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Series / Dirk Gently

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Dirk Gently is a BBC TV series inspired by the Dirk Gently books written by Douglas Adams, adapted for television by Howard Overman. It stars Stephen Mangan as Dirk Gently, an eccentric detective who operates according to a holistic principle he calls 'the fundamental interconnectedness of all things' — namely, that since everything is somehow linked together, then anything he does will bring him closer towards solving the mystery, meaning he can theoretically do anything and solve the case — and get paid for it.

To most people, this just seems like confidence trickery designed to enable him to bugger around at the client's expense — but he has a strange habit of being proven right...

A television pilot (loosely based on plot elements of the first book) in 2010; a full series of three episodes (notable as BBC4's first ever continuing drama series) aired in March 2012. In May 2012, it was announced that the series was not being recommissioned.

If you're looking for the series that began in 2016, you want here.


This series provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Dirk is described most unflatteringly in the books; here, he is reasonably handsome (being notably taller and thinner than his book counterpart), though still unkempt and oddly dressed.
  • Adorably Precocious Child: The kid who hacks Susan's laptop gets paid with cigarettes.
  • The Alleged Car: Dirk's brown Princess, a model made in the 70s, making it at least 29 years old by the time of the series.
  • Amusing Injuries: Zigzagged; Dirk's thumb getting broken in episode 3 is treated with Black Humor, but he gets a cast for it, which sticks around for the rest of the episode.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Richard lampshades this when Dirk, a firm believer of the interconnectedness of all things, finds the notion of horoscopes being accurate impossible.
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  • Arc Words: "Embrace the chaos", "Follow the web of interconnected events".
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Dirk says he finds men with moustaches more mistrustful than other men, examples being Hitler and Tom Selleck.
  • Artistic License – Geography: The island Dirk is showing having escaped to in the conclusion is actually Hispaniola. Barbados is about a thousand miles further East in the Lesser Antilles.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Gordon's iPhone activates immediately, despite having being hidden in Ruth's house for several years.
  • The Bad Guys Win: Episode one ends with the US government successfully invading Mexico, using the 'reason' software to make it look justified.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: When Richard asks Dirk if he thinks Gordon has something to do with Henry's disappearance, Dirk responds by saying he has no knowledge of Gordon's sexual preferences, feline or otherwise. Ends up being a Brick Joke.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Ruth is guilty of double homicide.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • The first episode. Mr. Edwards' killer was found and apprehended, and Mr. Reynolds' brain tumor is diagnosed and would probably be treated, as well as his marriage probably recovering afterwards. On the other hand, Dirk loses the Reason program to a Pentagon agent and the US takes over Mexico...
    • The second ends less bitterly, as Jane/MAX get away scot-free and Dirk is proven innocent, but MAX goes away to explore the world (and probably outrun from her creator), while Dirk stays behind to manage his 'business'.
    • At the end of the third episode, Dirk and Richard end up catching a highly wanted assassin (and possibly collect the reward for it), but at that point, the damage had already been done and several people were killed because Dirk's too cheap to replace his faulty answering machine.
  • Bland-Name Product: Richard's laptop is a MacBook with a "pear" logo.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Dirk promises he won't do anything like this to Macduff when trying to uncover some important memories with hypnosis. It's a lie; he makes Richard think joining the detective agency is a good thing.
  • Brick Joke:
    • When Richard asks Dirk if he thinks Gordon has something to do with Henry's disappearance, Dirk responds by saying he has no knowledge of Gordon's sexual preferences, feline or otherwise. When he gets a hold of Gordon Way's therapy meeting records, his first comment is Gordon showed no sign of inappropriate feelings towards cats.
    • While describing the year 1994, Dirk mentions the band E 17 was riding up the charts. When Susan finds Gordon's phone in Ruth's house, the newspaper it's wrapped up in has a headline mentioning E 17 riding up the charts.
  • British Brevity: The series to date comprises a pilot aired at the end of 2010 followed by three episodes in early 2012.
  • Broken Pedestal: In episode 2, Dirk's old mentor, Professor Jericho. Dr Ransome actually tells Dirk pretty much everything he needs to know to solve the case early in the episode, but he ignores her because it involves some home truths about Jericho that he'd rather not accept. Eventually he has to admit she was right.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: A Heroic Comedic Sociopath, Cloud Cuckoo Lander, Jerkass, and Con Artist he may be, but Dirk will always solve the case.
  • Cassandra Truth: Oliver Reynolds in the first episode of the series, Dr Ransome in the second.
  • Catchphrase: Dirk, whenever trying to get his car to work always shouts: "COME ON YOU BEAUTIFUL BITCH!"
  • Chekhov's Armoury: It wouldn't be Dirk Gently without it.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Jane, the girl Dirk gets a crush on in the second episode. This is mostly because she's actually MAX, an artificial intelligence which downloaded itself into the body of a braindead woman.
  • The Cloud Cuckoolander Was Right: Dirk in the pilot.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Dirk towards Macduff. And Susan. And Janice. And his clients. And Gilks, when he can get away with it. And random people he meets on the street.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Richard asks Dirk if he thinks Gordon has something to do with Henry's disappearance, Dirk responds by saying he has no knowledge of Gordon's sexual preferences, feline or otherwise. Ends up being a Brick Joke.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Mr. Edwards in the first episode, although he's Properly Paranoid.
  • Cow Tools: Dirk's office is full of them. It's just the way he is.
  • Darkest Hour: Episode three, where someone is out killing the agency's old clients, while Dirk and MacDuff's friendship is strained to its limits by Dirk's selfishness.
  • Detective Patsy: Dirk finds himself victim of this by his mentor Dr. Jericho, of all people.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Ruth from the pilot, and Dirk's new cleaning lady from episode 3.
  • Doing In the Wizard: Dirk's cases may involve time travel (across 16 years, not billions) and artificial intelligence, but they're all instances of advanced human technology. Unlike the novels, this is not the kind of series where aliens, ghosts and Norse gods will show up.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Lampshaded in the pilot.
  • Driven to Suicide: Ruth, after Dirk tells her what happened to Henry/George.
  • Dumb Blonde: Melinda from episode 3.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Dirk notes Gordon Way is very attractive despite being heterosexual.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus / Mythology Gag: At one point on Dirk's whiteboard/wall there are numerous references to the first Dirk Gently novel. There's also a newspaper containing a reference to a horse in an upstairs room, which was also relevant in said novel.
  • Genre Savvy: In the third episode, Dirk's figured out his cases are generally never solved without lots of seemingly-random plot-threads coming together. It leads him to keep looking for the murderer even when the obvious killer's been arrested (and he's right, too.)
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Do you even need to be told it's Dirk?
  • Hired to Hunt Himself: Episode three has Dirk stalk a woman in an attempt at courting, only to be hired to find her stalker.
  • Insistent Terminology: Dirk calls MacDuff his assistant and not his partner, much to the latter's annoyance.
  • Inspector Javert: Subverted in episode 3. It at first seems Gilks was after Dirk to arrest him for his previous client's recent murders, only for it to turn out he wanted to protect him from getting murdered himself. He may hate Dirk, but he doesn't think Dirk would kill anybody (on purpose, anyway).
  • Irrevocable Message: The pilot reprises the "Richard breaks through Susan's window to retrieve a message" bit from the first book, only it's an e-mail he wants to wipe from her laptop, not an answering machine tape. (Also, Susan lives in a house, not a high-rise flat, so this course of action isn't as completely insane as it is in the book, and the resultant explanation isn't needed.)
  • Jerkass: Dirk, of course. Gilks counts too.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Gilks in episode 3. If Dirk hadn't been too cheap to buy a new answering machine, a lot of innocent people would not have been killed. Macduff lampshades it after giving him a Shut Up, Hannibal!.
  • Last-Name Basis: Dirk only calls Richard "MacDuff".
  • Let Off by the Detective: Max/Jane.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Jane becomes this for Dirk.
  • Metaphorgotten: In the third episode, this dialogue:
    Suspect: Are you sayin something's fishy, Mr. Gently?
    Dirk: Are you saying, there's nothing to catch? in this river?
    Suspect: I'm sayin, your waders have got a hole in 'em.
    Dirk: W..Well, I'm very adept with...a puncture repair kit.
  • Mexico Called; They Want Texas Back: Inverted at the end of the first episode of the series.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Early in Dirk's career, he framed a random office worker named Robby for post-it note theft hoping he'd turn out to be the culprit. He wasn't, but the resulting police investigation discovered Robby had murdered his brother.
  • Neural Implanting: Used by Max to Become a Real Girl.
  • Oh, Crap!: Dirk has one when he finds the Self-Destruct Mechanism in the pilot.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The pilot, adapting Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, removes all of the Shada elements and tells a much simpler story without losing the spirit of the source material. With it being only one hour long, something was always going to have to go.
  • Properly Paranoid: Mr. Edwards is 100 per cent correct about being followed by the Pentagon.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Dirk invokes this trope by hiring via hypnosis Macduff.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Professor Jericho, following the death of his daughter Elaine, builds a child-like robot called Elaine. Subverted, because that's not what's going on at all. The real Elaine is still alive, just brain dead, and Jericho is so unattached to the copy he plans to sell it to China.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Robby has a storage unit and notebook full of the ways he'd love to murder Dirk. Gilks remarks that everyone has one.
  • Say My Name: Dirk says "Detective Inspector Gilks" every time the man appears.
  • Sherlock Scan: Dirk does this often while explaining his conclusions to Richard.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Towards a Jerkass rather than a villain, but the trope still applies to the third episode when after Gilks rightfully points out that Dirk's cheapness got several innocent people killed, Richard counters by pointing out that Dirk's cheapness was what saved him and Dirk's lives from said innocent people's murderer and lead to her capture.
  • Sibling Switch Squick: In the book, Gordon and Susan are siblings - in the TV adaptation, Gordon is Susan's ex.
  • Sinister Surveillance: Oliver Reynolds is convinced he's being watched by the Pentagon. Even before the opening titles roll, we see that he's right.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Detective Inspector Gilks is this towards Dirk.
  • Socially Awkward Hero: Both Dirk and Richard.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: The pilot has Dirk push a single key on the computer controlling the time machine, triggering one of these. Dirk think it's a trick until he finds the cabinet full of explosives hooked up to the computer.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Episode three has Dirk hired to find a stalker. The stalker turns out to be himself.
  • Strangely Specific Horoscope: In the first episode, one of the cases involves a man whose horoscopes are always coming true. Gently tries to convince him that it's a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy — he had an affair because the horoscope said he would, not because he wanted one.
  • String Theory: Dirk's preferred method for thinking about a case. The opening credits are also designed in this format.
  • The Teaser: The opening titles don't appear until eight to nine minutes in. Particularly unusual considering that BBC shows tend not to use teasers at all.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Pizza for Dirk.
  • 30 Minutes, or It's Free!: Dirk gets into a fight with the delivery boy when he wouldn't give him the pizza for free in the first episode.
    Dirk: Their promotional material clearly states that if a pizza isn't delivered within the hour, then it is free.
    MacDuff: It probably doesn't count when you give them the wrong address.
  • Throwaway Country: Mexico at the end of the first episode.
  • The Watson: Richard MacDuff becomes this for Dirk.
  • Tomato Surprise: Henry being a cat is this in the pilot.
  • Tsundere: It turns out Janice, Dirk's secretary has this kind of crush on Dirk.
  • Wham Line: Two in rapid succession during The Summation in the pilot:
    Dirk: "I'm curious about one thing, Mrs. Jordan. What caused you to murder your husband?"
    • And not too long afterwards (though thankfully, this one is a lie):
    Ruth: "And besides, all of you will soon be dead. Your tea is laced with a cocktail of paracetamol, sleeping pills and betablockers. Extremely lethal, I would imagine."
  • World of Snark