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  • And You Thought It Would Fail: The executives, producers, and story editors at NBC all thought a show about lifeguards was a dumb idea with a limited premise. NBC cancelled the show after its first season, but David Hasselhoff and the show's creators were able to continue Baywatch through syndication and with a budget that came from excessive Product Placement, all at the cost of proper scripts and not being able to do retakes. Although Baywatch would go on to become one of the most successful shows in the world, NBC can't exactly be called wrong for their lack of faith in the show since its success clearly didn't come from good stories or interesting characters. note 
  • Awesome Music:
  • Best Known for the Fanservice: Without a doubt, the thing the show is most-remembered for is slow-motion shots of attractive lifeguards (both male and female) running across the beach on their way to rescue a civilian in need. The Agony Booth once noted that Baywatch's decline in popularity coincided with the rise of home broadband internet, joking(?) that Baywatch was only popular because it was Poor Man's Porn and accesible internet making legitimate porn more accessible made Baywatch obsolete.
  • Critical Dissonance: Was frequently torn apart by critics during its run but became the most watched show in the world with a massive international audience.
  • Complete Monster (both from Nights):
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    • "Vengeance": Johnny Larkin was a vicious killer who was caught by Garner Ellerby and his partner, Lea Broussard. During his trial, Johnny swore that he would get back at everyone involved in his conviction, and while in prison, he made a deal with a crime lord named Mohammed Aziz. Aziz would help Johnny get out of jail and provide him with everything that he would need for his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, and in exchange Johnny would eliminate a snitch named Ernie Watts. After murdering Watts, Johnny goes on a killing spree: He beats a judge to death with his own gavel after shooting the man's bailiff; crushes the throat of an ADA with a barbell; guns down two police officers before drowning a jury member in his own aquarium; and shoots Lea's guard in the back of the head before abducting Lea as bait for Garner, who he had previously assaulted while taunting him over how powerless he was to do anything other than "keep score" as Johnny rampaged through Los Angeles. During a subsequent gun battle with Garner, Johnny mocks him over how he will die being unable to save Lea from a Drowning Pit.
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    • "Possessed": Richard Kempler was a charismatic sadist who was suspected of murdering over fifty women, with his final victim being the wife of Dr. Arnold Block. Kempler had converted his home into a blood-drenched Torture Cellar, which he decorated with parts of his victims, photographs of them being mutilated and tortured, and an altar dedicated to Satan. After dying in a pile-up, Kempler began possessing anyone who was exposed to his blood, with his first host being a man named Steven Buckland. Kempler turns Buckland's home into an exact recreation of his own house of horrors, and uses his body to butcher up to a dozen women before dying again in a shootout with the LAPD. Kempler proceeds to take over Donna Marco, who he has nearly kill a hitchhiker, before moving into a SWAT officer named Ray Reegun. Annoyed by Mitch Buchannon interfering with his possession of Donna, Kempler abducts his partner, Ryan McBride, and takes her to one of his old hideouts, where he amuses himself by disorienting Mitch with booby-traps before trying to murder him in front of Ryan.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Newmie, for some, given that there was an official Newmie fanclub back in the day, and even moreso now thanks to Allison Pregler and her Baywatching series.
    • Out of all the "hot, young male" lifeguards used in the show's ever changing main cast, Matt Brody is probably the best known due to him being there the longest and his name being used for Zac Efron's character in the 2017 film.
    • Garner Ellerbee, who was only featured on the first and third through fifth seasons. He and Mitch had a good comedic chemistry and he brought a unique element to the series due to not being a lifeguard. Sadly, he left the series after season 5.
  • Franchise Original Sin: Baywatch Nights is rightly ridiculed for adding explicitly supernatural elements to a franchise about lifeguards, but people often ignore that the original show had plenty of ridiculous supernatural elements too. There are several episodes where characters have unexplained precognitive visions, one that ends with an alien abduction, and several involving ghosts.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff:
  • He Really Can Act: David Hasselhoff actually gave a pretty powerful performance in the two-part episode "Shattered," but was unfortunately let down by the ludicrous script and the obscene Product Placement.
    • Likewise, season 5's "Seize the Day" has him showing true chops when Mitch deals with his new love Tracy dying of cancer. The scene of him holding her in her last moments to see a sunset together is powerful.
  • Heartwarming Moments: A nerdy Secret Service agent spends the entire episode getting on everyone's nerves, capped off by him breaking a kid's toy after throwing himself over it (he thought it was a bomb). He's humiliated until Mitch lifts his spirits by pointing out that he didn't know it was a toy when he jumped on it, meaning he was completely willing to sacrifice himself to save the president and countless innocent people and is therefore a terrific agent.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In "Money, Honey", Mitch gets cast in a film about a Life Guard who is also a private eye. This later became the premise to the spin-off "Baywatch Nights"! Bonus points for the fact that Dorian Gregory, who would later play Diamont Teague in Season Two of "Baywatch Nights", plays a crowd extra in the same episode!
    • "A Little Help" has CJ training for a dancing competition, which doesn't end too well for her. (See Wardrobe Malfunction on the main page.) 17 years later, Pamela Anderson competed in the Fall 2012 season of Dancing with the Stars...and was the first one eliminated.
  • Ho Yay: Inevitable on a show where most of the men are often hanging around together while shirtless, but the standouts are probably Mitch and Garner. Fans have also joked that despite being in a Love Triangle with Summer, Matt and Jimmy also had way more chemistry with each other.
  • Hype Backlash: While the show was wildly popular across the globe during the '90s, it recently made the #21 spot in TV Guide's Top 50 Worst TV Shows of All Time.
  • It's Not Supposed to Win Oscars: Pamela Anderson famously stated (paraphrasing) that the show wasn't high art, and wasn't trying to be, so you should just enjoy it for what it is.
    Pamela: Everyone loved Baywatch. If the sound was off.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Plots? Who cares about the plots or subplots? Just show us the slow-motion shots of the lifeguards running with their boards. And the pecs and bouncing jugs.
  • Mainstream Obscurity: Baywatch remains to this day the most widely viewed show in the world, with over a billion viewers a week at its peak. It's also one the longer lasting shows with 242 episodes over 12 years and 11 seasons. However, most people know nothing about Baywatch aside from it being a lifeguard show where attractive people in undersized swimsuits run across the beach in slow motion.
  • Memetic Mutation: Oh, those red lifeguard swimsuits and trunks. And that orange thing they always carry.
  • Narm:
    • Almost any attempt at serious drama was ruined by corny writing, cheesy subplots, hammy or amateurish acting, and unsubtle product placement. A good example of this would be the episode where it's revealed Stephanie has skin cancer, which was used as the b-plot of the WCW tie in episode where Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage need to win a wrestling match on the beach in order to save the local youth center from being demolished by Ric Flair.
    • Baywatch Nights is narmy just as a concept, especially Season 2. The show wants to be taken seriously but the very idea that Mitch Buchannon has a side job as a detective where he battles crooks and paranormal threats is laughter inducing, not to mention how silly the actual episodes themselves often were.
  • Never Live It Down: The shots of the lifeguards running down the beach in slow motion became the only thing the show is known for even though they were only used in the intro and the montage segments.
  • Periphery Demographic: Surprisingly, at least 65 percent of Baywatch's average viewing audience were not guys trying to gawk at Pamela Anderson but young women who liked how the cast was full of strong female characters.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Carrie-Anne Moss is in an episode as a woman with a Split Personality.
    • Mila Kunis appears in two episodes as two different little girls.
    • David Spade appeared as a heavy of all things.
    • Bryan Cranston as a yacht driver with a drinking problem.
    • Mariska Hargitay as a spoiled rich girl.
    • Hobie hung out with Charisma Carpenter in one episode.
    • William Fichtner appeared in a Season 1 episode as the drug dealer ex-boyfriend of Eddie's Girl of the Week.
    • Jason Momoa as rookie lifeguard Jason Ioane during the final two seasons as Baywatch Hawaii.
    • Nicole Eggert (Summer Quinn) was previously Jamie Powell on Charles in Charge.
    • Kelly Packard (April Griminski) was previously Tiffani Smith on California Dreams.
    • Brandon Call (Hobie Buchanan #1) later went on to play J.T. Lambert on Step by Step.
    • Billy Warlock (Eddie Kramer) later went on to play A.J. Quartermaine on General Hospital.
    • Greg Grunberg briefly shows up in "The Red Knights" as nightclub host.
    • Future Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Goldbergs star Jeff Garlin appeared in an episode as a radio DJ who had a crush on Pamela Anderson's character.
    • Craig's Stalker with a Crush in the pilot is a pre-Twin Peaks/Riverdale Mädchen Amick.
    • A.J. Langer (Roxanne from My So-Called Life) appears in two episodes (as different characters).
    • Michelle Williams made her screen debut in "Race Against Time: Part 1."
    • In addition to their work on Baywatch, creators and executive producers Michael Berk, Douglas Schwartz, and Gregory J. Bonann also served as creators and executive producers of Thunder in Paradise. On their own, Berk and Schwartz served as co-creators and co-executive producers of The Wizard, and Schwartz, on his own, also served as co-developer and co-executive producer of Sheena (2000).
    • Gus Trikonis directed 22 episodes. Trikonis previously played Indio in West Side Story.
    • Parker Stevenson directed nine episodes and played Craig Pomeroy. Stevenson previously played Frank Hardy in The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries.
    • Anson Williams directed three episodes. Williams previously played "Potsie" Webber on Happy Days.
    • Gillian Horvath wrote three episodes and served as executive story editor. Horvath served as developer and executive producer of Primeval: New World.
    • Ernie Wallengren wrote two episodes and served as executive producer. Wallengren also served as co-developer and co-executive producer of Flipper (the one with Jessica Alba, not the original).
    • Kate Boutilier also wrote two episodes. Boutilier served as co-developer and co-producer of All Grown Up!.
    • Elroy Schwartz wrote the Gilligan's Island episode. Schwartz previously served as co-creator and producer of Dusty's Trail. Both Schwartzes are related to Gilligan's Island creator Sherwood Schwartz so this explains a lot.
    • Grant Rosenberg also wrote an episode. Rosenberg served as co-creator and co-executive producer of Time Trax.
    • Rick Husky also wrote an episode. Husky served as creator and supervising producer of T.J. Hooker.
    • Michael Sloan also wrote an episode. Sloan served as creator and executive producer of Master Ninja and co-creator and executive producer of The Equalizer.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: While it's now the target of derision and overused jokes (not to mention confusion from younger viewers over what the big deal is), there was nothing like it when it debuted. Certainly, there were no other shows where the main cast was in swimsuits most of the time, and no other show chronicled the occupation of lifeguards- a premise that really hasn't been explored much since. And while the fanservice and titillation has been surpassed since the early '90s, it was also a big draw back then.
  • Stock Footage Failure: The Season 4 episode "Lover's Cove" reuses footage of a car plunging into the ocean from the Season 2 episode "If Looks Could Kill." The problem? The car crash victim in Season 2 was a murderer who had a wrapped up corpse in her backseat, which is still visible when the clip is reused in Season 4.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: When Garner rides his horse in "Sky Rider", the music that accompanies it is suspiciously similar to "William Tell Overture".
  • Unintentional Period Piece:
    • The show is a time capsule of mid-90s culture, including technology such as primitive e-mail and internet and bulky cell phones, 90s fashions, and more. Regarding the latter, the particular style of swimsuit used by the female lifeguards in particular became forever associated with the show (being often called simply the "Baywatch swimsuit"), but was only in vogue during the show's peak.
    • The show also displays its age quite readily with some of the musical guests it featured, including New Order (who were at the peak of commercial stardom at the time and were in the middle of promoting their album Republic, itself strongly influenced by 90's house music) and The Beach Boys (who had experienced a massive commercial comeback in the late 80's and early 90's, though were already on their way out again by the time they appeared on the show in 1995).
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Joey from "Silent Night, Baywatch Night". Doesn't help that Joey is a gender neutral name.
  • What an Idiot!: How Mitch didn't catch onto Gwen and Mattie being the same person (until it was too late) in "Mirror, Mirror" is beyond belief.
  • Wheelchair Woobie: Jason in "Shattered".

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