Live long and prosper Redshirts less likely to die on Star Trek

first_imgStop me if you’ve heard this one. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Ensign Redshirt beam down to the planet’s surface. Which one of them gets vaporized? If you haven’t made a redshirt joke before, you’ve probably heard one. It’s a well-established trope that crew members wearing red uniforms tend to be killed off on Star Trek: The Original Series. A careful analysis of uniform colors, however, indicates it may actually be more dangerous to wear a gold uniform. In other news, up is down and black is white.By carefully tabulating all the instances of crew member deaths across the three seasons of the original series, one Matthew Barsalou found that redshirts did indeed contribute the largest number of casualties. There were a total of 55 deaths of starfleet personnel on the show. Of those, 24 were redshirts, 7 blue, 9 gold, and 15 unknown uniform color.So a cursory glance tells you that wearing a red shirt marks you for death. However, there are a lot of redshirts on the USS Enterprise. According to the official numbers endorsed by Paramount, there were 430 total crew members aboard the the ship, and 239 were in engineering, operations, and security. That’s 239 redshirts. There were only 55 command personnel wearing the gold uniform, and 136 wearing medical/scientific blue.Barsalou used these numbers to calculate the conditional probability of any given casualty being someone wearing a red uniform. It turns out that there is a 61.5% chance of a casualty being a redshirt. Still sound high? Remember that there are a lot of crew members wearing red. Taking into account the size of the total population, only 5.1% of the blue uniform population died on the Enterprise. For the redshirts, that number is 10%. For the gold command folks, it’s 13.4%. So it is actually more dangerous to wear a gold uniform on Star Trek than a red one.It also turns out that 18 of the 24 redshirt deaths were security officers. Being an engineer or transporter chief in a red uniform actually turns out to be very safe. So if you ever find yourself on good old NCC 1701, don’t put on the gold uniform.last_img

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