Imperial Stormtrooper vs. Red Shirt — who wins the engagement?

Eight years ago, this last weekend, in a Facebook post, I posted the following question that I’d been asked in a job interview:

“How do you answer the question:

If a red-shirt from Star Trek gets shot & hit by a Stormtrooper from Star Wars, does he die?”

At the time, I proffered that it was a paradox. A guy who always dies getting shot by someone who never hits anything is impossible to answer definitively one way or another.

In the last eight years, I’ve thought about this question some more and some other things come to mind (especially being reminded on the eighth anniversary of the post at issue):

1) Early on in A New Hope (aka the original Star Wars film of 1977), Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke have the following discussion:

Luke Skywalker : It *looks* like the Sandpeople did this, alright. Look, there’s gaffi sticks, Bantha tracks. It’s just, I never heard of them hit anything this big before.

Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi : They didn’t, but we are meant to think they did. These tracks are side-by-side. Sandpeople always ride single file to hide their numbers.

Luke Skywalker : These are the same Jawas that sold us R2 and 3PO.

Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi : And these blast points, too accurate for Sandpeople. Only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise.

2) The films of the Star Wars saga show Imperial Stormtroopers often miss targets (certainly of major protagonists), however, given what I know of marksmanship, as well as other references I saw (that show shot counts, hit rates, etc) demonstrate:

a) disciplined fires

b) respectable assault tactics

c) the movies normally ONLY depict engagements between protagonists and the nameless Stormtroopers or slivers of engagements so big we don’t know what’s happening globally.

As a couple of online resources I’ve seen (which conform to other information I’ve seen), the Stormtroopers are pretty good:

- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2TA9coGLzM

- https://logicalmisery.wordpress.com/2016/01/13/how-bad-is-stormtrooper-aim-exactly/

Especially if you think of the cases where the Stormtroopers are ordered to take a dive and fake it, make it look like they’re trying to win although in fact not trying to win engagements against the “heroes” of Star Wars.

3) Conversely, on Star Trek (the original series), the “red shirts”, other than Scotty and Chekov, are all pretty much not-essential show characters, so not immortal in show terms, and really, given the disproportionate number of “red shirts” sent out on away missions relative to blue or yellow shirts, and given their assigned specialities (security and engineering), they are in fact more likely to be put in positions of risk. A webpage with a video I found talled TOS deaths by shirt colour here (https://redshirtsalwaysdie.com/2017/08/17/star-trek-red-safest/). I’d be curious, since, in all of the newer canon Star Trek shows, the uniform colour of security and engineering personnel is yellow, not red, how many of them die vis-a-vis the blue/green and red shirts (blue/green still being science/medicine, however red is now the command colour).

That is to say, we have factors that cannot be separated, so it’s not something that can just be analysed statistically, however, it can be distilled as:

Side 1) People who are well-trained but often ordered to fake pursuit in an attempt to lull the protagonists into a false sense of security.

Side 2) People who are much more likely to be sent on away missions on the basis of the types of jobs they have, so putting them at disproportionately more risk on raw numbers, but lower on relative percentages of those who die because of the fact these are the people who more often have the dirty and dangerous jobs, so are more skilled when on field operations.

Meaning, that, in the end, whilst we cannot know for absolute certainty the answer to the question, what we can know is that it would suck to be a Stormtrooper or a red shirt, so you might want to avoid such work if these fictional universes ever come to pass.

Engineer, PMP, Left Coaster, UVA/Penn/Cornell alumnus w/ a habit of writing about personal interests. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/apdgeverett/

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