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?"Red Dwarf
— Holly, perfectly summing up the series.
is a British Sci-Fi Comedy television (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 survives: a chicken-soup-machine repairman from Liverpool named David Lister, preserved because he is confined in the ship's stasis chamber for bringing a pregnant cat
on board illegally.
The Red Dwarf
is lethally irradiated. The ship's AI, Holly, sets a course out of the solar system, planning to release Lister from stasis once the radiation level drops to safe levels.
Three million years go by.
Lister awakens to the news that Everybody's Dead, Dave
. To keep Lister sane, the ship Holly creates a hologram of his despised roommate, Second Technician Arnold J. Rimmer - the only person annoying enough to make Lister 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 Lister note
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. However, it is notable for a sci-fi-based series in that the writers actively worked to avert
, or at least lampshade
, many tropes associated with the genre, though nearly always for comedic effect.
After series VIII finished, a three-part, Post Modern
, movie-length miniseries 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. BtE
broke digital TV viewership records at the time of airing, signalling that the show still had an audience after a decade of TV absence; not long after, Dave commissioned a full 6 episode "tenth" series entitled Red Dwarf X
, which eventually aired in 2012.
Following the good reception of Red Dwarf X, an eleventh series is due to begin shooting in late 2014, and air in late 2015.
There are also four tie-in novels
This series has named the following tropes:
This program provides examples of:
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- 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.
- 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!
- Acting Unnatural: In "Backwards", Kryten, in an attempt to look inconspicuous, walks into a cafe wearing a black cloak and a Ronald Reagan rubber mask.
- Action Prologue: "Stoke Me A Clipper" has one that is a Shout-Out to James Bond films where Ace takes on the Nazis.
- Addictive Foreign Soap Opera: Kryten is addicted to the soap opera Androids, which is a clear parody of what was then cult Australian import soap Neighbours.
- Adolf Hitlarious: Done a few times, most notably when Lister managed to get himself inserted into the Nuremberg Rally.
Lister: No, don't listen! He's a complete and total nutter! And he's only got one testicle!
- That particular episode (Timeslides) opens with 'Guest starring Adolf Hitler as himself'. He appears again in Meltdown.
- After the End: In a sense, since it takes place after the human race has likely gone extinct, and even if they did make it back to Earth there'd probably be nothing to find. For that matter, the setup episode is called "The End".
- Agent Peacock: The Cat was always vain, self-obsessed and ditzy, but after season 3 he Took a Level in Badass. He is still Camp and obsessed with clothes, but he is also the point-man for any boarding action, the crew's favored pilot and perfectly capable of dodging bullets.
- 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.
- Pree technically should not be bad, as she bases her actions on what she predicts the highest-ranking Officer would do. Unfortunately, when she operates on Red Dwarf, that happens to be Rimmer.
- 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. 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.
- The Alleged Car: Red Dwarf and Starbug were run-down, poorly constructed vessels to begin with. Then 3 million years took their toll on them. Naturally, the crew frequently complain that nothing works properly.
- The Alleged Computer: Holly. Despite apparently having an IQ of 6000, he (she in the later series) has gone very senile, and often blunderingly damages the people on the ship.
- Alliterative Name:
- The Talkie Toaster. It might have been a part of marketing strategy to make this device more appealing.
- Cat's alter ego Duane Dibley. In "Back to Reality", Cat immediately recognizes this is an extremely dorky name and he insists he does not want to be Duane Dibley.
- One of the sentient vending machines from Series 10 is known as Taiwan Tony. Kryten affectionately calls him TT.
- Surely one of the most prominent examples must be Kristine Kochanski.
- Lister at one point claimed to have a gay friend called "Bent Bob."
- All Just a Dream: Sort of the plot of "Back to Reality" and Back to Earth. It even turns out the same species is responsible for both; male for the former, female the latter.
- 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".
- Lister is stripped of his free subscription of JMC Oxygen after resigning his post in "Fathers & Suns".
- 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".
- Ambiguous Clone Ending: It's unclear which Rimmer is the Rimmer we see in Back To Earth and series X (the one from Series I-VII who became Ace Rimmer or the one from Series VIII who may or may not have died during the series cliffhanger) as Series X presents evidence for both scenarios.note
- An Arm and a Leg: Played for laughs. As Lister is infected with the Epideme virus, they plan to drive it into his arm, then amputate it. Lister reluctantly agrees, so long as it's his left hand. Naturally Kryten has no choice but to amputate the right hand instead. For added insult, it didn't even eliminate all of the virus.
- 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 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.
- Animal Assassin: Those Wacky Nazis in "Stoke Me a Clipper" use Snappy, an assassin alligator, on Ace Rimmer.
- Answers to the Name of God: In the Series X episode "Lemons", a man's name is actually Jesus. Not the famous one, but the crew manage to convince him that he is for a while.
Lister: Really? Jesus!
Man Sat Behind Him: Yes?
- Antagonist Title: The series has a few of these; "Queeg", "Polymorph", "The Inquisitor", "Psirens", "Legion", "Gunmen of the Apocalypse", "Emohawk: Polymorph II", and "Epideme".
- Arbitrary Skepticism: 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.
- Archived Army: The waxdroids in "Meltdown" form less literal versions of this.
- Armchair Military: Rimmer.
- 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?
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
Rimmer: This is a nightmare! I'm on the run from the fascist police, with a murderer and a mass murderer and a man in a bri-nylon shirt.
- Ascended Extra:
- Kryten appears in the premiere of Series 2 and becomes a regular in Series 3. (David Ross declined the opportunity to join the main cast due to his distaste for the Kryten makeup and was replaced by Robert Llewellyn. Ross would eventually return to voice Talkie Toaster in 'White Hole'.)
- 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. Clare Grogan was replaced by Chloe Annett as Kochanski because Grogan had retired from acting in favor of becoming a TV host.
- Captain Hollister appears but twice in Series 1 and again in "Stasis Leak" before returning as a regular in Series 8. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In "Lemons", Cat devises a crazy golf course that ends with hitting the ball into a medical student's practice rectum.
- In "DNA", Kryten asks about how humans recharge, stating that he found what he thinks is the socket, but the plug keeps falling out.
- In "Krytie TV", Rimmer alludes to have attempted this on Lister with his own guitar. Lister notes that he'd have had more success with the neck end.
- As the Good Book Says: In "The Last Day," Rimmer notes that his parents' denomination of choice was founded on a misprinted Bible verse. The verse itself is misquoted for the sake of the punchline:
Rimmer: 1 Corinthians 13, where it says "faith, hopnote and charity; and the greatest of these is hop."note
- Asymmetric Dilemma: Kryten's favorite way of pointing out the flaws in the Cat's plans.
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".
- Bang Bang BANG: In Rob Grant's solo novel Backwards, Ace Rimmer's CO resigns his commission and takes a bath before pulling out his sidearm and fires it inside the confines of his bathroom. The gunshot is so loud that his ears start to bleed and he exclaims "Bugger me, that was loud!" Justified in that he's in a confined and tiled space that would amplify the sound of the gunshot.
- Bar Brawl:
- "Backwards". Except it's a "bar room tidy". Unrumble!
- The real bar room brawl in "Gunmen of the Apocalypse".
- Barrier-Busting Blow: Low Kryten hits Lister with one in "Demons and Angels".
- Bathroom Break-Out: In one episode, Rimmer mentions a date he once had, who apparently got a little confused and tried to climb out the bathroom window. Seeing as he spent the whole evening making fun of her nose (in a very misguided attempt to break the ice), it never occurred to him that she was trying to get away.
- 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.
- In Series X, Lister uses it on himself.
- Battle Butler: Kryten, in later series, 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.
- Beard of Evil: In "Demons and Angels", the most obvious physical difference that Low Lister has with his High and regular counterparts is his filthy, unkempt beard. That and his Eyepatch of Power.
- Beat: The episode "Camille", when Kryten is telling her about his crewmates:
Camille: Please, I can't meet your shipmates. Trust me.
Kryten: But you don't know them! You'll like them! (beat) Well, some of them. (beat) Well, one of them. (beat) Maybe.
- 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.
- BFG: The Bazookoids.
- Big Damn Heroes: Ace Rimmer would have nothing to live for without this trope.
- Black 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?
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.
- 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 "Emohawk: Polymorph II":
"Change of plan... leg it!"
- Rimmer recalls in "The Last Day" that his first intimate experience was with his uncle Frank, who thought he was his mum. Paedophilia (albeit unwitting), and possibly not just one but two different permutations of incest, if Frank and Rimmer's mum were siblings. In the same scene, Rimmer also speculates that Lister's parents were brother and sister. Much, much later we find out that Lister's provenance is even weirder: thanks to a time machine not only is his mum his ex-girlfriend, but he's his own father.
- Blatant Lies: When Hollister reprimanded Rimmer for doing a rank job of fixing the drive plate, Rimmer told him that he would take full responsibility for the consequences. Considering that one of the first things he does when meeting Lister as a hologram, is to blame him for the catastrophe, it becomes obvious that Rimmer was just trying to save face.
- Blue and Orange Morality: Primarily the Cat. 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.
- Invoked for laughs in "Rimmerworld", where the hostile reaction that Lister, Cat and Kryten get from the Rimmer clones is intensified because they do not display self-centered, malicious, Jerk Ass traits that have become the foundation of the race's moral structure.
Rimmer Guard: These three abominations stand charged on eight counts of gross deviancy. Not content with not looking like the true image, they flaunt freakish behaviour such as charm, bravery, compassion and (pauses) honour.
Rimmer Emperor: Are there no sighs of normalcy in these wretches? No cowardice or pomposity, no snideyness or smarm, not even basic honest-to-goodness double-dealing two-facedness?
Rimmer Guard: Sire, these creatures did not even attempt to sell each other out for their own freedom - they lack even the most basic natural drives.
- 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.
- Book Ends: Episode 6 of series X is called "The Beginning", in contrast to episode 1 of series I being called "The End". Both episodes end with the line "The slime's coming home".
- Bootstrapped Theme: The show's closing theme was retooled for its opening theme from Series 3 onwards. The original opening theme continued to be used as incidental music.
- Borrowed Catchphrase: Rimmer adopts Ace Rimmer's catchphrase 'Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast' when he has to take over Ace's life. He says it when leaving the ship, and mangles it completely.
- Bottle Episode: There have been several of these over the course of the series, such as "Marooned", "Out of Time", "The Last Day" and "Duct Soup".
- Bragging Theme Tune: We discover that Arnold Rimmer has one sung by tiny munchkin versions of himself.
If you're in trouble he will save the day
He's brave and he's fearless come what may
Without him the mission would go astray
He's Arnold, Arnold, Arnold Rimmer
Without him life would be much grimmer
He's handsome, trim, and no-one slimmer
He will never need a zimmer
- Brain Food: The Psirens from Series VI episode I. They look like man-sized insects and will project false visions to their victims. They're perhaps the only brain-eaters to use a straw.
- 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: 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.
- In "Cassandra", after screaming "LETS GO KILL SOMETHING, YEAH!", Kill Crazy pauses to look at the camera before walking off.
- Cat in "Parallel Universe", when he meets Dog. He glances to the camera and says:
"I'm not sure what that is but I'm sure it wants to eat me..."
- 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..."
- Hilariously 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. He's a complete slob, but when forced into action has demonstrated a great deal of ingenuity and resourcefulness. In Ace Rimmer's parallel universe, he's one of the top flight engineers in the Space Corps. As of Series X, he's studying to better himself.
- 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.
- Broken Ace: Arnold J. Rimmer is a literal example of the trope. Sucked dry of his negativity and neuroses (themselves powerful enough to destroy a Lotus-Eater Machine) by an Emotion Eater, he immediately turns into Ace Rimmer (what a guy!). Eventually, he becomes the next Ace Rimmer - as each one dies, he recruits the next, and so on, until it finally reaches Arnie himself. It is mostly his neuroses that hold him back - but luckily for him, the Red Dwarf universe has it set that pretty much every Rimmer gets redeemed. Before then, he makes an awesome Last Stand at the end of Series 6.
- Broke the Rating Scale: Dave Lister frequently talks about writing Michelin Guides or similar about various settings, resulting in Legion getting a psycho rating of "four and a half chainsaws, maybe five". Rimmer suggests that the G-Tower from The Tank in series 8 probably gets "the full five slop-out buckets" in the guide to Penal Hell-Holes.
- Brother-Sister Incest: Rimmer theorizes this is why Lister's parents abandoned him. His words are almost prophetic, in that that they were actually mother and son. Where he's his own father... it's weird, okay?
- 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.
- Building of Adventure: The ship is city-sized and the primary setting.
- In some supporting material, it's stated that the ship is 5 miles long, 4 miles wide, and 3 miles high. Which is 60 cubic miles of solid infrastructure to have adventures in.
- 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."
- Buxom Is Better: When choosing the breast size for a new female computer, Rimmer insists on choosing 36D as her breast size, as opposed to Kryten's 30A choice.
- 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.
- The Trope Namer himself appears in "Meltdown" as part of the "Evil" waxdroid army.
- Call Back: The largest design on the back of Lister's leather jacket in Series X is... Wilma Flintstone.
- The news broadcast that Rimmer watches in "Better Than Life" is Groovy Channel 27, the same channel that Lister mentioned back in "Future Echoes".
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : What lands them in the brig during Series VIII. Despite being found innocent of the original charges against them, because they used classified crew data for their own advantage, they are found guilty of a totally different crime.
- 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 Series 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. Chris Barrie's lip synching and mannerisms when playing the other characters are also far more convincing than the other actors' in "Bodyswap".
- 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:
Ace Rimmer: Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast.
- Cat Folk: The ship's cats evolved over the eons into a species of humanoids, one of whom is a main character (and the vast majority of whom emigrated away from Red Dwarf long before.)
- 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.
- Character as Himself: "Timeslides" has a special guest star credited at the start of the episode: Adolf Hitler. True to their word, Hitler appears through use of Stock Footage of his Nuremburg speech, which Lister interrupts.
- Characterisation Marches On: Rimmer is initially portrayed as utterly subservient to authority come what may. However, in "Stasis Leak", he loses his temper and assaults the captain multiple timesnote . He also calls Todhunter "a big lig" in "The End" after the latter agrees that he's a smeghead, goes on a brief tirade about the captain after hearing the personal remarks about him in "Waiting for God", and the first assault happened because he thought Lister should have been sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for the mushroom prank. In short, he respects authority only so long as they seem to be agreeing with him.
- Chicken Walker: Blue Midget, post-retcon.
- Cliffhanger Copout: More common than actual cliffhanger resolutions.
- In a Series 1 episode, Lister takes an exam to become the ship's chef just so that he will outrank Rimmer. At the end of the episode he gets the results; Rimmer asks how he did, and Lister replies: "That's 'How did you do, Mr Lister, sir!'" In the Opening Narration of the next episode, Holly simply adds: "Last week, Lister pretended he'd passed the chef's exam, but really he'd failed. That should tell you how interesting things are around here."
- 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, and seemingly the entire crew minus Lister, are dead and a hologram again). This particular cop-out continues three years later in "The Beginning", with two separate discussions on how they got out of it- both are interrupted before the reveal.
- Clucking Funny: Lister was transformed into a chicken in "DNA".
- 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!!
- Comically Missing the Point:
- In the Series X episode, "The Beginning", a rogue simulant reports to his master that they had lost the crew of Red Dwarf in an asteroid field, at which point the master, who has been described as being bred for pure malice and hatred, hands him his sword and tells him "You know what to do", at which point, the subordinate disembowels himself. The master gets annoyed and tells him he was supposed to polish it. However, in a later scene, after complaining he wants his subordinates to question his orders, another subordinate points out that the last one who did was executed, at which point the master orders him hauled away to be executed, so, he might have been intentionally messing with the guy.
- In the Series III episode, "Marooned", Rimmer finding out that Lister lost his virginity aged 12 - and taking issue with the fact that this must have meant he wasn't a full member of the golf club where he lost it.
- In "Entangled", Rimmer rants about the health and safety regulations being so incredibly lax, pointing to the radiation disaster that wiped out the crew as proof. Lister counters that had more to do with Rimmer's incompetence failing to repair the drive plate properly and Rimmer takes that as further proof that the higher-ups failed basic health and safety by assigning him to do the repair!
- This exchange from "Me2" when Lister is berating Rimmer for his chronic Never My Fault syndrome:
Lister: It's always something! My charts were misplaced! My dividers don't stretch long enough!
Rimmer: Well they don't!
- Compound Interest Time Travel Gambit: It is revealed in an episode that Dave left £17.50 in his bank account on Earth. Three million years have passed, and he now owns 98% of the world's wealth. He also left a sausage out on his table which went mouldy; now the mould covers seven-eights of the surface of the Earth. Furthermore, he left the lightbulb in his bathroom, racking up a gigantic debt to the local utility company, which has now become the ruling faction on Earth and whose battle fleet is rapidly approaching in an Attempt To Collect. It turns out to be a joke by Holly.
- Mentioned in the American version. Lister's first words after being informed that he's been in suspended animation for almost three million years involve exclaiming that his baseball cards must be worth a fortune.
- In the original version he also laments that he has an unreturned library book.
- Consulting Mister Puppet: The episode "Quarantine". Rimmer becomes deranged after contracting a holovirus, and starts associating with a penguin Hand Puppet called Mr. Flibble, who was the former trope namer.
Rimmer (Shaking with rage): Mr. Flibble's very cross. You shouldn't have run away from him. What are we going to do with them, Mr. Flibble?
(Mr. Flibble appears to whisper in Rimmer's ear)
Rimmer: We can't possibly do that!
(Mr Flibble tilts to look at the crew)
Rimmer: Who would clean up the mess?
- 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.
- Contrived Coincidence: Parodied extensively in "Entangled".
- Earlier on, in "Cassandra", the SS Silverburg had been at the bottom of an ocean moon for millions of years, yet it wasn't until after the Canaries boarded it that the bulkhead gave way, drowning many of them.
- Cool Cat: Cat obviously, although he's humanoid.
- Coordinated Clothes:
- In "Parallel Universe" in the Cat's song dream sequence, our guys are wearing matching outfits. The Cat is performing the "Tongue Tied" song, and Rimmer and Lister are his backing vocals. The trio is dressed in the same red suits with frills. And they all dance!
- "Quarantine": At the end of the episode, Lister, Kryten and Cat all wear red-and-white checked gingham dresses which Rimmer wore when he was insane, being infected by the holo-virus. The guys probably want to psych him out the same as he psyched out them with his madness.
- 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 "Future Echoes", the usual credits roll has the developing polaroid of Lister with his twins over the top.
- 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"'s credits.
- Elvis sings the Red Dwarf theme in "Meltdown".
- In the remastered version of "Backwards", the credits are indeed shown backwards.
- In "Stoke Me A Clipper", Ace Rimmer's theme is played instead.
- Creepy Crossdresser: The show plays this trope for laughs a few times:
- In the Series five episode "Demons and Angels", Lister is running for his life from the evil versions of the Red Dwarf crew, until he runs into Evil Rimmer ... wearing what is best described as a Dominatrix-type get up.
- In another Series 5 episode, "Quarantine". When Rimmer contracts a holo-virus that sends him mad, he appears out of uniform, and holding Mr Flibble. Also lampshaded:
[Rimmer appears in an observation window. He is NOT in uniform.]
Rimmer: Is something amiss?
Lister: [trying to disguise the tremor in his voice] Amiss? God no. What could possibly be amiss?
Rimmer: You don't think there's anything amiss? I'm sitting here wearing a red and white checked gingham dress — and army boots — and you think that's un-amiss?
- Cringe Comedy: Rimmer's hobbies, sex life and general attitude.
- Critical Staffing Shortage: It starts with over 1,000 crew. After almost all of them are killed by a nuclear accident, the ship is manned by two former vending machine technicians (one of whom is dead), a highly evolved cat, and a sanitation droid.
- Cryo Prison: The equivalent of the brig on the "Dwarf", and the reason Lister survived the reactor leak.
- Crystal Spires and Togas: In an episode where the lads got split up into a good and an evil part, the good version was portrayed like this.
- 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".
- In the USA pilot, death is "like being in an Amish bachelor party".
- 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 shepherd.
- 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".
- 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..."
- Damned by Faint Praise: The Least Worst Scripts.
- Darker and Edgier:
- Series V had much darker and creepier atmosphere than the previous series.
- 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.
- 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.
- Dead Alternate Counterpart:
- Arnold Rimmer might technically be this to Ace Rimmer, having died in a nuclear accident and been brought back as a hologram in the pilot.
- In Ace's second appearance, he's dying and attempting to convince Arnold to continue his dimension-hopping heroics.
- Rimmer turned out to be the latest in a long series of alternate Rimmer's who took up the mantle, so many that his predecessor's holo-bees comprise a Saturn-like planetary ring.
- 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.
- 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.
- Department of Redundancy Department: "The Rimmer Experience" is a place of wonder, excitement and... wonder.
- Also, in the beginning of "Stasis Leak", when Rimmer finds Lister reading his diary:
Rimmer: Lister, that is my private, personal, private diary full of my personal, private, personal things.
- Depraved Homosexual: In "Demons and Angels": Evil Rimmer, dressed like a punk version of Dr. Frank N Furter, tells Lister in his most intimidating voice:
"First, I'm going to whip you within an inch of your life. Then... I'm going to have you."
- Despair Event Horizon: The venom of the Suicide Squid in Back to Reality creates a hallucination designed to cause this. For Kryten the thing which pushes him over the edge is taking a human life; for Lister it's 'discovering' that his 'real' self is a brutal enforcer for a totalitarian regime; for Rimmer it's no longer being able to blame his shortcomings on his upbringing; and for Cat it's...not being cool any more.
- 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!
- Disability as an Excuse for Jerkassery: It's far from being the only excuse he gives, but Rimmer sometimes blames at least some of his awfulness on the fact that he suffers from the worst disability there is: he's dead.
- Distracted by My Own Sexy: The Cat, repeatedly.
- The Ditz: The Cat. The old Cat Priest tells us It Runs In The Blood:
Cat Priest: Then the boy was born, to the cripple and the idiot!
The Cat: My father was a jelly brain?!
Cat Priest: Yes! That's why he tried to eat his own feet!
The Cat: (deadpan) I did wonder.
- Do Androids Dream?: the notion of 'Silicon Heaven' is programmed into all AIs above a certain standard (it's implied that scutters, at least, lack this programming). In the episode "The Last Day", Kryten faces shutdown, and accepts it humbly because of his belief in Silicon Heaven. Lister tries to argue him out of his belief, apparently unsuccessfully; however, Kryten later disables his robocidal replacement, Hudzen, with the same arguments Lister used on him.
Hudzen:(in existential agony) No... Silicon heaven? Calculators... Just... Die?
- Kryten then explains that he was only using these arguments to disable Hudzen, and that his faith in Silicon Heaven is unshaken.
- Don't Ask: The Cat says this to the others in the episode "Backwards", having just found out what going to the loo in reverse is like.
- Double Vision: And how. Almost every series 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!"
- Do You Want to Copulate?: The Holoship does not have families, and crew members are required to have sex at least twice a day. Refusing an offer of sex is considered bad manners.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Queeg in "Queeg".
- Driven to Suicide / Heroic Sacrifice: When the attempt to cure Lister of the Epideme virus by isolating it in his arm and amputating it fails, he leaves Starbug with the intention of incinerating himself and the virus along with him before he can infect the rest of the crew. However the sentient virus talks him out of it by tricking him into thinking there is still a cure. Fortunately after they discover that this was a lie Kochanski is able to outwit the virus.
- 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 "Future Echoes", Lister says that he's never eaten chicken vindaloo before (prawn vindaloo in the original), when in a flashback in "Balance of Power" he says that he'd dropped Rimmer's revision timetable into one (he spilled goat vindaloo on it in the original).
- Early Installment Weirdness: The soundtrack in series one and two; it would make a comeback for ten.
- In fact the first two series are this entirely, largely due to the lower budget:
- The mood is much darker with minimal music. Lister spends much of the time having flashbacks to the days before the disaster and playing pranks on Rimmer. Lister spends much of his time wondering how to get Kochanski back.
- Holly is male, and plays a central role in the story. He would often explain to Lister what was going on. This was often handled by Kryten later on.
- They almost never leave the ship - when they do it's using Blue Midget, not Starbug. For Rimmer to go outside he needs to be projected in a 'hologram cage' but he doesn't need to do this later on.
- Kryten did not appear in Series 1. He was introduced and only appeared in in the first episode of Series 2, but looks, sounds, and acts very different, as he is played by David Ross as an English butler robot. At the time he was only considered a guest character. When they brought him back for Series 3, Robert Llewellyn started playing him as a Canadian robot who handled much of the exposition.
- The filming style is more washed out, and Rimmer's hologram 'H' is a different shape.
- Cat mostly acts like a selfish idiot and is mostly there for comic relief rather than adding to the story (in later series he would often pilot Starbug because of his sharper feline senses and reflexes).
- 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 in "White Hole".
- Though "scientifically" explained, the justice zone in "Justice".
- The psi moon in "Terrorform".
- The effects of the despair squid and its 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. "Lemons" reveals that the reason Rimmer's mother gave him the name was because she was part of the Church of Judas, who believed that he was Jesus' twin brother, who willingly sacrificed both his life and reputation to save his brother by taking his place on the cross. The ending heavily implies she was right.
- Empathic Environment: The psi-moon in "Terrorform".
- The End of the Beginning: Both the first episode of the very first series ("The End") and the final episode of series X ("The Beginning").
- Enhance Button: Parodied mercilessly in "Back To Earth" — Uncrop! It serves as a Shout-Out / Take That at the similar scene from Blade Runner.
- 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 psychic sirens, In Space!
- Epiphany Therapy: It's been long established that Rimmer's neuroses are partly the fault of his emotionally distant and controlling father, who never said he was proud of him and used to stretch him on a rack so he'd be tall enough to join the Space Corps. In the episode "The Beginning" he learns that this man isn't his father at all and this almost instantly cures his self-doubt.
- Escapism: In an episode, the crew discovers a long-lost VR game called "Better than Life". It's Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- 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. It's 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 and Trope Namer.
- 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.
- 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.
- Justified (although not very much) in that they evolved in an environment (Red Dwarf) designed for the comfort and convenience of humans, so those who had the most human-like traits would be best adapted to that environment. For example, the first cat to develop sufficient manual dexterity to operate a can opener was unquestionably an evolutionary step ahead of the rest.
- 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 Adolf 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 Leash: Lister gets saddled with one by the BEGGs in "Entangled".
- 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.
- Expospeak Gag: Played for laughs several times, most notably in "Stasis Leak".
Cat: (to Rimmer) What is it?
Rimmer: It's a rend in the space-time continuum.
Cat: (to Lister) What is it?
Lister: The stasis room freezes time, you know, makes time stand still. So whenever you have a leak, it must preserve whatever it's leaked into, and it's leaked into this room.
Cat: (to Rimmer) What is it?
Rimmer: It's singularity, a point in the universe where the normal laws of space and time don't apply.
Cat: (to Lister) What is it?
Lister: It's a hole back into the past.
Cat: Oh, a magic door! Well, why didn't you say?
- Facepalm: Both Lister and Rimmer frequently facepalmed because of each other's insane ideas, general smeg-headedness or extreme and disgusting slobbishness.
- Failure Is the Only Option: Getting back to Earth.
- Fang Thpeak: The Cat suffers a little bit of this from time to time.
- Fantastic Drug:
- Outrazone (prounced vaguely like "ultrazone" in a mock-Canadian accent) is a chemical gunk that is apparently marijuana for mechanoids.
- A second season episode mentions a powerful hallucinogenic mushroom species native to Titan (one of the moons of Saturn).
- Apparently, by the time before Arnold Rimmer caused Red Dwarf's fatal accident, humanity had learned to create a form of gin out of marijuana. They called it Marijuana Gin.
- The novels had "Bliss", a brown powder that literally made you believe you were God, could supposedly get you hooked just by looking at it & would cause the user to become suicidally depressed for decades after coming down, which is probably what made it so addictive. Also, Better than Life, which was a sort of Lotus-Eater Machine in the books rather than the more innocuous artificial reality video game of the TV series.
- Faster-Than-Light Travel:
- Explicitly done in "Future Echoes".
- 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.
- The point that this incident could not possibly account for the prior 13 years of failure bears repeating.
- Feet-First Introduction: In "Demons and Angels", the evil version of Rimmer is introduced walking down a stairway to menace Lister, revealing that he's dressed as a sexually sadistic dominatrix.
- Fictional Document: The Space Corps Directives.
- Fictional Sport: Zero Gee Football, as followed by Dave Lister. Appears to be a form of grid-iron football played in a closed dome (Jim Bexley Speed apparently plays "roof attack", and appears on a poster over Lister's bunk looking something like the San Diego Chargers uniform.)
- Finger-Licking Poison: In "Back in the Red", with a (non-lethal) drug in the seal of an envelope.
- Five-Finger Fillet: In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment in the opening episode, Petersen can be seen doing this (badly) with a pen.
- 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 technically true.
- The novel Backwards goes further and explains that the reason Lister is a top engineer in Ace Rimmer's universe is because without Rimmer for a bunkmate, Lister ended up sharing with someone who encouraged him to study and realise his full potential. No explanation for why Kryten, Cat and Holly's equivalents are human, though.
- 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 Series 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. Series 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.
- Kryten abruptly becomes something of a Mother Hen-like figure after Kochanski arrives, with several episodes of series VII being about his issues with her, and he starts nagging all the characters a lot more. Toned down in Series VIII.
- Holly starts off as a fairly competent computer with the occasional moments of ditzy-ness, but it gets worse with each series (such as in "White Hole" where she can only count by hitting her head on the screen.) and By series VII and VIII he's completely out of it, offering advice and plans that don't make any sense (although with the odd moments of lucidity). This could be explained by his computer senility just getting worse, though.
- A Fool for a Client: This happens in the series, allowing the setup of the following gag:
Rimmer: If only I'd hired a smarter lawyer, instead of the brain-dead, pompous, stupid-haired git I ended up with.
Lister: You defended yourself!
- "Freaky Friday" Flip: "Bodyswap".
- The Friends Who Never Hang: Rimmer and the Cat almost never interacted in the early series: Rimmer didn't think of the Cat as a person, and the Cat, before he got more domesticated later on, had no interest in a man who couldn't feed him.
- Fun with Acronyms: "The Committee for the Liberation and Integration of Terrifying Organisms and their Rehabilitation Into Society."
- Rimmer jokes that Canaries is in fact an acronym for "Convict Army: Nearly All Retarded Inbred Evil Sheepshaggers" just before he's informed that he's been signed up too.
- 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.
- Furry Fandom: Although it was made before the Internet made the fandom famous, "DNA" has Rimmer ask incredulously if Lister is claiming to enjoy strapping on a bushy tail and naming himself 'Nutkin' when Lister, attempting to explain why he feels Kryten should change back into a Mechanoid, mentions his envy of a squirrel he saw in the botanical gardens after getting dumped by Kochanski.
- 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.
: They laughed at Galileo. They laughed at Edison. They laughed at Columbo! Lister
: Who's Columbo? Rimmer
: The man with a dirty mac who discovered America!
- 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 qualify.
- Judging by his reaction in "Bodyswap", either Lister has one or Rimmer has shortcomings.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ghost City:
- Most American cities in "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.
- A Glitch in the Matrix: In the novel "Better Than Life", this occurs. The characters are stuck in a virtual reality simulation of their greatest fantasies. At first they are alerted to their situation by Kryten signalling them from outside, then entering the game himself, which wouldn't qualify as this trope. However, when they decide to leave they wake up on Red Dwarf unharmed by the weeks they have spent effectively comatose, Lister notices that toast always lands face up when dropped, and finally two people are discovered alive and in stasis; Lister's crush Kochanski and Rimmer's living self. Lister realizes that things are still perfect, and that they are therefore still in the game. They wake up for real, and find they are in horrible shape from their experience.
- 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 (gesturing to a table): "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.
- Also Pree, a computer intended to allow people to achieve more in less time by finishing tasks for them in the manner they would finish them. On a ship with a competent crew this is a desirable thing. On Red Dwarf ... less so.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: Confidence and Paranoia in, unsurprisingly, "Confidence and Paranoia". Although it's up for debate which is which
- Also the episode "Demons and Angels".
- Arguably, in "Terrorform", Rimmer's resurrected self-confidence versus, well, everything else in his mind.
- Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: The Highs in "Demons and Angels" when presented with the Lows.
The poor wretch, he has a faulty gun! He's accidentally shot me five times! Oh, how I love him!
- Grand Theft Me: In "Bodyswap", Rimmer repeatedly swaps bodies with people while they're sleeping, without their consent, so he can experience physical sensations such as eating.
- 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.
- In "Entangled", Lister is fitted with a "groin exploder" to ensure he pays his debts after losing Rimmer in a game of poker.
- 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.
- Hamster Wheel Power: Appears twice, first in White Hole when the ship's power is turned off and the Cat makes Lister peddle in an attempt to fry an egg with a hairdryer (before insisting he power the electric blanket while he sleeps) and secondly in a metaphorical sense when Ace Rimmer attempts to train Rimmer to take on his mantle by encouraging him to 'be the cougar running free', and Rimmer's efforts are visualised as a hamster in a wheel.
- Hand Cannon: The simulant's pistol from "Justice", complete with bayonet.
- 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:
- Lister bangs his head on the table in "Queeg" when he finds out that all he got for dinner is burnt toast and one pea. His head goes down when he loses his pea.
- 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.
- Held Back In School: We learn that Rimmer almost was held back a year but just managed to avoid it. Ace Rimmer on the other hand was held back a year and it was crucial turning point in his life.
- 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.
- Rimmer in "Trojan" when he becomes too resentful of his brother. Literally: he crashes from all the clogged up memory. Though it's more like "Heroic Spinning Beach Balls of Doom".
- 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."
- Hesitant Sacrifice: In Future Echoes, when Lister accepts that Rimmer's vision of his death is going to come true, Lister's still determined to fight it all the way to the end. He even rips a towel rack off the wall so he has something to whack the Grim Reaper with.
Lister: I'm going out as I came in, screaming and kicking.
Rimmer: You can't just whack Death on the head!
Lister: If he comes near me, I'm gonna rip his nipples off!
- 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?
- When they meet Jesus in the episode "Lemons," he turns out to be a bit of a hippie (he's certainly a pacifist and is horrified at the amount of wars waged in his name). However, he turns out to be the wrong Jesus (he's Jesus of Caesaria, not Jesus of Nazareth).
- Historical In-Joke
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!"
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Lister tricks the Inquisitor into erasing himself from history.
- Hollywood Silencer: Averted with The Creator's pistol in Back To Earth.
- Holodeck Malfunction:
- "Gunmen of the Apocalypse".
- Kryten and Lister fake one in "Stoke me a Clipper" to encourage Rimmer to do something brave.
- Hot Sauce Drinking: Dave Lister has been known to drink tobasco sauce after spreading it on his cornflakes.
- Hot Scientist: Katarina.
- 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.
- Humanity's Wake: Except for Lister the human race is extinct until Series VII.
- Humans Are Bastards:
- 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.
- 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.
- Strangely averted in "Quarantine". Rimmer, who's gone completely nuts because of the holovirus, tricks the others into "admitting" they are insane when he has them in quarantine lock-up, and he sentences them to a few hours without any oxygen. It's hypocritical, but rather than coming off as two-faced it just evidences how spectacularly deranged he's gotten.
- I Always Wanted to Say That: Subverted in "Rimmerworld":
Lister: This might sound like a bit of a corny line, but... can't even bring myself to say it...
Rimmerguard: Say what?
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 "Mr. 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.
- 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 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 father) 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's horror upon learning the strange white powder he'd been eating was the remains of the Red Dwarf crew.
- When Lister cooks his own frozen organs (removed in surgery) by mistake thinking that they're pork, only they get stolen and eaten by Cat, before he can chow down.
- One of Lister's old schoolmates apparently achieved fame by eating his wife.
- Back in Space Scouts, Rimmer's "best friend" "Porky" Ruebuck spearheaded a campaign to eat him. By the time the scoutmaster saved him, Rimmer was tied to a stake and covered in barbecue sauce.
- Informed Obscenity:
- According to Holly, Tottenham Hotspur counts as a euphemism for shit.
- This series also gave us "Smeg!" which was intended to be this but turned out to have an obscene real meaning.
- Informed Species: Cat is a highly humanoid creature with absolutely no visual clues as to his real species. However, Cat is actually stated to be a creature evolved from the spectacularly inbred descendants of Lister's pet cat.
- Inherently Funny Words: Rimmer, you smeghead.
Rimmer: Five thousand, six hundred and ninety one IRRADIATED HAGGIS!
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Lampshaded in "Quarantine", as they run away from danger.
Lister: Why do we never meet anyone nice?
Cat: Why do we never meet anyone who can shoot straight?
- Implausible Deniability: Played for laughs in "Me^2". Lister breaks into the Rimmers' room to steal Rimmer's diary, whereupon the Cat emerges from a closet, wearing a suitably gaudy and over-the-top outfit, and turning towards the camera and shielding his face from Lister, says:
Cat: Did you see him clearly? Could you spot him in a parade? I don't think so. I could've been anybody.
- 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.
- Insane Troll Logic: Kryten's explanation for cooking a dead guy they found and feeding him to Lister and the Cat:
Kryten: Humans eat chickens, right? So they msut eat their own kind or else they would jsut be picking on the chickens!
- In the Future, We Still Have Roombas: The Skutters.
- Inventor of the Mundane: Fred "Thicky" Holden, inventor of the "tension sheet", in "Timeslides".
- Invisible Monsters: Parodied, with a B movie titled 'Attack of the Giant, Savage, Completely Invisible Aliens'', which consists of Bad Bad Actors pointing at the sky and saying "It's the giant, savage, completely invisible aliens!"
- In with the In Crowd: The android Kryten is turned into an organic human. When talking to his sentient spare heads, he gets high-and-mighty with them. After that he realizes that he's turning into a jerk.
- I Say What I Say: The two Listers in "The Inquisitor".
- I Surrender, Suckers: Rimmer tries this out on four simulant death ships, to keep them from killing the crew (after all, you can't fire on a surrendering ship). They ignore him. This turns out to be a rather clever Batman Gambit to trick them into shooting each other
- It Came from the Fridge: The curry monster in "DNA".
- "It" Is Dehumanizing: In the episode where Kryten was first introduced, Rimmer refers to Kryten as "it". Looks like painting a portrait of Rimmer on the toilet, pouring soup on his bed, calling him "smeg for brains" and flipping him off taught him a lesson.
- It Tastes Like Feet:
- In the eighth season, Arnold Rimmer disgustedly proclaims that the gravy-covered meat they're being served on punishment tastes worse than his grandmother's buttocks deep-fried in old chip fat.
- In season six, nobody wants to drink Kryten's homemade wine because it tastes disgusting. Apparently it's brewed out of recycled urine and tastes worse than the original waste fluid it was...
- An earlier episode mentions that the water has been recycled so many times that it's starting to taste like Dutch Lager.
- Jesus Was Way Cool: In "Lemons", the crew is accidentally sent back in time and encounter Jesus in 23 AD in India, where he's a fairly nice guy who's big on pacifism. After accidentally taking him back to the future with them, he ends up reading about himself and is horrified at what the religion he starts will do to the world, so journeys back in time to trash his reputation in order to make sure that no one bases a religion around him. The Red Dwarf crew, despite being fairly a-religious, figure they should go back in time and fix this, and manage to convince Jesus that while Christianity did plenty of terrible things, he can still do good. Then they figure out that he's the wrong Jesus (he's Jesus of Caesaria, not Jesus of Nazareth) so the whole thing is moot. You do get to see someone credited as "Man Who May Be Jesus" at the very end, but it's indeterminate whether this Jesus is Way Cool or not.
- Joke Exhaustion: Rimmer recounts the time he went on a date with a woman who had an artificial nose. In an extremely misguided attempt to break the ice, he cracked jokes about noses until she excused herself, went to the bathroom, and fled through the window.
- 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.
- Lady in Red:
- In Series 7, Kochanski's default outfit is a tight red uniform which screams "sexy lady". In one episode, Lister gives Kochanski a beautiful red sparkly dress as a present, but she wears it only in Kryten's Imagine Spot.
- Princess Bonjella in "Stoke Me a Clipper" wears long tight red dress.
- Lampshade Wearing: In "The Last Day", Lister somehow wakes up wearing a traffic cone ("On a mining ship, 3 million years into deep space") after a night of drunken revelry. Cat Hand Waves it by saying "It's not a good night unless you get a traffic cone."
- Large Ham: Kill Crazy.
Kill Crazy: LET'S GO KILL SOMETHING! YEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAH!
- Laser-Guided Karma: The Justice Field from "Justice", which makes any crime commmited or attempt to injure someone, be instead reflected back to the person performing it. Lister figures out how to weaponise it by goading an insane, nigh-indestructible Simulant into attacking him.
- The Last Man Heard A Knock: Lister's the last human being alive for most of the show, but he's never alone.
- Last Name Basis: Rimmer and Lister. Only twice have they ever addressed each other by their first names (Arnold and David, respectively); once when they were drained of a negative emotion in "Polymorph" (anger for Rimmer, fear for Lister), and once near the end of the Catapult Nightmare in "Blue", which lead to the both of them sharing a kiss.
- 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: The Original Series episode "Amok Time".
- Lazy Bum: Lister is one of the ones we root for. He never does any work whatsoever, but it's not like a giant empty spaceship with no crew needs a lot of work, and he's more fun than his Control Freak nemesis.
Lister: Dave Lister.
Lister (after considering carefully): Bum.
- 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] I'm saying." Of course, when the episode was filmed, reversing the recording was a complicated process.
- Learnt English from Watching Television: It's explained that The Cat's race learned English from watching the American movies (specifically John Wayne movies) in the ship's hold. Of course, The Cat obviously learned his mannerisms from watching James Brown , though it's never mentioned in series.
- Leave Your Quest Test: In "Legion", the crew are dragged into a space station by a tractor beam, but find the only occupant - the eponymous Legion - simply wants to accommodate their every need and hopes they'll abandon their journey to find the stolen Red Dwarf ship. This is because he's a gestalt entity and can only exist when there are other life-forms on the station. All the residents died millennia ago.
- 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 by running into the door frame (ironically this saved his life, since everyone but the "Boys from the Dwarf" drowns in the submarine when the bulkhead collapses after three million years of being on the bottom of a water planet too many). 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?!
- Like You Would Really Do It: In-universe. Lister has this reaction regarding his dad (who is Lister himself) actually throwing his guitar out the airlock
- Limb-Sensation Fascination: In "Bodyswap", Lister agrees to let the hologram Rimmer take over his body for two weeks, in return for Rimmer taking on an exercise regime to get Lister's body in shape. However, Rimmer is overwhelmed by the experience of having a physical body for the first time since his death, and goes on a two week binge of eating, drinking and smoking.
- Limited Wardrobe: Averted to hell and back with the Cat, who has only worn the same outfit in more than one episode once (and even that was called attention to in-universe). According to a behind the scenes feature, he has fifteen distinct outfits in the six-episode Series III.
- Locked in a Freezer: Lister and Rimmer in "Marooned", though Rimmer's in no danger. It also subverts the standard ending - Rimmer briefly gains a new appreciation for Lister's strength of character, only to discover that Lister lied to face and used his camphor wood chest for fuel rather than the guitar.
- 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 lying. (Strangely, Kryten was only shown learning how to lie at the beginning of the following series, though it may have had to do more with lying to organics as opposed to other robots.)
- In "Fathers and Suns", Lister is able to do this to a hostile AI trying to kill the rest of the crew to make her uninstall herself.
- Longer-Than-Life Sentence: In the episode "Justice", Rimmer gets sentenced to ten thousand years imprisonment. Subverted as he is expected to be able to serve his sentence and be released at the end since he is a hologram. Of course as always Status Quo Is God and the Reset Button is hit by the episode end.
- Long Runner Tech Marches On:
- This Sci-fi Sitcom long-runner features this in the set design, having had its original heyday during the late-'80s/early-'90s but been revived most recently in 2012. The early seasons feature Holly (the ship's computer, seen as a face on a screen) moving about on R/C tube TV rigs, and Total Immersion Video Games being triangular-shaped VHS tapes, but this has (eventually) evolved over time so that by Season X (the latest season as of this writing) the Red Dwarf comes equipped with flat-screen monitors. Whilst both of these types of technology are present on the same ship, the "just go with it" nature of the show means that it isn't too distracting.
- The show hung a massive lampshade on this trope in the 2009 'comeback' miniseries 'Back To Earth', when the characters encounter DVDs and ask "what are these?" since video cassettes were seen in the earlier series to apparently still be ubiquitous in the future. The dialogue reveals that in their timeline at least DVDs swiftly fell out of favour again, owing to humanity's congenital inability to put the discs back in their case: they were re-replaced by VHS tapes as "videos are just too big to lose".
- Lost Episode: In the early '90s, a test pilot written by Linwood Boomer was produced by NBC for American audiences. According to some sources, it was received well by the audience, but the studio execs weren't satisfied, so Grant and Naylor were brought on board to try to fix it. The final product never aired, but it's been bootlegged ever since.
- Lost In Transmission: The American pilot ended with Lister being visited by his own future self. Future!Lister had only a few moments to convey a very important message, but everybody nattered about irrelevant details until there were only a few seconds left. The message Future!Lister finally managed to delver consisted only of "You've got to—"
- Lots of Luggage: In the episode Future Echoes, the Cat is instructed to get together a few essentials before going into suspended animation. He arrives with a rack of suits and, when challenged by Lister, admits there are ten more racks he intends to take.
- Lotus-Eater Machine:
- "Better Than Life" features a Virtual Reality Game that can make all your deepest fantasies come true. In the end, though, Rimmer's deep self-loathing results in the destruction of everybody's perfect worlds. In the books, the game is almost impossible to leave, because in order to leave, somebody has to want to leave, and nobody ever does (also, it's hard for people to realize that they're in the game in the first place, as the game sets itself up in such a way as to prevent people from realizing that). As a result, the person's real-life body will eventually waste away and die. Somewhat of a spoof in the novel, as the Cat is so self-absorbed that nothing will fulfill his desires short of living in a mountain kingdom and being waited on by giant, topless, singing, dancing Valkyries, putting even Rimmer's incredibly indulgent fantasy to shame, while Kryten can come and go freely as he has no hopes, dreams, or desires besides getting a new squeezy-mop.
- The novel version of "Better Than Life" ends with Lister having to make the decision whether to stay in the simulation or return to the hardships of traveling back to an Earth six million years in the future where he may well be the last human as he understands it. Talk about a Downer Ending. The second novel reveals that the Lotus Eater Machine digs deep into their psyche, bringing to light their deepest desires. Which, unfortunately for Rimmer (or fortunately, since it is what breaks them out of the fake paradise), revolves around his self-loathing. Rimmer's self-hatred ends up destroying the dream world. When they finally leave, they find that reality is suspiciously better than it should be (Lister's 2nd cup of coffee tastes better than the first, he drops a slice of buttered toast 20 times and it always lands butter side up, a TV dinner tastes better than its cardboard box, etc.) and discover that they're still in the game, at which point the game designer appears and congratulates them for figuring it out, then lets them leave.
- It is later reversed in "Back to Reality" by a hallucinogenic venom from a Despair Squid that causes the group to, together, hallucinate a reality that drives them to the brink of suicide. They are only stopped by Holly forcing Kryten to release a mood stabilizer.
- The three-part miniseries "Back to Earth" that aired in 2009. Act II and Act III get increasingly bizarre until they are revealed as a Lotus Eater Machine hallucination brought on by a hallucinogen that links all the affected characters in a pleasant dreamworld. After finding out, Lister is tempted to stay but ultimately he opts for the real thing..
- 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.
- 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]!"
- Magic Floppy Disk: On a sci-fi comedy show taking place on a futuristic mining vessel, people still use videocassettes...except they're triangular. It is explained in the 2009 Easter special that DVDs have become outdated by videos, since videos have once precious advantage—you can put them back in the box with minimal risk of breaking them.
- Lister's entire mind can be stored on a dictaphone casette tape - although this is at least partly justified by Rule of Funny.
- Maintain The Lie: Rimmer told his mother that he passed every exam he ever took, and had therefore reached the rank of "Rear Admiral Lieutenant General". As opposed to the man who cleaned the chicken soup machine.
- 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.
- Meaningless Villain Victory: Used against the heroes in "Back in the Red". 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.)
- Medium Blending: "Back in the Red" has the crew end up in a virtual reality's claymation screensaver.
- Memory Gambit: "Thanks for the Memory".
- Merlin Sickness: "Backwards".
- Mile-Long Ship: The Dwarf is usually 6 miles long, 5 miles tall, and 4 miles wide.
- 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.
- Misplaced a Decimal Point:
- 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 Red Dwarf is supposed to be one, since it's described as a "mining ship". We never actually see it do any mining, though...
- Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: Flies all over the place. The first couple of series are relatively hard (Absent Aliens, the Dwarf is powered by a Bussard ramscoop, only slower-than-light spaceships) with the odd doozy (Explosive Decompression, the Dwarf exceeds light speed simply by continuing to accelerate). However, around series 3 any pretense of scientific accuracy flies out the window, and things like photos developed with "mutated developing fluid" that you can actually climb into and affect history with and small devices that can instantly transport you half a million light years start to appear (Fridge Logic asks why the latter device wasn't used to return to Earth).
- Money Fetish: "Now that's the kind of cash that opens anybody's legs."
- Money to Burn: In the episode "Marooned", Lister and Rimmer are looking for kindling to keep the fire going. Once all the books have been burnt, Lister burns the 24 grand that Rimmer has saved up. However, Rimmer is dead already and has no use for the money and even if he did, there is no civilization left in which to spend it.
- Monster of the Week: The show goes this way after about the third series. To their credit, the crew is pretty genre-savvy about it, especially in Series 6. For example, Rimmer explains to one monster that everybody they'd met to that point has tried to kill them. It also swings the other direction in Series 7 & 8, having the storylines cover multiple episodes. (Although they are still self-contained.)
- More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Trope Namer. Many of the GELFs could qualify.
- Also, the Polymorph's Shapeshifter Default Form. The statement that named this trope is Rimmer explaining why they shouldn't attempt to fight it.
- 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.
- Mundane Utility: After losing his opportunity to buy a stirmaster from an automated infomercial company in "Trojan", Lister turns the simulant that they just defeated into one.
- My Future Self and Me:
- The ludicrous temporal shenanigans of "Stasis Leak" in Series 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.
- My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Rimmer's increasingly poor attempts to speak Esperanto in "Kryten", especially as the Con Lang was designed to be simple to learn. Further highlighted by Lister being shown to have become semi-fluent, due to the sheer amount of times that Rimmer has watched the tapes having long-since burned the answers into his memory.
- Mythology Gag: In the episode "Psirens", the SCS Pioneer is commanded by Captain Tau, played by Anita Dobson. Tau was also the name of the female captain of the Dwarf itself in the failed US pilot.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast:
- Arnold Judas Rimmer, for a double dose of treachery. Subverted however in that he eventually becomes a Jerk with a Heart of Gold after receiving more character development.
- Queeg (see The Caine Mutiny) is also used for the computer that temporarily replaces Holly. He's actually Holly trying to teach the crew to apprectiate him more.
- Nanomachines: Nanobots are responsible for rebuilding the whole of Red Dwarf, crew included, at the end of series 7.
- Narcissist: Cat is absolutely in love with himself. The most telling example is when a Shapeshifting Seducer assumes the form that he desires most... himself.
Cat: So I'm the object of my own desires?
Shapeshifter!Cat: Is there anyone more deserving?
- 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 Continuity: In "Stasis Leak", Rimmer marvels over the possibility of two versions of himself, hologram and human, onboard together. He forgets that the last time he had a duplicate of himself on board, the two were constantly at loggerheads.
- In "The End", the Cat is present when Lister discovers he's been mistaken for a God by the Cat race, but "Waiting for God" shows the Cat being surprised when Lister explains that he's really "Cloister the Stupid".
- 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 for series IV-V, that made it look like an action-heavy adventure show instead of an irreverent comedy with a sci-fi backdrop.
- Nietzsche Wannabe: The Inquisitor; subverted by his attempts to populate the universe with meaningful humans.
- Noodle Incident / Noodle Implements: "The Last Day":
Lister (waking up after a night's drinking): On a mining ship, 3 million years into deep space, can someone explain to me where the smeg I got this traffic cone?
Cat: Hey, it's not a good night unless you get a traffic cone. It's the policewoman's helmet and the suspenders I don't understand!
- "Only the Good..." gets referenced in "The Beginning" only for the details of the solution to the virus being shushed.
- 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.
- Nonverbal Miscommunication: In "Dear Dave", Cat attempts to convey his news to the rest of the crew through charades (because he is bored). His attempt to mime 'the mail-pod has arrived and crashed into my clothes' is construed by the others as everything from 'we're about to fly into a black hole' to 'we're being attacked by zombies'.
- No One Else Is That Dumb: When a Psiren is impersonating Lister, the other characters ask one of the two indistinguishable Listers to prove he is the real one by playing the guitar. The first Lister does so, very well, and the other characters shoot him. They know the second Lister is the real one because he only thinks he can play.
- No Snack For You: In "Only the Good", we get a vending machine with artificial intelligence that gets angry when Rimmer uses a coin-on-a-string to get a free chocolate bar. Rimmer is unimpressed with its threats of terrible vengeance, only to get clonked on the back of the head by a flying soda can at the end of the episode.
- Not in the Face!: In "Legion", circumstances force Kryton to knock out his crewmates. The Cat: "Do what you gotta, but don't mess up my hair."
- 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.
- "Not Wearing Pants" Dream: In "Thanks for the Memory", Lister looks in on what Rimmer is dreaming. Rimmer is doing a tap dance in a top hat and tails, but no pants.
- Novelization: A number of early episodes were adapted as novels, however enough plot changes were made that they are considered to exist in a separate continuity to the TV series.
- No Water Proofing In The Future:
- Kryten, and all the other Series 4000 mechanoids of his type.
- In "Entangled", Lister shorts out the control panel on the Red Dwarf by spilling chilli sauce on it, then attempting to put out the resulting fire with his lager.
- In Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, a console officer spills his coffee on his keyboard and assumes the warning light is a result of this, rather than the radiation leak bearing down on everyone.
- 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".
- Offing the Offspring: In the episode "Psirens", the psirens' illusion of Kochanski gives Lister the impression that she is planning to do this to her and Lister's offspring and then herself to save their "child" from an invasion by monsters who would torture them brutally one captured.
- Offscreen Crash: Rimmer in the remastered pilot. Somehow. In the original there was no sound effects.
- Oh, Crap: Rimmer has this reaction in "The Inquisitor". 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: Oh, smeg!
Rimmer!Inquisitor: "Oh smeg!" indeed, matey.
- The Simulants in The Beginning when they realise that Rimmer has outsmarted them and they try to surrender.
- 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 at some point between the 21st and 23rd century (several episodes contradict the figure), 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 three million years old himself. 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.
- Only Child Syndrome: As far as we know, everyone except Rimmer, who has three brothers. In Lister's case this would be justified by his "unique" parentage, though conceivably you could count his and his female double's sons as his half-brothers or something. Or uncles. Or nephews. Lister's family tree exists in a few more dimensions than is normal.
- One Steve Limit: Averted; there are at least five minor or unseen characters called Frank. And at least two named Gilbert.
- Opposite-Sex Clone:
- Opposite sex dimension in "Parallel Universe". They meet their versions.
- Rimmer eventually, after several failures breeds an actual opposite sex clone of himself in the episode "Rimmerworld", which even has his face.
- Other Me Annoys Me: Whenever the Dwarfers meet parallel universe, alternate timeline, copied or time-displaced versions of themselves, to the point that "Stasis Leak" ends on Rimmer screaming at the various time/dimension-traveling versions of himself and his crewmates to just go away.
- Out of Order: "Dimension Jump" and "Meltdown" were originally intended to air at the beginning of season four. Because of The Gulf War still raging at the time, they were pushed back, due to their military overtones (Ace Rimmer being a jet pilot was a minor one, but still considered too militaristic). This results in a Plot Hole during "Meltdown", where Kryten is unable to resist carrying out the deranged Rimmer's orders, despite having disobeyed him in "Camille" (which aired as the first episode of the season).
- Overly Long Gag:
Cat: So what is it? (in more than one episode)
(Several more beats)
(Quite a lot of beats indeed)
Rimmer: ...oh... twenty-three?
- Overly Pre-Prepared Gag: The episode "Queeg" has Lister tell Rimmer a long rambling story about why it's cruel to give machines personalities. He tells about how his friend Peterson had a pair of "Smart Shoes" that could always get you home no matter how drunk you were. But Peterson woke up hundreds of miles away because the shoes wanted to see the world. He tried to get rid of them but they'd show back up. In the end the shoes stole a car and wound up driving it into a canal because they couldn't steer properly. Peterson was upset, but a priest consoled him that the shoes were happy and in heaven now. You see, it turns out Shoes have soles.
- Pac Man Fever: Averted. Lister is seen playing a GTA clone with a steering wheel and light gun with proper sound effects. Although the Cat does assume Lister is playing a text-only adventure game when trying to communicate the fact that what appears to be a one-eyed tarantula is crawling up his leg.
- Paint It Black: Evil Holly and Evil Lister in "Demons and Angels".
- Palette-Swapped Alien Food: All over the table in "Legion".
- Pals with Jesus: Subverted in "Lemons". They meet a guy named Jesus, just not the Son of God. He later "invents" the bag, after discovering it on the Dwarf.
- Pardon My Klingon: "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?
- 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.
- Perverse Sexual Lust: Cat and Lister once debate who's hotter - Wilma or Betty. They opt for Wilma before Lister lampshades how insane their conversation is - Wilma would never leave Fred.
- Phony Degree: "Arnold J Rimmer, BSc, SSc". (Those initials stand for "Bronze swimming certificate" and "Silver swimming certificate".)
- Photoprotoneutron Torpedo: the Series X Simulants' "Photon Mutilators".
- Phrase Catcher: Ace Rimmer, "What a guy!"
- Pinball Projectile:
- In "Gunmen of the Apocalypse".
- 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.
- Poor Man's Porn: In the extended version of Ourobouros, after donating his genetic material for Kochanski's In-Vitro tube, Lister mentions the only suitable...ahem, material on board Starbug is a record sleeve from a James Last album.
- 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.
- Popular Saying But: "Stasis Leak" has:
- 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: From Gunmen of the Apocalypse: "Now if you'll forgive the rather confrontational imperative, Go for yer guns, ye scum-sucking molluscs!"
- From the same episode: "We're gonna cut you up so small, the worms won't even have to chew."
- Precision F-Strike:
- Rimmer gets to say 'bastard' on four occasions and "bitch" once, all of which count. The former in 'Waiting For God' arguing with Lister about the Quagaars, 'Thanks For The Memory' insulting Hollister, 'Timeslides' on going back in time to 'save' Lister, 'White Hole' on why he won't turn himself off, and 'Back In The Red pt I' when all te women start lusting after him. Lister says it in Backwards when talking about backwards Father Christmas, In 'Bodyswap' albiet in Rimmer's body after the latter, in his body, crashes Starbug and pretends he's lost an arm, and in 'Tikka To Ride' discussing Kryten's definition of a 'Giant Pizza', actually Lee Harvey Oswald after he's fallen to his death.
- The show also has precisely one instance of an actual swear word (Cat says "shit" in "Emohawk: Polymorph II", and it's pretty hard to make out at that).
- Depends on your definition of swear word; definitely includes Lister's infamous 'I say let's get out there and twat it!' line from Polymorph (one of the mistaken assumptions why the video release was a 15 certificate, the highest in the series), numerous uses of 'git' and variations therof, usually by Rimmer, 'arsehole' spoken by Lister in Kryten is seen as more vulgar than it's american counterpart; even it's trademark insult 'smeg' is seen as this in some circles.
- The very first one in Future Echoes:
Rimmer I look (looks in the mirror) LIKE A COMPLETE AND TOTAL TIT!!!!!! (thanks to Holly giving him a 'haircut', he now possesses a Marge Simpson-esque beehive)
- Precursors: A variation in that all life in the universe originated on Earth, which makes us the Precursors.
- Pretty in Mink: "Gunmen of the Apocalypse" starts with Lister doing a VR simulation of a Film Noir, where he romances a dame wearing a fur wrap.
- Prison Ship: Red Dwarf itself serves a secondary purpose as a prison transport ship. Apparently only a few people are aware of that floor.
- 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 Knott, 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.
- Pseudolympics: The novel version had a version of the Olympics where drugs were legal and later a separate version for Genetically Engineered Life Forms (GELFs) who were specifically engineered to excel at a particular sport.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: 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!"
- Pursue the Dream Job: Dave Lister's dream is to move to Fiji, buy a farm and open a Hot Dog Stand. He tries to save the money to carry out his big plan.
- 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). He's still absent as of Series X.
- Ranked by I.Q.: The crew of the Enlightenment in "Holoship" not only use this to suggest intelligence, but seem to have a rank structure based around IQ. Given that, barring The Captain, everybody on board seems to be a Commander, this makes some kind of sense.
- Also used in White Hole, where Rimmer points to Holly's IQ to explain why he thinks she, as opposed to Lister, should be in charge of their attempts to destroy the white hole.
- Reading Ahead in the Script: Happens in the miniseries Back to Earth. The characters then start writing the script to make each other do humiliating slapstick routines.
- 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 World Episode: The premise of the Reunion Show. Unlike most examples, several of the people they run into in the "real world" fairly easily works out what they are, and don't find it especially outlandish that a group of fictional characters might pop out into the real world. Of course they ARE Science Fiction fans. As it turns out, the "real world" is a drug-induced hallucination. (Strictly, it's not the real real world; it's one where the series is still going, and is more popular than ever.)
- Rash Equilibrium: The climax of "Justice".
- Reality Warping Is Not a Toy: "Better Than Life": When the crew enter the Better Than Life video game, Rimmer's power to make things 'better than life' simply ends up sabotaging the game for all involved, as his subconscious won't let him be happy.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
- Recruited From The Gutter: Subverted in a Season X episode, when Rimmer, pretending to be a Space Corps captain, introduces his brother Howard to the crew:
Rimmer: When we found Kryten, he was a burnt-out wreck of a junkie.
Howard: And you rebuilt him, gave him something to live for?
Rimmer: No, we just hosed him down and gave him a hat.
- 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".
- Series 8 has many prison scenarios and jokes. Kryten even becomes the Harry Grout. It was described as Porridge In Space.
- Red Alert: An alert status in Starbug one step up from Blue Alert, although it does mean changing the bulb.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Doctor Lanstrom and later Rimmer in "Quarantine".
- Reed Richards Is Useless: Used (sort of an inverted lampshade?) by Rimmer, who scoffs at the idea that Jesus can do all these magic tricks and doesn't go into show-business!
- 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".
- Restraining Bolt: Kryten has "behaviour protocols" and is programmed to believe in Silicone Heaven as an eternal reward for serving humans
- 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.
- Rimmer's parents religion is 7th Day Advent Hoppists in 'The Last Day', in 'Lemons', it's completely different.
- 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.
- Revisiting the Roots: Back to Earth and Series X have returned to the basic setup of the four main characters alone on Red Dwarf, last seen in Series V.
- Revival: Series VII was broadcast after a four-year hiatus, and the three-part Back to Earth was broadcast after a ten-year hiatus. Series X, the first full series since 1999, aired three years later.
- Re Write: Too many to count. The creators always maintained that if altering the Back Story could improve the show, then they should alter it. 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 Re Write, 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 1,649.
- Riddle for the Ages: The subsequent series after VIII have turned the cliffhanger ending of "Only the Good..." into this.
- 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.
- Road Trip Episode: Several involving Starbug.
- 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 Hair: Kryten (previously bald) dons a toupée in the last episode of VI.
- Robotic Psychopath: In "Demons and Angels", Low Kryten is an evil mechanoid designed to hurt people. He tortures Lister along with the rest of his crewmates.
- Robotic Reveal: In "Out of Time", Lister gets his arm cut, revealing mechanical parts. Not only mechanical, but of a model inferior to Kryten, which means Kryten technically outranks him! The whole thing is then beautifully subverted when it turns out that Lister's mechanical "nature" is the result of Starbug having hit an "unreality pocket", turning Kryten briefly into a gibbering idiot as he attempts to apologize for his mis-step.
- 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.
- Rule of Funny: Other than applying to the show's entire premise and pretty much every episode ever made, the writers also have no problem tossing aside the show's established conventions 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.
- One of Red Dwarf's strategies seems to be finding Refuge in Audacity. The sheer amount the show uses is perfectly exemplified in the famous introduction scene of Ace Rimmer, where he, for starters, dislocates his shoulders to escape from ropes (yet retains full control of his arms for the remainder of the scene), and shrugs off bullets with mild annoyance at his clothes being ruined, along with many, many other things. note (What a guy!)
- Rule Number One: The Space Corps Directives.
- Rules Lawyer: When Rimmer finally gets his hands on the Space Corps Directives manual in "Quarantine", he gleefully plays by the book and uses the rules to his advantage in order to make the lives of the other crewmembers a living hell!
- Running Gag: Many in the later series, 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!
Kryten: Sir, a class A enforcement orb can easily outrun us.
Lister: Kryten, the Eastbourne Zimmer frame relay team can easily outrun us.
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.
- Sacred Scripture: The Cat race writes its holy scriptures in smells on blank paper. Lister finds a copy, and discovers that he is the Cats' god.
- Sacrificial Lamb: The Red Dwarf crew in "The End". 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.
- Sawed-Off Shotgun: Lister wields one in The Last Day. Lampshaded in the series 3 documentary by Craig Charles, who stated he'd never seen it before or since. Then again, against Hudzen 10, it's completely useless.
- 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.
- Schrödinger's Butterfly:
- "Better Than Life" from Series 2, and at least one novel. By the end of the series, it's impossible to tell whether they've really escaped the game, or the game just lets them think they have. (It does explain a lot of the self-admitted implausible science.) The episode plays it almost entirely for laughs. The book version was much darker. The show version was basically the Holodeck driven by whatever your surface wish was; no mistaking it for reality. The book lets us go a good while thinking the cast has fully made it home. Over much of the rest of the book they manage to escape, and find that things were still a little too good to be true. When they escape for real, a message left by the creator of the game appears to congratulate them, and they finally return to the real world. Hopefully. Apparently, they wanted to do it this way all along in the show but budget or something didn't allow - in "Future Echoes," elderly Lister has "U=BTL" etched into his arm. No attention is called to it at the time (or ever, in the show. In the book, we see this happen in book 1 and Lister notices. Better than Life is book 2.)
- "Back to Reality", the series 5 finale. The crew dies, only to see the "Game Over" text appear and shortly afterwards wake up in VR-game chairs... The series continued after that episode, but when it first aired it wasn't known whether there would be a series 6, and viewers thought this might be the Grand Finale. It plays the concept very seriously. Not only did this sort of go hand in hand with the series "growing up" over time, it also helped create multiple levels of mindscrew.
- At the end of series VI in "Out of Time." Just before the cataclysmic ending, Starbug hits a "reality mine" — a pocket of alternate history space. Followed immediately by Rimmer deliberately triggering a strange sort of Grandfather Paradox. Followed immediately by the future Dwarfers triggering another Grandfather Paradox. How many layers of unreality can two minutes of airtime possibly layer ... ?
- Part 3 of seriex VIII's "Back in the Red", when they return to the reconstructed Red Dwarf, courtesy of the Nanites, and are placed in the brig after signing agreements to participate in a trial involving psychotropic drugs that will cause them to hallucinate. They engineer a daring escape before the trial and make it out into space, at which point they realize that the entire escape attempt has been a hallucination. They enlist the aid of the reconstructed Rimmer and break out again... and realize that, once again, they've all been duped. When they finally make it out of their hallucinated trial, Rimmer asks, "Is this reality? But how can we be sure?" Cat poignantly states, "Why do we care? Nothing makes any sense no matter where we are!"
- Sci-Fi Bob Haircut: Hilly wears her hair bobbed, and Holly in the female form as well, at least at first. She later has somewhat longer hair.
- 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!" 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.
- See You in Hell: Following logically from the belief that mechanoids who obey their programming go to "Silicon Heaven", a rogue mechanoid snarls "See you in Silicon Hell!"
- 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.
- Self-Serving Memory: Taken to ridiculous extremes. Lister is missing the recently departed Rimmer, and rose-tinting his memories of their history together to such a degree that Rimmer comes of almost like a saint. When Kochanksi tries to comfort him, Kryten (who's afraid that she will replace him in Lister's life) takes a massively different tack; He creates a holographic carnival ride based on Rimmer's own "war diary". Needless to say, Rimmer's recollections are massively divergent from reality, depicting himself as the only competent person on the ship, rather than the cowardly, stupid, tasteless nitwit that he really is. It promotes Rimmer's views, tastes, and interpretations on events which clearly are biased. Lister ends the episode decrying his past with Rimmer.
Lister: I never want to see or hear from that scum-sucking, lying, weasel-headed smeghead in my entire life!
Kryten: Sigmund Freud, eat your heart out.
- Sequel Episode: The Series VI episode "Emohawk: Polymorph II", which is a sequel to the Series III episode "Polymorph". The three-part special "Back to Earth" also acts as a sequel to the Series V episode "Back to Reality".
- 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.
- Shadow Discretion Shot: Only the shadow of the despair squid (from "Back to Reality") is ever seen. This was almost certainly because they couldn't afford a squid special effect, and preferred Nothing Is Scarier to the anticlimax of a Special Effects Failure.
- Shapeshifters Do It for a Change:
- In an early episode, Lister threatens to take an exam to get promoted above Rimmer, if Rimmer does not allow him to go on a date with the hologram of Kochanski. Paranoid that Lister will never switch him back on, Rimmer takes on Kochanski's appearance and initially claims "she" isn't interested. Once Lister realizes, however, Rimmer points out that "It's still her body", raising the question of exactly how far he'd go to avoid the situation.
- Though she appears female to most of the characters, Camille can also take male form if the viewer prefers—the Cat sees himself as his ideal mate. She later notes that her species is actually androgynous.
- Shapeshifting Seducer:
- Camille in the episode of the same name. She's a GELF (genetically engineered lifeform) who automatically shapes herself to the desires of others. She appears to the mechanoid Kryten as a female mechanoid, to the hologram Rimmer as a shy and awkward hologram, to Lister as a low-dressed vagrant, and to the Cat as... himself. Her real form is a green blob with stick eyes, which Kryten has no problem with, and goes on a date with her like that.
- The gang also runs into Enthralling Sirens in the first episode of Series 6, who lure space crews to them so they could snack on their brains. When Lister comes face to face with one, it turns itself into a woman Dave lusted after when he was young. He tries to resist, but eventually falls for her charms. Unfortunately these Sirens are of the Master of Illusion rather than body shapeshifting type, so we're soon treated to a shot of Lister making out with an 8-foot alien bug.
- 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...
"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.
- Shoo Out the New Guy: Averted with Kryten, who fit into the main cast perfectly; it felt like he'd been in it all along. The ill-fated Americanization put him in the first (only) episode.
- 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'.)
- The "NORWEB" joke was actually lifted from the 1985 pilot of The Space Gypsy Adventures.
- 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 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...."
- In "The Last Day", Hudzen10's name is likely a shout out to Hudson, the butler in the original Upstairs Downstairs.
- In Series X, the uniforms of the Space Corps are reminiscent of those seen in the later Star Trek series.
- Shown Their Work: In the DVD Commentary for the pilot episode, Danny John-Jules mentions researching cats and their behavior for his role.
- 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.
- Sibling Rivalry: Referenced many times with Rimmer and his brothers, all of whom were said to have climbed far higher into the ranks of the Space Corps. than Rimmer himself ever would. In the series X episode "Trojan", it turns out that Howard was actually a lowly repairman like Arnold.
- 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.
- Sleeper Starship: The Red Dwarf has a couple of stasis pods that freeze time while Starbugs have more conventional suspended animation booths.
- Sleep Learning: In an early episode, Rimmer has attempted to use the self-hyponsis tapes "Learn Esperanto While You Sleep" and "Learn Quantum Theory While You Sleep". The only results we're told of are that neither he nor his bunkmate got any sleep.
- Smart People Play Chess:
- Used by Queeg after being challenged to a duel by Holly.
- "Better than Life" 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".
- 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 who proposes to hit the monster with "a major leaflet campaign".
- Snapback: 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 series, 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.
- 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!"
- Another example is from "Gunmen of the Apocalypse", when Kryten (as the sheriff in an AI simulation dream), confronted by an outlaw who tripped him up, apologized and said 'sorry I tripped on your boot.'
- Sound to Screen Adaptation: Red Dwarf was born as a short serial in the radio comedy show Son of Cliché, 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 series.
- Sparse List of Rules: The Space Core Directives that Kryten would often quote. Rimmer ended up quoting directives back but always being wrong. In one episode we see the book of directives and it's rather small despite the high numbers mentioned complete with multiple subcategories for each one, and rules for every situation including performing oral sex in a zero-g environment.
- 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.
- Stealing from the Hotel: In the episode "Justice", Lister reveals that he used to steal the furniture from hotel rooms. Including the bed.
- 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.
- Stealth Pun:
- In one episode, Lister suggests a game of squash with Rimmer's light-bee, a device which flies around and projects his holographic image. Squash is a game played with a small hollow ball. Hollow, holo...
- The name of Red Dwarf 's subship Blue Midget is based on the main ship's name, with Midget being a synonym for Dwarf, and blue being a different colour.
- Stop Trick: For the purpose of grabbing hologrammatic items from the air.
- Strapped to a Bomb: The episode "Entangled" has Lister attached to a machine that will blow up his groin if he does not pay the debt he owes a group of aliens after losing a poker game to them.
- Strawberry Short Hand: In the episode where Kryten and Lister build a machine that replicates good and bad doubles of things, they test it on a strawberry. The good strawberry is of course incredible. The bad one is less so, what with the maggots and all.
- Strongly Worded Letter:
- Rimmer, after having his anger sucked out by a polymorph that feeds on human emotions, suggests that they defeat the creature by hitting it "hard and fast" with a "major leaflet campaign...And if that's not enough, then I'm sorry, it's time for the t-shirts".
- And in "The Beginning", Rimmer starts writing a strongly worded letter to Geneva complaining that the simulants are violating Treaty 5 as said simulants are launching a barrage of photon mutilators at the Starbug.
- Studio Audience: Had one until the end of series 8 and from series 10. 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. Back to Earth, the "ninth" series, was completely absent of studio laughter.
- Suicide as Comedy: The series makes reference to the time Rimmer volunteered for a suicide helpline and caused everyone who called him to commit suicide, including one who just had a wrong number. "Lemming Sunday, they called it."
- Swirly Energy Thingy: The source of many entertaining quotes on the matter.
- Table Space: The guys once discover they can use old photos like time machine. Lister becomes filthily rich and has huge mansion. He and his attractive young lady-friend are sitting at opposite sides of a very long table when the two of them are having dinner.
- 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 Me to Your Leader: "Rimmerworld" parodies the Dead Horse Trope nature of this trope.
Lister: This is going to sound like a bit of a corny line, but... I can hardly bring myself to say it.
Rimmer-Clone: Say what?
Lister: "Take us to your leader."
Kryten: Oh, sir, how could you?!
- 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.
- Also in "Backwards", there's a speech given in reverse that insults anyone sad enough to play it backwards so they can understand it.
- Tanks For The Memories: Fittingly, in "Thanks for the Memory."
- The Teaser: "Stoke Me a Clipper" had an opening scene four or five minutes long before finally kicking into the opening sequence.
- 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.
- Tempting Fate: "That was Ace Rimmer! We're lucky to be alive!"
- A vending machine swears vengeance after Rimmer steals a chocolate bar from it. Rimmer isn't impressed. "The day that happens, I'll be captain." He becomes captain and promptly gets clonked in the head by a flying soda can fired by the vending machine.
- Terraform: "Terrorform" somewhat, "Back to Reality", "Rimmerworld".
- Teeth Flying: Happens backwards in the bar room brawl in "Backwards".
Lister: Here, have your tooth back. (punches a guy in the mouth, who is then revealed to have regained a front tooth)
- This Explains So Much: The crew's reaction when Queeg reveals that Holly's astronavigational charts are really a children's astronomy book.
- Also, the revelation that Rimmer's father is actually the man who Rimmer thought was his dad's gardener
- 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.
- From "Trojan", after Rimmer has suffered a system crash due to an overload of resentment:
Rimmer: Are you saying I'm resentful? I really resent that!
- The Tape Knew You Would Say That: The episode "Fathers and Suns" has Dave making messages to himself (then getting very drunk so he can forget he made them) in order to have a father and son chat with himself. Each message ends with him leaving instructions for himself to do before moving onto the next one. And each one begins with him shouting at himself for not following instructions.
- Culminating in Tape!Lister threatening to chuck his guitar out of the airlock if he skipped ahead again! Seeing his guitar is still there, he ignores it, skipping ahead to find Tape!Lister happily congratulating him for finally listening to his advice, telling him to go play a song as a reward. Turns out, the guitar in the room was just a cardboard copy and the real one is now floating half-a-lightyear behind them.
- They Would Cut You Up: Sort of the catalyst for the whole series. In the first episode, the Captain tells Lister his cat will be cut up and have tests run on it, prompting the response, "Would you put it back together when you were done?"
: Lister, the cat would be dead. Lister
: Well, with respect
, sir, what's in it for the cat?
- 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!"
- "Oh Gawd, now the sirens bust! Awoogah! Awoogah! Abandon Ship!"
- Three-Laws Compliant: Most androids are programmed with something pretty close. Mechanoid characters can take "Asimov's Law" as a flaw in the RPG.
- 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.
- Time Travel Tense Trouble:
- In the episode "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.
- After being erased by the inquisitor:
Lister: We don't exist here anymore!
Kryten: Actually sir, we don't ever have existed here anymore, but this is hardly the time to be conjugating temporal verbs in the past impossible never tense!
- Truth in Television — The tenses were so difficult that Robert Llewellyn, playing Kryten, kept flubbing the line and eventually had to have a cue-card held up out of shot... and then the line was cut anyway. It only resurfaced as they showed the final correct take after all the bloopers in the Smeg Ups collection.
- Title Drop:
- "Stoke me a clipper, I'll be back for Christmas!"
- "Only the good die young!"
- "Beyond a Joke"
- "Back to Reality", 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.
- Not quite; series 3's intro contained a shot from Thanks For The Memory from series 2, likewise 4's contained Starbug crashing in both Marooned and Bodyswap from 3.
- 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 Series VIII, completely unaware at first that they are all clones and confused why they are millions of years in Deep Space.
- Too Dumb to Live: Confidence removes his helmet in the vacuum of space. Big mistake.
- Too Spicy for Yog Sothoth: In an episode, Lister is swallowed whole by a shark while in an AR machine. The shark soon spits him back out before sticking its tongue out and going "bleh!". Guess it didn't like curry vindaloo.
- Tracking Chip: In "Epideme", Kryten uses a scanning device to identify the dead body of an ex-JMC employee. He mentions that it is attempting to locate her microchip, since JMC employees are implanted with them.
- Trademark Favorite Food: To say that Dave Lister enjoyed the odd curry would be an understatement on scale with the very planets he once played pool with. He loves curry to such an extent that his early morning pick-me-up is a glass of chilled vindaloo sauce. He also has a trademark unfavorite food: pot noodle.
- Transformation Ray: The DNA machine in "DNA".
- Translation By Volume: When Lister and the Cat find themselves on a parallel Earth and for some reason believe they are in Bulgaria. They attempt to get by by speaking slowly and clearly and appending "-ski" to all their words, combining it with Bulgarian flavoured El Spanish O.
- Trapped in TV Land: Red Dwarf X ramps this up when the crew realise they face having no independent existence outside a TV show. To avert this fate they visit Earth. Where Lister (Craig Charles) visits the set of a long-running TV soap opera. And ends up having a heartfelt chat with an actor playing a taxi driver (Craig Charles) who is nonplussed by it all, viewing Dave Lister as a previous role he played...
- Trash of the Titans: Lister's room frequently qualifies. His lack of hygiene is natural for him, and he exaggerates it to annoy Rimmer.
- 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.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Spoofed in Red Dwarf when Lister takes part in a virtual-reality medieval tourney, and demands a night and a day in the Queen's bed if he wins. The King is played by Brian Cox; the Queen is a young and beautiful French woman (played by Sarah Alexander) who instantly accepts the conditions.
King: My lady, I think we should discuss this matter in private...
Queen: Do you not 'ave faith in your good knight, to cut this dog down where 'e stands?
King: I do! Sort of...
- 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.
- Holly's forgotten command scene from "Demons and Angels".
Rimmer: I want to hurt you.
Rimmer: Because I'm not a very nice person.
- After the future Rimmer mentions they spend time with the Hitlers and the Goerings:
Future Rimmer: It's just a bit unfortunate that the finest things tend to be in the possession of people who are judged to be a bit dodgy.
Kryten: Herman Goering is a "bit dodgy"?!
- Unexplained Recovery: How the crew survived the Bolivian Army Ending of "Only the Good..." is never elaborated in "Back to Earth". Played for laughs in "The Beginning", where the explanation of how they survived is started, only to be quickly cut short.
- 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 Experience ride from "Blue", while programmed by Kryten, was based on entries from Rimmer's journal.
- The Unreveal: A long-winded sounding explanation of "Only The Good..."'s ending is humorously cut short in "The Beginning".
- 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".
- Variations On A Theme Song
- A season one episode had Holly and Lister make Rimmer think an old Red Dwarf garbage pod is an alien ship. The end credit theme song gets paused twice so we can hear him angrily yell about it.
- "Meltdown" has Waxdroid Elvis sing the closing theme.
- In one episode, there was a throwaway gag about Rimmer teaching the service robots to play Hammond organ. The closing theme for the episode is rendered on the Hammond organ, with Rimmer giving instructions in voiceover.
- For the "cowboys" episode "Gunmen of the Apocalypse", the theme is given a Western makeover on honky-tonk pianny and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly-esque ocarina.
- Vengeful Vending Machine:
- "Future Echoes": A vending machine has a lisp malfunction, which has been reported. When Lister orders breakfast and black coffee, he gets him a pair of boots. When the machine tries just for the coffee, he produces a bucket. However, he was being really nice and trying to be helpful.
- In "Only The Good", Rimmer cheats a vending machine out of its money by attaching it to a string and yanking it out after receiving what he ordered from it. Later in the episode, the machine blasts a can at Rimmer in anger, knocking him over while he's trying to escape from a raging fire.
- Rimmer was in charge of vending machines aboard the Red Dwarf. When they hold a funeral for Rimmer's hologram and say their eulogies in "Stoke Me a Clipper", Lister mentions that with him when you ordered coke, it would never happen for you to get soup or orange juice on his shift. Except it happened all the time, but Lister was trying to say something nice.
- "Queeg": No food machines work. However, this time it's not the machines being malicious, but it was their new computer Queeg who claims the crew have spent their credit. They have to start working, and real hard. When Lister has dinner, all he got was only burnt toast and one pea.
- In a Series 10 episode, a vending machine becomes romantically obsessed with Lister.
- Villain Song: "Blue"'s Rimmer could perhaps be a subversion. It's not actually Rimmer (it's a simulation created from Rimmer's logbook). Altough Rimmer's more of an Jerkass than a villain, it reminds Lister of this so he'll get out of his Heroic BSOD over Rimmer's departure.
- Virtual Ghost: Rimmer.
- Voluntary Shapeshifter: The two Polymorphs.
- Waif Prophet: Subverted.
- Washy Watchy: The characters in Red Dwarf have been known to do this. Since it was Kochanski's laundry, this is the closest any of them have to a sex life.
- We All Die Someday:
Lister: Yeah, well, everyone dies. You're born, and you die. The bit in the middle's called life, and that's still to come!
- The holographic (and dead) Rimmer travels back in time to warn his living counterpart:
Rimmer: I've come to warn you, in three million years you'll be dead!
Past Rimmer: Will I really?
- 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.
- Weird Trade Union: In the pilot episode, Lister notes that the service droids have a better union than himself and Rimmer.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Inquisitor; he travels throughout history, erasing from history people who have, by his standards, wasted their lives, and replacing them with alternates who never got a chance to live; as Kryten puts it, 'The eggs that were never fertilised or the sperm that never made it.'.
- 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?"
- We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: Played for Laughs. Rimmer and Lister's job aboard Red Dwarf is basically all the menial maintenance that is considered too menial for even the service droids. Rimmer is even stated to be outranked by the droids.
- 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?
- Wham Line: "Rimmer, I'm not your father."
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Did the resurrected Red Dwarf crew perish during "Only the Good..." or did they escape into another universe?
- 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.
- Wimp Fight: Subverted in "Lemons". Jesus takes a few laughable swings at Lister, who, being the experienced brawler he is, then proceeds to put him in a headlock.
- Window Pain: In the 'Sdrawkcab episode, Lister gets in a pub fight and has to leap backwards through a broken window that reassembles itself, landing in the arms of two kind people who catch him so as to cushion his fall.
- 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!"
- With Due Respect:
Lister: With all due respect sir, what's in it for the cat?
Rimmer: With respect, sir, you've got your head right up your big fat arse.
- Worrying for the Wrong Reason: Played with when the captain of the ship charges the main character with crimes they are innocent of. In the process of clearing their names, they commit other crimes, the punishment for which works out to be exactly the same.
- You Didn't Ask: In Bodyswap, this exchange followed a self-destruct scare:
Holly: We haven't got a bomb... I got rid of it ages ago.
Rimmer: Why didn't you tell us?
Holly: You never asked!
- 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 series. 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.
- Actually, the vending machine in "Only The Good..." was Tony Slattery, another recurring guest from the early days of the show.
- Robert Llewellyn, in addition to Kryten, played Jim Reaper, a sales executive for Diva Droid, Bongo, Ace's commanding officer, Able, a zoned-out mechanoid and the Data Doctor, a computer program used to reset Kryten's personality.
- You Need to Get Laid: Kochanski's response to Rimmer's detailed and carefully-thought-out proposal for revising the official Space Corps salute:
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.
- Your Brain Won't Be Much of a Meal: When the crew is confronted by brain-eating monsters, Rimmer deadpans that there's "barely a snack onboard."
- Your Size May Vary: In its earlier appearances, Starbug is implied to be a fairly small landing craft whose interior consists largely of a cockpit and an adjacent bridge. When the main action starts taking place on board it, between Series VI-VII, it is revealed to be very extensive, with bedrooms, a virtual reality chamber and an absurdly spacious ventilation system. The storage area created by a time paradox at the beginning of Series VII seems to be the size of a cathedral. In Series VI this is Hand Waved with dialogue suggesting that Kryten has been engaging in upgrades and conversions while the other crew members are in stasis.
- You Will Be Beethoven: See Who Shot JFK?.
- Zany Scheme: The jailbreak in "Rimmerworld". Immediately followed by A Simple Plan.
- Zeerust: Videotapes seen throughout the earlier pre-DVD series. Back to Earth lampshades this saying that videos replaced DVDs, since people were incapable of putting them back in their boxes. An explanation that continues for the Series X, with a series of video messages shown to be on a videotape.
- Zero-G Spot: Implied by Lister's "Pop-up Kama Sutra, Zero-Gravity Version", if not seen.
"It's cold outside, there's no kind of atmosphere..."