Mauve Shirt

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
    Take note, security officers: You can get these at Wal-Mart.

    Dr. Girlfriend: Is there a reason you always use #21 and #24?
    The Monarch: I know it sounds crazy, but they both have that rare blend of "expendable" and "invulnerable" that makes for a perfect henchman.


    Nobody in their right mind wants to be a Red Shirt—it's a death sentence even the most Genre Blind can spot a mile away. It's been lampshaded to death and back, but it remains a very real trope with very real danger for the nameless fictional people under its thrall. So, if you're saddled with this Red Death what can you do? Change the color of your shirt!

    In Star Trek: The Original Series, "Blue Shirts" were for science personnel and "Gold Shirts" were command staff; both had a much better life expectancy mostly due to rarely being sent away on team missions, the latter more so. The character is less vulnerable than a redshirt, but more so than blue.

    Chromatic issues aside, the Mauve Shirt is a former Red Shirt who has managed to get enough screen time and lines to make him stand out from the rank and file, but not enough to be part of the main cast. It can also be accomplished by showing pictures of a spouse or baby (Be careful with that, as it's Tempting Fate all by itself), personal quirks, or just plain old giving them a name (whole or in part). The advantage to this is that they're less likely to be killed senselessly, because the audience cares for them and it would hit harder than some faceless redshirt no one cares about. The downside is that, since their death would now have more emotional impact, they are more likely to be Killed Off for Real to prove how bad the new villain is. If they're successful enough, they just might graduate from Mauve Shirt and become a "Gold Shirt" as part of the supporting cast or even the main cast.

    Now this character can live, but aren't as likely to get Plot Armor as major characters. Also, shows where Anyone Can Die love to kill off these characters—we're getting to know this guy, he must be important, then boom! He's dead, and the status quo remains safely in power. (If a Mauve Shirt mentions taking the gang out for drinks, he'll be iced tout de suite.) See also Hero of Another Story for a character starting as a Mauve Shirt. Compare Ensemble Darkhorse.

    If the character is introduced early only to be killed off, they can be a Sacrificial Lamb. If they are a main character or whose death noticeably changes the tone of the story, they may be a Sacrificial Lion. If a character gets the Mauve Shirt treatment on purpose and is subsequently killed off anyway, that's Developing Doomed Characters.

    For the villain equivalent, see Mook Promotion and Mook Lieutenant. For the in-universe version of people so competent and indestructible they're given a more important job, see Field Promotion.

    Compare Red Herring Shirt.

    As a Death Trope, Spoilers ahead may be unmarked. Beware.

    Examples of Mauve Shirt include:

    Anime and Manga

    • Naoki Urasawa is practically a master of this trope, filling in the main story with short interludes centering on a seemingly random character. You get to know their name, perhaps their family, their motivations. Sometimes they stick around for a few chapters, sometimes they even cross paths with the main characters, but they almost always die, and it never gets any easier. Confound you, Urasawa.
    • The plot of Mobile Suit Gundam and many other Universal Century stories are paved with the corpses of Mauve Shirts.
      • One UC character stands out as flamboyantly mauve: Lt. Apolly Bay of the AEUG in Zeta Gundam, who makes it through almost the entire show from his introduction in the beginning of the series without establishing solid personality characteristics. Lt. Apolly is in at least half of the episodes, a named character almost always with a speaking role, yet the poor guy is complete wallpaper. He's the one who gets to say "It's a kid!" and spoil Mineva Zabi's majestic entrance, yet he has no personality whatsoever. It's hard to imagine a mauver shirt.
    • Gundam Seed has two regular ZAFT pilots who seem to get involved most major battles, and witness Kira's new Gundams, but never get shot down lethally. They would seem to represent the average soldier in ZAFT, and their thoughts on new events as the unfold. They are even still seen in Gundam Seed Destiny.
      • In Mobile Suit Gundam 00 there's Joshua. He's shown as reckless and undermining and he breaks off from Graham's assault force to attack Lockon, who promptly blows him up just in time.
      • For a living version, sidestory character Shiho Hahnenfuss. According to fan legends she was going to be voiced by singer Nami Tamaki (and presumably would suffer Dead Star Walking like TM Revolution's two characters), but Tamaki passed and Shiho lived, making background cameos in the anime, getting speaking roles in video games, and doing well enough in popularity polls to merit at least one figurine.
    • Chojiro Sasakibe, Yamamoto's lieutenant in Bleach. Complete wallpaper and never seen winning a fight, the only thing on his CV is that he's the first heroic character to be killed off.
    • In Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas Wolf Junkers, Hydra Curtis, Bear Douglas and Lionet Bleriot sacrificed themselves to activate Athena's ship; and in anime only there were Vela Tsubaki, Puppis Lacaille and Pyxis Rusk who were Capricorn El Cid's subordinates.
    • Daisya Barry in D.Gray-man makes a flashy appearance on the scene. He's likeable, has cool powers, a great backstory, a unique character design, a name... then he meets Tyki Mikk.
    • Last Exile has Mullin Shetland, a member of the Redshirt Army who is slowly built up and even gets a Love Interest. He has beat the odds and not died in the incredibly deadly Napoleonic style battles he's been in. He manages to survive 19 battles (the 20th promoting him out of the firing line) and even falls in love with a former enemy soldier when, predictably, he is shot in the final episode's boarding actions, wringing it for so much grief it's almost a Shaggy Dog Story. Subverted because he's seen giving a child (son?) a piggyback ride on Earth during the epilogue of the final episode.
    • Saikano, being a horrifyingly sadistic Kill'Em All series, will often build up characters just to kill them off horribly in the war segments.
    • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann does this with Gimmy and Darry. Where entire waves of the Redshirt Mecha brigades they are a part of are getting blown away around them, invariably they are the only ones who survive... until the last time, when two other Mauve Shirts get blown away saving them.
    • While inmates in Dead Leaves are often killed off randomly and rapidly, Chinko Drill actually survived a lot, like repeatedly attacking 777 and just bouncing off. Unfortunately, he's not so lucky when the drill gets stuck in said guard's neck.
    • Inoue from Code Geass. Stuck around as one of Zero's nameless lieutenants for the majority of the first season before getting blown up at the hands of an enemy Mook's mech. Named by another one of Lelouch's nameless lieutenants right after that.
    • Fullmetal Alchemist has the chimeras who follow Greed being like this. All are likable anti-villains with distinct personalities and it's a real punch in the gut that all of them get killed off arguably, it is even more wrenching in the manga, where Bradley kills most of them right in front of Greed and later, "Greedling" kills the only survivor during the period where he didn't have his memories. What Have I Done? follows immediately afterward
      • Maes Hughes is also another possible example of this, due to the fact that as soon as he discovered that the locations of high amounts of war and bloodshed form a transmutation circle on the Amestris map, he was killed shortly thereafter. Also falls under this category because he always shows off the pictures of his daughter.

    Mustang: Hughes, a little word of warning. This often happens in movies and novels. A guy on the battlefield who brings up stories of his woman...immediately dies.

    • Hayate Gekko from Naruto is a great example, dying soon after his introduction, but not so soon that he couldn't be voted as one of the series' 10 most popular characters at least once. His appearance also fits, as he wears a standard Chunin uniform with barely enough modification to be unique.
      • Tenten can arguably be put in this category because she doesn't show much significant value aside from being the only female member of Team Gai and she only wins one out of two battles she participated in throughout the show. She also doesn't have a last name.
    • Daisuke Saiki from X 1999. Not a Dragon of the Heaven (only nephew to one of them, Aoki) and not very accepting of Kamui at the beginning, but still a devoted ally that has a Bodyguard Crush on Hinoto and dodges death more than once. Until Fuuma fulfills his wish to die protecting Hinoto. Very messily.
    • About 90% of the cast of Bokurano.
    • Full Metal Panic! doesn't really have Redshirts, with most Mithril and Amalgam soldiers looking unique and being in named squads. National armies like the US, the Soviets, and the Chinese, on the other hand...
    • In the Chapter Black saga of Yu Yu Hakusho, four fledgling psychics join the heroes. One of them gets curbstomped by Docter and is hosptalized for the rest of the arc, and another gets eaten by Gourmet.
    • In Ginga Densetsu Weed, we meet Jerome and his pack. They're off hunting down the Kaibutsu, an experiment that has broken out of the lab he was created in. We learn the pack's names (North, Robert, Rocker, and Heuler) and we think that they're going to be main characters too. Surprise surprise, all of them are killed off in the space of two episodes, North by ambush and the rest while fighting to give Jerome a chance to kill the Kaibutsu.
      • Happens relatively often, at least in the anime. If a dog hasn't had a ton of screen time and introduces himself before a fight, his chance of survival is very small.
    • Boss from Mazinger Z and Great Mazinger was the Butt Monkey Comic Relief character (a fact he lampshades) had not even a given name (a fact he lampshades). Every time he got in a fight he was beaten, trashed and humiliated, but he never was killed. In Shin Mazinger Shougeki! Z-hen he lampshades it:

    Boss: We're here to get blown up but somehow never die!

    • Mahou Sensei Negima had various minor but named characters in the Magic World arc, such Nodoka's adventuring party. After chapter 277, emphasis on "had".
    • Any number of "hi-then-die" demons from Gash Bell, specifically Furigaro, Pokkerio, Donpoccho, Hogan, Elzador, Rogue Biper, Gani Fest, and pretty much all of the second arc's Quirky Miniboss Squad. They've all got names, elements, and tangential relations to the story, but they don't really seem to do much except get owned.
    • In Berserk Hawk Raider Gaston is one of the few members of The Band of the Hawk outside of the main characters Griffith, Guts, and Casca and the other captains to have a name, a couple lines, and a little characterization to him. He's also the last Hawk we see alive in the finale.
    • Initial D does this with some of the rivals of Takumi. None more so than his first opponent of Stage 4. The first time we see him, he's asking his long term girlfriend for money to fix his car. We find out that she wants him to quit racing and get serious about their relationship if he loses his next battle. Seeing how his next battle is against Takumi... Despite Takumi being the main character, you'll probably be rooting for the poor guy, especially because he expresses how much he loves racing and his girlfriend, and doesn't want to lose either. He tells her that he's going to quit racing after that, but she tells him that she was just mad, and doesn't want him to actually quit.
    • In the world of Casshern Sins, One Shot Characters rarely survive for long.
    • Due to the anyone can die and nobody stays dead nature of the series, pretty much everybody in Dragonball Z dies at one point or another, many of which become important enough to be or downgraded to the level of Mauveshirts.

    Comic Books

    • Due to seventy-plus years of history, the number of superheroes and super villains available to DC Comics has made it so that every DC superhero or supervillain who does not have an ongoing title - and some of those who do, given their willingness to turn everyone and their dog into a Legacy Character - is one of these. Being in a Shared Universe really helps this.
    • A good example of a DC Mauve Shirt is Mr. America in the Justice Society of America arc "The Next Age". We are told about the reason he took up the mantle of the Golden Age hero Mr. America, see him investigate the murder of his own family- and then, at the end of the first part he gets brutally murdered himself, his dead body landing in the middle of the JSA meeting, kicking off the main plot.
    • Similarly, everyone in the Marvel Universe with a name and a superpower can be killed, though they do not have as much history as DC. The X-Men are particularly notable because they are so easy to create.
      • In the Marvel Adventures: Avengers line, HYDRA Mook Carl has become one of these thanks to a running gag that he causes a lot of accidents that screw up HYDRA and any other group he joins.


    • In Galaxy Quest Guy Fleegman parodied this because of being a Red Shirt in the original show, but bootstrapped himself to Mauve and eventually to main cast thanks to his paranoia and personality. And because he was lucky enough to be in a movie that liked to subvert the classic tropes. Amusingly, he's the one character in the climactic shooting spree that doesn't get shot.
    • Many James Bond movies have male characters on Bond's side who are not important to the series like Felix Leiter but have enough personality and screen time not to be just another Red Shirt. They are invariably killed off by the Big Bad's goons. Examples: Quarrel in Dr. No, Sir Godfrey Tibbett in A View to a Kill, the Turkish intelligence officer Kerim Bey in From Russia With Love, etc.
    • Star Wars has had a few, notably:
      • Biggs Darklighter, an old friend of Luke's and his wingman in the Battle of Yavin (the one who called Luke "the best bush pilot in the Outer Rim Territories"). In a scene cut from the movie (but in the novelization and some deleted scenes on DVDs, also in the NPR Radio Play) Biggs, who has been training at the Imperial Starfighter Academy, returns to Tatooine briefly and tells Luke he has a friend-of-a-friend who knows where the Rebels are hiding and he is going to join them. He's killed in the battle, but not randomly, and it's a hard hit to Luke.
      • Admiral Piett could be considered a Mauve Shirt for the Empire. He survives Vader's wrath in The Empire Strikes Back and was popular enough to be written into Return of the Jedi.
      • Wedge Antilles appears in all three original trilogy films flying some sort of vehicle. The reason he's there is simply to provide a familiar face who's not part of the main cast. This incidentally gives him a strong dose of Plot Armor because he's too recognizable to be killed off as a redshirt, and he's also unimportant enough that he can't be killed off for the sake of drama. In the Expanded Universe though, Wedge becomes a major supporting character and is even the center of a number of stories, and has been tallied to be second in EU character popularity only to Boba Fett.
    • A number of mauve-wearing cops show up in The Dark Knight, most of them part of Jim Gordon's Major Crimes Unit. Some of them - including Wuertz and Ramirez - are corrupt and work for The Mafia.
    • Madril, the rather old and fatherly ranger who accompanies Faramir in movie version of The Lord of the Rings is a clear example of this. He gets just enough dialogue and screen time for the audience to warm to him over two films for us to hate the Witch King's right hand Gothmog when he coldly murders him.
    • In Lethal Weapon 2, all the detectives who bet Riggs he can't escape from a straitjacket in the beginning get killed later on by the villain via The Purge.
    • In The Ghost and the Darkness, one of the random African workers reveals some knowledge of lions, and claims to have killed one with his bare hands. He's one of the first Africans to get killed by the eponymous lions.
    • In Redneck Zombies, there is amongst the campers a slightly overweight guy who never gets a name, nor even a single line of dialog. He is one of the only two campers to survive the end. This was intentional, as the filmmakers wanted to play with the audience's expectations about who would survive and who would die, figuring people would expect the nameless guy with no dialog to die first.
    • Maria Hill and Coulson from the The Avengers.[context?]


    • In the Redwall series, on occasion, certain vermin in the villain's army will be given some screen time and a chance to discuss the situation. These will usually be the only vermin aside from the Big Bad and his lieutenants to get names. Expect them to desert before the final battle.
      • Some of the Redwallers or allies of Redwall are treated the same. More than likely, some will only pop up in a few scenes scattered throughout a book, while others will stick around for a few consecutive chapters before they're randomly killed in battle.
    • Warhammer 40,000 novels tend to be even worse than Gundam. Quite often, a chapter will begin with the introduction of a character, give parts of their life story up to that point, then kill them off at the end of the chapter once the plot-relevant part is over.
      • Particularly egregious is the novel Dark Apostle. Throughout the book's course, all of the main human characters get killed off brutally. One survives... and gets captured and possessed by a demon.
    • It is very common in Ciaphas Cain books to introduce about 4 or 5 mauve shirt characters per book. The majority of these characters die near the end of the book or they are not seen again because they are not in Cain's regiment.
    • Not uncommon in the X Wing Series, where Anyone Can Die. Stackpole's books make heavy use of Red Shirts with a name, a species, and one or two lines, and now and again he kills off someone with slightly more pagetime. Emphasis on slightly. It's hard to care, even when the other characters remark about the loss of a teammate, when that teammate was barely ever shown doing what they reminisce about. Aaron Allston's books, on the other hand, have a Cast of Snowflakes, and no one dies without having thoughts of their own, developing, and showing the readers their Hidden Depths. It's often hard to tell who lives and who dies.
    • In the Stephen King novel The Regulators, a character is introduced and given a rather full backstory, such as the fact that she's on her way back from cheating on her husband, and how she realizes she's not wearing any underwear, while she's in the act of dying.
    • Discworld's Sergeant Abba Stronginthearm made his first appearance in Men at Arms as a mob member conscripted into Carrot's Milita, and made fairly regular appearances from then onward, rising in the ranks and becoming a mainstay of the reconstituted City Watch. His death offscreen in the opening of Night Watch serves to highlight just how important capturing Carcer is.
      • I don't recall that they mentioned his first name, which throws just a bit of doubt onto it. The book has plenty of others though, since we get chummy with at least 5 watchmen doomed to die by the end (7 graves, but the real Sergeant Keel is killed before we can meet him, and Reg Shoe becomes a zombie).
      • There's also Cuddy from Men at Arms; he was shaping up to be a pretty good character, and then, wham.
    • The crew of Bridge Four in The Stormlight Archive. Thanks to Kaladin, they manage a higher survival rate that most bridgemen crews, but that doesn't change the fact that a couple of them will die nearly every bridge run.
    • Most of the Spartan soldiers other than Master Chief in First Strike.

    Live-Action TV

    • Star Trek: Voyager had Lieutenant Joe Carey, who was tipped to be the new Chief Engineer before B'Elanna stole his thunder early in the series. He makes a number of appearances in the first and seconds seasons, and is then absent for the remainder of the series, except for time travel episodes that return to the timeframe of those early seasons. He finally makes a return appearance in the present day during season 7, four episodes from the end of the series, and is killed off by the episode's villain in an attempt to show that he's Dead Serious.
      • Voyager also had Lieutenant Ayala, who kept such a low profile he survived through the entire show!
      • Hogan is a straight example. Recurred a few times, then died in the Season 2 finale to establish how dangerous the planet they were stranded on was. Then his remains were discovered late in season 3, which is far more thought given to the Ontological Inertia of security personnel's corpses than usual.
    • Deep Space Nine introduced Enrique Muniz, who had a strong aura of Red Shirt about him, being a previously unknown crew member in a highly dangerous situation. He survived, and recurred in a couple more episodes until finally being killed off early in season 5.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation had Gold Shirt (the red and gold colors got switched in the 24th century), Irish, curly haired transporter operator from the earliest days of its premiere. That operator eventually got a name and rank, Chief Miles O'Brien, and went on to be a semi-regular character with a family and interacted regularly with the main cast. He went even further to be a starring character in the next Trek iteration, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Miles O'Brien is the embodiment of a character working up from the Redshirt Army to donning fullblown Plot Armor.
    • Even Star Trek: The Original Series, Trope Maker for the Red Shirt, had one bonafide Mauve Shirt - Lieutenant Kyle, who appeared in more episodes than Yeoman Rand, always had dialogue, even if it was just a Mandatory Line, and holds the distinction of being the only Red Shirt to have a consistent position on the Enterprise: Transporter Chief. (Yes, Kyle was the transporter chief, not Scotty). He even got to help save the day a couple of times (most notably in "The Doomsday Machine" and "Mirror, Mirror"). He also has a knack for appearing in good episodes, and even made a cameo in the best of the movies (that's him as the Communications Officer onboard Reliant).
    • Almost every single Tau'ri who captains an Earth-built starship on Stargate and related shows. They're all given names and a little bit of backstory/personality, but only one survived more than a few episodes (Pendergast). One, a long-running secondary character, was killed the very episode he took command of his vessel.
      • Chuck the Gate Tech might also qualify for this. His predecessor was also a Mauve Shirt who was killed off for dramatic effect in the first season finale.
      • What about Caldwell, he appears repeatedly in 4 seasons of SG:A?
    • Major Lorne from Stargate Atlantis. Not one of the main cast, but a member of the security team who avoided death for five seasons. It doesn't help that Lorne usually leads the squad that gets killed, captured or fed upon.
      • Dr. Kate Heightmeyer, Atlantis's psychologist on staff, was a recurring character for 3 seasons until dying early in the fourth in an almost to-the-letter following of the trope.
    • Braca from Farscape at first appeared to be just another mook, until the first season finale when Big Bad Scorpius tells him "I believe your star is on the rise," a signal to the viewers that he actually is going to be important and they should pay attention to him. He ends up surviving the whole show, along with his boss. The trope was averted because Braca was originally slated to get killed off but managed to survive due to David Franklin's incredible ability to emote. Braca also managed to go from red-shirt to having a first name and command of his own ship, so kudos that mook.
    • Doctor Who subverts this with Private Ross Jenkins. He gets a name, a bit of a personality in "The Sontaran Strategem". He is killed in the second part, "The Poison Sky". He managed to get a rather large following on The Doctor Who Forum and a fan club there: Private Ross Jenkins' Widows. It helped he was one of that story's Good-Looking Privates. The Doctor even shouts about his death angrily, which is more than some of his old companions got when they left the show alive.
      • In the new series of Doctor Who, nearly any person who is given a name and a bit of sympathy for the Doctor and his companions dies. Davros lampshades this in Journey's End.

    Davros: How many more are there, Doctor? How many have died in your name?

      • It's also important to note that anybody who gets asked to travel on the TARDIS before the end of the episode will die. See: Lynda-with-a-y, Jenny, Astrid and Rita.
      • This is used for the Doctor's character development, as he eventually notices this trend and stops inviting people altogether...only to realise that he really, really needs a Morality Chain.
      • Played straight, however, in the old series with Sgt Benton. He showed up as a Corporal in the first UNIT story, then slowly made his way up the ranks, becoming one of the UNIT regulars (and arguably a companion). He became UNIT's Regimental Sergeant Major before disappearing from the show.
    • Lost has done this not once, but several times. Some of these characters are annoying and die ironic deaths; another trend involves a second in command villainous character who dies at the end of the season:
      • In season 1, Leslie Arzt appears as a (seemingly) knowledgeable science teacher who accompanies the Big Damn Heroes to the Black Rock to help them properly handle the dynamite. Of course, as Arzt is in the middle of a lecture about dynamite safety, the stick he's holding explodes.
      • Season 2 introduced the tail-section survivors, who looked like they were going to become major characters, but all of them except Bernard, who was pretty minor anyway, ended up getting killed quickly. Even Mr. Eko, who was supposed to be in the show until at least the 5th season, ended up dying part-way through the 3rd; but that was because his actor didn't like having to live in Hawaii.
      • Season 3 has Danny Pickett and Ryan Pryce, two security guard-like Others. Pickett has a short plotline in which his wife is killed and he takes it out on Sawyer; Pryce serves no purpose but being a villain. Picket is shot by Juliet and Pryce is run over by Hurley in a DHARMA van.
      • Season 4 brings Keamy's right hand man Omar. He gets blown up by a grenade Keamy accidentally kicks to him.
      • In season 5, Neil "Frogurt" is introduced as an irritating, neurotic man who is literally wearing a red shirt and is constantly complaining about the others' inability to make fire. Cue a fire arrow straight through his chest.
        • Frogurt even gets an onscreen promotion to Red Shirt from mauve, moments before his death.

    Sawyer:[Holds up a literal red shirt] Whose shirt is this?
    Frogurt:Oh, that's mine.

      • Additionally, a random DHARMA Initiative security drone named Phil starts making frequent appearances in the latter half of season 5. His increasingly annoying behavior—culminating with punching Juliet and Sawyer's vow to kill him in the penultimate episode of the season—seemed to indicate that he will be killed in the cataclysmic finale. He isn't killed by Sawyer, but from shrapnel caused by the magnetism of the Hatch's site.
      • One of the Ajira Flight 316 survivors steps forward and appears to be both the leader and really important. He has a lot of mystery about him, making you think he'll last for a while as he's clearly a big player...then he's abruptly shot by Ben, and second-in-command Ilana steps forward as the one who's really important (so much so that she's a regular in season six).
        • And yet even she gets her ass blown to hell in Arztian fashion after doing little.
      • Season 5/6 has Ilana's henchman Bram, who, after seemingly being important, gets impaled on a wooden stake by the smoke monster in the 6th season premiere.
      • Season 6's "annoying mauve shirt villain" is Zoe, henchwoman of Widmore. In the penultimate episode Smokey slashes her throat.
      • Pretty much everyone introduced in season six is this trope
    • Detective Ronnie Gardocki of The Shield had no dialogue in the series pilot, and the actor who portrays him went uncredited. He appeared in about half of the episodes in the first season, and was a "recurring character" up through season four. According to That Other Wiki, fans originally suspected he would become a redshirt, and the series writers even toyed with this idea in season 2. However, he survived and graduated to a regular cast member in the last three seasons, becoming increasingly important as the series went on.
    • During the first decade of Law and Order, the only police character other than the regulars to be given any character development at all was Detective Tony Profaci, whose job it was to pop into the office, or even into the crime scene, to provide some sort of crucial new information or lab results, crack a few jokes, and leave. In the first nine seasons, Profaci appeared in 53 episodes. Unfortunately, his mauve shirt status was not sufficient to save him when, in the made-for-TV movie Exiled, he was found to be on the take from The Mafia and forced to resign in disgrace. After that, the attempt to give airtime and development to non-regular police characters was largely abandoned. Detective Moe Lamott, a burly and fairhaired cop once used to infiltrate a neo-Nazi group, was a rare exception. Only for a couple of seasons, though.
      • Law and Order Special Victims Unit is much better at establishing a large and rotating cast of mauve shirts. They always deal with the same internal affairs officer, the same TARU techie, the same CSU techie(s) until they were killed off, the same half-dozen rotating judges and defense attorneys... and, most notably, the same psychiatrist and the same M.E., both of whom got a Promotion to Opening Titles.
    • In the penultimate episode of the seventh season of Monk, Monk's nebbish neighbor Kevin Dorfman is killed in the episode's beginning. He had been in a few episodes prior to this and had something of a fan following, so this was quite a shock to the viewers.
    • Steve on Top Gear, who is ostensibly the director of the "Top Gear Technology Centre." He was featured prominently in an episode in which the presenters need a racing car and a pit crew to compete in the Britcar 24-hour endurance race at Silverstone—and was honored afterward by appearing in the studio when the film aired to receive the audience's applause. Has appeared only once or twice since.
    • The re-imagined Battlestar Galactica loved this trope. The show had a huge cast of minor recurring characters - reporters, pilots, mechanics, marines, almost all of who had names, and, sometimes, personalities. Of course, in a show which really liked Anyone Can Die, this wasn't exactly a good thing... RIP, Gunny Matthias, Jammer, Racetrack, Skulls...
      • The extremes of this would be Kat & Sam on one side with Helo & Hot Dog on the other- Kat and Hot Dog were both "nuggets" (new pilots trained during the series), whereas Helo and Sam were guest stars for the pilot and in Season 2, respectively. Kat committed Heroic Sacrifice, whereas Hot Dog survived to the end. Helo was a Mauve shirt who's actor was so well liked that while he was left to die in the pilot, (and meant to die), a major arc of the first season (some would say the show) was written in to get him back. Sam was a love interest for a main character yet comes back, joins the main cast, and survives to the finale- to pilot the fleet into the sun.
        • Admittedly, Sam's story was changed significantly when the actor was seriously injured.
      • Brutally lampshaded when a new pilot is moving into his bearth and all is jovial. Then he asks about who this guy was the others kept referencing. Cue another pilot ripping the tape with a name on it off the new pilot's bearth and slapping it on his chest.
    • There have been quite a few characters on 24 who end up as this, largely due in part to the writer's need to kill them off to establish the Anyone Can Die mentality, or to build up the next Big Bad. The most notable examples include:
      • Agent Aaron Pierce, who starts out as the mostly-silent bodyguard of Senator David Palmer and stays in this role for most of the first four seasons. He earned some fan support by being the only guy who stayed loyal to Palmer after he got thrown out by his own cabinet in the second season, but otherwise, he didn't make much of a wave. Cue the fifth season, where he suddenly starts gaining more prominence (he refuses a direct order from the President to stop Jack Bauer's attack on Walt Cummings, and he saves Martha Logan and the Russian President from a terrorist attack). It was assumed that his time was coming to an end, and he ends up disappearing for several episodes before it's revealed that he was placed under arrest by Charles Logan. The writers had intended to kill him off at this point, but Pierce's actor (Glenn Morshower) made such a strong impression with his performance that they hastily rewrote the story to keep him alive. As of the eighth season, he is one of the scant few characters from the first season that hasn't died during the series, and he's been a major player in the later seasons (he helps Jack take out General Juma and the surviving commandoes after Bill Buchanan sacrifices himself).
      • In season 1, DEA Agent Krugman. He is part of a drug-busting team that raids a house where Kim Bauer is confronting Rick (the man who ended up helping her escape from Ira Gaines), and is the one to arrest Kim and put her in a holding cell. Krugman eventually releases her when he finds out who she is, and seems to show some genuine empathy once he realizes what had happened to her (the kidnapping incident) earlier in the day...until the car he and Kim are driving in is blindsided by Victor Drazen's men. While his fate remains unclear in the TV series, the novel 24: The House Special Subcommittee's Findings at CTU reveals that Krugman indeed survived.
      • In season 2, a computer tech (played by Rosanne's Sarah Gilbert) joins CTU, and is set up to be a major character. She lasts for three episodes, then is crushed by a falling pillar during the CTU bombing. She holds on for long enough to talk Tony Almeida and Michelle Dessler through getting their systems up and running, then dies anticlimatically.
      • In season 3, Claudia (Jack Bauer's Mexican girlfriend). She shows up in half the season's episodes with her family, talking about her past relationship and the need to escape the Salazar brothers' influence. She ends up being the one to rescue Chase Edmunds after he is captured in Mexico, but takes a bullet for her troubles (off-camera) when the pair escape from the Salazars in the back of her father's truck.
      • In season 4, CTU field operative Lee Castle. He is introduced in the ninth episode butting heads with Tony Almeida, but then quickly establishes himself as the most competent CTU member in a long time. He helps Jack out on several missions, and is even the one to rescue him when he gets kidnapped by Marwan. In the second-last episode of the season, though, he and Tony get captured trying to find Mandy the assassin, and he is shot to death while on his knees. He almost made it to the end of the season, too.
      • Played with during the nerve gas attack in season 5. A security guard named Harry (trapped in a holding cell with the acting CTU Director [Lynn McGill] after the attack) takes the time to show McGill pictures of his young daughter, and complains to Jack Bauer that he doesn't deserve to die. Of course, he ends up dying after McGill runs out of the holding cell to filter the gas out of the building, and lets the gas into their saferoom.
    • Criminal Minds has "Anderson," an FBI agent from the central office who's only had significant screentime twice in the series. He gets a name (or half of one, anyway) because both appearances were memorable, though short.
      • Also, Sheriff Eva Ruiz from "Rite Of Passage", who unluckily gets killed by Deputy Sheriff Ronald Boyd, aka Santa Muerte, the serial killer the team was after.
    • Grey's Anatomy plays this one quite streight. In last season, there was a merge beetwen hospitals, and new characters appeared out of the blue. They didn't receive much attention, but they were not kicked out quickly. Nevertheless, when a shooter appeared and someone needed to die... guess who did die.
      • Granted, only half (two) of the new characters were killed, and it was only them because their characters became obsolete when Katherine Heigl left the show. Of the other two, Avery became quite popular, and Kepner had a short arc just after her introduction, and then played a major supporting role in the finale.
    • Merlin has Sir Leon, a previously unnamed knight who was given lines of exposition on behalf of Camelot's Red Shirt Army. He proved so popular that when the writers tried to kill him off at the end of season 2, fan outrage ensured that he got better and returned with an even larger role in season 3. And the Fandom Rejoiced. Quite literally; in the DVD Commentary for "The Tears of Uther Pendragon," Bradley James comments that the biggest cheer they got at the screening was when the audience realized that Sir Leon was still alive.
    • An episode of Bones attempts to achieve this in five minutes—Sweets meets a kid on a subway who tells him that he's returning from a doctor, who has just given him the news that his cancer's in remission. He talks about how he's going to take this as a sign to live his life to the fullest—until the subway crashes, he hits his head on a pole, and is instantly killed, sending Sweets into Heroic BSOD for the rest of the episode.
    • Jory in Game of Thrones is archetypical. The head of the Starks' personal guard, he has a name, gets a few lines, follows people around a lot, and gets killed halfway through with little fanfare.
      • If such a thing as red or mauve shirts can even be said to exist in this setting.

    Newspaper Comics



    Ed: I'm that guy you see in every horror flick/You probably don't remember me, I come and go too quick
    Linda (a main character): We've listened to you talk for the past two minutes! You said a whole lot just now, just you! Aw, you're not a bit part demon any more, you're a lead player! A star!
    Ed: You're right! Now I see that this thread has been disrupted/I've said more than five words without being inturrupted/I'm a bit part no more, my character's had a swing/Now it's time for this demon to sing, sing, singgggggggggggg, I
    Ash: Now you'll have a bit part, in hell!


    Video Games

    • Company of Heroes' opening cutscene for the Invasion of Normandy campaign (which is a Shout-Out of the opening scene in Saving Private Ryan itself) shows a cinematic beginning of the first boats going on the beach, with a particular shot toward one. It has a sergeant in the boat state their orders and speaks some encouragement to the other men in the boat with him. They soon all die attempting to reach the safe(ish) mound of dirt in front the the German-entrenched hills. The game then cuts to another boat, turning the cinematic graphics to the actual in-game graphics, showing you the troops you will first command in the campaign
    • Fire Emblem may be the supreme overlord of this trope, with nearly every character in the game being one, due to the fact that the only characters that cannot be Killed Off for Real are the Lords. The greatest example? The almighty 3-13 archer of course.
    • In the real-time strategy game Myth: The Fallen Lords, all of the player's units could be considered mauve shirts, since the game tries to get you emotionally attached to them by giving the otherwise-identical units unique names and calling out "Casualty" in a grim voice whenever one of them dies.
      • Same thing for Cannon Fodder, of course.
      • There's also the fact that they gain experience with each kill, and that when they die they aren't replaced until the beginning of the next level.
    • Half-Life: Blue Shift's Barney Calhoun, who is a redshirt security guard, frequent ally and friendly casualty to Gordon Freeman... He survives the events of his own story and reappears in Half-Life 2, transitioning completely from a minor character to a central one. Arguably, Adrian Shephard from Opposing Force manages this too, being an HECU grunt (mainstay of the game's human enemies). Unfortunately for him, as of yet, he hasn't appeared in another game.
      • Barney is something beyond this, as he's basically Fan Mandated. 'Barney' is a Fan Nickname, this character in the original Half-Life, a guard that both looks and sounds exactly the same as every other guard, tells you to remind him to buy you that beer. That is your entire interaction with this character. Everything about him, including Blue Shift, is because of fandom.
    • Super Robot Wars Original Generation adds a number of Mauve Shirts to fill out the Heroes' roster. So far, they've proven surprisingly durable, and even include a few Badass Normals (which, for a mecha show, means they pilot the grunt suits).
      • In most SRW games, certain series allow you to switch pilots freely within their own series, so some of the lesser characters get a chance to shine (putting Boss into a spare Mazinger Z when Kouji gets his Mazinkaiser is popular). In OG, this applies to every character and every mecha, so if you like a side character better than a "main" one using an appropriate robot, go for it. Just be aware that certain chapters will assert mecha ownership, especially if it's an ATX or SRX mecha in question.
    • In Gears of War, Carmine (whose name is a shade of red) was a faceless Red Shirt squad member, the only man on the team to wear a helmet and mask (in fact his character model was identical to the baseline COG soldier) who has a handful of lines but dies after the first couple of levels to show that the situation is serious (he's 1 of 2 onscreen-named characters in the entire game to die). Due to being "a weird fan favorite", he unofficially returned in Gears of War 2 in the form of his brother, Ben Carmine, the next of the 4 Carmine brothers.[1] With the extra screen time he received compared to his brother (surviving to the second act) and given more time to grow on you as a character, he was a true Mauve Shirt.
      • In Gears of War 3 the tradition continued with Clay Carmine, where the fanbase actually had control over his fate through an Xbox Live Marketplace charity drive (buy one of two shirts saying "Carmine Lives!" or "Carmine Must Die!"). As such the game made a Running Gag over his expendable nature, such as almost getting crushed by a thrown car[2] or sniped by a idiotic civilian.[3] In the end, he gets shot down in a helicopter and after a brief fake-out with his discarded helmet, you see him putting it back on, triumphantly subverting the trope and surviving the events of the game.
    • Jagged Alliance is a fantastic example of this. Even though you can replace the occasional dead merc with relative ease (and in fact, the penalties for getting them killed are often lighter than those for firing them), they're all given names, personalities, and back-stories, making you feel like scum when they die. (Note however that other would-be contractors may notice a trend...)
      • Except for Reuben, the remorseless mass-murderer. Die, bastard!
    • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes features several Galactic Federation troopers. While they're all dead on arrival, scanning their corpses reveals their logs, a portion of their character, and their lives and interactions before their deaths—there's the one who's gone crazy, there's the cynical snarker, there's the Straw Feminist type who idolizes Samus, etc.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater has Ivan Raidenovich Raikov. His design is a Discontinuity Nod, his name is a cruel pun, and his roles are that of a Morality Pet to the Big Bad, and of a hapless victim for the player to take out their frustrations with the series' Scrappy upon. Due to becoming a bit of a favourite in the fanbase for a few complicated reasons, he made a cameo in Portable Ops, despite the fact that he can be killed in 3 without causing a TIME PARADOX, where he got a little scene with some characterisation (vain, aggressive, fierce, and a little sociopathic, but mostly amiable).
      • Jonathan in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops exists for three reasons. The first one is to provide a sympathetic villainous point of view, so you understand why the Russian soldiers have decided to hook up with a crazy American anarchist with a Compelling Voice. The second reason is to be your first non-Snake character, so you can learn how the soldier system works, and he gives He Knows About Timed Hits tutorials to you. The third reason is to take a bullet intended for Big Boss during Gene's Moral Event Horizon, and provide a Player Punch. For the last reason, he and Snake cannot suffer permadeath in online play.
        • Also, Johnny, the character who survives all the way through the main series by being that one incompetent guard that you just can't shoot. By 4, he's on your side.
    • Final Fantasy VIII has Biggs and Wedge. They are a couple of reoccurring enemies, in mook uniform, who aren't distinguished from the other mooks very much, besides having names and slightly better stats. You fight them several times, and watch them rise and fall through ranks. They eventually just give up.
    • Final Fantasy VII has its incarnations of Biggs and Wedge, along with Jessie, as members of Avalanche handling technical tasks while your player characters do the fighting. They are each developed enough to serve as Sacrificial Lambs when Shinra drops the Sector 7 plate of Midgar on the slums beneath it.
    • Tales of Symphonia has lots of named NPCs with just enough background and emotional value, but the one that sticks out is Botta, the second in command of the Renegades. He starts out one of the first villain characters you see, interestingly, but the plot twists around so far that when he makes a Heroic Sacrifice to save the party, many players find it to be a genuine Tear Jerker.
    • Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War has your second wingman PJ; after Pixy goes AWOL, he goes from Crow Team Butt Monkey to the second Galm 2, continuing to retain his Gameplay Immortality and now actually able to (very infrequently) help you. Unfortunately, his Genre Blindness catches up to him when immediately after the Avalon attack he declares that he's going to propose to his girlfriend back at the base... "I even bought flowers!" Then you see a light in the distance, headed your way...
    • A common occurrance in squad-based tactical combat games like X-COM. Players often get quite attached to soldiers who've survived a few encounters (especially in impressive ways or against the odds) and been given names and nice equipment... but of course, they're not that much more robust than a rookie and die all too easily when things go pear-shaped.
    • In Mass Effect, the Normandy crew are nameless and voiceless, save for Joker, Pressly, Chakwas and Adams. Come Mass Effect 2, Pressly is killed in the Collector's attack and is referenced several times by Shepard and other characters. Meanwhile, several members of the Normandy SR-2's crew are given names and personalities: Ken, Gabby, Gardner, Hawthorne, Patel, Rolston, Goldstein, Hadley and Matthews (as well as Joker and Dr. Chakwas returning from the first game). All of them can die in the Suicide Mission, but if some survive you can wander the Normandy and listen to them mourning the loss of their friends.
      • Actually, everyone (including Shepard, your character) can die in the suicide mission, except Joker, who is piloting the ship. Sad ending with many coffins, you can't save and use it as a starting point for Mass Effect 3 though.
    • Daveth and Ser Jory in Dragon Age: Origins. Mhairi in Awakening. And depending on choices made, Bethany/Carver in Dragon Age II
    • Every hero not named Johnny, Sonya, or Raiden in Mortal Kombat 9.
    • Hadrin in Gauldoth's campaign in Heroes of Might and Magic 4. Gauldoth, a necromancer, kills him and resurrects him as a zombie to act as an emissary during negotiations with a vampire warlord. While Gauldoth initially intended for him to be disposable, when Hadrin returns from negotiations missing an arm but with tactical information on the vampire, Gauldoth takes the trouble to learn his name and employs him as a bodyguard.
    • In Resident Evil 4, Mike the helicopter pilot. Your Mileage May Vary on this one, but he was named as Mike, Leon seemed pretty beat up about his death, and he was actually effective air support. Of course, he did make the dreaded promise of going to get drinks.
    • Halo has marines Chips Dubbo and Pete Stacker, the latter extremely recognizable by his Australian accent, and both survive to the ending of Halo 3.

    Web Comics

    • Wonderfully used in this The Order of the Stick comic, where two soldiers save themselves from dying as part of the city's Redshirt Army by saying their names. One of them even keeps his last name in reserve to potentially save himself from another life-threatening situation. In fact, the two of them later become major supporting characters.
      • Also, in the same battle, the remaining members of the Sapphire Guard become Mauve Shirts, particularly Lien and O-Chul, while the rest are wiped out.
      • In Haley's Resistance group, Thanh, Isamu, and Niu were introduced and developed slightly. Isamu ended up (un)dying, and Thanh and Niu ended up leading the Resistance.
        • And now Niu's the Sole Survivor of the wiped-out Resistance, which included not only Thanh, but also a bunch of Elven characters who fell just short of the requirements for this trope (they died before getting names, making them Red Shirts instead).
      • Some people on the Giant's forums have attempted to make their own: That Guy with a Halberd.
      • Subverted with Solt Lorkyurg who was a gnome traveler in comic 539 who met Haley and the group when traveling to Azure City. He's dead to show Belkar's impulsiveness and cruelty.
    • As the body count rises during the siege of Gobwin Knob in Erfworld, Dora, and then Webinar are quickly added to the list.
      • Misty, the Lookamancer who helped Parson with one of his plans, and Jaclyn, the only named Archon, both end up croaked.
    • In Schlock Mercenary, Nick and Shep are Lampshaded as Red Shirts by the narrator in their first appearance, and quickly prove the narrator wrong, followed by becoming Those Two Guys in the mercenary unit. Shep even lasts to reach a successful retirement. And had an arc after that. And survived it, too.
      • Not to mention John Der Trihs, wearing a red shirt per his rank Lieutenant/Lieutenant commander, often getting shot/blown/cut up but still surviving.
      • The company's first doctor isn't so lucky, and so fits right in here. Ironically, just a few strips before his death he was lampshading Nick and Shep's red shirt status. Of course, given what we know of him now, all bets are off.
      • Shv'uu may also qualify, I don't think he ever quite got gold-shirt status, but he was well into the mauve.
    • Bert from Sluggy Freelance was originally a one-off gag character, but was given a larger role during the "KITTEN" storyline. Of the dozen plus supporting characters in that Story Arc, he was one of only four to survive. He went on to become a recurring character ... until "KITTEN II" finished what the original couldn't. He did get to come back as a ghost, though.
    • Girl Genius offers Sergeant Scorp of the Baron's Vespiary Squad, a Cool Old Guy in every sense of the term and one of the most sane characters in the entire series. Generally Old Soldiers are treated as likely to survive the new mess, too.
    • Arguably, Goldie from Everyday Heroes. Most of one chapter involves Jane Mighty explaining how Goldie was her mentor, teammate, and all-around bff. Then, just as the readers get to know her, she gets Stuffed Into the Fridge by their backstabbing boss, which resulting in a Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal.
    • In Goblins, the survivors of the fight in Brassmoon City. Namely, the hobgoblin (Scrole), the kobold (Takn), the ogre-kobold duo (Pan & Yala) and that female creature that's creature type is yet unknown (fan-named Dorky or Undorky).
    • Bob and George: Poor Mike. The title character doesn't want to risk his life for some piddling secondary character and is unmoved by tears.

    Web Original

    • Most of the recurring public domain characters in Darwin's Soldiers are this. Examples are Neville Ivers, Cobalt Squad, Wayne Anthony, PFC Reynolds...

    Western Animation

    • Deconstructed and played with in The Venture Brothers. Two of the Monarch's Mooks, #21 and #24, become Red Herring Shirts due to their continued survival and regular appearances. After scores of Red Shirts have died around them, they start to get Genre Savvy and assume that they've got as much Plot Armor as the main characters. In the third season finale, however, #24 dies in an explosion, causing his scorched skull to land in 21's arms. His burning skull now carries his soul. #21 vows revenge and eventually becomes the #1 mook, but out of respect to his friend, he demands to keep his number as #21.
    • Most of the Klokateers on Metalocalypse die brutal deaths the moment we see them on screens. It doesn't help that they are Faceless Goons and look identical. There is one exception though, a midget Klokateer who won Murderface's diamond encrusted codpiece during employee appreciation day. This Klokateer is often seen in later episodes, sporting his prized codpiece.
    • Played with in Futurama's Star Trek parody episode, 'Where No Fan Has Gone Before'. When the crew meets the cast of Star Trek, they are introduced to 'Welshie', a guy who joined the cast in the twenty-two hundreds. He is almost immediately killed off.
      • On the other hand, the real reason he was there was James Doohan having refused to take part in the episode.
      • It's also made funnier by the fact that even dead, Welshie is still the target of rage-induced killing mind-blasts.
    • In The Incredibles Helen's friend (and former pilot) Snog was originally going to be the pilot of the plane to Syndrome's island and was to have been killed when it was shot down (in the commentary, Brad Bird even said that they needed to have a character who had enough characterisation for the audience to sympathise with who could then be killed off to show the seriousness of the situation), but it was ultimately decided the scene would be better if Helen was the pilot. At least partially because they realized the fact that Syndrome was ready, willing, and able to destroy a plane that carried children more or less drove it home that the situation was grim.
    • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Any Clonetrooper given a name other than Captain Rex or Commander Cody who survives more than one minute on-screen.
    • Superjail has Jean and Paul, the gay couple (as of season 2, they're married). They were Star-Crossed Lovers from rival gangs who terrorized Superjail for years. Their tryst united the two gangs and brought peace to Superjail, so the balance of prison society hangs on their relationship. Their survival is also ensured because they're the former leaders of the two most brutal gangs in Superjail means that the inmates wouldn't dare fuck with them.

    Real Life

    • Sanada Yukimura. He starts out as a normal soldier, pretty much someone you'd expect to die sooner. But he proves to be tougher than expected, surviving lots and lots of dangerous battles, and eventually at the end of the Siege of Osaka, performs a Foe-Tossing Charge, killing many soldiers with just a few helpers but being heavily wounded and finally declaring to supposedly a random mook... "I am Sanada Yukimura, no doubt an adversary quite worthy of yourselves, but I am too tired to fight any longer. Go on, take my head as your trophy." It's no wonder that due to his record and his awesome charge, Ieyasu honors him as Japan's Number One Soldier.
      • According to one source, he performed the foe-tossing charge many times, getting pushed back at the last possible second, almost getting to Ieyasu Tokugawa's face.
      • It was the final charge that was his most successful. In the final charge, he and his bodyguards made it all the way to Ieyasu's basecamp, where Yukimura was able to wound Tokugawa right above his kidney with his spear. Had Yukimura's spear been an inch or so down, the trauma to Ieyasu's kidney would have caused the Shogun to hemorrhage to death, which might have changed the course of Japanese history as we know it.
    • Crispus Attucks, the first man to be killed in the Boston Massacre. He became a martyr of the American Revolution and later on (due to his mixed-race heritage) an icon of Abolitionism.
      • Don't forget, he was the god of Charles Barkley: Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden
    1. "Well... 3, now."
    2. "That was close!"
    3. "Good thing I wear a helmet."