I just watched Fringe. I'm a week behind because we refuse to pay for Hulu plus, and that means we're a week behind. Anyway, in this week's episode Walter and the gang travel to a pocket universe, where they meet Cecil, a pretty obvious red shirt. The guy barely talks, he's effectively dead in the real universe, and he has no plot purpose other than conveniently being between the Fringe team and an Observer so none of the main characters has to die/be seriously wounded.
I am totally okay with characters dying, but it is so much cooler when they have a purpose and when that death is meaningful in some way. Otherwise it really just feels like either the writers stuck in someone they didn't know what to do with so they killed off the character, or they wanted to implant some drama/suspense and so wanted someone to kill off in close proximity to the main characters, all while not actually threatening them.
For future reference, adding someone in just to kill them is an obvious plot device, and not one I enjoy. Give me someone to care about, or don't add them at all. If you need to give a friend a cameo there have to be better ways of going about it, too!