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Series / The Greatest American Hero

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Bill (Robert Culp), Ralph (William Katt), and Pam (Connie Sellecca)

"Believe it or not, I'm walkin' on air
I never thought I could feel so free-ee-ee...
Flyin' away on a wing and a prayer
Who could it be?
Believe it or not, it's just me."
"Theme from The Greatest American Hero (Believe It or Not)"

Created by Stephen J. Cannell, the show first aired in 1981 on ABC and was both a comedy and a drama. Ralph Hinkleynote , played by William Katt, is a Los Angeles-based inner city school teacher to a class full of delinquents. He is a good, moral man, and because of this, aliens give him a special "Superman suit" that gives him special powers — but only it works for him. Unfortunately, he almost immediately loses the instruction manual and must discover its powers by trial and error. He is paired up with FBI agent Bill Maxwell (Robert Culp), whose determination to fully exploit Ralph's new abilities keeps them both busy.

The suit gives Hinkley the power of strength, flight, invisibility, flames, telekinesis, vision of events without being there, protection from bullets and fire ... in short, whatever powers are required by the plot. But he doesn't know everything it does at first, and only slowly discovers its abilities. Essentially, the entire series runs on How Do I Shot Web?.

Ralph must balance his new powers and responsibilities with his old ones, which not only include his students, but his girlfriend Pam (Connie Selleca) and his son Kevin.

After building a reasonably good following for its first two seasons on Wednesday nights, the show became a victim of The Friday Night Death Slot when ABC paired it up with a new Cannell show The Quest, finally canceling it with four episodes unaired until syndication.

The show has two legacies:

  1. Its catchy Theme Tune, "Theme from The Greatest American Hero (Believe It or Not)", which made it to Billboard's #2 slot in 1981, and stayed on the charts for two years. It was written (with Stephen Geyer) by Mike Post, who also did the themes for The Rockford Files, Hill Street Blues, The A-Team, Hardcastle and McCormick, Hunter (1984) and L.A. Law, and turned Joey Scarbury into a one hit wonder.note 

  2. Though not the first project to come from Stephen J. Cannell Productions,note  it was the first to end with Cannell's distinctive Vanity Plate.note  (Hence the Pilot Movie marks the logo's debut.)

Various as-yet unsuccessful attempts to revive the show have surfaced over the years. Immediately following its cancellation, a pilot movie entitled The Greatest American Heroine aired on NBC, wherein Ralph has inadvertently angered the original aliens who gifted him the suit due to his heroism making him famous, and must find a successor to appease them; this successor being a young woman who must now master the suit with the aid of Bill, one of the few people allowed by the aliens to remember the events of the previous show. A short-lived comic book series was released in 2008, placing the story into modern-day and adding elements such as the FBI knowing to some degree about Ralph and his supersuit (with Max's hasty story that he's a test pilot of a prototype military weapon). In the 2010s, another Gender Flip version was proposed with Hannah Simone (New Girl) in the lead role, before ABC ultimately passed on it.

The series is currently being rerun on weekend mornings on Heroes & Icons. The entire series can be found on FilmRise's YouTube channel.

Believe it or not, this show provides examples of:

  • Arbitrary Skepticism: In "The Shock Will Kill You", Bill can't bring himself to believe at first that an extraterrestrial life form could be the problem, even though he has seen firsthand an alien spacecraft that gave Ralph the suit.
  • Artifact of Power: The Suit.
  • Amnesia Episode: "Train Of Thought" Ralph gets selective amnesia a runaway train hits him on the head on his first attempt to stop it. As a result he forgets about everything tied to The Suit.
  • Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: See Artifact of Power.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Way averted. Bill Maxwell is determinedly careful with his guns, or at least as much as possible when the circumstances permit. He never points his weapon at anyone he isn't willing to shoot (and he does this even when the person in question is his bulletproof partner, Ralph), keeps the safety on until he absolutely has to take it off, and when picking up or putting down a weapon always clears the it first.
    • In one particular episode, Maxwell needs "backup" to intimidate and arrest the bad guys so he hands Pam Davidson an M-16 that we have just watched Bill unload, clear, and double-check before it ever left his hands. And when she accidentally points this weapon... which he knows is unloaded because he, himself, cleared it... at Ralph (who Bill knows is a bulletproof superhero), Bill pushes the barrel away and then shows her how to hold and carry it without pointing at anyone.
    • On another occasion, Pam is holding up the bad guys of the week with Guns Akimbo, and Bill asks her to give him the guns. She does so — by pointing them directly at him. Bill reacts to the safety violation with a nervous laugh and immediately pushing the muzzles to a safer direction.
  • Badass Normal: Bill Maxwell, not even multiple broken bones slow him down.
  • Badass Teacher: Ralph, with or without the suit, will stop anyone from hurting his students.
  • Baseball Episode: "The 200 MPH Fastball."
  • Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts: In the episode "Operation: Spoilsport," Ralph and Bill keep passing a reanimated corpse in the desert.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Ralph is a kind, compassionate, generous, socially conscious bleeding-heart liberal whose calling in life is to help troubled youth. That said, threaten people, abuse his kindness or simply push him too far and he will not hesitate to ruin your day.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Bill's black FBI then-partner John Mackie is the first person in the series to get killed being gunned down early in the Pilot Movie after failing to escape the bad guys chasing him.
  • Bland-Name Product: "Wizards And Warlocks" in the episode of the same name is basically Dungeons & Dragons.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The suit-bestowing aliens get into this territory on occasion, starting with the said giving of such power to a single random human.
  • Bulletproof Vest: When Ralph is wearing the suit when he is Dressed in Layers, he is essentially wearing the ultimate ballistic armor that completely protects him from bullets, including the impact of their kinetic energy.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Not Pam, who is an actual lawyer. Bill however is an FBI agent and clearly not playing with a full deck.
  • Busman's Holiday: Bill tricks Ralph and Pamela into one of these in "This Is the One the Suit Was Meant For" to retrieve a top secret jet that's vanished in the tropics.
  • Call-Back: Several. The most prominent is probably Bill's ongoing love of dog biscuits acquired in an early episode. In a case of Trauma-Induced Amnesia, Pam and Bill convince Ralph that the super-suit is genuine by having him lift up a car, which is how he convinced Pam in the pilot.
  • Camera Obscurer: Pam in "Desperado".
  • Cape Snag: Subverted...Ralph's cape is just about the only thing that didn't give him problems when he used the suit. Well, it did flop over his head and block his vision on occasion, but that's a side effect of Ralph being able to use the suit to fly but not to make a controlled landing.
  • Catchphrase: While the show itself didn't spark any catch phrases of its own, two episodes feature ones which would become common in future Stephen J. Cannell programs. "Just Another Three Ring Circus" has Maxwell saying a variation of Hannibal Smith's "I love it when a plan comes together", while "The Shock Will Kill You" features Ralph repeatedly saying Rick Hunter's "Works for me."
    • Bill has the word "scenario," his favorite word, which he uses multiple times per episode. Lampshaded in the episode where he accidentally gets hypnotized to fall asleep every time he hears the word, even from his own lips.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Kevin pretty much vanished after appearing in many first season episodes. He does rate a mention in a couple of second season episodes, but is not seen. Rhonda disappears with no explanation in season three.
  • Circus Episode: "Just Another Three Ring Circus" (surprisingly).
  • Clear My Name: Tony in "Fire Man."
  • Clothes Make the Superman: All of Ralph's powers come from the suit.
  • Continuity Nod: Bill mentions getting Ralph into Major League Baseball ("The 200 MPH Fastball") during "It's All Downhill From Here".
  • Cool Shades: Bill.
  • Cowboy Cop: Bill Maxwell, though he's technically a FBI agent.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The end credits for the third season episode "Dreams" are shown with a reprise of the original song of the same name which played earlier during the episode.
  • Cryptid Episode: "The Devil in the Deep Blue Sea" has Ralph wanting to go sea-serpent hunting, before getting distracted by more human villains. It turns out the serpent does exist, but only the viewer gets to see it.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The suit doesn't keep Ralph from being on the receiving end of one of these from the title character of "The Beast in the Black".

  • A Day in the Limelight: "Lilacs, Mr. Maxwell" and "Vanity, Says The Preacher" focus on Bill (probably not coincidentally, Robert Culp wrote and directed both episodes), while "Fire Man" prominently features Tony.
  • Deadpan Snarker: All three main characters have their moments.
  • Deconstructive Parody: Of superhero tropes, in that they don't quite apply in the real world, but that's how the suit works.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: Ralph breaks Bill's hand with a too-firm handshake. He also has quite the habit of ripping doors off their hinges.
  • Dog Food Diet: Bill's preferred diet is dog food biscuits and hamburgers. He apparently developed a taste for the former after they were all the companions had to eat in "The Hit Car," the second episode of the series.
  • Dressed in Layers: Ralph, though depending on what he's wearing getting his outer outfit off the suit can be a time-consuming process.
  • Dynamic Entry: The first time Ralph tries this in the pilot on a brick wall, he flinches at the last second and bounces off, though leaving a respectable crater. As the series progresses and Ralph gains more confidence he has no trouble bursting through doors, steel hatches and even solid concrete walls.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Bill is dead serious and played very straight by Robert Culp in the pilot, as opposed to the more easy-going, boss-ribbing, sometimes oblivious character he would later become. Ralph's hair is also huge in the pilot.
    • Bill's behavior could be his way of dealing with the fact that his partner was just killed.
  • Easy Come, Easy Go: In "Divorce Venusian Style," Ralph is given a second instruction book to replace the first one that he lost. By the end of the episode he has lost the second book, leaving him no better off than before.
  • '80s Hair: Hinkley is a superhero with a freakin' perm. (Rhonda also has her moments with this trope.)
    • If the MAD satire "The Greatest American Zero" is anything to go by, he may have been called out on it even at the time ("Did you see the way (Clark Kent) has his hair styled? You ought to try it! I mean... you look like Shirley Temple!").
  • Embarrassing but Empowering Outfit: The Suit, oh good heavens, the Suit. William Katt said later that his dismayed facial expression while looking at the suit in the credits was pretty much his real reaction to it.
  • Embarrassing Cover Up: Ralph comes up with all sorts of zany explanations for why he's wearing the suit when innocent bystanders happen on him, most of them embarrassing enough that people don't ask anything more.
    • One of the best is when he loses his invisibility in the middle of a restaurant and pretends to be an actor advertising a production of Shaw's 'Man and Superman'. It works.
  • Expy: This series is what you get when you combine Superman with Green Lantern and....Welcome Back, Kotter.
  • Eye Beams: Ralph discovers he has heat vision, burning a bush almost by accident.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Ralph never gets a complete handle on the suit, even losing a second instruction manual given to him by the mysterious aliens. Subverted in that he does get noticeably better over time at flying and using certain powers like invisibility.
  • Faint in Shock: Pam does this after Ralph demonstrates the suit's power by casually picking up the front end of her car.
  • Faking Engine Trouble: In a number of episodes Bill would fake car trouble as a cover while Ralph goes into a situation inside the building.
  • FBI Agent: Bill.
  • Flying Brick: Just part of the powers he has. Although considering his landings, it's more "brick" than "flying."
  • Free Range High School Students: Ralph is apparently free to take his class on spur of the moment field trips and search parties, free of any needed permission slips. Validated to an extent by the fact that the school has given up on them, and as Pam says, half of their parents practically need to be introduced to their kids.
  • Freudian Trio - The Kirk: Ralph, The Spock: Bill, The McCoy: Pam.
  • General Ripper: The villain of "Operation: Spoilsport" is one of these.
  • Gold Fever: Bill is hit especially hard with this in "The Lost Diablo." Even the kids from Ralph's class dump the water from their canteens in order to put more gold ore in them.
  • Happily Married: Ralph and Pam, eventually.
  • Haunted House: The house in "The Beast in the Black."
  • Hello, Attorney!: It doesn't escape Bill's notice in the Pilot Movie that Pam is not unattractive.
  • Heroic BSoD: Ralph has a brief one in "Operation: Spoilsport." The countdown to nuclear war is running, the aliens are radio-bombing him with "Eve of Destruction" and he's lost Bill with no idea how to find him. In desperation, Ralph breaks into the home of the computer scientist behind the doomsday device in hopes of getting a holovision vibe off his belongings, terrifying the man's poor wife in the process and well-aware that his rambling explanation is making him look even more unhinged. He finally just breaks down under the stress, enough so that even the fearful woman feels sorry for him. Fortunately, it is right then that he gets the vibes he needs to find where to go.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: Having lost the instruction book, Ralph has to figure out the suit's powers through trial and error.
  • Human Popsicle: In one episode, we see what seems to be other pairs of people "sleeping" inside the alien's ship, apparently replacements for the main characters if they are deemed a failure.
  • Hypno Fool: In "The Hand-Painted Thai," Bill falls asleep every time someone utters the word "scenario", after consistently insisting that hypnotism is bunk and that it's impossible to hypnotize him thanks to his mental strength.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Bill, according to black-and-white footage in the last episode.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Ralph would balk at the slightest suggestion to use the suit for personal gain. Justified in an episode which depicts a former suit-wearer who used the suit to get rich and wound up becoming completely corrupted and losing the suit back to the aliens.
  • Inner City School: Where Hinkley works.
  • Intimidating Revenue Service: In the episode "There's Just No Accounting..." Ralph, Pam and Bill are all harassed by an IRS agent who audits or threatens to audit them. It's hard to feel sorry for the IRS agent when the villain of the episode horsewhips him for also harassing said villain and his employees.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Bill.
  • The Korean War: Bill Maxwell is a veteran of Korea. His old unit captain features in one episode as a cop gone bad.
  • Last of His Kind: The alien who gave Ralph his suit is hinted to be this, in the episode where he shows them his dead world (presumably destroyed by nuclear war). He's trying to save humanity from the same fate.
    • If considered canon, averted in the Greatest American Heroine pilot which features three aliens.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: As noticed by the hosts of the GAH podcast for the episode "Fire Man", a guard copies down the license plate TV6-911 in such away that the 6 looks like a G, the 9 an A, and the 11 an H. Later they also noted that twice the show has made jokes about Ralph's students looking older than they are.
  • Left Hanging: Whatever happened to those pictures of Ralph in the suit that the PI working for his ex-wife took?
    • it is mentioned in the Pilot that Bill is aware of them and will "take care of it"
  • Little Green Men: When we (and Ralph) finally meet one of the aliens face-to-face, he is in fact green, but not particularly little.
  • Loyal Phlebotinum: Ralph's suit only works for Ralph.
  • Magical Negro: in the pilot episode, the alien intelligence that delivers the suit to Ralph and Bill comes to them in the form of John, Bill's former FBI partner killed in the opening scene.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Bill's Pointy-Haired Boss assigns Bill to locate a missing Polish clown in "Just Another Three Ring Circus". This leads to a conclave of foreign spies being uncovered. Sadly the clown was killed.
  • More Hypnotizable Than He Thinks: Bill in "The Hand-Painted Thai."
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: "The Beast in the Black" is nothing but a set of giant chomping teeth.
  • Mundane Utility: Ralph will occasionally wear the suit when he thinks it will come in handy for everyday matters. On one occasion he wears the suit as ski-wear when he and Pam go skiing. Ralph claims it's because he doesn't get cold with the suit on, but Pam notes that it also makes him a much more proficient skier and he's been showing off on the slopes.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Justified in that the suit had a lot of capabilities and Ralph did not know all of them. The show would also subvert this by having Ralph be unable to use his powers in quite the way he intended (e.g. pyrokinesis setting the wrong object on fire). See Failure Is the Only Option above.
  • New Super Power: In several episodes, he discovers new powers, some of which are never used again, such as mind control (which he developed after being exposed to plutonium) and the ability to shrink himself (his attempt at using the newly acquired second instruction book).
  • Ninja Episode "Thirty Seconds Over Little Tokyo".
  • Noodle Incident: In "A Chicken In Every Plot", Tony is impressed that Ralph can hot wire a car. Ralph tells Tony to remind him to tell him someday about how he became a teacher.
  • Odd Couple: Ralph and Bill, of course.
  • Oh, Crap!: There is a mass Oh Crap moment in the pilot episode. Ralph has taken the kids on a trip, and they stop at a local diner for a bite to eat. Bill is eating there as well, and the kids' loud, brash behavior causes him to give them a disparaging look (he was also still dealing with the death of his partner). Tony notices and immediately confronts Bill. Tony manages to miss every single one of Bill's warning signals (turning on his stool to directly face Tony, unblinking eye contact, monotone voice, and hand under his jacket where a gun would logically be). Tony pulls a knife, only to find himself staring down the barrel of a .38 Special. At this moment, the diner goes deathly silent and each of the kids is so terrified that their faces look as if they're about to shatter. Tony in particular is wearing a look that clearly shows that for the first time in his life he realizes he is in the real world now, schools out, and he's only one squeeze of a trigger away from dying. Ralph manages to defuse the situation, but even the look on his face shows that he's scared shitless. A brief, but very well done scene. It's even more powerful when you realize that, as a federal agent, Bill would have been perfectly justified in killing Tony the moment he pulled the knife on him.
  • The Plague: In the episode helpfully titled Plague.
  • Power Incontinence
  • Power Perversion Potential: In "Live at Eleven", Ralph can't resist using his (temporary) mind-control powers on Pam. (Although it never goes any further than prank-level behavior.)
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Michael Paré and Faye Grant, as of season 2. Don Cervantes gets promoted for a single episode only.
  • Psychometry: Ralph can pick up some mental images left in objects by their previous owner. Examples include, upon finding a bomb, getting the location of a second one.
  • Put on a Bus: Kevin. He disappears completely by the third season.
  • Race Against the Clock: In "Operation Spoilsport" the heroes learn from the aliens they have just a couple of days to head off World War III.
  • Real After All: As noted, "The Devil in the Deep Blue Sea" and its legendary sea-serpent.
  • Reset Button: You give up the suit, you make everyone forget (except you).
  • Real Life Designs The Suit: Cannell based the emblem on Ralph's suit on the handles of a pair of left-handed scissors he kept on his desk.
    • It's also very similar to the Mahjong tile 'Red' or 'Red Dragon' and the Chinese character for "center." The Cantonese-dubbed version was titled "Flying Red Center Hero."
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: William Katt and Connie Selleca were unavailable for a revived NBC series, leading to the retooling as The Greatest American Heroine, a concept the network passed up.
    • William Katt and Robert Culp didn't get along at all at first (The main issue being that Culp resented not getting top billing, and Katt resenting Culp for resenting that). Luckily for the first few episodes Bill and Ralph don't care for each other too much either. Katt and Culp quickly put aside their problems about the same time their characters did the same on the show.
    • In the pilot the distress on Katt's face as he looks at himself in the mirror in suit for the first time. He recalls thinking during that scene "Here's William Katt, throwing away his career." When telling Cannell that he looked "ridiculous" in the suit, Cannell told him that that was the point.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Ralph doesn't make a whole lot of effort to be inconspicuous in his super-heroing, relying mostly on the fact that even if anybody sees his actions, who's going to believe them?
  • Reluctant Hero: Well, at first.
    Look at what's happened to me
    I can't believe it myself
    Suddenly I'm on top of the world
    It should have been somebody else...
  • Re-Release Soundtrack: The episode "Operation: Spoilsport" concerns a looming plot to start World War III, and features the highly-appropriate Protest Song "Eve of Destruction" constantly being played for/at Ralph by the supersuit-bestowing aliens; a whole lot of impact and sense is lost in those airings of the episode where the song has to be replaced with a generic instrumental tune.
  • Running Gag:
    • Bill is constantly injured and is constantly wrecking his cars, accidental or not.
    • Ralph almost always crashes anytime he lands after flying.
    • Bill is hopeless at pronouncing French loanwords, such as "repertoire".
  • Save Our Students: What Hinkley was doing before he got the suit.
  • Screeching Stop: The first time Ralph Hinkley uses his super-suit to run super-fast, he is not only accompanied by a train-like "chugga-chugga-chugga" as he runs but when he tries to stop, it's accompanied by a screeching stop. And he was running on gravel.
  • Self-Deprecation: "Captain Bellybuster and the Speed Factory" features cheesy local commercials with the eponymous "superhero" "flying".. using exactly the same special effects that the show did with Ralph's flights.
  • Shout-Out: When Ralph is in the hospital, an off-screen voice is heard, "That's a bad outfit, Jim."
  • Spinning Newspaper: Announcing Ralph to the world in the Greatest American Heroine pilot.
  • Status Quo Is God: Subverted when Ralph and Pam get married.
  • Stealth Insult: In "It's Only Rock and Roll", Bill is openly critical of Dak Hampton's rock music and goes on a rant about what makes good music.
    Bill: In the army, I played a pretty mean accordion. I don't get a chance to rehearse anymore, you know, but I had a version of Lady of Spain that would have brought tears to your eyes.
    Dak: I'm sure it would.
  • Super Hero
  • Superheroes Wear Capes
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Tony Villicana was a prominent character for the first two season, but only appeared in one third season episode. For the rest of the season, a character named Joey filled his role. Justified since Joey was not a new character but had been a part of Ralph's class since day one. Similarly, in the third season, Tammy is basically a replacement for Rhonda.
  • Telekinesis: In one episode, Ralph discovers from a previous suit holder that he can move objects with his mind — but only if he clears his mind first. To clear his mind, he tries imagining a great big sheet of plain white paper. He has to concentrate on this image of white paper more dilligently at some times than at others.
    • In "Here's Looking at You, Kid", Bill is trying to get Ralph to move things with his mind when Ralph turns invisible instead.
    • In another episode, he proves skilled enough to use it to crack a large tumbler-lock safe.
  • Thematic Theme Tune: Check it out.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: The instrumental version of the show's theme music often plays when Ralph takes flight or otherwise uses the suit to do something heroic.
  • Title Drop: As Ralph is exposed in the Greatest American Heroine pilot, the President greets him with "Thank you, Mr. Hinkley, you just proved what we've suspected for a while now...that this country truly has ... The Greatest American Hero".
  • Touched by Vorlons: Or at least given one of their suits to wear.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: One of the show's running gags has Bill snacking on a box of Milk Bones.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The network promo for "Captain Bellybuster and the Speed Factory" made it look like Ralph would be dealing with another super-powered suit-wearer, when actually.. see above under Self-Deprecation.
  • Transformation Is a Free Action: Humorously averted. Depending on what Ralph is wearing, it can take some time for him to take it off so he can save the day.
  • Translator Microbes: In "Divorce Venusian Style", the aliens lend Ralph and Bill a translator device so they can have a discussion in English. It doesn't help when the alien tries to say the name of his home planet and it comes out as a series of wordless squeaks, then adds, "There is no other way to say it."
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: A collision with a train causes Ralph to selectively forget everything back to the time he acquired the suit. Bill and Pam have to convince him the suit is real and remind him how it works; made harder by the fact that Ralph now no longer trusts Bill, remembering only the run-in they had upon first meeting. Ironically, Ralph is better at flying as an amnesiac than with his memory. He recovers after a close call with yet another train.
  • Uncanceled: Well, almost. About three years after it had been canceled by ABC, NBC expressed interest in reviving the show. A twenty minute presentation film was created which set up the premise for the revamped series - Ralph was found out after the media happened to film one of his rescues. At first reluctant to 'go Hollywood' he quickly became very famous and well known. The aliens return and insist that he has been compromised and demand he give up the suit to someone else to work with Bill Maxwell. To Maxwell's horror, Ralph gives the suit to a woman, making way for the title change Greatest American Heroine. For a number of reasons NBC passed on it and the footage was edited with other footage to make one final episode for the syndication package and eventual DVDs.
  • Truth Serum: In "Operation: Spoilsport" Bill gets injected with one of these, leading to Intoxication Ensues hijinks.
  • Up, Up and Away!: The first time Ralph tries to fly, a young bystander helpfully explains that he has to take three steps and jump, then adapt this pose. It sort of works.
    • In one episode, Bill comes up with an idea — rudders! The idea is that Ralph would attach them to his boots for stability. They don't help one bit.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Ralph and Bill.
  • Weirdness Censor: Most of the people who see Ralph in the suit think he's nuts (which became a Running Gag), promoting a show, or make up various other rationalizations for his odd form of dress. Some of the bad guys that Ralph fights think he's a gymnast or martial arts expert. Police who arrest said bad guys assume they're delusional or lying when the bad guys start talking about a flying, super-strong man.
    • In the current comics, most people assume he's a lucha libre fan, or even an aspiring luchador. Max's excuse to other cops is that Ralph is the test pilot of a top secret military weapon.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Hinkley when he starts teaching at the school.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The kidnappers at the start of "There's Just No Accounting..." intend to kill the little girl they's snatched, once they've gotten the ransom that Maxwell delivers. It's what to happens to the money that kicks off the main plot in the episode... (no of course the girl's saved...)
  • Written-In Absence: Pam is absent from the early episodes of season two, apart from a few scenes where she's on the phone with Ralph. The explanation is that she's in another city "working on a big case". In reality, Connie Sellecca was pregnant and on maternity leave at the time.