In 1984, two years after the series went off the air, Bill Bixby offered Nicholas Hammond a chance to reprise his titular role from The Amazing Spider-Man (1977) TV series in a proposed Hulk/Spider-Man TV-movie crossover that would have been distributed by Universal Pictures and Columbia Pictures. Hammond agreed to the offer, but Universal Studios eventually canceled the project, claiming that Lou Ferrigno was unavailable. However, Ferrigno said that he was never contacted about the project, and had no knowledge of it until he discovered the information while working on his autobiography in 2003.
Lou Ferrigno said that he had become so frustrated on the set one day that he stormed off and drove home while still wearing his full Hulk make-up and costuming. Ferrigno added that the sight of him driving as such resulted in a passing motorist having a minor automobile accident.
When the TV series was on the air, Bill Bixby was very careful never to be photographed with Lou Ferrigno in his Hulk makeup because he felt for photos to get out of the two of them together would destroy the illusion to children and fans of the show that they were not the same person. The tabloids of that era were always trying to get a picture of David Banner and the Hulk creature together but were unable to do so.
Richard Kiel was originally chosen to play The Hulk. However, as the pilot began filming, the producers felt that he wasn't bulky enough. Although his scenes were re-shot with Lou Ferrigno, one scene with Kiel as the Hulk in the pilot remains intact, a brief high-angle shot of the Hulk looking up at a tree just before he saves a girl from drowning in the lake.
The Hulk is always barefoot, but in outdoor scenes Lou Ferrigno often wore Hulk-green slippers to protect his feet. These are most noticeable in "Terror in Times Square", as the Hulk storms through the streets of New York (Ferrigno once joked that even the mighty Hulk wouldn't want to go barefoot in Times Square in the 1970s).
Lou Ferrigno was the only actor to appear in every episode. Bill Bixby was forced to miss one episode due to court hearings relating to a messy divorce he was going through. Banner appeared very briefly with no dialogue in the episode and was portrayed by Bixby's stunt double.
Bill Bixby was fond to bringing actors who had been his previous co-stars in his other TV shows. The Incredible Hulk features a recurring atmosphere player (blonde, middle-aged lady), an extra who is prominently featured in some scenes, and who was already an atmosphere player in his 1973 TV series, The Magician. She is not credited and, to this day, her name remains a mystery. Since she appeared in episode "Mystery Man", fans have dubbed her the "mystery woman".
During the second half of the show's run, Bill Bixby was forced to face personal tragedy with the sudden illness and subsequent death of his young son, as well as the suicide of his ex-wife. Lou Ferrigno observed that as a result Bixby wasn't really the same and that his heart wasn't really into it during the show's final two seasons.
Lou Ferrigno stated in an interview about the cancellation. While Ferrigno was driving to the White House to meet (then) President Ronald Regan, he heard on the radio that the series was canceled. He was shocked. Finally, Ferrigno contacted Bill Bixby himself and informed him that the series ended, which surprised the cast and crew.
CBS initially did not want to continue with the series for the fall of 1981, even though the show's ratings were still respectable. Kenneth Johnson claimed that Harvey Sheppard, then head of CBS programming, felt that the series had run its course, and canceled it. With seven new episodes already filmed, Johnson tried unsuccessfully to persuade Sheppard to buy more episodes; also, according to Lou Ferrigno's book My Incredible Life As the Hulk, Bill Bixby talked to other networks about picking up the show, but no deal could be reached in time to keep the series in production. Nevertheless, CBS aired those seven episodes sporadically during the 1981-82 season. Due to the sudden cancellation, the producers never had a chance to plan a series finale, in which David Banner would have been successfully cured of the Hulk.
At one point a cost cutting move was proposed to eliminate the Jack McGee character. Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno both said if that happened they would walk off themselves in protest out of loyalty and support towards Jack Colvin.
Lou Ferrigno had been an avid fan of the Hulk comic book series well before becoming involved in the TV series. Ferrigno has often credited the Hulk character in helping to inspire him to help overcome the difficulties he faced related to his hearing disability and other personal issues.
In the comic book, the Hulk's alter ego is named Bruce Banner (although his full name is Robert Bruce Banner). For the show, however, the character was renamed David, leading to an Urban Legend that it was because the name "Bruce" was considered too homosexual. Stories that claim the name Bruce was considered too gay for the series are grounded in Urban Legend. Ken Johnson has never said that was the case in changing Banner's first name to David, and there's no evidence that the Network or Studios asked for such a change. In the comics, Banner's full name was Robert Bruce Banner, and Bruce was established as Banner's middle name on the series as well. A contributing factor to the name change was series producer Kenneth Johnson's dislike for alliterative names, which are typically used in comic books; Johnson decided that "David" (his son's name) was more solid.
CBS tried to push at times to steer the series more to using full Sci-Fi/Fantasy elements (i.e aliens from outer space and other super powered villains). According to Lou Ferrigno, Bill Bixby always fought back to maintain the show's more realistic and dramatic format.
It has been claimed that Kenneth Johnson had planned to film a two-hour series finale in which David Banner was put on trial for the death of Elaina Marks (who was killed in the pilot). However, in an interview that was taped for the show's fifth season DVD set, Johnson said that a finale was never written, due to the surprise cancellation of the series. Nevertheless, he admitted that he had wanted to do a final episode in which David Banner would have been successfully cured of the Hulk.
This series actually draws inspiration from three works of classic literature. Stan Lee says the Hulk himself was inspired by Frankenstein's monster, while the alter ego of Dr. Banner was inspired by Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. Kenneth Johnston added the element of Jack McGee pursuing the creature, so that the series was not unlike The Fugitive with Gerard pursuing Kimble each week. That element of the previous series was inspired by the character of Inspector Javert in Les Miserables. McGee also reflected Thunderbolt Ross, an Army General who obsessively pursued the Hulk in the comic book series.
The opening credits show the Hulk picking up a car and rolling it down the hill. This was not a special effect... the actor playing the Hulk really did pick up the car all by himself. When they were filming the scene the steel cable that was supposed to help Lou Ferrigno lift the car broke. It was 4 in the morning, cold, wet and Ferrigno had been working 18 hour days to refilm all the Hulk scenes for the pilot (the role had originally been played by Richard Kiel, best known as Jaws from the James Bond films, who producers had realized was not muscular enough for the part). World champion body builder Ferrigno was so frustrated that he decided to lift the car himself rather than wait for the special effects team to try to reset the cable.
When the show was established as a hit, Producer 'Kenneth Johnson (I') was rumored to be considering creation of a female version of the Hulk. The character would be used on the series with the intent of possibly spinning her off into her own series (as Johnson had done with the The Six Million Dollar Man (1974)/The Bionic Woman (1976)). Their plan was to take David's sister, a character already established by early episodes, and have her receive an emergency blood transfusion from him. Due to the show's cancellation, this story never came to pass. However, Marvel Comics learned of this development and created She-Hulk so they would own the rights to any such character. The character's comic-book origins turned out to be similar to the plan in the comics. The blood transfusion is still the reason for her mutation, but she is Dr. Banner's cousin rather than his sister.
In most episodes, David Banner turned into the Hulk twice. The first transformation typically occurred 20 to 30 minutes after the start of the show, while the second transformation took place during the climax.
Bill Bixby has said that prior to the show's premiere, he was openly questioned as to why he agreed to be cast as the star of a series based on a comic book. Bixby responded by telling them that the series wasn't at all like they thought, and to give it a chance once it started to air.
In some episodes, it is mentioned that Robert Steinhauer is the name of the publisher of the National Register (the newspaper that Jack McGee works for). This is an in-joke reference to the show's production manager/co-producer Robert Bennett Steinhauer.
In his autobiography 'My Incredible Life as the Hulk', Lou Ferrigno admitted to having encountered fans who told him they wanted to see more of the Hulk character. In addition to pleasing the fans, he was convinced that being given more screen time would further justify his difficulties with the Hulk makeup. For those reasons, he lobbied to get the Hulk's appearances increased to three per episode. However, the producers rejected the idea because of budgetary concerns.
Ted Cassidy, the uncredited narrator of the show's opening credits, also did the Hulk's growls for the first two seasons. When he died in 1979, dubbed animal growls were used, in addition to growls by Charles Napier.
Bill Bixby and Jack Colvin became friendly with each other over the course of making the series. However, both became frustrated that public social interaction between them was largely restricted due to their respective characters' adversarial relationship.
In 1980, Universal tried to reduce the show's budget (which was a minimum of $600,000 per episode). The studio's proposed cuts included reducing the special effects and having the Hulk appear only once per episode. Another proposed change was to add a character who would travel with David via a motor home (providing at least one stock set to be used, and curtailing the number of sets used in each episode). However, all those ideas were dropped when CBS provided more money to keep the quality of the show intact.
The first series as part of an agreement for Universal to produce a string of live action TV projects based on Marvel Comics characters. Producer Kenneth Johnson was given the choice of adapting any Marvel character he wanted, but with little interest and knowledge in the comic book genre initially turned the assignment down. He changed his mind after finding inspiration for plot elements from Hugo's Les Miserables.
Distributed by Universal, which held on to the film rights to the character for the next thirty years. They distributed the films Hulk (2003) and The Incredible Hulk (2008). The Avengers (2012) and Iron Man 3 (2013) are the only films featuring the Hulk character that Universal Pictures has not been involved in.
The writing staff would annually brainstorm to put together lists of various scenarios for different Hulking Out scenes (i.e. Banner transforms into the Hulk while skydiving). The staff would take the ideas from the lists to write episodes centering around the proposed Hulk Outs.
Ken Johnson has said he found it frustrating to work with Hulk creator/comic book writer Stan Lee, who served as consultant for the show. Johnson felt that Lee made many suggestions for story ideas or plot twists that worked in the comics, but would come off as unbelievable to TV Viewers.
The episode "Prometheus" is named for the character from Greek mythology who stole fire from the gods. The alternate title for the novel Frankenstein was "The Modern Prometheus." Stan Lee has stated that the Frankenstein monster was one of his original influences for the character of the Hulk.
The series spun off an Incredible Hulk syndicated daily newspaper strip which ran from 1978-82. The strip adapted the continuity of the TV series, while the Hulk was drawn as he appeared in the comics at the time.
Ted Cassidy, the uncredited voice of the Hulk and the show's opening narration, could also be heard on other comic book adaptations during the time of the series. Cassidy performed the voice of Ben Grimm/The Thing in the Fantastic Four animated series of the 1970's, also adapted from Marvel Comics. Cassidy also did voices, including those of some Super Villains, on the Superfriends franchise, based on characters published by Marvel rival DC Comics.
There are several homages to the series in the movie "The Incredible Hulk" with Edward Norton. Most notable is him trying to translate the popular phrase "Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry" into Portuguese. Another is the cellphone footage of the attack at the university being shot by a character referred to a Jack McGee. Third, and most obscure, is when Banner, played by Norton, is walking in the rain after leaving the pizzeria the theme from the television series plays briefly.