Lost in space and light years away from earth is the Jupiter Mining Ship Red Dwarf. In the late 22nd century, an on-board radiation leak kills all of the crew except for low-ranking technician Dave Lister, who is in suspended animation at the time, and his pregnant cat, Frankenstein, who is safely sealed in the cargo hold.
Following the accident, the ship's computer Holly keeps Lister in stasis until the background radiation dies down – a process that takes three million years. Lister emerges as the last human being in the universe – but not alone on-board the ship as Holly resurrects Lister’s former bunkmate and immediate superior Arnold Judas Rimmer as a hologram to keep Lister sane.
At the same time, a creature known only as Cat is the last member on board of Felis sapiens, a race of humanoid felines that evolved in the ship's hold from Lister's cat, Frankenstein, and her kittens during the 3 million years that Lister was in stasis.
Picking up Kryten (a service mechanoid) along the way, Red Dwarf follows Lister, Rimmer, the Cat and Kryten’s adventures through space.