"To me, it’s no surprise that the heyday of
Baywatch ended with the rise of broadband internet access in homes. Clearly,
Baywatch was primo spank material for guys without easy access to porn."
"Can't, you see, that I am in love, with you? You, your pool, the whole thing?"
Oh yes, this is an article about Baywatch
was a long-running (1989-2001)
American television series about a group of fictional ocean lifeguards note
. A Rescue
show with soap-operatic elements
, mixed with action
, domestic drama
, occasionally crime
, and the ever-present PG-rated Fanservice
into an hour of "wish you were here" beautiful Southern California
(for the first 9 seasons) and Hawaii
(last 2 seasons) locales. The show was created by Douglas Schwartz, Michael Berk and Gregory Bonann, the latter of whom was a real-life Los Angeles County
lifeguard: the basic premise and the storylines of many episodes were often based on rescues he and his colleagues had made.
On 23 April 1989, the Pilot Movie Baywatch: Panic at Malibu Pier
aired on NBC
. However, Baywatch
was cancelled by NBC after its initial season (1989-90) on network television. The co-creators and lead actor David Hasselhoff
bought back the rights to make more episodes for a mere $100. Hasselhoff’s stardom in Germany at the time (due to Knight Rider
, as well as his singing career
) brought the producers $300,000 in advance for every episode. The show's setting also provided ample opportunity for Product Placement
of swimwear, sportswear and motor vehicles. Independently financed, the show went into its second season (1991-92) in first-run syndication
and proved to be insanely popular, particularly overseas: and as America's top television export in the 1990s, Baywatch was seen in 140 countries by over one billion viewers each week, as estimated by Guinness Book of World Records
. The show's amazing international popularity led Entertainment Weekly to proclaim Baywatch as "The Most Popular Television Series in the History of the Planet" in an October 1993 cover story.
And to count the number of Playboy Playmates of the Month
it either launched or had cast would take more time than it's worth. The most notable cast alumnus (apart from Hasselhoff) is Pamela Anderson
, who starred as lifeguard C.J. Parker from the start of the third season to the end of the seventh season. In 1995, at the height of its popularity, it got a far less successful spinoff, Baywatch Nights
. By the ninth season, as Baywatch had begun to wane in popularity, the show moved to Hawaii
, much due to lower costs and favorable tax breaks for the production company. The series was also renamed Baywatch: Hawaii
. In 2003, a Made-for-TV Movie
, Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding
was released which was essentially a Reunion Movie
with many former cast alumni returning as their characters.
Although some people may argue that the show was already a parody of itself, Baywatch
has been parodied quite a lot. Most of its parodies boiled down to the slow motion scenes, the bounce, and the inconsistent acting. While most parodies were one-shots in other series, one series was a dedicated parody: Son of the Beach
"Tropes'll be ready, they'll be ready, never you fear, no don't you fear" ♪:
- Abusive Parents: Summer's father.
- Adrenaline Time: Used far too often in "Baywatch: Hawaii".
- An Aesop: Mitch delivers these on a pretty regular basis, often to his son, Hobie. In fact, even the show's most virulent critics praised the almost consistently positive portrayal of Mitch as a single father caring for his son. Examples:
- (on winning) "It's not whether you win or lose; it's how you play the game."
- (on popularity) "You have to ask yourself what's more important: Being liked by everyone else, or being able to like yourself."
- Affectionate Parody: The tongue-in-cheek episode "Rescue Bay".
- Angels Pose: Done, naturally, in the Charlie's Angels parody episode "Baywatch Angels".
- Anyone Can Die: Al in the Pilot Movie, Jill in "Shark Derby" and Stephanie in "Chance of a Lifetime".
- As Himself: Michael "Newmie" Newman, the only real lifeguard on the show (and likely one of the few actors who could actually swim like a pro.)
- Awful Truth: Averted in "Race Against Time Part 2". Hobie, his mom, and her fiance, were in a plane crash and all three were rescued. However, Hobie was disappointed that the fiance was more concerned about his own safety than of his soon-to-be wife's. Mitch finds out about this and almost spills the beans to his wife and the fiance, but at the last minute decides he'd rather lie and say the fiance acted heroically.
- Bad Dreams: Mitch has nightmares about Bobby drowning in "Submersion", based on a traumatic event that happened earlier that day.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Neely in "Beauty and the Beast". She fixed it so that Caroline couldn't compete against her in the swimsuit competition by lying that she already had the chicken pox and would expose herself to C.J.'s chicken pox.
- Beach Bury
- Beach Episode: Due to its premise, every episode is this.
- The Beard: In "Point Doom", Guido convinces C.J. to pretend to be his fiance so that a tough beach go-er won't beat him up for flirting with his girlfriend.
- Bigger on the Inside: Lampshaded in "Now Sit Right Back and You'll Hear a Tale" when the group finishes setting up the hut: It looks small and Gilligan says it's bigger on the inside.
- The Boxing Episode: Kickboxing, specifically. Appropriately, the title of the episode is "Kicks".
- Breather Episode: Following the dramatic "Chance of a Lifetime", we get "Talk Show", which is much more light-hearted.
- Busman's Holiday: Many of the vacation-based episodes tend to fall into this: The lifeguards end up having to use their lifeguarding skills even away from the beach.
- CPR (Clean, Pretty, Reliable)
- California Doubling: Subverted. Baywatch was mostly set on LA County beaches, where most of if was actually filmed.
- The Cameo - Shawn Michaels got an uncredited role as Vinnie the bodyguard.
- Cassandra Truth: In "Beauty and the Beast", a homeless man warned Cody that he saw a creature in the storm drains. Cody thought the man was merely drunk and doesn't believe him. Oh, if only he did, because the creature was real, all right: A rare salt-water alligator.
- Catapult Nightmare: C.J. in "Dead of Summer".
- Mitch in "Talk Show" after he has an incompetence nightmare of being tongue-tied on the talk show.
- Celebrity Is Overrated: In "Talk Show," Mitch helps to rescue Jay Leno, and becomes a celebrity as a result. He hates it.
- Censor Box: To a little nude boy in "Baywatch Angels".
- Chase Scene: Whenever there's a criminal on the beach, you get this.
- A car example occurred in "Desperate Encounter" between Mitch and Damon, a man who wanted Mitch dead after Mitch witnessed Damon killing his wife.
- Chick Magnet: Mitch.
- Christmas Episode: "Silent Night, Baywatch Night".
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Skylar Bergman (played by Marliece Andrada), despite being featured in the opening credits, was only featured in the first four episodes of season 8 and was never featured again, without any in-universe explanation.
- Citizenship Marriage: The crux of Logan's situation during seasons 5 and 6; he's from Australia and wants to remain in America but his visa's expired. He wants to get a citizenship marriage with an unrelated woman instead of Caroline, which causes a lot of tension between the two.
- Clear My Name: "The Falcon Manifesto" has Mitch a suspect in the death of someone he knew for only a day.
- Cliff Hanger: There were quite a few two-parters in the show's run:
- "The Trophy"
- "Nightmare Bay"
- "River of No Return"
- "Race Against Time"
- "Coronado del Soul"
- "Living on the Fault Line"
- "Silent Night, Baywatch Night"
- "Trapped Beneath the Sea"
- "Forbidden Paradise" (later re-packaged as a direct-to-video film)
- "Rookie Summer / Next Generation"
- "To the Max / Night of the Dolphin"
- "The Wedding"
- "Baywatch Down Under"
- "Aloha Hawaii / Mahalo, Hawaii"
- Clip Show: "The Chamber".
- "The Life You Save". The plot concerned the Baywatch staff fighting budget cutbacks by telling the execs past stories about how they saved lives on the beach.
- Clumsy Copyright Censorship: The American DVD releases removed many of the licensed songs and replaced them with other songs, including the iconic theme song "I'm Always Here" (the DVD sets used "Strong Enough" instead).
- Cover Version: Some of the montage songs were cover versions.
- Decision Darts: In "Kicks", C.J. throws darts when she's unsure whether to try out for a modeling job or not. In an amusing subversion of the Trope, C.J. completely misses the dart board and her dart lands on a huge Nike sign that says "Just DO IT."
- Demoted to Extra: John Cort was a main character in the second half of season 1, but only appeared four times after that.
- Denser and Wackier: The upcoming Baywatch feature film is rumored to be this.
- Deserted Island: Mitch and Stephanie make it to one in "Vacation Part 2" after falling off the cruise ship.
- Mitch and his date are also stranded on one in "Windswept".
- Die Hard on an X: The episode "The Tower" has it on the beach and in a lifeguard tower. Naturally, it is Mitch who saves the day.
- "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: For a couple of seasons, the closing theme was "Current of Love" as sung by David Hasselhoff.
- Dirty Cop: "River of No Return Part 2".
- Dramatic Hour Long
- Dramatic Shattering: In "Rookie Summer", an upset Manny causes this by kicking a rolling chair into the side door, causing the door glass to break.
- In "Missing", Mitch threw some shoes through his office's window in a fit of rage.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: Seen in "Dead of Summer". C.J. has a nightmare where she's on an out-of-control boat and hits the pier. Later in the episode, she experiences this in real life (due to some terrorists), though thankfully the outcome is better this time.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: How Stephanie dies.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The first season (that is, the one on NBC) didn't feature "I'm Always Here" as the theme song, but "Save Me" (and on some DVD releases, "Above the Waterline").
- Hobie was played by Brandon Call instead of Jeremy Jackson. For those more familiar with the syndicated seasons, this is jarring to say the least.
- For the pilot film, "Panic at Malibu Pier", the composer was Arthur B. Rubinstein, as opposed to Cory Lerios and John D'Andrea, who took over for the TV series. As a result, the music was more orchestral than rock and synthesizer-flavored.
- Garner doesn't appear in the pilot.
- The Buchannon house has a different layout in the first season.
- Easy Amnesia: Happens to Thuy in "Lost and Found".
- Ensemble Cast: Baywatch was even described by David Hasselhoff as being this.
- Episode Title Card: It's just the episode title superimposed over the action.
- Everybody Laughs Ending: "Lost and Found", which concludes with Jess Fortuna's sit-down stand-up.
- Evolving Credits: Each new season had a slightly different opening, due to cast members coming and leaving. Cast members that stayed for more than one season often had different clips replacing old ones; for instance, pre-teen Hobie's clip was replaced with a teenaged Hobie as the actor aged with the character.
- Falling in Love Montage
- Fanservice: Oh yeah. So much so that it has the Fan Nickname of "Babewatch."
- Fanservice Extra: Tons of them, with this being a series set at the beach and all.
- False Rape Accusation: Several, and all handled fairly seriously for such a fluffy show:
- In the first season of the show, Craig rescued a troubled girl who promptly became obsessed with him, alternating between telling people that they'd had consensual sex (which would have still made him guilty of statutory rape), or that he'd raped her outright.
- A similar storyline had a teenage girl lying to her friends about sleeping with Eddie in hopes of making them jealous and/or making herself popular. When her father confronted her, she panicked and lied even more, now claiming that Eddie got her drunk and took advantage of her. The result is that he was charged with statutory rape. A senior lifeguard attempting to comfort Eddie's girlfriend implied that this often happens to lifeguards and that he went through a similar experience.
- In "Wet n' Wild", after Matt rebuffed new lifeguard Neely's advances and went to Mitch about her drinking on the job, Neely sought revenge on Matt by falsely claiming that he was the one who'd sexually harassed her.
- Finger Twitching Revival: Bobby, at the end of "Submersion".
- Flashback Cut: There's one in "Shattered" Part 2, which features a clip from "Rookie of the Year".
- "Free Fall" features a flurry of clips from previous episodes as Mitch sees his life flash before his eyes. What's amusing is that Mitch wasn't even in many of the clips.
- Follow in My Footsteps: Mitch's father wants him to take over the family architecture business in "A Matter of Life and Death", as he's dying.
- Foreshadowing: In "Blindside", Cort not shaking Newmie's hand. Also Cort not catching the basketball Mitch tossed at him.
- Friend to All Children: Most of the lifeguards exhibit this trait once or twice. Special mention, however, goes to Mitch Buchannon (David Hasselhoff) who is often shown to be both respectful of and able get along well with just about any kid.
- Gainaxing: The most famous non-anime example.
- The Gambling Addict: C.J. in "Vacation" Parts 1 and 2.
- Gentle Giant: Manny from the episode "Blindside". He's a tall guy who puts on fake muscles and growls menacingly for his sideshow act, but outside of work, he wouldn't hurt a fly (and even rescues pelicans from six-pack rings!).
- Gilligan Cut: "Trapped Beneath the Sea Part 1": Caroline says, "I'm in love with Logan." The next cut is Logan making out with another woman.
- Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: The villain in "Heal the Bay" smokes a cigar. Subtle.
- A Handful for an Eye: Hobie uses this trick to escape from a bully in "Pier Pressure".
- Handshake Refusal: A returning lifeguard refuses Mitch (David Hasselhoff's) handshake. However rather than being rude it's the first clue that an eye-disease is destroying his peripheral vision.
- Hard Work Montage: C.J. and Cody making a custom, ocean-accessible wheelchair for the handicapped comedian in "Lost and Found".
- Also the renovation of Jackie's beach-side restaurant in "Race Against Time, Part 2".
- He Knows Too Much: In "Desperate Encounter", a man named Damon tries to kill Mitch because he witnessed him trying to murder his wife.
- Heat Wave: "Scorcher".
- Heel-Face Turn: Neely, who was originally portrayed as a villain but around season 7 lost her nasty traits. However, once Jennifer Campbell took over the role, she reverted to her "bad girl" roots.
- Hell Hotel: "Coronado del Sol" Parts 1 & 2 feature the ghost of a dead man haunting Summer's room because she reminds him of his old flame.
- I Have This Friend: Used in a season 1 episode.
- Instant Sedation: C.J. is chloroform'd in "Dead of Summer".
- Instant Seduction: Matt tries to flirt with C.J. during lifeguard training in "Rookie of the Year" . He asks if he'll be able to pick partners for CPR practice. His flirting backfires when Stephanie reprimands him, saying that lifeguards have to give CPR to anybody that needs help, not just beautiful people.
- I Owe You My Life: Destiny, after Mitch saves her life in "Ironman Buchannon".
- Likewise, Matt is hounded by a woman he saved in "Someone to Baywatch Over You".
- Ironic Episode Title: "Vacation" is anything but for Mitch and Stephanie.
- It's All My Fault: Mitch in "Submersion", for Bobby going into a coma after not rescuing him quickly enough. Of course, all the lifeguards said he was being too hard on himself.
- Also demonstrated in "The Incident" when Caroline blamed herself for not being aware of an extra victim who drowned.
- It's Personal: An Australian lifeguard comes to Baywatch in the episode "Fatal Exchange". Mitch doesn't care for him, and it turns out he had a reason to be suspicious: When Mitch was temporarily lifeguarding in Australia years ago, he was unable to save woman during a rescue. It turns out the woman was the Australian lifeguard's wife, and he's now out to kill Mitch in revenge.
- Jiggle Show
- Kicked Upstairs: Ben Edwards was promoted to lieutenant instead of being fired.
- Laugh Track: Used repeatedly in "Now Sit Right Back and You'll Hear a Tale". Lampshaded by Gilligan himself when asked by Eddie if he hears laughter: "You get used to that, too."
- Law of Chromatic Superiority: The swimwears are all red, so... Although in "Hawaii", the uniform color changed to yellow.
- Licensed Pinball Tables: One was released by Sega Pinball in 1995. Click here.
- Littlest Cancer Patient: Lauren in "Lover's Cove" has aplastic anemia and only has a year to live. Too bad Hobie has taken a liking to her.
- Long Runners: 9/22/89-5/14/01. Eleven seasons and 242 episodes. Not too shabby.
- Love at First Sight: C.J. to the dolphin trainer in "Coronado del Soul"; so much so that she thinks about quitting lifeguarding and moving to San Diego despite that she hasn't been on ONE DATE with the guy.
- Love Triangle:
- Matt, Slade, and Summer.
- C.J., Cort, and Matt in "Deep Trouble". Matt suspects that C.J. still loves Cort, though she's insistent that she's just helping him out of a tough period in his life.
- Magic Brakes: Mitch's brakes are cut by the villain in "Fatal Exchange".
- Magical Defibrillator
- Miranda Rights: Garner had to read this to arrested individuals a few times.
- Mock Millionaire: In the two-part episode "Vacation", Guido pretends to be "Count Guido Popadokulous" in order to romance Mrs. Kenilworth, a wealthy middle-aged widow. It backfires when she wants to sleep with him; even after he tells her the truth, she still pursues him..
- Montages: Each episode featured a music video or two, which was also an easy way to pad out the script.
- Morton's Fork: The plot to "Submersion". Mitch jumped into the ocean to rescue two boys, but both were a ways apart and back-up hadn't arrived yet. He had to make a choice of which boy was more important to save first.
- The Movie: The show's 1989 Pilot Movie "Baywatch: Panic at Malibu Pier".
- Sort of. "Baywatch: The Movie" was merely a two-parter ("Forbidden Paradise") packaged as a direct-to-video film.
- There was also a made-for-video movie, "Hawaiian Wedding", which was also a reunion of sorts.
- New Old Flame: Stephanie, who was introduced in syndicated season 2, returns to Baywatch. Only problem? She and Mitch used to date, which at first makes their professional relationship awkward, since Stephanie is Mitch's boss.
- No, Except Yes: In "The Incident", during the lifeguard qualifying event, Mitch assures the newbies that the event is not a race, but merely a way to make sure one is up to snuff to be a lifeguard. Stephanie adds that, for those who have done this before, it pretty much is a race.
- Once an Episode: Someone in need of being rescued from the water. While not every episode, many of the rescues involved administering CPR, too.
- Only in It for the Money: This is partially why Lani became a lifeguard, so she could support herself while she looked for a job in the field she really cared about: Dancing.
- Our Mermaids Are Different: The mermaid in "Rendezvous" doesn't speak but her thoughts are in English.
- Out of Order: A particularly bad one: Stephanie's latest boyfriend, Dr. Tom Morella, discovered Stephanie had skin cancer in "Bash at the Beach", but in the very next aired episode, "Free Fall", which was a holdover from season 5, Stephanie and Dr. Morella first meet.
- "Forbidden Paradise", originally written for season 5 and debuting on VHS in 1995, later debuted on TV as a two-parter in 1996. This is awkward if you're watching in airdate order on DVD, since the episode still featured Matt as a regular character, despite that David Charvet had left the show by that point.
- Overcrank: How they achieved all that slow motion.
- Parallel Porn Titles: The Babewatch series, which (as you'd expect) ramps the sexuality Up to Eleven.
- Parody Episode: "Baywatch Angels". No points rewarded for guessing what it's parodying.
- Also "Now Sit Right Back and You'll Hear a Tale", an episode parodying Gilligan's Island.
- Poor Man's Porn
- Precap: Each episode opens with David Hasselhoff saying, "Next, on Baywatch." or "Tonight, on Baywatch."
- Precocious Crush: Bridgette had a crush on Mitch in "Western Exposure", much to Hobie's dismay.
- Previously On: All the two-parters feature this.
- Pro Wrestling Episode: "Bash at the Beach" staring Hulk Hogan. Go here for a full description. It's too stupid to actually type again.
- Pro Wrestling Is Real: The episode "Bash at the Beach", which guest stars Hulk Hogan and several other WCW profiles of the day as themselves, implies this to be the case
- Product Placement: Too many to list. The credits feature TWO SLIDES of sponsors.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: Michael Newman finally started appearing in the opening credits starting in season 7, having been a minor recurring character before then.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: "Silent Night, Baywatch Night", which features a bunch of public domain Christmas songs making up most of the soundtrack.
- Pun-Based Title: "Home Is Where the Heat Is", "Livin' on the Fault Line", "Silent Night, Baywatch Night", "Short-Sighted" (which deals with a little person).
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: C.J. breaking down the word "lifeguard" in "The Life You Save" by saying very dramatically, "LIFE. GUARD."
- Quick Nip: Neely, in "Wet n' Wild", who smuggled a flask to work and drank on the job.
- Rank Up: Mitch’s first day as a Lieutenant is in the Pilot Movie.
- Reality Ensues: In an early episode, a trainee lifeguard (Matt?) is asked what he should do when he and a victim are being swept toward rocks or a pier. He heroically says he would place himself between the victim and the rocks. Stephanie chews him out for this, pointing out that now he has a broken arm or more serious injuries, and there are now two people in the water who need rescuing. The correct procedure is to position the victim to take the impact, because even if they sustain more injuries, the lifeguard is still able to get them to safety. It sounds like a harsh thing to do, but it's what rescuers have to do in that kind of situation to save both lives.
- This technique gets a callback in the abovementioned episode "Fatal Exchange". When faced with a situation like this, Mitch couldn't bring himself to allow the woman to take the impact, and as such, put himself between her and the piling. Sure enough, he was knocked out, and though his loss of consciousness was brief, by the time he came to, the woman had drowned.
- Recycled In Space: "Baywatch: Hawaii" for the last few seasons.
- Reincarnation: "Talk Show" has C.J. and Caroline convinced that a dog who hangs around with them is actually the recently-deceased Stephanie in a dog's body.
- Re Tool: Baywatch: Hawaii. New cast, new setting, different cinematography/editing style.
- Revolving Door Casting: Every few seasons, the show got a bunch of new characters. The biggest turnovers, not counting "Hawaii", were syndication Season 2 (C.J., Stephanie, Summer, Matt, and Jimmy) and Season 8 (J.D., April, Skylar, Taylor, and Lani).
- Pointed out by Hasselhoff himself during one late-night interview. "When ratings are low, someone must go."
- Even Hasselhoff himself left the show at the end of it's second-to-last season.
- Right Behind Me: Played for drama in "Missing" when Cody says he doesn't give a damn about Mitch... and Mitch is right behind him.
- Played lighter in "Western Exposure" when Jesse Lee Harris is standing behind C.J. as she talks about him.
- Rotating Arcs: Tying into the above trope.
- Save the Villain: Seen in many episodes, such as "Point Doom".
- Scenery Censor: Demonstrated in "Hot Water" with the members of the nude beach.
- Sequel Episode: "Trial By Fire", which followed up on the events from "The Incident"; specifically, Caroline getting sued by the mother of the boy who drowned.
- Shout-Out: There's a villain in "Baywatch Angels" who does impressions of Dirty Harry, Doc from Back to the Future, Rocky Balboa, Rodney Dangerfield, Don Corleone in The Godfather, and Bullwinkle (and many more). Yes, you read right. It is said that the guy snapped after seeing a Rich Little performance.
- "Rendezvous" centers around a mermaid who thinks Cody is her long-lost love Christopher, and Neely worries that if anyone finds out about her she could end up in a cagenote like the mermaid in Splash.
- Show Within a Show: Baywatch has the episode "Rescue Bay" in its 4th season. A writer/producer is inspired by watching lifeguards on the beach saving people and decides to shoot a tacky Pilot sequence with characters based on the in-verse characters.
- Sick Episode: Mitch, in "Heal the Bay".
- Slapstick: A montage of it in "Now Sit Right Back and You'll Hear a Tale" when the group is setting up camp.
- Slow Motion Fall: Almost always happens if a character falls off a high ledge, such as the nearby pier.
- Soaperizing: Baywatch often did this, in order to provide for some variety other than heroic Rescues, Fanservice and Montages.
- Soft Water: Subverted. In "Free Fall", Mitch skydives, but both parachutes fail to open. He aims for the water, and is killed. It Was All Just a Dream. A daydream, specifically.
- Also averted in "Sky Rider", when Jimmy bungee jumping into the water below causes him to pass out from the impact of the splash.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: In "Silent Night, Baywatch Night", "Let it Snow" plays amidst footage of the non-snowy beach.
- Special Guest: Quite a few, sometimes playing themselves, but other times playing characters: Hulk Hogan, Geraldo Rivera, Ricky Van Shelton, Mary Lou Retton, the list goes on.
- Split Personality: The episode "Mirror Mirror" has a schizophrenic woman going after Mitch.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Kirstie and Todd from "Rendezvous". Todd comes from a rich family, Kirstie comes from a lower/middle class single mother. Both sides refuse for them to date each other, leading to Kirstie and Todd committing a suicide pact.
- Status Quo Is God: "Aftershock" had Mitch wanting to re-marry his ex-wife, and it really looked like it was going to happen... until Mitch got an emergency call at the wedding and temporarily left his ex at the altar. The ex decided she didn't want to marry him after all, because Mitch is never truly off-duty.
- Stock Footage: The footage of the lifeguards running into the water is sometimes recycled in subsequent episodes.
- Stuff Blowing Up: More common than you'd expect from a show about lifeguards patrolling the beach.
- 10-Minute Retirement: Mitch, in "Shattered", who momentarily decides he's not going to return to lifeguarding due to being frustrated by his temporary paralysis. When he regains the ability to walk, though, he returns.
- That's What I Call X: In "Promised Land", after Garner arrests the topless woman on the beach, Hobie says, "Now that's what I call a bust!"
- Throwing Off the Disability: Mitch became temporarily paralyzed from the waist down in the two-parter "Shattered". However, during an intense fight scene, he manages to finally move his foot to kick the gun away from the bad guy. Must be nice.
- Title Montage: During the section of the opening where the cast members are listed, many of the clips accompanying the names are from earlier episodes. For example, a couple of C.J.'s clips are from "Lifeguards Can't Jump", and a couple of Summer's clips come from "Pier Pressure".
- Token Minority: For a while, Garner was the only black regular on the show.
- Training Montage: Mitch often gets one of these when training for a beach competition, such as in "Ironman Buchannon".
- Two-Timer Date: Dennis in "Lifeguards Can't Jump" keeps running back and forth between his hotel room (where his wife is) and his outdoor dinner date with C.J.
- Uncanceled: After being cancelled on NBC after only a season, David Hasselhoff and the executive producers decided to try it in syndication instead. The rest is history.
- Undercover as Lovers: Mitch and Stephanie in "Masquerade".
- Underwater Kiss: In "If Looks Could Kill", Allison's technique of killing her male victims involves seducing them to kissing her underwater, then handcuffing the man's hands to the pool ladder so they can't resurface for air.
- Unrelated Sisters: Caroline (Yasmine Bleeth) and Stephanie (Alexandra Paul), who are not related in Real Life.
- Vacation Episode: Numerous instances, most of them being two-parters. "Coronado del Soul" (San Diego) and "Forbidden Paradise" (Hawaii) are two of the most known ones.
- Very Special Episode: "A Little Help", which deals with AIDS.
- Wardrobe Malfunction: In-Universe. In "A Little Help," CJ is in training for a dancing competition. Early in the episode, she practices her routine with Mitch, which involves dipping her at the end. She tells him to check if anything has fallen out, and he tells her, accurately, "Everything's in place." At the end, her partner hasn't shown up for the competition, so Mitch volunteers himself. They do the routine, and, while not shown on camera for obvious reasons, it's apparent that CJ has fallen out of her dress. Caroline, Stephanie and Hobie are there, and they cover up Hobie's eyes.
- Water Source Tampering: The villain tries this in "Hot Water".
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Stephanie has a fear of helicopters, as shown in "Trading Places" when assigned to an exchange program with the Coast Guard. The reason? Her father was killed in a helicopter crash in The Vietnam War.
- You Are Grounded: Done to Hobie in "Pier Pressure".
- Your Cheating Heart: Caroline catches Logan kissing Neely in "The Last Wave". Needless to say, the wedding is called off.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle: In "Ironman Buchannon", Matt buys a motorcycle by working nights for a few weeks. However, he doesn't tell Summer why he's staying out late because he wants to surprise her, which leads her to believe he's cheating on her. When Matt reveals the surprise to Summer, you think the story is finished and both Matt and Summer will be happy, because it's revealed he wasn't cheating after all. But WAIT! Garner takes a look at the motorcycle and briefly goes into Baywatch headquarters. When he returns, he sees that Matt already paid the broker for the bike, which is a shame, because that particular motorcycle is stolen and the broker was a crook. Garner sets out after the crook but we never hear for sure if he caught her or not, and Matt is down a lot of money. Keep in mind, this all happens in the last five minutes of the episode.
In a moment of crisis you have to believe in yourself