14 Redshirts In Action Movies Who Help The Heroes And Then Quickly Die

Over 80 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of 14 Redshirts In Action Movies Who Help The Heroes And Then Quickly Die
Voting Rules
Vote up the side characters you knew were doomed all along.

Minor movie character deaths can be so much more affecting than audiences expect, especially if the characters go out helping the heroes save the day. Redshirts, those side characters who are marked for death before the first act is even finished, tend to be get bounced out of a movie with neither pomp nor circumstance, but in some cases, even the demises of these foot soldiers can be important.

You can slice action films into as many subgenres as you want, but they all have one thing in common: redshirts. If there's some kind of skirmish in whatever movie you're watching, you can guarantee that some character with one or two lines is going to bite the big one at a climactic moment.

None of the redshirts here are major characters, even if they're played by well-known actors (hello, Hudson and Agent Coulson), but they all make an impact with their deaths that audiences are still talking about to this day.

Photo: Aliens / 20th Century Fox

  • Hawkins never had a chance when he came face-to-face with the Yautja in Central America. Unlike the rest of the soldiers he's working with, Hawkins feels like someone the audience knows. He has major kid brother vibes and a wisecrack for every scenario, and that makes him the perfect redshirt.

    The most redshirt thing about Hawkins's demise is that he's murked before anyone is even aware of the creature stalking them through the jungle. After chasing down the only surviving guerilla fighter, Anna, Hawkins is unceremoniously gutted by the Yautja before his body is carried off to be carved up and cleaned. It's rough stuff.

    55 votes
  • In a film filled with redshirts, Hudson stands out above the rest. He's not the bravest space marine stranded on LV-426, but he's the one everyone in the audience can identify with. Aside from being the guy in the horror/action/science-fiction movie who says what everyone's thinking, he's also so close to leaving the service that you want him to escape so he can just go home and get some R&R.

    As far as redshirts go, Hudson holds out for longer than you'd think. He survives the first wave of Xenomorphs, only to be dragged through a grate in the floor by one of the bugs he's been hunting. The creatures cut the power to the base before dragging him through a grate in the floor in one big, brutal flash as he stands his ground against the bugs he's been so afraid of. Hudson may be kind of annoying, but after spending an hour and a half with him, it's hard to see him go. When you think about it, that's really the best thing you can say about a redshirt.

    64 votes
  • Hagen is one of the many barbarians who have been captured and forced to fight under the tutelage of Proximo, but Hagen is given the job of testing a slave's fighting ability. It's not a job he relishes, but he does it because he literally has to, with death as the only other option.

    After meeting Maximus, Hagen is inspired to join up with the leader's gladiator army to fight againt the tyrannical Commodus. He fights bravely against Commodus's men until getting barraged with arrows and falling down in the dirt. His demise gives Maximus time to escape and rendezvous with his former servant, Cicero. It's one of the most rad redshirt moments in cinema history.

    50 votes
  • Porkins is about as close to the redshirt trope as you can get without changing the film's title and making him a crew member of the Enterprise. This minor character's backstory has been explored in depth thanks to the Star Wars Extended Universe, but when he was knocked off by TIE fighters in A New Hope, it was out of nowhere.

    Audiences are introduced to Porkins during the Battle of Yavin when Luke Skywalker leads the Rebels to destroy the Death Star. This space battle sees X-wing pilots getting taken out right and left, but it's Porkins who gets caught in TIE fighter crossfire while trying to give Luke a clear shot at the Death Star's ventilation shaft. Even though he eats it in unceremonious fashion, his actions help take down the ultimate weapon.

    51 votes
  • It doesn't matter if audiences around the world love him, Agent Coulson might as well be wearing a big ol' red poncho in every frame of The Avengers. As Nick Fury's right-hand man, Coulson not only helped put Earth's mightiest heroes together, but he was their biggest fan throughout their conception.

    His love of the Avengers is what makes his demise on the Helicarrier at the hands of Loki so upsetting. As much of a bummer as it is to watch Coulson go down, he gets a genuine fist-pumping moment when he blasts Loki through a wall with a destroyer gun just before passing in Fury's arms. Of all the redshirts in modern action movies, Coulson may be the one audiences were most connected with. That's probably why it didn't take long for the MCU to bring him back through some kind of experimental MacGuffin in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

    52 votes
  • This J.J. Abrams-helmed reboot of the series that birthed the concept of the redshirt has one of the most fun crew member deaths of the 2010s. After the Enterprise runs into Nero and his big ol' future ship, Kirk and Sulu are sent on a mission to disable the Romulan's space drill. They're accompanied by a hyped-up crew member named Olson who, yeah, is outfitted fully in red.

    Rather than subvert the trope, Abrams sends Olson crashing toward the drill like a missile. Olson waits until the last minute to open his chute and ends up getting sucked into the laser shooting out of the drill. Ouch. Even though the audience doesn't really know Olson, he helps the crew coalesce in a very important way. His passing allows Kirk and Sulu to become legit heroes, and because he was the chief engineer, his absence frees up a role for Scotty.

    40 votes