"My father was a half-crazed military failure; my mother, a bitch-queen from Hell. My brothers had all the looks and talent. What did I have? Unmanageable hair and ingrowing toenails. Yes, I admit I'm nothing. But from what I started with, nothing is up."
- Arnold J. Rimmer - ("The Inquisitor")
Arnold Judas Rimmer, BSc., SSc. (Bronze Swimming Certificate, Silver Swimming Certificate) was once Second Technician aboard the JMC mining ship Red Dwarf. Three million years after his death, Rimmer was brought back as a hologram and is currently the senior officer of Red Dwarf over a crew of four.
Neurotic, charmless, cowardly, petty, career-minded yet underachieving, Rimmer was once in charge of Z Shift and over only one other crew member, Third Technician Dave Lister; everybody else had requested relocation to avoid Rimmer. Rimmer and Lister were begrudging bunkmates and together the pair made up the lowest ranking members on the ship. Rimmer was responsible, through his own ineptitude, for the radiation leak that turned himself and the rest of the crew to dust, except for Lister who was in stasis at the time and would remain so for three million years. When Lister came out of stasis to find he is the last human being alive, the computer Holly brought Rimmer back as a soft light hologram to keep Lister sane, despite the fact the pair hated each other.
Rimmer has on occasion attained his body back through various means, or achieving a solid, indestructible, "hard-light" hologrammatic status, during which he is still nevertheless an inveterate physical coward. The first version of the hologram Rimmer temporarily left Red Dwarf in an attempt to become his dashing, heroic alter-ego Ace Rimmer in Series VII. Arnold's body was resurrected by the nanobots in Series VIII, bringing Rimmer back to life. As of Back to Earth and Series X, Rimmer is once again the original hard-light hologram; having returned from his adventures as Ace Rimmer. The details surrounding his return or what became of the series VIII human Rimmer have not been explained onscreen yet.
Rimmer believed in reincarnation, and once stated that in a previous life he had been "Alexander the Great...'s chief eunuch". ("Marooned"). At a later date, Rimmer apologised to the rest of the Boys from the Dwarf for "once being a brave warrior soul, who tragically in this incarnation has been given the body of an abject coward". ("Legion")
Arnold Judas Rimmer was born on Io, somewhere during the 21st through 23rd centuries, where he suffered an unhappy childhood. He grew up in the shadow of his three older and more successful half brothers, John, Howard and Frank, who tormented and bullied him throughout his youth and whose successes in both school and career greatly overshadowed him.
As a boy, Arnold attended Io House, where he failed to meet the grades expected of him, unlike his brothers - notably his eldest brother John Rimmer who was already a test pilot in the Space Corps by the time Arnold was a boy. In an alternate dimension, Arnold was kept back a year at Io House, which actually made him knuckle down and fight back. This version of Rimmer ended up becoming Ace Rimmer, a dashing test pilot like his eldest brother. However, the Rimmer who ended up aboard Red Dwarf never had this life experience and so remained anally-retentive, petty and cowardly, always in the shadow of his father.
His social father had been rejected from the Space Corps in his youth for being one inch below the regulation height, and was thus fixated on all his sons succeeding where he had failed; to which end, he refused to allow his sons to eat their evening meal unless they could answer complicated astro-navigation questions. Arnold nearly died from malnutrition as a a result. To ensure that they would not be held back by insufficient height, they were stretched on a rack to make them taller. His mother was a cold woman, who had no time for fools, but was having an affair with Rimmer's uncle Frank, Dennis the Gardener, and Porky Roebuck's father. The Series III DVD booklet goes on to conjecture that Arnold's three brothers were actually Frank's children, while it is eventually revealed that Arnold was the son of Dennis. Rimmer's family had a number of mottoes, including "Winning isn't everything, but losing is nothing". His social father once claimed "with shiny shoes and a short haircut you can cope with anything", before an unsuccessful suicide attempt.
- In "Trojan", at least one of Arnold's brothers is not all that he claims to be. Arnold rescues his brother Howard Rimmer from a doomed ship while pretending to be the Captain of the then derelict SS Trojan. Convinced that his brother has finally achieved success, much to his own astonishment, Howard reveals that he had been lying about being a Captain and that he was in fact merely a vending machine repair man, same as Arnold. Before he can learn this truth however, Howard sacrifices his life to save the rest of the crew from a killer Simulant.
Arnold was also bullied by other children at school — where he was known as "Bonehead" and his best "friend", Porky Roebuck, once spearheaded a plan to eat him during a Space Scouts survival course. Arnold was only saved by the timely intervention of the Space Mistress. Rimmer later recounts an occasion on which Roebuck threw his favorite shoes into the school septic tank whilst he was wearing them ("Stasis Leak". One of his friends once attacked Rimmer with the video case of Duel, leading to him possessing a scar on his chin. Rimmer took revenge by peeing in his attacker's clothes iron, resulting in yellow t-shirts for a week ("Only the Good.."). Due to these difficulties, he was enrolled at the age of six into a preparatory school called Saint Trembles, a place of low expectations and generously handed out participation medals. This spell still seemingly failed to boost his confidence ("Timewave").
At the age of fourteen, Rimmer divorced his parents. Sometime during his life, Rimmer also earned two swimming certificates: one Bronze Swimming Certificate, and one Silver Swimming Certificate — BSc and SSc respectively — which he included in official correspondence. It was later indicated that Rimmer could not swim.
Arnold was a member of the Io Amateur Wargamers, although he never saw any real combat until his time aboard Red Dwarf. During his years alone, Rimmer had a few unsuccessful jobs. One notable example was a brief stint as a Samaritans volunteer, a career which consisted of a single day of work before he quit. During this Sunday, Rimmer spoke to five people — all of whom subsequently committed suicide, including one who had dialled a wrong number and only wanted the cricket scores. The incident was dubbed "Lemming Sunday" by the papers, as all five people killed themselves by leaping off buildings.
Rimmer was rather unsuccessful with women, lusting after his sister-in-law in his earlier years, and having a failed relationship with Fiona Barrington. Rimmer managed to attain a date with a woman who had a metal nose, but his constant cheap jibes about her nose caused her to move to Pluto rather than go on another date with him. ("Parallel Universe") Rimmer would eventually join the "Love Celibacy Society" since he thought love was a sickness that got in the way of his career and made him spend all his money. However, Lister claimed that this was only because he couldn't get a date. ("Confidence and Paranoia") In later life, Rimmer lusted after Carol McCauley, but only managed to have sex with only one woman, Yvonne McGruder, the female boxing champion of Red Dwarf. Rimmer's only other sexual encounters were with Rachael and, accidentally, his uncle. The entire encounter with McGruder lasted little more than twelve minutes, including the time it took to eat the pizza, and she only had sex with him because she had concussion and she thought he was someone else called Norman. Rimmer claims that he lost his virginity in the back of his brother's Bentley with a girl named Sandra ("Marooned"), though this was said in order to hide the fact that he actually lost it to Yvonne McGruder from Lister. It is unclear why he did this, as he had already confessed this fact to Lister. Whilst their memories of the conversation were deleted, both later learned of this fact again after watching said confession recorded by Red Dwarf's security cameras. ("Thanks for the Memory")
- The show's creators have also stated he was lying, and in the novel Better Than Life it is explained that he fumbled the details of his first experience of 'second base' to avoid the embarrassment of admitting the truth. However, if one is to take the novel continuity into account one must also consider the fact that in Last Human, McGruder actually was attracted to Rimmer, and even had his son, Michael.
Rimmer would make love to McGruder again in "Better Than Life", albeit in a digital fantasy. Rimmer would later have some successes in love, such as with Nirvanah Crane of the Holoship Enlightenment ("Holoship"). The nanobot-resurrected, human Rimmer would also have sex with all the female officers of Red Dwarf, including Doc Newton, with the help of the sexual magnetism virus. (Back in the Red)
Aboard Red Dwarf
Rimmer joined the Space Corps at a low-entry level as a third technician, and devoted his life to his career, that is, Z Shift, and engaging with few activities outside of work or attempting promotion unsuccessfully.
Despite serving in the Space Corps for fourteen years, he never managed to become an officer, only to further himself from third technician to second technician. He has attempted to pass the astro-navigation exam on no more than thirteen occasions, but has failed on every occasion, frequently because he spent the allotted revision time indulging his talent for calligraphy and design in the creation of an elaborate revision timetable, leaving no time to actually revise. (Lister dropped a curry on the aforementioned timetable on one occasion, and later swapped around the symbols so Rimmer went swimming instead of taking an engineering exam.) In the ensuing panic he often takes up chain smoking and becomes dependent on stimulants in an attempt to condense months of complex learning into just a few days. In turn this has pushed Rimmer to several psychotic episodes and breakdowns during exams, and on one occasion lead to him being hospitalized after the stress forced him to deny his own existence during the exam, the subsequent paper consisting of him writing out, four hundred times, "I am a fish". However, he believes the reason he has been kept down is due to an incident where he was invited to the captain's table and humiliated himself when served gazpacho soup, which he demanded be taken away and brought back hot.
During his service on Red Dwarf, he is assigned to both work with and share sleeping quarters with third technician Dave Lister, the only member of the crew of Red Dwarf that he outranks. The two are notably different in personality — unlike the uptight and pompous Rimmer, Lister is unmotivated, slovenly, relaxed and well-liked. Rimmer was tasked with repairing a faulty drive disc. He botched the job and was blasted by the radiation. His last words were "gazpacho soup".
After the Accident
Rimmer died in the radiation leak which wiped out the entire crew of Red Dwarf, with the exception of Lister, who was in stasis at the time, and Lister's pregnant cat, Frankenstein, who was safe in the ship's hold. Three million years later, when Lister was brought out of stasis, Rimmer was chosen by the ship's computer Holly to be reactivated as a hologram in order to keep Lister company and prevent him from being driven insane with loneliness. He was chosen simply because only one hologram could be active at any given time and Rimmer was the person Lister spoke to most.
Rimmer's role on Red Dwarf and Starbug is likely of the least importance. In the early series he spent most of his time keeping up his routine when he was alive, trying to find ways to keep himself busy but in no way actually helping others out, and were often just overly neurotic wastes of time, such as sewing name labels onto his ship-issue condoms. When the crew's situation become more fraught, Rimmer took the self-titled role of 'Acting Stand-in Senior Commander' basically meaning that he was a stand-in for the captain, however, the crew never listen to him or his orders, and very rarely will any of his suggestions be acted upon. His chief role that does provide help to the crew is as the acting navigation officer, often using Starbug's equipment to identify planets, moons, other celestial bodies and potential threats to the crew. He also acts as the communications officer, often being the first to make contact with other vessels, often to surrender.
As a "soft-light" hologram, Rimmer retains his memories and physical appearance, but is composed of light and has no tangible form, other than a small "light bee" projection unit when away from Red Dwarf. He remains very unhappy with his lot after his death, frequently bemoaning his fate. Despite his dissatisfaction with his existence, he bitterly resists any move to turn him off. He remains as obnoxious and difficult to like for his crew mates as he was before his death, and gradually develops a pompous tendency to quote Space Corps Directives at any possible opportunity — even if though he often quotes the wrong one.
In Series VI, he encounters a being known as Legion, who upgrades Rimmer's projection unit from "soft-light" to "hard-light", giving him a physical form and the ability to interact directly with the world, in addition to making him virtually indestructible, but still capable of feeling pain. To conserve power, more of which is required for Rimmer's hard-light hologram, he normally uses soft light, only switching to hard light when necessary. In Series VII, Rimmer is approached by a dying alternate version of himself, Ace Rimmer, who asks Rimmer to become a defender of the multiverse upon Ace's death. Although initially hesitant, Rimmer finds himself rising to the challenge and temporarily leaves to start his new life.
Lister found himself missing him, but when Kryten showed him a virtual reality programme called The Rimmer Experience made up of Rimmer's exaggerated diaries and a song in praise of himself, Lister soon realized how glad he was to be rid of him.
Returned to Life
When Red Dwarf is restored by nanobots in Series VIII, the entire crew is restored to life as well, including Rimmer, although, as he is resurrected as he was at the time of the accident, he lacks any of the growth that the 'other' Rimmer has gone through since the series began, reverting him back to his original persona. Due to a series of events, Lister, Rimmer, Kryten, Cat and Kristine Kochanski are sentenced to two years in the ship's brig The Tank for misuse of confidential information.
At the end of Series VIII, in the final episode, "Only the Good...", when a Chameleonic Microbe destroys Red Dwarf and everyone else evacuates on Starbug and Blue Midget shuttles or to a mirror universe, Rimmer is trapped on the disintegrating ship. at the end of the episode he encounters the Grim Reaper, announcing that he is dead (again), and then tells him that they'll travel to the River Styx, until Rimmer interrupts him saying, "Not today, matey!" knees him in the groin and then says "Remember, only the good die young," before fleeing. The hologram version of Rimmer in "The Beginning" states twice that it was he who saved the ship and crew, although the others are not convinced of his fortitude. Before the truth of events can be established, they are always interrupted.
In Back to Earth, Rimmer is once again the original hologram, hard-light Rimmer who briefly departed in series VII. His memories of the Despair Squid and his strengthened "antibodies" suggest that he is the original hologram Rimmer again, who left to become Ace. What happened to the human Rimmer from series VIII is unclear. In "Entangled" he refers to his original death in Series I and there are further references in series XI.
One theory claims the original Rimmer and the human Rimmer swapped places at the end of series VIII, with the original hologram Rimmer rejoining the crew and likely helping to save the ship and the resurrected human Rimmer leaving to become the new Ace.
- Doug Naylor has confirmed that the Rimmer from Back to Earth onwards is the original Rimmer who left to become Ace in "Stoke Me a Clipper". In what manner the original Rimmer returned, or what became of the Series VIII Rimmer, has yet to be established. Naylor explained that the broadcaster was not interested in telling the story since it would have been protracted, confusing and distracting to casual viewers. However, since many fans have asked the question, the writer may one day explain to fans through another medium.
Rimmer in "Back to Earth" has spent the last nine years the way he always has; studying for his never ending string of exams, being annoyed by Lister, and reading up on his obscure hobbies. He seems to have taken up an interest in auto-mobiles, as he enjoys reading old car magazines. It is unclear how long the character has had this hobby but this is the first series where it is seen. It's possibly a trait that was inspired by Chris Barrie's real life interest in cars which has been mentioned in behind the scenes documentaries.
During the events of Back to Earth, the crew are attacked by another despair squid causing them to hallucinate about travelling back to the planet Earth during the year 2009 and discovering that they are just characters from the television show "Red Dwarf" (similar to how the first time they found that their lives were just a video game). This hallucination is notable due to Rimmer's reaction to the coming of Katerina Bartokovsky, a hologram of a Red Dwarf science officer who seeks to replace him.
Series X continued this dynamic, but also featured several character expanding moments for him. In the series opener "Trojan" he met a hologram of his brother Howard, and successfully managed to convince him that he was the captain of the SS Trojan after being forced to adopt this ruse after once again failing to pass his astro-navigation exam and become an officer legitimately. Dismayed at this front, Howard admits that he was lying about being a captain himself, and was in fact also a vending machine repair man. This family reunion is short lived, as Howard is soon forced to lay down his life to save the crew from a rogue simulant.
The finale "The Beginning" also contains a pivotal revelation about the character, as in order to rouse his confidence in his quest to defeat a Simulant Death Ship he plays a holo-recording on the holo-lamp given to him by his late father only to be played when he became an officer, seeking to extinguish his father's psychological grip on him. It is here that Rimmer learns that his biological father was actually "Dungo" Dennis, the family gardener, and so finds for himself new courage with the thought that his real father would be proud of his achievements, such as they are. Emboldened, he proceeds to formulate a successful battle plan, and in victory proclaims himself to be a "working class hero", abandoning his superior upper class facade.
In the therapy scene with Snacky in "Give & Take" however, he has still clearly not fully come to grips with this news, among the other horrors of his upbringing. His obsession with becoming an officer is still present, albeit presumably now for his own reasons, most notably during the events of "Officer Rimmer". He unsuccessfully runs for the position of Machine President against Kryten, losing by one vote from Talkie Toaster after a dirtily fought campaign ("Mechocracy"). His dissatisfaction with his life leads to an attempt to leave it behind, using a Quantum Skipper to seek out a timeline where he made out better. Eventually he encounters a reality where he is a successful first officer, married with sons, but ultimately retreats back to his home dimension after discovering that Lister is the immensely wealthy Captain of Red Dwarf ("Skipper").
During The Promised Land, he is driven into 'existential crisis mode' when the Cat remarks that as a computer generated simulation he is not truly real. He is later re-affirmed in himself after a speech by Lister comparing his contributions to moonlight as reflected by the moon (Rimmer) from the sun (Lister). He also again rises to heroic status, albeit briefly, saving the ship and liberating the Cat Fleet from the tyrannical Rodon in the guise of "The Mighty Light", emboldened by the powers of Diamond-Light hologrammetry.
Arnold desperately wanted people to call him by fraternal nicknames such as Ace, Arnie J, Big Man, Duke, and Old Iron Balls. However, due to his personality he actually gets called things like Acehole, Trans-Am Wheel Arch Nostrils, Grand Canyon Nostrils, Laundry Chute Nostrils, Captain Sadness, Captain Boring, Captain Yawn, Captain Bollocks (most recently by Kryten), Dinosaur Breath, Molecule Mind, Goal-Post Head, Alphabet Head, Smeg-For-Brains, Toilet-Brush Hair, Ringworm/Rimshot (also by Kryten), Grease stain, Arsehole (if you want to be especially polite to him) and mostly Smeghead.
At school, Arnold's nickname was Bonehead ("Kryten") It was also written on the back of his school uniform when he was made into a swing by his brothers on the day he was kept down a year. ("Dimension Jump")
Rimmer's primary character traits include anal-retentiveness, over-adherence to protocol, cowardice, misogyny, and a severely inflated ego matched only by his deep-seated sense of self-loathing (which was evident in Me2). As the highest ranking survivor (despite his holographic status) Rimmer frequently deludes himself into believing that he is in charge and that he has somehow been molding "his" crew into an effective space-going unit.
Like Lister, Rimmer has on occasion shown glimpses of genuine intelligence but is often indisposed to use it to any great degree, unlike Lister though this would appear to be because his obsession with trivial matters stunts his potential rather than a lack of motivation. As the most senior registered crew member Rimmer is technically in charge of the running of the ship and is sometimes held responsible for this by others such as in 'Holoship', 'Back to Earth' and 'Dear Dad'. Although in the early series he would take this role very seriously and regularly point out this detail, his interest in the task appears to have decreased over the course of the series to the point where in 'Back to Earth' he appears content with the fact he has allowed the ship to fall into disarray when this is pointed out to him by a superior hologram. By Series X his only interest in the mission of Red Dwarf appears to be attaining a greater title and ensuring he is always superior to Lister even though this detail is rarely brought up by Rimmer by this point in the series.
Rimmer is very fond of war, or at least the romantic principles of it, although, due to his cowardice, he prefers to be the general, preferably in a tent behind the battlefield as the grunts die for him. He claims that he was told in all his former lives he was a soldier who has been tragically incarnated in a coward's body, despite earlier claiming to have been Alexander the Great's chief eunuch in a past life. Due to this, he idolizes many military leaders, such as Napoleon, Alexander the Great and even Adolf Hitler, who he describes as the "leader of the runners-up in WW2." He was finally able to live his dream of commanding an army in the Series IV episode "Meltdown", leading an army of "good" waxdroid against a much larger force of "evil" waxdroids. Although Rimmer ultimately succeeds in destroying the opposing army, his forces are completely wiped out. In the alternate ending to "Only the Good...", Rimmer ignores Kryten's suggestion that they slow down to allow the rest of the crew back on board with the words: "full ahead Mr Kryten, I see no ships", a nod to Nelson's famous quip at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801. Rimmer's cowardice is so pronounced, that even when he was on a backwards version of Earth, he ran for cover during a backwards bar room brawl, which of course could not injure him.
In addition to his fondness for militarism and Hammond organ music, Rimmer also enjoys Morris dancing and is an authority on 20th century telegraph poles (especially those observed while train spotting), and diesel engines. In Back to Earth he appears to have taken up an interest in automobiles.
Many episodes of Red Dwarf focus on the conflict between Rimmer's ego and his neuroses. In "Me²", Rimmer manages to trick Lister into generating a holographic duplicate in order to provide him with a companion; however, as a consequence of Rimmer's self-loathing, the two Rimmers are incapable of getting along, and their interaction becomes so bitter and hate-filled that the duplicate must be turned off. In "Terrorform", a psi-moon sculpted to reflect Rimmer's psychological make-up becomes a desolate, swampy hell-hole dominated by Rimmer's Self-Loathing, personified as a sadistic beast, with a metaphysical graveyard marking the "demise" of his various virtuous qualities. In "Better Than Life" Rimmer is so used to never getting a break that his mind can't accept nice things happening to him and turns the fantasy into a nightmare
Rimmer's personality flaws are in fact almost completely a result of his hang-ups. An alternative version of Rimmer, Ace Rimmer, who was kept back a year in school, learned humility and inner strength and grew up to become a charming and well-liked Space Corps test pilot, interstellar hero and sexual seducer. When he met Ace for the first time he became openly bitter, resentful and jealous of him seeing Ace as a living breathing version of himself who got all the breaks he never did and calls him smug and self-satisfied. Ace in turn disliked him, seeing him as a "warped, bitter, weaselly maggot".
On top of this, Rimmer is not incapable of nobility, honor, love and even bravery. When Red Dwarf encounters a holoship, with an all-hologram crew composed of the "best and brightest", Rimmer desperately wants to join. A female officer aboard the ship, Nirvanah Crane, falls in love with him and sacrifices her place on the ship for Rimmer, only for Rimmer to do the same in return. This act of nobility surprises (and disgusts) even Rimmer himself. Furthermore in "Out of Time", Rimmer is revolted by his corrupted future self to the point that he'd rather do battle to the death with him than surrender despite knowing he had no chance of winning the fight, referring to his future self as "smeg" and saying death is a better option than becoming like that, which shocks the rest of the crew. He also later risked his life to try and bring the others back after they are killed by their future selves by destroying the time drive that would allow their future selves to come back in the first place.
However, it is comparatively rare that Rimmer's better personal qualities show themselves, as usually he gives in to the temptations of his darker impulses or allows his weaknesses to control him. This results in the flawed personality that makes him so readily dismissed by every person who interacts with him as a "smeghead". A prime example of the kind of obnoxious person that Rimmer can be is seen towards the end of the series X episode "Trojan"; whereas Howard Rimmer, after a resentment drain, is able to freely confess that he has been lying to try and impress Rimmer and is nothing more than a vending machine repairman, proceeding to then interpose himself deliberately between Rimmer and an energy blast from a rogue simulant to save his younger brother's life, Rimmer's actions are far from benevolent. Not only does he not come clean and admit he was lying in the same way for the same reason, he deliberately lies to Howard to ensure that Howard experiences a literally mind-blanking amount of resentment in his last few moments before final death. Rimmer is then seen gloating about his brother's death during Howard's funeral. This marks Rimmer as one of the most actively malicious and spiteful members of the Red Dwarf quartet; even Cat is merely apathetic and narcissistic.
Rimmer is initially despised by his crew members before and after the radiation leak. As a hologram he has a mutual dislike with Lister, a mutual loathing of Cat and appears to view Kryten as the lesser of evils and appears to get on better with him. By Series 5, he has revised this opinion stating that while he liked Kryten in the early days Kryten had become more assertive to Rimmer's annoyance. Since series 6 he appears to get on better with his crewmates. In series 8 with the external surroundings of the prison and the new scenarios this brings he and Lister become something of a duo, uniting in their dislike of Captain Hollister and their situation of being in prison. In later series his relationship with Lister becomes more friendly although their contrasting personalities mean they still bicker frequently. His relationship with the rest of the crew appears to have improved too, in the first episode of series X when Rimmer is desperate to appear to have made something of himself to his brother Howard the rest of the crew join in with the charade to help him.
Arnold earned both a Bronze Swimming Certificate and a Silver Swimming Certificate. He is very proud of these certificates, often tagging them on to the end of his name (Arnold.J.Rimmer BSC, SSC,) although he is apparently unable to swim accordingly (though this was only mentioned during a hallucination and his ability or inability is never shown on the show). He also earned four Long Service medals: three years, six years, nine years, and twelve years.
One of Arnold's hobbies is attempting to memorize things. He has failed to memorize the Space Corps Directives, his engineering textbook, and Shakespeare's Richard III. He has also failed to learn Esperanto.
Rimmer's status as a hologram in most episodes of Red Dwarf is shown by the "H" on the center of his forehead, leading to nicknames from Cat, such as "alphabet head" and "goalpost head". Rimmer keeps his unmanageable hair relatively short, feeling that it makes him feel like a man. When Lister and Cat respond to a drill too slowly, Rimmer argues for increased discipline and sensible haircuts, believing that "every major battle in history has been won by the side with the shortest haircuts".
Rimmer's Space Corps uniform changes several times during the course of the show. In the Series I and Series II it is a grey-and-beige shirt-and-tie ensemble; in Series III and Series IV this becomes a green suit with a shiny high-collared jacket, which is changed to red in Series V; in Series VI and Series VII, Rimmer's jacket becomes quilted and is red when he is in soft-light form and blue for hard-light; the alive Rimmer in Series VIII wears an all-beige uniform similar in design to the original. In the 2009 three part special Back to Earth, Rimmer wears a blue suit (to symbolize that he is hard-light) similar to his Series III and IV green suit but with the addition of a plain waist-high belt worn over the jacket and a quilted collar, a style that is carried on into Series X onward with only minor changes.
The hologram "H" on his forehead also changes from series to series: it starts as a dull grey colour and a blocky shape, then in Series III it becomes bright blue and reflective, then in Series V its shape is changed to a thinner and more stylized font. His "H" also briefly changes to a reflective red colour set inside a circle when he temporarily joins the holoship SS Enlightenment.
Behind the Scenes
Among the actors who auditioned for Rimmer were Norman Lovett (who went on to play Holly instead), David Baddiel, Hugh Laurie, and Alfred Molina. Initially Molina was cast as Rimmer, however, the role was recast and filled by Chris Barrie (one of Barrie's first television roles was a guest on Blackadder the Third which starred Hugh Laurie), a professional voice-actor and impressionist. Barrie, who had originally auditioned for Lister, was familiar with Rob Grant and Doug Naylor having worked together on Son of Cliché (in which he played Hab in Dave Hollins: Space Cadet) and Spitting Image, and with the producers on Happy Families and various Jasper Carrott productions. He has appeared in all but four episodes of the show, which he missed in Series VII due to scheduling conflicts.
Rimmer was played by Chris Eigeman in the first American pilot and then by Anthony Fuscle in the second pilot. The character's distinctive "H" was replaced with a marble-shaped object in the first pilot, but the "H" returned in the second one. Chris Barrie was given an offer to reprise his role, but turned it down for fear of being tied into a restrictive, long-term contract, which is common in American television production.
The female Rimmer in the Series II episode "Parallel Universe" was played by Suzanne Bertish, an actress primarily known for her classical stage work. She had been asked by director Ed Bye to play the part. "Young Rimmer", who had minor speaking roles in three episodes in Series III and IV, was played by child actor Simon Gaffney. A later college age depiction of Rimmer appears in the Series X finale "The Beginning", played by Philip Labey, whose portrayal won praise despite his very short-notice casting.
After years of having the 'H' glued to his head it seems that the wrinkles on Chris Barrie's forhead are malformed, whenever he does not have the 'H' the wrinkles are not horizontal but seem to bend around where the 'H' should be.
- Frank Todhunter: "Oh, Rimmer. . . You ARE a smeghead." ("The End")
- [Attempting to take inventory] "Four thousand, six hundred and ninety-one irradiated haggis." ("Balance of Power")
- [Thinks that Holly has given him a short haircut but has actually given him a thick head of woman's hair] "It may be a bit severe, a bit too green beret, but you are how you look, and I look - like a complete and total tit!" ("Future Echoes")
- Rimmer: "Morning, Lister! How's life in hippie heaven, you pregnant baboon bellied space beatnik? What's the plan for the day then? Slobbing in the morning, followed by slobbing in the afternoon, then a bit of a snooze before the main evening's slob? God, you're a disgrace to the species."
Lister: "Good morning, Rimmer." ("Future Echoes")
- "Imagine making love to a woman!" ("Waiting for God")
- "Wrong, wrong. Absolutely brimming over with wrongability." ("Confidence and Paranoia")
- "Oh, good. Switch me on, switch me off, like I'm some battery-powered sex aid!" ("Future Echoes")
- "Well, if you have any more problems with nothing or things that don't matter, just scream out my name hysterically and I'll come pelting down the corridor!" ("Future Echoes")
- "They've been very bad, Mr. Flibble. What're we going to do with them?" ("Quarantine")
- [On the way Kochanski said his name] "It was the way she said it . . . Rimmer. Rimmer. To rhyme with scum." ("Balance of Power")
- [On a letter from his mother addressing him as an admiral] "Every time I take an exam, I tell her I passed. It's getting embarrassing. I should be commander-in-chief of the whole universe by now." ("Better Than Life")
- "I'm organized, I'm dedicated to my career, I've always got a pen. Result? Total smeghead despised by everyone except the ship's parrot. And that's only because we haven't got one." ("Thanks for the Memory")
- "Everyone leaves me. Girls, parents. I had a pet lemming once." (Stasis Leak")
- [On his female counterpart] "She accused me of wiggling my bottom in a provocative way. I was just walking! Can I help it if I happen to be sexy?" ("Parallel Universe")
- "Unpack Rachel and get out the puncture repair kit! I'm alive!!" ("Timeslides")
- "At least he gets 24 hours; that's more than most of us get. All most of us get is: 'mind-that-bus-what-bus-splat.'" ("The Last Day")
- Kryten: "Who would allow this man, this joke of a man, this man who could not outwit a used tea bag, to be in a position where he might endanger the entire crew? Who? Only a yoghurt. This man is not guilty of manslaughter, he is only guilty of being Arnold J. Rimmer. That is his crime; it is also his punishment. The defense rests." ("Justice")
- "You think I'm a petty minded, bureaucratic nincompoop who delights in enforcing pernickety regulations 'cause he gets some sort of perverse pleasure out of it. And in many ways, you're absolutely damned right. That doesn't alter the fact that the only way we're gonna track down Red Dwarf and get through this in one piece is with a sense of discipline, a sense of purpose, and wherever possible, a sensible haircut." ("Emohawk")
- "I just want to say: over the years, I have come to regard you as . . . people I met." ("Holoship")
- [Having been informed of a Space Corps directive that requires holographic crew to be shut down if it allows others to survive] "Yes, but Rimmer Directive 271 states just as clearly: 'No chance, you metal bastard'." ("White Hole")
- "What else could I have been? My father was a half-crazed military failure, my mother a bitch-queen from Hell. My brothers had all the looks and talent. What did I have? Unmanageable hair and ingrowing toenails. Yes, I admit I'm nothing; but with what I started with ... nothing is up." ("The Inquisitor")
- "We're not getting out of here in one piece, or if we do, it'll be one big flat piece." ("Gunmen of the Apocalypse")
- "Look, I think we've all got something to bring to this conversation, but I think that from now on the thing you should bring is silence." ("Gunmen of the Apocalypse")
- "Kryten, kindly get to the point before I jam your nose between your cheeks and make it the filling of a buttocks sandwich." ("Rimmerworld")
- [Using the sexual magnetism virus] "The world loves a bastard." ("Back in the Red I")
- "He was never proud of me. What other father would claim to have an alibi for his sperm on the night of conception?" ("Back in the Red II")
- "Me? Not make it? What does he know? The big, stupid, yellow idiot. He doesn't see my good side, my guile, my weasel cunning. When the going gets tough, my ability to find good hiding places." ("Only the Good...")
- "The point I'm trying to make, you dirty son of a fetid whore-monger's bitch, is that we're friends!" (Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers)
- [Lister has speculated that he started playing Better Than Life on Mimas and hence the rest of the crew don't exist] "Oh, great. Not only am I dead, I don't exist, either! Thanks a lot, God!" (Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers)
- "Spaghettification. Let me guess. I can see only two options: one -- due to the bizarre effects of the intense gravitational pull, and because we're entering a region of time and space where the laws of physics no longer apply, we all of us inexplicably develop an irresistible urge to consume vast amounts of a certain wheat-based Italian noodle conventionally served with Parmesan cheese; or two -- we, the crew, get turned into spaghetti. I have a feeling we can eliminate option one." (Better Than Life)
- "If [Ace] once again refers to me as a fruit or a vegetable, I'll take that welding torch and set his poofy fringe on fire." (Backwards)
- "Lister, 'okay' is not a threat, no matter how many 'A's you put on the end." ("Balance of Power")
- "Being the driving force of the Red Dwarf mission, the fearless Rimmer had to dice with death on a regular basis." [Extract from Arnold J. Rimmer's Diary] ("Blue")
- [In The Rimmer Song] "He's Arnold, Arnold, Arnold Rimmer. Without him, life would be much grimmer. He's handsome, trim and no-one slimmer. He will never need a Zimmer." ("Blue")
- [After devouring the results of his exam] "CAN YOU NEVER, EVER SUCCEED AT ANYTHING, YOU USELESS RANCID CANCEROUS SACK OF SICK?!" ("Trojan")
- The creators of the series acknowledge that Rimmer's surname comes from a snobby prefect with whom they attended school. They claim, however, that only the boy's name was used, and not his personality as this would imply he had one.
- Arnold likes to eat his food in alphabetical order.
- Arnold has shoe trees for everyday of the week.
- When he met that "special someone," Arnold wanted their song to be Gershwin's "Someone to Watch over Me."
- Arnold's handwriting is described as being a neat copperplate style. Copperplate is an extremely uniform style - exactly the kind they teach in school. This is the same style of handwriting possessed by Hannibal Lecter.
- Arnold tells people that his middle name is Jonathan when really it is Judas.
- Arnold once owned a Lemming who he loved but eventually had to kill by slamming it against a wall when he (the lemming) bit Arnold's finger and wouldn't let go, requiring him to beat its brains out against the wall. He still held a grudge against it millennia after it's death because "the little git completely ruined my helicopter wallpaper" (RD: Stasis Leak).
- In the books, Rimmer was a First Technician while in the Episodes, he is a Second Technician instead (until The Promised Land, in which he introduces himself as as First Technician). In the third novel, Rimmer tells his son that he was a Third Technician.
- Despite Dave Lister being the central character of Red Dwarf, Arnold Rimmer (Chris Barrie) is always listed first in the end credits, and also during the opening sequences of Back To Earth and the rest of the series onwards. This is purely because the credits are listed in alphabetical order.
- Rob Grant has stated in the Red Dwarf Quarantine commentaries that he heard a theory, that he subsequently came to subscribe to, that Arnold Rimmer is asexual and his sexual pursuits are purely machismo posturing.