Red Dwarf

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Cast in series 3-5. Clockwise from bottom right: Rimmer, Lister, Holly, Cat and Kryten
"As the days go by, we face the increasing inevitability that we are alone in a Godless, uninhabited, hostile and meaningless universe. Still, you've got to laugh, haven't you?"
Holly, perfectly summing up the series.

British Fantastic Comedy (1988-1993; 1997-1999; 2009; 2012) and book series about an enormous interstellar mining ship (the eponymous Red Dwarf), the crew of which has been almost completely wiped out by a radiation leak.

One man remains alive: a chicken-soup-machine repairman from Liverpool named David Lister. Lister was sentenced to be put in suspended animation for eighteen months as punishment for bringing a pregnant cat on board illegally.

The ship's AI, Holly, sends the ship immediately out of the solar system, until the radiation reaches safe levels and Lister can be safely released from stasis three million years later. To keep Lister sane, the ship Holly creates a hologram of the despised (and now deceased) Second Technician Arnold J. Rimmer, the only person annoying enough to keep Lister sane(possibly by making him happy to be the last human being alive). The pair discover the Cat, the last known member of his race Felis sapiens, which evolved from the pregnant cat that got Lister put in suspended animation in the first place.

Lister decides that he wants to return to Earth, despite the fact that no-one aboard knows if the human race still exists, and despite the problem that the journey back will take another three million years at sub-light speed (even turning the ship around at near lightspeed will take 4000 years according to Holly [1]).

Despite what it sounds like, this was essentially just another British comedy about amusing characters bickering amongst themselves, similar to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but with a fair amount of monsters, Time Travel and the like thrown in.

After series VIII finished, a three-part, Post Modern, movie-length sequel Back To Earth aired across the Easter Weekend of 2009 on digital channel Dave, putting an end to the complete lack of any new TV or book output since 1999. Dave has since commissioned a six-part "tenth" series, to air in September 2012. Two failed Pilots for an American version were made in the 1990s (one with Terry Farrell as The Cat); sadly, the only result from these was an improved costume for Kryten, which was given to the British production by the American production team. (And bootleg video tapes.)

Also with four tie-in novels.

Tropes used in Red Dwarf include:

Tropes A-D[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Abnormal Ammo: The heatseeker setting on the bazookoids. Also, the improvised garbage cannon in Psirens.
  • Aborted Arc: Lister's pregnancy at the end of Series 2 was tossed out when the writers realized they couldn't make it funny or not-sexist. It comes up in unreadably fast text in the opening crawl for "Backwards" about what happened to them.
    • The twins (very) rapidly aged to their late teens and (somehow) returned to their native universe.
  • Absent Aliens: All lifeforms encountered in the universe are ultimately Earth-derived.
    • The alternative is mainly used as a gag at Rimmer's expense.
  • Abusive Parents: Rimmer. See Characters page for details
  • Accidental Pervert: Polymorph. When you're writhing on the floor, begging an android with a large tube attached to its crotch to pull off your underwear, it's kind of easy for people to get the wrong idea.
  • The Ace: Ace Rimmer. What a guy!
  • Actor Allusion: Back to Earth does it. The crew meet Craig Charles, who plays Lister, and Rimmer asks for his own sitcom (Chris Barrie starred in The Brittas Empire).
    • Cat's 'Do I dance?' from Parallel Universe might be an example.
  • Agree to Disagree
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Holly's IQ is, purportedly, 6000. Then again, s/he is 3,000,000 years old and gone a bit... peculiar.
  • Air Vent Passageway: "Duct Soup" takes place primarily within the absurdly spacious vents of the Starbug. They're large enough for the Dwarfers to crawl around two abreast.
  • Aliens and Monsters: Appear somewhat frequently beginning in Series 3.
    • Well monsters do at any rate. There are no actual aliens in Red Dwarf, all the creatures they meet are mutated or genetically engineered from Earth organisms, or are mechanoids.
  • All Just a Dream: Sort of the plot of Back to Reality and Back to Earth.
  • All There in the Manual: According to the booklet with one of the DVD boxsets, Rimmer's brothers were fathered by his uncle Frank.
    • Kill Crazy's real name is only revealed on the official website.
  • Almost Out of Oxygen: In "Quarantine".
  • Alternate Universe: The crew are transported to one in the episode Parallel Universe and meet their female counterparts. Ace Rimmer comes from one in Dimension Jump. Kochanski comes from one in Ouroboros.
  • And I Must Scream: In Rimmerworld, Rimmer's clones turn on him for having small amounts of the un-Rimmerlike traits they believe are evil and throw him in a small prison. As he's a hologram, he doesn't die and, as everyone on the planet is an even less likeable and more treacherous copy of Rimmer, he knows they'll turn him in if he escapes. He ends up imprisoned among these reminders of what a mess of a human being he is for 557 years.
    • And then we have this charming moment from DNA, when Lister gets turned into a chicken, and then a hamster.

Cat: What was it like being a hamster?
Lister: Better than being a chicken! You've seen the size of an egg, you've seen the size of a chicken's bum. I was trying to say in chicken-talk, "For God's sake, give me an epidural"

  • And Then I Said: Rimmer pulls this out in Better Than Life but can't come up with something he might have said and is forced to admit he "doesn't remember". Since it's his fantasy, his dinnermates laugh anyway.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Rimmer is an atheist but believes in aliens
    • This is played with momentarily in Back to Reality, when Andy, the "real world" game technician, claims that Lister's destiny is to "jump-start the second Big Bang," making Lister, "the ultimate atheist" (despite being a pantheist), actually God, and Rimmer, equally atheist, God's bunkmate.
    • Rimmer claims during The Last Day that he wouldn't knock someone's religious beliefs, even if he didn't agree with them. Especially given that his parents were Seventh Day Advent Hopists. (Their bible had a misprint)
  • Archived Army: The waxdroids in Meltdown form less literal versions of this.
  • Armchair Military: Rimmer.
  • Ascended Extra: Kryten appears in the premiere of Series 2 and becomes a regular in Series 3. Kochanski appears twice in Series 1, once in Series 2 and once in Series 6 (actually a GELF in disguise) and becomes a regular in Series 7. Captain Hollister appears but twice in Series 1 and again in "Stasis Leak" before returning as a regular in Series 8.
    • Notably, despite the fact that Captain Hollister went the most time between his last appearance as a guest and his debut as a regular (11 years), his is the only case in which the actor who played him ascended as well. David Ross declined the opportunity to join the main cast due to his distaste for the Kryten makeup and was replaced by Robert Llewellyn, and Clare Grogan was replaced by Chloe Annett as Kochanski due to the fact Grogan had retired from acting in favor of becoming a TV host.
    • It's a well known in-joke amongst the cast, during the DVD commentaries for series 8, about one of the 'extras'. A hugely built intimidating man, referred to as Chopper. It's about him starting off as simply a background extra, and allegedly persuading the producers to get some lines. To the point where each episode following, he always received some lines, almost close enough to rival Holly.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Kryten delivers one to the Inquisitor when making his case for existence.

The Inquisitor: "In a human, this behaviour might be considered stubborn."
Kryten: "But I am not human. And neither are you. And it is not our place to judge them...I wonder why you do."

  • Ass Shove: In the episode Backwards, the crew accidentally time-travels to a version of Earth in which time runs backwards, to the effect that the natives speak backwards, walk backwards, wars are happy occasions on which millions of dead people come back to life, pub brawls end up cleaning up the pub ("Unrumble!"), food gets un-eaten, beer goes from your mouth back into the mug and from the mug back into the tap, and so on. Unfortunately, just before the Dwarfers leave, the Cat decides to take a crap in the bushes, and the other can't warn him in time... Cat appears from the bushes with a horrified expression and his hair standing on end and walks stiff-legged into the shuttlecraft, avoiding the others' eyes.

Cat: Don't ask!!

    • Back In The Red sees Starbug fly up the rectum of a giant rat in an enormous air vent.
  • Asymmetric Dilemma: Kryten's favorite way of pointing out the flaws in the Cat's plans.

Kryten: A superlative suggestion, sir, with just two minor flaws. One, we don't have any defensive shields, and two, we don't have any defensive shields. Now, I realize that, technically speaking, that's only one flaw, but I thought it was such a big one it was worth mentioning twice.

  • Attending Your Own Funeral: George MacIntyre has a "Welcome Back" party immediately after his funeral, and thanks the Captain for his eulogy while joking that he doesn't understand why the Captain didn't use the one MacIntyre had written.
    • Rimmer, on several occasions.
  • Back from the Dead: The entire crew of Red Dwarf in Series 8.
  • Backported Development: Lots. For a visual example, when Series VII flashed back to shortly after Lister's revival, the H on Rimmer's head and his uniform were the ones used for Series VII rather than the one in Series I.
  • Back to Front: The episode "Backwards" is partly set in a universe where time runs backward, so although the story is told from front to back it has elements of the trope, particularly with respect to the injuries Lister mysteriously acquires near the beginning of the episode as a result of events near the end.
  • Bad Liar: Kryten has to fight his original programming to lie at all, and even then, he (usually) announces that he's switching to "Lie Mode" first.
  • Baleful Polymorph:
    • The Cat after becoming Duane "Duke of Dork" Dibbley as part of a series of Involuntary Transformation scenes of the appropriately named Emohawk: Polymorph II. Subverted and inverted with Rimmer; Ace is brave and selfless by contrast to normal Rimmer.
    • Lister is turned into a chicken, then a hamster in "DNA".
  • Bar Brawl: Backwards. Except it's a "bar room tidy". Unrumble!
    • Also, the real bar room brawl in Gunmen of the Apocalypse
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: Low Kryten hits Lister with one in Demons and Angels.
  • Batman Gambit: Kochanski, of all people, in "Beyond a Joke". When Kryten is kidnapped by the rogue Simulant aboard the S.S. Centauri, she instructs Cat to turn Starbug so it flies away from the Centauri at top speed. The Simulant, after realising they're not giving chase and actually fleeing, assumes they've planted a bomb on his own vessel and starts chasing after them. Cat and Lister are fooled too.
    • This is also how Lister beats the Inquisitor.
  • Battle Butler: Kryten, in later seasons, although he is programmed never to take a human life. When he is forced to shoot a man to save a child, his guilt chip goes into overdrive and he attempts to commit suicide.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Rimmer spends the first few minutes of Only the Good... complaining that Hollister doesn't see him as officer material. He has a run-in with a vending machine which states that one day they'll meet again and it will destroy him, and Rimmer snarks that on that day, he'll be ship's captain. By the end of the episode, everyone higher ranked than him had been evacuated making him the highest ranked person on the ship, and as he tries to figure out how to save himself, the machine attacks. It's not certain how he fared.
  • Better Than Sex: When Rimmer copies himself and moves in together, he describes his new life of discipline as "better than sex". Of course, he's soon proven wrong when it turns out even he doesn't like himself.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Ace Rimmer would have nothing to live for without this trope.
  • Black Comedy Rape:
    • Rimmer reveals in the Series 2 episode Thanks For The Memory that he lost his virginity to (and whose only sexual liaison while alive the first time around was with) Yvonne McGruder, the ship's boxing champion. Who seemed to be suffering from a concussion because she kept calling him "Norman". This is given a slightly less squicky Retcon in the books.
    • The shenanigans with the Sexual Magnetism Virus in "Back in the Red". After Rimmer takes a dose of the virus all the women at the Captain's supper find him irresistible, and one by one they all go to "get coffee" with him in the galley. Played with in that by the end of the night Rimmer has clearly had enough and is visibly in pain.
    • Also in "Back In The Red", Lister comments that two years in prison means two years without sex, to which Rimmer flippantly replies, "You hope.".
    • Also also in "Back In The Red" and related to the previous example, after the main characters are locked up in the prison Lister applies a bit of the Sexual Magnetism Virus to Rimmer. We are left to imagine the outcome, but it's clearly the reason Rimmer wasn't speaking to Lister at the start of the episode.
    • And Polymorph II:

"Change of plan... leg it!"

  • Blue and Orange Morality: Primarily The Cat. Elaborated on in the novels, where they emphasise that being descended from cats, he can't be properly judged by human standards. By cat standards he's a perfectly regular cat - which makes him vain, self-centered, egotistical and sex-crazed, with a tendency to jump out at things, hiss, and make yowling cat noises and dance when he just walks down corridors.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The end of 'Only The Good' where it is undetermined whether Rimmer or the rest of the crew survived for that matter.
  • Bond One-Liner: Played for Laughs with Ace Rimmer.
  • Bottle Episode: There have been several of these over the course of the series, such as Marooned, Out Of Time, and The Last Day. Many of the bottle episodes are considered to be some of the best - but then there are exceptions such as Duct Soup, which is rated as one of the worst.
  • Brain In a Jar: Lister's evil, corrupt future self from Out of Time; the jar has his dreadlocks Sellotaped to the glass.
    • Lister implies that his uncle was also a brain in a jar in Balance of Power.
  • Brain Uploading: All holograms, and also the episodes Thanks for the Memory and Bodyswap.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: A possible example. It's not clear when Cat surmises that the Dog wants to eat him (Parallel Universe) whether he's addressing the camera or not.
    • But then, in the first two series, the Cat had a habit of speaking his thoughts out loud in an un-self-conscious manner. Apparently, that's what the Cat's people did.
    • Also, in Me2 Lister brings a picture to Arnold and Arnold's quarters and reads the nameplate. 'Second Technician, Arnold J. Rimmer, and Second Technician, Arnold J. Rimmer?!' and looks at the camera in a smirking fashion before shaking his head.
  • Brick Joke: Used quite a few times, but is taken Up to Eleven by Back to Earth, where the ENTIRE plot is caused by the ending sequence of an episode aired well over a decade ago, well before the hiatus began! "I'm going to eat you, little fishy..."
    • Hillariously used in Stoke Me a Clipper. Where the pet crocodile of a Nazi Captain that Ace used to surf out of an exploding plane winds up landing on two soldiers heads after Ace escapes a base. Was für ein Kerl indeed.
  • Brilliant but Lazy: Lister. See character page.
    • Rimmer, however, is the complete opposite, being Dim But Driven: he has somewhat more knowledge than Lister and very much wants to improve his lot, but has next to no planning skills and is ultimately fairly stupid.
  • Britain is Only Nodnol: Averted; London is never seen or even mentioned in a major way prior to Back to Earth. The only time it really gets mentioned prior to that is on a roadsign in "Backwards," and even then it's flipped, rendering the city's name as "Nodnol"—contrary to popular belief, the backwards universe stuff in that episode is actually set in the city of Retsehcnam (Manchester) rather that Nodnol, as indicated by a barely visible sign in one shot.
    • Grimsby is also mentioned, as are several other places.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Rimmer theorizes this is why Lister's parents abandoned him. He's closer on the mark than you'd think.
    • In Rimmerworld, Rimmer realises that the female clone he's trying to create would technically be his sister. He decides she doesn't need to know, and follows the original plan.
    • Of course, in Series VII, we find out that Rimmer wasn't completely wrong. It's actually mother-son incest.
      • Or rather, mother-self incest, because Lister is his own father. Which doesn't come close to making any kind of sense, but never mind.
  • Building of Adventure: The ship is city-sized and the primary setting.
  • But He Sounds Handsome: Holly appears on a recording Holly doesn't remember making (the crew's memories were erased). Initially, he comments, "Nice-looking bloke," and then when the recorded Holly tells them to pause the recording, he does so, because he "Knows what he's talking about, that dude."
  • Captain's Log: Holly would start the episodes of the first two series with a sort-of Captain's Log introduction. Captain Hollister also keeps a diary of some kind.
    • The first episode of Season 7, "Tikka to Ride", opens with Lister recording a captain's log (he even parodies the Star Trek format).
  • The Cast Showoff: Rimmer's impressions and parroting while he malfunctions in "Queeg". Chris Barrie is a trained impersonator who had already starred in Spitting Image.
    • Similarly, Danny John-Jules is a trained dancer, and dance sequences for Cat appear in several episodes.
      • He also got to sing in a dream sequence. The song, Tongue Tied, became a respectable hit and was on the Top 20 in the UK.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Lister in Blue, after he and Rimmer kiss in the dream.
  • Catch Phrase

Holly: Depending on the episode, 'All right, dudes?' or "What's 'appenin', dudes?"
Ace Rimmer: "Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast."
Don't forget Cat: Aaaaaaoooooughhh! Eeeeeyaaayaaah!

  • Catfolk: The ship's cats evolved over the eons into a species of humanoids, one of whom is a main character.
  • Cattle Punk: Second half of Gunmen of the Apocalypse.
  • Censorship by Spelling: In "Parallel Universe", when the Cat meets the Dog, the Dog insists that he spell out "bath"... and then doesn't understand him when he does.
  • Chicken Walker: Blue Midget, post-retcon.
  • Cliffhanger Copout: More common than actual cliffhanger resolutions.
    • The Series 2 finale, of course, ended with Lister becoming pregnant, this was quickly explained away in the Series III premiere as part of a wall of Unreadably Fast Text.
    • Series VI ended with the entire crew aboard Starbug as it was destroyed by their future selves. A quick gag at the beginning of Series VII reveals that this caused a paradox that hit the Reset Button.
    • Finally, the Series VIII finale "Only the Good..." ends with the ship doomed. "Back to Earth" starts with an intact ship and the words "Nine Years Later", and otherwise does not reference "Only the Good..." in any way (though Rimmer is dead and a hologram again).
  • Cluster Smeg Bomb: Lister and Rimmer, one each.

Lister (in Bodyswap, while in Rimmer's body): Oh, smeg! What the smeggin' smeg's he smeggin' done?! He's smeggin' killed me!!

  • Cold Opening: Stoke Me a Clipper had an opening scene four or five minutes long before finally kicking into the opening sequence.
    • Due to the episodes running long, two back-to-back episodes from Series VII aired with no opening credits: "Ouroboros" and "Duct Soup" (extended versions released to DVD restored the openings for both).
  • Contemplate Our Navels: Either played straight or as a parody of science fiction in general being wont to do this, much of the show was taken up by philosophical ideas via sci-fi trappings, i.e. the manifestation of Lister's Confidence and Paranoia, or the Inquisitor.
  • Cool Cat: Cat obviously, although he's humanoid.
  • Couch Gag: The final line or two of Holly's show-opening distress calls in the first two series.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: In Psirens, the crew find a message left by a man who, lacking a pen, used his own blood and intestines. They were torn as to whether he used his kidney as a full stop (period) or whether it had just "plopped out".
  • Courtroom Episode: "Justice".
  • Cowboy Episode: The episode "Gunmen of the Apocalypse" involves the characters entering a virtual Western town that serves as a metaphor for Kryten's struggles with computer virus. The episode even end with Starbug flying off into the sunset.
  • Cranial Processing Unit: Kryten even has spare heads which have their own personalities.
  • Creator Cameo: Rob Grant appears in Backwards as a man un-smoking a cigarette.
  • Credits Gag: In Waiting for God, the credits stop as Rimmer comes to his horrible realization. Rimmer and the skutters play the end theme on a Hammond organ in Dimension Jump, a Western-style theme is played for "Gunmen of the Apocalypse", while Elvis sings it in Meltdown.
    • In the remastered version of Backwards, the credits are indeed shown backwards.
  • Cuckoo Nest: Back to Reality tries to convince the crew that they were really immersed in a Red Dwarf video game, a prospect all the more demoralizing when they discover the kinds of people they "really" are and the world they inhabit.
  • Cultural Stereotypes:
    • Death is apparently "like being on holiday with a group of Germans."
    • Three million years without sex is a long time for an Albanian shepherd who's allergic to wool.
      • A deleted scene reveals the line to originally about a Welsh shephard.
    • Lister's response to Jean Paul Satre's philosophy that "Hell is being trapped for all eternity in a room with your friends" with "All his mates were French".
  • Curse Cut Short: Possible example in Rimmerworld. As Rimmer falls toward the wormhole, he launches into a tirade which cuts off after several adjectives.
  • Cut a Slice, Take the Rest: Played with. Lister carefully measures out a spoonful of curry powder, throws the rest of the can into his mix, and dumps the spoonful back into the can.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: One of the recurring jokes on the show is characters threatening very unusual and elaborate acts of violence against each other; i.e., "rip out his windpipe and beat him to death with the tonsil end," "shove my fist so far down his gob, I'll be able to pull the label off his underpants..."
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • Season V had much darker and creepier atmosphere than the previous seasons.
    • One of the criticisms leveled against Season VII by some fans.
    • Back To Earth has shades of this at points, such as the Garden of Remembrance scene which is played pretty much straight down the line until Cat shows up. In fact, really any scene involving Lister and Kochanski.
  • Dark World: The low Red Dwarf in 'Demons And Angels', complete with a Red Dwarf crew of evil doppelgangers.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: A lot of the comedy revolves around the build up of sexual frustration in a small group of males trapped alone with no female companionship.
    • Rachel the inflatable sex doll, naturally.
      • And Inflatable Ingrid.
    • Lister broke the groinal attachment on the Artificial Reality machine.
      • In three weeks. It had a lifetime warranty...
    • Lister's libido nearly causes a drought due to the endless cold showers he was taking
  • Dead All Along: Ace Rimmer, the second time he visits the crew.
  • Deader Than Disco: Cat is fond in-universe of comparing themselves to extremely unfashionable things to get the point about how dead they are just about to become across.
  • Deadpan Snarker: All of the main characters to varying degrees.
  • Dead Baby Comedy: Happens on a number of occasions, but in a relatively subtle way. Compared to typical expressions of this trope. Take, for example, this exchange from the opening of "Legion"...

Cat: What the hell is all this down the back of my chair? ...Peanuts?
Lister: No, I've been trimming my verrucas.
Cat: ...You have personal habits that would make a monkey blush!
Lister: You really think I'm psychotically disgusting, don'tcha? They're peanuts, alright?
Cat: Real peanuts?
Lister: Yeah.
Cat: Where'd you get them?
Lister: That derelict a couple of months back. Found them in the dead captain's old donkey jacket. Don't look at me like that! You enjoyed that Mint Imperial, didn't ya?
Cat: And where didja get that?
Lister: He was sucking that when he got shot! I had to prise his jaws open with a car jack.

  • Deep-Immersion Gaming:
    • The titular video game in episode "Better Than Life".
    • The premise of "Back to Reality".
    • The Series VII episode "Duct Soup" contains a scene cut from the original broadcast but restored for the extended DVD release in which Kochanski mentions spending years hooked up to a computer (the actual term "Better Than Life" is not mentioned, but the premise sounds similar) during her school years. After returning to the real world, she confesses to "going off the rails" for a while and becoming a "retro-punk".
  • Deflector Shields: While shields are stated to exist, they are distressingly lacking on Starbug. So much so that in "Gunmen of the Apocalypse", the simulants gave their shields an upgrade so they would be more of a challenge.
  • Development Hell: The movie is infamous for being stuck here. Originally planned to go into production after Series VII, it got as far as having a script reading by the cast, filming dates announced and a prosthetic test for Robert Llwellyn. Unfortunately, thanks to continuing issues with funding, it never got any further than that.
    • The series itself was originally supposed to be filmed and aired in 1987, but was delayed by an electricians' strike.
  • Diabolus Ex Machina: Used for comedic effect in Timeslides.
    • Used seriously in Only the Good.
  • Didn't We Use This Joke Already?:

Cat: So, what is it?
Lister: Oh, someone punch him out!

  • Dinner Order Flub: Gazpacho Soup Day!
  • Distracted by My Own Sexy: The Cat, repeatedly.
  • Double Vision: And how. Almost every season has an episode which utilizes this effect. Stasis Leak utilizes it the most impressively: The characters travel to before the accident, and concludes with three Listers and three Rimmers, plus Kochanski and the Cat bickering in Lister and Rimmer's bunk, leading that time period's Rimmer to have a complete mental breakdown:

"Three Listers! Splendid! Perhaps Lister here would like to go over to the fridge and open a bottle of wine for Lister and Lister! Rimmer here doesn't drink, because he's dead, but I wouldn't mind a glass!"

  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Queeg in Queeg.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: The offscreen death of Kochanski in Back to Earth is a subversion, as she is given a memorial scene in Part One, and in Part Two it is revealed she is still alive and Kryten lied about it to Lister.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole: In the Czech dub of the second episode, Lister says that he's never eaten chicken vindaloo before (prawn vindaloo in the original), when in a flashback in the next episode he says that he'd dropped Rimmer's revision timetable into one (he spilled goat vindaloo on it in the original).


Tropes E-H[edit | hide]

  • Early Installment Weirdness: The soundtrack in series one.
  • Eldritch Location: The crew come across several 'alternate universes' where normal laws of physics and reason are skewed or don't exist at all.
    • The inverted gender universe in 'Parallel Universe'
    • The backwards running time period in 'Backwards'
    • The living photographs in 'Timeslides'
    • Red Dwarf itself becomes a bit of an Eldritch Location in 'White Hole'
    • Though "scientifically" explained, the justice zone in 'Justice'
    • The psi moon in 'Terrorform'
    • The effects of the despair squid and it's cousin in both 'Back To Reality' and 'Back To Earth'
    • The crew enter a subspace passage surrounded in an infinite void in 'Ouroboros'
    • The unreality bubbles in 'Out Of Time'
    • The stasis leak from 'Stasis Leak'
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Kryten-2X4B-523P—apparently mechanoids consider "2X4B" to be an embarrassing middle name. But at least it's not "2Q4B"...
    • Arnold Judas Rimmer
  • Empathic Environment: The psi-moon in Terrorform".
  • Enhance Button: Parodied mercilessly in Back To Earth. Uncrop!
  • Enemy Without: The crew (and ship) are split into "High" and "Low" copies in Demons and Angels; the Highs don't survive very long when they encounter the Lows. In Terrorform, the entire planet is literally Rimmer's self-hatred attacking him.
  • Enthralling Siren: Psirens are sirens In Space!
  • Esperanto, the Universal Language: Most of the ship's labels are in both English and Esperanto. Rimmer spends much of the first two seasons failing to learn the language.
    • And Lister actually seems to have a grasp of it, most likely due to Rimmer's constant use of language tapes.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Cat thinks he's this - "Face it, buddy, I have a body that makes men wet!" - but no-one that isn't illusory ever shows any interest in him. Space Corps Special Service Test Pilot Arnold "Ace" Rimmer, on the other hand...

Bongo: If you're interested, I'll be in my quarters at lunchtime, covered in taramasalata.
Ace: I didn't know your bread was buttered that side, Bongo.
Bongo: It isn't. I've been happily married for 35 years. It's just, a chap like you can turn a guy's head.

  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: The core premise.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Cat does not have a name, and is simply called The Cat or Cat throughout the show.
    • The reason for this, according to the books, is that all cats think that they're the center of the universe and the idea that someone might not know who they are is beyond their comprehension.
  • Everything's Better with Bob: ...as in Bob the Skutter.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: In the book version of Better Than Life, when Lister crashes on a planet which turns out to be Earth, the planet itself seems to be out to get him.
  • Evil Twin: The Low counterparts in Demons and Angels. An evil imitation of Lister shows up in Psirens.
  • Evolutionary Levels: The evolution of the Cat race stopped once they reached humanoid, plus or minus a few nipples.
    • Possibly justified in that they evolved in an environment created by humans, with the convenience of humans in mind. Stands to reason that the perfectly adapted form for such an environment would be human-like.
  • Exotic Entree: The evil future selves in "Out of Time" spend their lives traveling through time so they can eat exotic delicacies like dolphin sweetmeats and baby seal hearts with hosts such as Louis XVI and Adolph Hitler.
  • Explosive Instrumentation: A couple times early on, more frequent in the later series. Lister, the Cat and Kryten all die to exploding instrument panels in Out of Time.
  • Explosive Overclocking: In White Hole, the crew overclocks Holly, who's been descending deeper and deeper into computer senility, hoping to bring her intelligence back. They get her to an IQ of 12,000, but it drops her lifespan down to less than four minutes.
  • Exposition of Immortality: Given that the titular space vessel has been travelling away from inhabited human space for three million years, many of the remnants they encounter are at least that old or older; The Inquisitor is a self-repairing simulant who Kryten tells of as "living until the end of time." Hudzen 10 was the replacement model for Kryten. And his delivery pod followed the Series 4000 mechanoid through deep space until it found him on the Dwarf; and all that time alone did nothing for his sanity chip. Many of the simulants encountered have been around since they originally rebelled against humanity, too.
    • Legion formed as a gestalt during a series of experiments in shared consciousness by a group of human scientists; he tells us when they died he had to hang around as a "mindless essence" for several million years until the Red Dwarf crew showed up.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Getting back to Earth.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Explicitly done in Future Echoes. In the first novel, it's more of an accident; Holly didn't intend to make the ship go faster than light, and everyone's in agreement that it's not at all possible. But Red Dwarf has been accelerating for three million years. Something's got to give.
    • It was inadvertent in Future Echoes, also... it happened after Lister ordered Holly to turn the ship around, and Holly was scared to death of traveling faster than light:

Holly: Look, we're travelling faster than the speed of light. That means, by the time we see something, we've already passed through it. Even with an IQ of 6000, it's still brown trousers time.

    • The teleporter apparently works based on 'subspace', allowing for instant transportation.
  • Fat and Skinny: Baxter and Kill Crazy in Series VIII.
  • Fee Fi Faux Pas: Rimmer's last words were "Gazpacho soup", which Lister eventually discovers is because, when he'd been with the Space Corps for 13 years, he got invited to have dinner with the Captain and, being arrogant and ignorant, he had no idea that the Gazpacho soup starter was meant to be served cold and so he demanded it be taken away and heated. He considers this perhaps the biggest reason why he never went anywhere in the ranks, going on an anguished rant about how he could have been somebody if it had ever been mentioned to him that Gazpacho soup is drunk cold while he was in training. Lister kindly refrains from pointing out that it is more likely that Rimmer never got anywhere because he is an unlikeable incompetent with more ego than skill.
  • Fictional Document: The Space Corps Directives.
  • Finger-Licking Poison: In Back in the Red, with a (non-lethal) drug in the seal of an envelope.
  • Five-Man Band:
    • Configuration One:
      • The Hero: Lister. Probably one of the least straightforward examples of this trope in history, but he fills the role far more effectively than Rimmer does.
      • The Lancer: Rimmer. He actually has more characteristics that you would traditionally associate with The Hero than Lister does, but is consigned to being the Lancer due to his sheer smegheadedness.
      • The Smart Guy: Holly, who despite being senile was much smarter than he looked.
      • The Chick: The Cat. He's hilariously useless and only interested in food and fashion.
    • Configuration Two:
    • It's worth noting that the Red Dwarf USA pilot plays these tropes far more straight (mainly in regard to Lister and Rimmer) than the UK original did.
  • Fix It in Post: In a smeg-up from Meltdown, Lister knocks on an obviously-wooden-sounding wall and says, matter-of-factly, "Stone," causing the audience to start laughing. Their laughter set off Danny John-Jules, further ruining the take, at which point Craig Charles shouted at the audience "They were gonna sort that out in the dub!"
  • For Want of a Nail: One little split in the destiny line created Ace Rimmer.
    • However, it turns out that it's not getting a break and passing a test that created Ace - it's being held back a year and humiliated that made him finally fight back, which makes our Rimmer's "it's not my fault, I just had a bad childhood" line doubly hollow.
  • Flanderization: The Cat goes from being a rather ditzy guy who acts like a cat and likes his clothes to a guy who's obsessed with fashion and sometimes says stupid things to just being really, really stupid, having virtually no lines that don't have to do with clothes, and few to no feline tendencies at all.
    • On the other hand, he also goes from being completely self-absorbed (as in, he cares more about his lunch than a dying Lister) and absolutely unhelpful to being Lister's buddy who will even sometime go out of his way for him. He also becomes rather more helpful to the crew in general. While Cat's initial traits DID get exaggerated, it also came with more screentime and him becoming more than a random wandering gag.
    • He's also become a good pilot as of Season VI.
    • While Lister's song writing skills prior to Series VI were less than ideal, he was still capable of playing guitar without causing pain and suffering to those around him.
    • Lister also suffers despite having grown a fair bit during the first six series. Season VII sees him acting like a complete idiot, it's hard to believe this was the same guy who was 'faulted' by the clones in Rimmerworld for being brave, selfless and charismatic.
  • Freaky Friday: Bodyswap.
  • Fun with Acronyms: "The Committee for the Liberation and Integration of Terrifying Organisms and their Rehabilitation Into Society."
  • Furry Confusion: Even though The Cat is on the 'almost human' of the Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism, his mannerisms and habits are still very much cat like, more so than most actual cat furries with fur and a tail.
  • Future Imperfect: The Cat race took Lister and his dream of retiring to Fiji and turned them into the Cat god Cloister the Stupid and the promised land of Fuschal. Lister, Rimmer and even Holly make historical inaccuracies, but it's tough to tell whether they're owed to widespread historical distortion or to the many varied failings of the characters.
  • Future Me Scares Me: Played for laughs in Stasis Leak, played straight in Out of Time.
  • Gagging on Your Words: Kryten's attempts to lie in "Camille".
  • Gag Penis: Kryten's "groin attachment." Archie could perhaps qualify as well.
    • In Only the Good..., Rimmer gets one (not seen) in the universe where everything's opposite.
    • In "DNA", when Kryten becomes human, he hands Lister two polaroids of his 'groinal attachment' which have to be held together to get the whole thing in.
      • Fun fact: if Craig Charles looks genuinely appalled at that moment it's because he was handed an actual Polaroid of a penis, which he hadn't been informed was going to happen beforehand.
  • Gainax Ending: Back To Earth has retroactively turned Only the Good... into this. The End? The smeg it was...
  • Gargle Blaster: Several. Holly's "android home brew" in The Last Day is lethal to humans, and probably to androids as well. In Gunmen of the Apocalypse, Sheriff Kryten asks for the stuff that guarantees you'll get your eyesight back in three days. Baxter's hooch in Only the Good... is "about 300% proof," according to Rimmer.
  • Gender Bender: Holly.
  • Genre Savvy: The little girl on the bus in Back to Earth is well aware of the Never Found the Body trope and points out to Lister this means that Kochanski must be alive. She's got that trope down.
    • To say nothing of humanity forestalling a Robot War by hard-coding all sentient robots with religion.
  • Ghost City: Tikka To Ride.
    • The Red Dwarf itself qualifies.
  • Gilded Cage: Legion imprisons the Red Dwarf crew in one.
  • A Glass in the Hand: Once Rimmer became a Hard Light hologram, he could vent his frustration on inanimate objects.
  • Godly Sidestep: In "White Hole", Holly gains an IQ of over 12,000 and professes to know the meaning of the universe. The only being present to ask her is a toast-obsessed kitchen appliance, and any questions it puts forward end up being about bread. Before anyone else can ask, she realises she has three minutes to live and refuses to communicate with anyone.
    • Averted in the novels, however, where the toaster actually does think to ask Holly about God. It's Lister. Now, ask a hard one!
  • God Test: Lister's comments have been misinterpreted over the years as the promises of a god, leading to this hilarious exchange:

Lister: "I am your god."
Cat: "If you're god, turn this into a woman."
Lister: "I'm serious."
Cat: "So am I!"

  • Gone Horribly Right: The Despair Squid was the result of compressing 5 billion years of evolution into 3 years. It killed just about everything in the ocean.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Confidence and Paranoia in, unsurprisingly, Confidence and Paranoia.
    • Also the episode "Demons and Angels".
    • Arguably, in "Terrorform," Rimmer's resurrected self-confidence versus, well, everything else in his mind.
  • Groin Attack: Rimmer does this to the Grim Reaper in Only the Good..., has it done to him (in a way) by Lister in Back to Earth, and gets it from Petersen's arm in Balance of Power after he thinks he's outsmarted it. It had previously been aiming much higher.
    • Cat is implied to have done this to Lister (in self-defense, since Lister was being remote-controlled into strangling him) in Demons and Angels.
      • And what is Cat more dismayed about? The creases in the collar of his suit, of course.

Cat: Look what you did to my neckline! This stuff never springs back!

    • Inverted in The Last Day by Hudzen 10. His promotional video shows him breaking a brick in half with his groinal attachment.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: Used in quite a few episodes. "Justice" subverts this by starting off as a story about Red Dwarf finding an escape pod and needing to find out who its occupant is, then switching halfway through to being about Rimmer being put on trial for his role in the accident that killed the ship's crew, before switching back to the original plot near the end.
  • Hand or Object Underwear: Done with pieces of paper that say "Top Secret."
  • The Heartless: "Terrorform" is a planet without even the vestiges of a heart that Rimmer has.
  • Head Desk: While Rimmer is explaining to Lister that the latter has accidentally signed himself (and, unbeknownest to Rimmer, the other main characters) into a suicide squad, partway through the explanation, Lister starts banging his head on a table.
    • Rimmer in Stoke Me A Clipper when Ace makes contact with Starbug.
  • Helping Hands: Kryten's hand is able to return to the ship and get help in "Terrorform", though it scares the hell out of Lister and Cat first. We learn in series 8 that it's not Kryten's only fully-functional detachable part.
  • Heroic BSOD: Kochanski is sent into this state by the squeelookle-ing sewer pipes in "Duct Soup".
    • Also, Kryten in "Beyond A Joke" after an incident involving lobster and ketchup.
  • Heroic Sacrifice JFK assassinating himself in "Tikka to Ride".
    • Able in "Beyond a Joke".
    • Kryten in The Inquisitor:

Kryten: "Well I've got to go back in time now and sacrifice myself so that we can get into this mess we're in now in the first place."

  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Lister's Confidence? Craig Ferguson.
    • Also, the guy who revives the crew in Back to Reality was Wormtail.
    • Speaking of Harry Potter, Arthur Weasley was Lister's best mate before the accident.
  • Hidden Depths: Lister and Rimmer are surprisingly complex characters, and despite their generally low positions in life, can show great competence. Averted with the Cat, who can barely be said to be a one dimensional character...a one dimensional character with a great ass!
  • High on Catnip: Cat comments on how the unreality pockets in "Out of Time" are worse/weirder than triple strength catnip.
  • Hippie Jesus: Referenced when Rimmer dismisses their "High" selves as hippies.

Kryten: Sir, you think Jesus was a hippy.
Rimmer: He had long hair and didn't have a job! What more do you want?

Lister: (talking to a crowd listening to Hitler) "Don't listen to him, he's a complete nutter! And he's only got one testicle!"

    • And the Who Shot JFK? spoof (Tikka to Ride), in which Kennedy ended up shooting his own past self because it turned out the timeline in which he survived became a Crapsack World.

Lister: "It'll drive the conspiracy nuts crazy! They'll never work it out!"

  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Lister tricks the Inquisitor into erasing himself from history.
  • Holodeck Malfunction: "Gunmen of the Apocalypse". Kryten and Lister fake one in "Stoke me a Clipper" to encourage Rimmer to do something brave.
  • Homoerotic Dream: One of Lister's dreams after Arnold Rimmer left Red Dwarf to become the next Ace involves a kiss between Lister and Rimmer which Lister wakes up from quite shocked.
  • Humanity Is Infectious: The Cat and Kryten both become more "human" as the series goes along.
    • In the case of Kryten, this actually becomes potentially dangerous in Series VII.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Lister posits the theory that humans are a planetary disease in "Waiting for God". (Incidently, predating The Matrix by about a decade.)
    • Kryten (not so) subtly compares humanity to the Despair Squid in "Back to Reality".
    • Humans created GELFs for all manner of unsavoury reasons, and programmed androids to believe in an afterlife where people would serve them to keep them subservient.
  • Humongous Mecha: Blue Midget's redraw could count as one.
  • Hypocrite: Rimmer. To take one example, in "Kryten", Rimmer makes several snide put-downs about the obvious lengths Lister has gone to spruce himself up when the possibility that they might be meeting women has suddenly arisen. When Lister points out that Rimmer, who is wearing a ludicrously pretentious officer's uniform complete with medals, hasn't exactly dressed down for the occasion either, Rimmer's response is to start whining about how Lister always starts putting him down whenever it looks like they might be meeting women.

Tropes I-L[edit | hide]

Lister: This might sound like a bit of a corny line, but... can't even bring myself to say it...
Rimmerguard: Say what?
Lister: [visibly wincing] "Take us to your leader?"
Kryten: Oh, sir, how could you?

  • I Am Legion: In, er, Legion.
  • I Banged Your Mom: In Polymorph, the shapeshifter took on the likeness of Rimmer's mother and tells Rimmer than Lister has had her "five times, he was like a wild stallion" to make Rimmer angry.
  • I Call Him "Mister Happy": Archie.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Averted. Kryten is often quite willing to shoot himself when feeling especially guilty.
  • I Choose to Stay: Lister, briefly in Back to Earth.
  • I Hate Past Me: The Dwarfers go back in time to meet 17 year old Lister back when he was the lead singer for Smeg and the Heads. Even the Cat thinks that Past-Lister is an idiot.
  • Identical Grandson: Lister. He's the child of the second Kochanski and himself.
    • Also, one of Lister's other sons seems to be identical to him, or at least similar enough to fool Lister's bunkmate without trying. Logical one, perhaps, as their mother father is a female version of Lister.
      • Even more likely when you consider that, since Lister is his own father (and presumably the female Lister is her own mother) The twins really don't have a whole lot of a gene pool since both of their parents and half of their grandparents are the same person!
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Lister and Cat, entirely unintentionally.

Cat: Chicken's good.
Lister: Yeah, really good.
Kryten: That's not chicken, sir.
Cat: Oh, what is it?
Kryten: It's that man we found. It just seemed such a waste to leave him lying there when he'd barbeque so beautifully.
Rimmer: (sadistic laughing)

Lister: Why do we never meet anyone nice?
Cat: Why do we never meet anyone who can shoot straight?

  • Innocently Insensitive: While none of the boys (or even Kochanski) are going to win any awards for empathy, it's not usually malice that gets them into trouble with each other - Lister is too straightforward to sympathise with Rimmer's authority complex, Rimmer is so emotionally screwed up that he thinks being "empathic" is something that'll land you in quarantine, Cat has a Blue and Orange Morality that encourages him to think only of himself, and Kryten is still getting the hang of having emotions. Kochanski is just generally neurotic.
  • In the Future We Still Have Roombas: The Skutters.
  • Inventor of the Mundane: Fred "Thicky" Holden, inventor of the "tension sheet", in "Timeslides".
  • I Say What I Say: The two Listers in "The Inquisitor".
  • It Came From the Fridge: The curry monster in DNA.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: Terrorform.
    • Sort of. More 'Journey to a Planet that Has Shaped itself to Represent Someone's Mind.'
  • Jumping on a Grenade: Ace does this in Emohawk: Polymorph II. Since he's Hard Light and virtually indestructible, he's none the worse for wear.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Kryten, twice. Of course, he turns out to be Not Quite Dead in both.
    • And Ace Rimmer.
  • Kissing Warm Up: Referenced in "Confidence and Paranoia", when Paranoia starts dredging up Lister's embarrassing adolescent memories.
  • Klingon Promotion: Rimmer wanted to join the crew of a hologramatic ship. The ship already had a full compliment, so the only way in was "dead man's boots", defeating an existing member of the crew in an intelligence test. The losing crew member would be switched off and Rimmer would take their place. Doesn't quite work out like that, of course.
  • Large Ham: Kill Crazy.

Kill Crazy: LET'S GO KILL SOMETHING! YEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAH!

  • The Last Man Heard a Knock: Lister's the last human being alive for most of the show, but he's never alone.
  • Last of His Kind: The Cat and Lister at least until the arrival of first Kochanski and later the whole crew of Red Dwarf). Of course, the cat race still exists somewhere Out There, and one of the "lost episodes" that exists only as storyboard (see the DVD extras) would have featured a visit to a planet of Cat's people, as a spoof of the Star Trek TOS episode "Amok Time".
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The pub owner's reverse rant in Backwards, ostensibly informing Kryten and Rimmer they're fired, actually criticises "the one prat in the country who's bothered to get hold of this recording, turn it round and actually work out the rubbish that [the pub owner's] saying." Of course, when the episode was filmed, reversing the recording was a complicated process.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Kill Crazy, who is so trigger happy, he doesn't even make it out of the submarine because he charges into battle so eagerly, he knocks himself out. At one point, it does prove to be an advantage as a mutated creature takes one look at him and runs away.
  • Legacy Immortality: Ace Rimmer.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: A classic example when Rimmer picks up a hologrammatic virus.

Rimmer: So let me get this straight. You want to fly on a magic carpet to see the King Of The Potato People, and plead with him for your freedom, and you're telling me you're completely sane?!

  • Locked in a Freezer: Lister and Rimmer in Marooned, though Rimmer's in no danger.
  • Logic Bomb: Kryten deactivates Hudzen-10 with one. Hudzen mentions a Silicon Heaven, which Kryten exclaims doesn't exist. Kryten and Holly persuade Hudzen they're telling the truth, and Hudzen, having been programmed to believe in Silicon Heaven, shuts down. Kryten did believe in Silicon Heaven, but was able to lie due to Lister having previously messed with his programming.
    • After all, where would all the calculators go?
  • Lotus Eater Machine: Several episodes. For details, see the Red Dwarf entries for that trope.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Lister's GELF wife in Emohawk: Polymorph II.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: The end theme is an upbeat number that starts with the words, "it's cold outside, there's no kind of atmosphere; I'm all alone, more or less."
    • Tongue Tied is an upbeat love song which describes the metaphorical reactions of a person when they're pleased to see someone they love in gory detail.


Tropes M-P[edit | hide]

  • The Mad Hatter: Dr. Langstrom in Quarantine.
  • Mad Libs Catchphrase: Perilous situations would often result in the Cat exclaiming, "That's it, we're deader than [long-outmoded item of clothing]!"
  • Mayor of a Ghost Town: They've got the run of the ship; with a few exceptions, they've got the run of the universe, really.
  • Medium Blending: The claymation episode.
  • Memory Gambit: Thanks for the Memory.
  • Merlin Sickness: Backwards.
  • Mind Screw: Quite a few examples, but "Back to Earth" took it Up to Eleven.
  • Misery Builds Character: Ace Rimmer is this all over. He is different to normal Rimmer because their shared timeline split off when they were children. One of them got held back a year in school, the other didn't. It turns out it's actually Ace that was held back a year, and so he suffered for it (ie by being bullied and suffering the humilation of it all), and decided to fight back, and continued to fight back ever since, building his character and becoming awesome. Normal Rimmer, on the over hand, was never held back a year, and therefore spent the rest of his life making excuses for himself.
  • Mistaken for Exhibit: Rimmer mistakes a light switch for an art installation in "Legion".
  • Mix and Match: Sitcom combined with sci-fi spaceship adventure.
  • Mobile Factory: Presumably the Red Dwarf is supposed to be one, since it's described as a "mining ship". We never actually see it do any mining, though...
  • Money Fetish: "Now that's the kind of cash that opens anybody's legs"
  • More Teeth Than the Osmond Family: Many of the GELFs could qualify.
  • Mr. Exposition: Holly, and later Kryten.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Kochanski in Series VII. This was largely abandoned in Series VIII, which she spent the vast majority of dressed up in the bulky prison jumpsuit and Canaries uniforms, though Cassandra was a notable exception.
  • Murder Arson and Jaywalking: The Cat, at any point where Starbug gets damaged.
    • In Back to Reality: "I'm on the run with a murderer and a mass-murderer and a guy in a bri-nylon shirt!"
  • My Future Self and Me / Time Travel Tense Trouble: The ludicrous temporal shenanigans of Stasis Leak in Season 2. Lister attempts to re-kindle a relationship with his former girlfriend and in doing so encounters a future version of himself who has already married her.
    • And Rimmer runs into the original him, who he went into the past to try and save, and thus runs into a future version of himself who has an unconvincing moustache.

Past Rimmer (In the process of having a mental breakdown yelling at present and future Listers, Cat, Kochanski and present Rimmer, all of whom he thinks are hallucinations brought on by a breakfast of space mushrooms. It Makes Sense in Context) : Perhaps Lister here would like to go over to the fridge and open a bottle of wine for Lister and Lister. Rimmer here doesn't drink, because he's dead, but I wouldn't mind a glass.
Future Rimmer (after appearing unexpectedly through a solid object): I don't want anyone to get into a flap here, but I'm from the Rimmer from the double double future. I'm the Rimmer who's with the Lister who married Kochanski. Now from this point on things get a liiiiiittle bit confusing.

    • In Future Echoes Rimmer is gloating over having apparently seen Lister die in the future:

Lister: Hey, it hasn't happened, has it? It has 'will have going to have happened' happened, but it hasn't actually 'happened' happened yet, actually.
Rimmer: Poppycock! It will be happened; it shall be going to be happening; it will be was an event that could will have been taken place in the future. Simple as that. Your bucket's been kicked, baby.

  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Rimmer's attempts at Esperanto in Kryten.
  • Nanomachines: Nanobots are responsible for rebuilding the whole of Red Dwarf, crew included, at the end of series 7.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Lister as Voter-Colonel Sebastian Doyle in Back To Reality. "Vote Fascist for another glorious decade of total law enforcement!"
  • Necro Non Sequitur: Cassandra's demise.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: The crew have encounted their share of them, including a time hole (AKA an orange swirly thing), a white hole, a stasis leak, and a minefield of alternate reality pockets.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Averted and kicked to the floor by Duane Dibbley.
    • Only to be picked right back up again with how Kochanski is characterized in Series VII.
  • Nested Mouths: The Polymorph.
  • Never Say That Again: Kryten can't handle being called "tetchy" in Quarantine.
  • Never Smile At a Crocodile: Ace Rimmer's Nazi enemy has a crocodile for a pet, keeping it on his lap and stroking it affectionately, parodying Blofeld's Right-Hand-Cat. He throws it at Ace and jumps out of the plane they're on, but Ace overpowers it and proceeds to "surf" on it in free fall.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The intro that made it look like an action-heavy adventure show, rather than an irreverent comedy with a sci-fi backdrop.
  • Nietzsche Wannabe: The Inquisitor; subverted by his attempts to populate the universe with meaningful humans.
  • No Budget: Whilst no solid figure has ever been made public, Back To Earth apparently had a very small budget in comparison with previous series. As an example, the final corridor was achieved using a perspective trick, rather than wasting budget on CGI.
  • Non Sequitur Thud: Happens to Kryten after he's used as a battering ram, and briefly starts calling Lister "Susan."
    • And also in Quarantine when the insane Rimmer telekinetically attacks him with a fire axe.
  • Not Quite Saved Enough: Rimmer in Timeslides.
  • No Periods, Period: Lampshaded and averted. It's briefly mentioned in Balance of Power when Kochanski (really (and clearly) Rimmer) claims to be "having a woman's period." In Only the Good..., Lister explains to Kryten why the second Kochanski has said it's the wrong time of the month. Kryten is shocked that television and film have so successfully avoided this. Kryten, armed with this new knowledge of the female body, hilariously averts the trope.
  • Not-So-Innocent Whistle: In Back to Earth, Kryten demonstrates his "Innocent Whistle Mode" after being caught conspiring with Rimmer.
  • No Waterproofing in the Future: Kryten, and all the other Series 4000 mechanoids of his type.
  • Now Do It Again Backwards: It's how Red Dwarf is reconstituted from its High and Low counterparts in Demons and Angels.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Holly in Queeg
    • Male Holly in general, arguably.
  • Obsessed Are the Listmakers: The first novel described Arnold Rimmer doing this repeatedly when he tried to take the officers' exams: he would meticulously create his study plan in such great detail that he ended up spending most of his time on it, then had to revise it for the time left, with the same effects until he had no time left for the actual studying.
  • Offscreen Crash: Rimmer in the pilot. Somehow.
  • Oh Crap: Rimmer has this reaction in the "Inquisitor" episode. Rimmer thinks he's found a way out of being judged by the inquisitor because of the legitimate point that he might not get a fair hearing. The Inquisitor then explains that to make the hearing as fair as possible, every person's judge will be...

[The Inquisitor opens his helmet, revealing Rimmer's face underneath]
Rimmer!Inquisitor: ...Yourself!
Rimmer: Oh, smeg!
Rimmer!Inquisitor: "Oh smeg!" indeed, matey.

  • Older Than They Look: Kryten. In Back in the Red: Part 1 he tells Dr McLaren that he was created in 2340. Since the events of The End take place in around 2190, and Lister is in stasis for around three million years, that means that when the crew first meet him in Kryten, the eponymous character is roughly two million, nine-hundred and ninty-nine thousand, eight-hundred and fifty years old. Even in a show that hardly prides itself on its consistency and continuity, that's a staggering figure.
  • Once a Season: A Time episode.
  • One-Man Army: Ace Rimmer. In Stoke Me a Clipper, he downs a Luftwaffe plane, takes out a whole squad of Nazi soldiers apart from one and simultaneously rescues a princess. What a guy.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Mr Flibble, despite having only a few minutes of screen time and no recognisable speaking lines, has fans, real hand puppet merchandise and is one of the most memorable examples of Consulting Mister Puppet.
    • The Talkie Toaster. "Would you like some toast?"
  • Opposite Gender Clone: Well, opposite sex dimension in Parallel Universe.
    • Rimmer eventually, after several failures breeds an actual opposite sex clone of himself in the episode Rimmerworld, which even has his face.
  • The Other Darrin: Several:
    • Holly, the ship's computer and most notable example, was played by Norman Lovett for Series I-II and was replaced by Hattie Hayridge for Series III-V before being Put on a Bus in Series VI. When the character returned for Series VIII (and the Series VII finale), Holly was once again played by Norman Lovett.
    • Kryten, the mechanoid, was a one-off character in Series II played by David Ross. When he became a regular in Series III, Ross was unavailable and Robert Llewellyn replaced him for the rest of the show's run.
    • Talkie Toaster (Exactly What It Says on the Tin) was voiced by John Lenahan in Series I and II (although his scenes were cut for the latter.) When the character resurfaced briefly in a Series IV episode (White Hole), not only was he voiced by David Ross (the original Kryten) but the original prop had been replaced as well.
    • Kristine Kochanski was a guest character in Series I, II and VI, and played by Clare Grogan. When the character became a main character in Series VII, Grogan was unavailable and Chloë Annett replaced her.
  • Other Me Annoys Me
  • Overly Long Gag: The aforementioned Everybody's Dead, Dave.
    • And:

Cat: Fish!
Food Dispenser: Today's fish is trout a la creme. Enjoy your meal!

    • Also:

Cat: So what is it? (in more than one episode)

  • Paint It Black: Evil Holly and Evil Lister in Demons and Angels.
  • Palette-Swapped Alien Food: All over the table in Legion.
  • Parental Incest: Averted in the show, played straight in one of the books. Lister attempts to get off with Kochanski's second incarnation knowing full well she's his mother (via IVF; he's his father). In one of the books, it's suggested he actually does.
    • Given the circumstances, it's kind of too late for him to worry about this.
  • Pass the Popcorn: Watching the black box recording in Thanks for the Memory.
    • Also, in Terrorform, when Rimmer is about to be tortured and Lister explains they can either rescue him or sit and watch, Cat asks if anyone has any opera glasses.
  • Parrot Expo-What?: The Cat does this on occasion, usually having it explained by Kryten.
  • Paying Their Dues: Of the four original main characters, only one was played by an experienced actor. Craig Charles (Lister) was a poet, Danny John-Jules (The Cat) was a dancer, and Norman Lovett (Holly) was a stand-up comic.
  • Phrase Catcher: Ace Rimmer, "What a guy!"
  • Pinball Projectile: In the famous "Gunmen of the Apocalypse" episode.
    • The ultimate example of this is White Hole where multiple planets are crashed into one another in order to plug up the Negative Space Wedgie.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Captain Frank Hollister is revealed to have only reached his rank through blackmail (from the lowly position of Doughnut Boy, no less), implying that he is only marginally more qualified than Rimmer or Lister, though clearly more clever and/or more ambitious.
  • Plot Hole: Lister's attempt to make a "gift" of the memories of one his love affairs to Rimmer introduces several of these into Rimmer's life.

Rimmer: That's why I was an orphan when both my parents were still alive. That's why I had my appendix out twice.

    • Interestingly, Lister also had his appendix removed twice, as Legion removes his appendix when he realises it's about to kill Lister.
      • Last Human handwaves this by stating that by freak of nature, Lister had two appendices.
      • Some fans claim that this plothole might be explained in the episode DNA. When Lister turns back into a human, it is possible that the DNA machine rebuilt his appendix along with the rest of him.
  • Popular Saying, But...: "Stasis Leak" has:

Holly: What I'm saying, Dave, is that it's better to have loved and to have lost... than to listen to an album by Olivia Newton-John.
Cat: Why's that?
Holly: Anything's better than listening to an album by Olivia Newton-John.

  • Pound of Flesh Twist: Used against the heroes in the final season. Having been imprisoned for stealing and destroying a Starbug, their attempt to escape and prove their innocence demonstrates to the captain that their story is true, exonerating them regarding the theft. But it also demonstrates that they had improperly accessed classified personnel files, a crime carrying exactly the same penalty. (The files would have revealed the Captain bribed his way up the career ladder, which explains why he was looking for the loophole.)
  • Power of Friendship: Inverted. The rest of the crew use this with Rimmer to escape the Psi-Moon in Terrorform. Rimmer is suspicious right from the start, and even when it does work long enough to get them off the moon, Rimmer immediately realizes that it was all tot, and that they meant not a word of it. Much to his displeasure, by that point they're only too happy to confirm his suspicions.
  • Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: "Go for yer guns, ye scum-sucking molluscs!"
  • Precision F-Strike: Rimmer gets to say 'bastard' on four occasions and "bitch" once, all of which count.
    • The show also has precisely one instance of an actual swear word (Cat says "shit" in Emohawk: Polymorph II).
  • Precursors: Subverted: all life in the universe originated on Earth, which makes us the Precursors.
  • Prophetic Fallacy: In Cassandra, Cassandra predicts Rimmer will die in 20 minutes, but doesn't know who Rimmer is. Rimmer gives his jacket and nametag to another crewmember, who does die in 20 minutes, apparently "Rimmer" to any onlooker.
  • Psychic Radar: During the episode "Quarantine," both Lanstrom and Rimmer, under the effects of the Holovirus, are able to home in on the location of the rest of the crew by sensing their thoughts.
"Unfortunately she has already found you! Twinkle, twinkle, little eye, now it's time for you to die!"
Dr. Hildegard Lanstrom, Red Dwarf "Qurantine."
  • Put on a Bus: Holly, once in Series VI and VII, and again in the Dave specials Back to Earth (he's fine, just temporarily out of commission for the duration of the episodes).


Tropes Q-T[edit | hide]

  • Ranked by IQ: The crew of the Enlightenment in Holoship not only use this to suggest intelligence, but seem to have a rank structure based around IQ.
  • Reality Subtext: Derailed by large hiatus at peak of UK popularity.
    • Also completely changed the course of Series VIII. Originally, it was going to end with a two-parter, culminating in the crew finally returning to Earth but obliterating civilisation as they arrive. However, circumstances meant the hour-long series opener had to become a three-parter, another episode had to become a two-parter and the series had to finish on a cliffhanger.
    • Meltdown was intended to be the opening episode of Series IV. However it was moved to the sixth and last episode because of concerns that viewers would consider it insensitive due to the Gulf War. If hostilities had continued, it might not have been shown at all.
  • Real Is Grey: The first two series. The interior of the Red Dwarf is almost entirely grey, to the point where Craig Charles noted that his memories of filming the first two series are of grey. An early plot point involved the paint on the walls being changed from ocean grey to military grey. Even the outside of the ship itself had far more of a reddish-grey look in the first series than it did in the others. After the Re-tool of the third series the grey palette was toned down.
  • Real Life Relative:
    • Craig Charles's younger brother Emile plays Lister's 17-year-old younger self in "Timeslides".
    • Robert Llewellyn's wife Judy Pascoe plays the titular love interest's mechanoid form in "Camille".
    • Alexander John-Jules (Danny's nephew) as Baby Lister in Ouroboros.
  • Rash Equilibrium: The climax of "Justice".
  • Reality Warping Is Not a Toy
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • In "Time Slides," a distraught and disillusioned Lister blasts through a list of reasons he's sick of his fellow crew members—the vast majority aimed at and said to Rimmer, including, "... the fact that you always smile when you're being insulted."
    • In "Terrorform", Kryten gives a long, in-depth list on why Rimmer would have such a strong sense of self-loathing. Kryten goes on for over a minute, and when interrupted by Rimmer, Kryten points out that he is only halfway through. Ironically, Kryten was being polite and informative, rather than condescending.
    • Rimmer's worst moment came when he was being tried for the deaths of everyone aboard the Red Dwarf. Kryten argued that Rimmer was not responsible, as it was his commanding office who gave such an obvious incompetant such an important job. As Kryten said, "Sir, my entire argument relies on proving that you are a dork!", and concludes that the only thing foolish enough to actually appoint Rimmer any job of important was, "Only a yogurt!" And the fact that Rimmer kept whining "Objection!" throughout it all only helped Kryten's case had to have grated as well.

Kryten: He is only guilty of being Arnold Rimmer. That is his crime. It is also his punishment.

    • A Ret-Gone Lister proves he does know Rimmer by giving an awesome summation of Rimmer's sheer fail-itude. The Cat grinned at Rimmer and said "He's got you there!"
    • Rimmer gets them back in "Out Of Time" when he appoints himself Morale Officer, in charge of boosting the spirits of the crewmembers. This appears to involve walking up to each of them and yelling a lengthy list of all the things about them that irritate him at them.
  • Recycled in Space: Literally - cast and crew have repeatedly described the Canaries as 'The Dirty Dozen in space.'
    • The original pitch of the show relied on convincing the Beeb that it wasn't a sci-fi epic, but more like "Steptoe and Son in space".
  • Red Alert: An alert status in Star Bug one step up from Blue Alert, although it does mean changing the bulb.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Doctor Lanstrom and later Rimmer in Quarantine.
  • Refugee From TV Land: The crew - or so they initially think in Back To Earth.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Averted when Kryten defeats Hudzen. Referenced when Rimmer becomes the next Ace.
  • Reset Button: White Hole (although a later episode implies it wasn't quite a total reset) and the beginning of Tikka to Ride after everyone aboard Starbug had been killed and the craft exploded at the end of Out of Time.
  • Retcon: Originally, Lister merely had an unrequited and unacted-upon crush on Kochanski; however, the writers gradually decided that his constant yearning for someone he'd never had anything meaningful with made him a little bit pathetic, and so quietly adjusted this to make Kochanski an ex-girlfriend he'd never gotten over being dumped by following a short-lived romance.
  • Ret-Gone: What the Inquisitor does to people who fail to justify themselves.
  • Retool: The writers were always willing to pick quality over continuity, no matter how drastic the change.
  • Revival - Two of them: Series VII was broadcast after a four-year hiatus, and the three-part Back to Earth was broadcast after a ten-year hiatus.
  • Rewrite: Too many to count. The creators always maintained that if altering the Backstory could improve the show, then they should alter it.
    • Although some of it makes sense. Whose idea was it to give Rimmer a job that could endanger the entire crew?
      • Then they used Rule of Funny and rewrote the Rewrite, implying that the job was so easy that anyone that could mess it up must have the brains the size of a newt's testicle.
  • Ridiculous Future Sequelisation: There is a passing mention of Friday the 13th: Part 3,721.
  • Right Hand Crocodile: The Big Bad in the opening for Stoke Me A Clipper has one. It's even credited as "Alison the Crocodile", despite being made of rubber.
  • Right Behind Me: Rimmer realizes, too late, that's where Captain Hollister is standing.
  • Robo Cam: Hudzen in The Last Day, Kryten in Terrorform.
  • Robo-Family: Kryten has a brother, Able, who was created by the same woman.
  • Robot Religion: The Electronic Bible (with version numbers) and Silicon Heaven, concepts created by humanity and installed in every artificially intelligent device that could possibly pose a threat if it Turned Against Its Masters in order to keep them under control with a belief that if they accept a lifetime of slavery they will get their eternal reward in the next life. Very cheap and simple machines that couldn't possible pose any threat such as talking toasters don't get installed with belief chips so most kitchen appliances are atheists.
  • Rule of Funny: The writers have no problem tossing the show's conventions aside if they can get a better laugh without them. Notable examples include Kryten's lies; they normally had to be preceded by Kryten declaring himself to be in "Lie Mode" (obviously undermining the believability of his lie), except when they didn't.

Kryten: You won't feel a thing. I'll render you unconcious using the Ionian nerve grip.
Rimmer closes his eyes and braces himself as Kryten grabs his neck... and then breaks a vase over his head.
Rimmer: That's not an Ionian nerve grip! That's smashing me over the head with a vase!
Kryten: There's no such thing as an Ionian nerve grip. Now stand still while I hit you.

    • Which is actually a bit of Fridge Brilliance, as Lister was working with Kryten to become a better liar.
  • Rule Number One: The Space Corps Directives.
  • Running Gag: Many in the later seasons, including Rimmer's inability to correctly quote Space Corps directives, Cat's repeated bemoaning that "we're deader than (insert bygone fashion trend here)!", Kryten describing Cat's (typically ridiculous) plans as "excellent, with just two minor drawbacks", and exchanges like these regarding Starbug's performance:

Lister: The Centauri can travel at speeds that we can only dream of!
Cat: Most ice cream vans can travel at speeds we can only dream of!
or
Kryten: Sir, a class A enforcement orb can easily outrun us.
Lister: Kryten, the Eastbourne Zimmer frame relay team can easily outrun us.
or
Kryten: It's impossible to tell at this range, whatever it is, they clearly have a technology way in advance of our own.
Lister: So do the Albanian state washing machine company.

  • Sacrificial Lamb: The Red Dwarf crew in the first episode. Several of them reappeared in flashbacks, and the entire crew were resurrected for series 8.
  • Sapient Ship: Holly is pretty well alive and aware.
  • Satire, Parody, Pastiche: Many over the years, including Casablanca in Camille and Blade Runner in Back to Earth.
  • Save the Princess: In the Ace Rimmer segment which opens Stoke Me a Clipper, this is what he does. While fighting the Nazis. And an alligator.
  • Scaled Up: The first Polymorph turns into a snake, but not for combat reasons - being an Emotion Eater, it drives Lister to the height of his fear (as Lister is scared of snakes, according to this episode), before sucking it out.
  • Scary Black Man: Queeg.
  • Screw Yourself: Dave Lister has drunken sex with his gender opposite, Deb Lister, in the Opposite Sex dimension, which leads to him actually getting pregnant despite his protestations of "But I can't be pregnant! I'm a guy! I don't have the... equipment!" (see also entry on the trope page) Cat plans to have sex with himself (the only person he could ever love), but his opposite is actually a male dog. Arlene Rimmer also comes on to Arnold rather strongly, despite the mutual Rimmers' apparent disgust towards Deb and Dave doing the deed, but then hypocrisy is hardly out of character for Rimmer.
  • Second Face Smoke: Lister and Rimmer are in the movie theater, all alone, and Rimmer insists that Lister, who is smoking, move three seats over to be in the smoking section. Lister blows smoke right through Rimmer's face.
  • Second Law, My Ass: Abel. Even though he comes from the same model as Kryten, who is logical, intelligent and usually doing the cleaning, Abel's addicted to Otrazone, lives in squalor, and doesn't appear to have enough brain left to tell right from wrong.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Cassandra claims that a character will die of a heart attack after being told he's going to die of a heart attack. Similarly, she prophesies that she will be killed by one Dave Lister; Lister's conscious attempt not to harm her leads to her accidental demise.
    • In "Future Echoes", Rimmer sees an echo of Dave dying at a computer console. To prove the future isn't set in stone, he tries to prevent another echo, Cat breaking a tooth. Bet you can't guess what happens next.

Lister: Hey, it hasn't happened, has it? It has 'will have going to have happened' happened, but it hasn't actually 'happened' happened yet, actually.
Rimmer: Poppycock! It will be happened; it shall be going to be happening; it will be was an event that could will have been taken place in the future. Simple as that. Your bucket's been kicked, baby.

      • "I'm gonna get you little fishy..."
  • Sequel Hook: At the end of the Polymorph, after the crew defeats the eponymous creature, it is revealed that a second one has made it on board. Subverted in the remastered version, in which on-screen text reveals that this one, much less intelligent than the first, took up residence harmlessly in Lister's underwear drawer and eventually died of old age. Doubly subverted by Emohawk: Polymorph II three series later in which they meet another one.
  • Share the Male Pain: Referenced and explained in the episode "Legion", where the titular Legion explains that any pain he feels is conveyed to the rest of the crew. He stabs his hand to show them, and then...

Legion: "The next hint of insurrection, and the scalpel ends up... here."
Kryten: "That kind of tough talk doesn't scare us."
Lister, Rimmer and Cat: "Yes it does!"

  • Shirtless Scene: Three of the four main cast (even Kryten), except, oddly, for the Cat, who is supposed to be the most sexy. May have to do with the fact that the Cat mentions he perms his leg hair and that he once mentioned six of his nipples tingling.

Lister: You perm your leg hairs?!
Cat: Only as an aid to the natural curl!

  • Shoot the Bullet: The Riviera Kid demonstrates this ability in the VR episode Gunmen of the Apocalypse.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The entire Felix Sapien (Felis sapiens) Civil Wars. They fought over the colour the hats should be (red or blue). Not only would Lister not have approved, but they both were wrong (he wanted green). Leads into Silly Reason for War.
    • In the books, they also disagreed on the direction of the planet, which made a bit more sense, what with the one ship.
    • This happened in the series also. Two arks were built with one crashing into an asteroid.
  • Show Stopper: Usually unplanned, as the actors have to stand awkwardly in place waiting for the laughs to die down so they can continue.
    • On one occasion the laugh was so long it had to be edited down.
    • Inverted for Series VII, which was not shot in front of a live audience, but the episodes were later played for an audience and their recorded responses dubbed over the episodes for broadcast. This resulted in some jokes and lines of dialogue being submerged under the laughter, since the cast would not know to pause for laughter. Some DVD and VHS releases of the series have the laugh track removed.
  • Shrine to the Fallen: Back To Earth implies that an extra bit of the ship has been built (or at least cleaned up specially, which is a pretty big deal for Lister) just to house a commemorative gravestone to Kochanski.
  • Shout-Out: The first two series' title music is very reminiscent of Also Sprach Zarathustra, and the sequence is in line with scenes from 2001: A Space Odyssey that utilise said music. The name Holly is a Shout-Out to 2001's HAL, too, as is the fact that Holly, or "Hol" as Lister sometimes calls him, refers to David Lister as "Dave." (In the radio sketch series Dave Hollins, Space Cadet on which the series is based, the computer was known as 'Hab'.)
    • Speaking of music, Ace "What a guy!" Rimmer's theme in Dimension Jump could very well be a shout out to "Take My Breath Away" from Top Gun. A different theme was used in Stoke Me A Clipper.
    • There's a Shout-Out to Die Hard 2: Die Harder in "DNA"; Lister exclaims "How can the same smeg happen to the same guy twice?" after he is attacked yet again by his favorite foods. The Cat responds "Last time it was hors d'oeuvres, this time it's lunch!" referencing the film poster tagline for Aliens.
    • Queeg's name (and most of his episode's plot) is a shout out to The Caine Mutiny.
    • The episode "Backwards" mentions a mysterious bankrobber named Michael Ellis.
    • The in-universe TV show "Androids" has a theme song that sounds suspiciously like the long-running Australian soap drama, Neighbours.

"Androids, everybody needs good Androids...."

  • Shown Their Work: In the DVD Commentary for the pilot episode, Danny John-Jules mentions researching cats and their behavior for his role.
  • Silly Reason for War: The conflict which almost wiped out the Cat race was fought over their different interpretations of Lister's favourite colour for the hats at the hot dog and donut stand in Fiji. They were both wrong.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Used by Queeg after being challenged to a duel by Holly.
    • An earlier Season II episode had Holly engaged in a game of postal chess with Gordon, the A.I on another JMC vessel. They only managed one move, though.
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: Geeky genius-Rimmer wears glasses after his mind patching in Holoship. Similarly in Polymorph, after the chameleonic lifeform has drained away all of Rimmer's anger, he turns into an ultra-pacifist liberal sporting hornrimmed glasses and a goatee and proposes to hit the monster with "a major leaflet campaign".
    • Also, in White Hole, they were originally going to make Holly bald with tea-shades, after her IQ goes to 12,000.
  • Snap Back: Episodes frequently end with the crew in weird situations (trapped in a parallel universe, trapped in virtual reality, menaced by a shapeshifting monster, etc.) that have been tacitly resolved by the beginning of the next episode. One exception is the final episode of the first season, which picks up where the previous episode ended, pretty much just because the writers had been able to think of an episode's worth of more jokes to get out of the closing gag.
  • Sound to Screen Adaptation: Red Dwarf was born as a short serial in the radio comedy show Son of Cliche, also written by Grant/Naylor. The parent "series" on radio was called Dave Hollis: Space Cadet and contained sketches and ideas later recycled for the TV series.
  • Spaceship Girl: Holly starts off as a male AI interface, but undergoes a sex change after the second season.
    • Note: Holly in either incarnation was attracted to other AI (and sometimes even humans) of the opposite gender. The series never calls attention to the inherent questions this raises, and it's probably best not to think about it too much.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Dave Hollins: Space Cadet, a radio series written as a parody of 2001: A Space Odyssey. HAB was renamed Holly in order to change the character from a HAL expy and Dave Hollins became Dave Lister, as there was a footballer by the name of Dave Hollins at the time. Rimmer and the Cat were added and the rest is history.
  • Spot the Imposter: In Psirens. The real Lister couldn't play guitar to save his life, but since he thinks he can play guitar like a pro, the Psiren that had taken Lister's form read his mind and played guitar accordingly. And was promptly shot.
    • The 'imposter' Lister's hands are played by Phil Manzanera. Apparently the writers wanted Brian May of Queen for that part, but he wasn't available - but his wife, actress Anita Dobson, got the part of Captain Tau.
  • Sorry I Fell on Your Fist: The "Good" or "High" version of the crew members from Demons and Angels. With knives and bullets from the "Low" Dwarfers.
    • "I appear to have stained your knife-end with my blood. Forgive me, brother." *dies*
    • "He has just shot me four times in the chest! Oh, how I love him!"
    • "Brother; there is a grievous fault with thine weapon. It keepeth shooting people." *blam* "You see? There it goes again!"
  • Stealth Parody: Kryten and the whole 4000 series of mechanoids are a parody of Prof. Mamet's fiancee. None of the 4000s know this until they are given the code to unlock the file.
  • Stop Trick: For the purpose of grabbing hologrammatic items from the air.
  • Studio Audience: Had one until the end of series 8. More special effects heavy episodes ("Backwards", "Bodyswap") and the more filmic seventh series had the audience response to a preview tape rather than a Laugh Track. If there's ever a series 9 then it will likely go back to having an audience, as both Chris Barrie and Craig Charles have said that unless the scripts are awesome beyond belief, they will only sign on if at least a majority of the filming is done in front of an audience.
  • Subverted Trope: Several.
  • Swirly Energy Thingy: The source of many entertaining quotes on the matter.
  • Take a Moment to Catch Your Death: Rimmer manages to somehow return to life in Timeslides. In celebration, he goes around feeling objects, something he was unable to do for three million years. Unfortunately, he accidentally strikes some volatile explosives.
  • Take That, Audience!: "The Cat's looking so geeky he couldn't get into a science fiction convention!"
    • Done in a much more direct manner in the Smeg Ups and Smeg Outs videos, where Kryten reads out fan mail criticising the continuity and logic errors in the show, and then berates the people who wrote the letters, accusing them of having no life.
  • Tanks for The Memories: Fittingly, in "Thanks for the Memory."
  • Temporal Paradox: Lister is the son of his future self and the alternate Kochanski. The whole thing is neatly sewn up by the word "Ouroboros", implying it's a cycle, a temporal loop.
    • Also, the battle between Starbug and future Starbug in Out of Time. The evil crew win with their advanced weapons systems, but because they destroyed their previous selves, they didn't exist to fight Starbug. Lister, in the next episode, tried to explain why they weren't dead, but the camera he was talking to exploded.
  • Terraform: Terrorform somewhat, Back to Reality, Rimmerworld.
  • Technology Marches On: Lampshaded in Back to Earth when Kryten and Lister discuss how 21st century DVDs were later replaced by "superior" technology—video tapes—because those were too large to lose, whereas it was scientifically proven that humans are incapable of putting DVDs back into their box... neatly explaining why the early series has the characters using VHS tapes despite the series being set in the future.
  • This Explains So Much: The crew's reaction when Queeg reveals that Holly's astronavigational charts are really a children's astronomy book.
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: Invoked after Kryten is ordered into a waste compactor by a Psiren and crushed into a cube.

Kryten: I'm almost annoyed.

  • The Caligula: In 'Rimmerworld', Rimmer genetically engineers an entire society made of clones of himself. He becomes The Caligula of his own society only to be overthrown by his underlings, much like the historical figure this trope is based on.
    • Caligula himself appears in 'Meltdown', though he's a mere mook to higher ranking dictators such as Adolf Hitler and Herman Goering.
  • This Is a Work of Fiction: In the episode "Better Than Life", a newsreader reports having found the page like this for The Bible.
  • This Is Not a Drill:
    • In "Marooned"; "This is not a drill. This is a drill." [sound of a jackhammer]
    • And in a later episode when Holly's grammar chip is damaged... "Abandon shop! This is not a daffodil. Repeat, this is not a daffodil!"
  • "Three Laws"-Compliant: Most androids are programmed with something pretty close. Mechanoid characters can take "Asimov's Law" as a flaw in the RPG.
  • This Is Sparta: In "DNA", Cat is fiddling with the DNA machine trying to get Lister out, but with little success. Lister responds with, "Do. Nothing! Press. Nothing! GET! KRYTEN!"
  • Time Travel: "Stasis Leak", "Backwards", "Timeslides", "Out of Time", "Tikka to Ride" and probably more.
    • Particularly hilarious towards the middle of "Out of Time", where they come into possession of a "time drive" and play with it a bit before realizing it's completely, utterly useless while they're still physically located 3 million years away from Earth. It doesn't do space, just time. But they did get to experience the heady medieval atmosphere of pre-Renaissance deep-space.
      • The Fridge Brilliance never hit the characters: if they have a Time Drive, they can go back in time to 3 million years before they departed Earth (give a few for margin of error,) set course for home, head back into stasis, and arrive home around the time Red Dwarf was departing.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Several: White Hole, Timeslides, The Inquisitor, Out of Time...
    • In fact, due to the Boys from the dwarfs Once a Season romp through history, this can be said for the timeline In-Universe
  • Title Drop: "Stoke me a clipper, I'll be back for Christmas!".
    • "Only the good die young!"
    • Beyond a Joke, Back to Reality, the last one even getting an Ironic Echo.
  • Title Sequence Replacement: After the second series, the following episodes contained clips from specific to the series it was in.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Rimmer in "Rimmerworld". Also parodied in "Out of Time" with "robo"-Lister.
    • Rimmer, Captain Hollister and the rest of the Red Dwarf crew who died in the first episode get resurrected as clones in Season VIII unaware they are all clones.
  • Too Soon: The running order of Series IV was changed because of the Gulf War.
  • Transformation Ray: The DNA machine in "DNA".
  • Trash of the Titans
  • Traveling Pipe Bulge: In "Polymorph".
  • Treacherous Spirit Chase: "Psirens" is one long exploration of this trope: the Psirens are able to read the minds of their prey and create a personalized hallucination to lure them to their doom. Lister, for instance, sees an image of his beloved Kochanski and their two sons in mortal danger on the planetoid below. Kryten recognizes the Psiren as such but is unable to disobey his programming when the Psiren imitates his creator and orders him to climb into the waste disposal unit.
  • Trojan Prisoner: Lister, with the help of the Cat and Kochanski.
  • True Companions: The crew aren't the closest-knit bunch, but this gets them out of the trap of Rimmer's mind in "Terrorform". Once they're safe, they immediately and unanimously confirm to Rimmer that they didn't mean any of it.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Queeg taking over from Holly. Holly plays out the trope, pretending to be Queeg to make the crew appreciate him.


Tropes U-Z[edit | hide]

  • Uncanny Valley: Invoked in Out of Time, where Kryten claims this is why he looks less human than previous droids. Although this doesn't explain why his successor, Hudzen-10, looks more human. Also, Holly's forgotten command scene from Demons and Angels.
  • Un Installment: Back to Earth pretends to be set after a fictional Series IX and X during which, among other Noodle Incidents, hologram Rimmer returned and Kochanski died (or did she?).
  • Unreliable Narrator: The Rimmer ride from Blue, while programmed by Kryten, was based on entries from Rimmer's journal.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Smeg. At least, it was supposed to be a thoroughly fictional profanity.

Rimmer: Why don't you smegging well smeg off, you annoying little smeggy smegging smegger?

  • Used Future: From Series III onwards, when Mel Bibby became the set designer. The first two series were meant to have a grey submarine feel, but really just looked like plywood walls painted grey.
  • Use Your Head: Kryten, in White Hole.
  • Villain Song: Blue's Rimmer could perhaps be a subversion. It's not actually Rimmer (it's a simulation created from Rimmer's logbook). Although he's not technically a villain, it proves to Lister that Rimmer was an antagonist.
  • Virtual Ghost: Rimmer.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifter: The two Polymorphs.
  • Waif Prophet: Subverted.
  • Weapon for Intimidation: In Rimmerworld, the characters have a bazookoid they can't actually fire, because it'd damage the ship and cause it to fall apart. It's for psychological purposes only.
  • We Need a Distraction: Played embarrassingly straight by Kryten in The Inquisitor.

Kryten: "Excuse me, could I just distract you for just a brief second?"

  • What's a Henway?: Rimmer practicing his "wormdo" pickup line in "Parallel Universe".

Rimmer: Look, you're not giving me the right reply!
Lister: What is the right reply?
Rimmer: I come to you, saying "Would you like to join me at a cocktail?", you say "Yes", I say "Would you like a wormdo", you say "What's a wormdo?" And I say...
Lister: Oh, it wriggles along the ground like that?
Rimmer: You know it?

  • Whole-Plot Reference: "The Last Day" is based on the Jack Nicholson film The Last Detail.
  • Who Shot JFK?: He shot himself.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: Rimmer disguises himself as Ace in Stoke Me a Clipper using this technique. Only Lister is in on the act; it works on the others. In fact, this is essentially how Aces are made.
  • Wine Is Classy: Discussed when Lister complains about "total smegheads" who always drink wine. "It's never beer, is it? It's always wine. 'What do you want on your cornflakes, darling?' Oh, I'll have some WINE, please!"
  • A Wizard Did It: In one of the Smeg Ups specials, Kryten used this as an explanation.
  • You Look Familiar: Tony Hawks, who plays the in-game guide to Better than Life later appears in Backwards, introducing the Sensational Reverse Brothers. He had also previously been the voice of the vending machines in the first series and later played Caligula in the fourth. He reprised the vending machine role in Only The Good.... The cast referred to him as "The Fifth Dwarfer" during the first two seasons. The show also contains a deliberate example; between Series II and III, the change in actor for Holly is explained away as him having fallen in love with his mirror universe counterpart Hilly, to the extent that he decided he wanted to become her.
  • You Need to Get Laid: The all-male cast's massive sexual frustration is something of a Running Gag in the early seasons, though this tapers off after the rest of the crew are brought back... with one unsurprising exception:

Kochanski: "...Rimmer?"
Rimmer: "Yes, ma'am?"
Kochanski: "Have sex with someone, and that's an order."
Rimmer: "Yes, ma'am. Right away, ma'am."
Lister: (hands Rimmer a business card) "Here -- ring this number, say I sent you. Tell them it's an emergency."

  1. This is later contradicted by the series 2 episode "Better than Life", where the ship has already turned around and started heading towards Earth