YMMV: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The radio series

  • Adaptation Displacement: Few people seem to realize the radio series predates the book.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: While the Shoe Event Horizon was funny back then, the rise of the Starbucks coffee chain means the world seems to be heading the same way in Real Life.
    Student: Shoe shops have to sell more shoes, so they sell shoes so bad they either hurt the feet or fall apart. So people have to buy more shoes. Which means more shoe shops. Eventually it becomes economically impossible to build anything but shoe shops; the whole economy overbalances! Famine, collapse, and ruin!
    • Similarly, the joke about how humans are so primitive they think digital watches are neat was a jab at a fad of the time, which as all fads gradually died out (with cellular phones killing watches in particular). Then smart watches came along...
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: The discotheque scene in the secondary phase - the background music is very obviously "Stayin' Alive" played in reverse.
  • Tear Jerker: At the end of the Quandary Phase when Fenchurch disappears during the hyperspace jump.

The novels

The novels section has been divided into sections for your comfort and convenience.

The TV series:

  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: All over the place in the animations.
  • Special Effects Failure: Egregious. The effects compare to some of the worst from Doctor Who, but the show's so funny you stop caring.
    • The most egregious being Zaphod's second head, a mechanical prop which barely functioned and veered right into the Uncanny Valley. They tried to cover for it by his first head telling the second to "go back to sleep."
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Trillian's accent. Seriously, what the Belgium was that all about? Made even stranger by the fact that she could do a perfectly passable English accent, as seen on a few outtakes. Apparently she asked Douglas Adams if he wanted an English accent, and he was so happy with her casting in the first place that he said no, she should use her normal voice. He came to regret this, in part because he realised it wasn't a particularly flattering thing to say to an actress.

The computer game:

The movie:

  • Blatant Lies: Ford's claim to be from Guildford becomes this since he's got an American accent, unless one is supposed to believe he means he's from America via Guildford.
    • That argument only works if you're British and you're thinking of Guildford, near London. This film was made for Americans, who will think first of Guildford, Connecticut (just down the road from New London CT, oddly enough). A black American from Guildford is perfectly feasible - so long as the Guildford is in New England.
    • There is also a Guildford in Vermont and a Guilford County and town in North Carolina. So lots of places for an American-accented Ford Prefect to come from. Only... the American version might have renamed him "Ford Edsel" or something, as the Prefect was only ever sold in Britain?
    • The accent is remarked upon, though, as if he'd claimed to be from Guilford in England, since there's a line to the effect of "So you're not from Guilford, well that would explain the accent"
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: "Finale".
  • Denser and Wackier: A lot of the fundamental elements of the first book make it in, but are crowded together to make room for a largely original second act. New arrivals to the franchise may find some scenes sheer randomness - for instance, the Vogon Poetry session has lost all foreshadowing and explanation.
  • Death of the Author: Many people who are critical of the Romantic Plot Tumor are surprised to find that it was in Douglas Adams' pre-mortem draft of the script and that he is not, in fact, rolling in his grave over it. Upon a little more thought, most of them conclude that that doesn't make it any better.
  • Ear Worm: "So long and thanks for all the fish, so sad that it had come to this, we tried to warn you all but oh dear..."
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Slartibartfast, thanks to Bill Nighy's performance.
  • Freud Was Right: Questular instantly dislikes Trillian.
    Questular: She's lying. She's skinny, and she's pretty, and she's lying!
  • He Changed It Again But It Sucks This Time
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The team appearing as knitted figures before achieving normality, seeing as Stephen Fry is the guide to both universes...
  • Love It or Hate It
  • Mis-blamed: Many things the fans complained about were Adams' intention from when he first outlined this adaptation - fans should remember that he tried to work in new bits into every new Hitchhiker's adaptation - and much of the script was written by him.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: Who else is now just reading the book in Stephen Fry's voice?
  • Older Than They Think: Some people think that the movie ripped off the name "Babel Fish" from the now-defunct translation website, completely forgetting of course, that it is in fact the other way round considering the source material. The name itself, meanwhile, is in turn based on the biblical story of the "Tower of Babel".
  • One-Scene Wonder: Humma Kavula. Whether you approve of his addition to the story or not, there's no denying that John Malkovich (with the help of the special effects team) makes him a memorable character.
  • Romantic Plot Tumor: This very movie features a fairly obvious example of this trope, between Arthur and Trillian. The "original" source materials (book, TV and radio series) all handled their past differently, but agreed that Arthur had been briefly interested in Trillian during a single superficial encounter in the past; when he re-encounters her during the story, he displays jealousy at a few points, but not much more than that. By comparison, the movie version features an Arthur who is desperately pining over Trillian, who could have been his one true love had he not been afraid to pursue her, and he spends most of the movie time thinking about, worrying about or focusing on her. This was deliberately inserted by Douglas Adams when drafting the movie, before his death, to increase studio interest and audience acceptance of the movie.
    • Actually, he tried to work it into the television adaptation, but the chemistry wasn't there between the actors.

The franchise in general

  • Adaptation Displacement: Most people are familiar with the series as either a five or six book "trilogy", unaware that it was first a radio program. To be absolutely clear:
    • 1. It was a radio series...
    • 2. That got adapted into a book series...
    • 3. Which had a TV show made of it...
    • 4. That had a text-based computer game made of it...
    • 5. Which, many, many years later, had a movie made of it...
    • 6. And we can only assume it will eventually be available in pill form at some point.
  • Angst? What Angst?: Trillian barely notices when her home planet is blown up and billions are killed. Dent has the decency to be shocked for a few minutes, though once he realizes that he can't quite wrap his head around the magnitude of the loss he starts going into shock.
    • The film version of Trillian doesn't even find out until late in the story thanks to Zaphod. When she find out, she goes ballistic.
      Trillian: Love and kisses?!?!
  • Awesome Ego: Zaphod in all versions.
  • Common Knowledge: 42 is not "The Meaning of Life", it's "The Answer to the Great Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything." The reason it seems so random and nonsensical is because it's only an Answer, and no one actually knows what the Question is.
  • Continuity Snarl: Adams deliberately ensured that no two forms of the franchise were the same, with the exception of Arthur and Ford fleeing the Earth in Fit/Chapter/Part One. In a sense, Adams was Trolling his own fans... or at least making sure everybody remembered the MST3K Mantra. Which would you rather do, bicker over fictional minutia or have a good laugh?
    • Definitely bicker over fictional minutiae.
  • Discredited Meme: Like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the jokes in this franchise have been referenced to death.
  • Ear Worm: "Journey of the Sorcerer". Every version with audio has got some arrangement of it.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Marvin is quite popular among the fans.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Wikipedia. "While it has many errors and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it is slightly cheaper."
    • You can probably compare the shoddiness of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation's products to your least favorite tech company.
    • There's a throwaway line early in the series (books and radio) about Arthur wishing he had a daughter so he could forbid her to marry a Vogon. Towards the end of the series, he ends up getting one, Random. Who he then forbids from marrying a Vogon.
  • It Was His Sled: 42 is the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything.
  • Lawful Neutral: The Vogons.
  • Memetic Mutation: "42", "Zaphod's just this guy, you know?", "DON'T PANIC"...
  • Memetic Sex God: Zaphod was once described by Eccentrica Gallumbits, the triple-breasted whore of Eroticon Six as "the best bang since the big one."
    • Eccentrica Gallumbits herself is an invocation of the trope.
  • Mis-blamed: Many people actually cry Adaptation Decay or They Changed It, Now It Sucks to the various adaptation(s) because they're "not like the book". Adams wanted the various formats to diverge as soon as possible, and succeeded.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: To "Tunnel of Love" by Dire Straits, in the radio adaptation of SLaTfAtF.
    • The theme on the TV series and record albums is a BBC-re-orchestrated edition of the Eagles' "Journey Of The Sorcerer."
  • Tear Jerker: Marvin's death. He's finally happy, for the first time in his entire life (which in case you forget, is eight times older than the universe), and now he's dead. Maybe that's why he's happy.
    • And then in the radio version of Mostly Harmless... he's been brought back to life because his warranty hadn't run out. And is miserable again.
    • The song "Marvin, I Love You", released by Stephen Moore in-character as Marvin, details a surprisingly touching story about Marvin discovering an old tape in his databank, recorded by some sort of A.I. who is programmed to be in love with him ("Remember, I'm programmed for you/I know we're worlds apart/Still you could break my heart"). Marvin doesn't comprehend these words or know where they came from, but he apparently keeps the tape and can play it whenever he wants.
  • The Woobie: Arthur's the Cosmic Plaything. Marvin's The Eeyore.
    • This pretty much sums it up.
  • Zero-Context Example: The number 42 is an in-universe use of the trope.