I wrote to the lead writer on the show, Kenny Johnson, regarding the lack of super villains on The Incredible Hulk. He wrote back to me earlier today. I asked if there were any conscious decisions to avoid super villains from the Hulk comics noting there were a few exceptions. Here is his reply:
Thanks very much for your note about our Hulk series.
The answer is simple. I was eager to stay far away from all things comic book. I was trying to make the creature live in a real world.
We certainly labored to make each episode as meaningful and substantive as possible. Our largest audience was actually adults. Working with Bix and Lou was always a treat. We all cared a lot. I'm glad it impacted on you favorably.
Thanks again for taking the time to write. It's wonderful to hear that our work captured your imagination.
All the best...
Edited text from blue to green because it was a great suggestion. =)
At the risk of sounding cliche,it was a very different time. In those days most homes had one or two televisions so producers aimed their shows at a broader audience. I think they felt adults wouldn't buy too many comic book elements in a show. This was before adults were playing video games and to some extent, comics still were considered for kids. The last comic book show to do comic book villains was the 60s "Batman" and they were going for camp. "The Six Million Dollar Man" occasionally would have adversaries of a sci-fi nature but mostly he dealt with other spies and criminals. That's what makes those episodes so special to the old fans. And that's why some older fans are nostalgic for Saturday morning shows like "Super Friends." Because as simple as they seem today, they were the closest television came to comic books.
RE: Superfriends - but those Wendy and Marvin episodes were PAINFULLY bad. There were no villains! Just people who were either "fat cats" working for their own interests, or misguided people who just needed to be straightened out by a chat with Wendy and Marvin (because having Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman against you apparently wasn't message enough.)
That show suffered so much until the Legion of Doom showed up... and I LOVED the Superfriends! Ah...