It's a sort of emotional vampire. It changes shape to provoke a negative emotion - in Lister's case, it took him to the very limit of his terror, then sucked out his fear.
~ Kryten about Polymorph

The Polymorph, also known as Emohawk, is a recurring antagonist from Red Dwarf. He appears in the episodes Polymorph and Emohawk and in the novel Better Than Life.

It is the shape-lifting organism that can change into anything it wants, and drains people and other beings of negative emotions. It was originally designed for military purpose to confuse and terrify the enemy, but it then mutated into something so horrible its creators couldn't control.

The novel Better Than Life shows different version of the creatures' origin. After the great war, the surviving genetically engineered life forms were left to die among garbage. However, some of them survived and the today Polymorphs evolved from them.

It is portrayed by Frances Barber in woman's version and by Kalli Greenwood in Rimmer's mother's version.

Known Polymorphs

Polymorph's attack

The Polymorph attacks Lister

First Polymorph

In the episode Polymorph, the containment pod with the Polymorph on the board lands on the spaceship Red Dwarf. It travels through the ship and turns into many forms, including a teddy bear, yellow lamp and red sock. It suddenly jumps into one room as baseball which Dave Lister picks up and rests it on the table. The Polymorph turns into a kebab and attacks Lister when he tries to eat it. It then turns into boxer shorts Lister puts on. However, the shorts shrink while Lister tries to remove them. The Polymorph then turns into Lister's worst fears: a snake and an "8 foot tall armour plated alien killing machine", terrifying him so much it is able to drain his of his fear.

While the rest of the crew looks for the Polymorph, it turns into a woman to seduce the Cat and successfully drain him of his vanity. Arnold Rimmer and Kryten then find him and Rimmer tells Kryton it is his fault as he let the Cat run off alone. However, it is revealed Rimmer is actually the Polymorph that drains Kryten of his guilt.

Later, the Polymorph turns into Rimmer's mother and makes out with Lister, driving Rimmer angry, so it can drain him of his anger. The crew go into the cargo bay to hunt down the Polymorph once and forever. They accidentally release the shots fired earlier and destroy it with a quick duck. After the Polymorph is dead, their personalities are restored.

Second Polymorph

The second Polymorph lands on Red Dwarf soon after the first one, also in the episode Polymorph. However, it is so dump it doesn't attack anyone and later dies of old age in Lister's clean underpants drawer.



The Emohawk

The Emohawks are forms of Polymorphs that look like a bird (precisely the hawk) in their natural forms. They are domesticated and spayed at birth by Kinitawowi, a race of bulky humanoids. Except draining emotions, they are also able to drain specific aspects of an individual's personality and change its victims' personal look.

After the crew cons the chief of Kinitawowi in the episode Emohawk, he sends his Emohawk after them. It is able to get on board by changing into Lister's hat. Firstly, it turns into a can of baked beans and drains the Cat of his cool, turning him into ugly Duane Dibbley. Another victim is Rimmer who is confused by as a non-responsive microphone. The Emohawk drains him of his bitterness, turning him into heroic Ace Rimmer. Rimmer decides to take out the Emohawk by sucking it into space, killing himself and Duane, as he thinks it is too risky to capture the creature. Luckily, Lister and Kryten stop him and eventually capture the Emohawk with a sprayer full of liquid dilithium which freezes it.

Third Polymorph

Another Polymorph appears in the novel Better Than Life and acts similar to the first Polymorph. It is one of the GELFs that were left to die among garbage on Earth. Some of them attack Lister's cockroach farm previously. When the crew comes to Earth to find Lister, the weak Polymorph changes itself into him, so Kryten takes the creature back to Red Dwarf. Luckily, Rimmer finds real Lister meanwhile and the Toaster successfully disables the Polymorph. The crew throws it put into the space, but it manages to return to Red Dwarf and drains the crew's emotions exactly the same way like the first Polymorph. Full Polymorph then falls asleep in the cargo bay, but when the crew attacks it, the creature responds their attack more violent than the first Polymorph and almost kills them with its tentacles before it is killed by the shots the crew fired earlier.


  • One of the first Polymorph's forms is similar to the Xenomorph from the movie Alien.
  • The first Polymorph actually couldn't be able to drain Rimmer of his emotions, as he is a hologram and the creature couldn't touch him. Also, Rimmer's emotions are resided on the disc Holly has got, not in his hologram's version.
  • The word Emohawk is made from words "emotion" and "hawk".