Red Shirt Reporter

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Oil tanker exploding from mysterious causes you say? And I get to cover it? So soon after the unfortunate incident with your wife? Where do I sign up?!

Who is out in 70-mile-per-hour winds, lashing rains and certain death? It's the Red Shirt Reporter. When people need to know about how to get out of a flaming building, who is running through the building? The Red Shirt Reporter. They are often seen wearing a rain slicker, amid flying debris, Going for the Big Scoop. Often ends up on Dead Line News.

The Red Shirt Reporter is the man (or woman — a Red Shirt Reporter is about as likely to be a woman as a man) who is doing the stand-up, on-the-scene live report from someplace that's so insanely dangerous or unpleasant that anyone with a lick of sense wouldn't be there.

If it's played for comedy, it may be that his boss hates him and is trying to get him killed, or it may be that the reporter is too dumb to realize the danger. In these cases, he usually survives. Played for drama, the reporter is "the best reporter we've got!", and is usually aware of how dangerous it is. This type is also much more likely to end up dead in fiction. A truly legendary reporter is even more likely to get bumped off, for various reasons.

It's a trope that was lifted straight from real-life; long before there was television news, reporters were going into (or staying in) dangerous situations in order to get the story.

If the reporter ends up involved in the danger, that's Dead Line News. If it's the "boss is trying to get him killed" version, it overlaps with Uriah Gambit.

Examples of Red Shirt Reporter include:

Anime and Manga

  • Dragon Ball: The reporters investigating the mysterious disappearance of Ginger Town's inhabitants ; they get to suffer the same fate, i.e. being sucked out and absorbed by Cell.
    • Though later on subverted by the reporters covering the Cell Games, as they somehow manage to survive (And fully believe Mr. Satan saved them).
  • A one-off reporter in Death Note - right after the Second Kira just killed a lot of reporters who disagreed with Kira - deliberately imperils his own life, John Hancock-style.


  • Starship Troopers opens with a reporter in the middle of a battle. He is Killed In Action a moment later.
  • Volcano has this in one part, with a news reporter standing right up against the line of barriers that are barely containing the volcanic lava.
  • One of the first casualties in Resident Evil: Degeneration is a reporter.
  • The Day After Tomorrow features a reporter giving up-to-the-minute reports on the tornadoes rampaging through downtown Los Angeles. He ends up flattened by flying debris, of course.
  • In Cloverfield, one female reporter was seen on a television screen reporting near the monster. What happened to her was... not explicitly revealed.
  • In the 1998 American Godzilla movie, there are around three or four unnamed or unimportant reporters who buzz around Godzilla during his rampage.
  • In Battle: Los Angeles, the reporters on the beach who are covering the "meteor shower" are among the first to be gunned down when the aliens emerge from the surf.
  • The conspiracy nut radio show host in 2012 is reporting live from Yellowstone as the supervolcano goes ker-blooie.
  • In Predator 2, a female reporter is near the shoot-out war zone between the police and Colombian drug dealers.

Reporter: (some bullets shot near her) Oh, fuck this, I'm outta here!

  • In Three Kings, some Iraqi soldiers forced a female journalist to leave, at gunpoint.


  • In the book Swim to Me by Betsy Carter, Delores (the weathergirl who dresses up as a mermaid to do her reports; she's a professional mermaid/swimmer in shows when not on TV) is sent out specifically to be this girl during a hurricane watch. The drama is upped when she spots a drowning child and drops her mike to rescue him.
  • In Dave Barry's novel Tricky Business, the local Miami news station sends a reporter out to cover a tropical storm. She stands in water near downed power lines. It Gets Worse when the station starts sending vehicles out, finally culminating in a helicopter crash. Ultimately, nine of the station's reporters are dead, representing 100% of the people killed by the storm. Both a Parody and an Exaggerated Trope.
  • In The War of the Worlds, a journalist named Henderson appears early in the novel to investigate the fallen Martian cylinder. He dies by Death Ray not too much later, making this trope Older Than Television.
    • Henderson, possibly the earliest example of this trope in fiction, is also the Trope Codifier, so much so that his character was carried over in Orson Welles' radio show and the 1953 version, if not the 2005 version. The book also subverts the trope: the narrator himself is also a journalist, though he does come close to death on more than a few occasions.

Live Action TV

  • An episode of Primeval features reporters who aren't smart enough to run away when a Giganotosaurus (think T. rex, only bigger) rampages through an airport.
  • Damien Day from Drop the Dead Donkey likes to pretend he's in serious danger. Parody meets Exploited Trope, as he's using the trope to attempt to gain better viewing figures.
  • The Re-Imagined Battlestar Galactica has a brief scene of Baltar watching the disjointed news reports of the Cylon attack. The 'man on the street reporter' hears the boom, feels the wind, then his feed and the feed from the news studio cut to static.
  • The Whose Line Is It Anyway? skit "Newsflash" is a parody of this trope: it's based on putting Colin Mochrie in this role—only he doesn't know what he's reporting on. The skit uses greenscreen technology to run footage he can't see as his "on-the-scene" background. Watch here.
  • In The Goodies episode "Kitten Kong", it's played entirely for laughs. Watch it here, starting at 2:10
  • Parodied on The Daily Show. In their January 2012 Indecision coverage there is a skit about the upcoming South Carolina primary including an anchor in a windstorm and a female anchor covered in blood screaming about the horrors of the campaign.

Western Animation

  • The city of Detroit in Transformers Animated seems to have averted this by having their Red Shirt Reporter be a robot. Given all the weirdness that goes down in that city and how much that particular robot gets damaged, it seems to make the most sense.
  • Family Guy has utilized both "Asian Reporter" Trisha Takanawa and "Black-U-Weather" Ollie Williams in this role.

Diane Simmons: ...while hurricane Norman continues to pound Quahog. We now go live to Asian reporter Tricia Takanawa for a look at how locals are dealing with the imminent disaster. Tricia?
Tricia Takanawa: Diane, I'm here in-- (hit by a flying car)
Diane Simmons: Thank you, Tricia. Stay tuned for further-- (hit by a flying guy)

  • Lance Thunder of Danny Phantom always gets put on 'Ghost Watch'- e.g. filming in streets overwhelmed by ghosts, desperately screaming "I'm just a weatherman!"

Video Games

  • Crackdown 2 shows a woman reporting on the freaks that are overrunning the city at night. Predictably, one of them pounces on her from the side of the screen.
  • Both Dead Rising games contain examples of this trope with intrepid reporters Frank West and (in the sequel) Rebecca Chang. Depending on the player's level of skill, Frank may die, while Rebecca always dies.
    • Same deal in Off the Record but subverted in over time as Rebecca replaces Stacy and K Atey from the original.
  • Ratchet and Clank gave us Darla Gratch (Channel 2 News), who has a tendency to get badly hurt wherever she reports. Good thing she's a robot.
  • Anna Hutchens in Odium, very excited to find herself reporting from the middle of a monster-filled city. Just think of the ratings! Though it's probably a good thing that your team found her just as she was cornered by monsters. She joins your team for a while, but fights about as well as you'd expect from a reporter...
  • In Tiberium Wars, a Nod reporter is reporting from Sarajevo...just around the time the whole region, alongside most of the Balkans, is blown up by a Liquid Tiberium detonation. For bonus points, being a member of Nod, he was wearing red.
    • The GDI reporters oddly avert it though. One of them is in Washington when Philadelphia comes crashing down, the other in Vancouver, mere meters away from Nod forces and right in the attack zone of Vertigo bombers. They both survive.
  • In Final Fantasy 7 when the pilar collapses, a reporter can be seen reacting just before the screen goes to static.
  • Leading up to the release of Mass Effect 3, the game's in-character twitter feed featured a series of live-tweets from Emily Wong, who was effectively the reporter-on-the-scene for The Reaper Invasion of Earth. Her last tweet indicated that she was mortally wounded and about to ram a Reaper with her skyvan.

Real Life

  • On MSNBC's coverage of Hurricane Ike, a reporter named Janet lampshaded this trope by declaring loudly that she was perfectly safe.
  • There was an incident where Ed Hughes, the late anchor for Norfolk, VA CBS affiliate WTKR, was covering a hurricane at the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
  • Jim Cantore. Watch the Weather Channel ANY time there's a hurricane making landfall and you'll see this guy screaming into his microphone. He is so reliable about being where the weather is worst that there's a joke that if you see Jim Cantore in your home town, it's past time to have evacuated.
  • During one hurricane hitting Maryland, a local reporter was broadcasting from Ocean City and stood near the completely flooded beach to give an idea of what the storm surge was doing. When he was nearly finished with his report, a wave crashed over the beach barrier, drenching the reporter, who deadpanned "Back to you" and returned us to a laughing news room.
  • Memphis' Action Five News had a series during the 90s featuring a reporter demonstrating how to get out of a flooded car, a flaming building and many other dangerous situations.
  • One of the favorite jokes of Neil Degrasse Tyson: "If a meteor were to hit the US Pacific coast, nobody would have to die, because we would know weeks in advance. Only two people will die: That one surfer who tries to ride the wave, and that one weather reporter who is narrating how the wave is coming towards him."
  • According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (, typically anywhere from twenty to fifty journalists annually are known to have been killed in the line of duty. Some are targeted deliberately (for instance, reporters covering Mexico's ongoing drug wars), while many others were in the wrong place in the wrong time - a common occupational hazard in war zones.