Once a Hero

Once a Hero is an American action-adventure television series that aired on ABC from September 19 until October 3, 1987. The series stars Milo O'Shea as Abner Bevis, a down-on-his-luck comic book artist whose life is turned upside down when his creation, Captain Justice (Jeff Lester), comes to life. Also appearing in the series were Caitlin Clarke and Robert Forster.

Once a Hero
Situation comedy
Created byDusty Kay
Directed byKevin Hooks
Kevin Inch
Claudia Weill
Harry Hurwitz
StarringJeff Lester
Milo O'Shea
Robert Forster
Josh Blake
Caitlin Clarke
Composer(s)Dennis Dreith
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes7 (4 unaired)
Executive producer(s)Dusty Kay
Producer(s)Ira Steven Behr
Paul Pompian
Editor(s)Stuart Bass
Michael Berman
Running time60 minutes
Production company(s)Garden Party Productions
New World Television
Original networkABC
Original releaseSeptember 19 (1987-09-19) –
October 3, 1987 (1987-10-03)


Abner Bevis (Milo O'Shea) is the creator of a comic-book superhero called Captain Justice. Lately Bevis is in a rut and repeating old storylines, and children have lost interest in the comic, so the comic's owners want to kill off the title. Even the characters in the book's fictional world of Pleasantville have started to notice that their lives are repeating themselves, and the lack of reader interest is causing characters to start fading.

Captain Justice (Jeff Lester) decides to cross the Forbidden Zone into the real world, where he becomes a real human being with no superpowers. Also crossing over is Gumshoe (Robert Forster), the embodiment of generic private detectives, who's looking out for Justice. The Captain's attempts to fight real-world criminals renew interest in the comic, and the owners agree not to cancel it; also, Bevis is inspired to make it more contemporary.

Adding to the stories is suspicious newspaper reporter Emma Greely (Caitlin Clarke), who keeps snooping around. Her troubled and precocious son Woody (Josh Blake) knows the truth about Captain Justice, but she doesn't.



Jim Turner was initially cast as Captain Justice, he "was cast against type, a small, skinny guy ... It was supposed to be a joke", but when the producers became worried he might not be suitable as the lead, the role was recast with Jeff Lester.

A pilot with Turner had been shot, and writer Ira Steven Behr suggested that key advertising-agency executives had seen the abandoned version of the pilot, which caused bad word-of-mouth for the show, ultimately dooming it.[1]


Seven episodes were created, but only the first three of them were aired in the United States.

Title Directed by Written by US air date
1"Believers"Claudia Weill,
Kevin Inch
Dusty KaySeptember 19, 1987 (1987-09-19)
2-hour pilot episode. In Pleasantville Captain Justice notices many of his adventures are repeats of old storylines, because children have lost interest in his comic. Captain Justice (Jeff Lester) decides to cross the Forbidden Zone into the real world, where he becomes a real human being with no superpowers. Also crossing over is a detective character called Gumshoe (Robert Forster), who's looking out for Justice.
2"Triange"TBATBASeptember 26, 1987 (1987-09-26)
Captain Justice's girlfriend Rachel Kirk crosses the Forbidden Zone into the real world, and Abner is stunned at her resemblance to his late wife.
3"The Return of Lazarus"TBATBAOctober 3, 1987 (1987-10-03)
Captain Justice's arch-enemy Victor Lazarus (Richard Lynch) crosses the Forbidden Zone into the real world, and initially resumes his fight with C.J., but in time questions whether he wants to be a villain, or is he just written that way.
4"Things Get Ugly"TBATBAN/A
A new Captain Justice movie is being made, and the actor who played C.J. on television (Adam West) now earns a living by making public appearances as that character is being sued by the studio to prevent him making any further appearances. When he crosses the Forbidden Zone into Pleasantville, he gains C.J.'s powers.
NOTE: This episode echoed the situation with The Legend of the Lone Ranger and the Clayton Moore lawsuit.
5"Manos Arriba, Mrs. Greely"TBATBAN/A
Emma and Gumshoe travel to Latin America in hopes of recovering a roll of film from Eddie's wife (Fran Drescher) which incriminates a mobster.
6"Remember the Cottonwood"TBATBAN/A
Heroes from the Battle of the Alamo return to aid C.J. in his fight for justice; although they are not fictional characters, so many legends have built up around them, they exist in the Forbidden Zone as well.
7"Thank You, Captain Justice"TBATBAN/A
Series finale.


Many ABC stations preempted the show's first episode with Star Trek: The Next Generation, which they correctly decided would be more successful after watching the ABC show; one station stated that "Once a Hero is gone".[2] Although widely promoted, the series was a ratings failure, and was cancelled after three episodes were broadcast.

In other mediaEdit


Marvel Comics began publishing a comic book spin-off, Captain Justice, but this too was short-lived and was cancelled after two issues.[3]


  1. ^ "TELEVISION; WHY 'ONCE A HERO' IS NO MORE", The New York Times.
  2. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (1987-10-04). "Syndicated 'Star Trek' Puts Dent in Networks". The New York Times. Retrieved May 9, 2011.
  3. ^ Grand Comics Database entry for Captain Justice, retrieved Feb. 5, 2015

External linksEdit