The Redshirt Massacre: What really went down in the Enterprise laundry room

By: Peter Greenwood     Posted: October 17, 2016, 3:17PM

Everyone has come to admire the bright and exciting uniforms from classic Star Trek. But why did the cast members wearing red become so expendable in the shows three year run?

The story starts with designer William Ware Theiss, who designed all of the amazing aliens and crew for the show for the three years of production. The uniforms were first made from what was then a brand new fabric: velour. The velvet-like stuff was shiny and available in ultra-bright colors.

A large batch of uniforms were sewn up in preparation for the series — and away they almost went. 

The red tops were made in mass because they looked so darn striking on screen, but there must have been a Klingon in the laundry room. After the first weeks of shooting, the velour tops began to shrink with each washing.

So a fast decision was made to change the shrinking fabric. Since the velour was causing so much grief, they had to do something with the extra shirts. Waste was not going to happen on such a tight budget.

It became clear that they had to use the older shirts on stunt players who were to be killed off in each episode. That way, if the shirts were destroyed, it would not be a problem. Because, hey, they were on the way out anyway.

So the doomed Redshirts did their bit to serve the Federation and became the galactic symbol for impending death to all fans. You were not long for this world — or any world, really — if you were sporting red.

The only exception to this rule was Scotty, who was thankfully immune to Redshirt syndrome.    

Watch Star Trek: The Original Series on H&I

Sunday through Friday at 8 PM Eastern/Pacific

Love Star Trek? Discover where to watch on H&I