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YMMV / The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

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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 finds out, she goes ballistic.
      Trillian: Love and kisses?!?!
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  • Awesome Ego: Zaphod in all versions.
  • Cant Unhear It: The cast of the radio/television series. This was intentional on the part of Douglas Adams, especially with Simon Jones as Arthur Dent, as Adams specifically wrote the character with Simon in mind. The film cast as well, to a lesser extent.
  • 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".
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Marvin is quite popular among the fans.
  • Genius Bonus: "Frood" is slang for "really-together person", and the Old English "frōd" meant "wise" or "experienced". Uncertain if this was intentional or not.
  • 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.
    • Speaking of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation, their motto for GPP's ("Your plastic pal who's fun to be with!") could just as easily apply to Sphero.
    • 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.
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    • It's amazing how much the titular guide book resembles the Kindle.
    • As this Numberphile video shows, 42 is the only (eligible) number under 100 that hasn't been represented as the sum of three cubes, making it an answer without a question.
  • 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" (which was itself an adaptation of the radio series). 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 So Long and Thanks for All the Fish.
  • 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.
  • Ass Pull: The Babel Fish's never-before-mentioned ability to save themselves and anyone who happens to be near from certain death at the end of the Quintessential Phase is this done blatant and flagrantly. However, it does help avert the massive Downer Ending of Mostly Harmless.
  • 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:

  • 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.
  • Uncanny Valley: Zaphod Beeblebrox's second head. Sometimes it talks, but mostly it just sits there on his shoulder, motionless and eerily realistic. It was originally intended to be more animated than it ultimately was, but the prop head worked only intermittently, leaving it looking more like a shoulder-mounted pinata.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome:
    • The series mostly suffers from terrible special effects, except for the sequences where we see the guide itself. All these shots were actually hand drawn replicas of typical computer graphics of the time, and even today you'd swear they were actually done on a computer.
    • Considering it was cobbled together on a shoestring, the series' opening scene of the Earth's last sunrise turned out surprisingly well.
  • 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:

  • Memetic Mutation: "You have destroyed most of a small galaxy. Please pick your words with greater care."
  • No Problem with Licensed Games: The game is generally agreed to be good, though obstinate. Douglas Adams himself was involved in development, and as with versions in other media, he took the game in its own direction rather than have it be a direct adaptation.

The movie:

  • And You Thought It Would Fail: When it was first announced that Mos Def would play Ford Prefect, there was a lot of complaints towards the fact that he was black while the character was traditionally white. However, most of them subsided by the time the film came out.
  • Awesome Music: "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.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Marvin, due to the wonderfully deadpan way Alan Rickman does the voice.
    • Slartibartfast, thanks to Bill Nighy's performance.
  • Genius Bonus: That's an actual Ford Prefect that Ford tries to shake hands with.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The team appearing as knitted figures before achieving normality, seeing as Stephen Fry is the guide to both universes...
    • José María del Río, a famous Spaniard TV narrator who voiced the Guide in the Spanish dub (see Woolseyism below), would later went to lend his voice to the legendary mystery show Cuarto Milenio, which has both ufology and astronautics/space exploration between its many themes.
  • Informed Wrongness: Moments after meeting, Tricia suggests Arthur go on a trip with her to Madagascar. The film tries to portray Arthur as a stick-in-the-mud for turning her down, but Tricia seriously suggests he quit his job for it, and instead comes off as completely unreasonable.
  • 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.)
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Being made in 2005, the filmmakers didn't over-rely on CGI and built a lot of real sets and used Practical Effects, the stand out being the Vogons designed by the Jim Henson's Creature Shop.
  • Woolseyism: In order to get the same significance for them as Stephen Fry had towards the Anglosphere, the Spanish dub of the film had the Guide voiced by José María del Río, who was the official voice for Carl Sagan in Cosmos, as well as many other science shows and documentaries in Spain.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Mos Def as Ford Prefect, which is kind of the joke: Ford Prefect's half-arsed attempts to blend in and the total failure of British humanity to notice anything incongruous about him has always been a part of Ford's story (just look at his name) and one the movie merely played up a bit more.

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