7.4/10
3,606
58 user 22 critic

The Greatest American Hero 

Trailer
2:00 | Trailer

Watch Now

on Prime Video

ON DISC
A teacher is asked to be a superhero using a special alien suit with powers he can barely understand or control.
Reviews
Popularity
1,575 ( 29)

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... 

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 chimpanzee travel the highways of America, getting into various adventures and misadventures along the way.

Stars: Greg Evigan, Eric Server, Linda McCullough
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
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
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Sheriff Lobo's the corrupt sheriff from Orly County who appeared in several episodes during the first season of B.J. and the Bear (1978), as B.J.'s occasional nemesis. He now stars in his ... See full summary »

Stars: Claude Akins, Brian Kerwin, Mills Watson
The Bionic Woman (1976–1978)
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

After fully recovering from her nearly 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
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
The Six Million Dollar Man (TV Movie 1973)
Adventure | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

After an astronaut and test pilot is catastrophically mutilated in a test plane crash, he is rebuilt and equipped with nuclear powered bionic limbs and implants.

Director: Richard Irving
Stars: Lee Majors, Barbara Anderson, Martin Balsam
Bosom Buddies (1980–1982)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 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
Edit

Cast

Complete series cast summary:
...  Ralph Hinkley / ... 44 episodes, 1981-1986
...  Bill Maxwell 44 episodes, 1981-1986
...  Pam Davidson / ... 42 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
Edit

Storyline

Ralph Hinkley was minding his own business, a teacher on a field trip with his high school students, when the bus he's driving mysteriously drives itself out into the desert. A startled Ralph is soon visited by aliens, who had decided to endow him with superhuman powers to fight the battle against injustice and crime. To this end, they gave him a special suit and an instruction manual. Unfortunately, Ralph managed to lose the instruction manual, and the aliens have a nasty habit of never being around when you need them. Written by Murray Chapman <muzzle@cs.uq.oz.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

TV-14 | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Stephen Cannell Productions

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 March 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El gran héroe americano  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (43 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Stephen J. Cannell, the emblem on the suit (and also on the clothing of the aliens) was inspired by the square-handled scissors on Cannell's desk. See more »

Quotes

Ralph Hinkley: Pamela I love you very much and... I would like us to be a real team.
Pam Davidson: [cries] Ralph, are you asking me to marry you?
Ralph Hinkley: Yes I am.
Pam Davidson: [cries, then nods happily] Yes.
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 Everybody Hates Chris: Everybody Hates the Lottery (2006) 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

So much potential wasted…with one of the greatest American theme songs EVER…
7 February 2002 | by See all my reviews

`The Greatest American Hero' is a textbook case of a television show being a victim of `the powers that be.' I was in grade school during the time of its run, but I remember most of the behind the scenes drama. Though its initial debut was well received, it wasn't long before the show met an ill-fated course. First, it was an unfortunate victim of the 1981 Reagan assassination attempt, resulting in the horrific `Hinkley/Hanley' overdub. This event, followed by constant time changes, late season debuts, pre-empts, and the never-ending lawsuit with Warner Brothers and DC comics over its supposed `Superman-like' premise, kept it from reaching its full potential with viewers. Then, like those aliens in the desert, the show disappeared without a trace.

There are several theories as to why this show never reached its full potential. I personally think Warner Brothers and DC Comics made ABC executives nervous, hence the delays and time changes. While I can certainly understand their motives (the Superman movies were popular at the time) I considered each character to be a separate entity. I never thought William Katt was an exact clone of Christopher (or George, for that matter) Reeve's famous role. Superman (I thought) was a strong, supernatural hero from another planet who masqueraded as a human being. The Greatest American Hero was just an ordinary guy who stumbled upon good fortune and tried to utilize it in the best way he could to help mankind. It could have been anyone that night instead of Ralph Hinkley, for all we know (the lyrics of the theme song attempted to explain this). Katt simply provided a handsome, lovable example of the `imperfect hero.'

My mother and sister absolutely loved this show. I was the youngest, so I watched it mostly because they did! `The Greatest American Hero' did grow on me, though…so I, too, have fond memories. I was in love with the theme song, however, from the debut! Even if you didn't like the show, you have to admit that the theme song, `Believe It Or Not,' sung by Joey Scarbury, is one of the greatest of all time. The earlier comments were correct. `Believe It Or Not' is awesome.

Absolutely awesome!


42 of 46 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 58 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Popular Sci-Fi Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular sci-fi movies and TV shows available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial