Hitchhikers
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I'm very ordinary, but some very strange things have happened to me. You could say I'm more differed from than differing.
—Arthur Dent to Mella[src]

Arthur Dent is a friendly but simple-minded human from Earth who escaped his planet's destruction and travelled the universe with his best friend, Ford Prefect. He spent several years being helplessly launched from crisis to crisis while trying to straighten out his lifestyle.

Biography[]

Early life[]

Arthur Dent is a human who grew up in Cottington, England on Earth[2] and attended 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."[3][4]

Arthur and Ford TV

Arthur and Ford Prefect[5]

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. While there, 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.

At some point, Arthur went to a fancy dress party in Islington, and while there he met an intelligent and kind woman called Tricia McMillan. The egotistical and reckless alien Zaphod Beeblebrox then turned up, masquerading as the one-headed "Phil," and convinced Tricia to leave with him, leaving Arthur to be miserable on his own.[3]

Escaping Earth's destruction[]

Arthur lies in front of the bulldozer (TV)

Arthur lies in front of the bulldozer to protect his house[5]

One fateful day in the 1980s[6], five or six years after meeting Ford, Arthur awoke to see that his house was to be demolished to make way for a bypass, and lay in front of the bulldozer that was set to destroy it. As Arthur argued with Mr. Prosser, the councilman trying to demolish his house, Ford arrived and convinced Arthur to come with him to the nearby pub, where he revealed his true nature as a Betelgeusian, and that the Earth was to be demolished by the Vogons to make way for a hyperspace bypass. At the last possible second, Ford and Arthur hitched a ride on a Vogon ship by contacting the Dentrassi cooks within, who hated the Vogons and loved to annoy them in any way possible, including bringing hitchhikers onboard.

Jeltz reads his poetry to Arthur and Ford (TV)

Enduring Vogon poetry[7]

As Arthur and Ford hid in the Dentrassi quarters, Ford introduced Arthur to the travel guide he researched for, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which was full of mostly apocryphal and wildly inaccurate information, as well as the Babel Fish, which translates any language imaginable when inserted into one's ear. Around this point, the pair were captured by a Vogon search party, and after being tortured by a reading of Vogon poetry (the third worst poetry in the universe), were tossed out through the airlock into the vacuum of space.[3]

Search for Magrathea[]

Marvin and Ford and Arthur (TV)

Escorted to the Heart of Gold's bridge by Marvin[7]

By a staggering coincidence, Arthur and Ford were rescued in the nick of time by the starship Heart of Gold, which was fitted with a new Infinite Improbability Drive. After they were saved and returned to normal, they were escorted to the bridge by Marvin, a chronically depressed and constantly complaining robot Arthur would later come to describe as an "electronic sulking machine".[8] Arriving on the bridge, they realized the ship was captained by none other than Zaphod Beeblebrox, who revealed himself to be Ford's semi-cousin, and Tricia McMillan, now going by "Trillian", who had fled to the stars with him after the party in Islington.

Zaphod explained that they were searching for the legendary planet of Magrathea, the lost world of a race of custom planet manufacturers that became the richest planet in existence. Despite Ford's skepticism and Arthur's apathy, they joined them on their quest, and used the Infinite Improbability Drive to make their way into orbit around it.[3]

To be added

Journey with the Golgafrinchans[]

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.[9]

Battling the Krikkiters[]

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.[6]

Travels with Fenchurch[]

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. In time, he learned how to fly and also carved a niche for himself as a sandwich-maker on the planet of Lamuella.[8]

Personality[]

Arthur Dent was considered a nice man and one of the kindest people to Marvin. Even after the Earth was destroyed, he categorised 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.

Abilities[]

To be added

Possessions[]

Video game only

Appearances[]

Appearances of Arthur Dent

Trivia[]

  • In the continuity of the series Doctor Who, there are a number of references to Arthur Dent, implying he, or a version of him, exists within that universe.
    • In the 40th anniversary webcast "Shada", adapted from a then-incomplete TV story written by Douglas Adams, Arthur and Zaphod Beeblebrox are seen imprisoned in the Time Lord prison Shada.
    • In the short story Have You Seen This Man?, the Doctor laid himself down in front of the bulldozer coming towards Arthur's home.
    • In the episode "The Christmas Invasion", the Doctor, appearing in pyjamas and a dressing-gown, compares himself to Arthur Dent, whom he describes as a "nice man", suggesting that the Doctor has at some point met Arthur in person.
      • In the novelisation of that episode, the Doctor explained that he got to know Arthur, though the two didn't get on very well, as the Doctor wasn't interested in killing Vogons as much as he was beating Arthur at Scrabble.
    • In the sixth Hitchhiker's Guide novel And Another Thing..., Arthur compares Earth's destruction to special effects on early Doctor Who.

Notes[]

  • Dent's situation with his house 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.

References[]

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