The Vogons are an alien race from the planet Vogsphere who are employed as the galactic government's bureaucrats. At the beginning of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy the Vogons destroyed the Earth to make space for a bypass. Arthur Dent joined Ford Prefect in surviving the destruction by hitchhiking onto a Vogon ship, where they met several Vogons including Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz.
The Vogons are known for their universally terrible poetry.
Vogons are vaguely humanoid, though they are bulkier than humans and have an odd, pear-shaped build and green skin (grey skin in the film). One of their most distinguishing features is their "highly domed nose" which rises high above their "piggy" foreheads. They have been described as having "as much sex appeal as a road accident".
The Guide details the history of the Vogons, saying that billions of years ago, after the Vogons crawled out of the primeval seas of Vogsphere, it was "as if the forces of evolution had simply given up on them then and there, turned aside in disgust and written them off as an ugly mistake". They never evolved again, and their appearance hasn't changed in the billion, billion years since.
Personality and traits
The Vogons are one of the most unpleasant races in the galaxy, bad tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous. They are said to be vile and ill tempered, though they are known to be intelligent. They wouldn't save their own grandmothers from the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal without an order, signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public enquiry, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighters. They are not known for being helpful, with the Guide saying that it is best not to try asking one for a lift, and that the best way to get a drink from a Vogon is to "stick your fingers down his throat". If you want to annoy a Vogon, feed his grandmother to the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.
They have survived due to their thick-willed stubbornness. When pondering evolution, the Vogons simply said: "who needs it?" What nature refused to do for them they simply did without until such time as they were able to rectify the grosser anatomical inconveniences with surgery. The Vogons have no appreciation for art of beauty, being known to smash the Scintillating Jewelled Scuttling Crabs that also originate from Vogsphere. They cut down their trees to use as firewood for cooking and eating these crabs, and they would catch and sit on the elegant gazelle-like creatures that also lived alongside them on their home planet.
In the television series here is a noticeable difference in the Vogons' accents depending on their ranks. The soldiers speak using lower class West Country accents, whereas the bureaucrats, as well as Prostetnic Vogons Jeltz and Kwaltz, speak using upper class London accents. The registry workers, such as the vogon who reveals Earth’s fate to Trillian in the film, speak using Northern accents.
According to Marvin, they are also the worst marksmen in the galaxy.
The Vogons spent their years unhappily on Vogsphere until they discovered the principles of interstellar travel. Within a few short Vog years every Vogon had migrated to the Megabrantis cluster, the political hub of the galaxy. Since then they have formed the powerful backbone of the Galactic Civil Service. Also, some of the young Vogons join the Vogon Guard Corps, which gives them "dashing" uniforms and allows for promotion opportunities such as Senior Shouting Officer.
Though they no longer live on Vogsphere, every year twenty-seven thousand jewelled scuttling crabs are imported, and the Vogons while away a drunken night smashing them to bits with iron mallets.
The Vogons were employed to facilitate an intergalactic highway construction project, and destroyed the Earth to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Arthur and Ford found themselves in the company of Vogons on board one of the ships in the Vogon Constructor Fleet, after they had used an Electronic Thumb to hitchhike off the surface of Earth seconds before its untimely end. The Vogons treat them with hostility, and Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz tortures them with his poetry before ordering a Vogon guard to throw them out of the air lock, which they ultimately, and improbably, survive.
In the 2005 film, the Vogons capture Trillian, an event which does not occur in any other versions of the story. Arthur, Ford and Zaphod Beeblebrox travel to the Vogon homeworld and are faced with the Vogon Slapsticks, long queues and paperwork that they are ordered to fill out by the bureaucratic Vogons. The Vogons threaten to feed Trillian to the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, but she, along with the others, escape.
- Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz
- Prostetnic Vogon Kwaltz (appears in the film)
- Vogon Guard
- Constant Mown
- Hoopz the Runaround
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
- The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
- Mostly Harmless
- And Another Thing...
Behind the scenes
- Garth Jennings, the director of the film adaption, deliberately based his conception of the Vogons on the work of cartoonist James Gillray (1757–1815). Jennings said of his inspiration: "His creations were so grotesque...when we looked at them, we realised they were the Vogons".