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In the comic books, Banner's character is named Bruce Banner (from what I have read, "Robert Bruce Banner", though I'm not a diehard enough fan to know the origin of that) and he is a physicist.

I just started watching the 1978 show on Netflix, and the character's name is "David Banner", who is a physician/researcher.

Why was this change made? It doesn't seem like a trivial switch, and Stan Lee is credited as a consultant on the TV show, so it was not seemingly done to avoid any issues with copyrights.

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The show's Wikipedia page provides a couple of possible reasons for the switch:

Johnson changed the name of the Hulk's comic book alter ego, Dr. Bruce Banner, to Dr. David Banner for the TV series. This change was made, according to Johnson, because he did not want the series to be perceived as a comic book series, so he wanted to change what he felt was a staple of comic books, and Stan Lee's comics in particular, that major characters frequently had alliterative names.[9] According to Lou Ferrigno, it was also changed because CBS thought the name Bruce sounded "too gay-ish," a rationale that Ferrigno thought was "the most absurd, ridiculous thing I'd ever heard."[10] On the DVD commentary of the pilot, Johnson says that it was a way to honor his son David. "Bruce" ultimately became the TV Banner's middle name, as it had been in the comics. It is visible on Banner's tombstone at the end of the pilot movie, and that footage is shown at the beginning of every episode of the series.

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Yeesh, I had read the first part of the article on mobile, but for whatever reason the other subheadings didn't unfold properly. Thanks for finding that! –  jonsca Jul 24 '13 at 19:28

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