It's a normal day on the Jupiter Mining Corporation mining ship Red Dwarf. Arnold J. Rimmer and Dave Lister are arguing in the midst of their job, fixing chicken soup machines, which Rimmer - being as he is a smeghead - insists is absolutely meaningful work, and scolds Lister repeatedly for not showing this job the respect it deserves.
Aside from bickering, Lister also slobs about with his friends, Selby, Chen and Petersen, while Rimmer urgently prepares for the upcoming officer's exam, despite the fact he's failed every time he's taken it before. Meanwhile, the ship mourns the death of one of their own, who's then brought back as a hologram. Later on, Lister confides in Rimmer about his plan: to buy a farm on Fiji. Rimmer is dubious, what with the fact Fiji recently sunk. Unknown to Rimmer, Lister's also hiding a cat in his quarters, planning to take Frankenstein with him to Fiji.
The day of Rimmer's exam arrives, and he goes off having written down all manner of technical notes down on his arms. Almost immediately after the exam begins, Rimmer encounters a problem. One, he doesn't know anything about what he's written down, and two, the ink on his arms has started running. So, with as much dignity as he can muster, Rimmer has a complete breakdown.
As this is happening, Lister is summoned to the captain's office, who wants to ask him about that cat of his. The one Lister's hiding, the one he took a photo, which he sent to the ship's lab to be developed. The captain's outraged, since an unquarantined cat could easily do all manner of damage to Red Dwarf. Lister refuses to give up Frankenstein, and as a result is punished with stasis - being frozen in time until the ship returns to port.
Lister re-awakens to an abandoned Red Dwarf, with ship's computer Holly telling him to report to the drive room. As he does, Lister notes little piles of white powder lying around. And as for the crew? They're dead, Dave. Rimmer's dead, Chen's dead, Selby's dead. Everybody's dead, Dave.
- Lister: Hang on... are you trying to tell me everybody's dead?Holly: Should never've let him out in the first place.
As it turns out, after Lister went into stasis, a massive radiation leak flashed through the ship, killing everybody but him. This includes ship flight officer Kristine Kochanski, whom Lister had a crush on. Then Holly breaks even further bad news. You see, he couldn't release Lister until the radiation dropped to safe levels, and that took three million years. And Lister's still got that library book! Also, Holly's slightly worried that after three million years he might have gone a little "peculiar".
The good news is that not everyone's gone. Rimmer's still around, as a hologram. Sadly, dying hasn't really changed Rimmer's personality one iota. He blames Lister for his death, even though the whole "fatal radiation burst" was Rimmer's fault. Bickering ensues, and Lister storms off. As the two march through the corridors, they meet someone else: a wailing, be-fanged, sharp-dressed humanoid who can't even recognise his own shadow. The two humans are startled and run off, with the newcomer following them... only to stop when he realises his suit has a crease.
Holly fills them in. He's a cat, from a race of humanoid cats, descended from Frankenstein after she was sealed in Red Dwarf's hold when the radiation leak hit. Rimmer demands Lister get rid of the Cat, but Lister declares that he's coming with them. Where? To Earth, naturally. It's got to still be there, right? Rimmer points out that to modern man, Lister'll probably look like some hideous thing crawled out of the slime. Lister's not discouraged, and tells Holly to plot a course for Fiji.
- Lister: Look out, Earth! The slime's coming home!
- All There in the Script: According to the original script, George McIntyre was killed by the radiation leak (albeit more contained than what would occur later) from the faulty drive plate that Rimmer would later fail to repair properly.
- 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.
- Brief Accent Imitation: Rimmer momentarily takes on a Somerset farmer's accent when mocking Lister.
- Characterization Marches On: Rimmer's first reaction to the Cat is to attack him while making karate yells. A far cry from the coward he'd later become.
- Character Tic: Rimmer marking down any comment aimed at him down in his notepad. He's forced to give up after dying.
- Cultural Stereotypes: Death is apparently "like being on holiday with a group of Germans".
- Dude, Not Funny!: Lister's reaction to Holly's comment about Kochanski's only use on Fiji being something to grit a snowy path.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- Holly was originally a disembodied voice. Some remnants of this remain through the episode, including the Everybody's Dead, Dave sequence.
- Lister was originally meant to be more brain-fried, rather than just lazy. His clueless reaction when Rimmer mentions iguanas is a holdover of the concept.
- The opening title lacks the ominous music that plays over the others for seasons I and II.
- Everybody's Dead, Dave: The Trope Namer.
- Five-Finger Fillet: In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, Petersen can be seen doing this (badly) with a pen.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Lister refuses to be Rimmer's hands on the grounds he's seen what Rimmer's hands did in life.
- Human Notepad: Rimmer, due to writing down damn-near all his physics textbook onto his arms and legs. Lister even suggests he could just hand his body in to the examiners. And when he tries taking the exam, his nervous sweating makes all the ink run.
- Hypocrite: Rimmer wants Lister up on mutiny charges because he accidentally stepped on his toe. In "Stasis Leak", we find out that he had tried to jam a pencil up the captain's nose after he gave Lister a lenient punishment for drugging him.
- I Ate WHAT?!/I'm a Humanitarian: Lister's horror upon learning the strange white powder he'd been eating was the remains of the Red Dwarf crew.
- Insane Troll Logic: Rimmer maintains his charge of mutiny against Lister on the grounds that Lister prevented him at the time from performing a vital duty. Lister immediately points out that the "vital duty" at the time was an attempt to snap Lister's guitar in half. Based on that, in Rimmer's mind, there is no right to owning personal things at all and a person of higher rank has full reign to destroy such objects on the grounds that it is a vital duty on behalf of the ship and the person defending his personal property is to be charged with mutiny.
- It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Captain Hollister pronounces hologram as it's spelt ("holo-gram", instead of "hollow-gram").
- Madness Mantra: Rimmer when he suffers a nervous breakdown during one of his failed astro-navigation exams.Rimmer: Up, up, up, that's where I'm going!
Lister: Not until you pass an engineer's exam. And you won't do that because you'll just go in there and flunk again.
Rimmer: Lister, last time I only failed by the narrowest of narrow margins.
Lister: You what? You walked in there, wrote "I am a fish" four hundred times, did a funny little dance, and fainted.
- Noodle Incident: While reprimanding Lister for bringing an unquarantined animal onboard, Captain Hollister mentions the rabbits on the Oregon.
- Offscreen Crash: Rimmer in the remastered version. Somehow. In the original there was no sound effects.
- Overly Long Gag: "Everybody's Dead, Dave." "What, everybody?" "Yes, Dave. Everybody's dead, Dave." "Chen? Peterson?" "Yes, Dave. Everybody's dead, Dave." "What, even Shelby?" "Yes, Shelby! Everybody's dead, Dave!"
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Toddhunter, the ship's second in-command, is polite and reasonable. Though he still admits Rimmer's a smeghead.
- Sanity Slippage: At first, Holly seems to still be the same after three million years or so alone. Then he makes an off-colour joke and admits that after all that time he's gone "a little peculiar".
- Skewed Priorities: Lister's horrified on realizing he's out three million years. He's still got that library book.
- Small Name, Big Ego: The first several minutes help establish just how sad and pathetic Rimmer is, writing down Lister for being a mild nuisance at work. Then it turns out he went as far as to write Lister up several hundred times, including labelling one of Lister's responses as mutiny (Lister trod on his foot. Rimmer believes this would somehow have endangered the ship, and therefore counts).
- Technobabble: Parodied, when Toddhunter "explains" the Stasis Booth to Lister. It quickly trails off into utter gibberish.
- They Would Cut You Up: Sort of the catalyst for the whole series. 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?"Hollister: Lister, the cat would be dead.Lister: Well, with respect, sir, what's in it for the cat?