|Arnold Judas Rimmer BSC, SSC|
Arnold Judas Rimmer on board the SS Enlightenment
|First appearance||"The End"|
|Created by||Rob Grant and Doug Naylor|
|Portrayed by||Chris Barrie|
|Nickname(s)||Goal Post Head, Alphabet Head, - Smeg Head, Trans-Am Wheel-arch Nostrils, Bonehead|
|Species||Human / Hologram|
|Occupation||Technician, Second Class|
|Children||Michael McGruder (Last Human continuity only)|
Arnold Judas Rimmer is a fictional character in the science fiction situation comedy Red Dwarf, played by Chris Barrie. He is unpopular with his crew mates, and is often the target of insults or pranks. After he is killed by a radiation leak in the series' first episode "The End", he is present only as a computer-generated hologram, indicated by the "H" symbol on his forehead. In the eighth series, he is brought back to life, along with all other members of the original Red Dwarf crew.
The creators of the series acknowledge that Rimmer's surname comes from a snobby prefect 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.
||This section may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling. (June 2012)|
Early life 
Within the fictional universe of Red Dwarf, Rimmer was born on Io, somewhere during the 21st through 23rd centuries,; he was christened Arnold Judas Rimmer (Not in some sort of cruel omen, but because his mother was a member of a denomination of Christianity that venerates Judas as Jesus Christ's twin brother). He suffered an unhappy childhood growing up in the shadow of his three older and more successful brothers, John, Frank and Howard, and unlike them was not sent to the academy to become a professional officer. They tormented and bullied him throughout his youth and their successes in both school and career greatly overshadowed him. His stepfather 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 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 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. Rimmer attended a boarding school from age 8 to 18 where he used to sleep wearing boxing gloves and was visited by his future self (this being the Hologram Rimmer telling him to plagiarize a future invention), then when he was 18 he joined a Polytechnic and studied maintenance.
Rimmer left home when he was 16, hoping he would get into the Space Academy, which for an unknown reason he could not (possibly due to his exam performance). His father would not pay for him to attend the Academy as he had done for Rimmer's brothers. 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, and according to Lister only happened because she was concussed and thought he was someone else entirely. Rimmer claims that he lost his virginity in the back of his brother's Bentley 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, 11 times, but has failed on every occasion, frequently because he spends the allotted revision time indulging his talent for calligraphy 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 (Described in the novel as the result of him becoming so stressed that he subconsciously denied his own existence). However, he believes he has been kept down due to an incident where he was invited to the captain's table and humiliated himself when served gazpacho 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, 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, who was in stasis 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 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 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. Lister, for a time, desperately misses him, and it takes a therapeutic song by a simulation of Rimmer to remind him what a horrible presence he could be.
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, the Cat & Kristine Kochanski are sentenced to two years in the ship's brig for misuse of confidential information.
At the end of Series VIII, in the final episode, "Only the Good...", 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, announcing that he is dead, and then tells him that they'll travel to the River Styx, 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, but in an interview, creator Doug Naylor hinted that the hologram Rimmer from the first seven series is now back on Red Dwarf. 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.
Red Dwarf X 
In the tenth series premiere "Trojan", Rimmer discovers one of his brothers, Howard, serves as a hologram on a space corps vessel. Rimmer lies to his brother, telling him he is the captain of the abandoned space vessel Trojan. To his surprise, he finds Howard is, like him, a vending machine repairman that becomes the superior officer on his ship following an attack by Simulants. Howard is mortally wounded during a skirmish with a rogue Simulant, and Rimmer takes the opportunity to further lie to Howard on his deathbed about his lifestyle.
In the Series X finale, "The Beginning", Rimmer is given the task of planning out a defensive strategy against a Simulant attack fleet; after failing to come up with one, Rimmer plays a recorded message from his father in an attempt to escape his feeling of being weighed down by his father's expectations, who reveals that Arnold is not his son, but in fact the family gardener's. This revelation liberates Rimmer from the spectre of his lineage on the grounds that he has accomplished a great deal by the standards set by his biological father, and he is able to formulate a successful plan of attack that destroys the Simulant vessels.
It is strongly implied in this episode that this version of Rimmer remembers dying from the radiation leak, but also remembers saving the ship from the corrosive virus that was devouring it at the end of Series VIII. However, attempts by Rimmer and Kryten to explain how he saved the ship at the end of that series are frequently interrupted.
Rimmer's primary character traits include anal-retentiveness, over-adherence to protocol, cowardice, 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, despite the fact that the others tend to take suggestions from Lister or Kryten in a crisis.
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, comparing him to a front-gate security guard who considers himself corporate head.
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 and Hammond organ music, Rimmer also enjoys Morris dancing and is an authority on 20th century telegraph poles, especially those observed while train spotting. Rimmer has also been attempting to learn Esperanto 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", 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 appeared on the ship in a timeline where they had been erased from history, suggested that he and Kryten eject Lister and Cat from Starbug when it was revealed that the ship lacked fuel to reach the nearest planet- although this was also prompted by the discovery that the ship only had air for seven minutes and was ended when Rimmer learned that his projection unit only had enough power for four minutes-, 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 and inner strength and grew up to become a charming and well liked Space Corps test pilot, interstellar hero, and sexual seducer.
Surprisingly, however, Rimmer is still capable of nobility, honour and love. When Red Dwarf encounters a Holoship, 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", Rimmer is disgusted by his corrupt future self to the point where he'd rather do battle with him than surrender, Rimmer later frantically risking his life to save the others after they are killed by their future selves.
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, just 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.
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 (who went on to play Holly instead), David Baddiel, Hugh Laurie, and Alfred Molina. Initially Molina was cast as Rimmer, however, the role was recast and filled by Chris Barrie, a professional voice-actor and impressionist. Barrie, who had originally auditioned for Lister, was familiar with Rob Grant and Doug Naylor having worked together on Son of Cliché and Spitting Image, and with the producers on Happy Families and various Jasper Carrott 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 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, an actress primarily known for her classical stage work. She had been asked by director Ed Bye 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.
Notes and references 
- Red Dwarf Series II episode "Stasis Leak" shows a calendar from 2077, the year that Rimmer died, which conflicts with Series IV episode "DNA" when Lister describes himself as a "23rd century guy".
- In the episode "Ouroboros" the year when an eight month old baby Lister was discovered under a pub pool table is given as 2155, and in "Backwards" Lister mentions he is 25 years old. Rimmer is presumably a few years older than Lister, judging by the age difference of the actors that play them.
- "Better than Life". Red Dwarf. Season II. Episode 2.
- Rimmer: 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! -- "The Last Day". Red Dwarf. Season III. Episode 6.
- In the 1995 novel Last Human, Rimmer's one-night stand with Yvonne McGruder led to the birth of a son. Also, apparently there truly was mutual attraction, but both decided to wait for the other to make the first move after that one night, leading to them going separate ways. Yvonne transferred off Red Dwarf.
- Red Dwarf series 3"Marooned"
- HOLLY: He's the person you knew best. Over 14 million words in all. "Balance of Power". Red Dwarf. Season II. Episode 2.
- RIMMER: Captain, I've been in effective command of Red Dwarf now for nearly four years. I've guided that ragamuffin, ragtail crew of whacked out crazies and hippy peace-niks through hell and back. If I gave the order, those guys would crawl on their bellies across broken glass with their flies unzipped. So don't tell me I'm not an officer, Captain, just because in deep space there's no academy around to award me my pips. "Holoship". Red Dwarf. Season V. Episode 1.
- "Dimension Jump". Red Dwarf. Season IV. Episode 5.
- Red Dwarf Series V, "The Inquisitor".
- Red Dwarf series 1, "Future Echoes".
- Red Dwarf Series VI, "Emohawk: Polymorph II".
- "RedDwarf.co.uk: Series I Casting". Retrieved 10 December 2007.
- Interview: Norman Lovett, Red Dwarf Smegazine, issue 9, November 1992, Fleetway Editions Ltd, issn=0965-5603
- Red Dwarf series 1 Episode One: The End, Red Dwarf Smegazine, volume 2 issue 1, May 1993, Fleetway Editions Ltd, issn=0965-5603
- "RedDwarf.co.uk: Series VII Writing". Archived from the original on 22 October 2007. Retrieved 10 December 2007.
- Ellard, Andrew. "Down Time: Red Dwarf USA". Retrieved 10 December 2007.
- Ellard, Andrew. "Mr. Flibble talks to Suzanne Bertish". Retrieved 10 December 2007.
- "IMDb: Simon Gaffney". Retrieved 10 December 2007.