I have the 2017 Del Rey Books mass market edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Here is the front cover:

The cover of the 2017 edition

It features a circular green alien with two arms sticking its tongue out. Looking at other covers, the first American edition also has this character:

The first American edition's cover

Who is this supposed to be? I have no clue.

  • 2
    I'm not sure that's actually supposed to be anyone/anything. The Vogons are (dark) green, but they have eyes and legs. The only other possibly relevant green reference I can find is that it's the colour of the Betelgeuse trading scouts, but presumably that would be a bit more serious.
    – DavidW
    Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 18:04
  • 1
    Interesting. It can't be Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged, because he first appears in the third book of the trilogy. Perhaps it's a visual representation of the Guide itself, with its message "DON'T PANIC".
    – b_jonas
    Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 18:05
  • 1
    @DavidW Are you in America? It’s only on American books. Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 18:13
  • 1
    I always assumed it was an artist's depiction of the Great Green Arkleseizure
    – agweber
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 19:56
  • 3
    I always thought it was just a green planet making a face, not any particular entity discussed in the books. While I (American) do recognize it in the wild as a HHG mascot, that's only because the first copy I came across had it. Other books in the series I acquired later didn't use it, but I somehow managed to connect the dots anyways.
    – brichins
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 22:28

4 Answers 4


Apparently it's called "The Cosmic Cutie".

This question was also asked on reddit, which links to this FAQ.

According to Douglas, the little green blobby planet thing (nickamed the "Cosmic Cutie") has been struck the final blow, and will not be featured on any of the new (American) HHG books. Here's what Adams had to say:

"I HATE the little green blob and have spent years locked in arguments with my publishers with me trying to get rid of the obscene little thing. I've finally secured its demise with the new Ballantine editons of the soft cover backlist."

Non-American readers are perhaps unaware of this book adornment, as it was only the American publishing houses that determined that without a consistent motif, all of us Yanks would become hopelessly confused by a series of books with different names.

It's also mentioned on a Wikipedia talk page. It's mentioned on Topless Robot, which does not provide a source, and The Geek Twins, which in turn links to this FAQ (thanks DavidW).

  • 14
    He clearly failed to get it removed from the covers. Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 18:17
  • 32
    I find it endlessly amusing that the publisher insisted on using this thing as some sort of icon or mascot for the HHG franchise (because Americans would be "hopelessly confused" without it) and yet nobody in the general public knows what it is or why it's there, and the only confusion about the book series seems to be why it's there in the first place.
    – Steve-O
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 13:05
  • 15
    @Steve-O I assume their "thought" process was it doesn't matter what the thing is, so long as the general public goes "ahh... it's got a green blob sticking its tongue out, it must be a "Hitchhiker" book".
    – TripeHound
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 14:25
  • 50
    I was fairly bummed I missed Big Hero through Big Hero 5. But Big Hero 6 worked reasonably well as a stand-alone film. Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 16:14
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    @wizzwizz4 Don't be.
    – chepner
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 20:13

Somebody asked Douglas Adams about that green blob thing at a 1997 or 1998 reading I attended. The question (asked by a preteen kid) got a round of applause before the author even had a chance to answer. Adams immediately got very animated and said, "I have no idea!" He explained that he "hate[d] the bloody thing," had no idea why anybody had put it on the covers to begin with, and had fought (successfully) to keep it off the cover of the omnibus edition of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series.

  • 1
    Authors have little, if any, say about what goes on the covers. At least until their books turn out to be best sellers.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 16:49

I was fortunate to have a chance one-on-one conversation with Douglas Adams, sometime around 1982. (In a bookstore called "A Change of Hobbit," in Santa Monica, California.)

When I asked him the same question, and his answer then was that he had no idea what it meant, and that he had never seen the cover art before it was published.

This was about a year after the film Heavy Metal was released, and it featured an evil glowing green orb as a character. I asked if perhaps that inspired the the green thing on the cover. He averred that it was possible, but he really didn't know.


I always thought it was a Zero. If you watch the far superior BBC adaption of HHGttG when it gets to the bit about the population of the Galaxy, being Zero, and the chance encounters you would make to counter such arguments. Would be the sum product of a deranged imagination. A bunch of these raspberry blowing Zeros would just start popping in and out.

But, then it's probably some meaningless coincidence, brought on by some random event somewhere in the deeper universe.

  • For that "Zeros" question, perhaps you can ask Rod Lord himself: rodlord.com/pages/home2.htm (I bought one of his prints of "Dog 02" (rodlord.com/H2G2PRINTS/PAGES/prints1.htm ) a while back. ) Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 13:53
  • This was my first thought too, good answer. Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 17:36
  • 1
    What do you mean by the "BBC adaption of HHGttG"? The original radio show? Wouldn't that be the original, rather than an adaption?
    – Wade
    Commented Jun 18, 2021 at 14:37
  • And superior to what exactly - the books?
    – Wade
    Commented Jun 18, 2021 at 14:37
  • @Wade Given "watch" rather than "listen to", I suspect they were thinking of the TV series, which was a very close adaptation of the radio series. A lot of people consider it one of the weaker versions of the story; but tastes vary I guess, or perhaps it was being compared to the 2005 movie adaptation, which deviated a lot from the previous incarnations.
    – IMSoP
    Commented Apr 27, 2023 at 11:06

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