The Red Dwarf episode Tikka to Ride has confused me more than any previous episode:

  1. How was it possible for the crew to use the Time Drive to travel back to 1960's Earth, when in the previous episode, Out of Time, made it clear that they couldn't use it to travel through space (they'd need a Space Drive for that)? In the latter, use of the Time Drive merely left them in "pre-Renaissance deep space"!
  2. How was it possible for JFK to kill his past self - would time not have simply reset to just before the Dwarfers met him, in the same way that it reset to just before the Dwarfers were killed by their own future selves? (As Lister tried to explain at the beginning of the episode.)
  • As to #2, there's an old concept that time is like a river, with things moving along it retaining some inertia and movement, even when the source is suddenly cut of. That concept allows for 'final state' situations to occur; it doesn't matter that it's no longer possible.. it WAS possible when it happened, and now it's happened, and it's almost impossible to undo, as there is no longer a logical chain of events to interrupt. Counter intuitive, perhaps, but it's not that rare of a time-travel theory. That said, that would contradict what happened with their older selves attacked.
    – K-H-W
    Aug 15, 2015 at 5:35
  • My memory is weak, but isn't tikka to ride different technology, one is a time drive, one is evolved photo paper no?
    – user46509
    Aug 16, 2015 at 14:28
  • @user46509, you're thinking of "Timeslides"
    – komodosp
    Mar 16, 2017 at 10:12
  • I tried to type up an explanation, but my computer exploded.
    – OrangeDog
    Jul 18 at 11:13

3 Answers 3


Pretty much every plot inconsistency in Red Dwarf can be attributed to the trope "Rule of Funny", e.g. where the comedy value of a scene takes immediate priority over any consideration of continuity or common sense.

This interview with Douglas Naylor illustrates this point quite nicely:

Do you think of Red Dwarf as a science-fiction show with comedy in, or a sitcom with science fiction in?

I think... well, actually, you could argue, it's been both! Whether we intended that is something else...

It was always intended to be a comedy first. They were really so linked, but we had to pretend it wasn't science fiction when we sold it, because everyone said that science fiction didn't sell... and yet the science fiction part, from our point of view, was actually our pitch! Because otherwise, it was just about two guys in a spaceship. And especially with nobody else there, what was it going to be about? Just arguments about chicken soup dispensers, and skutters. So it was the science fiction tropes that gave it the impetus and the energy, and the originality. And also, the ability to go anywhere, get off the ship, whatever.

But I think if it's a science fiction show with comedy, that's probably when we've done it wrong. It should be the other way around


Did you find it was more important to tell the best story possible at the time, rather than being concerned about whether it lined up with past backstory?

Absolutely, yeah. And in the end, the laugh is king - and Rob's feeling was certainly that if it works, it works, and don't worry about it.

  • A good point. It's why I give a free pass to virtually every other RD episode. But T2R is too egregious, even by the (loose) rules of the RD universe, to ignore, especially since there was no need for it to be so (from a humor point of view). E.g., instead of the real Earth, the crew could've found a parallel dimension version of 1960's Earth, or visited a recreation of 1960's Earth and met a droid-JFK, or it could've all been a dream/illusion/hologram, etc. The episode would've retained all its jokes, without contradicting both itself and the episode that immediately preceded it. Aug 15, 2015 at 9:27
  • @MeirIllumination - You are, of course assuming that the episodes were made back-to-back and with a consistent theme in mind. In actuality, shows like this are often made according to the availability of sets, with editing and continuity (or what laughably passes for continuity) determined months later when the episodes are shown out of order.
    – Valorum
    Aug 15, 2015 at 9:48
  • 3
    Moreover, the two episodes you're comparing, out of Time and Tikka to Ride, were shot four years apart!
    – Mr Lister
    Aug 15, 2015 at 12:03
  • @Mr Lister, lol fair enough! Perhaps the writers did forget a few things during the time interval. But it's not like these were two completely independent episodes, it's more like they're both halves of a two-parter: T2R resolves the OoT cliffhanger, fixes its time-paradox, and uses the OoT technology to drive its plot forward. The writers must've watched OoT at least once before writing its conclusion piece's script! Aug 15, 2015 at 20:53

As Lister attempts to explain, because their future selves destroyed the Time Drive, the present and future realities collapsed together, creating a new reality that incorporated both.

That's how Starbug ended up both damaged from the battle, and with various upgrades from the future Starbug.

As the future crew had visited the Hitlers, they must have also acquired an upgrade of some sort capable of near-instantaneous travel to Earth. When the realities collapsed the Time Drive must have retained this upgrade too.


1.) Ok so I believe that the dwarfers had tapped into the space travel part of the time travel drive then because how else were their future selves able to meet the Hitlers and go to earth (Another good question is did Hitler recognise Lister?) There must have been some form of space travel linked to the time drive that they didn't use in the first place.

2.) When JFK assassinated himself it caused all the dwarfers to go back before that even happened like when they themselves did it. Or maybe because they were fixing the timeline which works differently to destroying it

  • 2
    Can you offer any evidence to back up these bold assertions?
    – Valorum
    Sep 4, 2020 at 22:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.