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Arthur Dent Livid

Arthur Dent, about to hike a lift off Earth, as seen in the 1981 TV series.

This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
—Arthur Dent when Ford suggests he is an alien

Arthur Philip Dent was the hapless ape-descended human man from Earth who found himself thrown upon wild adventures around the Universe. With Ford Prefect, his friend of several years, Dent barely escaped the Earth's destruction as it was demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Arthur spent the following several years, still wearing his dressing gown, helplessly launched from crisis to crisis while trying to straighten out his lifestyle. He rather enjoyed tea but seemed to have trouble obtaining it in the far reaches of the galaxy.

Personality Edit

Arthur Dent is a nice man and one of the kindest people to Marvin. Even after the Earth was destroyed, he categorized things according to "the Earth, and everything else. The Earth having been destroyed...meant that this view of things was a bit lopsided, but Arthur tended to cling to that lopsidedness as being the last remaining contact with his home." He places Sub-Etha Sens-O-Matics in the "everything else" category.

Physical appearanceEdit

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book Edit

He was described as "about thirty... tall, dark-haired and never quite at ease with himself." Other people often thought he looked worried. He was mostly clean shaven, as one of his first acts in the book was shaving.[1]

TV series Edit

In the television show, Arthur was played by Simon Jones, who also voiced him in the original radio series. He was portrayed as a tall, white man, with short, dark brown hair. Throughout the entire series, he wore a red tartan dressing gown, with blue and white striped pyjamas underneath, and a plain t-shirt. In the fifth episode, he is seen with a large bushy beard when on prehistoric Earth with Ford and the Golgafrinchans.

2005 film Edit

Arthur was portrayed by Martin Freeman in the film and appeared as a fairly short, light brown haired white male. Throughout the film, he wore an olive green, fluffy dressing gown, grey t-shirt, red pyjama bottoms, and brown slippers. He also carried around a white towel for the majority of the film.

Biography (book series)Edit

Early lifeEdit

Arthur went to Eaton House Prep, where he encountered Blisters Smyth, a bullying head boy who filled Arthur's slippers with tapioca pudding.

Arthur's university yearbook referred to him as "most likely to end up living in a hole in the Scottish highlands with only the chip on his shoulder for company."[2]

Adult lifeEdit

After leaving university, Arthur got into radio. He lived in London for a while but moved to his house in the West Country after city life made him nervous and irritable, particularly people constantly asking him why he looked nervous and irritable.

He met Ford Prefect, parading as an out of work actor telling everyone he was from Guildford, though he was actually from a planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse.

Arthur went to a fancy dress party in Islington, and while there he met a woman called Tricia McMillan. Zaphod Beeblebrox then turned up, parading as the one-headed "Phil," and convinced Tricia to leave with him.

After knowing Ford for about five or six years, Ford revealed that he is in fact from Betelguese. Ford knew the Earth was about to be demolished and he planned to save Arthur from being caught up in its destruction.

Vogon jeltz

Jeltz reading his poetry to Arthur and Ford in the 2005 film.

He and Ford hitch a ride on a Vogon ship, arriving in the Dentrassi quarters of the flagship. After Ford introduced him to the travel guide The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the translating Babel Fish, Arthur and Ford were captured by a Vogon search party and taken to meet the captain, Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz. Jeltz read the two hitchhikers a copy of his poetry and then threatening to throw them out into space if they did not tell him what they thought of his poetry. Arthur tried to compliment Jeltz's work but Jeltz saw through his effort, ordering Arthur and Ford to be thrown out of airlock number three.[3]

Back to 2nd EarthEdit

Arthur and Ford eventually find themselves back on Earth – but two million years in the past marooned with an entire useless third of the Golgafrincham population. Ford and Arthur split after one year, and two years after that Arthur was insulted by Bowerick Wowbagger. Then, five years after their arrival on the prehistoric Earth, Arthur and Ford met again and escaped prehistoric Earth through an eddy in the space-time continuum and a time-traveling Chesterfield sofa that deposited them in the middle of Lord's Cricket Ground at the climax of the final match in the Ashes series, the day before the destruction of Earth by the Vogons.

Having escaped the destruction of Earth once more and survived further adventures, Arthur eventually found himself once more back on an alternate Earth founded by the dolphins to save the human race from extinction. Here he fell in love with a woman named Fenchurch and seemed set to live happily ever after.[4] In time, he learned how to fly and also carved a niche for himself as a sandwich-maker on the planet of Lamuella.

Arthur's "Death"Edit

Once Earth and all of its possible permutations and alternate versions are destroyed once and for all, and everybody dies.[5]

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Arthur Dent, played by Martin Freeman, in the 2005 film. It's a good thing he knows where his towel is, he's going to need it.

Arthur apparently dies at a club called Stavro Mueller Beta when the Earth and all its duplicates are simultaneously destroyed by the Vogons.[6] Arthur is saved along with Ford, Trillian, Zaphod Beeblebrox, and Random by their Babelfish where Arthur finds himself on the starship 'Heart of Gold'.

AppearancesEdit

Arthur Dent, being the main character in the Hitchhiker's series, appears in all versions of the story.

RadioEdit

Featuring Simon Jones as Arthur Dent

NovelsEdit

TelevisionEdit

Featuring Simon Jones as Arthur Dent

FilmEdit

Featuring Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent

LP Edit

Featuring Simon Jones as Arthur Dent

Video game Edit

Cultural referencesEdit

In the 4th episode of season 4 of Farscape, John Crichton, trap in vortex out of space and time, compare himself to characters of Star Trek, comics, Dorothy from Wizard of Oz and finally to Arthur Dent.

In the Doctor Who episode, "The Christmas Invasion", the Tenth Doctor, appearing in pajamas and a dressing-gown, compares himself to Arthur Dent, whom he describes as a "nice man", possibly suggesting that the Doctor has at some point inhabited the same universe as the characters in the Hitchhiker's Guide.[7]

PossessionsEdit

FamilyEdit

He had a sister who died when the Earth was destroyed by the Vogons, along with his parents. He also had a brother who was nibbled to death by an okapi. He had an aunt, as she gave him the thing that he doesn't know what it is, but nothing else is known about her.

Behind the scenesEdit

Arthur Dent is portrayed by:

  • Simon Jones in the radio, LP and television versions of the story[8]
  • Chris Langham in Ken Campbell's stage production from 1979.
  • Martin Freeman in the theatrical movie .
  • Jonathan Lermit in The Illustrated Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
  • Dent's situation is reminiscent of the actual case of Edward Pilgrim, whose confrontation with British local government bureaucracy ended in tragedy in 1954.
  • A Puritan writer called Arthur Dent wrote a best-selling book called The Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven, first published in 1601. This is still available in a modern edition (ISBN 978-1-877611-69-8). Adams claimed that the coincidence in the book titles was completely fortuitous and that he had in fact never heard of the book. This was often repeated, but in fact, Adams had seen an original seventeenth-century edition of the book less than a year before he wrote the first outline of the Hitchhiker's Guide. A letter published in the Radio Times in 1983 appears to be the first published reference to the Arthur Dent coincidence.
  • Arthur Dent was a newsagent on New North Road at the time Adams was writing Hitchhiker's Guide.

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. Chapter 2, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Doulgas Adams, 1979
  2. From the introduction of the Eoin Colfer novel And Another Thing....
  3. From chapter 7 of the first book.
  4. Or at least until the following - and final - novel Mostly Harmless
  5. Adams frequently expressed his distain for this ending in retrospect, claiming that it was too depressing and came about as the result of him having a bad year. He had planned to write a sixth book before his death, but never got around to it. Eoin Colfer was hired by Penguin Books to write a final installment, entitled And Another Thing.
  6. In the fifth installment of the book series, Mostly Harmless
  7. Interestingly, the Fourth Doctor was seen to be reading and criticising a book by Oolon Colluphid in the episode "Destiny of the Daleks"; Douglas Adams apparently inserted the reference himself while working as a script editor on the show. Alien activity is also explained as 'hallucinations caused by government testing' in a Doctor Who episode, a reference to So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, which had the same explanation.
  8. Simon Jones bares no relation to Peter Jones, the voice of the Guide.