Follow TV Tropes


Creator / Douglas Adams

Go To
The hoopiest frood of them all.

"He's just this guy, y'know?"

TV has this to say about Douglas Noel Adams (March 11, 1952 – May 11, 2001)...

A British humorist and Science Fiction writer, most renowned for having written The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy "trilogy", the Dirk Gently series, and three Doctor Who stories during the Tom Baker era (he was the script editor during Season 17).

A really hoopy frood, he was very fond of deadlines (he "liked the whooshing sound they made as they flew by") and always knew where his towel was.note  His interests included evolutionary biology, software technology, Apple computers, the music of Pink Floyd, Bach, and The Beatles, and SCUBA diving. He was involved in a BBC radio production (and then book) with Mark Carwardine called Last Chance To See, where he made his case for the necessity of biodiversity and the need for conservation initiatives, and also for paying comedy writers to go on holiday. He also considered himself a radical atheist, but the "radical" bit was just to show people that he was serious about it (as opposed to merely being agnostic), not because he was intolerant or aggressive.

Hitchhiker was constructed in a typically Adams fashion — he was notorious for cribbing from his own previous works, and a good many aspects of Hitchhiker had been put to paper in some form (mostly Adams' own plays and unpublished short stories) before the series itself was conceived.

In true Douglas fashion, he advocated using exercise as a way of combating his depression, then died of a massive heart attack at age 49 while at the gym. Because of where he was living at the time (Santa Barbara, 2001), Adams actually was carrying a towel when he died. Many of his fans find this to be very bittersweet.

Adams has been honored with an asteroid, 25924 Douglasadams, being renamed for him; the asteroid's prior designation (2001 DA42) is notable in that it coincidentally carries the year of Adams' passing; his initials; and the Answer to the Great Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. Adams would quite probably see such a coincidence as solid proof that the universe has a sense of humour.

His gravestone is in Highgate Cemetery in London, which is open to the public (it houses the graves of many famous people, including Karl Marx) and is frequently to be found adorned with a small towel (of course), and also a pot of visitor-donated ball-point pens, both in reference to him being a writer, and to a passage in Hitch-Hikers where he mused on how ballpoint pens, by dint of their habit of disappearing whenever you really needed one, were probably some kind of advanced life form that had slipped away to enjoy a uniquely bioroid lifestyle on their home planet.

Little known fact: Adams invented the wiki before Wikipedia even existed. h2g2, an online encyclopedia system conceived by Adams, was launched in 1999, and predated Wikipedia by two years. Both Wikipedia and H2G2 depended on information contributed by the public, although H2G2 required that editors, staff on Adams' payroll (later, staff on The BBC's payroll), approve of certain contributions before it can be published.


Tropes Named:

In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy


Tropes Associated with his Work:

  • Author Usurpation: Douglas Adams grew tired of Hitchhiker's Guide very early in The '80s. Also, he did not think of himself as a science fiction writer and actually wasn't that much of a fan of the genre. For him, science fiction was just a convenient medium for the comedy ideas that he had at that time. He aspired more to be a comedy writer in the tradition of P.G Wodhouse. With the exception of Dirk Gently and the game Starship Titanic (the tie in novel was actually written by Terry Jones of Monty Python fame), most of his other Non "Hitchhiker's Guide" related fiction works are Slice of Life instead of fantasy/sci fi.
  • Bathos: A lot of the humour of his work runs on this.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Douglas was infamous for these. It could be several books before he finally dropped the punch line.
    • With some sense of black humour, you could consider the fact that he wore a towel when he died his last Brick Joke.
  • Creator Backlash: After Life, The Universe and Everything, Adams had grown tired of being typecast as a writer of sci-fi comedy. His next book, So Long and Thanks for All the Fish allowed Adams to indulge his desire to write a romantic comedy. This is why the majority of the book is set on Earth, Zaphod and Trillian are Put on a Bus, and Ford's involvement is minimal. He wanted the relationship between Arthur and Fenchurch to be focus.
  • Left Field Description: This trope is part of his Signature Style: "The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't."
  • Lightmare Fuel: Making you giggle and cower at the same time (or in stomach-churningly quick succession) is part and parcel of his signature style. Bonus points if you're doing this and spotting the pun or allusion at the same time. In short: if your ribs don't hurt, your brain and adrenal glands will.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: One of Adams' pet peeves, which manifested in his work, such as the Vogons from Hitchhiker's or the doctor in his Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch "Patient Abuse".
  • Ridiculous Procrastinator: Adams was notorious for turning in scripts late, and during his time as a novelist would often go off to start other projects to get out of finishing the ones with deadlines coming up. He described himself as a writer who took a certain perverse pleasure in Not Writing. It got to the point where his editor took to locking him in a hotel room with nothing but a typewriter when the worse came to the worst.
    • Adams' editor actually moved in with him while he was writing So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish to ensure that he would finish it on time.
    "I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."
  • Self-Plagiarism: Most of his Doctor Who stuff eventually migrated its way into his novels. Life, the Universe and Everything contains elements of "The Pirate Planet" and one of his rejected scripts, and Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency carries over a character from "Shada" and an entire plot thread from "City of Death".
  • Temporal Paradox: Played with constantly in both the Hitchhiker and Dirk Gently series.
  • Trojan Gauntlet: In his Ted talk "Parrots, the Universe and Everything", he relates a Real Life tale about trying to buy a condom in Shanghai in 1988 so he could drop a microphone into the Yangtze River and record its sound. What with a language barrier, the shopkeeper insisting the pill is better, and a dolphin involved, Hilarity Ensues.
  • Unfazed Everyman: The trope used to be known as 'The Arthur Dent', and it is still used as a redirect.