Tongue Tied

A Time Wave approaching Starbug

This article is about the phenomena, not to be confused with the episode of the same name.
"I've had directions off drunken Scotsmen that have made more sense than that."
- Dave Lister

A Time Wave is a rare space phenomenon which had unpredictable qualities, potentially stranding any spaceships it touches into unknown time periods.


Time Waves appeared as visual ripples or distortion. On some spaceship scan readouts, a Time Wave could initially appear similar to a solar storm or solar flare. A Time Wave was created by a compacting Black Hole.

Kryten was familiar with Time Waves, and described the phenomena as waves of contorted space-time not dissimilar to a tsunami in the ocean on Earth. The "waves" could cause artifacts or ships from the past to be "washed up adrift" into the present, and when the waves "receded", could wash away artifacts from the present into the past.


Three million years into the future, the crew of Red Dwarf encountered a planetoid with high levels of extremely rare and valuable Helium-7. After landing on the surface in a Starbug and planting a JMC flag, Arnold Rimmer claimed the planet for himself and named it "Planet Rimmer". However, an incoming solar storm forced the Dwarfers to flee Planet Rimmer.

The Time Wave passes through the cockpit of Starbug

Soon after, the crew realise that the incoming storm was actually a Time Wave when it passes right through Starbug. Soon after, the scans pick up a 24th century Earth ship, SS Enconium, having being washed up by the Time Wave into their present. However, Enconium is seemingly on a collision course with Planet Rimmer (much to Rimmer's horror), and the ship does not reply to any communication from Starbug. Lister is excited to meet other humans and convinces the others to dock with Enconium and investigate, and to try and stop the other ship from crashing. ("Timewave", Series XII)


  • The Time Wave is not seen returning to its point of origin, which is inconsistent with Kryten's description of a Time Wave. However, it possible that it occurred albeit off-screen, possibly washing SS Enconium back into its own time (if it had not already crashed). Presumably, the Dwarfers had already fled this region of space before the Time Wave returned.