In the Red Dwarf episode, Timeslides (s3e5), Dave Lister changes his personal timeline so that he was never gets stranded on Red Dwarf. It's explained that this means they never rescued Kryten and the Cat race never happened.

It doesn't explain why Rimmer doesn't fade out.

It was established a little earlier that Holly brought Rimmer back as a hologram to keep Lister sane.

It still makes sense that the crew would have been wiped out, still. It also makes sense that Holly would have survived.

But why, in this alternate timeline, does Rimmer exist?

Also, why does Holly have the female face?

  • For that matter, why does Rimmer remember the old timeline well enough to want to restore it? – Politank-Z Sep 17 '15 at 22:08
  • Dashed good question! Perhaps you should ask it! – AJFaraday Sep 17 '15 at 22:08
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    I think it amounts to the same question, or at least, would have the same answer. I suspect that the answer reduces to timey-wimeyness with a dash of smeg. – Politank-Z Sep 17 '15 at 22:10
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    It's usually "because he's a smeghead", but for once I'm sure that can't be the answer. – AJFaraday Sep 17 '15 at 22:11
  • Because there's nothing stopping him from being just as much of a useless smegger in fixing that drive plate. Conclusive proof the Lister wasn't holding him back at all. – IG_42 Oct 21 '15 at 16:03

One way to go about it is that you can't calculate all the outcomes of changing past.

When Rimmer goes back in time and sets everything "right" (as it was before), there was still some change that made him not-hologram anymore.

Which is of course nullified in a instant as he explodes after some crate falls on him.


Don't know about the rest, but I can answer this:

Also, why does Holly have the female face?

Short answer: he performed a sex head change on himself.

The reason for this is explained by an extremely fast scrawl in the first episode of season III.

The scrawl, in full, reads (my emphasis):




Three million years in the future, Dave Lister, the last human being alive discovers he is pregnant after a liaison with his female self in a parallel universe. His pregnancy concludes with the successful delivery of twin boys, Jim and Bexley. However, because the twins were conceived in another universe, with different physical laws, they suffer from highly accelerated growth rates, and are both eighteen years old within three days of being born. In order to save their lives, Lister returns them to the universe of their origin, where they are reunited with their father (a woman), and are able to lead comparatively normal lives. Well, as normal as you can be if you've been born in a parallel universe and your father's a woman and your mother's a man and you're eighteen years three days after your birth.

Shortly afterwards, Kryten, the service mechanoid who had left the ship after being rescued from his own crashed vessel, the Nova 5, is found in pieces after his space bike crash lands onto an asteroid. Lister rebuilds the 'noid, but is unable to recapture his former personality.

Meanwhile, Holly, the increasingly erratic Red Dwarf computer, performs a head sex change operation on himself. He bases his new face on Hilly, a female computer with whom he'd once fallen madly in love.

And now the saga continuums





To find out more about the events explained in the scrawl, you need to see the final episode of season II.


  • Perhaps the question was indistinct here. "In a timeline where Lister never boarded Red Dwarf, why did Holly have the female face?" – AJFaraday Oct 25 '16 at 9:56
  • @AJFaraday - the better question is "... why did Holly retain her female face." Any answer must necessarily be speculative, as there is no canon explanation. You could go through the myriad of various outcomes, but there is no true answer. – Tim Oct 26 '16 at 19:46
  • Ommmmmmmmmmmmmm – AJFaraday Oct 26 '16 at 19:47
  • Holly invented the Hop Drive independently of Dave, so it's possible he still did that and met the female Holly in a timeline where Dave didn't board Red Dwarf. – delinear Feb 27 '17 at 14:33

Because Rimmer's existence depends on Holly, and Holly's existence does not depend on Lister's.

If Lister had been a multi-millionaire and never joined Red Dwarf, Cat would not exist and Kryten would not be on Red Dwarf, but the radiation leak would still have happened and so Red Dwarf would still be 3 million years from earth, and Holly would still exist.

And apparently [and this is where logic falls down a bit, but it's a sci-fi comedy so let's run with it] the nature of this time travel is that if Holly still exists, then Holly still exists unchanged. so Holly continues as before, sustaining the Rimmer hologram.

  • Okay, so Rimmer blames the fact he was fixing the drive plates without Lister’s help for the destruction of the crew. If Lister wasn’t there, wouldn’t someone else have filled that bunk? – AJFaraday Apr 28 '18 at 7:07
  • More importantly, Holly chose to simulate Rimmer in order to keep Lister sane. (There’s a lengthy discussion about the wisdom of doing this). If the crew were wiped out and there was no Lister in stasis... why would Rimmer be the hologram? – AJFaraday Apr 28 '18 at 7:09
  • Because the timeline changes didn't change Holly, or Holly's memory of the past. From Holly's point of view, Lister (and Cat and Kryten) existed in the past, and disappeared. Yes I know that doesn't make perfect sense, but neither does time travel :) – Peter B Apr 28 '18 at 9:04
  • Or to put it another way, the timeline only changes things directly affected by Lister. Holly's existence doesn't depend on Lister, so she doesn't change (for some strange reason). – Peter B Apr 28 '18 at 9:06

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