Nerd Factor: Worse Than Redshirts

Dr. Mike Robinson, LC Communication Studies Professor~

There’s a rule for the classic Star Trek television series.  If you see someone in a red shirt, and that someone is not Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott or Communications Officer Nyota Uhura, then chances are that character is going to die.  This makes some sense.  Jobs are color-coded on the U.S.S. Enterprise and security happens to be one of the jobs under the red designation.  So it’s not surprising that security officers, called “Redshirts” by the fans, would die horrible deaths.  After all, the main characters can’t be killed off all the time.  

The joke is that being in security on the Enterprise is one of the worst jobs to have.  And it probably is worrisome to get an on-the-job picture of a friend or loved one in the red.  But for those filling out the ranks of supporting and background characters, there are far more dangerous organizations to work for.

Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D:  Do you love your country and freedom?  Have you got a talent for international espionage or law-enforcement or perhaps even both?  Have you always wanted to work for a guy with an eyepatch?  Well then S.H.I.E.L.D. would seem to be the ideal organization for you.  However, the premiere good guy support agency in comics and movies is a seriously fatal institution to serve under.  Basically these agents drop like flies.  The lucky ones are quickly snuffed out in battles with the baddies.  When Loki attacks a base, well the roof has to collapse on someone right?  But considering the number of times evil Hydra operatives have infiltrated or secretly taken over S.H.I.E.L.D., many of these agents die at the hands of people they thought of as friends.  “Hey Jeff,” one agent asks another at the commissary, “How’s the wife and kids?”  “Hail Hydra!” Jeff replies sinisterly and shoots.  What a way to go!

S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Flunkies:  Not that working for the villains is any better.  S.P.E.C.T.R.E gives a number to its top operatives.  If you don’t have a number, then you’re a flunky.  Basically, it’s the flunky’s job to stand between James Bond and numbered operatives.  That’s not a good place to be, particularly when your boss needs you to die so that he or she can escape the volcano base.  

Gotham City Police Department:  Why would anybody take this job?  Ever?  Once a month, some supervillain blasts through town leaving a series of dead officers in their wake, horribly disfigured by Joker venom; a noxious laughing gas, or frozen solid by Mr. Freeze’s ice gun or something.  At this point, I figure the only way to build up the ranks of the GCPD is forced conscription.  

InGen Support Personnel:  I’ve always felt kind of sorry for any employee of InGen.  After all, who could pass up the chance to work with real live dinosaurs?  Look, I love my job, but I would seriously consider just about any position at Jurassic Park if it meant I could see an ankylosaurus once a day.  But, as the ancient proverb reminds us, “those who live by the dinosaur die by the dinosaur.”  In the past, we could assume that the poor dopes who wandered into the high grass on Isla Sorna had at least knowingly taken a position where “dinosaur peril” was listed on the job description.  But in this modern era of Jurassic World, even the gift shop employees aren’t safe.