Born – Io – date unknown (21st Century)
Died – Red Dwarf – date unknown (21st-22nd Century)
Rimmer : “You always become the thing you hate the most. Look at you, Lister: obnoxious, ruthless, single-minded, insensitive: you’re more like me than I am!”
Rimmer was a snidey little self centred man with delusions of godly-ness, who would have stabbed anyone in the back for a foot up in life. He used his tormented childhood as an excuse as to why he never got the break he felt he deserved in life. He craved recognition and social status and had few friends in childhood and on Red Dwarf.
Arnold Judas Rimmer aka Smeghead, goalpost head or bonehead to his friends, was born to Mr & Mrs Rimmer on the Jupiter moon of Io.
The smallest of 4 brothers, Arnold was an ignored child who was bullied incessantly by his older brothers – suspended upside down for long periods and left there for hours.
His father was rejected from Space core for being an inch too small, so he stretched his children on a rack to make them over the required height.
By his father putting his own failed dreams onto his children, meant Arnold grew up with a huge inferiority complex. It is heavily hinted that Rimmer’s mother was having an affair with his Uncle Frank and that Uncle Frank might actually be Arnold’s real dad.
“If we’re talking about famous firsts – my first French kiss. It’s gotta be a killer story. Fourteen years old. We went on holiday with my Uncle Frank and his daughters. Sixteen. Twins. Blonde. Now I knew that Sarah fancied me, but I wasn’t too sure about Alice. Anyway, middle of the night, I wake up with this tongue stuck down my throat. Wide awake now — I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was Uncle Frank! He’d got the wrong room – he thought I was my mum!” Rimmer
From a young age Arnold wanted to be a General in the army, leading his troops heroically (from the back), whilst sipping fine wine. He was also partial to a night in, playing the board game Risk and listening to a bit of Reg Hammond and his Hammond Orchestra.
The SSc and BSc after his name weren’t due to a doctorate but due to Rimmer holding a Bronze and a Silver swimming certificate, although he couldn’t swim!
When he was twelve, his mother sent him off to boarding school to be rid of him. There, he met Fred “Thicky” Holden who Rimmer detested as he was really thick Backwards, 1989 – S3. Unlike Rimmer though, Thicky went on to make something of his life by inventing the ‘Tension sheet’ (bubblewrap painted red for stress relief) which annoyed Rimmer greatly.
When Rimmer turned 14 he divorced his parents and shortly after joined Space Core being assigned to the deepspace mining vessel – Red Dwarf.
Rimmer was assigned to Red Dwarf as a lowly 2nd Technician, put in quarters along with his new bunkmate – Dave Lister in The End, 1988 – S1.
The two couldn’t have been more different and didn’t exactly hit it off. Before the accident aboard Red Dwarf, Rimmer had Lister on 137 seperate counts of insubordination and dereliction of duty.
Rimmer would regale a really bored Lister with tales such as he believed that he was reincarnated from Alexander
The Great’s Chief Eunach Marooned, 1989 – S2.
(Better Than Life) – Rimmer: “It’s all junk mail, you send off for every bit of crap going, just so you can have something to open. [Imitates Lister] Please rush me my portable Walrus polishing kit, four super brushes that can tackle even the trickiest of seabound mammals. Yes I am over 18, although my IQ isn’t!”
Rimmer failed another Astroexam by having a nervous breakdown and writing “I am a fish” all over his exam paper, before saluting his superior officer and fainting.
Another shot at promotion was also a failiure, when at the Captain’s dinner table, he sent Gazpatcho soup back, complaining that it was cold! Gazpatcho Soup was also Rimmer’s final words before he died Me2, 1988 – S1
The final nail in the coffin for Rimmer was when he abused Captain Hollister (On his way to a fancy dress party, dressed as a chicken!) who had dropped into his quarters to apologise. Rimmer, thinking he was seeing things (after seeing himself as a hologram from the future), abuses the hallucination calling it ‘Captain Paxo’ and kneeing it/him in the groin. Stasis Leak, 1988 – S2
Captains report on Rimmer :
Arnold Rimmer, Technician, 2nd Class. Captain’s remarks: “There’s a saying amongst the officers: If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. If it’s not worth doing, give it to Rimmer. Promotion prospects: comical.”
Rimmer didn’t have much in the way of a lovelife but did manage a fumble with Officer Yvonne MacGruder at a party, she was the ships female boxing champion.
The accident itself was caused by a faulty drive plate, which Rimmer was supposed to fix, but as Rimmer had never took responsibility for anything on his life, he blamed Lister – who at the time couldn’t of helped him as he was in statis.
After the accident, Holly brought Rimmer back to life as resident hologram, Rimmer had been the person Lister had spoke most of and he thought this would help keep Lister sane, he was wrong.
Aboard the empty Red Dwarf, Rimmer finally fulfilled his ambition in death, as he was now the highest ranking officer.
He refused to let Lister switch him off so he could boot up Kochanski for fear that Lister wouldn’t switch him back on (Red Dwarf only supported one hologram). He was most worried when Lister took the Chef’s exam, just so he could outrank Rimmer in Balance Of Power, 1988 – S1.
In Stasis Leak, 1988 – S2 Rimmer found a doorway back in time 3 million years and went back to try and stop himself dying, by persuading the living version of Rimmer to go into Stasis. It didn’t work unfortunately, as his living self thought he had finally gone coo-coo and was seeing things.
Whilst playing a new total reality immersion video game ‘Better Than Life’ with Lister and Cat in Better Than Life, 1988 – S2, Rimmer’s mind tried to reject nice things happening to him and ruined the game for all of them. It started well, getting off with MacGruder but it kept skipping forward until Rimmer was married and had 6 annoying kids. If that wasn’t bad enough, the outland revenue was after him aswell for 3 million years of unpaid tax and proceeded to break his fingers with a hammer, all whilst still in the game.
The crew celebrated Rimmer’s ‘deathday’ every year in Thanks For The Memories, 1988 – S2, by throwing a party. This particular one was quite a wild affair when Lister and Cat woke up the next morning with a broken leg in a cast, a traffic cone and a policemans hat. It turned out the crew had wiped their own minds to forget what had taken place. Lister, thinking he would give Rimmer a nice present uploaded some of his memories of a happy time with an ex-girlfriend into Rimmer, without Rimmer’s knowing it.
For a while Rimmer was happy until the emotions made him go a bit psycho as he was baffled why he had moved to Liverpool and left the girl to persue a career in Space Core. When Rimmer found out the truth he made Lister bury the tapes of it on a moon.
Rimmer was more than pleased that the crew had found Kryten, a fully functioning Mechanoid in Kryten, 1989 – S2 on an asteroid. So much so, he forced Kryten to do his bidding and skivvy for him. Kryten got wise to it though and whilst painting a portrait of Rimmer as a general, painted Rimmer sitting on the kharzi with his trousers down and a surprised expression on his face !
Rimmer was fond of quoting Space Regulations at the crew to ehance his own importance. It wasn’t until Kryten joined the crew that Lister and Cat realised that Rimmer didn’t have a clue about Space Core Directives and was just spouting a load of old baloney.
/2011/09/”That’s it. I’m invoking space corps directive 6_8_2_5_0.” Rimmer
” 6_8_2_5_0? But sir, surely that’s impossible without at least one live chicken and a rabbi.” Kryten
“Forget it. Forget I was ever born.” Rimmer
“But sir, I’m very happy to perform the ceremony, but I’m bewildered as to how sacrificing poultry will clear up the screen problem.” Kryten
Kryten would remind Rimmer about correct Space Directives which involved Rimmer laying down his life for the human crew. Strangely Rimmer didn’t seem as fussed about following these ones.
“Well, Space Corps Directive 195 clearly states that in an emergency power situation, a holo-grammatic crew member must lay down his life in order that the living crew members might survive.” Kryten
“Yes, but Rimmer Directive 271 states just as clearly, “No chance you metal bastard.” Rimmer
Rimmer met his female alternative self from another dimension called Arlene Rimmer in Parallell Universe, 1988 – S2. Rimmer’s female alter-ego was everything Arnold was not – macho, forciful and direct.
Rimmer got some quality time with Lister in Marooned, 1988 – S2 as they were stranded on an ice world. To stop Rimmer freezing to death they burnt all of Rimmer’s possessions to keep Lister warm – including all of his books and wooden soldiers. Rimmer pleaded with Lister not to burn his antique camphor wood chest, instead telling Lister to burn his guitar instead – as it was less valuable.
Lister agreed initially and then cut a guitar shaped hole in Rimmers chest when Rimmer wasn’t looking, and burned that instead!
In Polymorph, 1989 – S2, the crew were attacked by an emotion feeding shape changing alien which had got aboard Red Dwarf. It attacked Rimmer and sucked out all of his snideyness and backstabbing-ness out leaving a rather hippy-fied Rimmer who wanted to form a commitee and hit the creature hard with………a leafleting campaign!
He was always the architect of his own downfall and his vanity usually betrayed him. Like when he managed to create a duplicate hologram of himself in Me2, 1988 – S1 to help run the ship. He ended up getting on his own nerves!
In Meltdown, 1991 – S4, the crew found a world of autonomous ex-themepark waxwork dummies. The world wad ruled by evil the waxworks – including Hitler. Rimmer seemingly mad after his light-bee was damaged, dressed up as a four star General and proclaimed himself leader of the waxwork resistance. He killed all of the waxwork oppressors liberating the planet, the only problem was he had annihilated the resistence aswell! Annoyed at Rimmer’s megalomania, Lister swallows the light-bee telling Cat : “it’ll come out in a day or two!”.
When Lister changed the past in Timeslides – S3, 1989 by stealing Thicky Holden’s Tension Sheet idea to become rich, Rimmer went back to retrieve him, as he said himself :
“It’s my duty to save Lister! It’s my duty ……as a complete and utter bastard!”.
For a while, the altered time line meant that Rimmer was alive and demanded Kryten unpack Rachel, his blowup doll.
Rimmer’s promise to get Lister fit in Bodyswap, 1989 – S3 ended up with Rimmer going mad with physical pleasure, stealing Lister’s body and Starbug and losing Lister an arm in the process.
In Backwards, 1989 – S3 Rimmer was teaching Kryten to pilot Star Bug in his typically officious driving instructor manner, when they were sucked through a wormhole onto a parallell earth where everything was backwards.
Whilst they awaited Lister and Cat to come and rescue them, Rimmer and Cat formed the “Fabulous Reverse Brothers” whose death defying tricks included : eating an egg – forwards!!
In Ace Rimmer, 1989 – S2 Rimmer realised his absolute worst nightmare when he meets a much more successful version of himself from an alternate reality. ‘Ace’ Rimmer was everything that this Rimmer was not : courageous, dependable, honest and strong, Rimmer despised him.
The crew dock at an automated penal space freighter in Justice World, 1991 – S4 and whilst Rimmer is laughing at Lister thinking he will get tried for his past petty crimes, its actually Rimmer who has to stand trial for the murder of the Red Dwarf crew and is sentenced to 500 years in prison.
In Holoship, 1992- S5, Rimmer is abducted by a passing holoship crew. He is offered the chance to join the holocrew if he can pass an exam. He cheats by having his IQ increased artificially by Holly and beats the test with flying colours but upon realising he will replace another hologram he has grown fond of, he renounces his new commission.
In Quarantine, 1992 – S5 Rimmer is affected by a virus which makes him go mad and quarantine Lister, Cat and Kryten whilst wearing a big red and white dress and pigtails. His cohort is Mr Flibble a penguin puppet and he answers only to the King of the Potato people!
Back To Reality, 1992 – S5 and the crew are attacked by a ‘despair’ squid whilst doing some deepsea salvaging. Suffering a group hallucination, Rimmer believes he has been playing Red Dwarf a total immersion video game, for the last four years. Worse still, he is Lister’s brother and worse still again, he is a yak urine stained coated tramp called Billy Doyle!
Billy : “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 Bry-Nylon shirt. A flotsam, jetsam, human wreckage, sputum bag who smells like a yak latrine. And now my best flashy mac’ is about to be splattered with an android’s brain. I’m after you with the gun!”.
In Demons And Angels, 1992 – S5 during some experiments with a new device called a triplicator, the crew accidentally create another two versions of Red Dwarf. One is a ‘good’ version of the ship, fully working and clean with a morally clean version of the crew. The other is a scuzzy seedy ‘evil’ version of the ship with a nightmarish crew. Typically, the evil version of Rimmer is the worst, dressed in stockings and bondage gear he captures Lister, then threatens to ‘have him!’.
In Terrorform, 1992 – S5 The crew are and Kryten crashland on a Psyche-moon which creates a whole world around Rimmer’s psyche populated with men and women who look like Rimmer – a truly sickening and terrifying place!
Rimmer was suffering from Hypertension in Rimmer World, 1993 – S6 and Kryten gave him two metal balls to rotate in his hand to keep his blood pressure down. His cowardice was nearly his undoing though, as during a confrontation with a Rogue Simulant, Rimmer sneaked into an escape pod and was sucked through a wormhole meaning when the crew finally caught up with Rimmer on a S3 earth like planet, 600 years had passed!
The crew meet a brilliant being aboard a deserted space station called Legion in Legion, 1993 – S6. Legion turns Rimmer’s softlight drive into a hardlight one, so for the first time since dying, Rimmer has a physical body.
Rimmer was to catch up with his old alternate self Ace in Stoke Me A Clipper, 1997 – S7 who was dying and wanted this Rimmer to take his place in the alternative universe.
After he leaves, Lister finds himself pining after Rimmer in Blue, 1997 – S7 until Kryten takes him on the virtual reality ‘Rimmer experience’ to remind Lister what an intolerable, jumped up excuse of a man Rimmer was.
A flesh and blood version of Rimmer made a comeback in Back In The Red part 1, 2 & 3 – S8. Red Dwarf had been rebuilt by a bunch of nanobots found hiding in Lister’s laundry basket. They recreated the ship and all of the crew including a flesh and blood Rimmer.
Rimmer stumbled across the luck and charm viruses and used them to try and gain favour with Captain Hollister but when Hollister found out, he was thrown in the brig with Lister.
To try to ease the boredom of prison life, Lister, Rimmer, Cat and Kochanski joined the Canaries in Cassandra, 1998 – S8 – a prison crew Space freighter salvage team. Happening across the fortune telling computer Cassandra on a derelict ship, she tells Rimmer he is going to die, but not before making sweet love with Kochanski. It’s all a lie of course as Rimmer never gets a break, ever.
In Only The Good, 1998 – S8, Rimmer is left aboard a disintegrating Red Dwarf as the rest of the crew escape into a mirror universe to face death himself.
Hardlight drive Rimmer was back in Back To Earth, 2009 – S9 as the crew were attacked by another despair squid. Believing they were characters in a popular TV show called Red Dwarf and about to be written out of existence by the writer.
Red Dwarf was ultimately the story of Rimmer’s life, death and rebirth. He was a complete cowardly smeghead who would think nothing of dropping his fellow crewmates in it for personal gain.
He had many issues mainly around his delusions of grandeur, that he was meant for some unknown great purpose.
You couldn’t help but feel sorry for him though when he was at his lowest ebb – he was only a product of a twisted childhood, bullied by his brothers, ignored by his mother and unfairly had his fathers ambitions dumped on him. Especially when he got a letter about his fathers death – 3 million years too late.
Rimmer and Lister’s relationship was a complex love/hate one in terms of how they interacted but underneath, one suspects a lot of it was banter and they were both quite fond of each other.
So in terms of his notable weaknesses and faults, Rimmer was the most human character aboard Red Dwarf.
“I don’t loathe myself. What is there one could possibly loathe about me?” Rimmer
“Would you like the list, sir?” Kryten
“What list?” Rimmer
“Well, there was the fact you were despised by your parents for failing to achieve their standards. The fact your three brothers were all such high-flyers in the Space Corps and you ended up servicing chicken soup machines. There’s your inability to form long-term relationships with anyone, your cowardliness, your lack of charm, honour or grace and the awful knowledge that throughout your entire life nobody has ever truly liked you because you are so fundamentally unlikeable!” Kryten
“Oh, that!” Rimmer
“Please don’t interrupt, sir, I’m only half-way through my list.” Kryten