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Hasselhoff in costume as Michael Knight in 1986
|First appearance||"Knight of the Phoenix"|
|Last appearance||Knight Rider (2008)|
|Portrayed by||David Hasselhoff|
Larry Anderson (Michael Long, pilot only)
|Alias||Michael Arthur Long|
|Occupation||Intelligence officer (1970s)|
Police officer (1970s-1982)
Field agent for FLAG (1982-1990)
|Family||Garthe Knight ("twin-brother")|
Jennifer Knight ("sister")
Wilton Knight (deceased "father")
Elizabeth Knight (estranged "mother")
|Spouse||Stephanie March Mason (girlfriend/wife, deceased)|
Jennifer Traceur (girlfriend, deceased)
|Children||Mike Traceur (son)|
Michael Knight is a fictional character and the protagonist of the 1980s television series Knight Rider, played by David Hasselhoff. The character first appeared in the opening scenes as Michael Long, played by Larry Anderson in the beginning of the pilot.
Born Michael Arthur Long on January 9, 1949 outside of Los Angeles, California, raised by a blue-collar working family.
In the late 1960s, while in his 20s, Long joined the Army, was part of the Green Berets, and spent three years in counter-intelligence work in Vietnam. He got captured at one point while on a mission in Vietnam, in which he was able to escape and fight his way out. Although he had escaped, he ended up getting a serious injury that required brain surgery, and a metal plate was inserted into his skull.
After those years in Vietnam as an intelligence officer, Michael was discharged from the service, and arrived back in Los Angeles in the 1970s, presumably 1972. Later he joined the Los Angeles Police Department, starting as a patrolman, where he met his partner Muntzy.
Also, once Michael's partner was Sergeant (later Lieutenant) Jim Courtney, whom Michael called his "second father during his LAPD rookie days," whose daughter Stacy got injured during an illegal street race during Season 3 episode "Knights of the Fast Lane."
Michael was subsequently promoted to detective sergeant, and finally to detective lieutenant with the LAPD's 11th precinct, in which his badge number was 4262. He used to reside at 1834 Shoreborne Avenue, Wilmington, California, in the zip code 90744. This was, presumably, in 1982.
After 10 years on the force, during the night of August 8, 1982 - while on special assignment from the LAPD as an undercover Security Guard for Consolidated Chemical Corporation in Las Vegas, Nevada for six months - his long-time partner, Muntzy (Herbert Jefferson, Jr.), working undercover as a maintenance man, was killed by Security Guard Gray (Lance LeGault).
In the pilot episode, police officer Michael Arthur Long (played by Larry Anderson) was betrayed by a female informant and nearly killed by a gunshot wound to the head by an industrial espionage expert named Tanya Walker (Phyllis Davis). A metal plate in Long's skull - the result of the head injury, mentioned above, sustained during the Vietnam War ten years earlier - deflected the round, which still inflicted serious facial damage.
That same night Long was declared dead to the public and his medical care was taken over by the Foundation for Law And Government (FLAG). This part of the story is shown in the pilot, titled "Knight of the Phoenix" in syndication. The symbolism in this title is related to Michael's car, a Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, the likes of which usually featured a giant decal on the hood depicting the fire bird (the Phoenix). The phoenix traditionally is symbolic of rebirth, and the scene of Long collapsing on the hood foreshadows later events.
FLAG is a private crime-fighting arm of Knight Industries, an organization founded by Wilton Knight, a billionaire philanthropist. Michael was not Wilton Knight's first choice for the pilot program, but Wilton changed his mind and reopened the foundation due to Michael's arrival. In the context of the pilot, Wilton Knight (Richard Basehart) is dying of an undisclosed illness. Wilton picked up Michael passed out in front of his car, on a desert highway. Michael barely survived, thanks to the metal plate.
Given a new face via facial reconstructive surgery, Long is resurrected as Michael Knight (now played by David Hasselhoff). Together with a high-tech automobile called the Knight Industries Two Thousand (KITT), Michael Knight agrees to carry on Wilton Knight's crusade of aiding the powerless. He usually was given mission objectives by the new director of FLAG, Wilton Knight's longtime friend and confidant, Devon Miles (Edward Mulhare). Michael was selected for his high level of self-defense training, intelligence, law enforcement experience, and his ability and preference to work alone without assistance or back-up.
Michael Knight was a special type of hero, a modern knight who avoided violence whenever possible and generally refrained from using firearms (although in several episodes he is seen with a .38 revolver and once with a MAC-10 when arresting some corrupt US Army troops). Although most of Knight's cases were based in Southern California, where FLAG was headquartered, the operation was not confined there. He could travel to whatever part of the country trouble arose in; sometimes even crossing borders into Mexico. FLAG also had facilities in Las Vegas and Chicago. The organization also owned a semi-trailer truck that served as a mobile office and also offered technical support for KITT.
In early literature for the series, the aforementioned metal plate in Michael Long's forehead was also said to be used for Knight to pick up various radiowaves and signals. This was played upon in the several Knight Rider tie-in novels published, but was very seldom used in the actual series itself. One of the only questionable examples of it being utilized is in the first-season episode "Trust Doesn't Rust," when Michael suddenly tells KITT to switch to the police frequency, although it is arguable that he could have just noticed local commotion, or been acting on a hunch. In the second-season episode "Soul Survivor," KITT's CPU is separated from the car and deposited in a trash can in a garage; Michael finds it after telling Devon he senses KITT's essence.
In addition to playing Michael Knight, Hasselhoff also played a double role in the Season Two feature-length episodes "Goliath" and "Goliath Returns", portraying not only Michael Knight but also Wilton's biological son, Garthe Knight. At the time of Michael's surgery, Garthe was imprisoned in Africa. Believing that his son would never be seen again, Wilton had Michael's face modeled after Garthe's. In the pilot episode, both Devon Miles and Wilton stated that Michael actually resembled the face of Wilton himself as a young man. The novels written after the series aired described Michael's reconstructed face as based on images of both a young Wilton and Wilton's son. In any event, the Garthe storyline would not go beyond the second season, primarily due to Hasselhoff's request that the doppelgänger villain be ended, due to the time it took to be made up and film both the roles of Michael and Garthe.
In 1984, Michael found out that the reason for his having almost been murdered two years before was his having been the target of a hit put out on Long by Tanya Walker's lover--and Wilton Knight's long-standing enemy--Cameron Zachary (acted out by John Vernon), which was the reason Michael was shot. (In episode #47 of the two part "Knight of the Drones" it is revealed that prior to Michael Long/Knight that FLAG had a prospective "Knight" driver who was murdered; however, this was never mentioned in any other episode.)
Michael is always a ladies' man, often loves women, and that included his former fiancée Stephanie "Stevie" March Mason (portrayed by Hasselhoff's actual wife at the time, Catherine Hickland), who eventually he marries (seen in the episode "Scent of Roses") on the same day she is killed. Michael's favorite foods are often steak, eggs, greasy fried potatoes and burgers.
He retired from FLAG in 1990. TKR would take over his duties.
In the final episode of "Team Knight Rider" a mysterious man appears in the episode as a mysterious agent of FLAG known in most of the episode as the "Shadow". Kyle tells Trek that he suspects that Shadow is FLAG's most famous operative; he does not say the name, but implies Michael Knight. He explains that this operative never had an unsuccessful mission, but nobody knows what happened to him. At the end of the episode Team Knight Rider find a grave. The grave marker reads: "Michael Knight R.I.P. One man who made a difference". A man appears and tells them "I'm Michael Knight. Or at least I was."
In a 1991 sequel movie Knight Rider 2000 Devon visits Michael and convinces him to join FLAG's project, the Knight 4000, as the test driver. But Michael is furious to discover that KITT has been disassembled. Michael is ready to walk away, but later decides to rebuild KITT's AI unit. At the end of the movie Michael returns to retirement.
In the 2008 Knight Rider revival television movie, Michael Knight shows up at the funeral for his son's mother. He introduces himself to his estranged son, Michael Traceur, who asks if he will see Michael again. Michael replies, "I hope so."
Michael Knight was again mentioned by his son in the first episode of the new series. Traceur said that his father's real name was Michael Long, and his co-workers made fun of it. Later, Traceur decides to adopt the "Knight" family name in an attempt to start a new life, just like his father.