The Greatest American Hero: Gone But Not Forgotten

The Greatest American Hero is a show that’s much beloved by folks of a certain generation. If you grew up in the seventies or eighties, the theme song is instantly iconic. In fact, the track “Believe it or Not” by Joey Scarbury actually made it all the way to the number 2 spot on the Billboard Charts. It was actually a bigger hit than the show itself, which only ran for two and a half seasons before being cancelled with five unaired episodes in early 1983. Yet, it remains part of the pop culture, with talk of rebooting it every now and then.

A reboot would definitely make sense given how obsessed people are with superheroes, with the red and black suit the hero wears iconic in its own way. The show starred cult horror icon William Katt (House) as Ralph Hanley, a teacher who’s endowed with superhuman abilities by aliens, who give him the red and black suit, which he never really figures out how to use. The show was a solid mixture of adventure and fantasy, with heavy doses of comedy, with Hanley a reluctant hero who hates to fly. He’s aided by an FBI agent played by TV vet Robert Culp (I Spy), and the show hailed from Stephen J. Cannell, the man behind The Rockford Files, The A-Team and many more.

In this episode of Gone But Not Forgotten, which is written by Jessica Dwyer, edited by Cesar Gabriel, and narrated by Travis Hopson, we dig into this classic show. We examine how the show was conceived, how it was an initial hit, and why it was abruptly cancelled. We also dig into failed reboots and sequels, such as the Greatest American Heroine, and how the show also introduced us to the great Michael Paré before Eddie & the Cruisers and Streets of Fire made him a heartthrob.

Do you have fond memories of The Greatest American Hero? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.