Knight Rider
Knight Rider
Episode 101: Knight of the Phoenix
Air Date September 26, 1982
Written by Glen A. Larson
Director Daniel Haller
Episode guide
Episode 102: Deadly Maneuvers

This two-part episode aired as the pilot for Knight Rider.

Guest Cast

Phyllis Davis as Tanya Walker

Vince Edwards as Fred Wilson

Pamela Susan Shoop as Maggie

Barret Oliver as Buddy

Lance LeGault as Vernon Gray

Noel Conlon as William Benjamin

Michael D. Roberts as Jackson

Bert Rosario as Brown

Richard Anderson as Dr. Ralph Wesley

Alma Beltran as Luce

Ed Gilbert as Charles Acton

Shawn Ora Engemann as Lonnie (as Shawn Southwick)

Herbert Jefferson Jr. as Muntzy


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The episode begins at night on the Las Vegas Strip, leading to the Circus Circus Casino, which includes gambling with slot machines, blackjack, and a house band. Tanya Walker and her boss Charles Action are playing a game of craps. The new chief of security at Comtron, Fred Wilson, tells Lonnie to go inside a hotel room to take pictures of the prints for a computer chip they're planning on stealing.

Los Angeles Police Detective Lieutenant Michael Arthur Long is on special assignment to protect Tanya and Charles. He has been working undercover as a Security Guard at Comtron for six months. Long gives orders to his partner, Muntzy to watch Lonnie go into the hotel room. Lonnie takes pictures of the computer chip blueprint with her camera. Wilson orders Lonnie to get out of town, and Lonnie tells him that there is a maintenance man in the hallway.

Tanya and Charles decide to return to their hotel room, carrying their gambling chips. Long convinces them to cash in the chips, and takes them to the cashier. Wilson escorts Lonnie to her Datsun 280Z. Muntzy follows Wilson and Lonnie out of the hotel into the parking lot, only to get shot in the chest by Security Guard Gray, who then takes off with Wilson inside a Chevrolet Nova, and follows Lonnie.

Long and Tanya go out into the parking lot and find Muntzy, who dies in Long's arms. Long then gets into his Pontiac Trans Am with Tanya, and they follow the others out into the desert. But Long has been betrayed by the people he was protecting; he is forced to drop his gun and is shot in the face by Tanya. He collapses on the hood of his car and falls to the ground, but manages to survive due to a metal plate placed in his head during the Vietnam War.

Shortly after midnight, the unconscious Long is found by the eccentric multi-billionaire philanthropist Wilton Knight and one of his helicopter pilots. They fly him to Wilton's mansion in Los Angeles, California during the early morning.

Long is declared dead to the public, and his medical care is taken over by the Foundation for Law and Government (FLAG). FLAG is a private crime-fighting arm of the Knight Industries, an organization founded by Knight. Long is given a new face by plastic surgery. He spends four days in a deep coma with a severe head injury and suffering traumatic flashbacks, while Dr. Ralph Wesley examines his skull. Michael awakens to find his face and fingerprints have been changed, giving him a new identity as Michael Knight and a second chance at life.

During his recovery at Wilton's estate, Michael starts running to get back into shape. He becomes curious about what the technicians are doing inside the garage "at all hours of the day and night," and discovers what he believes to be his Pontiac Trans Am repaired and repainted. As Devon Miles pointedly explains, any resemblance between the car he has discovered and his own is "purely superficial."

The car in the garage is Knight Industries Two Thousand (K.I.T.T.), a highly advanced car with various spy gadgets and nearly invulnerable armor. After letting Wilton down gently, Devon Miles now the director of FLAG, offers Michael a test drive. Michael is floored by the car's new capabilities, one of which is artificial intelligence, or the ability to think.

Later that night, on his deathbed, Wilton asks Michael to carry on his crime-fighting crusade, believing "one man can make a difference". Devon further persuades him to join FLAG as an operative, suggesting that this will give him the opportunity to seek revenge against those who betrayed him. Michael reluctantly agrees. Michael's qualifications include his self-defense training, intelligence, law enforcement experience, and his preference to work alone. After Wilton's death, Devon receives a phone call telling him that Tanya is working in Silicon Valley.

Michael is given his new identity, along with credit cards, driver license, and a social security card, and takes K.I.T.T. to Comtron Headquarters. While musing to himself that there is no radio among all the gadgets, K.I.T.T. replies by speaking to him, much to Michael's surprise. Michael tells KITT either he shut up, or he'll have Devon to pull his plug. He listens to his own music until he falls asleep behind the wheel. KITT takes over the driving in Auto Cruise, passing two highway patrolmen, and getting off with a warning by pretending that he is deaf.

Later that day Michael arrives in Silicon Valley, and stops at "The House of the Rising Sun", a bar near Comtron, and starts spying on Comtron employees. Two car thieves consider trying to steal KITT, but decide to back off at the last minute, and steal KITT in some other location. Michael is still inside the bar drinking beer, and he befriends a woman named Maggie, a former Comtron employee working there as a waitress.

Michael asks her about Tanya and she becomes angry, trying to throw him out of the bar, by spilling a beer on his jeans, and breaking a pint glass, causing Michael to get angry back at her, until the manager arrives and fires her, which makes her start crying. Michael walks out, talking to another Comtron employee, then drives off. Tanya calls Security, and tells Gray that someone is in town looking for her, providing the car make, model, and license plate; she then goes back to kissing her boss.

Michael and Maggie meet again later on that night, when he arrives back at the bar to apologize to her and tell her the truth. She is now carrying her personal belongings, and threatening to damage his car unless he leaves. She backs into his car, only to find her bumper falls off and his car comes out without a scratch. Michael offers to pay to have her car fixed, and to help her change her ways by helping him find Tanya and her crew, so they can be brought to justice.

On the way to her home, she tells him she believes the company murdered her husband because he discovered what was really going on. Tanya got a job as an executive assistant, and climbed up the corporate ladder. Michael and Maggie arrive at her apartment, Michael meets her landlord Luce, who soon decides to leave, and her son Buddy when he wakes up. Maggie tells Michael that Tanya is staying at William Benjamin's estate.

The next morning after spending the night at Maggie's apartment, Michael stops at a payphone to call Devon. The car thieves once again try to steal KITT, but they are unable to pick KITT's lock or break the window and the brick they throw knocks one of them unconscious.

To get Tanya's attention, Michael enters the Knight 2000 in a Comtron sponsored demolition derby. He uses KITT's capabilities to easily win the derby. Tanya realizes Michael Knight is a problem and wants to get her hands on his car. She and her colleague Wilson lay a trap for them.

Michael goes to the bar to with meet Tanya, but instead he gets into a barroom brawl with three hired Comtron thugs, and is thrown in jail. The police impound KITT so that the Comtron techs can dismantle him, but their attempts fail. KITT discovers that Tanya and her colleagues have infiltrated their way to top positions of the Comtron Corporation. In reality, they plan to steal millions of dollars of valuable computer chip technology from the company. KITT manages to break out and free Michael from jail. Michael returns to Comtron, and catches Tanya in the act of stealing chip schematics as she and her associates prepare to make a getaway. During a scuffle, Michael is shot in the left shoulder but manages to kill a security guard. Michael makes a run for it holding his left shoulder, and holding up another security guard, finally managing to make it inside KITT. Wilson offers a $25,000 bonus to any driver that crashes into KITT. Michael and KITT go to stop Tanya's getaway at the airport; dodging a helicopter strike and a road block set up to eliminate them. After the airplane blows up, Tanya gets out of her car and recognizes Michael as Michael Long. She tries to shoot him again but the bullet from her gun bounces off KITT's bulletproof glass and kills her.

After killing Tanya, KITT drives Michael to the hospital for emergency surgery. Michael is released from the hospital, and says goodbye to Maggie. Michael and Devon are towed to the airport inside the slightly-dented KITT, and decide to celebrate their new partnership with a few drinks.


  • Michael Arthur Long was played by Larry Anderson, although his voice was dubbed over by David Hasselhoff.
  • The pilot episode opening scenes were filmed in Las Vegas, Nevada on the night of July 8, 1982. The recovery scenes were filmed in Los Angeles, California between July 26 and August 18, 1982, and the detective scenes were filmed in Silicon Valley, California from August 19-26, 1982.
  • The soundtrack includes:
"Harden My Heart" by Quarterflash,
"Take it Easy" by The Eagles
"Peaceful Easy Feeling" by The Eagles
"Don't Stop" by Fleetwood Mac
"Carolina in My Mind" by James Taylor
"Hit Me With Your Best Shot" by Pat Benatar
"Proud Mary", performed by Deborah Ludwig Davis at the casino


  • The Comtron security cars are a variety of 1977 to 1979 models including Chevrolet Novas, Dodge Monacos, and Plymouth Fury's.
  • Lonnie drives a 1982 Datsun 280Z into the desert.
  • Tanya drives a 1981 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class.
  • Michael Long's car was a brand new black/gold 1982 Pontiac Trans Am with Recaro seats, High Performance Package, and Goodyear white lettered tires.