The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
has appeared in nine different versions since its original radio series
in 1978. After the radio series, it was adapted for stage plays, novels
, re-recorded on LP records, adapted again for television
, a computer game
, comic books, and finally a feature film. The series' creator, Douglas Adams
, rewrote and modified scripts, dialogue, characters and plot for each new adaptation of the series. An outline of the differences in versions of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Differences between the original radio broadcast and the original radio scripts
Or, the things that were edited from the recordings before broadcast.
- Paul Neil Milne Johnstone has become Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings
- Introduction to Zaphod in fit the first added;
- "Resistance is Useless" from the Vogon Guard;
- Trillian wonders if Columbus "had this trouble" when they arrive at Magrathea and names the suns "Soulianis and Rahm ... or whatever";
- Ford replies to Zaphod's "Trust me" with "take your appendix out";
- Zaphod's profitable pen business is added to Veet Voojagig;
- The end of "important and popular fact" we are told that Arthur Dent's current favourite fact is that life is full of surprises;
- Mention of the Googleplex Starthinker is added;
- Deep Thought adds the "you take new forms" to the Earth speech.
- Ford says "I thought you were proposing a toast".
- Frankie Mouse explains about the real truth "being run by a bunch of maniacs";
- Zaphod adds "I spent a lot of time out of my skulls";
- All the stuff about Ultracuisine, Algolian Zylbatburgers with Vulcan Ultra Dodo spit, "the Universe does actually end not with a big bang but with a Wimpy?";
- Max also says "future of lifekind - except of course we know it hasn't got one";
- Zaphod says about "Judgement Day?";
- The "brains start working" idea is floated by Zaphod in the Christmas Episode aboard the Acturan Megafreighter;
- Roosta tells Zaphod that "You did, years ago. You better hold on, we're in for a long, long journey".
- The information about the Vogsphere and the Megabrantis Cluster is in fit the ninth and includes "tall aspiring trees";
- Zaphod Beeblebrox the Fourth is "spinning in my grave";
- The Wise Old Bird says that he's "not terribly wise really".
Many of these are found in the LP adaptations, see below.
Differences between the original radio series and the stage adaptations
- The Ameglian Major Cow (aka the "Dish of the Day") appears first in the stage adaptation.
Differences between the original radio series and the LP adaptations
- The character Lady Cynthia Fitzmelton from the radio series is omitted in the LP version.
- The musical score was completely changed in the LP version, in some cases replacing ambient sound effects in the radio version, most prominently in the Babel fish and Vogon entries. Musical compositions for the LPs were by Tim Souster and Paddy Kingsland. The opening song is still the Eagles' "Journey of the Sorcerer", but using an arrangement by Souster (later reused for the TV series) instead of the original Eagles recording.
- There is a band, "Reg Nullify and his Cataclysmic Combo", at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. The band plays a song with vocals in the LP version.
- The Haggunenon subplot in the radio version is replaced in the LP version by the Disaster Area subplot. Much of the dialogue, particularly that between Ford Prefect and Hotblack Desiato's bodyguard, is repeated word for word in the fifth episode of the TV series. The Disaster Area subplot also exists in the second book.
- The LPs were first released in the United States and Canada by Hannibal Records (under HNBL 2301 and HNBL 1307, respectively) in 1982. The cassette re-releases in both countries, by Simon & Schuster Audioworks later in the 1980s, omit several scenes, such as the narration about Veet Voojagig, the "cheerleader" on the Magrathean archive tape at the conclusion of Deep Thought's computer programme, and the conversation between Ford Prefect and Hotblack Desiato's bodyguard. Other lines were also cut for timing.
Differences between the first two radio series and the first two novels
- In the radio series, Arthur convinces Prosser to pretend that he is still blocking the bulldozers while he and Ford go to the pub. In the book, TV series and computer game, Ford convinces Prosser to lie in front of the bulldozer in place of Arthur while Ford and Arthur go to the pub.
- The character of Lady Cynthia Fitzmelton, who appears in Fit the First, is removed from all later versions of the story. The narration about "evaporat[ing] into a whiff of hydrogen, ozone and carbon monoxide" is reused in the first novel, but only in describing two unnamed characters in the pub that Ford and Arthur enter for their beer and peanuts. Paul Neil Milne Johnstone is credited as the "Worst Poet in the Universe" only in Fit the First, due to threatened legal action.
- The plot of "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe" is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike that of the second radio series. Adams said publicly that the second novel was roughly based on radio episodes 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 5 and 6 in that order, though with some major omissions and rewrites due to the removal of all John Lloyd's contributions.
- Frankie and Benjy offer to buy the Ultimate Question off Arthur in the radio series. In the books, they want to cut out his brain to extract the question from it directly and replace the brain with an artificial one.
- Shooty and Bang Bang's fate is never mentioned in the radio series. In the books, they die after their air supply is cut short when their spacecraft commits suicide.
- To end the first novel, Zaphod decides to take everyone to Milliways to eat. In Fit the Fifth, it was an accidental event caused by an explosion.
- The Restaurant is built on Frogstar World B in the second novel and on Magrathea in the other versions, aside the film where it is at the "other end of the universe".
- The planet Brontitall does not appear in the books, but Frogstar World B acquires some of the characteristics of Brontitall.
- Several elements of the Secondary Phase were moved into the first novel. For example, the explanation about what a Frood is.
- The character of Zarniwoop is expanded in the second novel and ties the reordered story together.
Differences between the original radio series and the television adaptation
- One of the only completely original sequences that appears exclusively in the television adaptation of the series is the "Hagra Biscuit" sequence on board the Vogon ship in the first episode. Ford attempts to introduce Arthur to the cuisine of the Vogons' Dentrassi cooks, but is visibly disgusted with the Hagra Biscuit he actually attempts to ingest.
- An element of one of the stage plays is used here, involving the Dish of The Day.
- The bartender does not immediately give Ford his peanuts when asked for some. Instead, Ford jumps the counter and grabs them himself, before throwing all of the small green pieces of paper from his wallet at the barman.
- Arthur initially refuses the Babel fish before it goes into his ear. In Fit the First, the Fish goes into his ear the first instance Ford tries to put it in.
- In the radio series, Fit the First cuts off after Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz offers the choice of death or poetry appreciation. The first episode of the TV series ends when Ford and Arthur are caught by the Vogon Guard.
- In the third episode, Zaphod comments to Arthur that using the Infinite Improbability Drive was a hoopy idea. In Fit the Third, Zaphod merely calls it a good idea.
- Frankie and Benji don't comment about all the fuss about the human brain in the TV series.
- Zaphod and Ford sing an ancient Betelgeusian death anthem before the computer explodes in episode four. No such song in Fit the Fourth. Instead on the radio series, they exchange farewells, and Ford comments on how the computer bank is about to blow up.
- The dialogue at the beginning of episode five differs from Fit the Fifth. Notably, Zaphod doesn't instantly realise everyone is at Milliways. This time, he reads it on a menu cover and tries to be clever by announcing the name of the restaurant with the menu hidden in his jacket.
- Marvin does not explain how everyone fell through time in the TV series, to wind up at Milliways.
- The guards of the B Ark in episode six have different numbers than the ones from Fit the Sixth.
- The TV series adopts the Disaster Area storyline instead of John Lloyd's Hagguenenon one.
- In the TV series, the poem that caused the death of Grunthos the Flatulent was known as Zen and the Art of Going to the Lavatory. In all other versions of the series, the poem that caused the death of Grunthos the Flatulent is known as My Favourite Bathtime Gurgles.
- The backstory about the Great Circling Poets of Arium is cut on TV making the Guide's line about Arthur and Ford "also travelled widely in distant lands" unclear.
Many of the TV episodes are longer than the designated 30 minutes slot, so some were cut for the first BBC1 repeats. A stereo mix of the restored episodes was created for the VHS release, and these version have been since been broadcast by the BBC.
Differences between the Infocom computer game and preceding versions
Many of the differences in the plot have to do with the player, as Arthur, doing things in the game that the other characters did for him in the other incarnations, such as obtaining the Babel fish and getting the Heart of Gold to go anywhere. Other differences involve playing out scenes that were part of the backstory in the other versions.
- Arthur's spoken phrase that triggers the interstellar war with the microscopic space fleet is "I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle" in the other versions (except for the film). In the game, it is instead the first invalid command the player gives between the beginning of the Vogon ship scene to the player's first activation of the spare Improbability Drive. If the player makes no such mistake within several moves of activating the drive, the program picks a random command, one the player entered that was otherwise valid, to use as the phrase, showing the long message about the interstellar war started by that command.
- Also in the game, Arthur encounters the small dog that swallowed the microscopic space fleet on Earth. What Arthur does with the dog affects later game play.
- The player goes to some places that are only referenced in the other versions, such as Damogran, the Party in Islington, Traal, and the microscopic space fleet.
Differences between the third, fourth and fifth novels and their radio series adaptations
Note: the original BBC Radio 4 broadcasts are shorter than the versions on the CD and DVD issue.
- The beginning of the Tertiary Phase largely ignores the events of the Secondary Phase by showing Arthur and Ford still stuck on prehistoric Earth instead of having gone through the Frogstar adventure with Zaphod (which does appear in the books but before Ford and Arthur get stuck on prehistoric Earth). This is explained by Trillian telling Zaphod he went through a "psychotic episode". However, the Total Perspective Vortex (also in the books) and the Lintilla subplot (only in the radio series) from his "episode" play prominently in the Quintessential Phase, suggesting that Zaphod's experience comes from a very real source. Moreover, because Zaphod's experience with the Total Perspective Vortex is within Zarniwoop's artificial world, a psychotic episode would make his experience with the Vortex a nested virtual reality.
- There is an exclusive section about the Hrarf-Hrarf in the radio series. In addition, Ford Prefect's "Humans need to keep their mouths moving" theory is added to the end of the 13th radio fit (as it was cut due to timing from the "Christmas Episode" aka "Fit the Seventh" in the original radio series). This speech was also used in the 6th TV episode.
- Arthur realizes that he logically can't die as he leaves the Cathedral of Hate in the radio series. In third book, the narrator explains that the logic of the situation "was utterly failing to impinge itself on him at this time" as he escapes the Cathedral mountain, and his logical immortality isn't further mentioned by the end of this book.
- More narration is added in order to explain (humorously) the new voice of the Guide (between the original radio series and the new series), as the original voice actor, Peter Jones, died in 2000.
- In the list of things he found behind his door, Arthur mentions a "dead kitten"
Note: the original BBC Radio 4 broadcasts are shorter than the versions on the CD issue.
- The Quandary Phase omits the minor subplot from the fourth book detailing how Arthur managed to find Fenchurch's residence by buying an Apple Mac to use the rough positions of the stars from prehistoric and present Earth to track down where his cave used to be. In the radio series, he simply shows up at what happens to be Fenchurch's door by looking for where he (inexplicably in this version) believes his cave to have been. This Phase, however, does include Arthur's meditation where he detects a "fracture" that corresponds to Fenchurch (thus implying that Fenchurch is his soul mate) and inspires him to find her. It omits, however the detection of the Wonko "fracture" and the sheep being surprised by the sunrise.
- The Quandary Phase roughly weaves into and foreshadows the fifth book:
- It mentions another Trillian, who features in the fifth book but is only different from the Trillian of the original timeline by her choice to follow Zaphod and the resulting changes in her life (such as not being given the name Trillian). In the radio series the other Trillian is differentiated from the original Trillian by her voice played by Sandra Dickinson, the actress who played Trillian in the TV series, and her American accent (noted by the narrator).
- It also adds a story line where the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council (the origin of Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz' demolition orders) meets to have Jeltz rectify the reappearance of the Earth. This story line fits in with the fifth book, but is weaved into the Quandary Phase to tie it in to the Quintessential Phase. The Council also explains that it made the order to put Zaphod in the Total Perspective Vortex, which confirms that the Vortex subplot actually happened (but not necessarily the surrounding events, given that Ford and Arthur are on prehistoric Earth at the beginning of the Tertiary Phase).
- It also ends with a scene only mentioned in the fifth book, that of Fenchurch's hyperspace disappearance.
- On Ford's visit to the bar in Han Dold City he is told "I know your face ... you've pulled this before" on the radio, and mentions "Triganic Pu collectors".
- Some pop culture and technology references have been added or updated for the time of the Quandary Phase's broadcast:
- Instead of digital watches being "a pretty neat idea" on Earth, novelty cell phone ring tones are.
- The album (vinyl record) of Scottish bagpipe music is replaced with a CD.
- In the Vogon court phrases such as whatever and girl-friend are added for radio.
- Ford mentions cell phones, Palmtops, Computer Operating Systems and repetitive stress injury as products sold by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation to the BT operator and reality television to Arthur when explaining the brainwashing of the lizard-led democracy.
- The Sony Walkmen used by Ford to distract the crowds in the fourth novel are replaced by cell phones with a ring tone, whose melody is the "Share and Enjoy" theme from the Secondary Phase.
- Ford tries to watch Earth movies he missed on DVD, detailing various aspects of DVD technology he had to fiddle with to get it to play on a spaceship's video system. He doesn't get to watch the Casablanca 2-disc Special Edition DVD in the radio series, but he does watch the cassette with Arthur in the fourth novel.
- Rob McKenna only meets Arthur at the motorway service station cafeteria in the novel. In the radio series, he gives Arthur a lift (in the wrong direction) before Russell does, and again with Fenchurch to Devon in the radio series. Rob only mentions the rain diary to Arthur in the novel, but also discusses the list of rain types with Arthur when he first picks him up in the radio series and in the book.
- There is no visit by Arthur to the local pub after his return home (to his actual house) in the radio series, so we do not learn the owner of the "my other car is also a Porsche" Porsche. Arthur's tale of a visit to have himself aged in California is exclusively in the book.
- There are expanded explanations about the Xaxis ship which introduce the flying ratchet screwdrivers in the radio series.
- In the radio series, Arthur has a lengthier visit to the Ecological Man (David Dixon, who plays Ford in the TV series) than in the novel (where it also specifically mentions Greenpeace as the ecological organization).
- BBC newsreaders Peter Donaldson and Charlotte Green provide a 'play yourself' style commentary for the on-Earth action, which does not occur in the novels, which also uses Nick Clarke's The World at One voice.
- There is a reference to what the mice said on Magrathea which was only readable in the original radio series scripts.
- Arthur does not say "Miserable git ... I'll miss him" about the late paranoid android in the book.
- In the novel, Fenchurch's bowl is marked "So Long", Arthur's "So Long and Thanks" and Wonko's "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish", but they are all marked with the full phrase in the radio version.
Note: the original BBC Radio 4 broadcasts are shorter than the versions on the CD issue.
- The "not necessarily in chronological order" nature of the book is edited into a more conventional narrative for the radio, the BBC assuming that most people would be listening without a rewind facility.
- The chapter of descriptions of the Grebulon ship's malfunction is compressed to a single line.
- Tricia's visit to New York is different. In the radio series, she does not encounter the hotel receptionist, and meets Gail Andrews at Club Alpha, rather than in the hotel bar, and this happens after Tricia has failed the US/AM interview, rather than just before.
- We do not know that Tricia thought she was being watched by a strange bird (the new Guide) in the park or by Grebulon remote control in the hotel bar on the radio.
- Stavro and Karl Mueller are brothers in the book, but one person on radio.
- Arthur rents a small motel room in the book, but does not leave the spaceport on the radio, and it is not revealed that 'single bird wheeled in the sky' (the new Guide again) whilst on NowWhat.
- The information clerk in the Quintessential Phase frequently uses the slogan "Eat and Bye" (as do the other inhabitants of NowWhat) and counsels Arthur where to go next (Bartledan).
- In the fifth book, Arthur consults the Guide for "guidance" and "advice" after talking to the clerk, and the "strange thing behind the desk" at the Resettlement Advice Centre on Pintleton Alpha encourages Arthur to go to the very bleak planet of Bartledan. In the radio series, Arthur explains having previously consulted the Guide so to the clerk.
- Ford calls the ecstatic robot "Colin" just after the reprogramming on the radio, but only does this after jumping out of the window in the book.
- The Quintessential Phase adds a subplot, related to the Council story line of the Quandary Phase, of Zaphod meeting Vann Harl before Ford does.
- The Great Ventilation and Telephone Riots of SrDt 3454 subplot is edited from the radio series.
- On Lamuella, Random Dent takes the Guide Mark II directly on radio, whereas it is taken later in the book.
- Vann Harl is merged with the Zarniwoop character from the books and earlier in the radio series. Vann Harl is revealed to be Zarniwoop's last name. He is also voiced by Jonathan Pryce, who played Zarniwoop in the Secondary Phase. This subplot brings back-story to the creation of the new Guide and connects it to the Total Perspective Vortex.
- The ending of the fifth book, which Douglas Adams claimed was disappointed at being "rather bleak" (see Mostly Harmless), was changed to a much less depressing one (except for the destruction of all possible Earths) for the Quintessential Phase, since the sixth book, in which Adams planned to reconcile the fifth book's ending, never came, as Adams died on 11 May 2001.
- The technology of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe is revealed to be bistromathics in the epilogue. Bistromathics was first mentioned in the third novel.
- Some pop culture and technology references have been added or updated for the time of the Quintessential Phase's broadcast:
- The Grebulon leader mentions the Teletubbies, the Playstation, and the band Oasis.
- Tricia says Elvis is alive and well in Memphis and has even recorded a cover album of Oasis songs. This may have been added in the radio series to emphasize that she is in a parallel Earth.
- The new version of the Guide (voiced by Rula Lenska) occasionally interrupts the narrator/Guide voice from the Tertiary Phase on, including making an audio pop-up ad for the Guide Pro.
- The song sung at "The Domain of the King" is the Krikkit folk song about "the ink black sky" in the radio series instead of "Heartbreak Hotel" in the fifth novel.
Differences between the 2005 film and preceding versions
The sequence of events in the film generally resembles elements of the story in prior editions. Although the radio series, books and TV series are famous for their inconsistencies, they each describe the same story until the characters get to Magrathea, except for some narrative rearrangement; whereas the film interrupts this series of events for the scenes on Viltvodle VI. The film rearranges the narration, omits and reworks scenes, and introduces new storylines, characters and locations. The ending is also changed.
Major plot changes
In particular, the film adds two new major sequences after Arthur
are rescued by the Heart of Gold
- The main characters travel to Viltvodle VI and meet the new character Humma Kavula. Kavula arranges a deal with Zaphod Beeblebrox, giving him the coordinates to Magrathea in exchange for Zaphod bringing back a special weapon from the planet. Zaphod's second head is taken as collateral by Humma Kavula, and while leaving the planet, the main characters are attacked by Vogons, who manage to take Trillian prisoner. (Note that although Viltvodle VI was mentioned in the radio series and the book The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, the characters never travelled there.)
- They then travel to the Vogon planet, Vogsphere, where they rescue Trillian, before continuing to Magrathea and re-joining the traditional story arc. In previous versions, the planet Vogsphere is described, but the characters never go there as it was said to have been long abandoned.
In addition to this, the other major plot changes are:
- In the first book, Zaphod is pursued by Galactic Police for stealing the Heart of Gold. The Vogons disappear from the story altogether after Ford and Arthur are rescued by the Heart of Gold (but resurface in later books). The film finds the Vogons and a new character, Galactic Vice-President Questular Rontok chasing the Heart of Gold, to save Zaphod from his kidnapper, who happens to be himself.
- The love story between Arthur and Trillian is new for the film, and potentially conflicts with the love story between Arthur and Fenchurch in the fourth book, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish. In prior versions, Trillian was fairly ambivalent toward Arthur and never really a romantic interest.
- In the radio show, Arthur also had romantic interests in Lintilla, but that character does not appear in the novels.
- In the film, the Earth is restored completely back to normal and then the main characters set off for the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. But in previous versions, creation of the second Earth is suspended indefinitely. The main characters escape Magrathea one way or another, and eventually end up at the Restaurant without restoring the Earth.
- The restoration of Earth conflicts with some story elements of the succeeding books in the series. In particular, the Earth is restored in the fourth book, following two books in which the Earth did not exist.
- Ford Prefect and Zaphod Beeblebrox both have American accents in the film. In the radio series, Trillian spoke with a British accent and is explicitly described as having an English accent in the novels (although having an American accent in the TV series), and Zaphod uses traditionally British terms like "bloody" several times in previous versions.
- Ford Prefect, for the first time in any of the adaptation, is portrayed as an African American (played by rapper/actor Mos Def). While Ford's exact skin colour is never mentioned, he had been portrayed by a white actor on the TV series, and is described as having red hair in the original novels.
- Zaphod Beeblebrox, who is usually shown with two heads side-by-side, instead has his second head, which holds most of his "non-presidential" aspects, inside his throat for the film. Under this new mechanism, his second head is not seen for the most part, but occasionally, his "top" head flies up and backwards and his second head moves into place to express negativity, and is able to talk. When this "transformation" occurs, the second, meaner head takes control, although only ever briefly as long as Zaphod expresses himself negatively. This differs also from the book and radio series in that prior to the movie both heads had the same personality and were approximately of the same mind, in ironic contrast to other two-headed characters in other stories who traditionally have conflicting personalities and minds.
- The movie originally was to have made a major change to Trillian's character by revealing that she is only half-human. This is described in the official book on the making of the film, the DVD commentary, as well as the film tie-in edition of the original novel (which contains an interview with Zooey Deschanel in which she describes this aspect of her character). However it was decided to remove this character change from the film.
- Two new major characters were added: Humma Kavula and Questular Rontok.
Additionally, the motives of most of the major characters have been changed for the movie.
- Originally, Zaphod Beeblebrox sought only fame and riches, which he believed he would find loads of on Magrathea due to their business of manufacturing custom planets that was so expensive and lucrative that it collapsed the galactic economy, leading Magrathea to close until someone could again afford their services. For the film, Zaphod was less interested in riches, but in the lasting fame of finding the Ultimate Question.
- Ford Prefect, particularly in the novels, originally wanted nothing more than to find a good party, and there is little to suggest this in the film, other than perhaps briefly on Viltvodle VI.
- Arthur Dent, in previous versions, wanted only to return to his home on Earth, and to find a cup of good tea. In the film there is an indication of a tea fixation and a wish to return home, but at the end of the film Arthur has a change of heart and chooses to continue exploring the galaxy, leaving behind a chance to return to Earth.
- Trillian, described in the books as having a vaguely Middle Eastern appearance, is played by the American (and fully white) Deschanel.
List of other differences
Some of the other differences between the film and previous versions, in plot order:
- The film opens and finally closes as a dolphin's "save the humans" point-of-view, while other versions are a reading of the Guide itself.
- The scene in which Arthur is blocking the bulldozers from destroying his house: In the radio series, Arthur convinces Prosser to pretend that he is still blocking the bulldozers while he and Ford go to the pub. In the book, TV series and computer game, Ford convinces Prosser to lie in front of the bulldozer in place of Arthur while Ford and Arthur go to the pub. In the movie, Ford gives the demolition workers beer to distract them from their work, and Arthur's dialogue with Mr. Prosser is much shorter.
- The movie interrupts the pub scene between Ford and Arthur with two flashbacks:
- The party where Arthur met Trillian. In prior versions of the story this party isn't mentioned until shortly before Ford and Arthur are rescued from asphyxiation in deep space by the Heart of Gold, and Trillian isn't identified as the girl from the party until they meet her.
- The day that Ford met Arthur. In previous versions of the story, it was merely explained that Ford had skimped on his initial research (mistaking cars as the dominant species of Earth) and thus chose what he thought was a "normal" name. The film flashback adds that Arthur saved Ford from being hit and possibly killed by a Ford Prefect.
- In radio and book, when the Vogons address the Earth shortly before demolishing it, someone manages to talk back to them. Their subsequent exchange reflects the bureaucratic attitude of Prosser in the exchange between him and Arthur about the plans for demolishing Arthur's house. In the film, only a short part of this scene, the Vogon's reaction, is seen (though a 2003 draft of the script included more of this, and the dialogue with Prosser).
- In the film version, there are no Dentrassi mentioned on the Vogon spacecraft that Ford and Arthur hitchhike aboard. In previous versions, the Dentrassi let Ford and Arthur aboard the ship in the Vogon Constructor Fleet to annoy the Vogons. The movie does not explain how Ford and Arthur managed to hitch a ride.
- The entry in the Guide about the Babel fish is shortened in the film, to exclude the proof of the non-existence of God found in previous versions. (The DVD release includes most of this extended Guide entry as a bonus feature.)
- The Earth entry in the Hitchhiker's Guide is not mentioned in the film. (In previous versions, the entry read "Harmless," and was to be changed to "Mostly harmless." (The DVD release includes this scene as a bonus feature.)
- In the film, the Vogon fleet does not enter hyperspace until after discharging Ford and Arthur. As a result it is indicated that they are picked up by the Heart of Gold in the same sector of space where the Earth used to be.
- The identity of the Earth poet whose poetry was worse than that of Vogons is changed for the film.
- Digital watches are replaced with mobile phones.
- When Vogon#Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz reads his poetry to torture Ford and Arthur, they tell Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz that the "interesting rhythmic devices" of his poem "counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor of the Vogonity of the poet's compassionate soul," in previous versions. The film shortens this to "counterpoint the underlying metaphor of the Vogonity of the poet's soul." In addition, very little of Jeltz's poem is actually heard as the narration regarding the worst poetry in the universe plays over most of it.
- In the radio series, book and TV series, Jeltz then asks if they are saying that he only writes poetry to show that beneath his mean, callous, heartless exterior he just wants to be loved. When Ford and Arthur say yes, he then replies that they're wrong, he writes poetry to throw his mean, callous, heartless exterior into sharp relief. In the movie, this last comment is removed, instead a camera effect "hovers" for a moment over Jeltz, as if implying that he would indeed wish to be loved, while in the book Jeltz considers their words and says to himself, "death's too good for them."
- In the subsequent scene when Ford and Arthur are trapped in the airlock and about to die, Ford cries "Wait a minute! What's this switch!" And then, "No, I was only fooling, we are going to die after all." In the film version, Ford himself believes the switch may save them, but upon investigating, proclaims, "This is nothing; yeah, we're going to die."
- Also while trapped in the airlock, Arthur (in previous versions) laments that he wishes he had listened to what his mother had told him when he was young. When Ford asks what it was Arthur's mother had said, Arthur replies, "I don't know, I didn't listen." This exchange is changed slightly but not missing in the film version.
- The phone number for the Islington flat where Arthur met Trillian is changed for the film, partly to take into account London's new area code, and so is the improbability factor for being rescued from asphyxiation in deep space (the same number). The film also does not mention that Ford and Arthur are rescued at infinite improbability, or that the other coincidences among the characters account for the improbability gap.
- In the book, the Heart of Gold is described as being shaped like a running shoe (which was evident also in the TV series); in the film it is shaped like a teapot.
- In the movie, Zaphod introduces the others to the story of Deep Thought, showing them the two-part video on the Heart of Gold. In previous versions, this story is told much later, on Magrathea by way of Slartibartfast's holo-disks. The film reveals the Ultimate Answer earlier on, and unlike other versions, does not reveal that the computer that is to calculate the Ultimate Question is called "The Earth".
- In the film, Zaphod seeks Magrathea so he can find the Ultimate Question, because he doesn't know that Earth was the supercomputer built by Deep Thought. In prior versions, he was only seeking money stored on Magrathea from its lucrative planet building business.
- Only in the film version has Zaphod got to find Humma Kavula, a new character, to get the coordinates for Magrathea.
It is at this point that the two major new sequences, on Viltvodle VI and Vogsphere were added.
- The full back story of the Infinite Improbability Drive is not given in the film, except for a detailed illustration painted on the front of the Heart of Gold, which is never seen close-up.
- In the film, three portals are shown on Magrathea, which lead to other dimensions. These portals did not appear in any previous versions. Zaphod, Ford and Trillian take one of them, leading to Deep Thought (which the characters never met in previous versions); Arthur and Slartibartfast take another, leading to the Magrathea factory floor. In previous versions, the characters simply travelled through tunnels into the underground.
- In the film, Ford, Zaphod and Trillian travel to another dimension to speak with Deep Thought, for the added plot arc of finding the Point-of-view gun. In previous versions, these characters either browse the planet catalogue, or do nothing at this point.
- In the film, Trillian learns of Zaphod's absent-minded ordering of the destruction of Earth, which is part of her motivation for choosing Arthur over Zaphod. This is not mentioned in the books. In the radio series it isn't mentioned until Zaphod meets the Ruler of the Universe in the final episode of the second series, when Zaphod is said to have ordered Earth's destruction on the influence of many psychiatrists. It is also not explained in the film that the motivation for the destruction of Earth was to prevent the Ultimate Question to the Ultimate Answer given by Deep Thought (the hyperspace bypass being just an excuse). The reason for this would be that the existence of both the Ultimate Answer and the Ultimate Question to explain it would solve all problems and put philosophers and psychiatrists out of business. This revelation is made in subsequent books, but not in the film.
- In the book and radio versions, the two mice, Frankie and Benjy, decide not to commission the Earth Mark II from Slartibartfast because they don't want to wait another 10 million years for the Earth Mark II to recalculate the Ultimate Question, since they believe they can extract the Question from Arthur's head since he was there just before the Earth was destroyed, five minutes before the program was to be completed. Instead, they decide, after failing to extract the Question from Arthur's brain, to return to their own dimension with their fictitious version of the Ultimate Question: "How many roads must a man walk down?" In the film version, after pondering this, they decide to take Arthur's brain anyway, and are killed by Arthur. Later, Slartibartfast orders the redeployment of the Earth with permission from Arthur.
- In previous versions, the Galactic Police confront the characters on Magrathea, and they never go down onto the Earth Mark II. In the radio series, as with the TV series, the characters accidentally escape from the Galactic Police and leave the Heart of Gold behind. In the book, Marvin kills the Galactic Police by networking with their computer, causing it to become depressed, commit suicide, and shut down the Policemen's life support system. In the movie, the Vogons confront the characters on the Earth Mark II, while it is still being worked on. Marvin saves the day by shooting the Vogons with the Point-of-view gun, causing them to share his point of view and become depressed, though they survive. In an early draft of the movie, the Vogons committed suicide. (The Point-of-view gun was added for the film).
- At the end of the film, when the Earth is restored, the dolphins are shown returning to Earth. In the books, the dolphins never return to the planet.
- Also at the end of the film, it is revealed that "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe" is located at a physical end of the universe. The ship flies off-screen to the right, and Marvin says "The restaurant is at the other end of the universe," after which the ship flies back onscreen and departs to the left. In the book it was located at the chronological final end of the universe, when the whole universe folds in on itself as people watch while enjoying expensive food.
The changes in plot structure, theme, characterization, and dialogue from earlier versions attracted criticism from fans on Internet message boards and elsewhere, saying that they were unfaithful to Douglas Adams's work. As M. J. Simpson, Adams' (unofficial) biographer puts it, "they have taken most of the jokes out." The fans and makers of the film were quick to claim that all the changes started with Adams himself (and were refined by Karey Kirkpatrick). Despite his having died three years before the film was produced, the author was still given a screenwriting and an executive producer credit on the movie.
Differences between BBC radio episodes and German radio episodes
- The original 12 German episodes are actually the same as the BBC Primary Phase - the difference is the Germans left in all of the material that Douglas Adams and producers Simon Brett/Geoffrey Perkins cut out, per the published script book, and even material that can only be found within Neil Gaiman's Don't Panic: The Official Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Companion.
- Setting: The series is still set in England ("Mr Prosser", Arthur being charged 5 Pfund [Pounds] to have his windows cleaned, the four packets of peanuts cost Ford 28 pence, Bevingford Umgehungsstrasse [bypass]), but the protest against Lady Cynthia Fitzmelton sounds more like a German "Demo" (demonstration) of the 80s/90s than the English protest in Fit the First.
- The Vogon poem from the end of Fit the First is repeated at the beginning of the next German radio episode.
- Zaphod's two heads are represented through an echo effect on a few of the actor's lines.
- A nice cool beer replaces hot tea as the source for brownian motion. While this appears as nonsense from a scientific point of view, it was perhaps done because of the cliché that beer is "the favourite drink in Germany" instead of tea.
- Fit the Sixth:
- * Trillian points out that when she saw the Haggunenon Underfleet Commandant, it looked like a box of size nine chukka boots. In the German version, this is translated - ironically - to a box of size 42 soccer shoes (this being the equivalent in German sizes).
- * Arthur's line "As far as I can see you might as well lower haystacks off the boat deck of the Lusitania," is changed to Titanic.
- * The F/X description (pg 115 in the 25th anniversary script book) about the colour of the eyes of the Bugblatter Beast, etc. is read by the German announcer, uniquely for their edition.
Differences between BBC radio episodes and Dutch radio episodes
- Like the German version, the first six Fits are spread out over 12 episodes of 't Transgalactish Liftershandboek. Each episode is just under 20 minutes. Most of the episodes end with a quote from the following episode (instead of a joke by the announcer) and start with an extended recap of what has come before each time there is not guide entry available.
- The setting is moved to The Netherlands. All the names are changed into Dutch and the Earthbound locations are moved to Holland. For instance, instead of Arthur Dent and Tricia McMillan meeting at a flat in Islington, Hugo Veld meets Trees Jansma (later known as Trema) at a flat in de Jordaan, Amsterdam. Also, Amro Bank (Ford Prefect) claimed to be from Schagen instead of Guildford.
- The destruction of Earth happens on a Wednesday instead of a Thursday: Hugo mentions he never could get the hang of Wednesdays.
- When Amro Bank is pretending he's found a way out of the Vogon airlock, instead of saying 'I was only fooling' he says 'it's just the bell'.
- Eddie the ship computer sounds is 'camp'.
- Instead of using the phrase 'early sixties sitcom', Hugo mentions Lucille Ball by name and Magdiragdag (Slartibartfast) replies that he does not know this 'Lucy Ball of which you speak'.
- Meco's disco version of the Star Wars theme plays in the background during the news item about Zefod Bijsterbuil (Zaphod Beeblebrox).
- Music from the Close Encounters of the Third Kind soundtrack by John Williams is heard during 'De Felle Realist' (Deep Thought)'s revelation and the guide entry about the small dog.
- When arriving on Magrathea, Hugo (Arthur) remarks that Theo (Marvin) is 'humming Pink Floyd' and asks if he has any other tricks. The Paranoid Android then plays 'I'm Down' by The Beatles and Also sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss.
- Magdiragdag/Slartibartfast mentions how the imputent Dutch started to alter and create their own coastlines. Because of this, the Magratheans decided not to include the Netherlands in the Earth Mark Two.
- As Max Kwordelplien, Edwin Rutten makes the most of his cameo by ad libbing and repeating lines excessively.
- When Theo/Marvin calls up Zefod/Zaphod at "Milliweg" (Milliways), he sarcastically answers that he's 'parking garages' and Zefod, believing this, repeats this to Hugo.
- In the Guide entry at the start of Fit the Sixth (episode 11 in the Dutch version) phase three 'where shall we have lunch' is replaced by 'with or without mayonnaise'
- Instead of ending with Louis Armstrong's What a wonderful World, the Dutch version closes with a new song performed by Marnix Kappers (who voiced Hugo Veld and the prophet Zarquan) called 'Alleraardigste Aarde' (Delightful Earth).
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Collector's Edition 8 CD set, containing the original 12 radio episodes from 1978 and 1980, as well as an untransmitted interview with Ian Johnstone and the twentieth anniversary programme. ISBN 0-563-47702-4.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Tertiary Phase 3 CD set. ISBN 0-563-51043-9.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Quandary Phase 2 CD set. ISBN 0-563-50496-X.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Quintessential Phase 2 CD set. ISBN 0-563-50407-2.
- Adams, Douglas (1986). The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. U.S. audiocassette edition of the double LP adaptation, Simon & Schuster Audioworks. ISBN 0-671-62964-6.
- Adams, Douglas (1986). The Restaurant at the end of the Universe. U.S. audiocassette edition of the LP adaptation, Simon & Schuster Audioworks. ISBN 0-671-62958-1. Note: This title is correct - Simon & Schuster did not capitalize the word "End" on the cassette release, though it was capitalized for the U.S. book releases.
- Adams, Douglas (1979). The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. UK paperback, Pan Books. ISBN 0-330-25864-8.
- Adams, Douglas (1980, 2005 printing). The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. US paperback, Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-39181-0.
- Adams, Douglas (1982). Life, the Universe and Everything. UK paperback, Pan Books. ISBN 0-330-26738-8.
- Adams, Douglas (1984). So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish. UK paperback, Pan Books. ISBN 0-330-28700-1.
- Adams, Douglas (1992). Mostly Harmless. UK paperback, Pan Books. ISBN 0-330-32311-3.
- Adams, Douglas and John Lloyd (Lloyd unaccredited) (2003). Per Anhalter ins All (German adaptation of The Primary Phase). Compact Disc, Der Hörverlag. ISBN 3-89940-276-6.
- Adams, Douglas (1996). Per Anhalter ins All Teil 7-15 (German radio adaptation of Life, the Universe and Everything and So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish). Compact Disc, Der Hörverlag. ISBN 3-89584-171-4.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy UK Region 2 DVD Release, 2005. Includes commentaries by Garth Jennings, Nick Goldsmith, Martin Freeman and Bill Nighy, and Robbie Stamp with Sean Sollé. Also includes the documentary Don't Crash: The Making of the Film of the Novel of the Radio Series of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
- Stamp, Robbie, editor (2005). The Making of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Filming of the Douglas Adams Classic. Boxtree. ISBN 0-7522-2585-5.