Arnold J. Rimmer

Arnold Rimmer is one of the main characters in the British television comedy series, Red Dwarf, and is referred to as 'Rimmer' throughout the series. Likewise, his bunkmate, David Lister, is referred to as 'Lister'.

Rimmer is played by Chris Barrie throughout all of the series.


Typically, Rimmer maintains his position as playing the coward when threatened with any danger, yet he continually yearns to get promoted from his 2nd-from-worst position, sparing himself from the menial task ensuring the vending machines are stocked with fun size Crispy bars.

Regardless of his would-be career-orientated direction (Quoted as "to be an officer; a man of honour!") in life, he is, behind the thin disguise, a complete nutter and weasel. To put it from his own mouth, "Lister, you know me. My handshake's less reliable than a plumber's estimate.", when Rimmer backs out of a previous promise.

His bunkmate, David Lister, is the 'proud' owner of the worst position on ship, duties consisting of the said vending machine stocking.


Rimmer leaves the series in the middle of Series 7, and returns in Series 8. Otherwise, he is in every episode, and plays a key role as such. He leaves in the middle of Series 7, because it becomes his destiny to follow as the next Ace Rimmer (see below). He returns in Series 8 as part of a reconstruction of the original Red Dwarf ship, crew included. Rimmer could be thought to act somewhat differently to Lister in Series 8, especially at the start, because he doesn't have the years of experience and memories with Lister (that after all, happened after he died).

Ace Rimmer

Rimmer has an established 'alter-ego' in the series, from a parallel universe, the only key difference being that he prefers to call himself Ace Rimmer, with a much more likable personality; This alternative version of Rimmer comes into play when the situation allows it (parallel universes, etc.) The key difference between the two Rimmers is that the more self-confident, better-off, proud version of Rimmer - Ace - was held back a year in school, and generally acts as though he is a hero. Arnold Rimmer takes very sourly to this version of himself when he appears, and displays it so, presumably out of jealously, because in comparison, he's a nothing.

Physical State

For the majority of series, Rimmer (but not Ace) is a hologram, as opposed to being alive and having a physically solid body. This is due to the basic storyline of Red Dwarf involving a radiation leak wiping out the entire crew. Lister, at the time, survived, having been in stasis at the time as a punishment for smuggling a cat onboard the ship.

Rimmer acquires a 'hard-light' drive later in the series, permitting him to touch items and be moderately indestructible. Rimmer has been graced with the 'honour' of being a hologram, since Holly, the ship computer (holding a questionable IQ of 6000), considers him the best person to keep Lister sane, since Lister is (presumed) to be the last human alive. In his own universe, anyway.

The Name

I'm almost sure Rimmer and Lister's names must be something of an in-joke. The fact that Lister is observed listing inventories in the earlier series puts a strange light on the name. I can only assume Rimmer's name has a hidden meaning too:

Lister: Okay, whatcha want me to say? How do you want me to act?
Rimmer: I don't know. Just act with respect. For a start, don't call me "Rimmer."
Lister: Why not?
Rimmer: Because you always put the emphasis on "Rim" in "Rimmer." Makes me sound like a lavatory disinfectant.

"I've spent more time being sick than I have having sex."

"Everything always goes wrong for me. I'm probably the only person in the world to buy a Topic Bar without a single hazelnut in it."

"I could bring me back! There'd be two of me - a dead me and a living me! One for the week and one for Sunday best!"

Lister: What time is it?
Rimmer: Saturday.
Lister: Is that the best you can do?
Rimmer: There are some numbers next to it, but they could be anything.

(as Lister publicly reads Rimmer's diary)
Lister: It's no big deal, you know. You can read my diary.
Rimmer: Who'd want to read your diary? It's full of puerile nonsense about Kristine Kochanski.
Lister: Ah, so you've read my diary.
Rimmer: Yes, but at least I have the common decency to do it sneakily behind your back.

"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?"

Lister: What are you doing?
Rimmer: It's called "work," Lister. I didn't think you'd recognize it. W-O-R-K. It is in the dictionary. (To the scutters) Come on, paint! Paint, paint, paint!
Lister: But why are they painting the colour the same colour it was before?
Rimmer: They're changing it from Ocean Gray to Military Gray. Something that should've been done a long time ago.
Lister: Looks exactly the same to me.
Rimmer: No. No no no. That's the new Military Gray bit there, and that's the dowdy, old, nasty Ocean Gray bit there. Or is it the other way round?

Rimmer: He always wanted to join the Space Corps, be an officer. But they wouldn't take him because he was an inch below regulation height. One inch. I had three brothers. When we were young he bought a traction machine so that he could stretch us. By the time my brother Frank was eleven he was six foot five. Every morning he'd measure us and if we hadn't grown, back on the rack.
Lister: Sounds like he had a screw loose.
Rimmer: I don't think he had one screw fully tightened to be perfectly honest with you. He had this fixation that we all had to get into the Space Corps. At meal times he'd ask us questions on astronavigation. If we got them wrong - no food.
Lister: God, Rimmer, how did you cope with that?
Rimmer: I didn't. I nearly died of malnutrition.