The Greatest American Hero (1981–1983)

TV Series  |   |  Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi
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A teacher is asked to be a superhero using a special alien suit with powers he can barely understand or control.

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3   2   1  
1986   1983   1982   1981  
Nominated for 4 Primetime Emmys. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete series cast summary:
 Ralph Hinkley / ... (44 episodes, 1981-1986)
 Bill Maxwell (44 episodes, 1981-1986)
 Pam Davidson / ... (41 episodes, 1981-1986)
Don Cervantes ...
 Paco Rodriguez (23 episodes, 1981-1983)
 Rhonda Blake (22 episodes, 1981-1982)
 Tony Villicana (21 episodes, 1981-1983)
 Cyler Johnson / ... (19 episodes, 1981-1983)


A pair of strangers, liberal high-school teacher Ralph Hinkley and right-wing FBI agent Bill Maxwell, have a close encounter in the Southern California desert one night with "little green men", who give our heroes a red superhero suit. The suit works only for Ralph, and the two, accompanied by Ralph's cute lawyer girlfriend Pam, reluctantly team up to battle criminals. Problems ensue when Ralph loses the suit's instruction book, so he had to master the suit's powers on his own. Written by Marty McKee <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


What America needs is a super hero. What America got was Ralph Hinkley!


See all certifications »


Official Sites:



Release Date:

18 March 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El gran héroe americano  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (43 episodes)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Shortly after the first season ended in late Spring of 1981, the show's theme song "Believe It or Not", performed by Joey Scarbury was released as a single. The song became one of that Summer's biggest hit songs reaching Number Two on the Pop Charts in August, and spending 18 weeks in the Top 40. See more »


Ralph Hinkley: You can't go because... WE'RE THE PACKAGE, BILL! Those little green guys they... they didn't pick us out by accident! We're supposed to do this as long as it takes. How many times have you told that to me?
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the opening credits of the pilot "Greatest American Heroine", the three-note NBC theme is heard as the letters "i-n-e" appear one at a time on screen. (An in-joke as NBC was the network the series was being pitched to at the time) See more »


Referenced in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire: Episode #8.99 (2010) See more »


Believe It or Not
Written by Mike Post & Stephen Geyer
Performed by Joey Scarbury
(theme song)
See more »

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User Reviews

10 April 2004 | by (Mufreesboro, Tennessee) – See all my reviews

I can still recall, quite fondly, watching the pilot episode of The Greatest American Hero. It can be corny and silly at times... but it was also humorous, warm, and uplifting. A group of people suddenly thrown into a situation where they have to "save the world". And working together (more or less :) ) they do it. From saving little kids, freezing in the wilderness to "baggin' bad guys" on the streets of L.A. My life is pretty dull and uneventful... oh but what I wouldn't do if suddenly >I< had a super suit. And while I'm old and getting gray now... I still dream, every now and again, of flying around in the sky... (and over the years I've gotten better at landing on my feet). Ralph wasn't the best... but he always gave it the old team try. You gotta love him for that!

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