YMMV / The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

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.
    • 7. Don't forget, there's already a towel.
  • 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 Ultimate 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.
  • Discredited Meme: Like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the jokes in this franchise have been referenced to death.
    • Wikipedia is REALLY tired of people changing the entire article for Earth to say "Mostly Harmless".
  • Ear Worm: "Journey of the Sorcerer". Every version with audio has got some arrangement of it.
    • The 6" single of the TV theme music had a rather catchy song on the B-side called "Only The End Of The World Again", credited to Disaster Area.note 
  • 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."
      • To say nothing of the fact that anyone could wander in and write a paragraph.
      • The Wikimedia project also has a travel guide.
      • Wikipedia's article on the series itself even mentions the Guide's similarities to Wikipedia.
    • 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's amazing how much the titular guide book resembles the Kindle.
  • It Was His Sled: 42 is the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "42"
    • "Zaphod's just this guy, you know?"
    • "DON'T PANIC"
    • "Ten out of ten for style [or X], but minus several million for good thinking, huh?"
  • Mis-blamed: Many people actually cry 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 Woobie: Arthur's the Cosmic Plaything. Marvin's The Eeyore.
    • This pretty much sums it up.

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!
    • According to Adams it was heading that way at the time, which was why he wrote it; the name of the Galactic shoe conglomorate, Dolmansaxlil, is a Wiki Word formed from thee of the chains owned by the British Shoe Corporation - Dolcis, Manfield, and Saxone, Lilley & Skinner, all of which had shops on Oxford Street and none of which - in Adams's opinion - had any decent shoes.
    • 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.

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.
  • Retroactive Recognition: That's Peter Davison as The Dish of the Day. He was suggested by his then-wife Sandra Dickinson, who played Trillian.
  • 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."
    • May also qualify as Narm Charm.
  • 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. Trillian is also described as vaguely Arabic-looking in the book, so the obvious choice to play her is a blonde American woman.

The computer game:

The movie:

  • Crowning Music of Awesome: "Finale".
  • 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:
    • Marvin, due to the wonderfully deadpan way Alan Rickman does the voice.
    • Slartibartfast, thanks to Bill Nighy's performance.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The team appearing as knitted figures before achieving normality, seeing as Stephen Fry is the guide to both universes...
    • Also, Humma Kavula's vicious "Don't Vote for Stupid" campaign against Zaphod Beeblebrox. Hello, President Donald Trump...
  • Internet Backdraft: When it was first announced that Mos Def would play Ford Prefect, there was a lot of racist comments made about him. Most of it subsided by the time the film came out.
  • 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.
  • 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.