The 15 Cruelest Deaths in Star Trek History

By Kevin Guhl in Daily Lists, TV
Friday, June 18, 2010 at 8:05 am
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One of the traits Star Trek is best known for is its penchant to creatively and profusely kill off characters to strange new alien threats and other dangers; it's how "redshirts" entered the pop culture lexicon as s synonym for sci-fi cannon fodder, after all. But it's not just redshirts who die in Trek, and all Trek deaths are not created equal -- both the TV series and the movies have occasionally offed its characters, main and otherwise, in ways totally vindictive and joyfully cruel, generally with a sharp stab of irony. These are the 15 cruelest deaths from many, many Star Trek episodes and movies that we can think of. There's surely more, so please share additional examples of brutal and cruel Star Trek deaths in the comments!

Thanks to Topless Robot reader Michael for suggesting this list, and to Memory Alpha for providing the pics.

15) Lieutenant Branson
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The naive, young helmsmen assigned to serve near Captain Picard on the bridge of the Enterprise probably think they have it made and that a bright future in Starfleet is ahead of them. Unfortunately, the only thing most of them have to look forward to is an exploding console and the cold embrace of death. Lt. Branson bucked this trend; no, silly, he didn't survive, but he died in a more unique way. When a torpedo blew out the bridge's viewscreen, Branson was sucked right through into the expanse of space, a split second before lifesaving, emergency force fields popped into place. Poor, dead sucker. (Nemesis)

14) Captain Lisa Cusak
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Captain Cusak was the only survivor after her ship was damaged by a planet's radiation and crashed on the surface. She sent out a distress call that was picked up by the Defiant and got to know the crew well through long conversations she had with them as the ship headed to her rescue. But when the Defiant arrived, they found that their new friend had been dead for three years, the planet's radiation having caused a time distortion that affected communications. Talk about dashed hopes! Here's a bit of fun trivia: Captain Cusak was never seen on-screen (aside from her dried-out corpse) but her voice was provided by Debra Wilson, a long-time MADtv cast member who played Uhura in the show's Star Trek parodies. (DS9, "The Sound of Her Voice")

13) Tasha Yar
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This was cruel on two levels, both to the character Tasha Yar and the actress who played her. Denise Crosby made the unfortunate career choice of quitting Star Trek: The Next Generation in its first season. The writers responded by killing off her character like she was a total redshirt, slain by an energy discharge from a tar-like creature called Armus that murdered her simply for amusement. Granted, the death of a main character in such a casual way was shocking and it had an impact on the characters, mainly Data. Yar would later return from an alternate universe only to suffer another terrible fate when she was forced to marry a Romulan and executed for trying to escape after her own daughter betrayed her. (TNG, "Skin of Evil")

12) Edith Keeler
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Hopefully, Edith died a quick death when she got hit by a truck. The real cruelty in this episode was the universe and time playing a nasty trick on Captain Kirk, sending him back in time to fall in love with a woman and then being forced to let her die or have the future as they knew it cease to exist. (TOS, "The City on the Edge of Forever")

11) David Marcus
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The death of Captain Kirk's son was an example of sheer hopelessness and brutality. David was a scientist, not a fighter like his father, and had little hope of defeating an armed Klingon. But he attempted to anyway in a lose-lose situation in which his Klingon captives were determined to execute one of the prisoners they held. David stepped in to prevent the killing of another prisoner, the Vulcan Lt. Saavik. As Kirk listened in, David was slaughtered quickly with a knife to the chest, and Saavik dispassionately informed Kirk that his son was dead. Kirk, of course, replied by opening up a can of whoop-ass on the Klingons. (The Search for Spock)

10) All-Redshirt Away Team
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These security dudes beamed down to the planet Triacus on a seemingly standard away team mission. However, the Enterprise was commandeered at the time by possessed children who were employing psychological control over the crew, making them see things that weren't there in an effort to kill all the adults. Unfortunately for these poor schmoes, the Enterprise had actually departed Triacus and the planet visible to the crew was just an illusion, meaning this security team got beamed right into the cold vacuum of space. (TOS, "And the Children Shall Lead")

9) Tuvix
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A Transporter accident merged Neelix and Tuvok into one being. Tuvix, as he called himself, had the combined memories of his "parents" and the best of their skills and traits. He became well-loved by the crew and began serving on the ship as a lieutenant. So naturally, Captain Janeway decided it had to be undone. Even after the Doctor declared it went against the Hippocratic Oath to harm a patient and would take no part, Janeway purposefully performed the procedure herself in order to restore Neelix and Tuvok. Tuvix had pleaded for his life but eventually went along with his own demise when the crew failed to support him. But he declared (rightfully so) that they would all have blood on their hands! (Voyager, "Tuvix")

8) Lieutenant Commander Dexter Remmick
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Dexter Remmick was an eager Starfleet inspector who had the misfortune of becoming host to the mother creature of a race of parasites who were trying to infiltrate Starfleet. It's possible that Remmick could have been saved, but we'll never know since Picard and Riker phasered him to death, blowing off his head and most of his chest in what has to be the most horrifying thing ever shown on Star Trek, and that includes the time Captain Janeway and Tom Paris turned into lizards and mated. (TNG, "Conspiracy")

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