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Statistics: Deaths on Star Trek (or, why wear a red shirt when other colors will do?)

What’s the toughest job in the universe?

Being a red shirt-wearing character on the classic TV showSTAR TREK.

Countless stories, articles, and jokes have been written about the high mortality rate of those ill-fated crew members who always seem to find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time on planetary excursions.

Web Watch would chalk this up to mis-management by the ship’s captain and his commanding officers, but Captain Kirk would never see things that way.  He was on a five-year mission, dammit.

Sexy Star Trek Uniform costume
Sexy Star Trek Uniform costume

How bad was it on the Starship Enterprise?  Web Watch found some in-depth STAR TREK ANALYSIS by MATT BAILEY that has shed some light on exactly how bad of a leader Captain Kirk really was.  Here’s some data culled from the 80 original episodes of Star Trek that aired:

  • Of the 430 crew members on the Enterprise, 59 were killed on missions (about 13.7% of the entire crew)
  • Of those who died, 73% were Red Shirt crew members
  • Of those Red Shirts who died, 57.5% died after beaming down to an unexplored planet

But not everything was bad.  If Captain Kirk makes successful contact with an alien woman, Red Shirts tended to survive more often than not.

Matt concludes that the best chances for a Red Shirt crew member to survive is for the Starship Enterprise to only explore peaceful planets that are only inhabited by women.

You’ll want to read the rest of Matt’s site for the full, in-depth analysis of exactly how each Red Shirt died in those original 80 episodes, and other contributing factors that could lead to their survival.