Follow TV Tropes


Series / Knight Rider

Go To
Cool jacket? Check. Cool Car? Doublecheck. They fight crime.

"A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist. Michael Knight, a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent, the helpless, the powerless, in a world of criminals who operate above the law...

Michael Knight. A lone crusader in a dangerous world. The world... of the Knight Rider."

A fairly simple concept about a modern cowboy with his horse being the coolest of '80s cars, the Pontiac Trans Am. The original series aired on NBC from 1982-1986.

Police officer Michael Long was wounded when he interfered with criminal activities. His face scarred and everyone thinking he is dead, he accepts an offer by an eccentric millionaire to have his identity changed and his face reconstructed. In return he becomes a high-tech vigilante dealing with criminals who operate above the law. The man behind this offer is Wilton Knight, the owner of Knight Industries. Wilton strongly believes that one man (Michael) can make a difference.

Accepting the challenge, Michael Long becomes Michael Knight. To aid him, he is given a car — and what a car it is! So much horsepower it can't be measured, every electronic device imaginable and then some, impervious to anything short of heavy artillery — and controlled by an Artificial Intelligence with the voice of William Daniels. The Knight Industries Two Thousand — "KITT" — was the real star of the show; David Hasselhoff's Michael was simply a plot device used to give the car something to do and someone to banter with. In fact, according to Wikipedia, the show was created in response to a perceived lack of leading men who could act, with then NBC Entertainment president Brandon Tartikoff suggesting that a talking car could fill in the gaps in any leading man's acting abilities.

Backed by the secretive Foundation for Law and Government (FLAG), headed up by Edward Mulhare's Devon Miles, Michael and KITT pursue a never-ending crusade against, well, just about anybody who seems to be a bad guy that week, defeating them with a turbo boost, a microwave zap, and the durability of a front line heavy battle tank.

For the final season, KITT was given the ability to transform into an armored high-speed mode, and also given a convertible top to showcase Pontiac's new convertible Trans Am. Although the Product Placement is obvious (and the show referred to the car as a Trans Am early on) the brand-name drop was eliminated at the request of Pontiac, as buyers were asking for options that weren't actually available on production models. Thereafter the car was referred to by bystanders simply as a "black T-top."

Few people would argue that the show was intellectual, but it thrived on the Rule of Cool and Hasselhoff's suave performance. Not only that, it was a good family show, essentially aimed towards children yet dressed up as adult fare.

Much like Remington Steele, it had Idiosyncratic Episode Naming with "Knight" as a pun: "Knight of the Phoenix", "A Good Knight's Work", etc.

Not to be confused with Kamen Rider Dragon Knight. Or with George A. Romero's Knightriders.

Here's a character sheet for the original series.

Recap page under construction.

The show has been revived (or attempted to be) several times:

  • 1991 with the TV movie Knight Rider 2000, which was mostly the same concept but had KITT transferred into a Pontiac Banshee concept car. Despite high ratings it never materialized into a series, probably because the TV movie was set 20 Minutes into the Future and a series based on that would have been too expensive.
  • 1994 reimagined it as Knight Rider 2010, which was ill received, mainly due to a radically different premise with a heavy Mad Max theme, and pretty much being In Name Only.
  • 1997 had a new full-fledged series, Team Knight Rider. Lasted a season as a part of the Action Pack and had a small fleet of intelligent cars.
  • Around November/December 2015, a series of teaser trailers (from Knight Industries Media Inc.) emerged for a new project called Knight Rider Heroes, starring Hasselhoff and Anthony Marcus.

The franchise has also appeared in LEGO Dimensions.

Knight Rider 2008

In 2008, a feature-length Pilot Movie aired in February, featuring an assortment of B to C list actors, and many Fords. Fan reaction varied heavily, some feeling it was at worst mediocre with others feeling like it was a total trainwreck. Most felt it was, at the least, more faithful to the feel of the original. Also universally appreciated was ignoring the past attempts at reviving the concept. Ratings were solid though, and NBC ordered it to series, premiering in September. Some fans have nicknamed it KR08 to differentiate from the original Knight Rider.

The new series features the original designer of KITT, Charles Graiman, building a new Knight Industries Three Thousand, this time as a Mustang GT500. Michael Traceur, former Army Ranger and the estranged son of Michael Knight, follows in his father's footsteps, even taking on the name Michael Knight. Michael also has a long history with Graiman's daughter Sarah, who is part of the new team.

The series struggled with its first half-season, with Michael and KITT commissioned as special agents directed by the FBI rather than the "wandering cowboy" angle. NBC also waffled back and forth on how many new episodes it wanted. A major retool was done with episodes 11-12 being a "bridge" to the new concept. Excessive characters were dropped and the show moved back to the "man and his car" formula of the original series. The fandom is still divided on the show's quality, but the retooled episodes were better received.

Unfortunately, the ratings did not improve enough after the retooling (a steady average of 5.5 million viewers), and despite strong international interest and high numbers of video stream viewing and episode downloads, NBC failed to include the show in their official Fall 2009 line-up.

The franchise provides examples of:

  • Achilles' Heel: KITT is also built on a performance sports car frame and can reach absurd speeds surpassing any commercially sold car, but is still a low clearance sports car. Trying to chase villains over uneven terrain KITT ends up sliding off a hill and rolling. After that they installed suspension control, letting KITT get a few extra inches to make such a chase.
  • Adventure Towns: Most of the time, a criminal has set up shop in town, or the Girl of the Week Michael picked up has Hidden Depths.
  • The Aesthetics of Technology: The time period of the original show had an emphasis on lots and lots of buttons to depict advanced technology, making KITT's interior look like a airplane cockpit. By the late 80s the idea of touch screen interfaces and holographic displays started taking shape, which lead to much cleaner design schemes and reflected in later shows in the franchise. By the time of the '08 series a number of cars were coming with standard LED screens, and in turn the only modification to KITT's interior was for his voice module.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Jokingly Discussed: A native Indian thinks KITT is a god of the wind, who was depicted with a horse. The native suggests that said god decided to take a modern form as a car due to this being the 1980s.
  • AI Is A Crap Shoot: Discussed in "Trust Doesn't Rust" with regards to KITT's Psycho Prototype, KARR. KARR was programmed for self-preservation, but not the preservation of human life. This oversight resulted in a Nigh-Invulnerable, artificially-intelligent supercar with zero regard for the lives of its pilot and any other humans that get in the way of its mission. Seeing the inherent danger, Wilton Knight had KARR deactivated and mothballed, and then had KARR's successor KITT programmed more carefully in defiance of the trope. With good reason, it turned out; after being reactivated and discovering his replacement, KARR made it his mission to destroy his altruistically-programmed successor and kill that successor's human partner as an act of revenge against his creator.
  • Alcohol Is Gasoline: Justified in one episode, Michael and KITT's Mystery of the Week requires them to enter as racers in an alternative fuels competition. One of the competitors is a group of Hillbilly Moonshiners who have converted their car to run on high-proof alcohol. Mechanically inclined moonshiners really do sometimes do this.
  • Almost Lethal Weapons: Any main characters that get shot recover in time for the next episode. If your death kickstarts the plot, you've either been fatally shot, blown-up or thrown from a great height.
  • Amnesia Episode: Two, believe it or not - "Knightmares" for Michael, "Lost Knight" for KITT.
  • And This Is for...: KITT states this while he's beating up the Monster of the Week in "Killer KITT", for his reprogramming, forcing him to try and kill Michael, one for computer lovers, and making him say 'ain't'.
  • Arrested for Heroism: In several episodes, efforts to stop a bad guy landed Michael in jail and KITT in police impound.
  • Art Evolution: KITT's voice was represented by a flat screen flashing red when he talks. In KARR's first appearance the screen had a yellow pulsing synthesizer-like graphic, which was well received, and a modified red version was adopted for KITT midway through the first season. Season three updated it slightly to be more complex.
    • KITT's dashboard gets completely overhauled in the third season premiere, and his front bumper gets redesigned to a more angular version in the fourth season.
  • A-Team Firing: Unless your death is part of the plot.
  • Automated Automobiles: KITT and KARR are the Trope Codifiers.
  • Backdoor Pilot: The episode "Mouth of the Snake" introduced one David Dalton (a The Six Million Dollar Man of sorts) who was going to be the star of his own series, but the idea never panned out.
  • Bad Habits: "The Ice Bandits".
  • Bail Equals Freedom: Used frequently in the original series, whenever Michael gets in trouble with the law the Foundation will bail him out. At one point a law enforcement officer who's trying to make trouble for Michael even explicitly invokes the idea that one day he'll get something to stick on him and no one will be able to bail him out (after already arresting him, Michael is currently out on bail for that charge).
  • Bash Brothers: About the best you can get when one of the partners is a snarky car.
  • Bigger on the Inside: Rather famously, the interior set of FLAG's mobile semi-truck base was far larger than the actual trailer.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Perhaps not even intentional, but KARR-E or "Karre" is a very derogative term for a run-down car in German.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Michael Long's partner, a black man named Muncie, is the first person killed in the entire franchise.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Sometimes averted in the new series...they tried to keep it to family friendly levels.
  • Bluff the Imposter: In Goliath Returns, Michael secretly trips up an imposter Garthe sent in to replace Professor Klaus by mentioning Disneyland, which he never mentioned to the real professor.
  • Blunt Metaphors Trauma: Usually averted, as KITT can recognize sayings and sometimes uses them himself, often prefaced by "as they say." But sometimes he does need Michael to point out that a phrase was just a figure of speech, such as the "one-armed bandits" in Las Vegas which KITT asked if they should apprehend them (as a "true" AI, we can presume that KITT would understand the reference after he's had it explained).
  • Both Sides Have a Point: KITT compares being stuck in a police impound to Michael in jail.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Like many series from the 80s, Knight Rider consistently showed revolvers to have infinite ammo.
  • Boxing Episode: "Redemption of a Champion".
  • Buddy Cop Show: Variation — vigilante and car.
  • Call-Back: KITT's electronic "eye" is one to the Cylons' "eyes" from Battlestar Galactica, another Glen A. Larson series.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: On at least one occasion, KITT tried to entertain Michael with pre-programmed jokes. He ended up completely messing them up, which wasn't too surprising ... but as it ended up, it was his badly-told jokes that saved Michael's life.
  • Car Fu: Happens a lot. One literal example is in Killer KITT, when KITT beats up the Monster of the Week with his automated doors and head-on collisions.
  • Car Meets House: Frequently done. One notable occasion is when KITT does this with an apartment three floors off the ground.
  • Car Skiing: KITT has a dashboard function called "Ski Mode" that allows him to do this maneuver.
  • Catch-22 Dilemma: Only three men on the planet knew of the "Knight Formula" for KITT's invulnerable molecular bonded shell aside from Wilton. The formula was made up of three components and each man knew two of them. Wilton believed this would prevent one man, alone, from recreating the formula since he would not know what the third component was. Unfortunately, one of the men was found by Garth's mother and had his portion of the formula pried from him before being killed, the second man (Devon) was poisoned with a non-lethal truth serum which allowed Garth's mother and by extension Garth himself to learn the entire formula and as for the third man we never found out who he was.
  • Chase Scene: Basically every single episode ever, not surprisingly.
  • Chekhov's Gun: KITT's mechanic often installs a new feature in an episode and it usually becomes a lifesaver later in the story.
  • Christmas Episode: "Silent Knight". (Well what else were they going to call it?)
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: April Curtis, Bonnie's stand-in for Season 2 of the original season. Subverted with Bonnie, whose disappearance never had a reason until her return in Season 3, then double subverted in the final episode, where she does not appear.
  • Comm Links: Michael had a wrist communicator that allowed him to not only stay in voice contact with KITT, but also had a camera and scanner function that could feed his car visual and other information. He also used it as an electrical device when surrounded by snakes.
  • Continuity Porn: Inversion: The lack of said continuity between the 1982 and 2008 series is a major source of fan disappointment.
    • It may also be the reason Team Knight Rider didn't catch on with more of the KR fandom.
    • Some fans, however, enjoy speculation and Fix Fics dealing with the above subjects.
    • Despite the lack of the continuity between the original series and Knight Rider 2000, there is one bit of continuity that carried over between the original series characters and the film: Michael mentions in Season 1's "Forget Me Not" that he had a '57 Chevy as a teenager that he loved. Michael's car in the TV movie that he installs KITT into is a '57 Chevy.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Three involving a Running Gag with a random citizen and KITT:
    • One had KITT berate a used car salesman for lying to his customers by trying to sell them rickety cars. Later, he decides to come clean to a customer interested in one by telling her all the faults with it. Said customer turned out to be an engineering student, who was looking for a fixer-upper. She happily buys the car off him.
    • Another one had KITT trying to console a depressed woman concerned with her weight and finding a love life. She later accidentally bumps into a lawyer, who she told KITT was someone she wanted to meet earlier. KITT then gets an idea and plays a tape with romantic music on it to further the scenario.
    • Upon seeing a homeless man, KITT decided to give him 5 dollars. Later, said homeless man turns up much better since he bought a winning lottery ticket with it.
  • Cool Bike: KITT, meet KNERD.
  • Cool Car: The cool car, to some right up there with the Batmobile.
  • Cool Garage: The Rook, a semi tractor-trailer truck that KITT can board with it in motion that is fully equipped for servicing the car and has office space for Devon.
  • Cowboy Cop:
  • Crazy-Prepared: While Michael was undergoing surgery to rebuild his face, his fingerprints were also surgically altered. When Comtron arranges for him to be arrested for a bar brawl so they can obtain his fingerprints and use them to identify him, they find out there is no record of these fingerprints anywhere on file.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: KITT, all black, was one good guy vehicle in the show, as also the black Foundation Mobile Unit (the semi-truck out of which FLAG operated). KARR, when completely evil and wicked, wanted to 'alter his appearance' and turned half-silver. Goliath was a villain's truck, and grey, but not black. Some other cars, like the Dagger DX (golden yellow) and the Ferret (red), were villain cars that were not coloured black.
  • David vs. Goliath: Wilton Knight's estranged son (and facial blueprint for Michael) stole the chemical composition that made KITT's armor invulnerable to make an Evil Knockoff actually called Goliath, although it was a semi truck without an AI. In their first confrontation Michael tried some trickery to take out one of its wheels but the sheer mass difference nearly crushed him and KITT. In their rematch they focused on maneuverability while attacking weak points.
  • Deadpan Snarker: "KI2T"; "KI3T" will get there with time.
    • It should be noted that in the Knight Rider 2000 TV movie, after having been shut down and then brought back online years later only to discover that his "body" had been disassembled, KITT was much more snarky and, on several occasions, downright rude. Understandable, really...
  • Driving into a Truck: The Trope Codifier. Now proven by the Mythbusters.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Early in the first season, Turbo Boost was only a short-duration speed boost, not the jump it soon developed into. KITT's "speech" panel was also different - a solid block of color, rather than the bars. (Also, Michael was more clearly the protagonist and KITT less emotional)
    • KITT's front bumper can be seen changing between two different designs during "Knight of the Phoenix", before settling on the design that would remain until "Knight of the Juggernaut."
    • KITT's solid-block speech indicator varies between having the text "KNIGHT 2000" printed on it, and the blank panel.
  • Eccentric Millionaire: Wilton Knight used his Knight Foundation fortune to fund Michael Knight and FLAG's war on crime. Sound familiar?
  • Electronic Speech Impediment:
    • In one episode, KITT's voice becomes abnormally slow and deep as he resists killing Michael despite orders from a villain he's been reprogrammed to obey.
    • KITT's voice would sound abnormally deep and slow, or flat out distorted whenever he was badly damaged, this was usually a sure sign that the situation was dire.
    • His voice becomes deeper and gains a heavy Dalek-esque modulation when he's reprogrammed by a rogue FLAG member in "Killer KITT". This reprogramming is found to be far more effective than the earlier attempt.
    • Played for Laughs in "Out of the Woods", where an accident involving a rock causes KITT to switch between his normal voice and a Bronx accent every time he hit a bump or used Turbo Boost.
  • The End... Or Is It?: After apparently being destroyed at the end of episode "KITT vs. KARR" in the original series, in the ending the camera pans over KARR's twisted and burnt wreckage, eventually pausing on a small computer module with still-blinking lights.
  • Energy Weapon: KITT had one installed in season 1 to give him a chance against KARR, and later uses it to attack Goliath's Achilles' Heel. Due to the first one being a prototype, he could only fire it twice without any repercussions.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Garthe Knight is rotten to the core, but he always does as his mother asks.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Mooks part of the New Dawn movement realise when their leader has gone too far after locking them and the hostages in with a doomsday device on a countdown.
  • Everybody Owns a Ford: Pontiacs, in this case.
  • Evil Sounds Deep:
    • KARR, thanks to Peter Cullen, a master of this trope. Also when Paul Frees did the voice of KARR.
    • David Hasselhoff would lower the tone of his voice an octave whenever he played Garthe Knight.
    • A similar effect shows up when a Master of Disguise villain shows up disguised as Michael, in front of Michael himself, in Season 3 (Knight of the Chameleon).
  • Evil Twin:
    • Six of them: Garthe Knight to Michael Knight, KARR to KITT, Goliath to KITT (Or Rook the FLAG semi), Jonathan Elliott (post laser reconstruction) to Devon, possibly Adrianne Margeaux to Bonnie or April, and KARR-E to "KI3T". Though in both Garthe and KARR's cases it's a case of the good ones being mirrors of the evil/morally ambiguous originals, and Goliath was more of an Evil Counterpart (and its arguable whether it was even that, since unlike KITT it had no AI running it). Thus, it could be said that Goliath is more of an evil twin/counterpart to the Rook, the FLAG semi. Subverted with Bronwyn Appleby, as she was wearing a mask and wig to impersonate Bonnie.
    • In "Knight of the Chameleon" a criminal Master of Disguise uses a Latex Perfection mask to impersonate Michael Knight, and mimics Devon's voice in a phone call. Michael even comments how one Evil Twin is already a headache, two is just ridiculous.
  • Extra-Long Episode: "Goliath", "Goliath Returns", "Knight of the Drones", "Mouth of the Snake", and "Knight of the Juggernaut".
  • Fanservice: Very, very sparingly, mostly in beach scenes (where it is at least technically justified). Two major examples, however, were Knight of the Chameleon, which had gratuitous shots of Arabian-styled belly dancers, and Many Happy Returns, when Michael (on his birthday) was sought by the Girl of the Week in a two-piece swimsuit. (Having said that, April in midriff-barring mode was used for the opening credits shot of Rebecca Holden when she was on the show.)
  • Fantastic Racism: KITT is prejudiced against motorcycles. Not against the rider, against the vehicle. This is played for laughs. During the motocross episode, he takes umbrage at being outmaneuvered by a "two-wheeled tarantula".
  • Flawed Prototype: KARR, who believes itself to be a Super Prototype. Flawed part coming from the fact that it has no sense of right and wrong, otherwise it largely has the same strengths and weaknesses as KITT.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In-Universe: Stevie watches a tape of her late boyfriend's performance which he kept watching. One frame has a wall of binary text, which KITT later translates to a drug-trafficking timetable.
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: A number of villains of the week were ex-military or ex-special forces who decided to put their skills to use in the criminal market.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Knight Industries Two-Thousand: KITT. Knight Automated Roving Robot: KARR. Foundation for Law and Government: FLAG. And several more.
  • Girl of the Week: Michael can be usually trying to flirt with her.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Michael's face being hidden by shadows in the pilot is supposed to hide his original appearance, but also serves to cover up what would have otherwise been a rather nasty sight when he's shot in the head.
  • Granola Girl: Played with the (male) character David Dalton. A man who insists on never drinking any alcohol, is seen almost constantly exercising... and thinks cookies are like poison.
  • Heart Drive: KITT's CPU. Without it, his body is just a really souped-up car.
  • Heroes "R" Us: The Foundation for Law and Government.
  • Hoist by Her Own Petard: Tanya attempts to shoot Micheal through KITT's windows, in spite of everyone warning her the windows are bulletproof. The bullet richochets directly back at her and she dies from the self-inflicted gunshot.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Some episodes' titles had "Knight" as a pun: "Knight of the Phoenix", "A Good Knight's Work", etc. The 2008 reboot had it in every episode title.
  • Immune to Bullets: For once, it's the heroes (and at least once, this fact figured into a tragic plot point) although heavy artillery is worrisome, as is acid, direct rocket impact, energy weaponry, or anything made out of an identical material. It's not so much that explosive warheads are certain to penetrate KITT's armor, but rather he doesn't know whether or not they can and he sensibly prefers not to chance it.
  • An Insert: Usually when KITT has to record evidence.
  • Insistent Terminology: In the episode where he first appears, KARR refuses to address KITT by name, instead calling him an "inferior production-line copy."
  • Is Nothing Sacred?: The 1980s episode "The Nineteenth Hole". The town of Marberry is more exciting than they expected.
    Michael Knight: A quiet peaceful retirement community? [snip] It seems to me, Marberry has changed its image, partner.
    K.I.T.T.: None for the better if you ask me. Is nothing sacred? Isn't there anywhere safe from fast cars and rock 'n roll?
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Michael initially refused to call KITT "he", treating him as just a machine in "Knight of the Phoenix". This would occasionally come up again with passengers and villains.
  • It's Personal: Invoked word-for-word by Devon in "Merchants of Death"; we pulls Michael off the intended assignment in California, sending him and KITT to Arizona to find out what happened to a journalist Amelia Clermont (who for Devon, was The One That Got Away).
  • I Work Alone: David Dalton, a government agent working on the same case as Michael and K.I.T.T. in "Mouth of the Snake". He stated this literally word-for-word.
    Michael: So do I, but I don't make a religion out of it!
  • Knight of Cerebus: Some of the villains in certain episodes really stand out this way. Philip Nordstrom, in particular, was so no-nonsense and effective that he'd usually have his own (very dark) Leitmotif. Even Garthe wasn't that bad.
  • Left the Background Music On:
    • Done humorously in "The Scent of Roses" by KITT using the song "As Time Goes By."
    • KITT plays a tape with romantic music to start a potential relationship with two people.
  • Leitmotif:
    • "White Bird" for Stevie.
    • A goofy xylophone tune for KITT.
  • Locked Out of the Loop:
    • Briefly, Bonnie didn't know who Stevie Mason was aside from Michael and Devon.
    • Turns out that an international criminal was out to kill Michael due to blaming him for Tanya Walker's death, despite it being her fault. Michael calls out Devon for not telling him this.
  • Made of Indestructium: KITT's hull is molecularly bonded with a material called Tri-Helical Plasteel 1000 MBS, which is apparently a material that makes the car arguably tougher than a frontline heavy battle tank. Furthermore, it must be infused with KITT's entire car structure to explain why he is never worried about its integrity after all the jumps he makes. That's to say nothing of the numerous times KITT has rammed through solid walls without a scratch.
  • Magical Security Cam: Due to heavy reliance on Stock Footage, recordings in the show's universe are often from previous episodes (or even the same episode.) Also, when KITT plays back footage he recorded with his cameras, the angle usually doesn't match up at all with where KITT actually was when the event occurred.
  • Magic Plastic Surgery:
    • Happens in the very first episode. Averted in KR08 - the FBI merely fakes Michael Long's death, after which he takes on the name Michael Knight.
    • On multiple occasions the villain of the week would have one of his minions surgically altered to impersonate someone, such as an important scientist or in one case Devon Miles himself.
    • Averted in another episode in which a diamond thief on the run has plastic surgery to change his appearance. Instead of being played by a different actor for the last 20 minutes of the episode, he's instead just the same actor with some rather obvious-looking Star Trek: The Original Series-level facial prosthetics applied to his face.
  • Manipulative Bastard: During his second appearance in the original series, KARR effortlessly manipulates the lives of an average joe and his girlfriend to lure in Michael and KITT.
  • Master of Disguise: Knights of the Chameleon had such a villain, who used it to good effect. Killer K.I.T.T. had one woman, disguised as Bonnie, able to fool KITT and insert a chip in him to reprogram him.
  • Mirror Match: KITT and KARR.
  • Monster of the Week: Most of the show is done in this format, with very few villainsnote  resurfacing for another round.
  • Morality Chip: KITT's Obstructive Code of Conduct is the preservation of human life, a leading factor of his friendly personality. KARR lacks this: his compulsion is instead self-preservation - ultimately, at the expense of everything and everyone else.
  • Mr. Exposition: Particularly in episodes where the action takes place inside of a building, KITT rattles off so much exposition about the current situation that he sometimes doesn't even give other people a chance to talk before switching subjects.
  • Mud Wrestling: Oil wrestling in "Custom K.I.T.T." — a stray ricochet just happens to spring a leak in an oil barrel that's exactly where the Designated Girl Fight is about to take place.
  • Mugging the Monster: All those random petty crooks who attempt to steal or damage KITT. They generally leave the situation with the crap scared out of them or getting arrested.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • Inverted KITT's trunk usually has a bomb put in it when it's about to explode.
    • Downplayed when it comes to the Ejector Seat. It's used in lieu of any conventional path to a higher surface for Michael.
  • My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: KITT in both series was pretty well aware of the hormone levels of his driver around certain women. KI2T actually once furnishes Michael with a schematic render (seriously!) of Bonnie, apparently as scientific proof that she should be a desirable mate.
  • No Ending: Both the TV shows. "The Scent of Roses" could count as the final episode of the original series, as David Hasselhoff wanted it. However, because it was too dark, it would have made too much a Downer Ending, so NBC chose to air "Voodoo Knight" as the final episode instead.
  • No One Could Survive That!: At the end of "Trust Doesn't Rust", KARR explodes after plunging off a cliff into the ocean. In "KITT vs. KARR," KARR reappers after being recovered by a couple that find him under the sand on a beach not worse a scratch, despite, again, having been clearly shown to be blown to pieces in "Trust Doesn't Rust."
  • No Seat Belts: Michael never seemed to wear a seat belt, odd considering how often he would have KITT turboboost or crash through wallsnote .
    • The "Passive Laser Restraint System" was implied to be an inertial dampening system that made seat belts unnecessary.
  • Not Even Bothering with an Excuse: At the end of "KITT Vs. KARR", Michael uses FLAG funding to purchase a business for a key character in the episode. Devon then angrily calls him to ask why a large amount of money has suddenly disappeared. Michael simply responds that he will once he thinks of an excuse.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: Any criminal group consisting of more than two members of roughly equal standing (as opposed to just 1 mastermind and a bunch of anonymous mooks) had a greater than 50% chance of the members backstabbing or even killing each other either to cover loose ends or for a bigger share of the haul. Not being idiots, some criminals of the week would ensure they had leverage against their co-conspirators to prevent such occurrences.
  • Not So Invincible After All: As nice as being Made of Indestructium is, there's a huge difference between being protected from nearly everything and absolutely everything. KITT is still built on the frame of an 80s American sports car, and that platform just isn't massive enough to be fully indestructible. Military-grade weapons are a concern, but perhaps most notably, Goliath. The same formula that makes KITT Nigh-Invulnerable applied to a massive semi truck, simple physics means KITT comes off worse every time the two go head-to-head.
  • Obviously Evil: In the early episodes the villain of the week is blatantly obvious as soon as they show up. Later episodes would make more of an effort to conceal who the culprit of the crime of the week was.
  • Obvious Stunt Double:
    • The show had lots of scenes where David Hasselhoff's stunt double was used, mostly driving scenes but also some brawls. The stunt double's head often had a comically big silhouette due to an afro-like hairstyle.
    • In one episode, KITT is chasing a robed monk fleeing on a motorcycle. Said monk is clearly a person wearing a safety helmet under the robe, with a plastic human face being worn over said helmet.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: Several of the original series's Turbo Boost shots were done with Matchbox cars. A discerning eye might notice the bright red "KNIGHT 2000" lettering on the sides of the car — present on licensed merchandise, but not on the show.
    • Jossed. They DID use scale models for some stunts, but they were custom-built models roughly in 1/10 scale. Some of them were badly built, but none had the "Knight 2000" lettering.
  • Once an Episode: KITT's turbo boost function being used, at least in the original series. It's less a speed boost then a Ramp Jump. Without necessarily having a ramp. Once he got it, Super Pursuit Mode took the Once An Episode spot from Turbo Boost.
  • Once a Season: The premiere episodes of the second, third and fourth seasons all involve KITT being badly damaged, but being rebuilt with a significant upgrade in time for the climactic showdown with whatever had previously damaged him earlier in the story.
  • Overdrive: KI2T had Pursuit mode (distinguished by one of three lights, "Manual" for driver control, "Auto" when KITT is in control, "Pursuit" when extra speed was needed) and later Super Pursuit Mode. KI3T's Attack Mode.
  • Pedal-to-the-Metal Shot: KITT is frequently seen pressing his own gas pedal. In a subversion, KITT rarely floors it, the pedal moving in reasonable increments. Later seasons add green lights on the sides to display a rough percentage, for no discernable reason.
  • Police Are Useless: The local police usually provide no help at all (and sometimes even get in the way), either because they're corrupt or too dangerous to contact. (State police and/or the FBI are usually brought in by the end, though.)
  • Present Company Excluded: In the episode "Deadly Maneuvers"
    Michael Knight: Well, these computer things are just a waste of time anyway.
    K.I.T.T.: Ahum.
    Michael Knight: Oh, present company excluded, of course.
  • Psycho Prototype: KARR.
  • Put on a Bus: At the end of the Season 1, Patricia McPherson, having disagreements with producer Robert Foster, was fired. So, during Season 2, Bonnie was never seen or mentioned. However, due to the fan reaction, and lobbying by David Hasselhoff and Edward Mulhare, McPherson then returned for Season 3. The season's opener explains that Bonnie had gone back to college to continue her studies. Though Bonnie insists throughout the episode that she won't return to the Foundation, by the end she finally does, and would stay for the remainder of the series.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Averted with KITT's color scheme. He's a black car with a red scanner, but he's certainly not evil.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: While the technology that Wilton Knight produced can be extremely dangerous (KARR, the times when someone has taken over KITT or used KITT's body), they are overlooking one important thing- Wilton Knight built a self-driving car. Build a normal car without the Molecular Bonded Shell or the other gadgets his supercars have (like Turbo Boost or Microwave Jammer), maybe even dumb down the AI a bit (where the AI can still drive but it can't play trivia games). Now you have a vehicle that can drive itself with a 0% error rate and can take over driving if the operator cannot. Traffic accidents? Gone. Driver falls asleep at the wheel? No problem. Driver is intoxicated or is under the influence of drugs? The car can drive them home. It really flies in the face of "one man can make a difference" when fighting "criminals above the law" seeing as how KITT and Michael help just one person a week, when this technology can save hundreds every day. The only explanation why this occurs is when Devon explains to Michael that Wilton didn't allow his technology to be used is because some tech from Wilton had been stolen in the past.
    • In "Trust Doesn't Rust", while explaining why no one ever got around to trying to fix KARR, Devon mentions that Knight Industries had been financially crippled by the same technology theft ring that almost killed Michael and left him for dead in the desert in the pilot episode, so that's as good an explanation as any for why the tech never went into mass production.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Michael has shades of this, though he doesn't know it till later; when Wilton Knight selects him to be FLAG's agent and gives him reconstructive surgery, he makes him look exactly like Wilton's estranged son, then serving a life sentence in prison.
  • Reverse Psychology: Michael gets rid of a Mook holding him at gunpoint inside KITT by asking if he could put the radio on. He then activates the Ejector Seat.
  • Road Block: Generally exist so they can be turbo boosted over.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Michael in "The Scent of Roses."
  • Robot Buddy: KITT.
  • Running Gag: Every episode involving KARR had an incident where the police go after KARR... and Michael ends up getting arrested for whatever KARR did.
  • Same Content, Different Rating: For some unknown reason, El Rey's airing of the show has been given a TV-14 rating despite other networks presenting it as "TV-PG", even though there's hardly (if ever) anything graphic in the show.note Yes, there are some deaths (including one in the very first episode), but overall, there really isn't anything that would deserve a TV-14 rating.note 
  • Sapient Steed: A snarky, talking car.
  • Sequel Episode: "Goliath Returns".
  • Series Fauxnale: David Hasselhoff originally wanted the series to end with "The Scent of Roses". However, as the episode was considered to be too dark, "Voodoo Knight" instead aired as the final episode. Nevertheless, in some countries "The Scent of Roses" has still aired as the final episode.
  • Ship Tease: KITT, with all things, a female synthesised voice used for a medical database. Michael even jokes that "she's not his type".
  • Shout-Out:
    • KITT's scanner was lifted from the Cylons of Battlestar Galactica. Not surprising, however, as both programs were created and produced by Glen A. Larson. In fact, there's an episode of the original Battlestar Galactica called The Long Patrol that features an Artificial Intelligent controlled Viper that has a voice modulator that moves when she speaks. And her name is also made up of an abbreviation (C.O.R.A.).
    • In one of the final episodes, Michael, RC3 and KITT have to unseat a military government (which took office in a military coup) in a Central American country, which is threatened by a volcano. Devon informs them, "As someone once said, if you or one of your people will be caught or captured, the Foundation will disavow any knowledge of your activities." How appropriate.
    • One episode of the original series takes place at a film studio; in reality, the Universal Studios Hollywood backlot. Michael and KITT drive past the Clock Tower and Courthouse Square from Back to the Future, and KITT remotely controls the mechanical shark Bruce from Jaws (complete with theme music).
  • Silicon Snarker: KITT's reparte with Michael Knight was one of the facets of the show that people loved best. KITT was no stranger to sarcastic remarks, particularly when Michael would press him into service as a stunt car or have him run through a military training course with live-fire ammunition.
    KITT: [in a calm and almost deadpan voice] Michael, I believe as usual you may have attracted the attention of some highly homicidal personalities.
  • Sinister Car: KARR, the evil counterpart of KITT.
  • Slo-Mo Big Air: The Turbo Boost. Writers thought Turbo Boost was too campy and eighties for the new series. Fans were NOT happy when the Pilot had zero Turbo Boosts. So the writers put Turbo Boosts back into the new series, despite sticking to their "campy and eighties" argument.
  • Smug Snake: The Monster of the Week of an episode is usually this. One notable example is the leader of the New Dawn terrorist movement, who hijacks a plane full of people and holds them hostage in exchange of several prisoners released to create an army. He gloats about executing the hostages (especially Bonnie), constantly reminds the hostages that there "is no hope", and is last seen taunting Michael by claiming it's too late to save the hostages from being killed by a doomsday device after Michael gets the disarming key off him. It's pretty obvious to know what happens next.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the pilot, KITT saves Michael's life when Tanya tries to finish him off by rapidly closing the bulletproof windows as she fires; the bullet ricochets into her chest and kills her. In the novel based on the pilot, Tanya is shot in the face instead but survives.
  • Stock Footage: To save the expense of spectacular footage, the original series liberally used whatever footage available to substitute. Examples include using the climactic crash of the titular vehicular monster, The Car multiple times, especially for the initial defeat of KARR in "Trust Doesn't Rust" and the canyon flooding visual from Superman: The Movie is used in "Not a Drop to Drink".
    • The transformations sequences for Super Pursuit Mode. There was one for daylight (the most used) and one for nighttime.
    • All the shots of the controls being operated were reused in multiple episodes. Occasionally, this caused humorous goofs. For instance, one episode wrongly used a shot of the Turbo Boost button being pressed by Michael when KITT was driving himself. Another time, there was a different character in the car and the same shot used for Michael was reused. In another episode, Michael was driving a different car wearing a blue racing costume. A shot of his leg pressing the accelerator was stock footage which had his leg in grey pants and black shoes.
  • Stupid Crooks: An episode dealing with car theft has a "false alarm" as two crooks attempt to steal the pimped-out K.I.T.T, and quickly prove not to be the professionals Michael is looking for: They're trying to break in using a Philips-head screwdriver instead of a flat one, and this kind of coat hanger.
  • Surrounded by Smart People: A given Michael Knight character is this.
  • Take That!: A very blatant example occurs in the first season of the original Knight Rider. The episode features a race between cars running on alternative fuel (KITT's liquid hydrogen included), and one of the cars is an orange Dodge Charger, driven by two stereotypical Southern state villagers, and runs on moonshine. Guess which show this is supposed to be. When the race eventually happens, Michael and KITT first Turbo Boost way above that car and barely halfway into the episode, the car blows up and nobody inside survives.
    • In an earlier ad before the series began, KITT's specifications are compared to those of a suspiciously similar Dodge Charger, with the tagline "Competition is No Competition".
    • Possibly as a response to General Motors not allowing any Product Placement and thus keeping the words "Pontiac", "Trans Am" and "Firebird" off limits, KITT has a line in the fourth season praising Henry Ford's choice of colour- which is the same colour as KITT. General Motors advertised multiple colour choices in an era of black Fords.
  • Three Laws-Compliant: Often played straight, but subverted with KARR.
    • However, in the episode, "Killer K.I.T.T.", KITT goes after an evil computer programmer ( who performed a Grand Theft Me on him), thumps the escaping felon soundly with just his car doors. KITT didn't take kindly to being turned against Michael nor to other bad things as well!
  • Tin Man:
    • KITT sometimes claims to have no emotions or personality, despite obviously displaying both and openly talking about his feelings now and again.
    • KI3T was a complete robot with no personality. KITT, on the other hand, hated motorcycles, horses, dogs and rock music. The TKR vehicles were almost human.
  • Token Minority: Reginald Cornelius III (RC3) from the original series. He wasn't welcomed by fans.
  • Transformation Sequence: ahem... "Super Pursuit Mode"? Or, any of the 2008 series.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: KITT only ever seems to get to his destination in just the nick of time. Considering that his top speed is 300 MPH (around 480 kmh), you have to wonder where it all goes. Especially blatant in the fourth season which used Super Pursuit Mode for the final chase scene in every episode, even ones that barely lasted 20 seconds.
  • Unobtainium: According to the "K.I.T.T. Kit" blueprints — a mail-in promotional deal for one of the later seasons of the Hasselhoff series — the car's nigh-indestructible shell was made of "Tri-Helical MBS (Plasteel 1000)".
  • Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight: KITT (upgrade) vs. KARR (prototype).
    • The new series also includes a battle between the two, but this KARR is actually a Transforming Mecha, while KITT can only transform into different cars.
  • Vanity License Plate: KITT's standard tags read KNIGHT (though there is a switch in the cockpit to flip them to an alternative). "KI3T"'s changes as part of his shapeshifting, but its default tag reads "KR".
    • KARR's in the original series read "KARR", which was used to confirm its identity in "KITT vs KARR".
  • Vehicular Sabotage: In one episode, someone tries to ruin an alternative fuel race by sabotaging the vehicles. In another episode, the villain siphons gas from a stunt car in order to sabotage the show. (The same villain tries to tamper with KITT with much less success.)
  • Video Phone: KITT was equipped with one. KI3T can use the windshield to project a multipart videoconference, to a similar effect.
  • Villainesses Want Heroes: Adrianne Margeaux, one of the series's few recurring villains, wanted a piece of Michael after their first encounter. She thought Garthe might make a good substitute (she later decided he didn't). In a little twist, she ends up sacrificing herself to save Michael by taking the wheel from Garthe just before he could ram KITT with Goliath. The twist being that Michael never learns the truth for himself.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Michael and Devon. Michael and KITT also have this dynamic from time to time.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: KITT again, though its use was limited in the 80s series. In the 2008 series everyone other than KITT and Michael shares this role, even though KITT can do it himself making the rest of the cast pretty much redundant.
  • Weaponized Car:
    • The old KITT had lasers and occasionally other systems that he tended to use for defense or minor attacks on key points. The new KITT, to emphasize just how more badass he is, is armed with a laser, rocket launchers and three miniguns, which typically aren't used when they would actually be useful.
    • The vehicles of Team Knight Rider were armed to the teeth, given the missions they were assigned. Especially the combined form of Kat and Plato, which had very conspicuous missile launchers.
  • Wham Episode: Season three (original) had the episode "Junkyard Dog" which not only destroyed KITT, but literally disintegrated him to a bare shell and CPU box with a very small chance of recovery. We'd seen him bashed, smashed and even blown up before, but never eaten from the inside. Seeing the state the car was in after being pulled from the acid suggested that there was absolutely no way in hell KITT could possibly have survived. He had, of course, but still.
    • The episode "Scent of Roses". First off, Michael nearly leaves the Foundation after one bullet to the gut too many. Then they finish the episode by killing Stevie Mason. If Hasslehoff had gotten his wish to make this the final episode of the series, it would've been one helluva Downer Ending.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: One of Michael's plans to catch the Monster of the Week required literally one million dollars. Unfortunately, Devon couldn't 'magically' make it appear with FLAG's funding, so he had to borrow money from a charity for widows and orphans. He and KITT repeatedly call out Michael for losing the money by reminding him who the charity was for. He manages to get it back later, albeit with a small amount missing due to some of it being used to rent a helicopter.
  • Wrench Wench:
    • "KI2T"'s mechanic Bonnie Barstow. (replaced in Season 2 by April Curtis but comes back in Season 3)
    • Sarah Graiman is "KI3T"'s mechanic, but because of newer technology, the role is more Girl Genius than Wrench Wench.

Tropes specifically for the 2008 series:

"One man can make a difference, Michael."