ABOUT THE SHOW
The Greatest American Hero is an American comedy-drama television series that aired for three seasons from 1981 to 1983 on ABC. Created by producer Stephen J. Cannell, it premiered as a two-hour pilot movie on March 18, 1981. The series features William Katt as teacher Ralph Hinkley ("Hanley" for the latter part of the first season), Robert Culp as FBI agent Bill Maxwell, and Connie Sellecca as lawyer Pam Davidson.
The series chronicles Ralph's adventures after a group of aliens gives him a red suit that gives him superhuman abilities. Unfortunately for Ralph, who hates wearing the suit, he immediately loses its instruction booklet, and thus has to learn how to use its powers by trial and error, often with comical results.
Ralph Hinkley is a Los Angeles public school teacher of special education high school students. Determined to teach them well, Ralph takes them on a "geological survey" field trip to the desert. Coming back from the field trip later that night, the school bus breaks down. Ralph starts to walk back through the desert to get help and encounters a swerving car driven by FBI Special Agent Bill Maxwell (Culp) that stops just in time to avoid hitting Hinkley. Maxwell insists that he could not control the car. An alien spacecraft appears and the aliens tell Ralph and Bill (by way of the car radio) that they are to work together to save the world from its own destruction and Ralph will be given the power to change it. They are given a black case. Later Ralph opens it and finds a red suit (with cape), which endows him with superhuman abilities. Pam Davidson is an attorney who handled Ralph's divorce and later becomes his wife. She often joins Ralph and Bill on their adventures.
ABOUT THE SUIT
Ralph's uniform grants him the powers of flight, super strength, resistance to injury (including direct bullet hits to areas covered by the suit), invisibility, precognition, postcognition, E.S.P., telekinesis, X-ray vision, super speed, pyrokinesis, holographic vision, shrinking, psychometry, and a sense to detect the supernatural. Notably, while the suit enables Ralph to fly, it does not endow him with any particular skill at landing, so he frequently crashes in an undignified (if undamaged) heap. In the episode "Fire Man" he displays resistance to fire/heat and uses "superbreath" (blowing out a flamethrower), he also uses it in "There's Just No Accounting..." to extinguish a Molotov cocktail. He also shows signs of being able to control minds when he is exposed to high doses of plutonium radiation. In the season two finale episode, "Lilacs, Mr. Maxwell", Ralph is shown to control a dog by a holograph. This may have been an improvisational power of the suit, but is never tried again. In "The Shock Will Kill You," he (or the suit) becomes strongly magnetized.