Red Dwarf (science fiction series)/Catalogs/Characters

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Spoilers below. This discussion confines itself to the characters as presented in the television series.

Lister

Dave Lister is possibly the least ideal candidate for the last surviving human; a none-too-clean slob whose upbringing was notable for petty thievery (Justice), a ninety-minute stint at Art College (Kryten - classes first thing in the afternoon were too much), and a long career shifting shopping trolleys - a job he moved on from to avoid getting tied down. Having signed on with the Jupiter Mining Corporation as the lowliest crew member of Red Dwarf, this working-class Liverpudlian is content with a life of beer-drinking and curry-eating in between dreaming of a retirement to Fiji with Kochanski, an officer with whom Lister is permanently in lust (The End). A run of bad luck having marooned Lister in deep space changes little on a practical level: Lister's disgusting antics continue even three million years in the future.

Rimmer

Arnold Judas Rimmer had a marginally more successful career in life than his Red Dwarf room-mate and sole subordinate, Dave Lister; he managed to advance a single rank in fifteen years' service for the JMC, rather than remaining at the bottom. A professional chicken soup machine repairman, Rimmer blames his failings on his eccentric parents and lack of an élite background. A snivelling, conniving, cheating, weaselly, miserable excuse for a human being, Rimmer also has an obsession with all things military despite being an abject coward; he believes himself to be the reincarnation of Alexander the Great... 's chief eunuch (Marooned). Always prepared to bravely sacrifice the lives of others (e.g. Rimmerworld), Rimmer is heartily despised by all on board - a hatred that continues even after his death. Though the original Rimmer is reduced to radioactive dust, Holly opts to create a sophisticated hologram simulation of Lister's long-dead 'superior', in the belief that Rimmer might keep Lister sane (Balance of Power). Later, Holly resurrects another version of Rimmer as a human (Back in the Red) for similar reasons - but with an identical personality.

Cat

Just to prove that evolution is about adaptation rather than improvement, this product of three million years' development possesses an intelligence unrivalled amongst creatures who spend all their time preening themselves, looking in mirrors, and announcing how nice they look to thin air. A descendent of Lister's pet cat, this otherwise-unnamed specimen of felix sapiens was abandoned by his own race when they left Red Dwarf in search of the Promised Land, most of them having being wiped out in religious wars. The revelation that Cat's entire culture is based on a series of misunderstandings regarding Lister's incarceration millennia previously, specifically that they believed him to be God, holds little meaning for this suit-and-accessories obsessive (Waiting for God). Cat spends his time occupying a fantasy-world of narcissism in-between bouts of frequent kitty-style snoozing, though the others are able to make use of his acute sense of smell (e.g. Psirens) and occasional sartorial tips (Camille).

Kryten

Created purely to clean toilets, Kryten is an android who has developed his lavatorial duties far beyond the brief of any other sanitation droid - dusting, ironing and picking up after "Mr Lister" is Kryten's idea of the next-best thing to 'Silicon Heaven', the place he was programmed to believe in to avoid any chance of a robot rebellion. Before being rescued by the surviving crew from Red Dwarf (Kryten), this file-corrupted mechanoid was responsible for serving the crew of the Nova 5 starship, continuing to wait on their skeletal remains for aeons. Now several million years past his expiry date (The Last Day), Kryten busies himself as the ship's de facto science officer while also trying to develop human emotions, including snobbery, jealousy, anger and ambivalence - the last one being particularly tricky as it twists his rubber head into an unpleasant grimace (Back in the Red). Since the arrival of Kristine Kochanski (Ouroboros onwards), these emotions have got the better of him more and more, as he over-reacts to frilly things turning up in the washing, salad cream in the wrong place, and wobbly things distracting his beloved Mr Lister.

Holly

Supposedly a product of cutting-edge research into artificial intelligence, Red Dwarf's computer fell victim to electronic senility during the three million years following the nuclear accident that wiped out most of his ship's crew. As a result, his intelligence quotient is somewhere below 68 (White Hole), meaning that any chance of getting Lister and co. back to Earth rests with a computer who'd be run a close game by a packet of crisps. Holly communicates as an avatar which first resembled a follically-challenged middle-aged man; an encounter with a female version of himself from another dimension inspired him to take on a womanly form for some time, before the original reappeared along with the resurrected crew. Holly's contributions in times of crisis are generally of limited use; once, when faced with the prospect of being crushed to death by their own ship as it shrank around them, Holly suggested a game of charades "using just your nose".[1]

Kochanski

Kristine Kochanski: perky wee Scottish navigation officer aboard Red Dwarf. Going places. Object of Lister's unrequited affection (and later, due to changes in the space-time continuum, briefly his girlfriend). Unfortunately, also a pile of ash in the ship's main drive room, thanks to a blast of lethal radiation. Despite the setback of Kochanski being dead, Lister's ambition became to win her back (Psirens); in one reality, thanks to time travel, Lister did indeed return to the past to wed her. Unfortunately, in others it was business as usual, until a chance encounter with yet another parallel dimension brought Lister and an alternate Kochanski together again - this one different in both form and personality. Now a slightly snobbish, upper-middle-class product of a public school education, Kochanski recoiled at the prospect of being trapped in another realm with what for her was an inferior version of her Dave, the one back in her reality having much better manners, a penchant for pasta and a working knowledge of opera arias (Ouroboros). As well as a rather rocky relationship with this 'new' Dave, Kochanski and Kryten mixed like oil and water, competing over such life-or-death details as how Lister likes his pillows arranged (Nanarchy).

Hollister

Frank Hollister has twice served as captain of Red Dwarf, either side of three million years' being dead. Originally appearing to be a competent and capable officer who has his crew's respect (The End), details of the true Frank gradually emerged following his resurrection by nanobots: a doughnut boy who blackmailed his way up the chain of command; a leader casually capable of abandoning hundreds of prisoners aboard a disintegrating spaceship (Only the Good...); and, worse of all, a man who lists his hobbies as 'chewing' and 'swallowing' - at least according to Rimmer (Pete: Part II). Constantly enraged by Rimmer and Lister, traumatised by an incident involving a diarrhoetic dinosaur let loose on the cargo decks (Pete: Part II), out-witted by vending machines (Back in the Red) and the butt of a string of fat-gags, Hollister is one of the saner members of the fully-restored Red Dwarf.

Footnotes

  1. Science fiction spaceship, theme music hummed through the nasal cavity: the Nostrilomo (Nostromo, the ship from the Alien film).