In 1977, The Incredible Hulk hit TV screens. The adventure show – loosely based on the comic book character of the same name – was a huge hit with fans and ran for five seasons.
Across the course of each season, Dr. David Banner travelled across the country, searching for a cure to his unique medical problem – the result of an experiment gone wrong.
Whenever Banner became angry he would transform into a monstrous green creature known as the Hulk, who was mistakenly blamed for the death of Banner and a fellow scientist.
Audiences tuned in each week to follow Banner’s plight, as he looked endlessly for a cure, all while being hounded by an investigative journalist. But by the show’s end in 1982, did Banner manage to rectify his condition or is he still searching?
In this post, I am answering all the key questions about the show, including the all-important one: How did The Incredible Hulk end?
How many episodes of The Incredible Hulk were produced?
Between 1977 and 1982, a total of 80 episodes and two TV movies of The Incredible Hulk were produced. This breaks down as follows:
- TV pilots – Two TV movie pilots
- Season One – 10 episodes
- Season Two – 22 episodes
- Season Three – 23 episodes
- Season Four – 18 episodes
- Season Five – 7 episodes
If you would like the titles of each episode, I have published a post called: The Incredible Hulk episode list.
In addition to the television series, three television movies were produced between 1988 and 1990 (more about these shortly).
Who were the main actors in The Incredible Hulk?
The Incredible Hulk had an ever-changing cast, with only three main recurring actors. The actors included:
- Bill Bixby – Dr. David Banner
- Lou Ferrigno – Hulk
- Jack Colvin – Jack McGee
How did The Incredible Hulk end?
The original run of The Incredible Hulk ended with the episode, A Minor Problem. In the episode, Banner arrives in a small town which has been infected by an outbreak of E. coli.
During the course of the episode, Banner searches for a cure to his infection. The episode ends with Banner leaving the town, along with two other victims (and a dog), vowing that they will all “make it” out alive.
As the credits role, Banner is alone and back on the road, still searching for a cure.
Was the ending to The Incredible Hulk a satisfying conclusion to the series?
A Minor Problem was not conceived as the finale to the show. The episode was simply written as another tale, with no specific wrap-up to Banner’s story.
The reason A Minor Problem was the final episode of the show was because The Incredible Hulk was cancelled. As such, the series ended abruptly with no resolution to the Banner/Hulk situation.
Why was The Incredible Hulk cancelled?
The Incredible Hulk was very popular with audiences, receiving strong praise from critics and benefiting from healthy ratings for CBS. However, towards the end of the show’s fourth season, the head of programming for CBS felt the series had run its course and made the decision to cancel it.
Before the cancellation notice was given, seven episodes of the show’s fifth season were already in the can. These episodes aired sporadically in 1981/1982 but none were ever conceived as a definitive conclusion to the series.
If The Incredible Hulk had not been cancelled, would the show have received a proper conclusion?
There has been much talk about how The Incredible Hulk would have concluded, had it not been cancelled. Here’s what we know:
In addition to the seven episodes that were filmed for Season Five, eight additional scripts were written. The scripts were as follows:
- Trial of Jack McGee
- Eyes of the Beholder
- The Survivors
- Lost Indios
- Killer on Board
- David Banner, RIP
- Double Exposure
- The Steel Mill
None of these scripts were ever filmed, and only existed on paper. If you wish to read them (and you should read Trial of Jack McGee – because it’s good) you can usually track them down online or at a convention.
But do these unfilmed scripts provide a series finale?
As with the seven filmed episodes, the eight unfilmed episodes were standard Hulk tales. None of the stories were written as a way to finish the show.
In fact, as The Incredible Hulk was cancelled so abruptly, no grand finale was ever written – BUT there were plans. Series creator, Kenneth Johnson had a rough plan laid out to wrap up the show, with Banner finally curing himself of his Hulk transformations.
What are the TV movies that were released after the show had finished?
Although The Incredible Hulk was cancelled, it remained a popular show with a loyal fanbase. So, a few years after the series ended, NBC revived The Incredible Hulk as a collection of television movies.
Three TV movies aired between 1988 and 1990. These movies included:
- The Incredible Hulk Returns (1988)
- The Trial of the Incredible Hulk (1989)
- The Death of the Incredible Hulk (1990)
Did investigative reporter, Jack McGee ever catch up with Banner in the series or the movies?
Jack McGee came very close to catching up with Banner during the course of the series, and he did make an appearance in The Incredible Hulk Returns, but he did not discover the Hulk/Banner connection. Ultimately, McGee’s story was never resolved.
Is there anything particularly special about the Hulk TV movies?
Two of the three Hulk movies introduced well-known Marvel Comics characters. The Incredible Hulk Returnsincluded Thor and Donald Blake, while The Trial of the Incredible Hulk included Daredevil and Wilson Fisk.
Did the Hulk TV movies provide a conclusion to the series?
Each movie told its own story, and could be watched as a stand-alone tale. However, the final film, The Death of the Incredible Hulk did provide a definitive conclusion to the original series.
As you can probably ascertain from its title, The Death of the Incredible Hulk involved the death of the Hulk, as well as the death of Bruce Banner. This created an end point for Banner’s story.
Was The Death of the Incredible Hulk a satisfying conclusion?
Of the three TV movies, The Death of the Incredible Hulk was by far the weakest film. The story, which revolved around a Russian spy, was fairly dull and was a disappointing end.
What also didn’t help was the way in which Banner died. In the film, the Hulk fell from a plane and died when he hit the ground.
This death scene made little sense, as the series had previously established the Hulk would survive such a fall. Plus, it wasn’t a very fitting way to conclude the Hulk/Banner story, which had largely become a tale of a good Samaritan.
So yeah, not a great way to conclude the story.
The important thing is, The Death of the Incredible Hulk didn’t tarnish what was a brilliant show in its own right. During the course of its five-season run, The Incredible Hulk delivered some fantastic hours of television and that remains the legacy of the series.
Should you want to check out the best episodes to see what I mean, then take a look at my post: The nine best episodes of The Incredible Hulk.
What is The Revenge of the Incredible Hulk?
Rather surprisingly, despite Banner’s death in Death of the Incredible Hulk, there were plans for yet another movie. This film – The Revenge of the Incredible Hulk – would have seen the Hulk resurrected.
The film was discussed, but it never became a reality. Actor Bill Bixby passed away in 1993, before the movie could materialise, so no further projects were made.
To recap, The Incredible Hulk TV series concluded with the episode A Minor Problem. While the films ended with The Death of the Incredible Hulk.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post about The Incredible Hulk. For more posts, take a look at the recommended reads below.
- What is the best order to watch the Hulk movies?
- Remembering The Incredible Hulk episode that is like The Hunt
- Every Banner alias in The Incredible Hulk
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