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The Incredible Hulk is an American animated television series starring the Marvel Comics character the Hulk. It ran two seasons, for twenty one episodes, on the television network UPN from 1996 to 1997. Lou Ferrigno, who portrayed Universal's version of the Hulk on the live-action TV series from 1978 to 1982, provided the Hulk's voice.

The show often featured guest appearances by characters from other Marvel cartoons of the period. In the second season, the show's format, after UPN decided that season one was too dark, and to give "female viewers a chance", the network ordered that She-Hulk be made a regular co-star. As a result, the series was officially renamed The Incredible Hulk and She-Hulk. The second season also featured Grey Hulk.

Series overview

Season 1

The first season begins with Dr. Robert Bruce Banner already established as the Hulk and on the run, captured by the military after another attempt at ridding himself of the beast within goes awry. He eventually escapes, and falls into the hands of the Leader who is served by Gargoyle and Abomination. The intervention of mutated cave dwelling gamma creatures, Banner's loyal friends and Rick Jones, and the love of his life, Betty Ross (like in many comic book incarnations, Betty along with Doc Sampson is seen here trying to find a cure for Bruce Banner, who becomes the Hulk whenever enraged), is enough to liberate the Hulk and he becomes a fugitive again, with a more aggressive General Ross, Betty's father, continuing his pursuit. However, in "And the Wind Cries... Wendigo!", Hulk and General Ross had to work together to save Betty after the Wendigo (a curse placed upon an Indian) captured her.

As in the comics, Thunderbolt Ross is a 3-star general who sends Army forces and Hulkbusters to capture or destroy the Hulk. He also fights the Hulk personally, using a laser gun Bruce Banner created against the creature in "Return of the Beast, Part 1 and 2", and again in "Darkness and Light, Part 3". Glenn Talbot was shown acting as the right-hand man of General Ross. He is also shown to have a romantic interest in Betty Ross, but she constantly rejects him because he doesn't do a good job of hiding his disdain for either Bruce Banner or the Hulk.

Traveling across the nation and beyond, even venturing into the coldest depths of Canada, Banner meets kindred spirits also battling similar problems, fights beings of pure energy such as Zzzax, and must endure an alliance with the Gargoyle to provide the antidote to a viral epidemic that nearly takes Betty's life and countless others. Not even his family is safe from the terror his hidden powers bring, as hi best friend and cousin Jennifer Walters is critically injured by Doctor Doom, forcing Banner to give her a blood transfusion that transforms her into She-Hulk. Unlike Bruce Banner, Jennifer Walters is unable to transform back into a normal human. However, Jennifer takes immediate delight to her transformed body and refuses Bruce's offer to find her a cure.

Dorian Harewood reprized his role of War Machine from Iron Man: The Animated Series in the episode "Helping Hand, Iron Fist". He originally stops Rick Jones from seeing Tony Stark (voiced by Robert Hays, who was also reprising his role from Iron Man: The Animated Series) at Stark Enterprises, but takes him to Stark after Jones explained that he needed Stark's help to find Bruce Banner. He later alerts Stark of the arrival of General Ross, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Gabriel Jones, and a squad of Hulkbusters. War Machine fights some of the Hulkbusters alongside Jones and Iron Man.

Sasquatch appeared in the episode "Man to Man, Beast to Beast" voiced by Peter Strauss (Walter Langkowski) and Clancy Brown (Sasquatch). In that episode, Bruce Banner comes to Canada hoping to find his old friend, Dr. Walter Langkowski (Sasquatch) to get a cure for himself and get rid of Hulk forever, only to find that Walter has developed a bestial alter ego while using himself as a test subject to make a breakthrough in gamma radiation. After battling the Hulk, Walter/Sasquatch exiles himself to the wilderness when his actions put Hulk's friends and a small boy in danger.

Simon Templeman reprized his role of Doctor Doom for guest appearances in two episodes, in which Doom held Washington D.C. captive, only to be defeated by She-Hulk, whom he later attempted to claim revenge upon.

Following Doctor Doom's first appearance (he would appear again in the season two episode, "Hollywood Rocks"), came the episode "Fantastic Fortitude" featuring his nemesis, the Fantastic Four. Beau Weaver (Mister Fantastic) and Chuck McCann (the Thing) reprised their roles from Fantastic Four: The Animated Series. In the episode, Mister Fantastic, Human Torch, and Invisible Woman take a vacation while Thing stays in New York City. Hulk and Sh-Hulk then came to town and fought Leader's Gamma Soldiers commanded by Leader's minion Ogress. Meanwhile, She-Hulk flirted with Thing, but Thing chooses to rekindle his relationship with Alicia Masters. And while the Yancy Street Gang did not appear in Fantastic Four: The Animated Series itself, they did appear in "Fantastic Fortitude", where they pulled a prank on the Thing. After being defeated by the villain Ogress, the Gang, always off camera, distributes leaflets marked "The Thing Beat by a Woman!".

Also reprising his role from Fantastic Four: The Animated Series was John Rhys-Davies as Thor in "Mortal Bounds", while Mark L. Taylor voiced his alter-ego Donald Blake. Donald as Thor brought Hulk to Detroit so that Bruce Banner can help cure a gamma-based outbreak unknowingly caused by Gargoyle (in his search to cure his disfigurement).

Over the course of the season running sub-plots gradually unfold, centering mostly on several of the supporting cast, the season slowly covers the following:

  • Betty's attempts to construct a Gamma Nutrient Bath that will separate Banner from the Hulk with the aid of Doc Sampson.
  • The Leader's fragile association with the Gargoyle slowly breaks down, shattering completely before eventually reforming before the finale. This Gargoyle is the Yuri Topolov version who was always trying to find a cure for his mutation, even allying himself with the Leader. In "Mortal Bounds", he accidentally released a gamma virus (infecting several people including Betty Ross) in his search for a cure. When Ross was dying from the virus, Gargoyle gave Bruce Banner the antidote, warning that the next time they met he would not be so favorable. His position with the Leader was one of grudging subservience, although he did become the dominant member when the Leader temporarily lost his powers at the beginning of the second season. From then on, like MODOK in Iron Man: The Animated Series, he became the bumbling comic relief, with a crush on She-Hulk.
  • The Leader succeeding in bringing to life obedient mutant Gamma Warriors upon creating them from Hulk's DNA. Two of them were named in the toyline where the female Gamma Warrior with the chainsaw for a right arm was named "Chainsaw" and the two-headed Gamma Warrior was named "Two-Head".
  • General Ross' tempered alliance with Agent Gabriel Jones of S.H.I.E.L.D., a ruthless covert operative whose orders were to destroy the creature completely upon capture. In the series finale, "Mission: Incredible", it was revealed that Jones was partially responsible for the accident that turned a double agent named Diana into the Hybrid when she fell into a tank of newly discovered organisms (which S.H.I.E.L.D. was experimenting on) at a S.H.I.E.L.D. Sea Base when she was hired to steal one of those organisms. Also in that episode, he starts hitting on She-Hulk.

These plots converged in the three-part season finale "Darkness and Light", where Betty's gamble pays off and the Hulk and Banner are separated. The Hulk emerges virtually mindless and unrestrained. Banner feels responsible and confronts the creature in an armored battle suit. The Leader finally gains the power of the Hulk, but the strength drive him mad, forcing him to abandon the power and restore it to the creature. At the beginning of season two the Leader turned back into Samuel Sterns and is degraded by Gargoyle in the same way as before. With the help of Grey Hulk, the Leader went back to his old form.

Also in the season finale of the first season, Rick Jones falls into the radiation-saturated Nutrient Bath, (which had been used to separate Hulk and Bruce Banner, and was at the moment being used to fuse them back together), Rick soaks up enough of the gamma radiation to become his own teenaged version of the Hulk. Rick is later cured after the Leader absorbed his power in order to restore his own with the help of the Gargoyle.

Meanwhile, General Ross, betrayed by Agent Jones during the finale, breaks down. Though hospitalized and in critical condition, Ross interrupts Banner's wedding ceremony and threatens to kill Banner, who suffers a cardiac arrest, the separation from the Hulk finally taking it's toll. This leads Banner's friend into concluding that he and the Hulk must be merged again, or both will perish.

Ross flees, but later returns in an attempt to sabotage in the re-merge attempt. He is interrupted by Rick, whom he hurls into the vat containing Banner and the Hulk. The experiment malfunctions, and the vat erupts; from it emerges a gamma-powered, Hulk-like Jones, who escapes into the night, as the grieving but healthy Banner transforms into the Grey Hulk.

Season 2

Season two was renamed The Incredible Hulk and She-Hulk.

Season two begins where season one left concluded, with the Grey Hulk in the mountains, solely pursued by the still insane Ross. An altercation between the two results in an avalanche that puts Ross in a coma, and knocks out Banner. When Banner comes to, he is arrested and placed on trial, while Rick Jones, almost an afterthought, continues his own reign of terror.

Banner's cousin Jennifer, the She-Hulk, tries to help him out in court. After defending the entire court house from an attack by the Leader and successfully locating and restoring Rick to normal, both Banner and Jennifer travel together, lying low.

Aside from a small continuation of the premiere episode, the season featured very little ongoing arcs, the only ones of note were the following:

  • General Ross is hospitalized.
  • The Gargoyle displays strong affections for She-Hulk.
  • Betty Ross plays no active role anymore (except for in a few episodes like Mission: Incredible).
  • Banner becomes more quick-witted and serene, no longer hunted by the army.
  • The Grey Hulk fights the Green Hulk about control in Banner's mind. . . the one who wins breaks out.

The remainder of the season saw Banner and Jennifer either team-up with characters such as Doctor Strange, battle Doctor Doom once more, or participate in a fight during Jennifer's high school reunion party (where She-Hulk temporarily changed back to Jennifer). The episode "Mind Over Anti-Matter" features Doctor Strange and She-Hulk journeying into the mind of Bruce Banner is possessed by an evil demon alien, Banner in the process turns into a monstrous Dark Hulk. She-Hulk provides levity at the sorcerer's expense by referring to him as Doctor Peculiar and other variations of his name. The Grey Hulk's mob persona of "Mr. Fixit" surfaces for a brief appearance.

The series concluded on heavily rushed and happier note than the previous one, with Ross emerging from his coma and deciding to end his hostility towards Banner, but little else was resolved, including Banner's inner conflicts with his green and grey Hulk transformations.

This season won an Emmy Award for "best audio editing" for the work on the episode "The Lost Village".

Cast

Main cast

Actor Role
Neal McDonough Bruce Banner
Lou Ferrigno Hulk
Genie Francis Betty Ross
(6 episodes, season 1)
Philece Sampler Betty Ross
(5 episodes, season 1)
(4 episodes, season 2)
Luke Perry Rick Jones
John Vernon General Thunderbolt Ross
Kevin Schon Major Glenn Talbot
Abomination
(Season 1, 2 episodes)
Zzzax
(Shared with 2 other actors)
Michael Donovan Grey Hulk
Matt Frewer Leader / Samuel Stern
Mark Hamill Gargoyle
Kathy Ireland Ogress
Richard Moll Abomination
(Season 1, 1 episode)
(Season 2, 1 episode)
Lisa Zane She-Hulk / Jennifer Walters
(Season 1)
Cree Summer She-Hulk / Jennifer Walters
(Season 2)

Guest cast

Actor Role
Leigh-Allyn Baker Taylor
Thom Barry Gabriel Jones
Michael Bell Zzzax
(Shared with 2 other actors)
Clancy Brown Sasquatch
Jim Cummings Absorbing Man
Richard Grieco Ghost Rider
Jennifer Hale Miss Allure
Dorian Harewood War Machine / James Rhodes
Robert Hays Iron Man / Tony Stark
Michael Horse Jefferson Whitedeer
Tom Kane H.O.M.E.R.
Scimitar
Maurice LaMarche Doctor Strange
Stan Lee Mr. Walters
Dawnn Lewis Hybrid
Chuck McCann Thing / Ben Grimm
Leeza Miller McGee Wendigo
Zzzax
(Shared with 2 other actors)
John Rhys-Davies Thor
Kevin Michael Richardson Evil Alien / Dark Hulk
Shadoe Stevens Leonard "Doc" Sampson
Peter Strauss Walter Langkowski
Mark L. Taylor Donald Blake
Simon Templeman Doctor Doom
Beau Weaver Mister Fantastic

Crew

Episodes

Season 1

  • Return of the Beast, Part 1
  • Return of the Beast, Part 2
  • Raw Power
  • Helping Hand, Iron Fist
  • Innocent Blood
  • Man to Man, Beast to Beast
  • Doomed
  • Fantastic Fortitude
  • Mortal Bounds
  • And the Wind Cries. . . Wendigo!
  • Darkness and Light, Part 1
  • Darkness and Light, Part 2
  • Darkness and Light, Part 3

Season 2

  • Hulk of a Different Color
  • Down Memory Lane
  • Mind Over Anti-Matter
  • They Call Me Mr. Fixit
  • Fashion Warriors
  • Hollywood Rocks
  • The Lost Village
  • Mission: Incredible

Connections to Spider-Man: The Animated Series

Hulk was mentioned in the Spider-Man: The Animated Series episodes, Night of the Lizard and Spider Wars, Chapter II: Farewell Spider-Man.

Hulk was going to appear in Secret Wars, Chapter I: Arrival, Secret Wars, Chapter II: The Gauntlet of the Red Skull, and Secret Wars, Chapter III: Doom but his appearance was cancelled due to the fact that UPN was airing The Incredible Hulk and Fox didn't want to advertise a show on another network.

In the episode, Mind Over Anti-Matter, Spider-Man makes a brief cameo inside Bruce Banner's mind as one of Banner's fantasies.

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