Hulk Wiki
David Banner


Full name
David Bruce Banner
Various; originated as a physician and scientist
Number of episodes
81 of 82

David Banner as he begins to metamorphose into the Hulk

Dr. David Bruce Banner is the lead character in The Incredible Hulk TV series (1978–82), and was played by Bill Bixby. The character appears in 82 episodes of the series (although the actor actually filmed 81 episodes) and the three post-series TV movies, The Incredible Hulk Returns (1988), The Trial of the Incredible Hulk (1989) and The Death of the Incredible Hulk (1990).


Rebirth by simon williams art-d91kau5.jpg
Dr david banner to hulk transformation by navajobirdsong datssbz-fullview.jpg

Dr. David Banner was born in Trevorton, Colorado, in the first half of the 1940s. His father, D.W. Banner, wanted David to stay on the family farm and take it over from him someday—D.W. went so far as to tell David that he would pay his son's entire way through any agricultural college of his choice. David, though, had always wanted to be a doctor, something his family knew about him ever since he was five years old, when David's sister, Helen, caught him performing surgery on one of her favorite dolls. David, at 18, had even more incentive, though, to attend university someplace far away from Trevorton (always keeping in mind that his eventual goal was, of course, medical school). David had allowed resentment and anger to simmer for years toward his father, because David blamed D.W. for the death of his mother, Elizabeth, whom David had found passed away in her bed when he was a child.

David did attend medical school. His classmate there was Elaina Marks—who years later became his colleague at The Culver Institute in California, where they were engaged in intense research aimed at unraveling the mystery of the enormous physical strength that all humans possess, but of which the typical person uses only 20 percent. David had a personal reason for conducting this particular research, because he had lost his wife, Laura, in a car accident from which David was unable to save her. David and Laura's was a deep and abiding love (though one that did not produce any children). David's grief was profound (it took him a month simply to return to work), and the interviews he conducted with Elaina of people who also had had loved ones in as much life-threatening jeopardy as Laura had been in, but were able to tap into that well of enormous strength to save, accomplished little more than to make grief, resentment and frustration a major part of David's everyday existence.

After learning that he did indeed share one trait with those others—namely an elevated adenine-thymine level in his DNA (as a matter of fact, David's adenine-thymine level was elevated even higher than the ones they had interviewed)—David knew there had to be an external force at work with those others that had not been present during the accident in which he was unable to rescue Laura. That external source, David deduced, was gamma-ray bursts from periodic sunspot activity on the surface of the sun. In an attempt to recreate that external force in the controlled setting of the laboratory, David strapped himself into the Culver Institute's radiation emitter and gave himself a 15-second dose of gamma radiation. Unfortunately, David did not know that the emitter had been updated and that he had inadvertently dosed himself with six times what he had thought to be the maximum dose.

The massive dose combined with David's atypical adenine-thymine level in such a way that, from that point forward, he metamorphosed into "the Hulk" (a creature that gave physical form to all his hurt) whenever he became angry or stressed. Thus, after he professed his love for her at Elaina's grave (David did not know, because he always blacked out whenever he became the Hulk, that Elaina's last words had been her own profession of her love for him, going all the way back to the time they shared in medical school), David began his wandering quest to find "a way to control the raging spirit that dwell[ed] within him."


According to some sources, the reason why the name was changed from Bruce to David was that CBS thought the name Bruce sounded "too gay-ish". Other accounts suggested that Kenneth Johnson wanted to avoid the alliterative trope common in comic book character names (e.g. Peter Parker, Reed Richards, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor). On the DVD commentary of the pilot, Kenneth Johnson says that it was a way to honor his son David. "Bruce" is David Banner's middle name, as it is in the comics.

2003 film character

In the 2003 movie Hulk, Bruce Banner's father is named David Banner. The character is actually based on Brian Banner (in the comics), but was changed to "David" to pay homage to the TV character (although sort of backhandedly).

Marvel Comics

In Marvel's alternate universe (Earth-311), where humanity is still in the year 1602, that version's Hulk is called David Banner (full name: Robert David Banner).

2008 MCU film

In the The Incredible Hulk, Bruce Banner uses the false name of David Banner while hiding in Brazil.

References and allusions[]

See Hulk popular culture references