33 things you didn’t know about ‘Deadliest Catch’
‘Deadliest Catch’ is one of those TV shows that came out of nowhere, luring in eager audiences across the globe. Discovery Channel had something special on their hands, and before they knew it, they had a hit show raking in millions of dollars. A whole 15 seasons later, ‘Deadliest Catch’ remains massively popular and a huge moneymaker.
Despite its massive popularity, there are dozens of things that you may not know about the show. From illegal activity to cast member secrets, there’s plenty to dig up on the people who are part of the series. Here are 33 things you didn’t know about ‘Deadliest Catch.’
Fighting a couple
Sometimes, you have to defend yourself from people who are trying to hurt or take advantage of you. And then there are other instances where the situation isn’t as black and white. In Feleti “Freddy” Maugatai’s case, he was charged with a misdemeanor assault on a couple in a hotel.
Apparently, Maugatai got into a fight in the bathroom at the Grand Aleutian Hotel in Alaska. The incident took place at the end of 2012, and although he claimed that he was innocent and that it was self-defense, the man and woman had a different story. Maugatai allegedly pushed the woman across the room and beat down the man.
Crab isn’t on the menu
The crew of Deadliest Catch is constantly around king crabs, so it makes sense that they would eat large amounts of them, right? Wrong. It turns out that the ship’s crew don’t get to savor the crabs they catch. Why is that? I know I would feast on those things if I could.
Think of it this way: The crew is trying to catch the crabs so they can sell them for a profit. The crabs are their merchandise and they don’t want to lose out on money they could be making. So yes, crabs taste incredible, but it’s a classic case of wrong place, wrong time.
Man vs. Uber
Captain Sig Hansen is one of the recurring characters in almost every season of Deadliest Catch, so fans are really familiar with him. What not everyone knows is that he got into an altercation with an Uber driver. It’s not something anyone wants to be known for. What happened exactly?
It turns out that Captain Hansen was a bit “influenced” when he started to act rowdy around the driver. According to the Uber driver, Hansen kicked his car on the side and spit on him. Although Hansen initially denied that any of that happened, he eventually came out and said that it was true.
Elliott Neese, one of the younger captains on Deadliest Catch, was fined $3,000 by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for catching undersized red king crabs. It turns out you don’t want to mess with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. It’s a huge offense to catch undersized crabs in that field of work.
Originally, Neese was supposed to pay double the amount, $6,000. The high price was eventually sliced in half when he agreed to plead guilty. Even so, that’s a large amount to pay for catching undersized crabs. It’s usually a good policy to follow laws, even if you don’t agree with them.
Authenticity and a fake storm?
A lot of crazy things happen on Deadliest Catch, but how much of what goes on is true to life? The short answer is that all of what is filmed and shown on screen actually happened. The long answer is a little bit more complicated when you look into it.
Controversy struck the show when out-of-sequence film bits were sewn together in an episode mostly filmed in 2008. A storm that caused huge waves next to the ship was filmed months after and edited into an episode filmed months earlier to make the danger appear more sinister. The Discovery Channel president denied any treachery.
The camera crew is hardcore
It’s easy to forget that there are people actually filming Deadliest Catch. That means that the camera crew is on the ship themselves, braving the relentless conditions with the rest of the cast. If you thought the cast of Deadliest Catch was tough, then how about that camera crew?
The camera crew ends up on the boats for three to five weeks, stuck on board with all the crab fishermen. They live on there without setting foot on land the whole time. They eat, sleep, and film for weeks. It must be exhausting, but they have to do their job like everyone else.
Fireworks injury and a lawsuit
Yet another prickly lawsuit took place in 2015 when David Zielinski, a former crew member on the show, sued the Hillstrand brothers over an injury he got. How were the brothers involved? It turns out that the two brothers had asked Zielinski to light some fireworks; the outcome wasn’t pleasant.
The firework ended up blowing up and badly burning his arm and hand. This happened in 2013, but any sort of action wasn’t taken until 2015, and the lawsuit wasn’t settled until 2017. The Hillstrands were told to pay out $1.35 million to Zielinski as a result of his injuries.
Murder of a producer
As we’ve seen so far, not everything major or even minor takes place on the popular show. Death is part of crab fishing, with people falling overboard or boats sinking, but you don’t usually expect someone to die young in an unrelated circumstance. In this particular case, what happened was incredibly tragic.
Joseph McMahon, one of the former producers for Deadliest Catch, was shot to death in 2015 right in front of his home in Pasadena, California. The story doesn’t get any better after that; it actually gets worse. The murderer was later found in his own car, having committed suicide with what was likely the same weapon.
Sig Hansen accused of unwanted advances
Captain Sig Hansen ran into incredibly serious allegations back in 2016. Melissa Eckstrom, Hansen’s estranged daughter, claimed that he had made unwanted advances on her back in the 1990s when she was just a small toddler. Hansen denied that this was true and the Discovery Channel actually stood by him.
Sig Hansen was understandably angry about these accusations and referred to them as “a shakedown for money.” Although he was never actually sentenced for the allegations, they continue to follow him. It’s something that’s pretty much impossible to prove at this point, but we certainly hope it didn’t actually happen.
It almost crashed the Alaskan crab fishing industry
Deadliest Catch requires catching a ridiculous amount of crabs, especially if they need to redo shots for the TV show. It’s not like they only have one fishing boat out there either; they have several. They cut so badly into the Alaskan fishing business that the industry almost completely crashed.
It’s hard to imagine that a TV series could be responsible for something like this, but if you consider how big the series is, it’s a little bit easier to understand. In addition, there are many crab fishermen who do this for a living and don’t have the extra income that the Deadliest Catch crew do.
Blake Painter didn’t quit, he died
Blake Painter randomly disappeared from episodes of Deadliest Catch at the end of the second season. Due to the drama on the show, it just made sense. It turns out that Painter wasn’t happy with how he was being represented on the hit show. He was still fishing, but not featured.
Discovery wanted him back for a third season and although he initially declined, they were able to bring him back for more episodes. Sadly, Blake Painter was found dead in his home in 2018. He was surrounded by bottles and illegal materials, which may have been the cause of his death.
This lawsuit clawed two captains
Lawsuits happen and they’re never pleasant. But sometimes, they’re incredibly unpleasant: $3 million dollars worth’ of unpleasant. The Hillstrand brothers were on the cusp of attaining their own spinoff series when complications arose. The brothers were supposed to be at a voice-over session but they didn’t show up for some reason.
Discovery wasn’t pleased and decided to retaliate with a massive lawsuit against the Hillstrands over their absence and refusal to show. The Hillstrands quit. Eventually, the lawsuit was dropped and both parties reached an understanding. The brothers went back on the show and they went back to their crab-catching ways.
Not every crew member is loved
Not every person is liked by everyone, but sometimes, that dislike is multiplied by quite a large number. In Elliott Neese’s case, it’s the latter scenario. Fans aren’t big supporters of Neese, since he would often take to social media to argue with fans. So what happened to Elliott Neese?
Well, Neese eventually got in trouble for his behavior off camera and was promptly sent to rehab for help. Some fans must have been delighted since they had even gone so far as to write a petition to take him off the show back in 2015. Seems a little harsh, doesn’t it?
The cast members aren’t the only people tied to illegal activities who work on the show. Back in 2010, Matthew Schneider, one of the producers on the show, was caught selling illegal items. He only sold about $300 worth of merchandise, but that doesn’t mean he got off the hook that easily.
In fact, Schneider wasn’t let off easy at all; there were consequences for his actions. Later, the police caught him and got him to rat out a bunch of other people who were also involved in illegal activities. Besides Schneider, there was a total of 18 people who were arrested.
The younger brother of Josh Harris, Jake Harris has struggled with many difficult issues throughout his life. Not everything that happens on Deadliest Catch is covered on the popular TV show. For example, you may not know that Jake Harris stole a car from his girlfriend, who happened to be married.
Unfortunately, Jake Harris has been dealing with many other problems, including addictions to multiple things. His father’s death caused him to lash out and spiral downward. It’s a shame that his life has had so many painful lows, but maybe things will look up for him in the future.
Bill is a man of many talents
“Wild” Bill Wichrowski knows what he’s doing when it comes to his job; he’s been catching crabs since way back in 1979. Wild Bill is kind of intimidating but he manages to get the job done. Besides his work as a fisherman, Wichrowski also served in the U.S. Navy for four years.
As captain of the Cape Caution, Bill needs to know how his ship functions, not just how to catch crabs. He has also worked as a boat electrician and naval engineer, which means not much will get past him. He can be counted on by his crew in any situation.
The weather has intensified in the last few years and it’s been felt by the crew of Deadliest Catch. Waves have become more unpredictable and unstable and the ocean’s temperature has increased by several degrees. The cast has fears that they may not be able to keep doing the show soon.
The changing climate the past few years seems to be the cause, but that hasn’t stopped the crew from filming their show. Producer R. Decker Watson has commented, saying, “When something like this comes up, it’s felt by all of us. I love making this show, and so does the rest of my team.”
Jake Harris gets another entry on this list, but not for any fault of his own. Harris was mugged and beaten, left on the road to die. He had been at a casino when the incident took place. The culprits ripped him out of his car and began beating him.
Harris didn’t want to go to the hospital when he was found, putting it off for as long as he could. Eventually, his brother forced him to admit himself to the hospital and he listened. Josh Harris did some smart work and got the two culprits arrested by posting pictures online.
What happens when you date Elliott Neese from Deadliest Catch? It turns out that a lot of unsavory things happen. A while back, in 2010, Neese went on a destruction spree. Not only did he allegedly destroy his girlfriend’s television, but he also began burning her clothes … in a fireplace.
And that’s not all that happened. Neese was also slapped with a restraining order for harassing his girlfriend, who had also mothered his child. His girlfriend claimed that he had gone on bothering her for at least a month. This happened in 2012, and we can only hope Neese has calmed down.
Fishing for awards
You don’t typically hear about reality shows being nominated for Emmys, but it does happen. Deadliest Catch has been nominated for several years in the past decade, in a variety of categories. The earliest year they were nominated was 2007, earning four nominations in categories such as Outstanding Cinematography. Wow!
How many nominations and wins has the show actually won in total? The answer might surprise you. Including Season 15, Deadliest Catch has received 51 nominations and 16 wins, impressive for any series in any genre. It seems the critics like the show just as much as the general audience.
Alaskans hate it
“Hate” may be too strong a word, but the fact of the matter is that many Alaskans aren’t too happy about where the show is filmed. There are dozens of other fishing boats in Alaskan waters with crews that are trying to do their job. Deadliest Catch makes it difficult for other crews to fish in those same waters.
There are even several reports of crab scarcity in Alaskan waters, which affects the economy in turn. You can imagine that the crew is catching extra crabs in order to set up proper shots for the TV show. It’s hard to compete with fishermen backed by an entire television series.
Let’s talk about the narrator for Deadliest Catch. You know his voice? Well, you may be listening to a different narrator depending on what country you live in. The narrators aren’t actually part of the crew, but hired to make things more dramatic and give the show a little more flavor.
If you’re in the United States, you’ll be listening to Mike Row’s voice-over. The United Kingdom has Bill Petrie, and Malaysia has Nasir Bilal Khan as the narrator. The Discovery Channel obviously felt it needed to cater slightly differently to audiences depending on where they live, and it seems to be paying off.
‘Deadliest, Deadliest Catch’?
Deadliest Catch focuses on the crew’s journey to trap king crabs, but believe it or not, these aren’t the most dangerous crabs to catch. The Dungeness crab is actually the most dangerous crab to fish. This isn’t due to the crabs themselves but the locations you must go to in order to catch them.
Dungeness crabs can be caught from Alaska all the way down to California, depending on the time of the year. Waves wreck ships and people perish, the same as with fishing for king crabs. But these crabs, which can be caught beginning in winter, lead to more deaths and injuries.
Robbing the seas; robbing the bank
Joshua Tel Warner was on Deadliest Catch several years ago, but he was quickly taken off the show after being cast. Why? It turns out that Warner was a criminal before he even got on the show. He had robbed several banks in Oregon between 2007 and 2009, making him a wanted criminal.
For some reason, he thought he could get away with appearing on a massively popular TV series. He was obviously wrong, since he was quickly recognized and brought in for his crimes. He was supposed to be in jail for 30 years, but his sentence was dropped to just nine and a half.
Deadliest video game
There are a lot of television shows that have their own video games based off of them, and Deadliest Catch is no exception. The series has actually had several games based off it, on multiple platforms. The first entry was Deadliest Catch: Alaskan Storm, available on Xbox 360 and Windows PC.
The second game release was Deadliest Catch: Sea of Chaos, available on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, as well as Nintendo Wii. Those two video games were followed up with a mobile game named Deadliest Catch: Seas of Fury, and Deadliest Catch: The Game is scheduled to come out in 2019.
Sig Hansen has been on Deadliest Catch for a long time and has gone through numerous victories and difficult situations. Most of what he went through was caught on camera, even if it wasn’t aired on television. One of the most devastating things that happened wasn’t even due to the profession itself.
Hansen had been on the boat when he started having a heart attack. Fortunately for him, people were there to see it happen so they could get help. The heart attack was caught on camera in 2016. It goes to show that anything can happen on Deadliest Catch at any time.
Crabs in books
Maybe watching Deadliest Catch isn’t enough for you; you need more. Well, you’re in luck, because there are books written that go beyond what you see in the series. Deadliest Catch: Desperate Hours takes stories that happened on the boats and tells them from the perspective of different crew members, written by them.
Several individuals on the show have also written their own books and put them on the market. Some of these fishermen-turned-authors include Captain Sig Hansen, the two Hillstrand brothers, and others. It seems the cast of Deadliest Catch has a lot more talent than they may be given credit for.
Although it seems like the crew of Deadliest Catch is working nonstop, they do have time to rest in between their shifts. Fishing shifts can be as long as 20 to 30 hours, which is longer than most any other job out there. They spend a long time without any respite.
The pace of the work is intense and obviously not all of what happens can be put into each episode. After each shift, there is plenty of downtime. It’s not really shown in the series because who wants to watch a bunch of people sit around? That’s not where the action is.
Spinoff didn’t hit
As is the case with all popular movies or TV shows, networks typically want to create a spinoff in order to capitalize on the money they’re already making. Deadliest Catch is no exception to this practice. The show that materialized as a spinoff to Deadliest Catch was named Deadliest Catch: Dungeon Cove.
Unfortunately for Discovery Channel, Deadliest Catch: Dungeon Cove only went on for one season before it was canceled. The spinoff launched in 2016, receiving a lukewarm reception when it began to air on television. There was only a total of seven episodes that aired on television before its quick and painful demise.
More on filming
We already know that the camera crew for Deadliest Catch is just as hardcore as the fishing crew themselves; they actually do a lot more work than what we’ve talked about so far. There are angles that are filmed from helicopters, beside the boats, and even under the water and waves.
That’s right, some of the cameramen dive into the water to get an underwater view of the boats. You may notice these shots when you’re watching the show and not even think about the people filming. It’s a dangerous thing to do, as weather can spontaneously pick up; they’re pretty intense.
Ladies fish too
Who said that men are the only ones who get to have all the fun (and lay their lives on the line)? Captain Sig Hansen’s daughter, Mandy, actually began to fish for crabs in 2014, following her dad’s lead. It seems that even family just can’t stay away from the profession.
Mandy began her crabbing journey on the Northwestern, cementing herself as one of the capable crew. It goes to show that anyone can do any job, as long as they have the passion and motivation. Captain Hansen must have been proud of his daughter as she made this impressive step.
Calling the ‘MythBusters’
“Who you gonna call” when you need some feisty myths busted? Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, who collectively make up the MythBusters, joined in a crossover episode with Deadliest Catch. They investigated three separate myths to test their validity. Can you guess how many of the myths ended up being true?
The first was if naps would help during 30-hour shifts. The second was if it was possible to be dragged into the water by a rope, attached to a crab cage. And the last one was if crab cages (or pots) were able to withstand explosions. Only the last one was busted, while the first two had some level of truth to them.
Beware the moon
For some, catching some pictures of a full moon sends them over the … well, you get it. But for the cast of Deadliest Catch, the moon can really mess things up for their fishing. For those of you who didn’t know, the moon actually affects the tide and ocean in general.
One of the biggest fears for the Deadliest Catch crew is when the moon causes waves to increase in size and ferocity. The waves out in the ocean are already dangerous enough, so you can only imagine what happens when they intensify. Let’s just say the outcome is “not good.”