In most versions of the series, Arthur and Ford eventually find themselves back on Earth – but two million years in the past, marooned with the useless third of the Golgafrincham population (consisting of hairdressers, account executives, film makers, security guards, telephone sanitisers, and the like). The Golgafrincham arrival spurs the extinction of the native "cavemen" (although, as Ford Prefect pointed out, they did not live in caves, to which a witty repartee was that they 'might have been getting their caves redecorated'), resulting in the human race's eventual replacement by a shipload of middle managers, telephone sanitisers and hairdressers.
The original radio series and the television series end at this point, although a second radio series was made in which Ford and Arthur are rescued by Ford's cousin Zaphod Beeblebrox and have further adventures, and which ends with Arthur stealing Zaphod's spaceship, the Heart of Gold (which Zaphod had himself stolen) and striking out with only Marvin the Paranoid Android, Eddie the shipboard computer, a cloned archaeologist named Lintilla, a bunch of appliances with Genuine People Personalities, and a rather battered copy of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for companionship.
In the novels and the new radio series (the latter of which dismisses the events of the second radio series as one of Zaphod's "psychotic episodes"), Ford and Arthur escape prehistoric Earth via an eddy in the space-time continuum and a time-travelling Chesterfield sofa that deposits them in the middle of Lord's Cricket Ground at the climax of the final (in more ways than one, it turns out) 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 finds himself once more back on Earth (or rather an alternative Earth founded by the Dolphins to save the human race from extinction). Here he falls in love with a woman named Fenchurch and seems set to live happily ever after — at least until the following — and final — novel, Mostly Harmless. By the end of this fifth novel, Earth and all of its possible permutations and alternate versions are destroyed once and for all, and everybody dies, at least as far as the novel Mostly Harmless goes. However it is subtly hinted that Arthur, his friends, and a few Earths might have survived.
In the Quintessential Phase of the radio series, there are multiple alternative endings after the final destruction of all possible Earths. The final ending here consists of the Babel fish carried by Arthur, Trillian, Ford & Random having a sense for self preservation, i.e. at the last minute they teleport the person they are inhabiting, and anyone nearby (namely Tricia McMillan), to safety. They are teleported to Milliways where they meet up with Zaphod, both Trillians merge, leaving her with her British accent but her blonde-American hair. Marvin has been rebuilt as his warranty has yet to expire and is parking cars at Milliways again (he has been promoted, he remarks; he now has his own bucket). Finally, they meet up with Fenchurch again who was teleported to Milliways after we last saw her in the Quandary Phase and has been working as waitress there, waiting for Arthur. They all settle in together, leaving the series on an upbeat note and allowing for further adventures.
In the latest book, And Another Thing, it is revealed that there are other Arthur Dents in the different dimensions of the book series, but they are all deceased due to various mishaps of fate so that only the Arthur who was rescued from Earth remains. One actually briefly appears in the book, wearing Arthur's traditional dressing gown and slippers, and is destroyed with the rest of Earth by the Grebulons. Ford almost sees him, but searches for a drink and misses him being vaporised.
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