Knight Rider - 80s TV Series

By Mark Nobes and Hannah Johnson

Back in the 1980s, a new type of TV show appeared on the airwaves. It was called Knight Rider, and it featured a crime-fighting hero called Michael Knight (played by David Hasselhoff), who drove a high-tech car. The show was an instant hit with viewers, partly due to the Hoff's electrifying performance, and it soon became one of the most popular shows on television. 

The series originally aired on NBC in the U.S. before being ported to other countries, including the UK. The show originally ran for four seasons (90 episodes) between September 1982 and August 1986, but has been repeated numerous times since then, and is still repeated to this day.

In the UK, the popular series was originally broadcast on ITV, usually at the weekends.

In 1989, a video game was released by Acclaim for the NES.

Together, Michael and KITT fought crime and won the hearts of viewers around the world. The show was an action-packed thrill ride that kept viewers coming back for more, week after week. Knight Rider was definitely a beloved show of the 1980s, and it remains popular to this day.
Knight Rider opening title screen (1982)

Original opening title screen from 1982


Michael Knight is a former cop, who is now working for a secret organisation known as the Foundation for Law and Government. Michael's mission is to fight crime and help the innocent. He is aided in his quest by his futuristic sentient car, KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand), which was equipped with a host of high-tech gadgets, including Artificial Intelligence provided by the Knight 2000 microprocessor. Yes, the car actually talked to him, which was pure sci-fi at the time, but has become a reality in the 21st century with Alexa taking over our lives!

The video at the start of the page features the 1982 TV intro with the original opening theme music.

What kind of car was KITT?

In reality, KITT was actually a customised Pontiac Trans-Am sports car. In the series, the car features a high tech coating which makes it almost indestructible. Costing around $100,000 back in 1982, in today's money, the car would cost around £285,000 to build.

At least four cars were actually used during filming. One was for Hasselhoff to drive, another was for KITT's self-driving scenes, and two different lighter weight cars were used for stunts and jumps, often driven by stuntman Jack Gill. 

Who provided KITT's voice?

KITT was voiced by William Daniels, who also starred in the U.S. medical drama St. Elsewhere. He must have been a pretty busy guy, as this was being broadcast at the same time as Knight Rider, with six series (137 episodes) being aired on NBC between October 1982 and May 1988.

Conception aND Production

So how did this show come to be? It all started with a man named Glen A. Larson. Larson was a successful television producer who had created shows like Battlestar Galactica and Magnum, P.I.. In 1982, he came up with the concept for Knight Rider and pitched it to NBC. The network loved the idea and immediately gave Larson the green light to develop the show.
Larson then set to work on assembling the Knight Rider team. He brought on veteran TV writer/producer Robert Foster to serve as the showrunner. For the lead role of Michael Knight, Larson tapped David Hasselhoff, who had made his cameo appearance in Magnum, P.I. The rest of the cast was rounded out with experienced actors like Edward Mulhare, Patricia McPherson, and Rebecca Holden.
With the cast and crew in place, Larson set out to bring his vision for Knight Rider to life. The result was a show that was action-packed, exciting, and full of heart. It was a show that defined a decade and remains iconic to this day.
David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight with KITT on the front cover of Starlog magazine No.79 from 1984

David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight with KITT on the front cover of Starlog magazine (US) No.79 from February 1984.

MAIN CAST and Characters

With his big, curly hair do, black leather jacket, unbuttoned shirt and hairy chest, a guy doesn't get any more 80s than the Hoff, who played the lead character, Michael Knight.
Devon Miles (played by Edward Mulhare) is the director of the Foundation for law Enforcement (FLAG).
Dr. Bonnie Barstow (Patricia McPherson) is Kitt's Chief Technician in the first, third and fourth season. She was the voice of reason for Michael, and she was always there to help him out of a jam. Together, Michael and Bonnie made an unstoppable team. They were the perfect blend of brains and brawn, and they always managed to save the day.
Rebecca Holden played the role of April Curtis (the Chief Technician) in season two.
Reginald Cornelius III (Peter Parros) is the driver of the FLAG Mobile Unit in season four.

Theme Music

The classic theme music was one of the coolest synth tracks of the 80s, and there are still many electronic musicians who are inspired by its sound. It was composed by Stu Phillips (who also composed the background music for 13 episodes), and the show's producer Glen A. Larson. Apparently, six synthesizers were used to create it. Larson was inspired by the ballet Sylvia, by the French composer Clément Philibert Léo Delibes, more particularly the part "Marche Et Cortège De Bacchus" Act III – No. 14."

Toys and ANNUALS

There were plenty of toy manufacturers and publishers waiting to take advantage of the success of Knight Rider.
Five official annuals were produced in the UK by Grandreams Ltd, London, which were actually printed in Holland. I have a copy of the first 1982 annual which is priced at £2.75. It includes features on the cast with plenty of photos (particularly of KITT), comic strips and puzzles.
David Hasselhoff with KITT on front cover of the Knight Rider Annual 1982 by Grandreams
This annual was published in 1982, although the year isn't displayed on the front cover.

Knight Rider Knight 2000 Stunt Set (1982)

If you were of the right age in 1982, then you may have received this Knight 2000 stunt set for Christmas. Unfortunately, I was a tad too old to be playing with this, but it looks like great fun! There was also a Knight Rider Impossibles Stunt Set with a motorized Knight 2000 car.

Michael Knight Poseable Action Figure by Kenner
In 1983, Kenner (U.S.) producer a Michael Knight Poseable Action Figure and a Knight 2000 Voice Car.
Remarkably, popular merchandise is still being produced in 2023, including this Knight Rider card game by Shuffle.

The Phenomenon that IS David hasselhoff

When David Hasselhoff was cast as Michael Knight in Knight Rider, little did anyone realise the massive phenomenon that would ensue. An actor with incredible charisma, a charming smile and a whole lot of talent, Hoff stole the show and the hearts of audiences around the world.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1952, Hoff's first acting gig was a role in an Off-Broadway production of The Nifty Fifties. From there, he landed a few roles on TV shows such Dr. "Snapper" Foster in The Young and the Restless. But it was his turn as Michael Knight that made Hoff a household name.

Outside of Knight Rider, Hoff has had an equally successful acting and musical career. In 1989, he landed the role of Mitch Buchannon in Baywatch, and has also starred in popular movies like Click and Piranha 3DD. 

The Hoff is also a huge pop star in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, achieving success with 15 studio albums, his most recent being Party Your Hasselhoff in 2021, which reached the top 10 in Germany and Austria. 
There's no doubt about it, David Hasselhoff is a true icon. He's a talented actor, singer and producer who has entertained audiences for decades. He's also a generous philanthropist, who has used his celebrity status to raise awareness for important causes.
Look-In magazine Jan 1984 ft. David Hasselhoff - Knight Rider

David Hasselhoff on the cover of Look In magazine Jan 1984 

Knight Rider 2000 -TV Movie

Knight Rider 2000 is a 1991 American television film that was created as a pilot for a potential new series, which never saw the light of day. It's a continuation of the original 1980s television series Knight Rider. Set in the year 2000, in a world where guns are banned (and replaced with non-lethal ultransonic weapons), Michael is introduced to the next generation car, the Knight 4000, which, at the request of Michael, includes the original A.I. recovered from the the original KITT, which was dismantled. The film stars David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight, who comes out of retirement to team up with a female cop, Shawn McCormick (played by Susan Norman).
The movie's reception was mixed. Critics praised the action sequences, but found the execution poor and the plot to be convoluted. It's generally considered to be one of the weaker entries in the franchise.
There are some positives, however. The decision to retain William Daniels as the voice of KITT, was one of them, and the part in which Devon is killed in a car explosion was a major moment, and had many fans in tears.
The film has since gained something of a cult following from fans of the original series, and those who enjoy campy, B-movie entertainment.
The haunting, piano-based theme music for the film was composed by Jan Hammer, who also composed the Miami Vice theme music. The track divided opinion, as it's so completely different to the original music from the TV series, but we definitely give it the thumbs up.
Knight Rider Annual 1982