He’s dead, Jim.

Jen bought me the third series of the original Star Trek on DVD for xmas, completing my collection of all three series. Yay! 80 episodes of trekky goodness. The only trouble is that watching so many episodes in such a short space of time results in a blurring of that thin line between reality and Star Trek. It was the same when I used to play Doom for 4 or 5 hours every evening. Back in the real world, I’d start pressing walls to see if there was a secret door and walking sideways round corners in case there was a monster waiting to pounce. It actually got quite disturbing – seriously. I was having genuine flashbacks during the day. Although I’ve not actually walked into a door yet, I’m still half expecting them to schwiish open as I approach.

So in the spirit of my current mental state, I’ve been thinking way too much about things that happen on Star Trek, particularly things that happen to those “security” people – the ones in the red shirts that act as a buffer between death and the important members of the crew. They are known as the “Expendables” and I’ve been working out how long one of them could expect to survive. So here is my handy guide to your life expectancy, should you ever be unlucky enough to find yourself in the position of an Expendable under the command of Captain Kirk.

You start off with an average life expectancy of around five minutes. This is the time from beaming down with the landing party to having your salt sucked out, being vaporised by a carpet, impaled by a giant spear, blown up by an exploding rock etc. Various factors can increase or reduce that time and if you can increase it to around 40 minutes, you might make it to the end of the episode. Good luck!

  • Do you have a name? If the captain actually refers to you by name, you can expect to live longer than if he calls you “you there” or just waggles his phaser at you while telling you to go off on your own to look for some hideous monster that has already killed 20 people and is impervious to phaser fire. Yes: Add 10 minutes
  • Do you say anything? Having a line can be your ticket to the end of the episode. Spending that extra money on you to have you say something instantly makes you a larger investment, more valuable, and more likely not to be reduced to cube of basic elements and squished. Be aware that this doesn’t count if your only line is “Aaaaarrrgghh”. Yes: Add 20 minutes
  • Did your father go to the Academy with the Captain? You’ve got it made if he did. Things might look bleak for a while, but rest assured that the Captain will make sure you stay alive in order to regale you with stories about their exploits at the end of the episode. Please try to look interested in them, even though they are mostly about how Kirk used to dress up in women’s clothing “for laughs”. Yes: Go to the end of the episode
  • Did you go to the academy with the Captain? If you did then you are totally fucked. Sorry. You might as well get a phaser and just kill yourself right now to avoid the unpleasant death that awaits you. Feeling pain over the loss of an old (but previously unseen and unmentioned) friend is something the Captain does best. And a lot of. You’ll be lucky if you don’t get hit by a lightning bolt on the way to the transporter room. Yes: Subtract 40 minutes, keel over and die right now.
  • Is there more than one expendable? On each trip, at least one expendable has to be squished/impaled/fried/drained before the situation can be officially classified as dangerous. The ship’s health and safety officer did object to this policy but Kirk put him in a red shirt and beamed him down to the nearest planet. His replacement stopped objecting. If you are the only expendable then it’s going to be you. Sorry, that’s just the way it is. However, if there are two then you’ve got a 50% chance to make it past that first squish/thunk/sizzle/slurp. It’s the ones that get sent off to scout the area that tend to come to the nastiest ends so try to hang around the Captain – but not too close in case you get between him and something aimed at him. Yes: Add 10 minutes.
  • Is the music going “de de DAH DAH DAH DAH DAH DAH de de doo doo”? You could be in luck – that’s the music for someone important being in trouble, which means whatever wants to kill you is otherwise engaged. Expendables don’t get anything more than (at most) an orchestral sting as they are killed so if you are still alive, run away. Run as fast as your legs will carry you. Run and hide until everyone else has gone home. Yes: Add 5 minutes
  • Were you about to get married before the current crisis interrupted the service? As you didn’t actually get married she won’t officially be your widow and won’t get a widow’s pension, so take out as much life insurance in her name as you can. Accept that there is no question of you surviving the episode. You might still be moving but you are dead. Please make sure your will is up to date and say your final farewells to your family. Yes: Subtract 40 minutes and accept that your widow-to-be will soon be being “consoled” by the captain.

Good luck on your trip down to the planet. As you prepare to die, here are some sites to keep you amused:

Wikipedia definition of a Redshirt

Star Trek inspirational posters

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