Tongue Tied

The Inquisitor is the second episode in Series V of Red Dwarf, and the twenty-sixth episode overall. It first aired 27 February 1992 on BBC2.


The Inquisitor appears on Red Dwarf to judge the Boys from the Dwarf to see if they are worthy of existence, and he will erase those who aren't from history.


Three million years earlier on an unknown colony, a figure appears in front of Thomas Allman saying that he is unworthy of having existed, he then proceeds to erase him from history and replace him with an alternate version of him that was "never given the gift of life". Once complete, this figure "deletes" the physical form of the original version of Thomas Allman by disintegrating him with his gauntlet and then disappears.

While in Starbug, after discussing the illogical of the Trojan Horse manoeuvrer after Lister is reading the comic book version of Virgil's Aeneid (which according to Kryten has remained faithful to the original text; including many "fzzzt!"s, "zap!"s and "kapow!"s). Starbug is on auto-pilot (being piloted by Holly), on a return course back to Red Dwarf, then Lister's vocal chords are controlled, he is being made to speak in the figure's voice, he announces that he is the Inquisitor and that their ship is under his control, he is returning them to Red Dwarf to face judgement to justify their existence. Once released Kryten tells them on the astro folklore of the Inquisitor, a self-repairing simulant who survived to the end of time itself, who concluded that there is no god or afterlife of any kind and that the purpose of existence is to live a worthwhile life, so after constructing a time machine (in the form of a Time Gauntlet) he travels through time and space, judging each sentient lifeform, erasing those who wasted their lives and replacing them with those who never had a chance of life (the unfertilized ova, the sperm that never made it).


The Inquisitor begins Rimmer's judgement of worthiness.
"Oh, smeg"...

They return to Red Dwarf and the "inquisition" begins with Arnold Rimmer, who is shocked to find out that the judge is himself (according to the Inquisitor, it's the only fair way to judge others). After trying to lie to himself unsuccessfully, he presents a simple case; he is nothing, but what else could he ever have been given his parents and upbringing... if anything, nothing is up. Cat's case is a shallow one, claiming that he deserves to survive due to his "beautiful ass". Kryten honestly replies that despite his selfless nature it is not a result of a code of conduct he has decided for himself but the programming he received, and the validity of his deeds is questionable (nor does it help when Kryten asks what right the Inquisitor has to appoint himself the final judge of all sapient life). Lister is reminded that he could have gone far and has untapped potential, but blows off responsibility as he has always done and tells the Inquisitor to "spin on it!". The Inquisitor makes his judgement and makes Rimmer and the Cat disappear, although he is simply returning them to Red Dwarf as it is Lister and Kryten who have been judged unworthy of existence. Lister can't believe Cat led a more worthwhile existence than him; the Inquisitor explains that Rimmer and Cat are selfish, shallow and pathetic - by their own low standards, they have acquitted themselves. Lister and Kryten, on the other hand, were capable of much more. The Inquisitor erases them from time, but before deleting their physical forms, a future version of Kryten slices off the Inquisitor's hand with a holo-saw and throws them the gauntlet. After telling them of details of the "final confrontation", future Kryten is killed when his head is crushed against the wall.


The short-lived alternate Kryten and alternate Lister

Lister and Kryten try to move through Red Dwarf however Holly refuses to let them through a door since she doesn't recognise them and their palm prints and security codes are now useless. Turning back, they run into Rimmer, Cat and a new Lister and new Kryten. Lister convinces Rimmer they know each other by listing off several of Rimmer's embarrassing secrets. The gang are then ambushed by the Inquisitor as they exit a lift, resulting in the deaths of these alternate counterparts. Lister and Kryten are separated from the others, and Lister helps himself to his counterpart's severed hand to enable them to get through the doors. Hiding out in Starbug, Rimmer and Cat join them ready to take on the Inquisitor after the deaths of their shipmates. The four confront them, however Rimmer's light bee is destroyed while Cat is vaporised. Lister succeeds in freezing the Inquisitor with his gauntlet, and Kryten goes back in time to sacrifice himself, so that they get into the mess they're in, in the first place.


"The old, back-firing Time Gauntlet trick"...

Lister dangles the Inquisitor over a chasm, threatening to kill him, then he saves him, reasoning that if Lister is erased, he won't be there to save him and he'll die - but the Inquisitor reasons that he can erase him quite safely as he wouldn't exist to threaten his life in the first place. It turns out that Kryten, under Lister's instructions, reprogrammed the Time Gauntlet to backfire and erase the wearer, if the "erase" function is used, which erases the wearer. It works, undoing all of the Inquisitor's work from the time-line, and restores Kryten, Rimmer and Cat to life. Kryten offers a high-five in which Lister decides to "give him fifteen" (two hands and the alternate Lister's hand, while it's still there).

Deleted Scenes[]

Available on the Series V DVD:

  • Three extensions to the "Trojan Horse" discussion. They include Lister mocking the Greeks, Rimmer mocking Lister's historical knowledge, and Kryten talking of Silicon Heaven while Rimmer shows him the manual that shows Kryten has installed a "silicon heaven belief chip".
  • As the Inquisitor remotely takes over Lister's body, ordering Starbug to turn around, Rimmer comes up with a plan to outwit the rogue droid - that is, knocking Lister unconscious. As the Inquisitor then speaks through Lister, telling them that he can erase them from history without any damage to causality, Cat hits Lister with a shovel, and a second time when Lister goes to get back up. As Kryten protests, Cat then hits Kryten on the head with the shovel. Rimmer and Cat seem smug believing that they have outwitted the Inquisitor, who then takes over Cat's body, then Rimmer's, then Kryten's. Cat hits Kryten again with the shovel.
  • Lister and Kryten face death in a number of trimmed chase scenes with the Inquisitor. These also include extended dialogue in the meeting with the alternate Lister and alternate Kryten.
  • After Holly fails to recognise Lister and Kryten, there was a short sequence of Lister saying that they no longer exist in this timeline, with Kryten telling Lister that "More accurately, we don't ever have existed here anymore." However, Craig Charles and Robert Llewellyn simply could not get through the scene without corpsing or flubbing their lines, and so it was truncated to just Lister realizing that they have been erased from history.
  • As originally shot, the Inquisitor was to remove his mask to reveal a pale, thin man with red around the eyes, black lips and black veins across his face. However it was decided this was not the stuff of campfire horror stories it was intended to be and so was dropped, leaving an air of mystery around the character. The original ending was later re-shot with mostly identical dialogue - but in the re-shoot the Inquisitor kept his visor down.


  • The removal of the Inquisitor's existence at the end of the episode triggers major changes in the time-space continuum. By undoing all of his work (remembering all the people who had been erased by him previously), the timeline would have changed dramatically, although it is never indicated to what degree this would have impacted the crew (certainly there's no indication, for example, that restoring people to history prevented the accident). This is one of several key moments in the series, however, where a major change to the timeline does occur, which may help in explaining continuity inconsistencies between seasons.
  • Thomas Allman isn't given a chance to justify his existence before being replaced (at least, not on-camera, in which case it's strange he doesn't remember his "trial" while Lister and Kryten do prior to their deletion).
  • Rimmer goes back to wearing his green uniform for the first part of this episode.


  • At one point, Kryten asks Lister to remind him what he is supposed to say when he appears behind the Inquisitor. This should not be necessary, as Kryten's mechanoid memory can record and replay conversations.
    • It is likely that his memory could have become faulty over the three million years he was alone on Nova 5. In addition, there is the possibility of minor damage to the memory chips caused by Lister's attempt at rebuilding Kryten prior the the events of "Backwards".
  • After the Inquisitor surgically erases Kryten and Lister from history, they meet up with Cat and Rimmer, who have forgotten them, due to the fact they technically no longer exist. Cat, therefore, should not exist either, as he is the descendant of Frankenstein, the black cat that Lister smuggled aboard Red Dwarf before the radiation leak. If Lister no longer existed in history, the cat would not have been smuggled on board, and the Cat race would not exist.
    • Frankenstein was most likely brought aboard by the replacement Lister in the new timeline.

Noteworthy Dialogue[]

Interesting, funny or relevant dialogue in the episode

  • The Inquisitor to Thomas Allman: Thomas Allman, you have been found unworthy of having existed...
    Thomas Allman: Is that you mother?
  • Cat: What happened to him (Lister)? His voice finally break?
  • Rimmer: All those charity telethons where I used to ring in and pledge donations. If I had known all this (that the object was to lead a worthwhile life) I would have given them my credit card number.
  • Inquistor: Justify your existence.
    Cat: I have given pleasure to the world because I have such a beautiful ass!
  • Lister: Why should we take any notice of some half-crazed, rogue robot who's appointed himself judge and jury to the whole of humanity? Why should we kowtow to his judgement?
    The Inquisitor speaking through Lister: Because I have the power to snap your body in two like a dry reed!
    Lister: Good answer, man, good answer.
  • Kryten: Eniggggggggggggg...
  • Lister to new Lister: We're sperms in law. The only difference is on of us did crawl, the other breaststroke...

Background Information[]

  • The writers originally planned for the Inquisitor's first appearance with Thomas Allman to go out before the title montage and setting up the villain as a significant threat, however this idea was dropped and the titles are still the first sequence with the villain appearing after.

Guest Stars[]


  • When Lister is listing facts about Rimmer to try and convince him that he knows him, he refers to his brothers as John, Howard and Frank (the viewer finds that out in Polymorph), that he was really mean with money (as mentioned in "Marooned"), that he once volunteered for the Samaritan switchboard and four people committed suicide (mentioned in "The Last Day", although in this case, Lister wasn't counting the wrong number) and that the "BSc" in his official letters stand for Bronze Swimming certificate (first mentioned in his death video in "Me²").