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Some people were gunned down on the frontier a few years back. Their goal of seeking a new life, tragically cut short. Still, they did see some strange things before they died.

Aside from being shot, what did this crew have in common?

There is a well-defined right answer. There are hints in the flavor text. If you get it, you will know that you are right.

Carlisle was shot 5 times.
Grant was shot 7 times
Harper was shot once.
Mathews was shot 6 times.
O'Herlihy was shot 3 times.
Rizzo was shot 7 times.
Thompson was shot 10 times.
Unknown was shot 4 times.
Watson was shot 14 times.
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    $\begingroup$ Dave, is the below answer correct? If so, please accept it as such! $\endgroup$ – El-Guest Aug 15 '18 at 13:18
  • $\begingroup$ Is Unknown the actual name? Or is it unknown? ;) $\endgroup$ – Feeds Aug 20 '18 at 5:10
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Since the answer has not yet been accepted, I can post a more complete solution here, noting first that for the puzzle to be correct,

Rizzo should have been shot 7 times instead of 8.

With that in mind, hopefully one of the two answers on this puzzle can be put to bed. (And hopefully this answer can help future puzzlers as well!)

First, the names need to be put in chronological order by death time. Then, you take the number of times the person was shot, and count that many letters into the title of the episode in which the person was killed.

We see that:

Mathews was shot 6 times. Episode: "What aRe Little Girls Made of?"
O'Herlihy was shot 3 times. Episode: "ArEna"
Unknown was shot 4 times. Episode: "The Devil in the Dark"
Grant was shot 7 times. Episode: "Friday'S Child"
Carlisle was shot 5 times. Episode: "The CHangeling"
Rizzo was shot 7 8 times. Episode: "ObsessIon"
Thompson was shot 10 times. Episode: "By Any OtheR Name"
Harper was shot once. Episode: "The Omega Glory"
Watson was shot 14 times. Episode: "Elaan of TroyiuS

Then, when you

put the letters together, you get the word REDSHIRTS, which was what all of these individuals were in Star Trek.

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  • $\begingroup$ It's been a long time since I wrote this; maybe there was a mistake. I'll try to get to it this weekend & review. $\endgroup$ – Dave Aug 15 '18 at 14:03
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, @Dave. It was a good puzzle, hoping to give it some closure! :) $\endgroup$ – El-Guest Aug 15 '18 at 14:04
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for spotting my mistake. I corrected the puzzle and am accepting your answer. $\endgroup$ – Dave Aug 20 '18 at 3:31
  • $\begingroup$ It only took 'bout $2\,{}^1/{}_{\,2}$ years or so :D $\endgroup$ – Feeds Aug 20 '18 at 5:14
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They were all

Star Trek TOS Redshirts who died under Kirk's command - For them, space was truly the final frontier.

LATE EDIT:

OK, OP says: "REDSHIRTS: numbers are indexes into the titles; ordering is by stardate & character name. I don't know if that's too obscure for this site; it'd be typical fare at the MIT Mystery Hunt which is where I do most of my puzzling."

I will admit I don't really understand what this means - Ordered by stardate, using character name (as given in the puzzle) as a secondary ordering criterion, and then treating the episode title as an array, I get nonsense. Switching the ordering order, still nonsense. This is also the case whether I assume the array is 1- or 0-indexed.

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    $\begingroup$ @DrunkWolf that occurred to me, but it's not episodes (e.g., Watson would be 1 in this case, or 2 if we're counting appearances of the actor), and minutes/scenes would require watching the show $\endgroup$ – question_asker Dec 17 '15 at 12:58
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    $\begingroup$ Just a note to others - I looked at the actors that played each part (on IMDB), thinking that maybe the number was a value corresponding to "x number of gigs before being in the show", but that lead nowhere. In fact, the same actor played both Rizzo and O'Herlihy... $\endgroup$ – APrough Dec 17 '15 at 15:37
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps it's number of camera shots / scenes they appeared in prior to their untimely demises? $\endgroup$ – Hellion Dec 17 '15 at 16:11
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    $\begingroup$ @user17625 You said that one doesn't have to watch the episodes to figure out what the numbers signify. Does this mean that the numbers are not related to things that the characters did in the show, or things that happened to them? (Which would pretty much have to mean that the numbers are somehow related to their names, I think.) $\endgroup$ – SpiritFryer Jan 20 '16 at 18:11
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    $\begingroup$ @user17625 Whatever the answer is, I'm starting to get the impression it's something really arbitrary, making this more a guessing game than a puzzle. $\endgroup$ – question_asker Jan 21 '16 at 15:51

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