A teacher is asked to be a superhero using a special alien suit with powers he can barely understand or control.
1,271 ( 23)

Watch Now

on Amazon Video




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



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

B.J. and the Bear (1978–1981)
Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A trucker and his pet monkey travel the highways of America, getting into various adventures and misadventures along the way.

Stars: Greg Evigan, Eric Server, Linda McCullough
Bosom Buddies (1980–1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Two young single ad men must disguise themselves as women to live in the one apartment they can afford.

Stars: Tom Hanks, Peter Scolari, Donna Dixon
Action | Adventure | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

After a crippled test pilot is rebuilt with nuclear powered limbs and implants, he serves as a unique intelligence agent.

Stars: Lee Majors, Richard Anderson, Martin E. Brooks
Fantasy Island (1977–1984)
Adventure | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Accounts of visitors to a unique resort island in the Pacific Ocean that can fulfill literally any fantasy requested, but rarely turn out as expected.

Stars: Ricardo Montalban, Hervé Villechaize, Christopher Hewett
Simon & Simon (1981–1989)
Action | Mystery | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Two brothers of disparate tastes and manners run a private detective agency.

Stars: Gerald McRaney, Jameson Parker, Mary Carver
CHiPs (1977–1983)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

The adventures of two California Highway Patrol motorcycle officers.

Stars: Erik Estrada, Larry Wilcox, Robert Pine
The Incredible Hulk (1978–1982)
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A fugitive scientist has the curse of becoming a powerful green monster under extreme emotional stress.

Stars: Bill Bixby, Lou Ferrigno, Jack Colvin
The Bionic Woman (1976–1978)
Action | Sci-Fi | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

After fully recovering from her near fatal bout of bionic rejection, Jaime Sommers, the first female cyborg, is assigned to spy missions of her own.

Stars: Lindsay Wagner, Richard Anderson, Martin E. Brooks
The Dukes of Hazzard (1979–1985)
Action | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The adventures of the fast-drivin', rubber-burnin' Duke boys of Hazzard County.

Stars: Tom Wopat, John Schneider, Catherine Bach
The Fall Guy (1981–1986)
Action | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The adventures of a film stunt performer who moonlights as a bounty hunter when movie work is slow.

Stars: Lee Majors, Douglas Barr, Heather Thomas
Charlie's Angels (1976–1981)
Action | Adventure | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

The adventures of three sexy female private eyes.

Stars: Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith
Hardcastle and McCormick (1983–1986)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A retired judge and his last defendant follow up on cases that were dismissed due to technicalities.

Stars: Brian Keith, Daniel Hugh Kelly, Joe Santos


Complete series cast summary:
 Ralph Hinkley / ... (44 episodes, 1981-1986)
 Bill Maxwell (44 episodes, 1981-1986)
 Pam Davidson / ... (41 episodes, 1981-1986)
 Tony Villicana (30 episodes, 1981-1983)
 Rhonda Blake (28 episodes, 1981-1982)
 Cyler Johnson / ... (21 episodes, 1981-1983)
Don Cervantes ...
 Paco Rodriguez / ... (20 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 <mmckee@wkio.com>

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?


Bill was kidnapped a total of eight times and was shot five times. Pam was kidnapped six times. See more »


Ralph Hinkley: You see what I mean? Like right now for instance. You're not even listening to me. I mean, for all I know, we could be driving into the biggest shootout of this century
Bill Maxwell: [not listening] Yeah, kid. I'll work on that for ya
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 The Cinema Snob: Caligula: Part I (2010) See more »


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

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

One of the Greatest American TV Shows
19 April 2005 | by (New York, NY USA) – See all my reviews

If you aren't familiar with "The Greatest American Hero" you owe it to yourself to get the DVDs... you won't be disappointed. I used to watch the show as a kid and I loved it... they used to play it on Saturday mornings after the cartoons had ended and I never missed an episode. Flash forward twenty years and I'm amazed at not only how well the show has held up but at all I missed the first time around.

Ordinary schoolteacher Ralph Hinkley is given a supersuit by space aliens... when wearing the suit he has all the powers of a superhero. The trouble is he lost the suit's instruction book in episode one and has to figure out how it works as he goes along. He's partnered with crusty, by-the-book FBI agent Bill Maxwell (Robert Culp) and gets lots of help from his gorgeous girlfriend Pam (Connie Selleca). If you think this is a broad, goofy comedy or kid's show you couldn't be farther off... if you think it's kitschy nostalgia you'd be wrong as well. The Greatest American Hero is nothing short of one of the greatest TV shows of all time.

The concept of the everyman becoming superman allowed the show's creators and writers to examine different aspects of human nature... there's so much going on in every episode that getting the bad guy is almost secondary. In one of the best episodes "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys," Ralph is forced to examine what it means to be a hero while Bill wrestles with having to arrest his OWN hero, a veteran police officer who has turned to a life of crime. The show was unbelievably human, and the three leads are a perfect triangle... Robert Culp grounds the show by not pulling any punches as the skeptical, impatient fed; his disbelief at the premise only serves to make the premise more real.

William Katt as Ralph is excellent, completely believable as a man trying to balance his roles as boyfriend, father, teacher and superhero. Connie Selleca is not just beautiful... she's a confident, funny actor, putting more into Pam than was on the page. This show is also wonderful as a time-capsule piece, a reminder of when TV could appeal to everyone and still be intelligent, dramatic, and FUN. (Today so many dramas open every episode with a corpse it's all but become the rule.) "GAH" is also one of the BIGGEST TV shows ever made... by that I mean its visual look and style of direction is grand, cinematic. If you get the DVD's you'll see that every episode is a mini-movie. You'll also see that it's one of the best transfers EVER done. The show, twenty years later, is more bright, clean and vivid than anything on TV today. And you also get the memorable theme song, which still gives old-time fans like myself instant nostalgia whenever we hear it.

In conclusion I highly recommend "The Greatest American Hero" to everyone... you will love it, your kids will love it, and it will stimulate your imagination, make you laugh and make you think. What more could you ask for?


42 of 44 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Should come to MeTV Dr Wily
Time for The Greatest American Hero on the Big Screen!! zatara74
GAH reboot on the way! repstein2
Can we all please agree... shalmo
The rest of the world? unclesatan
An idea for 2012 instead ofdreaded reboots GimplyGump
Discuss The Greatest American Hero (1981) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page