Three million years after the demise of humanity, third technician Dave Lister awakes aboard the mining ship Red Dwarf. Sentenced to a period of suspended animation for smuggling his pet cat on board, he is joined by just four fellow survivors: second technician Arnold J Rimmer, a sneering-yet-inept hologram based on his one-time superior; Holly, a ship's computer reduced to near-senility by eons adrift in space; a humanoid descendant of the cat obsessed with fashion and fish; and Kryten, a salvaged android programmed to serve his useless companions. Together, this bickering band must come to terms with an existence which, in terms of productivity and purpose, isn't that far removed from its old one.
The Dwarfers' mining ship is still creaking through the wastelands of unchartered deep space, but the posse soon stumble upon the mysteriously abandoned SS Trojan. As they inspect the ship Rimmer receives an SOS distress call from an old foe, and is suddenly faced with the dilemma of his life.
Every year Lister sends himself a Father's Day card to celebrate the fact that he is his own father; but when Rimmer points out he's been a lousy father to himself, Lister decides to do something about it. Meanwhile, Rimmer and Kryten install a new computer: the beautiful - but lethally logical - Pree.
Marooned in Britain in 23 AD, the Dwarfers need an 8-volt battery to power up their Returner Remote and get home. Remembering a lesson from school, Rimmer suggests they make a battery out of lemons - but the nearest lemon to Britain in 23 AD is in India, 4,000 miles away. They begin their journey, a journey that will ultimately lead them to a meeting with a historical A List Celebrity that could alter the entire history of civilisation.
Lister loses Rimmer in a game of poker to a group of Biologically Engineered Life Forms and in return gets an unwanted gift: a groinal exploder programmed to detonate in 24 hours unless Lister pays his debts. Meanwhile Kryten and Cat become quantum entangled and do everything in perfect unison.
Lister has women trouble when he gets himself in a love triangle with Snack Dispensers 23 and 34; then, to make matter worse, gets a letter from an old girlfriend telling him she's pregnant and it might be his. Lister and Rimmer hunt through the mountain of letters from the mail pod to discover if Lister is finally a dad.
The Dwarfers find themselves in an alternative version of America, where modern technology is prohibited, making Rimmer and Kryten illegal. The Dwarfers infiltrate the tech savvy underground, and try to bring down the authoritarian regime.
When the Dwarfers investigate a crashed ship at the bottom of an ocean moon, Lister and Cat become trapped together, and Lister's nightmare begins. Meanwhile, Rimmer and Kryten discover the ship is controlled by a dark force.
After an altercation with a deranged droid, Lister has his kidneys organ-napped. The only solution is to ask Cat, the most selfish creature in the universe, to give him one of his.
After a scandalous piece of good fortune, Rimmer saves the life of a bio-printed Captain and is promoted, fulfilling his life-long dream of becoming an Officer. He immediately opens an Officer's club, which is out of bounds to the lower orders, and uses the bio-printer to fill it with versions of himself.
Kryten has a mid-life crisis and changes his body cover from Mech grey to Ferrari red. The posse try and show him how much he's achieved in life by taking him to visit a mechanoid from his old fleet.
Nine years later the Red Dwarf crew are older but still none the wiser. Lister's busy day of annoying Rimmer is interrupted by the discovery of a dimension-hopping leviathan in the ship's mile-deep water tank.
Rimmer's replacement, Katerina, is determined to guide Lister back to his home planet. But Earth in 2009 is not everything the boys had expected, and Rimmer has no intention of being replaced.
The brand new three-part series concludes. Knowing they are destined to die, the Dwarfers track down those who created them to plead for more life.