The Greatest American Hero is an American comedy-drama television series that aired for three seasons from 1981 to 1983 on ABC.  It  premiered as a two-hour pilot movie on March 18, 1981. And it also had such a catchy theme song. Let’s see if we can jog your memory here.


Ralph Hinkley (Katt) is a Los Angeles public school substitute teacher of special education high school students. During a school field trip, the group encounter Aliens.greatest-american-hero-000

The Suit

The aliens give Hinkley a suit which endows him with superhuman abilities.greatest-american-hero-00

He Must Collaborate

Also during the encounter, he is instructed by the aliens to thereafter collaborate with FBI Special Agent Bill Maxwell (Culp). Their instructions are to use the suit as a means to fight crime and injustice in the world. Subsequently, Attorney Pam Davidson (Selleca), who handled Ralph’s divorce, also encounters the aliens. Through some coercion, she eventually agrees to, on occasion, join Ralph and Bill during missions. greatest-american-hero-02

His Powers

Ralph’s uniform grants him the powers of flight, super strength, being impervious to injury (including gunfire, explosions, fire, etc), invisibility, precognition, E.S.P., telekinesis, X-ray vision, super speed, pyrokinesis, holographic vision, shrinking, psychometry, and even the ability to detect the supernatural. As Ralph lost the suit’s instruction manual, his discovery of these different powers often come as a surprise even to himself.greatest-american-hero-01


Notably, while the suit enables Ralph to fly, it does not endow him with any particular skill at landing, so he frequently crashes in an undignified (if undamaged) heap.


There was quite a few episodes where Ralph learns new powers he has but just not quite sure how to use them. This kept us entertained each week. We tuned in just to see what force he had to deal with and what power it took to complete each mission.giphy[1]

The Symbol On His Chest

On the Season 1 DVD, Stephen J. Cannell notes that the symbol design on the front of the suit is actually based on a pair of scissors that he had on his desk during the design of the uniform. However, in Jeff Rovin’s book, The World Encyclopedia of Superheroes, the author claimed that it is actually an “open book and needle emblem.” The symbol on Ralph’s uniform resembles the Chinese character for “center” As the symbol is red in color, Hong Kong television station TVB termed the Cantonese-dubbed version of the show translated to mean “Flying Red Center Hero”.greatest-american-hero-03

Now Who Remembers This Show?

If you have not noticed you may watch closer now to the fact that Sheldon on The Big bang Theory wears a shirt with The Greatest American hero’s logo on it! Oddly, Sheldon wouldn’t of even been born yet! he just has good taste in hero’s!greatest-american-hero-05