The Episodes That Made Knight Rider a Classic

With Knight Rider soon re-airing on U.K. television, get to know the best episodes of the automobile crimefighting action series.

Knight Rider– a shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist.”

There may have never been a TV series as purely ‘80s as Knight Rider. David Hasselhoff, in a leather jacket and a mullet, his shirt unbuttoned just enough to show a little bit of chest hair, fighting crime in a talking sports car. If you asked an AI arts program to draw “the most ‘80s TV series ever”, it would draw Knight Rider.

Yes, maybe you think that in 2022 the idea of a show about a car that can talk and drive itself is a bit like a show about someone who fights crime with a phone that fits in their pocket, but honestly, is there anything as ‘80s as a show that revolves around the bromance between a man and his car?

This year marks 40 years since KITT took to the roads, so here’s a compilation of some of the best episodes of the road warrior’s adventures.

5. Season 1 Episode 9 – Trust Doesn’t Rust

Every Sherlock needs his Moriarty, and Knight Rider makes its first attempt at that in the form of KARR, Knight Automated Roaming Robot. KARR was KITT’s prototype, but its designer made one rookie mistake – KARR’s guiding principle was self-preservation rather than protecting human life.

The episode starts with him being stolen from a top-secret warehouse by a couple of burglars. KARR doesn’t turn out to be quite the master criminal KITT needs just yet, the peak of his crime spree at this point amounts to ram-raiding a drive-thru restaurant, although it is hilarious watching him repeatedly ask his thieves whether they want to reproduce.

And the entire episode is worth it to watch two cars trash-talking each other.

Despite KARR’s explosive ending, by popular demand, the evil automobile would return in KITT Vs KARR, an episode which features even more automotive smack-talking as KARR plans to rob an armored truck.

4. Season 2 Episodes 1 and 2 – Goliath

With season two of Knight Rider the series took another bash at introducing a nemesis. This time we discover that Wilton Knight, the billionaire behind the invention of KITT who also ordered Michael Knight’s facial reconstruction surgery, actually had his face reconstructed to look like an exact duplicate of his son, Garthe Knight, a baddie who’s been locked up in an African prison for three life sentences. We have no time to talk about how that’s a pretty messed up thing to do, because the evil son has escaped!

A lot is going on here, including Michael Knight taking a trip to Vegas, and repeatedly losing at Blackjack against KITT, and Goliath, Garthe’s evil super truck which absolutely mows through KITT during the story’s big fight, as well as a climactic heist at a missile silo.

But the real highlight of this episode, the thing that makes it absolute top-tier viewing, is the Hasselhoff-on-Hasselhoff action.

Putting it lightly, David Hasselhoff has always been more of a leading man than a character actor, but it is clear he is having the time of his life playing his evil, arch, goateed doppelganger in this story. He chews all of the scenery delivering lines like “We have so much in common- our surname, our faces…”, but the scenery tastes good.

So good, in fact, that Hasselhoff comes back for another taste in “Goliath Returns.”

3. Season 3 Episode 5 – Halloween Knight

The ‘80s was a fantastic decade for big, flashy, cheesy horror movies, and who doesn’t love a Halloween special? Knight Rider goes all out on this in “Halloween Knight”- disappearing corpses, mysterious sexy witch ladies, floating demon heads, and a reclusive weirdo called “Norman Banes” (and in case you don’t get the reference, the score and even the house from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho feature heavily).

It also includes some great lines (“That’s trespassing!” “No it’s not, it’s breaking and entering.”) and, perhaps most importantly of all, features a scene where KITT drives off a ramp, flies through the air and smashes through a plate glass window on the back of another truck. It’s amazing they waited three seasons before pulling that one.

It is an episode surprisingly low on KITT action (there are very few ways you can really fit a car into a haunted house story, figuratively or literally), but eventually the episode climaxes in a night-time car chase that ends in KITT turbo-boosting through the screen of a drive-in movie.

This is another episode where everyone involved is clearly having heaps of fun.

2. Season 1 Episodes 1 and 2 – Knight of the Phoenix

There’s an old joke that if they made a show in the ‘80s called “Surf Dracula” it would be about a vampire who had a different surfing adventure every week, while if they remade it in the 2020s it would be twelve episodes of a guy who might be a vampire planing the wood of his surfboard, then in the final episode, you would see him walking towards some waves.

Knight Rider is definitely of the “Dracula’s going to go surfing” school of thought. In the show’s two-part pilot episode, the plot wastes no time at all having a cop shot and left for dead, giving him facial reconstructive surgery to look like David Hasselhoff and then teaming him up with a talking car to fight crime.

Everything you want from a Knight Rider episode is here. David Hasselhoff arguing with a dashboard? Got it. Tactical turtlenecks? Present. Is KITT’s high-tech interior described as “like Darth Vader’s bathroom”? Of course. It even has the obligatory comedy scene of a couple of car thieves trying to steal KITT and getting launched at a police cruiser from the ejector seats.

It also features classic retro lines such as “She lives in a place called ‘Silicon Valley’” delivered in a way that will leave you absolutely convinced “Silicon Valley” is a name they just made up.

Some series take a while to hit their stride, but Knight Rider understands the assignment right out the garage door.

1. Season 3 Episodes 14 – Junk Yard Dog

Knight Rider is a show that offers great big, testosterone-fueled driving and punching action, it is not really a show you come to for the feels. So “Junk Yard Dog” comes at you slightly out of left field.

The story starts out regularly enough, with an admittedly very ‘80s take on environmentalism with an evil businessman dumping toxic waste.

Soon enough Michael and KITT are on the case, duking it out with a forklift truck near a massive pool of acid, but then, horror of horrors, KITT gets pushed into the acid! Normally you might expect KITT to shrug off such indignities, but this time we see him begging Michael for help as he’s dissolved, like a four-wheeled HAL-9000.

This is the point where you start insisting that no, you’re fine, there’s just something in your eye.

When KITT is fished out of the acid he is wrecked beyond recognition, and Hasselhoff is acting his heart out to show Mike’s grief. This is the first time we see just how much Michael loves that car of his. As KITT is rebuilt by montage, it is intercut with Michael’s misty-edged flashbacks of KITT speeding through green sunlit fields.

But even when KITT is up and running again, the car is traumatized, too scared to even ram through a concrete wall. We joke, but it is genuinely moving seeing Knight coax KITT back to his old self.

It just goes to show that you can come up with all the evil vehicles you like, but Knight Rider will always be a show about a car and his best buddy.

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