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The "Last Human"
|First appearance||The End|
|Created by||Rob Grant and Doug Naylor|
|Portrayed by||Craig Charles|
|Nickname(s)||Listy, Dave, Skipper, Dave "Cinzano Bianco" Lister|
|Aliases||Lister of Smeg|
Technician, Third Class,Bum (Self Proclaimed)
|Family||Dave Lister (father, himself)
Kristine Kochanski (mother)
|Significant other(s)||Kristine Kochanski|
|Children||Jim Lister and Bexley Lister (in alternate realities)
Dave Lister (himself)
|Relatives||Adopted by the Wilmot family
Lister is normally dressed in a leather jacket and hat, his boiler suits and his lengthy dreadlocks that he grows only from the back of his head. Until series VII, he was presumed to be the last human being alive, due to a radiation leak on the mining ship Red Dwarf which killed the crew while he was in stasis. Holly, the ship's computer, piloted the ship away from Earth and kept Lister in stasis for 3 million years, at which point the radiation levels had again returned to normal and Lister was released. As a crew member of Red Dwarf, Lister and the other characters encountered many strange beings and life-forms, usually of human origin.
An orphan, he was discovered at six weeks old on 26 November 2155, under a pool table in a Liverpool pub (the Aigburth Arms), nestled in a cardboard box with the mysterious word "ouroboros" scribbled on its side. Lister celebrates his birthday "most of the time", and uses 14 October as his official birth date. Lister is in fact his own father, shown in the episode "Ouroboros" when he fills up a test tube for Kochanski, and then realises after seeing a battery box with an "Ouroboros" logo that he in fact is the baby in the test tube.
He was adopted by the Wilmot family, but after his adoptive father died when he was six he went to live with Grandma Lister, whose last name he took. She was a tough, pipe-smoking woman who once famously headbutted the headmaster of Lister's school when Lister came bottom in French, leading to Lister's expulsion, and whose cooking led to his being nicknamed "Fat Boy" from ages eleven to thirteen. Lister decided to lose weight after his grandmother died when she was hit by a truck, and he was ashamed to find that the coroner had to go back for a second piece of chalk to complete the chalk outline. After his grandmother's death, Lister apparently lived and attended school in an orphanage, sleeping in a pitch-dark dormitory alongside many other boys including "Squeaky" Gibson, whose life he saved on one occasion when he discovered Gibson having an epileptic fit. Around the same time he got his first job as a supermarket trolley attendant, which he would eventually quit after ten years "because he didn't want to get tied down to a career".
Lister lost his virginity at the age of twelve in one of the bunkers on the ninth hole of Bootle Municipal golf course; his partner is variously named as either Susan Warrington or Michelle Fisher. He also spent a good part of his puberty lusting after the older sister of one Pete Tranter. Lister suffers from claustrophobia, which stems from an incident at age 17 when a vengeful husband caught him making love to his wife in the supermarket where he was employed. The man kidnapped the naked Lister, locked him in a box and threatened to throw him into a canal. Lister begged for mercy and was finally released, in the nude, onto the stage of a local theatre in the middle of the Bootle Amateur Players' production of The Importance of Being Earnest. Around the same time, he formed a band called Smeg and the Heads in which he was the singer and guitarist, along with his friends Dobbin (drums) and Gazza (bassist). One of their songs was called "Om", the only lyrics to which appeared to be repetitions of the vocalisation "om". Lister was accepted at art college, but dropped out on his first day when he learned his schedule would include lectures "first thing in the afternoon". Lister went out with a girl named Lisa Yates, but the relationship ended because he did not want a commitment, a fact that Lister has since secretly regretted.
Within the continuity of the books by Grant Naylor, Lister went on a drunken Monopoly board pub crawl in London with his friends to celebrate his 23rd birthday, where he got very, very drunk; when he awoke, he was on Mimas, one of Saturn's moons, wearing a lady's pink crimplene hat and a pair of yellow fishing waders, with no money and a passport in the name of "Emily Berkenstein". Lister, determined to make enough money to get back home, spent six months stealing "hoppers" (the equivalent of taxis on Mimas) and collecting the fares, but he lost all his money several times from blowing it all on alcohol (hoping that if he got drunk enough again, he would awaken back in London) and on one occasion being mugged by a drug addict who was high on the narcotic "Bliss". Eventually, Lister signed up for a job on the mining ship Red Dwarf, which, unknown to him, was due to make a four-and-a-half-year mining run to Triton before heading back to Earth.
Life onboard Red Dwarf
As a third-class technician, Lister was the lowest ranking crewman on Red Dwarf, a ship with a crew of 169, and spent his time performing tasks too menial for the skutters (under the hated supervision of Arnold Rimmer), or getting drunk with his friends Olaf Petersen, Bent Bob, Selby and Chen. Lister was imprisoned in a stasis booth because he smuggled an unquarantined cat, which he named Frankenstein, aboard the ship. In the novel, he deliberately let the cat be discovered so that he would be placed in stasis, thus getting back to Earth in (subjectively) no time at all. In the original show, the cat was a treasured pet who was pregnant with kittens that Lister planned to raise on Fiji once he got there. When it was discovered in the TV show version, Lister chose to be placed in stasis rather than surrender the cat for dissection.
While Lister was in stasis, a release of lethal radiation occurred on board as a result of a faulty repair carried out by Rimmer, killing the entire crew. Holly, the ship's computer, kept Lister in stasis for three million years until the radiation levels returned to normal. Lister was left as presumably the last human being in the universe, accompanied on Red Dwarf by a hologram simulation of Rimmer and a humanoid creature that evolved from his cat. Lister is actually believed to be the god of this race of cat-people, who know him as "Cloister the Stupid".
After a sexual liaison with Deb Lister (Angela Bruce), his female alter-ego from a female-oriented parallel universe, Dave Lister gave birth (via caesarean section) to twin sons named Jim and Bexley, named after his favourite zero-gravity football player, Jim Bexley Speed. Due to them being born in a different reality to their conception, both children grew to be eighteen years old within three days. Realising that if they stayed with him they would be dead within a fortnight, Lister sent them back to their mother's dimension.
Lister has a tattoo on his right buttock, dedicated to the love of his life: it is a heart with an arrow through it and underneath it has in dripping curry sauce, "I love Vindaloo". It was obtained while on planet leave on Ganymede with Petersen, who spiked his cocktail with four-star petrol. When Lister woke up the next day, he had enrolled as a novice monk in a Ganymedian monastery. He also has another tattoo claiming that he loves Petersen placed on his inner thigh, which stems from an unidentified incident where the two got so heavily drunk together that Lister had no idea what was happening to him. In the Red Dwarf roleplaying game, Petersen's character profile (featured in "The Extra Bits" booklet) states that he has a reciprocal tattoo from the same incident.
Lister is dedicated to resurrecting and winning over the one true love of his life - Kristine Kochanski, the long dead navigation officer of Red Dwarf. It is his ambition to marry Kristine Kochanski and start a frugal life on a farm on the Earth islands of Fiji where he will have a cat- originally to be Frankenstein but instead would be The Cat-, farm sheep, cows and horses and run a donut and hot dog stand while Kochanski was able to relax, wear a white dress and ride the horses.
Throughout the previous series at least several glimpses of Lister's future have been seen:
- In the episode "Future Echoes" in the first series of the show, a vision of Lister is seen with him as a very old man of 171 years old with a mechanical prosthetic hand. This future version of Lister still has his dreadlocks, although they are over two metres long and almost white with age.
- In the episode "Cassandra" in the eighth series of the show, the Dwarfers make contact with a prophetic and clairvoyant computer that has the ability to predict the future without a margin of error. Lister is told by Cassandra that he will live to 181 years old and will die whilst trying to take a bra off with his teeth. Though Lister believed this was an incredibly sexy way to go, the others quickly pointed out that at 181 years old it may be his own bra, and that the teeth may not be in his mouth at the time (It should be noted that Cassandra was aware that Lister would kill her, and hence may not have been entirely honest about his fate).
- In the book Better Than Life, which explores different adventures than the TV series, Lister eventually discovers Earth, having previously become the dumping ground for the other populated planets within the Solar system, however when he finds it, it has left the orbit of the Solar system and finds that eight-foot-long cockroaches are the dominant species. He becomes their king and plans to rebuild the planet. The others find him thirty-six years later (after believing Lister was missing for a fortnight due to a time dilation). Later, after Lister dies of a heart attack in a confrontation with a polymorph, his body is taken to the alternative universe where time runs backwards and is told that he will be rescued in thirty-six years time. Two accounts of what followed are Backwards and Last Human.
- In Timeslides, when transported to an alternate reality in which he is rich and famous, Holly finds a news report stating he died in a plane crash aged 98; he was making love to his 14th wife at the time and lost control of the plane.
Back to Earth
In the 2009 special "Red Dwarf: Back to Earth", after an encounter with a female despair squid, Lister, along with the rest of the crew, hallucinate an alternate reality in which they are fictional characters and that their lives are just a TV series that they have somehow escaped from.
Lister is very lazy, and more importantly, unmotivated. He is a slob, his best shirt is a one with only two curry stains on the front, and prior to going into stasis he saved money by never buying soap, deodorant or socks. He enjoys "bumming around", drinking large amounts of lager, and eating Indian food and listening to a genre of music called Rasta Billy Skank. He is a supporter of the London Jets zero-gravity football team. Lister has dreadlocks on the back of his head, which he seems to have for most of his life (in "Future Echoes", Lister meets himself at age 171, and his dreadlocks are the length of his body; they are also present, if shorter, on his 17-year-old self in "Timeslides"). Lister's religious beliefs are unclear. In the episode, "The Last Day", Kryten states that Lister is a pantheist, believing God to be in all things; however, in the later episode "Back to Reality" he is described as the "ultimate atheist". In "Waiting For God", Lister displays disgust over the Cat people's war over a religious disagreement stating that they were "using religion as an excuse to be really crappy to each other."
He prides himself on being a good man possessing moral courage, something which is used against him by a 'despair squid' in "Back to Reality"; when hallucinating under the influence of the squid's ink, he was driven to suicidal despair by his belief that, in the alternate world in which he found himself, he was a genocidal minister in a totalitarian state, responsible for the murder of countless innocent people. When confronted with an evil version of himself on a corrupted version of Red Dwarf, Lister says of his evil counterpart, "But he kills; I'm not capable of that." Likewise when he kills "The Creator" of Red Dwarf during his Back to Earth hallucination, his initial reaction is to state that he doesn't kill people and doesn't understand why he did it. His value for life was also shown when he and Kryten were being hunted by the Inquisitor, Lister being deeply affected by the knowledge that Kryten's seemingly imminent death would only mean something because he had helped Kryten to break his programming, thus giving him a life to lose. He has also shown some philosophical traits over the course of the series, such as when he reflected on the unfair nature of life and relative futility of the penal colony in "Justice", saying that the Justice Field didn't grant its inmates any kind of free will. He also lamented on the escalation of uncontrolled evolution that resulted in the creation of the Despair Squid in "Back to Reality".
In many ways, Lister is the complete opposite of Rimmer, and the two are constantly at odds with each other. Rimmer is constantly accusing Lister of stupidity but Lister has actually been shown to be quite intelligent on several occasions and his lack of motivation is really what holds him back. For example, he managed to learn the international language Esperanto from Rimmer's tapes, while Rimmer himself was unable to. He is capable of piloting a spaceship and has a knack for mechanical repairs, particularly amateur cybernetics. When the Inquisitor appeared on Red Dwarf to judge the crew, he declared that Lister's failure to put his brain to good use was evidence that he had not lived a worthwhile life. Lister is a very socially capable person; well liked by his friends and has had a number relationships with women, albeit not all successful (his lack of ambition being the main cause for not settling down). He has a high emotional intelligence being capable of reading people and empathizing with them. The novel Last Human explains that Lister often knows the solution to a problem but that he usually consults Kryten as he lacks confidence in his own opinion. He also considers himself good at pool, saying that he was nicknamed "Dave Cinzano Bianco Lister" because once he was on a table you couldn't get rid of him.
Dave Lister is also an avid junk collector who has purchased (among other things) a talking toilet, a talking toaster with artificial intelligence, and two robot goldfish, which he named Lennon and McCartney (the latter of which swims backwards and is prone to breaking down).
To prevent boredom, Lister enters in many recreational activities.
- Television — Lister and Cat have in depth discussions about The Flintstones (debating if Wilma Flintstone is sexier than Betty Rubble) as well as Tales of the Riverbank: The Next Generation ("Camille").
- Films — Lister enjoys watching films, from classics like Citizen Kane and Casablanca (the remake with Myra Binglebat and Peter Beardsley, which Lister described as "definitive") to films like Revenge of the Surfboarding Killer Bikini Vampire Girls. Lister also likes sappy romance films (see "Confidence And Paranoia" and "Holoship"). In the novels, his all-time favourite film is It's A Wonderful Life.
- Games — To pass time onboard Red Dwarf, Lister has created many different games including "Durex Volleyball" (Timeslides), "Match the Bodypart to the Crewmember" and "Armpit Name That Tune" ("Blue"). Kochanski even suggests that Lister's favourite games include "Name That Smell" and "How Many Marbles Can You Fit Up Your Nostril" ("Beyond A Joke").
- Virtual/Artificial Reality — Lister enjoys using the virtual reality suite onboard Starbug playing such games as Wimbledon and Gumshoe ("Gunmen Of The Apocalypse"). Rimmer claims that Lister only uses the AR machine to have sex — a claim supported in "Stoke Me a Clipper". Although Lister agreed with Kochanski to partake in Jane Austen World, Lister found the experience boring ("Beyond A Joke").
- Annoying Rimmer — in the 2nd series (Kryten) he explains that "Because it drives Rimmer nuts! And driving Rimmer nuts is what keeps me going." When Red Dwarf is low on water, Lister conserves the remaining water supply by eating tomatoes (which he is allergic to) and then sneezes on his clothes before ironing them, despite the iron not filled with water. He also does it deliberately to annoy Rimmer. Rimmer however, asks Lister if it was really worth spending hours and hours of planning for eight seconds of pleasure and Lister comments that that sounds like the last time that Rimmer had sex ("Back to Earth").
Lister is very attached to his guitar, believes himself to be an excellent guitarist, although his belief is misplaced. In the episode "Psirens", his companions are able to distinguish a psiren disguised as Lister from the real Lister because the psiren is able to play guitar (having taken its pattern from Lister's own mind, the psiren performed as the guitar virtuoso Lister perceives himself to be, rather than the dismal ability he usually displays). Lister eventually acknowledges his inability to play the guitar to at least some degree; in "Nanarchy" he comments, after playing his guitar with assistance from Kryten due to the loss of an arm, "at least now I'm only half-crap." In Series 1, Lister's guitar is firstly an Ovation acoustic and silver in colour. Then in Series 3, episode 2 ("Marooned"), his guitar is shown to be a black, electric guitar — according to Lister it is a "genuine Les Paul copy.")
As well as Deb Lister, there have been various other alternative versions of Lister.
In the alternate reality where we first meet Ace Rimmer, there is a version of Lister who goes by the nickname Spanners. This Lister is a highly skilled technician, married to Kochanski, with twin boys, Jim and Bexley. Unlike Rimmer, Lister is pleased a version of him is doing so well.
During an encounter with The Inquisitor, Dave is replaced with an alternative version of himself. This Dave Lister, one of the sperm who didn't have the chance to fertilise his mother's egg, was given the chance to live a better life than the one lived by the real Lister. However, the fact that he is dressed identically, and also stranded on Red Dwarf, suggests that this Dave fared no better. This Dave was ultimately killed by The Inquisitor whilst the real Dave tried to escape deletion from existence.
Under the influence of a despair squid's hallucinogenic ink, Lister is fooled into thinking that his time aboard Red Dwarf was just a realistic encounter in a Total Immersion Videogame. After leaving the game, Lister briefly gets to watch the action as another group plays the game as it was intended to be played - the scenario observed involves the team having exciting adventures in outer space and interacting in a far less dysfunctional manner, and where the role of Lister is filled by a good-looking and suave new player (John Sharian).
Discovering a temporal rift in normal space, Lister, along with the rest of the crew, travel through it and encounter an alternative Red Dwarf crew, with some small differences: in this reality, it is Lister who is the hologram, having failed to survive the accident which wiped out the crew. His hologramatic status led to this Lister becoming a better person, more caring and attentive, and cured of his slobby habits.
During the novel Last Human, the crew fought an alternate version of Lister who was adopted by different parents, this Lister choosing the wealthy but psychotic Thorntons over the poorer but more emotionally stable parents which the normal Lister had. As a result, this Lister grew up to be a sociopath, often manipulating others with his efforts, claiming not to believe in even the concept of love, and perfectly willing to murder his shipmates in order to achieve his goals. This Lister is eventually killed when he is destroyed by the gestalt telepathic entity known as the Rage.
References and footnotes
- Naylor, Grant (1989). Red Dwarf. Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN 978-0-14-012437-8.
- "Lister, David | Personnel | Space Corps Database". Red Dwarf. Retrieved 23 March 2009.
- Red Dwarf, Series II, Episode 3 - "Thanks for the Memory"
- ^ This number has changed between series. In the first series, it was mostly given as 169, although it was 129 in one episode. In Series IV, Episode 3, Rimmer is accused of 1,167 counts of manslaughter, due to his own guilt over the accident that killed the crew of Red Dwarf. This would make the crew count 1,169 (as Lister is the only survivor and Rimmer cannot be charged with his own murder). The novelisation Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers states that the crew number is actually 11,169.
- Opening Crawl of Series III episode 1 "Backwards". Red Dwarf. Season III. Episode 1.
- "Psirens". Red Dwarf. Season VI. Episode 1.
- LISTER: All I've ever had is that guitar. It's the only thing in the whole of my miserable smegging life that hasn't walked out on me. "Marooned". Red Dwarf. Season VI. Episode 1.
- "Back to Reality cast and crew". www.imdb.com. Retrieved 2008-01-29.
- Red Dwarf Series II (19 July 2002). "Dwarf USA | Features". Red Dwarf. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
- "Red Dwarf (1992) (TV)". Imdb.com. 9 August 2003. Retrieved 28 November 2012.