Mathematician Boldly Claims That Redshirts Don't Actually Die the Most on Star Trek

Image: “The Trouble With Tribbles,” Star Trek, CBS
Image: “The Trouble With Tribbles,” Star Trek, CBS

We all know in our souls that being a redshirt on Star Trek is basically like having a death wish. But our old enemy, math, has stepped in again to tell us that we’re wrong.


At a presentation at the Museum of Math last week, James Grime did a presentation interpreting a bunch of Star Trek-based calculations. The one that is the most controversial, in my opinion, is that you are not “most” likely to die if you happened to be a redshirt in The Original Series.

As recapped by, Grime presented these on-screen death numbers: 25 redshirts (largely security and engineering), 10 goldshirts (command), and eight blueshirts (science and medical). What that tells me is that, yeah, redshirts do die more than any other color, and by a lot. Grime’s argument is that, percentage-wise, the number of redshirts who died is not actually the largest, since redshirts make up the largest number of crew members overall. Based on the ever-useful Star Trek Fleet Technical Manual, Grime figured out that 25 deaths is only 10 percent of the total redshirt population. Whereas ten goldshirts is 18 percent.

On the other hand, redshirts make up 58 percent of the total deaths. So if you are going to die, you are more likely to die as a redshirt—especially, as even Grime concedes, if you interpret redshirt as “security officer.” So, my god, if you’re in the 23rd century or earlier, you should avoid red.

Katharine is the Associate Director of Policy and Activism at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the former managing editor of io9. She writes about technology policy and pop culture.