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Dead Ringer

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“Dead Ringer”

S5 E18

Production 47334
Original Airdate: February 13, 1978
Deadringer gallery02
Steve's ghost?
Produced by
Fred Freiberger
Teleplay by
Robert I. Holt
Story by
Charles Mitchell
Robert I. Holt
Directed by
Arnold Laven
Guest Cast
Guest Star(s)
Linda Dano as Dr. Margaret Winslow
Leonard Stone as 1st Man
Robert Karnes as Fire Captain
Melvin F. Allen as Delivery Man
George Peter Wilber as 2nd Man
Broadcast Order
Season 5
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"The Madonna Caper" "Date With Danger"


While driving on a country road, Steve Austin swerves to avoid a collision with another vehicle and veers off the road. Hitting a tree and slamming his head against the steering wheel, he is dazed. But before passing out he sees a glowing figure in the distance. The figure looks like it could be his double. Later, while recovering under Rudy's care, Oscar Goldman visits and suggests that the accident may have been staged; he tells Steve that two enemy agents have slipped into the country and they're experimenting in bionics. Steve is distracted when he spots his glowing body-double again but it vanishes before Rudy or Oscar spot it. They think he's hallucinating but suspect it may be more.

Rudy sends him to see Dr. Margaret Winslow, a respected parapsychologist. When she learns that Steve was clinically dead for 52 seconds after his plane crash, she proposes that his spirit might have left his body while he was dead and now may be returning to kill him. She explains that a spirit cannot rest if the body regains life. When an explosion rocks Winslow's office, nearly killing her and Steve, she suspects that his spirit may be to blame. In an effort to make contact with it, she convinces Steve to take part in a seance. During the ritual Steve is hypnotized and relives his near fatal plane crash. But Winslow is overcome by unseen forces and tries to kill him. Steve breaks the hypnosis and stops her just in time, shaking her out of her deranged state. Winslow says something took control of her.

Later, Oscar questions Winslow's credibility. Steve balks at this. He trusts her and he's agreed to let her attempt to contact his spirit again, this time at the location of his car crash. As the winds pick up and lightening flashes, Winslow calls to the spirit. Steve turns away from the blustering wind and when he turns back Winslow is nowhere to be seen. Then, his look-a-like glowing figure suddenly appears and then vanishes again. Steve begins to search for Winslow to no avail. Instead, he finds a small light projector buried in the earth. Steve determines that the glowing ringer is a fabrication and more practical forces are at work. As if to confirm this, his Bionic eye spots Winslow in a moving car, flanked by two men. He swings into bionic pursuit but loses them when lightning strikes a tree directly in his path.

As Steve deals with the fallen tree, the two men pull up to a cabin in the woods and set a trap for him using Winslow as bait. They tie her to a chair by the window and rig a canister of lethal gas to release when the cabin door is opened. They don gas masks and wait for Steve to arrive. But the gas is no match for Steve as he crashes through the door and dispatches the canister with ease. The two men try to subdue him but he takes care of them in short order and rescues Winslow. Later, as Steve demonstrates how the projectors created the image of his glowing twin, Oscar explains that the two men are the same enemy agents he spoke of before. And the glowing figure was all part of their plan to destabilize him. Dr. Winslow says she needs a vacation after all this. Steve gives her a parting kiss.


Rudy: Parapsychology is an exciting new field, with limitless possibilities.
Steve: Come on Rudy, seances, crystal balls and all that junk?

Dr. Winslow: Why don't you tell me about yourself? What do you do?
Steve: Well, I'm a retread from the space program on call for special assignments. I used to be something of an athlete. Still prefer participation to watching.
Dr. Winslow: Family?
Steve: None living. I've never been married and I don't see a ring on your finger.

Dr. Winslow: Was he clinically dead for even a brief period of time as a result of that accident?
Rudy: If you respect this as a confidence.
Dr. Winslow: Of course.
Rudy: Yes, he was clinically dead for 52 seconds.

Dr. Winslow: Nice (referring to Steve's car).
Steve: A government issue.
Dr. Winslow: So this is where my taxes go.


  • When Dr. Winslow asks Steve if he has any family, he says, "None living." This implies that Helen and Jim Elgin died in the five months since their last reference in The Bionic Dog.
  • Steve tells Dr. Winslow that he has never married. But nine years from now, in Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman it will be retconned that he was briefly married right out of college and then divorced. The product of this union will be Michael Austin.



  • Steve uses his bionic eye twice. Both times the POV reticle is missing.
  • In the climax, the Bionic sound effect is used for Steve's left arm.


  • Steve drives Dr. Winslow home and parks his Mercedes across the street from her apartment. But after the seance, he sees his “spirit” standing outside but his car is gone. A different car is now parked in the same spot, facing the opposite direction.
  • When Steve chases after the empty car, Winslow follows. At first she is wearing heals, but then switches to flats when she catches up to him.


  • Once the paranormal activity is revealed to be a hoax, Dr. Winslow's possessed attempt to kill Steve during the seance becomes inexplicable, notwithstanding Steve's quip about "auto suggestion."
  • The scene with Steve's car starting up and driving away is not explainable.


  • Steve mentions that he was on his way to Oscar's office when he was run off the road. However, Steve was driving in a rural, hillside area, nowhere near the usual environment of the OSI.
  • The use of the holograph projector on a timer might explain why Oscar or Rudy can't see the hologram on the rooftop, but given the way the scene is staged, it's improbable that they don't see it when Steve does.
  • The timing of the hologram appearing in the forest when Dr. Winslow calls for it to appear is unlikely.
  • As Steve drives Dr. Winslow home, she tells him to turn right at the next street. But before the scene cuts, Steve appears to turn left.
  • Presumably, the enemy scientists should have created or acquired a type of lethal gas that could incapacitate a bionic man, accounting for his speed and strength. But Steve dispatches the canister with little effort and barely any reaction to the room full of gas.


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