The Jupiter Mining space ship `Red Dwarf` is on its way home, Dave Lister has smuggled a Cat on-board the ship which results in an accident causing the deaths of everyone on-board except him. Holly, the ships computer had put Lister into suspended animation then wakes him once the radiation had dissipated which finally happened after three million years. Holly is able to keep a hologram copy of the last person to die. Unfortunately for Lister, the last person to die was his irritating room-mate Arnold Judas Rimmer. The third member of the team is Cat, a person who has evolved from the cat that caused the accident. During the three millions years whilst asleep, Rimmers cat and his descendants had evolved to a human life form. Sometime during the three million years in lumber, Rimmers cats had had a ship wide war over the colour that Lister was going to open a hot dog stand in Fiji. Some said red, some blue when in actual fact it was going to be green.
In the second series, the team are joined by Kryten, a robot who was left alone in a shipwreck. In later episodes, Rimmer leaves the series to become Ace Rimmer to venture into space. His place is taken by Kristine Kochanski, the woman Lister fancied before the accident. In the last series, Rimmer returns to the series just as the Red Dwarf which they had lost is remade by nanotechnology. During their time the Red Dwarf is lost, they travel the galaxy in the exploration craft referred to a starbug.
A particular episode of interest is Parallel universe, they are transported to the place of the title, where they meet the female equivalents of themselves. They find that Nell Armstrong was the first person to step on the moon amongst other things. The most devastating news is that Cat`s equivalent is a Dog not a female Cat. The last television series sees the Red Dwarf along with the crew reappearing.
In April 2009, television channel Dave showed a three part special entitled "Back to Earth" where they find themselves on Earth. They also find that they are part of a television series and not real people. Lister meets up with his actor self on the set of Coronation Street where Craig Charles is currently a cast member. Kristine appears only a brief moment in the series, Lister had believed she died but she left him. They meet up with the author of the series who tells them that he wants to kill them off and they attempt to make a run for it. At the end, it seems the series is a take on the Back to Reality episode where they are led to believe they were in a hologram game and have lost and now must face reality once more.
In 2012, Dave produced and broadcast Red Dwarf X, the nineth series being the `Back to Earth` miniseries. All the main characters except Konchanski came back. The episodes saw them time-travel back to when Jesus was around but they help not the holy man but someone with his name.