I like the quote:

I always thought something was fundamentally wrong with the universe.

It seems to sum up some of the weird things and coincidences I encounter in life. The quote is allegedly from Douglas Adams, and it is certainly in his style. However, I cannot find the source of the quote. Sources given include the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, or The Restaurant at the End of the Universe book, and Adams himself. If it is one of the radio shows or books, which one (and which episode/chapter)? Was it added or removed from a certain edition? If directly from Adams, which article, document, newspaper or interview? Or is it a corruption of something else he said or wrote? Was it from one of the records or the film (not heard or seen them)?

The closest I found was in the section on The Restaurant at the End of the Universe from the Wikipedia article on The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It states that pulling tiles from a Scrabble set reveals "What do you get if you multiply six by nine?" and Arthur then comments:

I've always said there was something fundamentally wrong with the universe.

However, in my battered The Restaurant at the End of the Universe book Chapter 32 does not end with the above, but with:

"I, F," said Ford, "Y, O, U, ... M, U, L, T, I, P, L, Y, ... What do you get if you multiply, ... S, I, X, ... six, B, Y, by, six by ... what do you get if you multiply six by ... N, I, N, E, ... six by nine ..." He paused. "Come on, where's the next one?"

"Er, that's the lot,” said Arthur, “that's all there were."

He sat back, nonplussed.

He rooted around again in the knotted up towel but there were no more letters.

"You mean that's it?" said Ford.

"That's it."

"Six by nine. Forty-two."

“That’s it. That’s all there is.”

If the definitive source cannot be found then the quote will have to be attributed to anonymous. It will mean that the use of the quote in the question How did Douglas Adams choose the Ultimate Question? is incorrect, and in the Wikipedia article linked above and the article Phrases from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Did Douglas Adams say I always thought something was fundamentally wrong with the universe.?

  • 6
    Note the Adams compulsively rewrote his material. It would not surprise me at all if the dialog in Fit the Sixth was different.
    – DavidW
    Feb 17, 2021 at 16:01
  • What a versatile and fitting quote that is. Another gift from Adams. Feb 18, 2021 at 9:57
  • 2
    Reading the title, I immediately heard Simon Jones' voice in my head. I'd like to urge everyone who had to go looking for a transcript to check this to get hold of a copy of the original radio series on CD/MP3/whatever. It is absolutely fantastic, and the books, while also fantastic, are different in many details.
    – IMSoP
    Feb 18, 2021 at 12:16
  • @IMSoP - Peter Jones? Feb 18, 2021 at 18:39
  • @chasly-supportsMonica No, Simon Jones, who played Auther Dent. Peter Jones was The Book.
    – IMSoP
    Feb 18, 2021 at 22:16

1 Answer 1


As DavidW says in the comments, the dialog in Fit the Sixth of the radio series is slightly different, and does include (very nearly) that quote.

ARTHUR: That's it. Six by nine. Forty-two. I always said there was something fundamentally wrong with the universe.

(Note, the book of the original scripts includes the sentence "Something's certainly got screwed up somewhere" after "Forty-two", but I'm pretty sure that wasn't actually said in the episode. Most of the lines that were cut are marked with italics in that book, but this one doesn't seem to be.)

  • 1
    Thanks, I have now found a transcript (clivebanks.co.uk/THHGTTG/THHGTTGradio6.htm) of the last episode of the first Hitchhikers radio show (12th April 1978) with the line by Arthur "That’s it. Six by nine…forty-two! I always said there was something fundamentally wrong about the universe!". Nice to know it definitively comes from Adams Feb 17, 2021 at 16:31
  • 4
    @DanielS.Fowler I'm fairly certain that Arthur says the same thing (probably the "I always said..." version) in the TV show as well. That seems to be the case from the script here. But then this isn't so surprising, as large sections of the TV show scripts are identical to the radio scripts they were based on.
    – N. Virgo
    Feb 18, 2021 at 5:55
  • 1
    Also worth noting that these letters come from a Scrabble set, but breaks the rules, since a Scrabble set only has 2 Y's, and this sentence requires 3. I don't know if this was intentional or falls into the same category as "I don't write jokes in base-13" (His actual response when someone told him that 6x9 does indeed equal 42 in base-13.) Feb 18, 2021 at 14:20
  • 3
    @DarrelHoffman If you want a head-canon excuse, remember that this is a home-made Scrabble set, made while stranded in the pre-historic past. It's fairly unlikely that either Ford or Arthur would happen to have the correct letter distributions memorised.
    – IMSoP
    Feb 18, 2021 at 16:15
  • 1
    @IMSoP well actually, going back to the point made in the answer, the versions differ and in the radio series it's an actual pocket Scrabble set Arthur had been carrying all along (he mentioned he had it in the Haggunennon ship). Feb 18, 2021 at 19:19

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