List of The Greatest American Hero episodes

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The American sci-fi-comedy television series The Greatest American Hero aired from March 18, 1981 to February 3, 1983, and starred William Katt, Robert Culp, and Connie Sellecca. It consists of 45 episodes in three seasons.

Series overview[edit]

US Television Ratings[edit]

Season Episodes Start Date End Date Nielsen Rank Nielsen Rating Tied With
1980-81 9 March 18, 1981 September 3, 1981 N/A N/A N/A
1981-82 22 November 4, 1981 April 28, 1982 44[1] N/A N/A
1982-83 14 October 29, 1982 February 2, 1983 92[2] N/A N/A
SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
19March 18, 1981 (1981-03-18)May 13, 1981 (1981-05-13)
222November 4, 1981 (1981-11-04)April 28, 1982 (1982-04-28)
314October 29, 1982 (1982-10-29)February 3, 1983 (1983-02-03)

Episodes[edit]

Season 1 (1981)[edit]

No. in
series
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1, 21, 2"The Greatest American Hero"Rod HolcombStephen J. CannellMarch 18, 1981 (1981-03-18)

Series pilot: School teacher Ralph Hinkley meets FBI Special Agent William "Bill" Maxwell on a field trip to the desert, where extraterrestrials team them up for a mission: Ralph is given a functional super suit with amazing powers (flight, holographic vision and super speed), and an instruction book for its use...which he quickly loses. Their first assignment is to prevent an assassination attempt on the President.

Note: The pilot was originally shown as a two-hour movie, and was the fourth most-viewed television program of the week.[3] It was later split into two one-hour episodes for syndication.

In a macabre coincidence, 12 days after this episode was broadcast, a man with the last name "Hinckley" attempted to assassinate U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
33"The Hit Car"Rod HolcombStephen J. CannellMarch 25, 1981 (1981-03-25)
Ralph's class prepares to perform Shakespeare, while he works with Bill to dodge professional killers and transport a beautiful and flirtatious FBI informant to testify against her drug-dealing mobster boyfriend.
44"Here's Looking at You, Kid"Robert C. ThompsonJuanita BartlettApril 1, 1981 (1981-04-01)

Someone has stolen a secret gunsight. Bill again hopes to use the super suit to help solve the case. This time, however, Ralph has his own problems: he stumbles onto his power of invisibility, and is having difficulty getting control of it. To add to his worries, he is also scheduled to meet Pam's parents (June Lockhart, Bob Hastings) for the first time.

Note: Two days before this episode aired, John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Consequently, all references to Ralph's last name being Hinkley were overdubbed in this episode, so that his name was now Ralph Hanley. Subsequent first season episodes would generally omit mention of Ralph's last name. The original name, "Hinkley", would be restored at the beginning of season 2.
55"Saturday on Sunset Boulevard"Rod HolcombStephen J. CannellApril 8, 1981 (1981-04-08)
Bill flunks an FBI polygraph test, and may be drummed out of the Bureau, on the basis of one question: "Has anything strange happened to you in the last six months?" Unable to tell the truth about the suit, Bill reluctantly recruits Ralph's students to help him track down a Russian defector, and trade him for a pardon.
66"Reseda Rose"Gabrielle BeaumontJuanita BartlettApril 15, 1981 (1981-04-15)
Ralph and Bill try to unravel a case involving secret military plans, a Russian submarine, and the kidnapping of Rhonda's mother.
77"My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys"Arnold LavenStephen J. CannellApril 29, 1981 (1981-04-29)
Ralph is despondent after nearly wrecking a tour bus, and is seriously considering giving up the suit...until he gets a pep talk from his childhood hero The Lone Ranger (John Hart).
88"Fire Man"Gabrielle BeaumontLee SheldonMay 6, 1981 (1981-05-06)
Tony is hired to repossess cars, and unknowingly takes a car filled with arson equipment. When he is wrongly accused of setting fires, Ralph must find the real arsonist.
99"The Best Desk Scenario"Robert C. ThompsonJuanita BartlettMay 13, 1981 (1981-05-13)
Pam and Ralph get promotions, and Bill begins to worry about his mistakes and mortality. Pam's new boss is mixed up with the mob, and they must rescue her and Bill's career.

Season 2 (1981–82)[edit]

No. in
series
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
101"The Two-Hundred-Mile-an-Hour Fast Ball"Georg Stanford BrownStephen J. CannellNovember 4, 1981 (1981-11-04)
Crooks needing cash to swing an arms deal bet heavily on a baseball game, and beat up the star of the team they bet against. Ralph joins the underdogs to make sure they win and the gamblers lose their money.
112"Operation Spoilsport"Rod HolcombFrank LupoNovember 11, 1981 (1981-11-11)
The aliens return and tell Ralph and Bill that World War III is imminent: a fail-safe system, which will launch an attack on the other side if the country's been decimated, has been activated. They have to stop it, but unfortunately they discover someone on their side is behind the whole thing.
123"Don't Mess Around with Jim"Robert C. ThompsonStephen J. CannellNovember 18, 1981 (1981-11-18)
Ralph and Bill are kidnapped by a tycoon who fakes his own death...and seems to know more about the suit than they do. He then blackmails them into retrieving his will and prevent it from being misused by the president of his company.
134"Hog Wild"Ivan DixonStephen J. CannellNovember 25, 1981 (1981-11-25)
When a motorcycle gang learns about Ralph and the suit, they grab Bill and force Ralph to help them get back at the Sheriff who humiliated them.
145"Classical Gas"Bruce KesslerFrank LupoDecember 2, 1981 (1981-12-02)
Ralph and Pam help his students rehearse their rock band for a show, not realizing the promoter plans to release nerve gas into the audience.
156"The Beast in the Black"Arnold LavenJuanita BartlettDecember 9, 1981 (1981-12-09)
Ralph finds a window into the Fourth Dimension while scouting an old house. Bill gets possessed by a woman's spirit, and Ralph must return her through that window...but therein waits a vicious beast, against which the suit is powerless.
167"The Lost Diablo"Lawrence DohenyJuanita BartlettDecember 16, 1981 (1981-12-16)
Bill learns of a lost gold mine and tricks Ralph and the kids into helping him search for it; they are met with resistance from the local thieves.
178"Plague"Arnold LavenRudolph BorchertJanuary 6, 1982 (1982-01-06)
Ralph and Bill have to save mankind from a deadly plague virus that a fanatical right-wing military group hopes to unleash on an unsuspecting world.
189"Train of Thought"Lawrence DohenyFrank LupoJanuary 13, 1982 (1982-01-13)
Ralph is injured after a head-on collision with a train and suffers a selective amnesia: he remembers everything BUT Bill, the suit...and a terrorist plot to release atomic waste into a small town.
1910"Now You See It"Robert C. ThompsonPatrick HasburghJanuary 20, 1982 (1982-01-20)
Ralph is able to see two hours into the future, at which time Pam's plane will crash.
2011"The Hand-Painted Thai"Bruce KesslerStephen J. Cannell,
Patrick Hasburgh,
Frank Lupo
January 27, 1982 (1982-01-27)
Years ago, prisoners of war were brainwashed to respond to a code phrase. Now, someone is using them to commit acts of sabotage. Bill and Ralph investigate, but Bill inadvertently falls under a hypnotic trance, leaving the heroics up to Ralph.
2112"Just Another Three Ring Circus"Chuck BowmanStephen J. CannellFebruary 3, 1982 (1982-02-03)
Ralph takes a job at the circus as a human cannonball while trying to help Bill bust a crime ring that involves a phony dating service.
2213"The Shock Will Kill You"Rod HolcombTeleplay: Stephen J. Cannell and Frank Lupo
Story: Patrick Hasburgh
February 10, 1982 (1982-02-10)
While rescuing a stricken space shuttle Ralph becomes hyper-magnetized, resulting his being attracted to all things metal. Meanwhile, a strange creature aboard the shuttle heads towards Los Angeles, electrocuting all who get in its way.
2314"A Chicken in Every Plot"Rod HolcombDanny Lee Cole,
J. Duncan Ray
February 17, 1982 (1982-02-17)
Ralph, Pam and the kids fly to a Caribbean island to visit a friend of Bill's. When they arrive they find Bill's friend murdered and the island racked by a voodoo-driven revolt against the government.
2415"The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea"Sidney HayersFrank LupoFebruary 24, 1982 (1982-02-24)
Ralph and Bill hunt for the sea creature "Carrie" in the Bermuda Triangle, thinking that the monster may be responsible for all of the boats that disappear there. Instead, they uncover a stolen boat ring.
2516"It's All Downhill from Here"Sidney HayersPatrick HasburghMarch 3, 1982 (1982-03-03)
While on a ski trip, Ralph witnesses the murder of an American Olympic team member, who had actually been receiving top-secret military information from a Russian defector. He must then protect him and his girlfriend from a KGB hit squad.
2617"Dreams"Bruce KesslerStephen J. CannellMarch 17, 1982 (1982-03-17)
An act of kindness backfires badly when Ralph uses the suit to help a co-worker with a personal project. This leads his other co-workers to take daring chances for their own shots at success. Soon, he must hustle to prevent them from ruining their lives, but also to save Bill from a vengeful, recently paroled killer.
2718"There's Just No Accounting..."Ivan DixonFrank LupoMarch 24, 1982 (1982-03-24)
Bill convinces the parents of a kidnap victim to pay the ransom, certain that Ralph can recover it when he saves their little girl. Alas, when he does so, Ralph finds himself being audited by an overzealous IRS agent who is convinced that he took the ransom money. Meanwhile, Ralph and Bill keep getting shot at by a mysterious adversary with no connection to the kidnapping.
2819"Good Samaritan"Bruce KesslerRudolph BorchertMarch 31, 1982 (1982-03-31)
Ralph, tired of simply pursuing criminals, decides that he wants to help people. He starts by helping a man who is being forced out of his home.
2920"Captain Bellybuster and the Speed Factory"Arnold LavenStephen J. Cannell,
Frank Lupo
April 7, 1982 (1982-04-07)
A man (Chuck McCann) who plays a superhero for a hamburger chain discovers that the stores are a front for drug dealers; he calls on Ralph for help.
3021"Who's Woo in America"Bob BenderPatrick HasburghApril 14, 1982 (1982-04-14)
Ralph's mother (William Katt's real-life mother, Barbara Hale) comes for a visit, and announces that she is engaged to be married to Philip Kabala, a much younger man. Kabala has a shady background, though, and a bunch of thugs mistake Ralph for the fiance.
3122"Lilacs, Mr. Maxwell"Robert CulpRobert CulpApril 28, 1982 (1982-04-28)
Ralph breaks into the FBI archives and helps Bill solve a number of cold cases. As a result, Bill becomes a hero and a target for a beautiful KGB assassin. This was the first of the two episodes that Robert Culp wrote and directed.

Season 3 (1982–83)[edit]

No. in
series
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
321"Divorce Venusian Style"Ivan DixonPatrick HasburghOctober 29, 1982 (1982-10-29)
After a loud argument with Bill, Ralph quits the hero business and leaves Bill with his super-suit and is immediately shot. To save his life, the Green Guys are forced to reveal themselves, bring Bill and Ralph aboard and give them a new Instruction Book, as well as the purpose for having chosen them.
332"The Price Is Right"Ivan DixonStephen J. CannellNovember 5, 1982 (1982-11-05)
While attending a high-school reunion, Ralph discovers that the wife of a famous pro football player is being held hostage to ensure her husband will throw the big game.
343"This Is the One the Suit Was Meant For"Ivan DixonBabs GreyhoskyNovember 12, 1982 (1982-11-12)
Pam is ready to break up with Ralph because he always puts the suit first. Bill gives them tickets to a tropical island to keep them together. Once there, they discover Bill's true plan: to use the suit to find a missing experimental aircraft.
354"The Resurrection of Carlini"Arnold LavenFrank LupoNovember 19, 1982 (1982-11-19)
A magician who was killed performing his greatest trick seemingly returns from the grave to murder his three rivals. Ralph must use his suit to out-trick the would-be killer.
365"The Newlywed Game"Chuck BowmanBabs GreyhoskyJanuary 6, 1983 (1983-01-06)
On the way to Ralph's bachelor party, he and Bill are kidnapped and Ralph is persuaded to fly a mission for the president.
376"Heaven Is in Your Genes"Christian I. Nyby IIPatrick HasburghJanuary 13, 1983 (1983-01-13)
Ralph must rescue Bill from kidnapping by a crazed scientist who wants to experiment on him to find out what makes him such a successful agent.
387"Live at Eleven"Arnold LavenBabs GreyhoskyJanuary 20, 1983 (1983-01-20)
While foiling a plutonium robbery, Ralph gets exposed to radiation and discovers a new ability: he can mentally influence people. He and Bill must discover who is behind the robbery attempt, and find the connection to a TV news anchor who plans to run for president.
398"Space Ranger"Ivan DixonRudolph BorchertJanuary 27, 1983 (1983-01-27)
Ralph finds that his newest student is wanted by the CIA and KGB after tapping into a Soviet satellite.
409"Thirty Seconds Over Little Tokyo"Arnold LavenDanny Lee Cole,
J. Duncan Ray
February 3, 1983 (1983-02-03)
Ralph and Bill find themselves trying to protect a Japanese inventor after a terrorist tries to kidnap him and steal his invention: a powerful laser weapon.
4110"Wizards and Warlocks"Bruce KesslerShel WillensUnaired
Bill is called upon to find a missing Middle Eastern prince, but it turns out that the prince is playing Wizards & Warlocks, a game in which someone gives him a task to do. Ralph and Bill try to unravel the mystery of the game and find the prince before the potential kidnappers do.
4211"It's Only Rock and Roll"Christian I. Nyby IIBabs GreyhoskyUnaired
After receiving a bomb threat, Bill is put in charge of protecting Dak Hampton, the lead singer of a rock and roll group.
4312"Desperado"Christopher NelsonStephen J. Cannell,
Frank Lupo
Unaired
Ralph and Pam come across some horse rustlers who steal a herd of wild mustangs, but Ralph stops them from capturing the prize stallion, Desperado.
4413"Vanity, Says the Preacher"Robert CulpRobert CulpUnaired
Bill accepts an invitation to be honored as Man of the Year by a Latin American country where, years before, he was instrumental in helping them establish a democratic government. This time, however, Ralph suspects treachery, and refuses to intervene. The Green Guys return, and warn Bill that Ralph was right. This was the second of the two episodes that Robert Culp wrote and directed.
4514"The Greatest American Heroine"Tony MordenteStephen J. Cannell (created by), Babs GreyhoskyUnaired

The aliens tell Ralph to find a suitable replacement for himself when his secret identity is revealed to the world. Much to Bill's disgust he selects a woman to be his successor.

[4]

Home releases[edit]

At present, the following DVD sets of this series have been released.[5]

DVD set Episodes Company Release date
The Greatest American Hero: Season 1 9 Starz/Anchor Bay February 15, 2005 (2005-02-15)
The Greatest American Hero: Season 2 22 Starz/Anchor Bay April 5, 2005 (2005-04-05)
The Greatest American Hero: Season 3 13 Starz/Anchor Bay August 2, 2005 (2005-08-02)
The Greatest American Hero: Deluxe Collector's Tin 44 Starz/Anchor Bay October 3, 2006 (2006-10-03)
The Greatest American Hero: The Complete Series 44 Mill Creek Entertainment May 18, 2010 (2010-05-18)
The Greatest American Hero: Season 1 9 Mill Creek Entertainment May 18, 2010 (2010-05-18)
The Greatest American Hero: Season 2 22 Mill Creek Entertainment October 12, 2010 (2010-10-12)

References[edit]