The Greatest American Hero


The muzak where I work plays a rather odd selection of music. I was grumpily doing my job earlier this week when I was assaulted by a tune from the early 80's. The song was the theme song to the television series "The Greatest American Hero". For the uninitiated, let me fill you in.

The muzak where I work plays a rather odd selection of music. I was grumpily doing my job earlier this week when I was assaulted by a tune from the early 80's. The song was the theme song to the television series "The Greatest American Hero". For the uninitiated, let me fill you in. The show revolved about a hapless Special Ed teacher named Ralph Hinkley and his super hero suit. You see, Ralph was chosen by aliens to wear their super - suit. An FBI agent named Maxwell was chosen by the aliens to work with Ralph. However, Ralph lost the instruction manual to his suit (or "Magic Jammies" as Maxwell called them). Anyway, hearing the song made me want to do a write up for the magic jammies.

I decided the best way to do this would be with the Supers rules from GURPS. Unfortunately, it's been over 15 years since I last saw the show, so I can't remember everything the jammies could do. I also don't think that Ralph every fully found out everything they could do during the show. To represent this, I have added a bit of fudge factor into the write up. This fudge area can also be used to customize the suit for your own campaigns.

Magic Jammies

ST: 50 166pts
HT: +10 80pts
Invisibility 40pts
Flight 40pts
Super Running (3 levels) 60pts
Random Extra Powers 200pts
Activation roll for all powers of 11 -10%

Total cost 586pts (527pts with -10%)

The character who will be wearing this suit should be a normal human built with only about 50 pts. Alternately, if the GM doesn't want to allow the extra reserve of 200pts, the total cost would only be 347pts after the 10% reduction.


Absolutely cool addition to the site. Congratulations. Believe it or not I'm walking on air! I never though I could be so high-igh-igh!

Oh man.... I remember that show! I thought I was the only one! The theme song still makes me cry. ;)

but that's the great thing about the special abilities -- they're totally random and uncontrollable. One week they might grant x-ray vision, the next week you get ice breath.

Find any superhero game. Now locate the chart of super powers and randomly pick one. That's this week's extra power. Of course, Ralph generally just used the "core powers" -- but even those weren't 100% reliable (maybe make a roll to use any core power other than invulnerability?)


But you have forgotten the most important thing!
He might have flight, but you have to make the note that he can't land, he always crashed! (Well, except in that one episode he got amnesia and had to relearn how to use all those skills. :) )

Your right, but I kind of figured that anyone who would have used this right would remember that bit. It impresses me that this article keeps on getting rediscovered every couple of months. I'm glad most people seem to appreciate it.

It it possible to buy the series on vider or DVD, and was there ever a film based on the The greatest american hero made. My husband loved the series and has the song but to have it on DVD would rock his world. Thanks Cathy

I'm sorry Cathy, but I don't know anything about the series being available on VHS or DVD currently. It it was, you can be sure that I would be torturing my own wife with it. :)

While not currently available on DVD or Videotape, the series currently airs on the "action" network for those who get it. The suit's powers included:

-super strength.
-The ability to see the future (when he sees Pam's plane crashing. By touching others he can show them the visions)
-x-ray vision.
-supre-acute distance vision.
-speedy movement.
-the ability to get "vibes" from objects and hone in on the owners.
-ability to start fires (the running score on pyrokinesis; Ralph-1 Bills Cars-0).
-telekenisis (taught to him by the partner of a former suit owner who actually READ the instructions)

Stephen J. Cannell is currently working on a movie for both the Greatest American Hero and another of his shows... "The A-Team".

I can just picture Ving Rhames saying "I pity the fool...".

Oh my god, The A Team movie.
What's next Ripdtide? Married with children? Family ties? Magnum PI? oh my god! Will they make a Night Court Movie and give Markie Post an acting job again?

Ok I admit the Greatest American Hero was a nice fun series, but I got tired of it faster than Inspector Gadget, I mean, how many times can you watch an inept hero before he becomes more anoying than funny?

Please tell me both The A-Team and Greatest American Hero will be made for TV, please tell me they won't make them into big Hollywood lemons like the Avengers and all the other TV show movies that will get shoved into our face by a gizillion $ media machine and trick us into wasting 10$ and 2 hours of our live watching crap.

An A-Team movie would just be scary. I actually think that a Greatest American Hero movie could be done pretty well. It was never as well-known as A-Team or many other shows, and so would be fresh for many people. Besides, I just like silly movies. You better be careful Sam or the Magic Jammies are going to come get you. :)

I too was inspired years ago to re-create the Ralph Hinkly carachter in game form. In the early 90's I did him up for a Villans and Vigilantes campaign.

Glad to see so many people still remember the show and I'm certainly enjoying reliving my youth every day on Showcase: Action here in Ontario.

I remember one episode where he went into this haunted house. I guess looking for someones ghost, but he crossed over into this death dimenion and had the "jammies" shredded right off his skinny rear. Great show , getting old sucks!

Hello fellow tgah fans. I am writing to tell you that I've noticed a number of people requesting copies of the show. Well, about maybe 10 years ago, FX played them all- including the original movie. In my ultimate wisdom, I recorded each and every one of them. I still watch them regularly, and as a matter of fact I watched "The Beast In Black" last night for the 100th some time. I know I must be a freak or something, but all of my tapes are still in pretty good condition. The only thing about them is that I've noticed that stupid FX edited tiny parts so they could fit more commercials in the 1 hour show time. It's not that big of a deal, but I watched this show religously as a child, and I taped them on beta even back then. Boy did I want a power suit!!!! So, this all being said, I MAY be willing to copy some of them for other fans who miss this show as much as I would had I not taken such great care to guard my tapes and store them well. Write me and we'll talk if you wish. I am

Hi GAH fans,
You may wanna check out our Greatest American Hero collectibles and movie props exhibit. Located at

Hey green guy you also forgot shrinking and telekenisis on your list. I would absolutely love to get a hold of the series again but cannot find it anywhere up here in Canada.

I remember the series. Watched religiously as a kid. I'll
definately buy any Vhs or dvds of the series if available
Send me tips guys

I don't think the TV company - ABC, was it? - knows they're sitting on a goldmine!! There are so many folks who loved that show and would be willing to pay for DVD or even VHS! Hopefully, someone will soon find a way. "Bill Maxwell, FBI pal! Okay, what's the scenario?"

"Happiness is a warm pistola"

I was looking to buy "The Greatest American Hero" for my Dad and saw your questions on purchasing. I just wanted to let you know that I found a DVD of the original movie with the first episode on ebay. I think there is still one copy left.
Good luck

hello all i just came upon this site by chance first of i am pleased to anounce that upn channel 23 out of buffalo ny is broadcasting the show currently on eppisode 14 as of sat july 25 it plays on most sat & sun at 6 pm now for any fellow canadians like myself who live in the niagara area you will have to break out the rabbit ears to tune in but it's worth it (kinda reminds me of the old days snif snif) well so long 4 now kiddies

I think I'm the only in my country (Guatemala) one who remember with love "The Greatest American Hero", here they called "El Super Heroe NorteAmericano", I saw a few chapters but I love it. I will really appreciatte if any of you could tell me where could I find VHS or DVD about it. See ya.
"Believe it or not, I'm walking on air"

Wow, I just ran across a Greatest American hero joke on Homestar In one of the haloween episodes Homestar dresses up as him and sings the song, it's hilarious. I think I might throw that suit at someone in a game, that'd be cool.

Another thing, He crashed landed evertime he flew because he was afraid of heights. Remember him flying real close to the ground. Also he had to take three steps before he could fly.

I loved this show when I was a kid. I also remember "My Secret Identity" which was kind of along the same lines as TGAH except it was a Gamma ray (started getting common having people get powers from gamma rays back in the 80s). I, like so many before me, was looking for this show on DVD or VHS. Heck, I'll even take Windows Media, Quicktime or RealPlayer formats. Anyone have these on tape and want to digitize the episodes for us? :)

Also, wasn't there something about the suit not being usable by anyone except for him?


Man its great to be... "not as old"

This stuff reminds me of that stupid Damon Wayans BLANK MAN movie. Of course, derived from his HANDY MAN skits from the TV show "In Livin Color"

Blank Man was awesome though. He wore bulletproof pajamas for christ's sake.

There were two or three skits from 'In Livin Color' that could've been decent movies.

Fire Marshall Bill (whoa)
Handy Man
Vera De Moil (Jim Carrey as a dikey chick)

Considering all the crap skits turning into movies from the SNL crew (sheesh...give it a rest) I don't think these would be a problem.

FYI Guys,

"The Greatest American Hero" is getting an official release on DVD sometime late in 2004, or early in 2005. The DVDs out there for sale now, no mater how well done, are not OFFICIAL releases. Show your support for this great old show buy buying the approved Cannell releases when they finally come out!

"Look at what's happened to me,
I can't believe it myself.
Suddenly I'm up on top of the world,
It should've been somebody else.

"Believe it or not,
I'm walking on air.
I never thought I could feel so free eee eee.
Flying away on a wing and a prayer.
Who could it be?
Believe it or not it's just me.

"It's like a light of a new day,
It came from out of the blue.
Breaking me out of the spell I was in,
Making all of my wishes come true ue ue.

"Believe it or not,
I'm walking on air.
I never thought I could feel so free eee eee.
Flying away on a wing and a prayer.
Who could it be?
Believe it or not it's just me."

Hey Guys,

Come on over and check out the TheGreatestAmericanHero Yahoo group! Filled with informative messages, links, files, photos, and more, if you're a fan of the show, you're sure to find this group a treat!

Greatest American Hero Yahoo Group

As Bill Maxwell would say, "That's the scenario, kids." :)


I have an idea for the movie. Why not make him a tragically flawed hero. Give him some depth. He doesnt want to use the suit or be a hero b/c he was a hero once before and it got his wife killed. The movie should open up with him being just torn down and made fun of wherever he goes and he doesnt do anything about it. You figure out that his wife is dead but you dont know why. He goes for a run one night and then the alien ship. Then all that will explain why the aliens chose him. At the end he finally becomes the hero he should be when his new girlfriend is in danger. That nerd who becomes the hero in the end story line is so 80's.