Arnold Rimmer
Arnold Judas Rimmer is a fictional character
Fictional character
A character is the representation of a person in a narrative work of art . Derived from the ancient Greek word kharaktêr , the earliest use in English, in this sense, dates from the Restoration, although it became widely used after its appearance in Tom Jones in 1749. From this, the sense of...

 in the science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 situation comedy
Situation comedy
A situation comedy, often shortened to sitcom, is a genre of comedy that features characters sharing the same common environment, such as a home or workplace, accompanied with jokes as part of the dialogue...

 Red Dwarf
Red Dwarf
Red Dwarf is a British comedy franchise which primarily comprises eight series of a television science fiction sitcom that aired on BBC Two between 1988 and 1999 and Dave from 2009–present. It gained cult following. It was created by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, who also wrote the first six series...

, played by Chris Barrie
Chris Barrie
Chris Barrie is a British actor. He first achieved success as a vocal impressionist, notably in the ITV sketch show Spitting Image...

. He is unpopular with his crew mates, and is often the target of insults or pranks. Throughout the first seven series, his character wore an "H" symbol on his forehead, which stands for "Hologram
Holography is a technique that allows the light scattered from an object to be recorded and later reconstructed so that when an imaging system is placed in the reconstructed beam, an image of the object will be seen even when the object is no longer present...

", as in the Series I episode "The End" the character was killed in a lethal radiation leak. In Series VIII, he was brought back to life, along with the other members of the original Red Dwarf crew.

The creators
Grant Naylor
Grant Naylor was the collective name used by writers Rob Grant and Doug Naylor for their collaborative work, particularly the television series Red Dwarf. Grant and Naylor themselves called this pseudonym a "gestalt entity" Grant Naylor was the collective name used by writers Rob Grant and Doug...

 of the series acknowledge that Rimmer's surname
Family name
A family name is a type of surname and part of a person's name indicating the family to which the person belongs. The use of family names is widespread in cultures around the world...

 comes from a snobby prefect
Prefect is a magisterial title of varying definition....

 with whom they attended school. They claim, however, that only the boy's name was used, and not his personality because that would imply he had one.

Early life

Within the fictional universe of Red Dwarf, Rimmer was born on Io
Io (moon)
Io ) is the innermost of the four Galilean moons of the planet Jupiter and, with a diameter of , the fourth-largest moon in the Solar System. It was named after the mythological character of Io, a priestess of Hera who became one of the lovers of Zeus....

, somewhere during the 21st through 23rd centuries, where he suffered an unhappy childhood. He grew up in the shadow of his three older and more successful brothers, John, Howard and Frank, who tormented and bullied him throughout his youth and whose successes in both school and career greatly overshadowed him. His father had been rejected from the Space Corps in his youth for being an inch below regulation height, and was thus fixated on all his sons succeeding where he had failed; to which end, he refused to allow them to eat unless they could answer complicated astronavigation
Celestial navigation
Celestial navigation, also known as astronavigation, is a position fixing technique that has evolved over several thousand years to help sailors cross oceans without having to rely on estimated calculations, or dead reckoning, to know their position...

 questions, and stretched them on a rack to make them taller causing Rimmer to reach a great height at an early age. His mother was a cold woman, who had no time for fools, but was having an affair with Rimmer's uncle Frank and Porky Roebuck's father. The Series III DVD booklet goes on to conjecture
A conjecture is a proposition that is unproven but is thought to be true and has not been disproven. Karl Popper pioneered the use of the term "conjecture" in scientific philosophy. Conjecture is contrasted by hypothesis , which is a testable statement based on accepted grounds...

 that Arnold's three brothers were actually Frank's children.

Arnold was also bullied by other children at school — where he was known as "Bonehead" and his best "friend", Porky Roebuck, once spearheaded a plan to eat him during a Space Scouts survival course. Rimmer later recounts an occasion on which Roebuck threw his favourite shoes into the school septic tank whilst he was wearing them. At the age of 14, Rimmer divorced his parents. Sometime during his life, Rimmer also earned two swimming certificates: one Bronze Swimming Certificate, and one Silver Swimming Certificate (Despite not being not able to swim) — BSc and SSc respectively — which he includes in official correspondence.

Life on board Red Dwarf

Rimmer joined the Space Corps at a low-entry level as a third technician, and devoted his life to his career, engaging with few activities outside of work. He is also rather unsuccessful with women, managing to have a sexual relationship with only one woman, Yvonne McGruder, the ship's female boxing champion. The entire encounter lasted little more than twelve minutes, including the time it took to eat a pizza. Rimmer claims that he lost his virginity in the back of his brother's Bentley
Bentley Motors Limited is a British manufacturer of automobiles founded on 18 January 1919 by Walter Owen Bentley known as W.O. Bentley or just "W O". Bentley had been previously known for his range of rotary aero-engines in World War I, the most famous being the Bentley BR1 as used in later...

 with a girl named Sandra though this was said in order to hide from Lister the fact that he actually lost it to Yvonne McGruder. The show's creators have also stated he was lying.

Despite serving in the Space Corps for fourteen years, he never managed to become an officer, only to advance himself from third technician to second technician. He has attempted to pass the astronavigation exam, required to become an officer, 13 times, but has failed on every occasion, frequently because he spends the allotted revision time indulging his talent for calligraphy
Calligraphy is a type of visual art. It is often called the art of fancy lettering . A contemporary definition of calligraphic practice is "the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious and skillful manner"...

 and design in the creation of elaborate timetables, leaving no time for actual preparation. In the ensuing panic, he often takes up chain smoking and becomes dependent on stimulants in an attempt to condense months of complex learning into just a few days. In turn, this has pushed Rimmer to several psychotic episodes and breakdowns during exams, and on one occasion caused him to write "I am a fish" repeatedly on the exam paper. However, he believes he has been kept down is due to an incident where he was invited to the captain's table and humiliated himself when served gazpacho
Gazpacho is a cold Spanish/Portuguese tomato-based raw vegetable soup, originating in the southern region of Andalucía. Gazpacho is widely consumed throughout Spain, neighboring Portugal and parts of Latin America...

 soup, which he demanded be taken away and brought back hot.

During his service on Red Dwarf, he is assigned to both work with and share quarters with Third Technician Dave Lister
Dave Lister
David "Dave" Lister, commonly referred to simply as Lister, is a fictional character from the British science fiction situation comedy Red Dwarf, portrayed by Craig Charles...

, the only crew member of Red Dwarf that he outranks. The two are notably different in personality — unlike the uptight and pompous Rimmer, Lister is unmotivated, slovenly, relaxed and well-liked. Rimmer has been known to be called "bonehead" and "smeghead".

Death and afterlife

Rimmer died in the radiation leak which wiped out the entire crew of Red Dwarf, with the exception of Lister
Dave Lister
David "Dave" Lister, commonly referred to simply as Lister, is a fictional character from the British science fiction situation comedy Red Dwarf, portrayed by Craig Charles...

, who was in stasis
Stasis (fiction)
Stasis , or hypersleep, is a science fiction concept akin to suspended animation. Whereas suspended animation usually refers to a greatly reduced state of life processes, stasis implies a complete cessation of these processes, which can be easily restarted or restart spontaneously when stasis is...

 at the time, and Lister's pregnant cat, Frankenstein, who was safe in the ship's hold. Three million years later, when Lister was brought out of stasis, Rimmer was chosen by Holly to be reactivated as a hologram in order to keep Lister company and prevent him from being driven insane
Insanity, craziness or madness is a spectrum of behaviors characterized by certain abnormal mental or behavioral patterns. Insanity may manifest as violations of societal norms, including becoming a danger to themselves and others, though not all such acts are considered insanity...

 with loneliness. He was chosen simply because only one hologram could be active at any given time and Rimmer was the person Lister spoke to most. It is from this point that Rimmer's "life" is covered in Red Dwarf. In Series III in the episode Timeslides where the crew discover they can go into any photograph and change their future, Rimmer accidentally changes the past so he is no longer a hologram - he is alive. However this happiness is short-lived as he dies within minutes anyway after hitting a box that unknown to him contained explosives. He is seen in the next episode once again as a hologram.

As a "soft-light" hologram, Rimmer retains his memories and physical appearance, but is composed of light
Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye, and is responsible for the sense of sight. Visible light has wavelength in a range from about 380 nanometres to about 740 nm, with a frequency range of about 405 THz to 790 THz...

 and has no tangible form (other than a small "light bee" projection unit when away from Red Dwarf). He remains very unhappy with his lot after his death, frequently bemoaning his fate. Despite his dissatisfaction with his existence, he bitterly resists any move to turn him off. He remains as obnoxious and difficult to like for his crewmates as he was before his death, and gradually develops a pompous tendency to quote Space Corps regulations at any possible opportunity — despite his tendency to get the numbers wrong for which Kryten often corrects him.

In Series VI, he encounters a being known as Legion, who upgrades Rimmer's projection unit from "soft light" to "hard light", giving him a physical form and the ability to interact directly with the world, in addition to making him virtually indestructible. To conserve power (more of which is required for Rimmer's hard-light hologram) he normally uses soft light, only switching to hard light when necessary. In Series VII, Rimmer is approached by a dying alternate version of himself, Ace Rimmer, who asks Rimmer to become a defender of the multiverse upon Ace's death. Although initially hesitant, Rimmer finds himself rising to the challenge and leaves to start his new life.

Returned to life

When Red Dwarf is restored by nanobots in Series VIII, the entire crew is restored to life as well, including Rimmer. Because he is resurrected as he was at the time of the accident, he lacks any of the growth that the 'other' Rimmer has gone through since the series began, reverting him back to his original persona. Due to a series of events, Lister, Rimmer, Kryten
Kryten is a fictional character in the British science fiction situation comedy Red Dwarf. Kryten's registration code on Red Dwarf is "Kryten additional 001". The name Kryten is a reference to the head butler in the J.M...

, the Cat
Cat (Red Dwarf)
The Cat is a character in the British science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf. He is played by Danny John-Jules.-Character development:According to Danny John-Jules, the character of Cat is based on a combination of Little Richard's look, James Brown's moves and Richard Pryor's facial...

 & Kristine Kochanski
Kristine Kochanski
Kristine Z. Kochanski is a fictional character from the British science fiction situation comedy Red Dwarf. Kochanski was the first console officer in the navigation chamber on board the spaceship Red Dwarf...

 are sentenced to two years in the ship's brig
A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

 for misuse of confidential information.

At the end of Series VIII, in the final episode, "Only the Good...
Only The Good...
Only the Good... is the final episode in the eighth series and the original run of the British science fiction series Red Dwarf. It was first shown in the UK on 5 April 1999 in the 9:00pm BBC2 time slot, and was written by Doug Naylor and directed by Ed Bye...

", when a chameleonic microbe destroys Red Dwarf and everyone else evacuates to a mirror universe, Rimmer is trapped on the disintegrating ship. At the end of the episode he encounters the Grim Reaper
Death (personification)
The concept of death as a sentient entity has existed in many societies since the beginning of history. In English, Death is often given the name Grim Reaper and, from the 15th century onwards, came to be shown as a skeletal figure carrying a large scythe and clothed in a black cloak with a hood...

, announcing that he is dead, and then tells him that they'll travel to the River Styx
In Greek mythology the Styx is the river that forms the boundary between the underworld and the world of the living, as well as a goddess and a nymph that represents the river.Styx may also refer to:-Popular culture:...

, until Rimmer interrupts him ("Not today, matey!"), knees him in the groin, says "Remember, only the good die young!" and flees.

Back to Earth

In the 2009 special "Red Dwarf: Back to Earth" he is a hard light hologram again - how this has come about is yet to be explained. After an encounter with a female despair squid, Rimmer and the rest of the crew hallucinate an alternate reality in which they are fictional characters and their lives are just a TV show that they have somehow escaped from.


Rimmer's primary character traits include anal-retentiveness
Anal retentive
The term anal-retentive , commonly abbreviated to anal, is used conversationally to describe a person who pays such attention to detail that the obsession becomes an annoyance to others, and can be carried out to the detriment of the anal-retentive person. The term derives from Freudian...

, over-adherence to protocol, cowardice
Cowardice is the perceived failure to demonstrate sufficient mental robustness and courage in the face of a challenge. Under many military codes of justice, cowardice in the face of combat is a crime punishable by death...

, misogyny
Misogyny is the hatred or dislike of women or girls. Philogyny, meaning fondness, love or admiration towards women, is the antonym of misogyny. The term misandry is the term for men that is parallel to misogyny...

, and a severely inflated ego which is likely a coping mechanism for his deep-seated sense of self-loathing, which he tries but sometimes fails to hide from others. As the highest ranking survivor aboard the ship (despite being a hologram), Rimmer often deludes himself into believing that he is in charge and that he has somehow been moulding "his" crew into an effective spacegoing unit. Rimmer's poor repair work on the drive plate was responsible for the radiation leak that killed the crew, and Rimmer bore the guilt of this (although he also partly blamed Lister for the accident, as he was unable to help repair the drive plate due to being in stasis at the time). However, in "Justice", after Rimmer is jailed for over 9000 years for the accident, Kryten successfully argues at his appeal that Rimmer's guilt is misplaced - as a second technician (and one who "couldn't outwit a used teabag"), he could not possibly have been responsible for (and indeed would not have been trusted with) work that might endanger the crew if not performed correctly. Kryten further argues that Rimmer only felt guilty for causing the accident because of his delusions about his importance to the mission.

Rimmer was finally able to live his fantasy of commanding an army in the Series IV episode "Meltdown", leading an army of "good" wax-droids against a much larger force of "evil" wax-droids. Although Rimmer ultimately succeeds in destroying the opposing army, his forces are completely wiped out when he uses most of them as a diversion and then has Kryten turn up the heating to melt all the droids. In addition to his fondness for militarism, elitism
Elitism is the belief or attitude that some individuals, who form an elite — a select group of people with intellect, wealth, specialized training or experience, or other distinctive attributes — are those whose views on a matter are to be taken the most seriously or carry the most...

 and Hammond organ
Hammond organ
The Hammond organ is an electric organ invented by Laurens Hammond in 1934 and manufactured by the Hammond Organ Company. While the Hammond organ was originally sold to churches as a lower-cost alternative to the wind-driven pipe organ, in the 1960s and 1970s it became a standard keyboard...

 music, Rimmer also enjoys Morris dancing and is an authority on 20th century telegraph poles
Utility pole
A utility pole is a pole used to support overhead power lines and various other public utilities, such as cable, fibre optic cable, and related equipment such as transformers and street lights. It can be referred to as a telephone pole, power pole, hydro pole, telegraph pole, or telegraph post,...

, especially those observed while train spotting. Rimmer has also been attempting to learn Esperanto
is the most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language. Its name derives from Doktoro Esperanto , the pseudonym under which L. L. Zamenhof published the first book detailing Esperanto, the Unua Libro, in 1887...

 for eight years, but has failed miserably.

Many episodes of Red Dwarf focus on the conflict between Rimmer's ego and his neuroses. In "Me²", Rimmer manages to trick Lister into generating a holograph duplicate in order to provide him with a companion; however, as a consequence of Rimmer's self-loathing, the two Rimmers are incapable of getting along, and their interaction becomes so bitter and hate-filled that the duplicate must be turned off. In "Terrorform
"Terrorform" is the third episode of science fiction sit-com Red Dwarf Series V and the twenty seventh in the series run. It was first broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 5 March 1992. Written by Rob Grant & Doug Naylor, and directed by Juliet May...

", a "psi-moon" sculpted to reflect Rimmer's psychological make-up becomes a desolate, swampy hell-hole dominated by Rimmer's Self-Loathing, personified as a sadistic beast, with a metaphysical graveyard marking the "demise" of his various virtuous qualities. Despite his cowardice, and tendency to run from any kind of danger or fight, Rimmer is the member of the crew most willing to kill, preferably in the safest and most cowardly way possible, although, due to a mixture of cowardice, and the fact that for much of the series he cannot physically harm anyone, he seldom manages to. He has; attempted to coerce Lister to shoot a dangerous Simulant in the back (bemoaning the fact that said Simulant was currently awake), suggested shooting Kryten and Lister into space when they were temporarily removed from time, and casually pushed a fellow hologram into traffic after she repeatedly threatened to have him "erased".

Rimmer's personality flaws are in fact almost completely a result of his hang-ups. An alternative version of Rimmer, Ace Rimmer, who was kept back a year in school, learned humility
Humility is the quality of being modest, and respectful. Humility, in various interpretations, is widely seen as a virtue in many religious and philosophical traditions, being connected with notions of transcendent unity with the universe or the divine, and of egolessness.-Term:The term "humility"...

 and inner strength and grew up to become a charming and well liked Space Corps test pilot
Test pilot
A test pilot is an aviator who flies new and modified aircraft in specific maneuvers, known as flight test techniques or FTTs, allowing the results to be measured and the design to be evaluated....

, interstellar hero
A hero , in Greek mythology and folklore, was originally a demigod, their cult being one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion...

, and sexual seducer.

Surprisingly, however, Rimmer is still capable of nobility, honour and love. When Red Dwarf encounters a Holoship
"Holoship" is the first episode of series 5 of the science fiction sit-com Red Dwarf Series V and the twenty fifth in the series run. It was first broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 20 February 1992. Written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, and directed by Juliet May...

, with an all-hologram crew composed of the "best and brightest", Rimmer desperately wants to join. A female officer aboard the ship, Nirvanah Crane, falls in love with him and sacrifices her place on the ship for Rimmer, only for Rimmer to do the same in return for her. This act of nobility surprises even Rimmer himself. Furthermore, in the episode "Out of Time
Out of Time (Red Dwarf episode)
"Out of Time" is the sixth, and last, episode of science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf Series VI and the 36th in the series run. It was first broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 11 November 1993...

", Rimmer is disgusted by his corrupt future self to the point where he'd rather do battle with him than surrender. Then, when the others are killed, he frantically risks his life to bring them back.


Rimmer's status as a hologram in most episodes of Red Dwarf is shown by the "H" on the centre of his forehead, leading to nicknames from The Cat, such as "alphabet head" and "goalpost head". Rimmer keeps his unmanageable hair relatively short, deciding that it makes him feel like more of a man. When Lister and The Cat respond to a drill too slowly, Rimmer argues for increased discipline and sensible haircuts, believing that "every major battle in history has been won by the side with the shortest haircuts" (resulting in the Cat insulting his hair-do by saying 'that he had hair like his, but not on his head').

Rimmer's Space Corps uniform changes several times during the course of the show. In the first two series it is a grey-and-beige shirt-and-tie ensemble; in Series III and IV this becomes a green suit with a shiny high-collared jacket, which is changed to red in Series V; in Series VI and VII, Rimmer's jacket becomes quilted and is red when he is in soft-light form and blue for hard-light; the alive Rimmer in Series VIII wears an all-beige uniform similar in design to the original. In the 2009 three-part special "Back to Earth", Rimmer wears a blue suit similar to his Series III and VI green suit but with the addition of a plain waist-high belt worn over the jacket and a quilted collar; possibly being part of a quilted under shirt which though the jacket is not removed at all during any of the 3 episodes.

The hologram "H" on his forehead also changes from series to series: it starts as a grey colour and a blocky shape, then in Series III it becomes bright blue and reflective, then in Series V its shape is changed to a thinner and more stylised font. His "H" also briefly changes to a reflective red colour set inside a circle when he temporarily joins the holoship SS Enlightenment.


Among the actors who auditioned for Rimmer were Norman Lovett
Norman Lovett
Norman Lovett is an English stand-up comedian and actor, best known for the role of Holly in Red Dwarf during the first, second, seventh and eighth series. His comedy has a quiet, dead-pan surrealism, and in 2000 he made a successful stand up tour, co-headlining with Chris Barrie, who played...

 (who went on to play Holly
Holly (Red Dwarf)
Holly is the ship's computer on the science fiction situation comedy Red Dwarf.The character is played by Norman Lovett in Series I and II and, following a "head sex change" to look like his parallel universe alter ego "Hilly", played by Hattie Hayridge in the series 3 episode Backwards, is female...

 instead), David Baddiel
David Baddiel
David Lionel Baddiel is an English comedian, novelist and television presenter.-Early life:Baddiel was born in New York, and moved to England when he was four months old. His father, Colin Brian Baddiel, was a Welsh research chemist with Unilever before being made redundant in the 1980s, after...

, Hugh Laurie
Hugh Laurie
James Hugh Calum Laurie, OBE , better known as Hugh Laurie , is an English actor, voice artist, comedian, writer, musician, recording artist, and director...

, and Alfred Molina
Alfred Molina
Alfred Molina is a British-born American actor. He first came to public attention in the UK for his supporting role in the 1987 film Prick Up Your Ears...

. Initially Molina was cast as Rimmer, however, the role was recast and filled by Chris Barrie
Chris Barrie
Chris Barrie is a British actor. He first achieved success as a vocal impressionist, notably in the ITV sketch show Spitting Image...

, a professional voice-actor and impressionist. Barrie, who had originally auditioned for Lister, was familiar with Rob Grant
Rob Grant
Robert Grant is a British comedy writer and television producer, who was born in Salford and studied Psychology at Liverpool University for two years....

 and Doug Naylor
Doug Naylor
Douglas R. Naylor is a British comedy writer, science fiction writer, director and television producer.Naylor was born in Manchester, England and studied at the University of Liverpool. In the mid-1980s, Naylor wrote two regular comedy sketch shows for BBC Radio 4 entitled Cliché and Son of Cliché...

 having worked together on Son of Cliché
Son of Cliché
Son Of Cliché was a comedy sketch show that ran for two series on BBC Radio 4 between 23 August 1983 and 29 December 1984.The sketches were written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, and were performed by Chris Barrie, Nick Maloney and Nick Wilton....

and Spitting Image
Spitting Image
Spitting Image is a British satirical puppet show that aired on the ITV network from 1984 to 1996. It was produced by Spitting Image Productions for Central Television. The series was nominated for 10 BAFTA Awards, winning one for editing in 1989....

, and with the producers on Happy Families
Happy Families (TV series)
Happy Families was a rural comedy drama written by Ben Elton which appeared on the BBC in 1985 and told the story of the dysfunctional Fuddle family....

and various Jasper Carrott
Jasper Carrott
Jasper Carrott OBE is a British comedian, actor, television presenter and personality.-Early life:...

 productions. He has appeared in all but four episodes of the show, which he missed in series VII due to scheduling conflicts.

Rimmer was played by Chris Eigeman
Chris Eigeman
Chris Eigeman is an American actor best known for roles in the Whit Stillman films Metropolitan, Barcelona, and The Last Days of Disco....

 in the first American pilot and then by Anthony Fuscle in the second pilot.The character's distinctive "H" was replaced with a marble-shaped object in the first pilot, but the "H" returned in the second one. Chris Barrie was given an offer to reprise his role, but turned it down for fear of being tied into a restrictive, long-term contract, which is common in American television production.

The female Rimmer in the Series II episode "Parallel Universe" was played by Suzanne Bertish
Suzanne Bertish
Suzanne C. Bertish is an English actress.A former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Bertish has appeared in many productions with them, including their marathon eight-and-a-half hour version of Charles Dickens's The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, in which she played three roles...

, an actress primarily known for her classical stage work. She had been asked by director Ed Bye
Ed Bye
Edward Richard Morrison Bye is a British film and TV producer and director. He is best known for his work with Grant Naylor, Harry Enfield and Jasper Carrott, and has worked with many of British TV's best known comedians and comedy actors...

to play the part. "Young Rimmer", who had minor speaking roles in three episodes in Series III and IV, was played by child actor Simon Gaffney.

External links

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