The Greatest American Hero debuted with much fanfare on March 18, 1981. The pilot scored sky- high ratings and ABC, impressed with rushes of the pilot, had already ordered the series as a mid-season replacement before the movie had aired. As with most series by Stephen J. Cannell, GAH is very character driven, with continual conflict between the series three leads: Ralph, Bill and Pam. Although ABC seemed to think the shows humor came from Ralph crashing into windows and walls (that's the way the series was usually always promoted), actually the humor came from the situations the characters found themselves in, and almost always mixed with the right balance of action and adventure.
From the start, trouble had already reared its head in the form of DC Comics. They filed a lawsuit trying to stop the pilot from airing. A judge ruled in TGAH's favor and the pilot aired. Even during the show's 2nd season DC was still trying to end the series, saying it infringed on the Superman copyright. The lawsuit over the series caused many potential licensees to back away from the show. That's why very few items (toys, books, clothes) were made for the series. By the 2nd episode President Reagan was shot and ABC did not want their newest ratings sensation to have the same last name as the Presidents would be assassin, and ordered Ralph's last name changed from Hinkley to Hanley. Some episodes had the Hinkley named removed by sound FX before dubbing could make the change. The series ended its 1st brief season on top.