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The Greatest American Hero 

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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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2,255 ( 17)

Episodes

Seasons


Years



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

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Stars: Claude Akins, Brian Kerwin, Mills Watson
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Cast

Complete series cast summary:
William Katt ...  Ralph Hinkley / ... 44 episodes, 1981-1986
Robert Culp ...  Bill Maxwell 44 episodes, 1981-1986
Connie Sellecca ...  Pam Davidson / ... 42 episodes, 1981-1986
Michael Paré ...  Tony Villicana 30 episodes, 1981-1983
Faye Grant ...  Rhonda Blake 28 episodes, 1981-1982
Jesse D. Goins ...  Cyler Johnson 21 episodes, 1981-1983
Don Cervantes Don Cervantes ...  Paco Rodriguez / ... 20 episodes, 1981-1983
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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 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Stephen Cannell Productions

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 March 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El gran héroe americano See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Clarita, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (43 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Connie Sellecca was rarely seen during the second season, due to her real-life pregnancy. See more »

Quotes

Bill Maxwell: This stinks. I hate this.
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 »

Alternate Versions

In 1986, three years after the series ended, a pilot film entitled "The Greatest American Heroine" was produced which reunited the original series cast. The pilot was not broadcast, so the film was reedited as an episode of "Greatest American Hero" (complete with original opening credits) for syndication. It was also included on the 2005 DVD release. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Goldbergs: Snow Day (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

Warmth and 80's magic...
25 May 2004 | by deaconjguySee all my reviews

The Greatest American Hero was one of the best concepts for a TV show that I have ever seen, and certainly the most unique take on the superhero genre. The show had charm, lighthearted fun, and was full of 80's magic. I can still remember watching this show back in the early 80's and when Ralph first tried to fly that red suit. He couldn't get it, and some little kid that saw him struggling gave him some advice. Now see, that's the kind of magic that TV shows in the 80's had. TV wasn't afraid of putting out a hero that got advice on how to fly from a goofy little kid. Ralph Hinkley (played by William Katt) was just a regular guy, a young high school teacher that wanted to make a difference. Then one night he is approached by aliens out in the desert, teamed up with a gung-ho FBI agent, and given a spectacular red suit styled in the classic superhero design of cape and longjohns.

Unfortunately poor Ralph promptly loses the instruction book to the suit, and must learn the suit powers through trial and error. Connie Sellecca played Hinkley's girlfriend Pam, I seem to recall later in the show they were married. I also remember that Ralph got another instruction book, only to lose it again. And if I remember correctly, this show was only on for a brief 2 years and had 3 seasons. I don't know why the network prematurely cancelled this series, the show sadly never got to live up to it's full potential. I think it only clocked in around 44 or 45 episodes because the network pulled the plug on it so soon. The low episode number is probably why we don't get the luxury of seeing TGAH on Sci-Fi channel, WGN, TBS, or TV Land. Even with only 2 years of episodes, this series is still fondly remembered by many as a part of 80's magic.


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