In the old TV show Dr. Banner's first name was David rather than Bruce. Was there any reason for this name change, or is this just something the series did?

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    Technically he was David Bruce Banner. From what I've read, the unofficial reason was that the name "Bruce" was considered to have too many homosexual connotations for the comfort of TV execs.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 10:14
  • 4
    @Valorum Why in the world was Bruce considered a "homosexual name"?
    – RobertF
    Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 13:40
  • @RobertF - I've seen it discussed elsewhere. I think there were some effeminate "Bruce" characters on US TV
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 13:49
  • sighs. then decides not to do the "green man" joke
    – Danny Mc G
    Commented Dec 11, 2021 at 4:15

4 Answers 4


So Sean isn't wrong, the retconned version of Why was Bruce Banner named David Banner in the old late 70's early 80's television series? is Bruce Banner was too alliterative and considered a comic book thing but as I recalled creator Stan Lee mentioning something very different in the 1988 documentary Comic Book Confidential I looked around.

Here's a video in which Stan 'The Man' Lee give us the straight dope: What's in a name?.

As you can see Stan totally admits that the Network considered the name "Bruce" was too gay for them. But, as mentioned, Stan got the name 'Bruce' into the series on Banner's gravestone.

enter image description here

  • 4
    +1 great find on the interview. Maybe consider adding a transcription, just in case the link dies?
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 7, 2015 at 8:06
  • 19
    Given recent developments it is deliciously ironic that Stan used Bruce Jenner as his main point against changing the name.
    – Kyle Jones
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 21:59
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    Yeah... Bruce sounded to gay to the network, but I remember the pilot and that kid that liked to be called "BJ"... come on! People are so silly :P
    – user63620
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 14:40
  • 5
    Was Batman not on TV at the time? Or did they feel the camp style of Adam West made it a lost cause?
    – Peter
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 18:50
  • 1
    Well the studio guys were not too far off with Bruce Jenner, LOL
    – KyloRen
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 23:30

There are two primary theories. The most common one is the rumor that "Bruce" was considered too "camp" or "effeminate" of a name. This has been officially disavowed. The other, as recounted in the "Making of" documentary and in the link above, is that the alliterative name was considered too much of a comic book thing, so his name became David Bruce Banner.

It's probably worth noting that this was not the first time that Banner's name changed. Early in the Hulk comics, Stan Lee erred and had Banner referred to as Bob, which led to the name being established as Robert Bruce Banner, with him commonly using his middle name as his name.

  • 3
    But then that raises another question: If the producers of the television show didn't like "Bruce", why didn't they use "Robert"?
    – jamesdlin
    Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 15:12
  • Based on what's excerpted on CBLR, and in the documentary, it sounds like Gilchrest wanted to put his own stamp on the series. He also tried to change Hulk to be red, which he thought made more sense. Also, Robert risks the chance of going back to alliteration, which he disliked, finding it "unrealistic".
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 15:48
  • @jamesdlin Bob banner is the same alteration as Bruce banner
    – user16696
    Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 15:54
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    And of course they would say that it wasn't because they've got a problem with homosexual-sounding names :-)
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 17:22
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    Stan Lee says they told him it was a homosexual name. I trust him a heck of a lot more!!!
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 7, 2015 at 8:08

It's not so much that Kenneth Johnson wanted the "get away from the comic book" in terms of not being faithful to the material. It's just that he wanted to avoid tropes that we've always associated with comic book, SF, and fantasy characters in general. In this case the ubiquitous alliterative name: Lois Lane, Peter Parker, Reed Richards, Susan Storm, Matt Murdock, Wade Wilson, Victor VonDoom (or Doctor Doom), Richard Rory, Cobra Commander, Bilbo Baggins, and the list goes on and on...

I guess alliterative names became a thing in the English language and even occasionally a few others (Shiro Sanada comes to mind) because they are catchy, distinctive, and memorable. Also, according to Stan Lee, it made it easy for him to remember all of those characters he co-created.

Johnson may have made an observation where he noticed that alliterative names were very common for characters in children's books.

You've got to admit, however, that it would be cool to have an alliterative name in real life. Just ask Richard Roundtree, the actor best known for playing Shaft! And then there's Ryan Reynolds aka Wade Wilson aka Deadpool. Need I say more?

  • 1
    Do you have a source for this?
    – amflare
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 15:59

I think the name David Banner just sounds better than Bruce Banner, just my opinion, I'm glad they changed it, the Director Kenneth Johnson said he wanted to get away from anything that had to do with the comic book , so maybe that had a lot to do with it.

  • 4
    Can you provide a reference for that last fact?
    – Adamant
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 6:45
  • How can you make a show on a comic book character while wanting to get away from anything that had to do with the comic book? This is just self-contradictory.
    – user118967
    Commented May 14, 2019 at 3:20

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