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- For extras, see: Background cast
A redshirt is a type of stock character in film or television that is a non-featured character, whose purpose to the plot, usually, is to be killed.
The term does not refer to the actors, only to the characters. The actors that play "redshirt" characters are usually credited (opposite to uncredited in case of background cast) with the status of "guest actor". Therefore, "redshirt" should not be confused with mere membership on Flight 815, which includes background cast and speaking characters. The term "redshirt" is sometimes used synonymously with "background cast" or "extra" by many Lost fan resources (e.g., ), but as correctly defined, this use is incorrect, as "redshirt" refers only to a character type whose primary purpose is to be killed by a device in the plot.
Speaking redshirts are generally depicted by actors hired specifically for those parts from California, such as Arzt, and not from the background extras pool in Hawaii. As such they have generally not appeared as background actors in previously filmed episodes.
Origin of the term
Redshirts are especially common in the science-fiction genre, and the term is derived from the 1966 television series Star Trek, where never-before-seen characters wearing red uniforms (representing ensigns from the Security or Engineering departments) almost universally met their demise soon after joining the main characters on any mission away from their starship. Their deaths would illustrate the danger posed by plot devices to the main characters, who of course were never in real danger of being eliminated from the show.
Thus, not only the term itself is a direct reference, also the purpose of the "redshirt" character is clearly defined by its origins.
In the universe of Lost
Examples of guest star redshirts include:
- Daniel Roebuck as a guest star. His character, Arzt, was a typical redshirt (i.e. intended to die) part in the script that was auditioned, and given to an experienced actor from LA. In previous episodes, Arzt never before appeared on the beach, even though the premise of the storyline was that he has been there all along (as confirmed by island flashbacks in "").
- Kiele Sanchez (Nikki) and Rodrigo Santoro (Paulo) are main cast members, and have never appeared in the background pool. However the canonical storyline asserts they were there all along, a notion reinforced by the island flashbacks in "". Paulo and Nikki do not fit the classic redshirt design, as the producers intended more of a plot for them. Through a podcast, the producers referenced that Paulo and Nikki were killed off due to severe audience backlash against the new characters.
- Note: some Lost fans use the term "redshirt" to refer to all extras, even those who are not scripted to die in a plot device, as well as those characters who never actually appear but are said to have died. Some fans also label on-island guest stars and main cast members "redshirts".
Then of course there are the extras. The expendable people. "Redshirts" in Star Trek lingo. You know, the security guys in landing parties who were offed at frighteningly regular intervals.
Damon and the lads refer to them as "meat socks."
"That's what's great about Lost," he said. "One of our regular characters can go out on an expedition with two people you haven't seen, then the regular gets killed, the other two come back and now they're regulars, so we certainly want to keep the audience guessing. There is a reason that in addition to the 14 regulars there are 33 other characters who survived the crash. They're not just monster food."
Inside joke quotes
- Arzt takes it upon himself to represent the cause of overlooked and underappreciated redshirts, in Exodus, Part 2, when he confronts Hurley with his inattention and the fact that there is a developing clique of 'cooler' survivors who end up being included on expeditions. Shortly after acknowledging this inequity, he ironically gets blown up.
ARZT: You know what? I'm sorry, I'm sorry that I'm not cool enough to be part of your merry little band of adventurers.
ARZT: I know a clique when I see it. I teach high school, pal-y. You know, you people think you're the only ones on this island doing anything of value. I've got news for you. There were 40 other survivors of this plane crash. And we are all people, too.
- The term redshirt is mentioned specifically in the episode "", as Boone is tying a red shirt to a tree and talking to Locke (Ironically, Terry O'Quinn, who plays Locke, previously guest starred on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation). This conversation was self-referential as it foreshadowed Boone's death.
BOONE: Red shirt.
- Lost-TV forum redshirts thread Includes info on Faith Fay (SBSSG), Bryan Sato (Asian Cowboy), Dane Justman, Christian Bowman (Steve), and Dustin Watchman (Scott)
- Redshirt (Wikipedia)
|中舱（具名）||Doug • Edward Mars • Gas Man • Leslie Arzt • N.D. survivor • Neil • Scott Jackson • Steve Jenkins • Sullivan • Tourniquet man • Woman (Pilot, Part 1) • Front section: Seth Norris|
|尾舱（具名）||Cindy Chandler • Donald • Emma • Male Tailie • Nathan • Zach|
|中舱（不具名或不可见）||Barbara Joanna Miller • Blonde casualty • Craig • Gary Troup • Jerome • Lance • Richard • Sexy Blue Striped Shirt Girl • Tracy • Vincent|
|尾舱（不具名或不可见）||Blond Guy • Curly-Haired Guy • Eli • German Tailender • Jim • Nancy|
|扩展宇宙||Beady Eyes • Dexter Stubbs • Elliott Maslow • George • Faith Harrington • Janelle Granger • Jason Ward • Jeff Hadley • Larry • Lisa Gellhorn • Sonya|
|未见经传||Bob "BJ" Jones • Chris Dobson • Jake Smith • Margery • Robert D. West • Sally Rafflethorpe • Steve Dobson|
|受害者||Co-pilot • Emmanuel Rafael Ortiz • Harold Wollstein • JD • Judith Martha Wexler • Male Flight Attendant • Michelle • Millicent Louise D'Agostino • Pam • Steve and Kristen|