Ralph Hinkley


Real Name
Ralph Hinkley
First Appearance
The Greatest American Hero, "The Greatest American Hero"
Stephen J. Cannell
Team Affiliations
Ralph Hanley
Base of Operations
Los Angeles
Flight, Super Strength, others
Skills and Abilities
Professional teacher
Super suit

Ralph Hinkley (referred to as Hanley in two episodes) is the superhero protagonist of the tv series The Greatest American Hero,

Raph Hinkley was played by William Katt.


Ralph Hinkley had an encounter with aliens who provided him with a special suit that gave him superpowers.  Unfortunately, Ralph lost the instruction manual and soon found that he needed to learn how to use his powers the hard way.


The specifics of Ralph Hinkley's childhood remain unrevealed.  What is known is that he became a substitute special education school teacher in Los Angeles, California.

While returning at night from a field trip with his students, Ralph Hinkley's bus broke down in the middle of the desert. He almost struck by a car belonging to FBI agent Bill Maxwell (portrayed by Robert Culp). Maxwell's car doesn't start again. Two mysterious U.F.O.s show up, leaving Maxwell and Ralph locked in the vehicle. A flying saucer approaches and hovers in front of them. The radio speaks to the pair through the car radio. It tells them they have a suit for Ralph Hinkley, and it will only work with him. An FBI agent named John, who was killed earlier in the episode, materializes from the saucer with the case holding the suit. John places the case in the trunk of the car, talks to the pair, then returns to the saucer. The saucer then leaves.

Maxwell and Hinkley open the trunk and remove the package. Maxwell drives off, leaving Hinkley to his own devices. Hinkley removes a book inset into the side of the package. Once opened by Ralph, he discovers it is labelled with the word INSTRUCTIONS and a set of tabs for access, apparently similar to a Rolodex. He replaces the book. As he begins walking back to the broken-down bus, the instruction book falls out. He fails to notice he dropped the book.

The next day, he opens the package and retrieves the suit from inside, trying it on. He eventually contacts Bill Maxwell to help him learn how to use the suit and fight crime. The lost instructions become a significant issue, as neither Ralph or Maxwell know how to use the suit.


The suit Ralph gained gave him a multitude of powers.  However, when he started using the suit, he had no idea the limits of his powers or how to properly use them.  He was able to access them and use them with increasing skill via trial and error.

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