The Incredible Hulk (TV series)

The Incredible Hulk (TV series)
The Incredible Hulk
Opening title screen
Genre Action-adventure
Created by Based on characters by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Developed by Kenneth Johnson[1]
Starring Bill Bixby[2]
Lou Ferrigno[3]
Jack Colvin
Ending theme "The Lonely Man Theme"
by Joe Harnell
Composer(s) Joe Harnell
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 82 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Kenneth Johnson
Producer(s) James D. Parriott
Running time 48 min. (excluding commercials)
Original channel CBS
Original run November 4, 1977 (pilot movie)
November 28, 1977 (pilot sequel)
March 10, 1978 – June 2, 1982
Followed by The Incredible Hulk Returns

The Incredible Hulk is an American television series based on the Marvel comic book character of the same name created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The pilot episodes were a pair of TV movies on the CBS network beginning on November 4, 1977; the series soon followed, airing from March 10, 1978[4] to June 2, 1982.[4] It starred Bill Bixby as Dr. David Banner and Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk. Ferrigno is the only actor of the show to appear in every episode of the series. Bixby appeared in all but one of the episodes, a total of 82. The concept was developed for television by producer, writer, director Kenneth Johnson. The series still has a fanbase around the world, making it a cult classic.[5]



Dr. David Bruce Banner, Ph.D., M.D. (Bill Bixby), is a physician and scientist employed at the fictitious "Culver Institute"—presumably headed by Dr. Benjamin Culver (Charles Siebert)—who is traumatized by the car accident that killed his beloved wife Laura. Haunted by his inability to save her, Banner, in partnership with Dr. Elaina Harding Marks (Susan Sullivan), who also works at the Culver Institute, studies a total of seventy-eight incidents of people who, while in danger, somehow managed to summon superhuman strength in order to save their loved ones. He concludes that high levels of gamma radiation from sunspots are the cause, and the emotional stress experienced in these situations combined with the gamma radiation altered the body chemistry to cause an increase in strength. In a tragic twist, it is revealed that while his own body would have been the most receptive to the sunspot-based gamma augmentation, the car accident that claimed his wife had occurred on a day with the least sunspot-based gamma activity. To test his theory, he bombards his own body with gamma radiation. Unknown to Banner, his equipment has been upgraded, causing him to administer a far higher dose of gamma radiation to himself than he had intended. He attempts to lift a heavy object to test his strength, but is unable to, so he leaves the lab angrily, thinking the experiment has failed.

Driving home in a heavy rainstorm, he suffers a flat tire and injures himself while trying to change it. The anger resulting from the pain triggers his first transformation into the Incredible Hulk (Lou Ferrigno), a 7-foot-tall (2.1 m), 330 pound, green-skinned savage creature, with a sub-human mind and superhuman strength. The Hulk destroys Banner's car and wanders off into the nearby woods. The next morning, the Hulk stumbles upon a girl who is camping with her father, and attempts to befriend her (a la The Monster in Frankenstein). In the ensuing confusion, the Hulk is shot by the girl's father, but manages to escape. Once calm and unharrassed, he eventually transforms back into Banner—who has no memory of the tire-changing incident, or the events thereafter. Unsure of how to proceed, Banner seeks out his research partner, Dr. Marks. Her amazement at Banner's healing powers (his gunshot wound is nearly healed) is replaced by shock and horror when Banner tells her that he bombarded himself with gamma radiation.

Banner and Marks relocate to a laboratory isolated from the rest of the Culver Institute but still on its grounds, locking him in an experimental pressure chamber designed for deep underwater use; they hope that if he metamorphoses again, it will hold the creature. Banner initially suspects that his transformation had been caused by the lightning and/or rain, both of which he was experiencing at the time, and they simulate analogous conditions in the chamber. When this fails to induce a transformation, he lies down to get some sleep. Banner then has his recurring nightmare of the accident that killed his wife, which causes him to transform and the creature violently escapes from the chamber. Dr. Marks takes a blood sample from the Hulk's wounded hands and guides him to a couch, where he calms down and returns to normal. They then realize that the Hulk has a very high metabolism and healing rate and that the transformation is caused by strong negative emotions, such as anger. Banner summarizes the implications by saying, "That means it's uncontrollable."

While Banner and Dr. Marks try to reverse the process, a reporter for a fictitious tabloid called the National Register named Jack McGee (Jack Colvin), who was previously investigating Banner's research but is now investigating the reported sighting of the Hulk, intrudes on the lab. When the scientists refuse to speak to him, McGee suspects they know more than they are letting on and sneaks into the lab, hiding in a cupboard where he accidentally knocks over a chemical container. Banner catches McGee hiding and removes him from the premises, warning McGee with a smile, "Mr. McGee, don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry." But as he confronts McGee outside the spilled chemicals (unseen by Banner) result in the lab catching fire. Banner rushes back into the lab to save Elaina, and the stress of the smoke fumes triggers a transformation into the Hulk. The Hulk carries Elaina away from the inferno into the woodland. She reveals her love for David before she dies from injuries she sustained in the explosion. McGee witnesses the Hulk carrying her away, and surmises that the Hulk started the fire and killed both Banner and Marks. Although the authorities are skeptical of the existence of the creature McGee tells them about, he reports the creature to the police and publishes a front-page headline in the National Register that proclaims, "Incredible 'Hulk' Kills 2" before vowing to track down the creature so he can catch it and bring it to the law's attention. It is at this point the series begins—McGee vows to capture Marks's and Banner's killer. Banner, now presumed dead, is forced to go into hiding while trying to find a cure for his condition.

In a manner vaguely similar to the popular series The Fugitive, this forms the basis of the TV series: Banner endlessly drifts from place to place, assuming different identities and odd jobs to support himself and sometimes to enable his research. Along the way, Banner finds himself feeling obliged to help the people he meets out of whatever troubles have befallen them. Often Banner's inner struggle is paralleled by the dilemmas of the people he encounters, who find in Banner a sympathetic helper. As Kenneth Johnson stated, "What we were constantly doing was looking for thematic ways to touch [-on] the various ways that the Hulk sort of manifested itself in everyone. In Bixby and his character, David Banner, it happened to be anger. In someone else, it might be obsession, or it might be fear, or it might be jealousy or alcoholism! The Hulk comes in many shapes and sizes. That's what we tried to delve into in the individual episodes."[6] Despite his attempts to stay calm no matter how badly he is treated, Banner inevitably finds himself in dangerous situations that trigger his transformations into the Hulk.

Meanwhile, McGee continues to pursue the incredible story of the mysterious monster, whom he believes got away with a double murder. Ultimately, Banner changes someone's life for the better or even saves a person's life. Nonetheless, he almost always flees the town, scared that publicity over the Hulk's rampages will eventually bring unwanted scrutiny of him from the local authorities and/or McGee. The episodes usually end with Banner hitch-hiking down some outbound highway or road, with a strikingly haunting and sad piano solo version of the series theme music playing as the ending credits visualize. The mood conveys Banner's inner sense of hopelessness: the quest of a man desperate to one day find the cure that will bring him peace, an end to his endless running, and the ability to reclaim a normal life.



In early 1977, Frank Price, head of Universal Television, offered producer and writer Kenneth Johnson a deal to develop a TV show based on any of several characters they had licensed from the Marvel Comics library. Johnson turned down the offer at first, but then, while reading the Victor Hugo novel Les Misérables he became inspired and began working to develop the Hulk comic into a TV show.[7][8]

Johnson changed the name of the Hulk's comic book alter ego, Dr. (Robert) Bruce Banner, to Dr. David Banner for the TV series. This change was made, according to Johnson, because he did not want the series to be perceived as a comic book series, so he wanted to change what he felt was a staple of comic books, and Stan Lee's comics in particular, that major characters frequently had alliterative names.[9] According to Lou Ferrigno, it was also changed because CBS thought the name Bruce sounded "too gay-ish," a rationale that Ferrigno thought was "the most absurd, ridiculous thing I'd ever heard."[10]

On the DVD commentary of the pilot of The Incredible Hulk, Johnson also says that it was a way to honor his son David. "Bruce" ultimately became the TV Banner's middle name, as it had been in the comics. It is visible on Banner's tombstone at the end of the pilot movie, and that footage is shown at the beginning of every episode of the series.

In an interview with Kenneth Johnson on the Season 2 DVD, he explains that he had also wanted the Hulk to be colored red rather than green. His reasons given for this were because red, not green, is perceived as the color of rage, and also because red is a "human color" whereas green is not. However, Stan Lee, a co-creator of the Hulk comics—and executive at Marvel Comics at the time, said that the Hulk's color was not something that could be changed, because of its iconic image.[9]

Johnson also omitted the comic book's supporting characters from his TV adaptation. Instead, he opted for a variety of more realistic characters, most of whom changed with each episode. Additionally, Johnson changed the character's origin story. Rather than being exposed to gamma rays during a botched atomic testing explosion, Banner was gamma-irradiated in a more low-key laboratory mishap, to reduce the level of comic book sensationalism and thus make the origin more believable. Yet another significant change was altering Banner's occupation, from nuclear physicist to medical researcher/physician. Although the comic book Hulk's degree of speaking ability has varied over the years, the television Hulk did not speak at all—he merely growled and roared repeatedly. Another limitation on the Hulk was his strength. In the comics, the Hulk is capable of surviving nuclear explosions and lifting mountains. The television Hulk could only take down bulldozers, hold a car compressor with some strain or smash down walls or doors. This Hulk could also be hurt, injured or killed, but still retained a healing factor. Finally, despite its Marvel Comics roots, fantasy and science fiction themes were minimized in the series. There were no supervillains or references to the rest of the Marvel Universe. In the majority of episodes, the only science fiction element was the Hulk himself.


For the role of Dr. David Banner, Kenneth Johnson cast seasoned television actor Bill Bixby—his first choice for the role. At first, Bixby resisted accepting the part, but after reading the script, he quickly signed on. Next, character actor Jack Colvin was cast as "Jack McGee," the series' recurring antagonist. Modeled after the character of Javert in Les Misérables, McGee was a cynical tabloid newspaper reporter who relentlessly pursued the Hulk after witnessing the urban legend.

The most daunting task, however, was finding someone to play the Hulk. Arnold Schwarzenegger auditioned for the role but was rejected due to his inadequate height (according to Johnson in his commentary on a DVD release). Actor Richard Kiel was hired for the role. During filming, however, Kenneth Johnson's own son pointed out that Kiel's tall-but-under-developed physique did not resemble the Hulk's at all. Soon, Kiel was replaced with professional bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno, although a very brief shot of Kiel (as the Hulk) remains in the pilot. According to an interview with Kiel (who sees properly out of only one eye), he reacted badly to the contact lenses used for the role, and also found the green makeup difficult to remove, so he did not mind losing the part.[11] Initially the facial make-up for the Hulk was quite monstrous, but after both pilots, the first two weekly episodes and New York location shooting for the fourth, the design was toned down.[12]

The makeup process used to transform Ferrigno into the Hulk took three hours. The hard contact lenses Ferrigno wore to simulate the Hulk's electric-green eyes had to be removed every 15 minutes because he found wearing them physically painful, and the green fright wig he wore as the Hulk was made of dyed yak hair.[10]

Opening narration

One constant of the series was the opening narration. Ted Cassidy, who provided the vocal growls and roars of the creature in seasons one and two,[10] was the narrator.[13] The opening went as follows:

Dr. David Banner: physician; scientist. Searching for a way to tap into the hidden strengths that all humans have. Then an accidental overdose of gamma radiation alters his body chemistry. And now when David Banner grows angry or outraged, a startling metamorphosis occurs. The creature is driven by rage and pursued by an investigative reporter. [Banner:] "Mr. McGee, don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry." The creature is wanted for a murder he didn't commit. David Banner is believed to be dead, and he must let the world think that he is dead, until he can find a way to control the raging spirit that dwells within him.

Prior to the beginning of the series, a different version was used for the second pilot movie, Return of the Incredible Hulk (later known as Death in the Family):

Dr. David Banner: physician; scientist. Searching for a way to tap into the hidden strengths that all humans have. Then an accidental overdose of gamma radiation interacts with his unique body chemistry. And now when David Banner grows angry or outraged, a startling metamorphosis occurs. The creature is driven by rage and pursued by an investigative reporter. [Banner:] "Mr. McGee, don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry." An accidental explosion took the life of a fellow scientist and supposedly David Banner as well. The reporter thinks the creature was responsible. [McGee:] "I gave a description to all the law enforcement agencies; They got a warrant for murder out on him." A murder which David Banner can never prove he or the creature didn't commit. So he must let the world go on thinking that he, too, is dead, until he can find a way to control the raging spirit that dwells within him.


Joseph "Joe" Harnell, one of Kenneth Johnson's favorite composers, composed the music for The Incredible Hulk. He was brought into the production due to his involvement with the series The Bionic Woman, which Johnson had also created and produced. The score used at the beginning and closing credits was a piano piece called "The Lonely Man." Portions of "The Lonely Man" can be heard in the 2008 film The Incredible Hulk.[14] Some of the series music was collected into a soundtrack.

Broadcast history

The Incredible Hulk was the beginning series of the highly-rated Friday-night block on CBS, where it was followed by The Dukes of Hazzard and Dallas. The series lineup began as such in 1979 and remained that way until 1981, when the Hulk moved to a new night during the abbreviated fifth and final season. The series has aired as reruns on the Sci-Fi Channel and on RTV. The show now reairs on Monday nights at 11.45pm on Malaysia's, Media Prima's channel 8TV. In the United Kingdom, the series was shown by ITV, who later repeated it in the late 1980s; The series was run through by Channel 5 in the late 1990s.

Story arc

As the series progressed, Banner's character and the animalistic nature of the Hulk were frequently explored and expanded upon, with the viewer continuously learning more about the psychology of both Banner and the Hulk. The Hulk's personality was shown to still reflect Banner's good and compassionate nature, meaning he will typically restrict his wrath to villains threatening him, but will also restrict himself to simply tossing them aside, instead of killing them. Although the Hulk's intelligence is low, he retains the same motivations and priorities as Banner, always managing to protect people or objects that Banner deems important as well as attacking those he feels fear or hostility toward. The Hulk also has a soft spot towards women, children and animals. However, as Banner's normal personality becomes dormant to the Hulk's in that form, and he has no memory of the creature's actions, Banner lives in constant worry of what damage the Hulk causes during those episodes, fearing that someday the Hulk may unwittingly hurt or kill an innocent person.

The character of the antagonist Jack McGee underwent significant development throughout the course of the series. Although initially perceived as cynical and conniving in the beginning, the viewer's sympathy for McGee increases as the series progresses, as McGee gradually comes to realize the Hulk may not be as dangerous as he initially thought, particularly following several instances in episodes such as "The Hulk Breaks Las Vegas" in which he has his own life saved by the creature. In season two's two-part episode "Mystery Man," McGee finally learns the shocking truth that the creature he has been pursuing for the past two years is in reality a man most of the time, making things more difficult for Banner from then on as he now subsequently finds McGee's pursuits more difficult then ever to avoid as McGee is now on a constant lookout for the man as well as the creature. In the same episode, we learn that McGee hopes to catch the Hulk so that the inevitable media sensation will advance his own dwindling career. However, subsequent episodes such as season three's "Proof Positive" show that McGee's real intentions lie much deeper than this, and that his main motive is purely to understand this fascinating creature (to whom his references as the Hulk are not shared by other characters) for himself, for his amazement at the existence of such a remarkable creature has caused him to become totally obsessed with the Hulk to the extent that it has ruined his personal life; the Hulk is permanently on his mind, and his annoyance over his lack of success in catching the Hulk is exacerbated by other people's refusal even to believe that the Hulk actually exists—not even his own colleagues at the National Register take the story seriously, and they view him as a laughing stock for believing that the Hulk is real.

Guest stars and cameos

During the series' five-season run, many actors familiar to viewers, or who later became famous for their subsequent works, made appearances on the series. Some of the most notable are: Future Falcon Crest and Castle co-star Susan Sullivan was in the original pilot; Brett Cullen, also of Falcon Crest; Ray Walston, co-star of Bixby's first series, My Favorite Martian; Brandon Cruz, co-star of The Courtship of Eddie's Father; Lou Ferrigno, who along with starring as the Hulk, appeared in one episode ("King Of The Beach") as a different character; Bixby's ex-wife Brenda Benet; and in an uncredited role, the bodybuilder and professional wrestler Ric Drasin played the half-transformed Hulk in “Prometheus" (parts 1 and 2).[15]

The list of other guest-cast members of The Incredible Hulk's various episodes also included:

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the writer and artist team who created the Hulk, both made cameo appearances in the series. Kirby's cameo was in the season two episode "No Escape", while Lee appeared as a juror in Trial of the Incredible Hulk (the 1989 post-series TV movie).

Notable episodes

The season two premiere, "Married", originally aired as a two-hour movie in September 1978. David approaches Dr. Carolyn Fields (Mariette Hartley) about a new form of hypnotic therapy. He learns that Carolyn has devised the therapy because she is terminally ill with a syndrome "similar" to ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease, and has been given no more than eight weeks to live. David reveals his true identity to her, and both agree to help each other, using a tissue sample from the creature to possibly cure Carolyn of her illness. They fall in love and eventually marry. After Carolyn obtains the sample while David has metamorphosed into the Hulk, she prepares the sample for her own use. The day the procedure to cure Carolyn is to take place, a hurricane hits the island. While the pair are driving to the hospital, Carolyn suffers from another painful episode, this time leading her to flee their moving car. David stops the car and rushes after her, morphing into the Hulk once more. He catches her in his arms, and as she attempts to fight him in her pain-induced hysteria, she turns around and sees the Hulk, and stops struggling. Knowing her time has come, Carolyn embraces the Hulk, telling him (as David) she will miss him as she dies in his arms. Mariette Hartley won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for this moving performance.

In season two's "Kindred Spirits", Dr. Gabrielle White Cloud, played by Kim Cattrall, comes across evidence that a Hulk-type metamorphosis had occurred at the dawn of mankind in America 30,000 years ago. This evidence included a cave painting of a transformation and a skull that Gabrielle claims to be two skulls at once, and which David suggests died while metamorphosing. Gabrielle tries to help David, but the plant that they thought had cured the prehistoric hulks has since become extinct.

In season two's "Mystery Man", McGee finally comes face-to-face with an amnesia-ridden David Banner, although he does not recognize him, for Banner's face is covered by a gauze mask following a severe injury in an auto accident. Banner has been admitted into a hospital as "John Doe" as his true identity is unknown. Investigating an apparent link between this man and the Hulk, McGee hires a small plane for himself and Banner to see a doctor who will be able to cure Banner's amnesia. Lightning strikes the plane and an injured McGee and Banner are trapped in a forest, where they must help one another escape to safety. During the ordeal, McGee sees the mystery man transform into the Hulk and realizes this is how the Hulk manages to get from one place to another without being seen in between. He is eventually separated from the Hulk, but vows to track down the mysterious "John Doe" fellow and find out his true identity.

In the season four two-part "Prometheus", David rescues and befriends Katie Maxwell (Laurie Prange), a young woman recently blinded by an accident. While helping her through the woods near her home, a meteor lands near them. Banner investigates, and is sickened by the radiation emanating from the meteorite fragment. An attacking swarm of bees triggers his transformation into the Hulk, and in the process of fighting off the bees, the Hulk touches the meteorite. He retreats back to Katie's cabin, but in metamorphosing back into David, the process stops midway, with David retaining some of the Hulk's bulk and irradiated features, but with the ability to speak. Additionally, David had also retained most of the Hulk's child-like intellect. Horrified at realizing that his transformation has gone wrong, David enlists Katie's help. The military, however, arrives and after attempting to evade them, David transforms back into the Hulk. The Hulk and Katie are captured and taken to a military installation, where a group of scientists working for the Prometheus Project mistakenly believe that the Hulk is an alien. After seeing a tape of David's transformation, however, they realize that the Hulk is actually a man who transforms into the creature. McGee, meanwhile, finagles his way onto the base and finds Katie, attempting to get her to give him more information on "John Doe". The Hulk escapes from his confinement and finds Katie. After the Hulk's transformation back into David again stops midway, Katie theorizes that the radiation from the meteorite is affecting David's unique body chemistry and that they need to escape from the base and get away from the meteorite. McGee, meanwhile, convinces the brass to let him talk to "John" and convince him to surrender. McGee finds them, but due to David's altered appearance, does not realize that he is, in fact, talking to David Banner. It is a double-cross, however, as soldiers move in on David and Katie. David transforms into the Hulk once again and breaks out of the installation with Katie. Far from the meteorite fragment, the Hulk transforms back completely into David Banner with no ill effects.

In the episode "Dark Side", Banner's experiment with a mood altering chemical goes disastrously wrong with himself becoming psychotically violent, which makes his next transformation into the Hulk an extremely dangerous experience to everyone around him. Fortunately, Banner is able to inject an antidote right before transforming into the Hulk again in a crisis and the Hulk reverts to his good nature to save the day.

In the two-part episode "The First", David discovers that another man transformed into a Hulk-like creature 30 years ago. In this case, a doctor used gamma radiation in an attempt to heal a man in poor health named Dell Frye (Harry Townes), who was embittered by bullying from the local townspeople, causing him to become vengeful and cruel. However, the radiation turned him instead into a savage green creature (Dick Durock). Because of Frye's difference in personality, his creature had killed people. Dr. Jeffrey Clive, long dead, had discovered the cure, but Frye, now old and arthritic, and still bullied, wants to have the power again. David discovers Dr. Clive's laboratory, which contains a machine that can harness the sun's gamma radiation. Looking through Clive's journals, he realizes that he needs to take the antidote developed by Clive and then bombard himself with gamma rays for the cure to work. Before he can do so, however, Frye knocks him out and straps himself into the machine. As David awakens and attempts to stop him, Frye is bombarded with gamma radiation, which turns him into a Hulk-like creature. After metamorphosing back, Frye discovers that after one transformation, his arthritis has vanished. Seeking revenge for the years of taunts he has endured, Frye goes into town and provokes some of the town bullies into attacking him. He once again transforms into the creature, and proceeds to kill one of the bullies. Realizing that the Frye Hulk is extremely dangerous because of Frye's murderous nature, David manages to subdue Frye and strap him into the machine to reverse the process. Unfortunately, Frye comes to and transforms into the creature, and in the process destroys the last vial of the cure that Dr. Clive had developed. As he literally sees the cure dripping from his fingers, a distraught David transforms into the Hulk. The two creatures fight, with the much more powerful Banner Hulk getting the better of the Frye Hulk, who is eventually shot dead by the sheriff. "The First" is the only episode of the TV series to feature any other super-humanly powerful characters. "The First" remains a fan favorite and is often cited as an example of Bixby's finest acting work in the series. Guest star Townes' performance as Frye is generally regarded as the best and most memorable guest shot in the show's history.

The series concludes with a standard 50-minute episode ("A Minor Problem"). The character of McGee does not appear in this last episode, nor a few other episodes in the short final season, and the series ends on an open note, with Banner still searching for a cure and McGee still unaware of the true identity of his John Doe.


In 1981, with a major entertainment union strike on the horizon, the production team continued filming episodes for season five directly upon completion of season four. However, with seven of these "in the can", CBS canceled the show due to a slight change in the ratings and budget. Rumors were going around at the time that Bill Bixby's contract was up, and that he wanted to move on to other projects. Bixby had wanted to see his character being cured from being the Hulk.[citation needed] Also, both executive producer Kenneth Johnson and producer Nicholas Corea had gone to Harvey Shepard, who was president of CBS entertainment at the time, to ask for clearance to shoot nine scripts for the series to give the show a mid-season run.[citation needed] They were turned down, and the pilot and the first four seasons were released into general syndication. By that time the union had gone on strike as expected, and that autumn CBS aired five of the seven "season five" episodes made, running the last two and repeating three of the others the following summer. That fall, all seven were added to the rerun package. The nine unfilmed scripts included, "Los Indios", "Double Exposure" (season 3), "The Trial of Jack McGee", "David Banner, RIP", "The Steel Mill", "The Survivors", "Killer on Board", and "Eyes of the Beholder" (season 5). Also, Johnson and Corea had wanted to do a two-hour series finale in which Banner is caught and is found out to be alive, goes on trial for the death of Elaina Marks, resolves things with McGee, and gets cured from his hulk-outs.[citation needed]

Made for TV movies

Two episodes of the series appeared first as stand-alone movies, but were later re-edited into one-hour length (two-parters) for syndication. They were produced as pilots before the series officially began in 1978:

  • The Incredible Hulk (1977) (distributed in theaters in some countries)
  • Return of the Incredible Hulk (1977) (also shown overseas as a feature film) – It was retitled Death in the Family for syndication

Six years after the cancellation of the television series in 1982, three television movies were produced with Bixby and Ferrigno reprising their roles. All of these aired on NBC:

The Incredible Hulk Returns (1988) – This marked the first time that another Marvel Universe character appeared in the milieu of the TV series. David Banner meets a former student (played by Steve Levitt), who has a magical hammer that summons Thor (played by Eric Allan Kramer), a Viking warrior prevented from entering Valhalla. It was set up as a back-door pilot for a live-action television series starring Thor. This project marked Jack Colvin's reappearance (and final appearance) as McGee.[16]
The Trial of the Incredible Hulk (1989) – David Banner meets a blind lawyer named Matt Murdock and his masked alter ego, Daredevil. The Incredible Hulk and the Daredevil battle the Kingpin of Crime, although he was referred to only by his birth name, Wilson Fisk. Daredevil was portrayed by Rex Smith, while John Rhys-Davies portrayed Fisk. This was also set up as back-door pilot for a live-action television series featuring Daredevil. Stan Lee has a cameo appearance as one of the jury members overlooking Banner's trial.
The Death of the Incredible Hulk (1990) – David Banner falls in love with an Eastern European spy (played by Elizabeth Gracen) and saves two kidnapped scientists. The film ends with the Hulk taking a fatal fall from an airplane, reverting to human form just before he dies.

Note: Despite the apparent death of the Hulk in the 1990 film, more Incredible Hulk television movies were planned, including a proposed Revenge of the Incredible Hulk[17] where the Hulk would actually be able to talk.[18] However, all such projects were canceled when Bill Bixby died of cancer in November 1993.

DVD releases

All three of the NBC TV movies (The Incredible Hulk Returns, The Trial of the Incredible Hulk and The Death of the Incredible Hulk) have been available on DVD since 2003; the first two were released by Anchor Bay Entertainment, while The Death of the Incredible Hulk was released by 20th Century Fox Video. A double-sided DVD entitled The Incredible Hulk – Original Television Premiere, which contained the original pilot and the "Married" episodes, was released by Universal Studios DVD in 2003 to promote Ang Lee's Hulk motion picture. A six-disc set entitled The Incredible Hulk – The Television Series Ultimate Collection was released by Universal DVD later in 2003. This set includes several notable episodes including "Death in the Family", "The First", and "Prometheus".

On July 18, 2006, Universal released The Incredible Hulk – Season One on DVD. This set contains the original pilot movies, the entire first season, and a "preview" episode ("Stop the Presses") from Season Two.

On July 17, 2007, Universal released The Incredible Hulk – Season Two on DVD as a 5-disc set. The set included the entire second season, the Married episodes (AKA Bride of the Incredible Hulk), and preview episode (Homecoming) from season three.[19]

On June 3, 2008, Universal released The Incredible Hulk – Seasons Three and Four on DVD in time to promote Louis Leterrier's film The Incredible Hulk.

On October 21, 2008, Universal released "The Incredible Hulk" – Season Five on DVD as a 2-disc set. The set contains all seven Season Five episodes and interviews by Ken Johnson and various members of the Production & Writing teams, as well as a Gag Reel.[20] Additionally, a complete series DVD Set was released as well.[21] The Complete Series was released in the UK on DVD on September 30, 2008.

Other media

The TV series led to a syndicated newspaper strip that ran from 1978 to 1982. It used the same background and origin story as the TV series but narrated stories outside the TV series.

In 1979, a Hulk "video novel" in paperback form was released, with pictures from the pilot.


  1. ^ Heffernan, Virginia (August 18, 2006). "Before the Fall: TV of Seasons (Just) Past". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-11. 
  2. ^ "Bill Bixby, Star of TV's 'Incredible Hulk,' Dies". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-06. 
  3. ^ "Marvel in the 1970's: the incredible hulk". Twitch Film. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  4. ^ a b Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (Oct. 1995) [1979] (trade paperback). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present (Sixth ed.). New York: Ballantine Books, a Division of Random House, Inc.. p. 501. ISBN 0-345-39736-3. 
  5. ^ "Hulk Smash Television!". IGN. Retrieved 2010-09-09. 
  6. ^ "Interview with kenneth johnson". Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  7. ^ "A Look Back: The Incredible Hulk on TV". Film School Rejects. 2008-06-08. Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
  8. ^ Mark Rathwell (1999-01-23). "THE INCREDIBLE HULK television series page: (c) 1996 to 2002 by Mark Rathwell: INTERVIEW WITH KENNETH JOHNSON". Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
  9. ^ a b Cronin, Brian. "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #62", Comic Book Resources, August 3, 2006.
  10. ^ a b c Keck, William. "Lou Ferrigno looks back, and luckily, not in anger", USA Today, June 17, 2008, Page 2D
  11. ^ Richard Kiel interview.
  12. ^ Gerani, Gary, "'The Incredible Hulk,'" Starlog Photo Guidebook: Television Episode Guides Volume 2, Starlog Press, Inc., January 1982, pp. 66–67.
  13. ^ Reesman, Bryan (1). "Forty-five years later, the Hulk is still our favorite green giant". American Way. Retrieved 13 December 2010. 
  14. ^ The Incredible Hulk (2008) soundtrack info.
  15. ^ The Incredible Hulk Television Series Page Website. Frequently Asked Questions. Who Played the Demi-Hulk? Retrieved on 28 December 2010.
  16. ^ O'Connor, John J. (May 20, 1988). "TV Weekend; Incredible Hulk Meets Mighty Thor". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-10. 
  17. ^ "Comics Screen", Comics Scene, October 1990, Starlog Communications International, Inc., pp.69–70.
  18. ^ Papa Llama's Convention Report: The Incredible Lou.
  19. ^ The Incredible Hulk – It's Official Now! "Hulk – 2nd Season" Smashes to DVD in July!, TV Shows on DVD, April 17, 2007.
  20. ^ The Incredible Hulk DVD news: DVD Plans for Seasons 3, 4 and 5 |
  21. ^ The Incredible Hulk DVD news: Release Date for The Incredible Hulk – Season 5 and The Complete Series |

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