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Series / Misfits of Science

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Before there was Heroes...

Misfits of Science is a short-lived American superhero fantasy television series that aired on NBC Fridays at 8 P.M. EST (against CBS's Top 10 hit Dallas) from October 1985 to February 1986.

It featured a cast of super-powered humans who work for Humanidyne Institute and their madcap adventures. Sort of like The A-Team meets the X-Men. The team consists of Dr. Elvin "El" Lincoln, a seven foot tall man who tried to make himself more normal sized, but who wound up giving himself shrinking powers instead; Johnny Bukowski, aka "Johnny B", a rock and roll singer who was electrocuted on stage and got electrical powers and Super-Speed, but he can't turn them off; Gloria Dinallo, a Troubled Teen with telekinetic powers; and Dr. Billy Hayes, who somehow manages to get the clashing personalties of the others to work together and so usually leads the Misfits' escapades. Another member, Arnold "Beef" Beifneiter, aka the "Ice Man", was introduced in the pilot movie but quietly dropped when the series proper started, due to legal issues from Marvel Comics.

Billy and Elvin work together at the Humanidyne Institute, which studies human anomalies like Johnny, Gloria, Arnold, and Elvin himself, and their current line of research often ties into each episode's plot. Their boss is Richard "Dick" Stetmeyer, the neurotic director of Humanidyne who just wants them to do their research, but Billy would rather galavant about, solve mysteries, and stop criminals.

An episode was written by Tim Kring, later the creator of the NBC show Heroes. A double-length pilot and 15 additional episodes were created; all episodes but one were broadcast in the United States during its original run. In France, the series was known as Superminds. In Germany where it was known as Die Spezialisten Unterwegs (The Specialists on Their Way). The Mexican Spanish dub called the series Los científicos rebeldes (The rebel scientists).

The whole series can be seen here.

Not to be confused with Misfits.


  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Billy's friend Dr. Morgan "Augie" Augenblickt from "Your Place Or Mayan?" is one of these, but he's considered a crackpot by other scientists and is killed when he starts getting too close to his goal of learning exactly what happened to the Mayans.
  • The Alleged Car: The Ice Cream truck the team rides in.
  • The Big Guy: Elvin, when he's not shrunk.
  • Blessed with Suck: Johnny B, who absorbs electricity around him whether he wants to or not (which makes playing an electric guitar impossible, derailing his career), forcing him to live as a hermit, and who has to occasionally release the electricity before it builds up too much. On top of that, his eyes glow when he's charged, so he has to wear sunglasses all the time to conceal them.
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: Johnny B will run out of juice when the plot requires it.
  • Genetic Memory: One episode's Special Guest Misfit, a teenage gang member wannabe, was able to read ancient Mayan writing because of his ancestry.
  • Glowing Eyes: When Johnny B, absorbs enough electricity, his eyes start glowing.
  • The Heart: Gloria is often in this role.
  • Human Popsicle: The Ice Man of the pilot movie, who cryogenically froze himself.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Multiple:
    • Elvin took hormonal treatments to make himself normal sized but ended up with shrinking powers.
    • Johnny B, whose electrical absorption powers completely destroyed his electric guitar-based rock-and-roll career.
  • An Ice Person: The Ice Man, though he only appears in the pilot movie. He got his powers when he cryogenically froze himself using imperfect 1937 technology, which gave him brain damage.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Elvin's size-changing occasionally leads to this, as he didn't invent Magic Pants to go along with his ability and must redress himself in dolls' clothing.
    Billy: What are you wearing?
    Elvin: Malibu Ken! *throws up a hang loose sign*
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Exactly how Johnny B got his powers was never revealed, but it was implied Billy was involved, and Johnny is still angry about it.
    • Plenty of references to other superpowered people are thrown in for laughs.
  • Not Wearing Tights: Just as they don't actually call themselves superheroes, they don't wear costumes, unless you count Elvin and Billy's lab coats, or the basketball team outfits most of the team sports in the pilot episode.
  • A Protagonist Shall Lead Them: Billy acts as the leader of the team. He has no powers, but he manages to get the others to work together.
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: Elvin carries Ken doll-sized clothes to change into whenever he shrinks.
  • Shoot the Television: The opening credits sequence always begins with someone kicking a small television set off of a table.
  • Shout-Out: The show's logo (not seen in the above image) is a knockoff of the logo for Masters of the Universe, for whatever reason.
  • The Smart Guy: Elvin acts as this. Billy is smart, too, though he tends to come across as more of a con artist.
  • Superhero: Though they never use that term, what else would you call a shrinking guy, an electric blaster, and a psychic teen?
  • Super Hero Origin: The pilot episode is this for Elvin, as well as for the team as a whole. Johnny B's origin is only alluded to (it involved an electrical accident at one of his concerts), and Gloria's psychic powers developed naturally (her mother claims that her father is an alien, but her mother is also in a mental institution).
  • Visual Title Drop: With T-shirts that say "Misfits of Science", that Billy made 10 of, as a uniform for an basketball team, after he and Elvin lose their jobs in the first episode.