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Bill Maxwell is one of the two main protagonists from ABC's 1981-83 televison series The Greatest American Hero.

Played By: Robert Culp.

Also Known As: Do or Die Maxwell

Occupation: FBI Agent

First Appearence: Pilot


Bill Maxwell was a "By-The-Book" FBI agent, working out of the Los Angeles bureau. His partner; John Mackie, was killed after going missing. Unaware that he was dead Bill went in search of him. While having a meal at a diner he meets Ralph Hinkley, who is taking his class on a field trip. He has an encounter with Tony Villicana, who insults Bill, and then draws a switchblade at the same time Bill draws his gun ... Tony backs off. Some time after that his car breaks down and he nearly runs over Ralph who has also broken down and was walking to find help. Together they encounter an alien ship and the revived corpse of his partner John 'beams down' to give Ralph the suit. John explains they are to work together to "fight evil in this hemisphere", that the suit will only work on Ralph, and that he is dead and has been for hours. Bil and Ralph use the suit to take down the organization responsible for John‘s death and afterwards continue to fight evil with Pamela Davidson Ralph's attorney, girlfriend, and later, wife, whom Bill refers to as "the counselor."


Bill can be arrogant, hardheaded, and impulsive .. and yet you fall in love with his character almost instantly. He has a tendency to deny having ever been wrong, and even when it was really Ralph with his suit who solved a case, he likes to give credit to his instincts. Bill sees mostly in Black and White.. you are either a Good Guy or a Bad Guy.. if you are a bad guy ? then he will Badge you, Bust you and Bag you, patriotically. He has a very bad relationship with his superior, Carlisle, who hates him for failing to follow the dress code; or strictly adhering to FBI departmental procedures, all while enjoying his incredible 98% success record (thanks to Ralph, of course). He really hates the aliens. James J. Beck, billionaire industrialist, and former holder of an alien suit "very similar to Ralph's", (and a man who has a tendency to be blunt) outright insulted Bill, saying he was a "Very average, middle-level Federal agent, with a record of mediocre service." He then went on to say that Bill was "Hardheaded, uninspired, in short a drone, with a limited service record for 30 years." Beck could not have been more wrong and apologizes at the end of the episode telling Maxwell "l was wrong about you". After watching several episodes it becomes apparent that Maxwells 'heart' is far larger than he will ever admit or acknowledge. In the episode "Lost Diablo" Bill uses a map given to him by his old FBI mentor Harlan to find the Lost Diablo Gold Mine. Bill, Pam, Ralph and all of Ralph's students extract gold ore from the mine - and at the end of the episode we learn Harlan is not dead, he is retired and in his 90's, blind, and living on a meager pension in an old trailer next to a river. In a very touching exchange, Bill gifts Harlan with all of his gold which Harlan initially refuses but Bill explains how much he means to him and Harlan accepts, then Ralph, Pam and all the students follow suit.. He (despite what he would like you to believe) is actually very close to Ralph and Pamela. He has gone out of his way to save them, even when it goes against his own interests, and Ralph could probably get it done himself. The idea that seems to scare him the most is either dying and being revived and living in space with the aliens, or being discovered and captured by the Federal government and kept in a "rubber room" for the rest of his life.


Bill is said to be a good shot. He was also in the army so he most likely received basic training. His record within the FBI is very good with a rating though a large part of that is the help he gets from Ralph. He also can be said to have good leadership skills having led a revolution in a South American country. (Vanity Says The Preacher) He isn't very athletic. He does have an ability to recover from wounds extremely quickly. Despite his failings, he is actually quite an excellent investigator.


Bill's ID

Bill's FBI ID


Bill in fishing gear



Gives people nicknames.

Has gone through 6 cars throughout the series. They keep ending up wrecked for various reasons.

His family were sharecroppers (The Best Desk Scenario) ( wrong, he was quoting Pam when she said her boss started as a sharecropper but is now a millionaire lawyer. Bill laments his own 'lot in life' as he sarcastically states " oh thats just perfect ... my family were sharecroppers " )

Was married some time in the past. (Lilacs, Mr. Maxwell)

Often wears a fishing hat, but doesn't seem to go fishing all that much.

Usually pronounces "pistol" as "pistola"

Veteran from the 72nd Armored Division

Sleeps on a 'Murphy bed' and his apartment is the definition of a Man Cave ... in fact.. he invented the Man Cave

Scared to death of the aliens that gifted them 'The Suit'... dubs them the ' lil green guys '

Allergic to Cats ( Bill dubs them 'rat catchers' )

Patriotic is not a big enough word for how Bill feels about America, Bill bleeds Red, White and Blue

Does not play well with others, especially his boss Carlisle - which makes Bill all the more lovable

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