tactical thinking by standing up in clear sight and shouting that he’s seen the enemy.
So, really, it was his fault all along. Yours, James T. Kirk, Captain.”[page-break]
5. Lieutenant Van Mayter
Episode: ‘In Theory’’ (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season Four)
Actor: Georgina Shore
Death by: Decking.
Captain’s log: Poor Lt (Junior Grade) Van Mayter. One minute she’s calmly performing her duties, helping Commander La Forge investigate a series of dark matter deformations that are causing holes to appear in the ship randomly, the next… she’s in one.
Van Mayter’s death is never actually seen on screen – the budget conscious producers chose to simply have her appear half sunk into the deck. Not good for the body, that.
And she’s only an engineer, to boot – the poor woman didn’t even sign up for truly dangerous security work.
Sample from death note to family: “Dear Mr Van Mayter, Your wife has tragically met her end here on the Enterprise D. I won’t got into details, but suffice to say, she’s half the woman she was.
Just a little joke to lighten the grief, there. We have decided to leave her where she is, just with a freshly replicated tablecloth draped over her so no one stumbles across her – literally.
You are welcome to take the next shuttlecraft out and lay flowers on her head. Yours, Jean-Luc Picard, Captain.”[page-break]
6. Lieutenant Hawk
Movie: Star Trek: First Contact
Actor: Neal McDonough
Death by: Borg.
Captain’s log: The highest profile actor (which isn’t saying much) to feature as a short-lived character, McDonough played Hawk in the Borg-infested pic.
He survives a decent amount of time given the red nature of his shirt, and even gets to accompany Captain Picard and Lt. Commander Worf on to the surface of the Enterprise as they attempt to stop the Borg from turning the ship’s deflector dish into a communications unit.
Naturally, he gets stopped by the techno-aliens and assimilated. Shortly after, he crops up as a Borg and tries to smash Picard’s spacesuit faceplate, before being shot by Worf and drifting off into space, never to be seen again.
McDonough just starred in the latest Mortal Kombat movie, which has likely had the same fatal effect on his career.
Sample from death note to family: “Dear Mr and Mrs Hawk, You son – Liam, Neal, Ren or whatever the hell his name is (stupid multiple sources) was killed by the Borg.
All of us on the Enterprise want you to know how valued he was as a crewmember, even if he did give in far too easily and nearly kill me.
If you wish to sue someone for his untimely passing, please see The Borg, C/O The Delta Quadrant, Space. Yours, Jean-Luc Picard, Captain.”[page-break]
7. Lieutenant Peter Durst
Episode: ‘Faces’ (Star Trek Voyager, Season One)
Actor: Brian Markinson
Death by: Facelift.
Captain’s log: Peter Durst is one of the few redshirts (actually gold, since he was an operations office on Voyager) to have both a first name and appear more than once.
Despite these seemingly life-giving qualities, he met his end at the hands of a Vidian surgeon named Sulan. The Vidians were a race infected with the Phage, a deadly, DNA-noshing virus.
But Sulan had even nastier ambitions – aiming to sex up his captive, Chief Engineer B’Elanna Torres, Sulan killed Durst and grafted his face on to his own. The result? Not exactly romantic.
Sample from death note to family: “Dear Mrs Durst. Your husband died honourably while on duty with the USS Voyager.
However, while he was killed and his body stripped for organs (he stupidly had his organ donor card on him at the time), we feel that since the surgeon who carried out the deed stole his face, he’s not technically dead. At least as long as we remember him.
Therefore you won’t receive his pension. Yours, Kathryn Janeway, Captain.”[page-break]
Episode: ‘Where No Fan Has Gone Before’ (Futurama, Season Four)
Actor: David Herman (voice)
Death by: Nerdy, gaseous energy being.
Captain’s log: A little bit of fun for the final entry, from one of the greatest Trek parodies ever shoved on screen.
Welshie is a character supposedly recruited for new Star Trek episodes created in the 2200s because James Doohan couldn’t yodel the tunes required of the musical shows.
In reality, the then-living Doohan refused to take part in the parody alongside his colleagues.
He gets killed by Mellvar, a super-powerful fan of the original series.
Sample from death note to family: “Dear Cousin Welsh, We’re really sorry that Welsh – or, “Welshie” as he liked to be known (we’re not sure why) died.
We didn’t have anything to do with it – it was a living blob of gas called Mellvar and he’s mean. Don’t worry – his mum is dealing with him. Yours, James T. Kirk, Captain.”
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