It's clear that Lister & Rimmer get on each others' nerves throughout the majority of Red Dwarf.

The question then is, why did they sleep in the same quarters when all of the other living quarters in the ship (including the captain's!) are now vacant? Aside from the episode Me^2 where Rimmer moves in with Rimmer for a short time, they live together and tolerate each other. And even that episode shows Lister happy to be on his own, being able to squeeze the toothpaste tube from the middle and so forth. But Lister could move out at any time and not have to put up with Rimmer any more.

We know that Holly brought Rimmer back as a hologram because he thought he was the best person to stop Lister from going crazy, but he couldn't have predicted they would choose to spend so much time together considering they hated each other before the accident.

We also know, or at least suppose, that deep down they would both probably get a bit lonely on their own, but there doesn't seem to be an acknowledgement of this by the characters themselves.

  • 5
    I'm not sure why this got closed as Opinion-based. It strikes me that there has to be a bloody good reason why one or both don't move quarters.
    – Valorum
    Feb 26, 2018 at 6:55
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    I believe Lister says himself at one point (possibly during Me^2) that driving Rimmer crazy is what keeps him sane. I also suspect that Rimmer likes having someone he considers inferior to himself around to blame for everything that he perceives as being wrong with his existence (we saw in the same episode what happened when he spent time alone with another version of himself - that's probably not so different to him being alone with only his own thoughts).
    – delinear
    Feb 26, 2018 at 11:29
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    I think it's also mentioned a few times that not all of the ship has been decontaminated (in the early episodes/series at least). For instance, in Confidence and Paranoia, Lister contracts mutated pneumonia after entering Kochanski's quarters, a non-decontaminated area of the ship. This probably explains to some extent why Lister doesn't go live in the Captain's quarters - Holly has rendered some subset of the ship habitable, and the rest is potentially dangerous.
    – delinear
    Feb 26, 2018 at 11:34
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    @delinear: pop all that in an answer, I think it deserves to be accepted. Feb 26, 2018 at 11:47

2 Answers 2


Why doesn’t Basil Fawlty leave Cybil? Why doesn’t Tim quit Wernham Hogg? Why doesn’t Mark stop living with Jeremy? In the grand tradition of British sitcoms, they suffer in situations that torment them, because they’re the only way they know how to exist. They know exactly how to get annoyed by their current arrangement, and have no idea how to make a different life for themselves.

Lister, arguably, has even less scope to make a different life for himself than these other characters. Every other human being in the universe almost certainly died out a couple of million years ago. His other options are a sentient humanoid cat, a senile computer, and eventually a chronically subservient droid. He might start hating them too if he moved into quarters with them, and if he lived somewhere on his own, as you say, the unimaginable loneliness could drive him mad.

Given that even Rimmer is actually just a simulation of a long-dead smeg head, it’s probably best for Dave that he doesn’t acknowledge his role in maintaining his tenuous grip on reality.

  • Why don't I stop watching British sitcoms and do something with my life instead? Jan 9, 2020 at 13:15

The pair of them despise each other but both are silently aware that they need each other. Rimmer needs someone nearby to feel superior to. Lister starts to break down when Rimmer left in season 7. In the come back special it shows exactly how this works. Lister spends weeks trawling through the supplies looking for tomatoes, he plans and plans and plans all so he can walk into their shared room and force Rimmer to watch him iron his sneezes. Winding each other up is the only thing keeping them going.

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