Fans Still Can’t Get Over Stephanie’s ‘Baywatch’ Fate

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Aug. 20 2022, Published 12:52 p.m. ET

If you’ve been streaming the show on Amazon Prime Video — or just waxing nostalgic about those waxed beach bodies — perhaps you’re wondering why Alexandra Paul left Baywatch, one of the most popular TV shows of the 1990s.

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Alexandra starred in the lifeguard drama from Season 3 until Season 7, when the writers of the syndicated series plotted an exit for her character, Stephanie Holden. And as Alexandra explained in 2017, her departure was her idea. (Beware: 25-year-old spoilers ahead!)

What happened to Stephanie on ‘Baywatch’?

In the Season 7 episode “Chance of a Lifetime,” Stephanie is crushed by a falling mast while trying to save boaters from a sinking sailboat, and she dies in the arms of her ex Mitch (David Hasselhoff) and her husband, Tom (Vincent Van Patten).

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“Crushed by a falling ship mast in a storm at sea. Probably the cheesiest death scene ever created,” one viewer wrote on Reddit in a 2020 thread. “10/10 would recommend.”

“Her death reactions are hilarious, and I crack up every time,” another viewer confessed. “It is quite sad after, though.”

But Baywatch fans hadn’t seen the last of Alexandra when that episode aired in 1997. She returned as the ghost of Stephanie in the supernatural spinoff Baywatch Nights later that year, and then she played a Stephanie lookalike in the 2003 TV movie Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding.

After Baywatch, Alexandra took on roles in Melrose Place and Mad Men. Nowadays, she’s still acting onscreen while running her own wellness coaching business.

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Why did Alexandra Paul leave ‘Baywatch’?

In a 2017 interview with Loaded, Alexandra said she decided to move on from Baywatch and follow other creative pursuits. “I knew I needed to leave, but I was so sad about it at the same time. I would call my co-star Jason Simmons and weep about my decision. … But even though in my contract I was allowed to leave to do other projects during the filming season, and even though we shot just five months a year so there was plenty of time for other work, I felt it was time to move on.”

In his autobiography Don’t Hassel the Hoff, however, costar David Hasselhoff claimed that Alexandra “was fed up with the whole Baywatch scene and begged to be written out of the series.”

“‘It isn’t good for young girls to watch our show,’ she said,” David wrote. “‘It probably makes them insecure — kill me off.’”

But Alexandra told Loaded that Baywatch was her “favorite job” of her career. “It was just so wonderful to go to the beach every day, put on a comfortable bathing suit (no high heels and hair spray!) and be heroic,” she added. “I have had the first or second female leads in 70 projects, but no, it doesn’t bother me at all that I am remembered for Baywatch. I am proud to be associated with the show. It was the first truly global show, seen all around the world by one billion people each week.”

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