The Greatest American Hero (1981–1983)

TV Series  |   |  Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi
7.3
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.3/10 from 2,554 users  
Reviews: 55 user | 26 critic

A teacher is asked to be a superhero using a special alien suit with powers he can barely understand or control.

0Check in
0Share...

Watch Now

on Amazon Instant Video

IMDb Picks: May

Visit our IMDb Picks section to see our recommendations of movies and TV shows coming out in May, sponsored by COVERGIRL.

Visit the IMDb Picks section

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 25 titles
created 18 Oct 2011
 
a list of 36 titles
created 24 Feb 2012
 
a list of 38 titles
created 02 Jan 2013
 
a list of 48 titles
created 16 May 2013
 
a list of 47 titles
created 9 months ago
 

Related Items

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: The Greatest American Hero (1981–1983)

The Greatest American Hero (1981–1983) on IMDb 7.3/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The Greatest American Hero.

User Polls

Episodes

Seasons


Years



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

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

House (1986)
Comedy | Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A troubled writer moves into a haunted house after inheriting it from his aunt.

Director: Steve Miner
Stars: William Katt, Kay Lenz, George Wendt
I Spy (1965–1968)
Action | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A pair of intelligence agents posing as a tennis pro and his coach go on secret missions around the world.

Stars: Robert Culp, Bill Cosby, Kenneth Tobey
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
Hotel (1983–1988)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The elegant St. Gregory Hotel in San Francisco is the setting for a string of distinct plots, usually romantic, often involving famous guest stars for an episode or two. Victoria Cabot runs... See full summary »

Stars: James Brolin, Connie Sellecca, Nathan Cook
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, John Hancock
Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A 20th century astronaut is revived out of 500 years of suspended animation to become the greatest hero of a future Earth.

Stars: Gil Gerard, Erin Gray, Felix Silla
Action | Adventure | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 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
The Greatest American Hero (TV Series 2008)
Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Stars: Brad Heller, Josh Kirby, Milton Lawrence
Short | Action | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A revamp of the successful '80s television series by Stephen J. Cannell, where an ordinary school teacher is given superhuman powers after receiving a super-suit by aliens. Unfortunately he... See full summary »

Director: Mitch Yapko
Stars: Allen Rueckert, Don Stark, Brittany Ross
Comedy

A feature version of the classic 1980s TV show.

B.J. and the Bear (1978–1981)
Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 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
Flying High (1978–1979)
Adventure | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

The high-flying adventures of three sexy airline stewardesses.

Stars: Connie Sellecca, Pat Klous, Kathryn Witt
Edit

Cast

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)
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 March 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El gran héroe americano  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (43 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

William Katt said that at the start of the series he and Robert Culp had difficulties getting along and working with each other. Katt added they were able to use that to their advantage as their relationship reflected that as the one portrayed between their respective characters. Katt and Culp were able to resolve their differences and actually became good friends over the course of making the series. See more »

Quotes

[about a woman who said she saw a sea monster]
Bill Maxwell: She probably thought she saw what she said she thought she saw.
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 »

Connections

Referenced in Toy Hunter: Battle for Seattle (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Smart and Entertaining...
12 September 2004 | by (Sacramento, CA) – See all my reviews

I remember The Greatest American Hero, I adored this hilarious series about ordinary guy Ralph Hinkley getting a magical supersuit from aliens (little green-guys) back in the 80's. Conceived by the legendary TV giant Stephen J. Cannell, this is the kind of show that when you think back on it gives you all kinds of warm and fuzzy feelings inside. It just makes you feel good and reminds you how wildly imaginative and cool television was in the 80's. I'm glad to see I'm not alone in remembering this show that was cut down way too early. 2 years on the air just wasn't enough. The Greatest American Hero was made in the early 80's, when the trials and tribulations of the 1970's were still somewhat fresh on peoples minds. After the Vietnam War, high gas prices, Nixon-Watergate, and two more lousy presidents, the very idea that a man in underwear and flaky cape could run around saving the world like Superman or Batman was seen as a complete joke. This was an original and great idea to explore. One word to describe the way the series approached this idea would be "smart", like Star Trek this show seemed to have a definitive intelligent and creative force behind it. It was more of a human drama/comedy then a straight up conventional superhero show. What would happen to a regular person if they were given a magical superhero outfit? What would happen if they lost the instruction manual and didn't know how to use the goofy looking costume? The way people treated Ralph (they thought he was a nut) when they saw him in his super suit is probably the way people would react in real life if they came across a man dressed as a superhero. This series never seemed to get its just dues back in the early 80's, OK so The Greatest American Hero wasn't Mozart or The Great Gatsby. It was middle brow entertainment like many other crime and adventure shows, but it was very well made middle brow entertainment. It was smart and the witty dialogue in this show rivals any of the "more adult" TV shows from it's time. I do remember getting grief from my older siblings and cousins who never got the joke of The Greatest American Hero for liking it, they would purposefully sing the theme song 'Believe it or Not' off key to annoy me, "Look at what's happened to me...". I so wanted to hit my older sister when she did that. Ralph wasn't a wimp he was an ordinary man put into extraordinary situations, so he reacted like a regular guy would. Hence his screaming like a banshee would he couldn't control the suit in mid air. Others here have pointed out the many problems The Greatest American Hero had to put up with during it's brief 2 years on the air, one I would like to mention was it was constantly yanked around on its schedule. It may be cliché to repeatedly call ABC or any other network 'villains' when talking about how they shafted a particular TV series, but in this case it really is true. In the beginning the series was perfectly aired on Wednesday nights, but then for whatever reason the network moved it to Thursday nights, and then finally it was shifted to the death slot of Friday nights were it was beat up in the ratings by the real kids shows like The Dukes of Hazzard and Knight Rider. The Greatest American Hero was written with children in mind but was not soley targeted at kids. Without a teenage to adult audience to sustain it, the series died a quiet death at the hands of ABC. I hope that one day we see a return of The Greatest American Hero.


18 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Time for The Greatest American Hero on the Big Screen!! zatara74
The rest of the world? unclesatan
An idea for 2012 instead ofdreaded reboots GimplyGump
Can we all please agree... shalmo
Help with episode njny99
Ralph's Son thegoddesserin-1
Discuss The Greatest American Hero (1981) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page