Zaphod Beeblebrox I
"The best bang since the big one" - Eccentrica Gallumbits
"If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now" - Zaphod Beeblebrox
Son of Alice Beeblebrox, Zaphod Beeblebrox II* and (due to the eccentricities of Betelgeusian biology) at least two other Betelgeusian females, Zaphod Beeblebrox is one of the most important characters in the Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy quintet, authored by Douglas Adams. In both the radio and TV series, he was played by Mark Wing-Davey, and in the movie, by Sam Rockwell.
A Betelgeusian with two heads, Zaphod grew up on Betelgeuse Seven spending much of his childhood with his semi-cousin Ford Prefect, with whom he shares three of his mothers. Sometime during his childhood, he and Ford souped up an interplanetary craft into something capable of crossing light-years, and they went off to raid an Arcturan Megafreighter for conkers. A typical Arcturan Megafreighter at that time was equipped with enough firepower to take out a major sun, but despite this and against all the odds (on which Ford had bet a year's pocket money), Ford and Zaphod managed to get on board and stride onto the bridge waving toy pistols and demanding conkers. This was where they met the captain of the freighter, later President of the Galaxy Yooden Vranx, who was to have a great effect on Zaphod's life.
Vranx, who has been described by Zaphod as "a hell of a talker", brought Zaphod into a deep conspiracy along with his great-grandfather Zaphod Beeblebrox IV*, Zarniwoop, Roosta and others, in order to locate the Ruler of the Universe. On Vranx's instruction, Zaphod locked off all knowledge of his involvement in his conspiracy in a pair of cauterized lumps in the centre of his two brains, into which he also burnt his initials. Zaphod then continued his life, unaware of his part in the conspiracy.
From deep inside the dark, locked-off sections of his two brains, strange ideas occasionally emerged into Zaphod's mind and told him to do things. These ideas, unbeknownst to Zaphod, were slowly manoeuvring him along the path towards fulfilment of the plan, and eventually, Zaphod became President of the Galaxy. The man who holds this post, as very few people are aware, is not chosen for his ability to wield power (by definition, desire for power precludes one from eligibility), but in order to draw attention away from it. Zaphod, an insanely flamboyant, egotistical, extroverted and popular maniac who ended up spending a good proportion of his Presidency in prison, was probably the best President that the Galaxy had ever had. His suitability for this role is probably why he was chosen to be part of the plan to find the Ruler of the Universe. And why lock off part of his brain? They screen it when you get the job, and there was no way Zaphod could have become President if he was found with a mind full of subversion.
He spent a brief period on Earth where he attended an Islington fancy-dress party at which both Trillian and Arthur Dent were present. (He hid his second head under a birdcage, pretending it was a parrot.) Using the immortal chat-up line "Hey doll, is this guy boring you? Come and talk to me, I'm from a different planet," he persuaded Trillian to skip the planet with him. This occurred six months before the Earth was demolished. In the intervening period Zaphod grew a third arm, ostensibly specially for Trillian but actually to help with his ski-boxing.
On his two-hundredth birthday, the reason why Zaphod had been manoeuvred into the Presidency in the first place was revealed. Zaphod was asked to launch the revolutionary ship Heart of Gold, which was critical in the plot to find the Ruler of the Universe, and which (compelled to do so by the dark, locked-off sections of his two brains) he stole from the launch, still with Trillian in tow. Shortly afterwards, and now expelled from the post of Galactic President, and with half of the Galactic Police after him, Zaphod made the first jump using the Infinite Improbability Drive, and, due to an absolutely astounding coincidence, accidentally picked up his semi-cousin Ford Prefect and Trillian's admirer Arthur Dent as they drifted helplessly through space without spacesuits, having moments earlier been thrown out of a Vogon airlock.
Following a ridiculously protracted series of adventures, concerning which the Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy radio series and books flatly contradict each other, Zaphod (thanks to prodding by his subconscious and by co-conspirator Roosta) finally found his way to Zarniwoop. They then successfully found the Ruler of the Universe, where Zaphod, knowing nothing about the mission and therefore not caring about it either, left Zarniwoop.
Having completed the mission he had been on for years, one thing suddenly ceased to lead to another for Zaphod. He drifted listlessly through the universe for a while, until Trillian teleported herself out of his life, and his ship was attacked by Krikkit robots. He helped Ford, Arthur, Slartibartfast and Trillian save the universe from the Krikkit robot army, and there the company parted ways. Mention of Zaphod after this is rare. Ford Prefect in So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish reports that "Zaphod's calmed down a lot, you know. At least one of his heads is now saner than an emu on acid," and also seems to suggest that he and Trillian may have had kids. Zaphod is hardly mentioned after this, although it can be assumed that he - alone among the main H2G2 cast - is still alive out there somewhere.
In addition to being ex-confidence trickster, petty crook, part-time Galactic President, and the subject of an entire field of science known as Beeblebroxology, Zaphod is also:
In Mostly Harmless, a second, alternate Zaphod is briefly referred to - a Zaphod who left Earth without Trillian. We don't know anything about him apart from that.
* Due to "an accident with a contraceptive and a time machine", Zaphod is Zaphod Beeblebrox the First, his father Zaphod Beeblebrox the Second, his grandfather Zaphod Beeblebrox the Third, and so on. According to a pet theory of mine, this extends all the way back to Zipo Bibrok 5x10^8, who lived ten billion years before our Zaphod, during the original Krikkit Wars.
Sources: The books The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy, The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe, Life, The Universe, And Everything, So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish and Mostly Harmless, by Douglas Adams, and the radio and TV series The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy, also both by Douglas Adams.