The Greatest American Hero vs. a ghost & demon?

The Greatest American Hero vs. a ghost & demon?


Like many kids in the early 1980s, I watched a television show called “The Greatest American Hero” starring William Katt. It’s about a school teacher who receives a suit made my beings from another planet. The suit gives the wearer superpowers such as flight, super speed, super strength, and so on. What I found cool then and now was that technology is what gives our hero these abilities. Granted, it’s technology that is far more advanced than what human beings are capable of (so far), but that’s not the point.

One episode that I remember most was from season two called “The Beast in Black”. In it, Ralph Hinkley (Katt) has to deal with the spirit of a woman inhabiting a hidden room in an old house. Then there’s the beast in black: a creature that stands between the room and the real world. Though it is never referred to as a demon in the episode, I always assumed it was. This episode brings together the superhero genre with the paranormal for some fascinating sequences. Honestly, this episode scared the bageezus out of me as a kid.

The thing that makes this episode the most special is that it shows just how brave Ralph Hinkley is. Spoiler coming: once Ralph goes into the 4th dimension, his suit no longer works. Without giving away too much, for those who have never seen this, Ralph has to face the ghost and demon to save Bill Maxwell (Robert Culp) all by his mortal self. By the way, Culp gives an amazing performance. Alright, I said too much. Watch the episode!

One more thing, The Retroist covered The Greatest American Hero on podcast episode 57. William Katt is interviewed in that podcast!

Justin M. Salvato

Seeker of 1980s nostalgia, rummager of vintage computers and player of retro video games. When not writing posts of The Retroist, I'm converting Retroist audio podcasts to Retroist video podcasts. My own videos can be found at

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. This is the one episode of this show that always stuck with me (even though I loved the show, I really don’t remember anything about any other episodes). …And even then, the only part that stuck with me was the part where he goes through the wall and encounters the ghost/demon/something dark for the first time and the escapes/gets ejected back into the real world. Scary stuff for a ~6yr old.

  2. I have the series on DVD and watch this episode in October around Halloween When Bill gets possessed by the woman that voice is one of creepiest things you’ll ever hear. Back when this originally aired I was just as scared of possessed Bill as the demon itself.

    Plus, the subject matter was pretty heavy for what is a comedy adventure show.

  3. Drahken… scary for a 6 year old? I still can’t watch it at night. Gotta be day time with the shades wide open.

    LeeMajorsHamill, you’re right: when the ghost’s voice comes out of Bill and he does her mannerisms, I get a bit freaked by that. It was a little TOO good as if he was really possessed.

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