All Dave Lister ever wanted to do was live in Fiji, on his own farm. And raise cows, horses and sheep. Sure, the island was half-submerged due to a volcanic eruption, and he'd had to have put the sheep on stilts, but still: Fiji. Preferably with the lovely Kristine Kochanski by his side. That's ALL he ever wanted. What he didn't want was to be adrift in deep space, millions of years after the probable extinction of humanity, with only a squealing cat-creature, a neurotic mechanoid and an utter arse of a hologram for company. Yep, it's fair to his life has turned out to be quite the massive ball of smeg.
It all started going wrong when he was a vending machine nozzle-cleaner on Red Dwarf. When his contraband cat was discovered by the captain, Lister was sentenced to a shortish spell in stasis. While he was locked away, a radiation leak wiped out the entire crew and left the Dwarf more toxic than a pair of his Y-fronts. Three million years later, Lister emerged into a brave new world. By brave we mean "empty" and by new world we mean "spaceship full of powdered corpses". But what should have been an aimless odyssey through the vast nothingness of space has been considerably enlivened by all manner of odd exploits. Who could forget the time he ended up drunkenly bedding his own female self from a parallel universe? That was a deeply shameful moment even by Lister's standards, especially when he ended up getting pregnant (in their universe, men got up the duff).
Luckily for Lister – and anyone who didn't fancy Red Dwarf turning into a kind of intergalactic version of 2.4 Children – he deposited his twins back in the other universe and went on his merry way. Although he wasn't all that merry when he was forced to marry a female GELF so the crew could get a vital oxygen unit. It turned out that not even three million years without a shag were enough to make his blushing, hirsute bride very enticing. On the whole, it's fair to say he was a bit happier when his beloved Kochanski crossed over from a parallel universe. Well, we say "crossed over" but it was more an accidental stumble, and she was too busy missing her own Lister (a suave, mature, metrosexual sort of guy) to even give our Dave the time of day. And to think Lister even ran her a bath once – which for a man whose idea of haute cuisine is putting onions on his corn flakes, was a romantic gesture on par with whisking your girlfriend to Rome.
But there are things worse than being ignored by the love of your life. Like losing your arm in a battle with an intelligent virus, say. Lister got understandably miffed with the loss of his limb, even if it did mean Kryten fussing over him to an even more nauseating extent than usual. But a solution appeared in the form of a swarm of nanobots which helpfully rebuilt Lister's limb – and temporarily left him as bulgingly buff as 80s-era Arnie. The nanos also restored the crew of the Red Dwarf to life, and the resurrected Captain Hollister didn't take kindly to Lister and the crew, throwing them into The Tank.
You've got to hand it to Lister though – he kept his spirits up despite being forced to share a cell with Rimmer and having the odd battle with a rampaging dinosaur called Pete. Maybe it was the knowledge that he and Kochanski were no longer the last humans alive. Not that that situation lasted too long – a metal-eating bug soon caused devastation on the Dwarf, and in a chain of events too complicated to disclose here (ie, we don't actually know what happened), Lister once again found himself adrift with only Rimmer, Kryten and the Cat for company.
With Kochanski having escaped into the cosmos, Lister's more determined than ever to find her and settle down. If not in Fiji, than at least in his sleeping quarters. We bet he'd even wash the curry stains out of his sheets and everything. Top bloke, that Lister.