->''The answer to the Great Question Of Life, the Universe, and Everything... is Forty-two.''

''The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy'' (1981) was a fairly straight translation of the radio series/book series by Creator/DouglasAdams into miniseries form, keeping much of the original cast, including Simon Jones as Arthur Dent, Peter Jones (no relation) as The Book, Mark Wing-Davey as Zaphod Beeblebrox and Stephen Moore as Marvin. David Dixon replaced Geoffrey [=McGivern=] as Ford Prefect, and Sandra Dickinson replaced Susan Sheridan as Trillian. As with its earlier incarnations, it followed the exploits of a hapless Englishman who is rescued from Earth by an interstellar journalist, seconds before the planet is demolished to make way for a bypass.

Its cult following admires it for its characters, dialogue and ingenuity, whilst admitting it is one of the more technically inept creations ever put on television; it was notorious even in its day for Zaphod Beeblebrox's animatronic second head, which looked like a lump of putty with a wig on. Far more effective are the amusing illustrated excerpts from The Book, which used traditional animation techniques to imitate complex computer readouts.

This series also cemented a number of the visual aspects of the SeriesFranchise which had not, at the time, been canonized in the books: most notably, it was not until writing the television series that Douglas Adams realized that Arthur Dent had spent the entire adventure in his pyjamas.

For all versions of the story, see ''Franchise/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy''.
!!This show provides examples of:
* AbsoluteCleavage: Trillian's outfit. Good grief.
* AdaptationalNationality: Trillian is English in the original radio series, but American in the TV version. Adams later said that Sandra Dickinson could do a perfect English accent if asked, but the TroubledProduction was such that no-one thought of it.
* AdaptationDyeJob:
** In the books, Zaphod is blond and Ford is redheaded. In the TV series, they both have dark hair. Mark Wing-Davey is quoted as saying that he said he thought Zaph was "a blond beach bum" (with the implication that he'd have been quite happy to wear a wig), but the producer/director (Alan Bell) wasn't listening to anyone involved in the radio show.
** Trillian was described with dark hair. When the series came to television, she was played by blonde American Sandra Dickinson. This was done on advice of Douglas Adams himself, who liked Dickinson on the role.
* AlienLunch: Ford tries to tempt Arthur with some extremely weird-looking alien food on the Vogons' ship.
** [[spoiler: Except of course it backfires: Dentrassi (the cooks) really ''don't'' like Vogons, you see.]]
* AnArmAndALeg: Used to underscore the importance of keeping all receipts when traveling.
* AskAStupidQuestion
-->'''Ford:''' I don't believe you.\\
'''Zaphod:''' Why not?\\
'''Ford:''' You tend to lie a lot.
* AwkwardlyPlacedBathtub: The Captain of the Golgafrincham B Ark never leaves his bathtub, which is on the bridge of the space ship. He remains in his bath even after the crash, from which he chairs (rocks) planning meetings.
* BBCQuarry: Magrathea.
* BillBillJunkBill: Parodied, deconstructed or just weirded, since Ford goes through many futuristic-sounding devices, laughing it all off as obsolete junk, then finds just what he needs... a towel. This moment originated in the book, and isn't in the radio series.
* BittersweetEnding: The final episode ends with Arthur and Ford discovering that the meaning of life is nonsensical. In addition, they're trapped five million years in Earth's past with no apparent way out of their situation. The radio and novel versions show that they get out of this predicament okay, but still...
* BritishBrevity: Just one series of six episodes.
* TheCameo: [[Series/DoctorWho Doctor]]-designate Creator/PeterDavison appears in heavy makeup as the Dish of the Day.
* CozyVoiceForCatastrophes: Peter Jones as the voice of the Guide. In one particularly stressful scene, he assures the main characters' safety in advance while pleasant images appear on the screen.
* CreatorCameo: Creator/DouglasAdams appears behind Arthur and Ford at the bar in the first episode, and again (much more obviously) as the depressed businessman who strips off and wades into the sea. His face is also one of the Sirius Cybernetics "mindless jerks who were the first against the wall when the revolution came", ''and'' his likeness appears in drag as the Guide illustration for the worst poetry-writer in the universe, Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings.
* CutShort: There were plans for another series, but sadly they never materialised.
* CuteMachines: Marvin the Paranoid Android. More than anything, you can't help but want to hug him.
* DataPad: The Guide looks something like an Amazon Kindle—kind of a dedicated tablet computer which can only access the Guide.
* TheDayTheMusicLied: "No, wait! [[HopeSpot What's this switch]]?"
* DeadpanSnarker: Most of the characters, but Ford Prefect, Arthur Dent and the Guide most of all.
* DetonationMoon: A description of the songs of the rock group [[FakeBand Disaster Area]]:
-->"[They] are, on the whole, very simple and usually follow the familiar theme of boy-being meets girl-being beneath a silvery moon which then explodes for no [[StuffBlowingUp adequately explored reason]]."
* {{Dissimile}}: "They hung in the air exactly the way that bricks don't."
* EarlyBirdCameo: Most of the venues mentioned by Ford when talking to Hotblack are named in the first episode during the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster entry from the Guide.
** And one of the Sirius Cybernetics employees is animated with a "Disaster Area" T-shirt before the band is introduced.
* EleventyZillion: The TV series extends a line of dialogue from the book and puts in a new number:
-->'''Ford Prefect:''' I think this ship is brand-new, Arthur.
-->'''Arthur Dent:''' Why, have you got some exotic device for measuring the age of metal?
-->'''Ford Prefect:''' No. I just found this sales brochure on the floor. It says, "The Universe can be yours for a mere five quilliard Altairian dollars."
-->'''Arthur Dent:''' Cheap?
-->'''Ford Prefect:''' A quilliard is a whole page full of [[UsefulNotes/BritishEnglish noughts]] [''[[UsefulNotes/AmericanEnglish zeros]]''] with a one at the beginning.
* TheEndIsNigh: A man is seen holding a board bearing this slogan before the Earth is destroyed. When he realizes the end actually IS nigh, he abandons his sign.
* ExoticEquipment: According to Creator/NeilGaiman's ''Don't Panic!'', the costumer gave Zaphod's trousers a double fly, suitably padded.
* ExpositionBeam: Arthur is given this treatment during his trip to Magrathea.
* FashionDissonance: Ford wears tacky abstractions of Seventies fashion.
* FunnyBackgroundEvent:
** A man grins over the beer Ford has bought, then looks dejected as he takes it away.
** When Arthur mentions the workman who charged him a five to wipe his windows, the workman behind Prosser suddenly looks away as Prosser glances at him.
** After Arthur angrily denounces Zaphod as Phil and Ford tries to reason with him, Zaphod can be seen in the background getting a new babelfish, convinced that his incomprehension is language based.
* FunWithSubtitles: THIS NEVER HAPPENS.
* GiantMook: Dave Prowse plays Hotblack Desiato's bodyguard.
* GrapesOfLuxury: During the Guide entry about luxury planets, showed a typical luxury-planet-owner reclining on a couch surrounded by scantily-clad women, who were feeding him individually-plucked morsels. Being cleaned by kisses, breast-rubbing, and so forth may be sensual, but it wouldn't make the grape taste very good. The guy promptly yawns and feeds the thing to his dog.
* GratuitousPanning: The stereo remix places the narration of the Guide entries completely in one speaker, and the background music in the other.
* GreenSkinnedSpaceBabe: With her Green Skinned Space Dude paramour, in the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster entry from the Guide sequence.
* HilariousOuttakes: On the DVD. Lampshaded at one point by Simon Jones: "That'll make the Christmas edition."
** This could be a reference to the infamous "Christmas Tape" the VT department used to make for entertainment at BBC staff Christmas parties. These frequently included examples of this trope.
* HologramProjectionImperfection: The hologram of Slartibartfast is a fuzzy, white monochrome image.
* HonestyIsTheBestPolicy: The Vogon Captain reads his tortuously bad poetry to Arthur and Ford (who he previously threatened to have spaced) and asks them what they think of it. The two go at length about how good it is, noting the clever use of made-up poetry conventions. Once they're done, the Captain says they were completely wrong, and that his poetry being tortuously bad was actually his intent, to put other people in same bad mood that he's in.
* HopeSpot: Parodied in the scene where Ford and Arthur are about to be blown out the Vogon airlock into deep space, and Ford suddenly says: "Wait a minute! What's this switch!", complete with a hopeful swell of music. But it turns out he's just being a jerk, there's no switch, and they do indeed get blown into space.
* HumanAliens: In addition to Ford, several decidedly non-human races from the other versions are presented as looking exactly like humans. This gets weird in a few cases where these characters remark on what a weird monkey-man Arthur is.
* IDontThinkThatsAGoodIdea:
-->'''Arthur:''' I wonder what happens when I press this button?
-->'''Ford:''' I wouldn't.
-->'''Arthur:''' (''after pressing button anyway'') Oh...
-->'''Ford:''' What happened?
-->'''Arthur:''' A sign came on saying "Please don't press this button again."
* IllTakeTwoBeersToo: Appears as a sight gag. Zaphod prepares two drinks, and Ford reaches for one of them, assuming it's for him, but it's snatched from his grasp as Zaphod drains them both with his two heads.
* ImpossiblyDeliciousFood: Ford discovers some hagra biscuits baked by the Dentrassi and tells Arthur, "Your mouth will love you for the rest of your life." Unfortunately, the Dentrassi baked these particular biscuits for the Vogons; after one mouthful, Ford realises just how much Dentrassi hate Vogons.
* InCameraEfects: An in-color version of the filter trick: Zaphod's color-changing sunglasses were made out of polarizing filters, with another polarizer on the camera lens. When all three were oriented the same way, light passed through freely and the glasses were clear. When the one on the camera was turned, it blocked the light that the glasses let through, turning them black while everything else appeared unchanged.
* InstrumentalThemeTune: "Journey Of The Sorcerer" by the Music/{{Eagles}}. Famously chosen because Douglas Adams thought that the theme for a show about hitch-hiking should have a banjo in it somewhere.
* InventingTheWheel: The wheel that the Golgafrinchans invent is multicoloured and octagonal.
* LamePunReaction: Zaphod says he thinks someone said something important shortly after Arthur described the restaurant as "not so much an afterlife, more a sort of après-vie" (a play on "[[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ski_resort#Facilities_and_amenities après-ski]]"), Arthur starts "I said it was a sort of après..." only to be interrupted with "Yeah, and don't you wish you hadn't?"
* LetsMeetTheMeat: The Dish of the Day. The Dish merrily goes on to explain, "I'll just nip off and shoot myself. Don't worry sir, I'll be very humane." Arthur Dent was pretty freaked out at that point. He orders a salad, which causes the talking soon-to-be-entree to roll its eyes and remark that the vegetables wanting to be eaten are unable to express their feelings, and that's why "it was eventually decided to cut through the whole tangled problem and breed an animal that actually wanted to be eaten and was capable of saying so clearly and distinctly." Then, Arthur decides to order a glass of water. Which in turn can be read as ironic considering the joke from the first book: "It's unpleasantly like being drunk." "What's so unpleasant about being drunk?" "You ask a glass of water." And this is a universe where a bowl of petunias has sentience, so you never know.
* LimitedWardrobe: Arthur Dent spends the entire series in his pajamas. Ford Prefect wears the same outfit throughout. Trillian, however, magically changes to a new outfit each time the Infinite Improbability Drive is used.
* LockedOutOfTheLoop: A rare ''viewer'' example can occur. Thanks to an audio issue, one DVD release of the series omits all narration during certain Guide segments. Fortunately, they're all segments that include subtitles, except for the origin of the Infinite Improbability Drive, which leaves the viewer watching a bunch of random clips that make no sense unless they've read the book.
* MatteShot: The series pioneered Matte Shots within Matte Shots.
* MediumAwareness: Episode 3 begins with a potted history of the Galactic Empire, signified by the coat of arms of the Empire floating in space. Then a spaceship containing a Real Man, a Real Woman and a Real Small Furry Creature from Alpha Centauri crashes into it.
* MillionToOneChance: Arthur and Ford are rescued by the Heart of Gold seconds before they would have died after being ejected from a Vogon ship. Arthur states that the chances against it were astronomical after Ford tries to act as if he was counting on it as a certainty. Because Arthur had lived his entire life on Earth and Ford had been stuck there for over a decade, the ensuing weirdness such as an infinite number of penguins with a revised script for Hamlet didn't tip them off to the fact that they had an advantage in the form of the Infinite Improbability Drive.
* MistakenForAfterlife: When the group arrive at Milliways:
-->'''Barman:''' It's not unusual for customers to be disoriented after the time journey.\\
'''Trillian:''' "Time journey"? \\
'''Ford Prefect:''' You mean... this isn't the afterlife? \\
'''Barman:''' The afterlife? No, sir. \\
'''Arthur:''' So... we're not dead? \\
'''Barman:''' Sir is most evidently alive, otherwise I would not attempt to serve sir.
* MultipleHeadCase: The series had to try and portray Zaphod Beeblebrox with the special-effects technology of the early 1980s and the budget of a BBC science-fiction series. The result was not terribly successful.
* {{Narrator}} Peter Jones as The Guide.
* NoMereWindmill: A man with a placard reading "The End of the World is Nigh" is among those seen panicking in the street when the Vogons arrive.
* OffTheShelfFX: The opening shows the sun rising over a lovely landscape. Many viewers wrote in asking where it was, except for the model railway enthusiasts, who recognized the commercially available trees.
* OurGraphicsWillSuckInTheFuture: The producers looked at what Creator/TheBBC's own effects department offered for the guide. It wasn't pretty. So they averted this by using very painstakingly detailed cel animation and clever rear projection tricks to show "advanced" computer displays (such as the tiny non-flat flatscreen of the guide, the gigantic widescreen display on the Heart of Gold, etc).
* PaletteSwappedAlienFood: Hagro biscuit looks like a blue panini topped with guacamole.
* PantyShot: The hostesses' undergarments, thanks to the Finite Improbability Generator.
* PoisonIsCorrosive: The sequence demonstrating the effect of drinking a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster ends with a close-up of the stuff, having been spilled when the drinkers succumbed to unconsciousness, eating a hole in the floor.
* PurpleEyes: David Dixon put in purple contacts to make his eyes look stranger. For filming, they decided his eyes looked plenty strange enough, thank you very much.
* RaceLift: Trillian is described in the books as "vaguely Arabic". In the series, she's played by blonde American Sandra Dickinson. According to Douglas Adams, they were just delighted that they'd found an actress who could do something with the part, which he didn't think he'd written very well.
* ReligionIsRight: God refused to prove he existed "because proof denies faith and without faith I am nothing". The existence of the Babelfish, which instantly translates any kind of language for its user and whose evolution was frankly impossible, proved he existed; therefore, by his own argument, he doesn't. Following which, "Man" proves that black is white, and is run over at the next zebra crossing.
-->"Most theologians consider this argument a load of dingoes' kidneys, but that didn't stop Oolon Colluphid from making a small fortune when he used it at the centerpiece of his best selling book ''[[GodIsInept Well, That About Wraps It Up For God]].'' "
* ResistanceIsFutile: This is the CatchPhrase of the young Vogon guard. He really loves to shout it and considers it a major job perk.
* RummageSaleReject: Ford Prefect wears a carefully clashing outfit involving a striped cricket blazer and an Argyle sweater.
* SistineSteal: The subsection of the Babel fish entry on the non-existence of God represents God and Man using the famous Sistine depictions.
* ShoutOut: The Guide animations contain several shout-outs to the other versions of "Hitchhiker's" such as the Frogstar scout in the "robot" entry.
* TheSlowPath: When the others are blasted into the future, Marvin has to take the slow path and wait billions of years to meet up with them. He spends the last several thousand years parking cars at the site where the Restaurant At the End of the Universe was eventually built.
* SoundToScreenAdaptation
* SpaceClothes:
** Zaphod Beeblebrox wears a suit apparently made of dayglo circuit boards. Granted, he was voted "Worst Dressed Sentient Being in the Universe" seven times running...
** An interesting aversion comes from the fact that Douglas Adams originally scripted a scene where the Heart of Gold ship creates a jump-suit for Arthur. The producer, however, realised that he would have been in his pyjamas until this point and kept him in them.
* SoundtrackDissonance: Instead of the theme music, the last episode ends with "What a Wonderful World" playing as Arthur and Ford, displaced in time, wonder at how beautiful the prehistoric Earth is, conscious that it'll be gone in two million years. The credits then shift into a readout on the Guide, floating through space, to explicitly remind us that in the show's "present", the Earth is destroyed.
* TheStarsAreGoingOut: A comparatively light version occurs at the Restaurant At The End Of The Universe. How light it is depends on your point of view. The entire universe is coming to an end... for the entertainment of those who traveled in time to visit a restaurant with a view of it.
* StarshipLuxurious: The Heart of Gold. As Arthur puts it:
-->Now this is my idea of a space ship—gleaming metal, flashing lights...
* TheStinger: Episode three did this, explaining which character bruised their arm in the attack. (This was the same stinger as in episode three of the radio series, from which it was adapted.)
* StuffBlowingUp: "[Disaster Area's] songs are, on the whole, very simple and usually follow the familiar theme of boy-being meets girl-being beneath a silvery moon which then explodes for no adequately explored reason."
* SuddenVideoGameMoment: When the [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fL2FbGH2DDs Vl'hurg and G'gugvunts battle]].
* SuicideBySea: The second episode has a man walking naked into the sea throwing money away.
* TinmanTypist: Marvin sometimes uses vocal commands. He opens the black spaceship's airlock by saying "Abracadiodularservosystems". It would be hard to judge whether he would find a plug in or voice control easier. He'd certainly be depressed by either option.
* TimePassageBeard: In the final episode, there's a time skip during which Ford and Arthur go off to explore the planet they've been marooned on, and grow beards.
* TooGoodToLast: Sadly, the second series never happened, leaving the series ending with ''The Restaurant at the End of the Universe''.
* TranslatorMicrobes: The Babel fish.
* TrappedInThePast: Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect end up stuck on prehistoric Earth with the idiotic Golgafrinchans.
* UnreadablyFastText: The series has faux computer graphics that were deliberately too detailed to read in full unless one paused one's VCR (as was then in vogue).
* VideoInsideFilmOutside
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: We never find out where Zahpod and Trillian ended up. Not in this continuity, anyway.