Rodney's personality was based on the experiences of series creator John Sullivan, who also had an older sibling and claimed to have been, like Rodney, a dreamer and an idealist in his youth.
The nickname 'Dave' is bestowed upon him by the character Trigger, the only character to refer to him as such, and was born from a one line joke in the very first episode, Big Brother. This became a long-standing joke throughout the entire series.
It is revealed in numerous episodes such as "Big Brother", "The Long Legs of the Law", and "A Royal Flush" that Rodney is embarrassed about Del's antics, including lying to girls they want to date. In "Yuppy Love", he lied to a new girlfriend, Cassandra, that he lived in the posh street 'Kings Avenue', in order to impress her; however, she later found out where he lived when she phoned Nelson Mandela House. Del often asks Rodney questions, saying 'You're the one with GCEs!'. It is implied in "The Frog's Legacy", that Freddie Robdal is Rodney's real dad, when rumours start to emerge about the likeness between him and Rodney.
Del claimed in "Mother Nature's Son" that Rodney was still being breast fed until he was three and a half years old. As a child, Rodney was "all snot and Marmite" with a "funny haircut". Unlike Del, Rodney went to grammar school, where he passed GCEs in Art and Mathematics. He was subsequently expelled from an Art College in Basingstoke for smoking cannabis. In the early episodes, Rodney was troubled by this, and also by the fact that he had a very poor job and lived in a very grotty flat. He was worried that he would never find independence, which he really did long for. When he met Cassandra, it gave him a chance to move on in life, which resulted in his leaving Del behind. (This was conveyed in "Little Problems", at the end, when everyone had left the wedding reception and Del was standing all on his own, holding the groom from the wedding cake).
In later episodes, the only thing that troubled Rodney was his nephew Damien, whom he had recurring nightmares about. He was convinced that he was going to be the son of Satan, being named Damien did not help matters at all, (even though it was Rodney's bright idea that he was named Damien in the first place). The fact that Trigger had been calling him "Dave" since 1981 was no help. He did not know that Rodney was called Rodney, he always called him "Dave". No matter how many opportunities Trigger had to realise that "Dave" was not Rodney's name, he continued to call him Dave. One instance was in "Three Men, a Woman and a Baby", Rodney tells Trigger that if Del and Raquel's baby is a boy, they will name it Rodney after him. Trigger then tells Mike (who is holding a "Guess the baby name" competition) that "If it's a boy, they're naming him Rodney, after Dave". Another instance was portrayed in "Modern Men", when Mike (the landlord at the Nags Head pub), announced a toast to future Mum and Dad "Cassandra and Rodney"; everyone said "Cassandra and Rodney", but Trigger could be heard shouting "Dave" after everyone else stops talking. In "Homesick (Only Fools and Horses)", Rodney did tell Trigger in his face that his name was "Rodney" and not "Dave", yet despite this he continues to address him as 'Dave' and even refers to him as this, when he is not around.
Cassandra fell pregnant in "Heroes and Villains", but later miscarried in "Modern Men"
It is implied in some episodes that Rodney is a Chelsea supporter. In The Long Legs of the Law Del remarks that ICI have dropped a point, to which Rodney replies that "Chelsea dropped 3 on Saturday!" In a later episode, A Royal Flush, he takes Victoria to see a football match at Stamford Bridge.
Rodney is the younger half-brother of Derek "Del Boy" Trotter. "Rodders", as he is affectionately known by his big brother, has stuck by Del through thick and thin. Rodney is not as streetwise as his brother. Del's comments whenever Rodney makes a mistake have become notable catchphrases throughout the series. They include "Plonker", "Wally", "Twonk", "Dipstick", "Tart".
Rodney is the son of Joan Mavis Trotter, grandson of Grandad Trotter, and great nephew of Uncle Albert Trotter. He has a nephew named Damien, and a daughter named Joan Jr.
Throughout the series, Rodney's assumed father was Reg Trotter, although his actual paternity was occasionally called into question, such as in the 1983 and 1987 Christmas specials "Thicker Than Water" and "The Frog's Legacy" due to the unavoidable fact that he shared little resemblance to either Del or Reg in terms of appearance or personality. In the final Only Fools and Horses episode, the 2003 Christmas special "Sleepless in Peckham", Rodney discovered through an old photograph of the very first Jolly Boys' Outing that he and Del did not actually share the same father. His biological father was revealed to be local gentleman thief, Freddie "The Frog" Robdal, who had an affair with Del and Rodney's mother Joan in March 1960, and Rodney immediately knew this due to Robdal's striking resemblance to him. This is confirmed in the prequel series "Rock & Chips". In the episode's final scene, Rodney asks Del if he is anything like Freddie Robdal, but Del denies it, labelling Robdal several names like a "thief", a "conman", a "liar" and a "cheat", none of which apply to Rodney.
Rodney lives with Cassandra, their daughter Joan, Del, Del's "significant other" Raquel and their son Damien at door 368 on the 12th floor of the fictional Nelson Mandela House in Dockside Estate, Peckham, London.
Rodney found a supportive partner in Cassandra, whom he met at a computer training course in "Yuppy Love", and married in 1989. Her father Alan employed Rodney at his company, Parry Print Ltd, (at least until Rodney accidentally quit that job), and, with some financial assistance from Del, he was able to buy a flat and finally move out of Nelson Mandela House. Their marriage suffered when Rodney punched Cassandra's boss, and broke his nose, when returning from Margate in "The Jolly Boys' Outing". They split up in the 1990 Christmas special "Rodney Come Home" (having split up three times in the past 18 months), and throughout the seventh series attempted to patch up their relationship; in "The Chance of a Lunchtime" Del played matchmaker, in order for them to re-unite. This worked, until Rodney was seen by Cassandra, with one of Del's ex-fiancées, when he was accompanying her to a taxi, because she was very drunk. In "Three Men, a Woman and a Baby", Cassandra told Rodney that it was all over between them, until her mum insisted she should see their solicitor for advice, who told her that they should talk. They re-united after Rodney took advantage of her, by pretending a ponytail was a rat. He stayed the night but they were interrupted by Del phoning to say Raquel had gone into labour.
In "Miami Twice", it was revealed that the two were living together on weekends as they tried to rebuild their relationship. In "Mother Nature's Son", they were back together fully. They had been trying for a baby ever since, so when it was announced that Cassandra was pregnant, everyone was jubilant. However she miscarried at the end of the following episode; "Modern Men". Rodney and Cassandra now have a young daughter called Joan, who Rodney named after his late mother and who was born in the last episode; "Sleepless in Peckham", resulting in a very moving and emotional ending to the show.
Before the series began, Rodney attended a year's course at art college in Basingstoke but was expelled after three weeks when he was caught smoking cannabis in a fellow student's room. He was fined £300 and given an eighteen-month suspended sentence for possession of cannabis. With only two GCEs and a criminal record, Del took it upon himself to give Rodney a job as an assistant market trader (or "Financial Advisor") and sidekick knowing that he was unlikely to get a decent job anywhere else. Although being a partner may have sounded impressive on the outside, Rodney's main duty was keeping an eye out for the police while Del would be illegally flogging his goods on Peckham market.
Rodney had worked in that pitiful position until 2001 when Del was declared bankrupt, forbidding him from running a company. When Trotters Independent Traders was about to cease operating, Del knew that Rodney was not banned from managing a firm and so after two decades as an assistant market trader, Rodney finally stepped up as titular Managing Director of T.I.T.CO but this would not stop Del from trying to control the company. But Rodney also did the accounts and computerized the business.
For some time, Rodney worked as Financial Director of T.I.T.CO (a job which included such executive tasks as loading the van). Rodney has a strong conscience and is often morally outraged by Del's business activities, such as dealing in stolen goods. Despite his ethical objections, Rodney is usually enticed into Del's money-making schemes by Del's persuasive charms and the temptation of financial rewards.
In the episode "It's Only Rock And Roll" Rodney is a drummer in a band fronted by "Mental" Mickey Maguire. Realising that some quick money could be made from their albeit terrible music, Del convinces the band that having him as their manager they will go on to become a big success. Having secured a booking at a local pub for St Patrick's Day celebrations, the night ends in disaster with a fight breaking out. Having convinced Rodney that the band is going nowhere, he finally quits, leaving the remaining four to continue without him. However, one evening back in their flat, Del turns on the TV to find Rodney's old band performing on Top of The Pops.
The BBC comedy guide for Only Fools and Horses clearly states that Rodney's birthday is 26 February; but this is contradicted in "Sleepless in Peckham", when Cassandra mistakes Freddie the Frog in an old 1960s photo of the first Jolly Boys' Outing for Rodney. Rodney corrects her, claiming that the photo was taken in July 1960 before he was born (according to Rodney), thus making Rodney's date of birth the date he reveals it to be in "The Unlucky Winner Is...", 2 November. This is confirmed when Rodney's birth is shown in "Rock & Chips". However some episodes of Only Fools and Horses do not support this; in "Big Brother", 1981, Rodney states to Del that he is 23 years of age, which would make his year of birth 1957 or 1958. In the same episode Del Boy states that there is a thirteen-year age gap between himself and Rodney. "You couldn't be like any other little brother could you eh and come along a couple of years later after me. Oh no no, not you. You had to wait thirteen years!" In the following episode "Go West Young Man, which was broadcast in September 1981 (and was the second episode of Only Fools and Horses ever broadcast), Del Boy states that he, (Del) is 35. In Big Brother since Rodney had said he was 23, Rodney must already have had his birthday that year with Del still to have his 36th birthday later that year. Therefore Rodney must have been born during 1958. In "As One Door Closes", set in early 1985, Rodney tells Del that he is 24, making his year of birth 1960. In "Yuppy Love", Del states that the Trotter family have been living at Nelson Mandela House since 1962, and that Rodney was born in the flat. Similarly, Rodney & Cassandra's wedding certificate shows that they were married on 25 January 1989 and gives Rodney's age as 26 and Cassandra's as 21. This would make Rodney born in 1962 (assuming he hadn't yet had a birthday before his wedding in 1989) and during "Modern Men" (set around Christmas 1996), Mickey Pearce describes Rodney as a "34-year-old paperboy", which would also back up a birth year of 1962. However, during "Mother Nature's Son", set around Christmas 1992, Rodney states that he is 31, suggesting he was born in 1961.