Following the conclusion of Series VIII, Red Dwarf was put on a decade-long hiatus. The final episode of Series VIII, "Only the Good...", ended on a cliffhanger - the crew has abandoned ship, the Boys have escaped into a mirror universe with seemingly no way back, and the last remaining member of the crew on the ship, Arnold Rimmer, is trapped onboard as the Chameleonic Microbe is devouring everything around him.
When the series resumed with the "Back to Earth" and the series that followed, the cliffhanger went largely unaddressed, but the status quo had clearly changed in that time. The Boys were somehow apparently back in their own universe, with Red Dwarf having been restored; Holly was offline; Kristine Kochanski was gone; and the original hologram version of Rimmer had rejoined them.
The 1999 - 2009 Bridge is an attempt to examine and understand the evidence, and draw possible scenarios to explain the changes in the status quo.
What happened in those ten years between the end of Series VIII and the specials? What do we know and what do we think?
Facts ("Only the Good...")
- Red Dwarf is being quickly devoured by a highly corrosive, chameleonic micro-organism.
- Most of the Red Dwarf crew, such as Captain Hollister and the officers, have escaped the mothership aboard an armada of Starbug and Blue Midget shuttlecraft.
- Most of the regular cast - including Cat, Kochanski, Kryten, and Lister- are safe in the Mirror Universe. However the device that leads into the Mirror Universe - the Prism Laser - is burnt out (on our side), trapping them there.
- Rimmer (human) is the only person still aboard the rapidly disintegrating and flaming Red Dwarf, and is being chased by the Grim Reaper, although this is seemingly a hallucination in Rimmer's mind.
Facts (Back to Earth)
- "Back to Earth" is set nine years after "Only the Good..."
- Kristine Kochanski is first presumed dead, and then revealed to have dumped Lister and stolen a Blue Midget.
- Rimmer is no longer a human, but once again a hard-light hologram; with the memories of both the original Rimmer and the nanobot-resurrected version from Series VIII (suggesting a Mind Patch had been performed, although in the deleted scenes of Back in the Red, the "new" Rimmer found the "old" Rimmer's diary in the wreckage of Starbug). It has since been revealed by Doug Naylor that this is the original Rimmer.
- Cat, Kryten, and Lister are the same, albeit older.
- They are all back on Red Dwarf, which is no longer the nanobot-improved, streamlined version of Series VIII, but more resembles the bulky and decrepit version from earlier series.
- Rimmer appears at least ten years older.
- Holly is off-line, due to, apparently, Lister flooding him with nine years of bath water, presumably the same bath he was running when Kryten told him Kochanski was dead.
Facts ("The Beginning")
- Rimmer claims that it was he who saved the ship from the Chameleonic Microbe. However. the rest of the crew denies this fact, calling it a fluke.
- Each time they try to clear up the matter, events overtake them.
- At the end of "Stoke Me a Clipper", Rimmer (hologram) gives Lister a disk containing his current personality. Lister accepts it and promptly forgets about it. Which explains why Lister didn't load Rimmer up in "Blue".
- At the end of "Only the Good..." Rimmer (human) eventually dies just before the ship is destroyed, being chased by the Grim Reaper.
- The others (Cat, Kochanski, Kryten, and Lister) have repaired the device for traveling to mirror dimensions, and Kryten has blended the anti-virus with his nanobots, and go back to our dimension, just before the ship is destroyed.
- Kryten introduces his nanobot-anti-virus to the ship, in just enough time to save it.
- It should also be noted that Captain Hollister confiscated the luck virus from the crew in "Back in the Red Part III". If it was left behind during the evacuation and Rimmer managed to reach it in time this could also have played a part in saving the ship.
- The ship is resurrected to full working order, but to slightly different designs than in the previous eight series. And fully restocked with Starbug and Blue Midget craft.
- The crew in the Starbug and Blue Midget fleet by this point are now far far away from the mother ship.
- Alternate speculation #1: Something takes out the resurrected crew, such as the Simulant Generals.
- Kryten uninstalls the ship's default Holly, and installs the original Holly from Lister's watch.
- At some point, the original Rimmer returns from his journey as Ace Rimmer, as confirmed by Doug Naylor.
- It is unknown what happened to the living Rimmer; it is possible that he traded places with the original, and went on to become Ace. It is also possible that he died at the end of Series VIII, or before IX.
- If the RD: Children in Need special was canon, it is likely that it took place between Series VIII and IX due to hologram Rimmer being present with Kochanski.
- Lister goes off the rails; Kochanski dumps him telling Kryten to tell Lister that she is dead. In actuality, she steals a Blue Midget and sets of in pursuit of the original crew or a gateway back to her own dimension.
- The Canon ending was the alternate original ending of "Only the Good..."