Mitch Buchannon

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Mitchell "Mitch" Buchannon
Baywatch- character
First appearance "Panic at Malibu Pier" (1989)
Last appearance Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding (2003)
Portrayed by

David Hasselhoff (TV Series)

Dwayne Johnson (Movie)
Nickname(s) Mitch
Gender Male
Occupation Lieutenant lifeguard (1989-1997)
Captain Lifeguard (1997-2000)
Family Buzz (Brother)
Hobie (Son)
Significant other(s) Gayle (ex-Wife)
Children Hobie Buchannon
Nationality United States

Mitchell "Mitch" Buchannon is a fictional character from the TV series Baywatch. He was played by David Hasselhoff in every season of Baywatch and Baywatch Nights plus in the first season of Baywatch Hawaii. He also appeared in the 2003 reunion movie Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding. The character will be played by Dwayne Johnson in the film version.

Mitch was the main character for most of the show's run and also served as a mentor and father figure to many of the younger lifeguards at Baywatch headquarters, helping them in work-related matters, and also issues in their personal lives.

Before Season 1[edit]

Mitch was the youngest son of Al and Irene Buchannon. He was born c. 1954, though his age varies depending upon the episode. He had an older brother named Buzz[1] and the two got along quite well despite their very different personalities. While Buzz was the carefree brother who did what he wanted, Mitch was much more responsible. Buzz left home at a very early age, leaving Mitch as the only child at home. At age 12, Buzz bought a Fender Mustang guitar that he let Mitch have. Years later, Mitch recalled the guitar fondly and dreamed of what his life would be like if he were a musician.[2] The episode cleverly used footage of David Hasselhoff's musical career (though Hasselhoff himself never played any instruments) to show Mitch's daydreams of stardom. In one episode, Mitch was invited onstage to sing alongside Little Richard during a performance of "Good Golly, Miss Molly."[3]

Buzz returned into Mitch's life in 1991 with his son Kyle.[4] They stayed very briefly before relocating to San Diego, while Mitch raised Hobie in Venice.[5]

Mitch did not always have a good relationship with his father. He felt Al did not love him and was disappointed in him. This was due to Al's wish that Mitch would follow in his footsteps and become an architect. For a while Mitch went along with his father's requests and even earned an architectural degree, working for two months alongside his father in the firm. However, Mitch decided it wasn't for him and he decided to become a full-time lifeguard instead, something he had dreamed of doing since he was a young boy.[6]

Mitch's mother Irene was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in a very special 1995 episode.[7]

Mitch was apparently also a Navy SEAL who taught hand-to-hand combat while in the service.[8] This was also referenced briefly in the two-part episode "Shattered."[9]

Around 1983, Mitch spent a year in Australia as part of the lifeguard exchange program. One day he attempted to rescue a wind surfer in treacherous waves, but failed to save her. Ten years later, her husband, a man named Wily Brown, came to the United States to get revenge on the lifeguard who failed to save her. Mitch was involved in a series of accidents (such as failing brakes on his rescue truck and a poisonous snake left in his locker), suspicious that Wily perpetrated them. Finally the truth was revealed when Mitch's friend Kaye, a newspaper reporter, found Wily's personnel file. As Mitch went to confront Wily about his suspicions, he was sneak attacked and left for dead in a burning lifeguard tower. Fortunately, Mitch woke up and got out in time to chase Wily in the scarab, lassoing him and sending him off to the proper authorities.[10]

In high school Mitch met Gayle, and the two began to date. They eventually married and had a son, Hobie Buchannon. While the two loved each other they eventually divorced. Gayle felt Mitch was too invested in his work and she couldn't handle it. Mitch did not want to break up and he continued to love Gayle for years later.

Shortly after his divorce from Gayle in 1989, Mitch entered into a relationship with visiting lifeguard Stephanie Holden. The two quickly became serious but ended abruptly when Stephanie left both Mitch and Baywatch. Three years later, when Stephanie returned to Baywatch full-time as a Lieutenant, Mitch discovered that she was married at the time, and broke off her relationship with Mitch in order to work things out with her husband. Though Stephanie was divorced by the time of her 1992 return, it was decided by both Mitch and Stephanie to maintain a platonic relationship from that point onward.[11] However, due to inconsistent plotlines that would later appear, the nature of this relationship would occasionally go from platonic to flirtatious to unrequited on either side, depending upon how it fit the story.

Seasons 1-9[edit]

As the series began, Gayle and Mitch were having difficulties working out the custody agreement over Hobie. Gayle wanted Hobie to come live with her full-time in Ohio. Mitch was devastated over this, but after realizing how much Hobie wanted to stay with his father, Gayle agreed to let him stay in California.

One of the great longings of Mitch's life throughout the series was for a family beyond himself and Hobie. He wanted the love of a woman, and more children so Hobie would have brothers and sisters to play with. By season 3 he admitted to his longtime friend, Police Officer Garner Ellerbee that he was tired of meeting women on the beach and being caught up in purely physical relationships.[12] Many episodes featured Mitch suffering from a broken heart, usually due to betrayals, misunderstandings, or even the death of his love interest.

Perhaps the greatest challenge of Mitch Buchannon's life came in the two-part episode, "Shattered," where Mitch was paralyzed after being slammed three times by a wave into some rocks. After being hospitalized for his injuries, Mitch befriended young Jason, a boy from Chicago as part of the Witness Protection Program who was confined to a wheelchair due to injuries sustained while protecting his brother from drug dealers. Mitch, full of grief over the prospect of never lifeguarding again, became despondent, but when Jason's life was in danger from attackers, Mitch was able to move his leg again and kick a gun away from the attacker's reach. Mitch knew then that he was on the road to recovery, and was able to rehabilitate shortly thereafter.[13]

As Lieutenant Lifeguard, Mitch wore a khaki uniform through the first season. From season 2 onwards, Mitch's office uniform consisted of a white polo shirt with sweats and a red jacket. Mitch often carried a badge and acted in a quasi-law enforcement capacity, occasionally doing mundane tasks such as checking boardwalk merchants for permits.[14]

Mitch briefly dated Jackie Quinn, mother of Summer, during season 4.

When Mitch was eight years old, he saw the film The Maltese Falcon and was inspired to one day become a private detective.[15] However, lifeguarding was still his first love. The dream of being a detective came true in 1995 when Mitch started a detective agency with Garner. The agency became the focal point of the spinoff series Baywatch Nights. The character of Mitch appeared concurrently on both series, working as a lifeguard by day and detective by night.

Baywatch Nights[edit]

Baywatch Hawaii[edit]

The 1999 premiere episode of Baywatch Hawaii showed a new and somewhat darker side to Mitch Buchannon. Disillusioned by his failed relationships, his mother's battle with Alzheimer's disease, and the fact that his son Hobie had left home and gone off to college, Mitch decided to pack his bags and move to Hawaii. The first episode seemed to show Mitch as a bit of a reclusive loner on a secluded beach who was trying to escape his life as an L.A. County Lifeguard. However, when he saw a family of four drowning, he jumped in to save them, knowing he could never escape his true calling.[16]

Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding[edit]

In 2003, viewers were given a chance to see the character of Mitch Buchannon one last time in the FOX TV-Movie "Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding." Serving as both a reunion episode and bookend to the Baywatch saga, Mitch was ready to marry a woman who resembled his late friend and lover, Stephanie Holden, before being forced to face his old enemy, Mason Sato, originally seen in Season 2.


  1. ^ "The Fabulous Buchannon Boys," Season 2, Episode 5
  2. ^ "Second Time Around," Season 4, Episode 12
  3. ^ "The Runaways, Season 5, Episode 20
  4. ^ "The Fabulous Buchannon Boys," Season 2, Episode 5
  5. ^ "Surf's Up," Season 6, Episode 4
  6. ^ "A Matter of Life and Death," Season 3, Episode 12
  7. ^ "To Everything There is a Season", Season 6, Episode 9
  8. ^ "Kicks," Season 3, Episode 21
  9. ^ "Shattered," Season 3, Episode 19
  10. ^ "Fatal Exchange," Season 3, Episode 22
  11. ^ "Tequila Bay," Season 3 episode 3
  12. ^ "Stakeout at Surfrider Beach," Season 3, Episode 18
  13. ^ "Shattered," Season 3, Episodes 19 & 20
  14. ^ "Blindside," Season 4, Episode 4
  15. ^ "Trapped Beneath the Sea, Part 1", Season 6, Episode 5
  16. ^ Baywatch Hawaii - "Aloha, Baywatch," Season 1, Episode 1