Scandals Of Your Favorite Discovery & History Channel “Reality” Shows

The Discovery Channel and the History Channel are supposed to be about just that: discovery and history, right? It seems these days all we’re really discovering are new scandals about the cast and crew of these top reality shows. The news you’re about to read usually leads to a show’s cancellation, making it impossible not to wonder why both the Discovery Channel and the History Channel seem like such a magnet for this kind of behavior.

Man Vs. Wild’s Bear Grylls Was Fired from Discovery Channel

Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel

There’s not a whole lot Bear Grylls won’t do (he even drank his own urine to survive), but he ended up getting fired from Discovery because he wouldn’t put in the work beyond his Man Vs. Wild. Apparently, Grylls was totally unwilling to participate in two of the network’s upcoming projects.

Rather than letting him stick to the show that made him famous, they decided to fire him for being unruly. Man Vs. Wild was on the air for six seasons and even featured an episode with Barack Obama before contract disputes caused the whole thing to implode.

Visitors On Counting Cars Were Not Impressed

History
History

In 2012, there was a spin-off of Pawn Stars called Counting Cars that premiered. The show revolves around the crew buying, selling, and customizing unique cars at Count’s Kustoms auto shop. Danny Koker was the car expert from Pawn Stars and evidently, his vast knowledge of vehicles landed him his own show.

As you would expect, people who are seen visiting the shop on the show seem more than happy with their visit, but some visitors don’t share the same feelings. They either complain about the sketchy location of the shop or the overpriced merchandise. People just feel underwhelmed.

No Luck No Glory

History
History

American Pickers follows Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz as they search the country in hopes of finding discarded treasures that are valuable. Fritz and Wolfe are also helped by their store manager, Danielle, as they hunt for collections and pick through junk to find what’s best. Of course, what they find is real but a lot of how they find it is left off the screen.

The way it really works is that the producers get sent collections from collectors. The producers then sort through and decide items are the best. Only then do Fritz and Wolfe examine them on the show. Their findings are far from lucky.

Pre-Selected

History
History

Pawn Stars and American Pickers are on the same network so it would make sense that they follow a similar protocol. Rick Harrison seems to have a friend for everything but when it comes to experts, he doesn’t actually find them for the show. One might assume that Harrison of Pawn Stars finds the experts that examine the artifacts but it is really the producers.

It might be news to people that the experts are brought in ahead of time, it may be news that the producers are the ones that bring in the experts and not Harrison.

Mistake Or Two By The Crew

History
History

Yet again, another Pawn Stars spin-off, American Restorations follows the team as they bring the old back to life. The results of what you see on the show are a product of long hours of work and experience. While on the show they focus on making old items look as new as they can, fans have noticed some slipups.

One example is from the episode, “Secret Fan.” A viewer took note of the wheels on the go-kart they had restored. The wheels were put on crooked causing the kart to wobble. For the huge amount they charge, it is better for people to take their antiques somewhere else.

Pawn Stars Don’t Work There

Denise Truscello/WireImage
Denise Truscello/WireImage

Pawn Stars is a show about the lives of Corey, Chumlee, The Old Man, and Rick as they closely inspect and buy any number of artifacts and old goods. Yes, they worked at their shop on a regular basis prior to the camera people being around, but that is not so true today.

Them being at the shop just gets in the way of the customers and potential sales because of the camera crew that looms around. These days, the group only goes to the shop for filming but that doesn’t happen often.

Is It Staged?

History
History

Now that we know that the findings of collections are staged for American Pickers, it is worthwhile to know what else is set up. The two main components of the show are finding collections and selling the focal points from it. When they sell, the negotiations are staged too but is that a surprise?

The seller and Mike and Frank seem to always bicker on screen but it is all an act. The target price is chosen between the producers and seller prior to the pickers meeting them.

Viewers Were Outraged When Eaten Alive Turned Out To Be Anticlimactic

Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel

Misleading advertising is a real thing, and it’s a serious offense. The Federal Trade Commission has guidelines for this very reason. When Discovery Channel aired their special Eaten Alive, in which Paul Rosolie tries to get eaten alive by a 20-foot anaconda, fans were outraged.

The network had been touting for months that this guy would actually get eaten, but after antagonizing the snake for a couple of hours, Rosolie had to be rescued by his team. Apparently, the snake swallowed his head, and he thought his arm was going to be broken. The backlash lost Discovery Channel some major credibility.

Naked and Afraid Crew Members Actually Give The Contestants Help

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Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel

Discovery’s popular survival show Naked And Afraid was met with much controversy when contestants alleged that the show was pretty much fake. In the show, a man and a woman survivalist are put in the wilderness for 21 days and forced to figure out how to survive. If the crew helps out contestants, that defeats the purpose of the whole thing.

According to the Daily Mail, the show allegedly fed a female contestant bread, rice, and baby food when she got sick after eating a turtle. She also received two separate IV drips so she wouldn’t be dehydrated. Obviously, the contestant needed the help because her life was at risk; however, The Daily Mail alleged that it was completely dishonest to not say help was provided because of her life-threatening circumstance.

A Naked and Afraid Contestant Lashed Out Over Scripted Segments

Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel

In the Season 3 finale of Naked and Afraid, Honora Bowen competed alongside Matt Struzel in Brazil. Matt completed the challenge, but Honora tapped out after suffering from heat exhaustion. Honora took to her blog to completely shatter our view of the episode. She claimed she was coerced into starting an argument with Struzel during filming in order to make it more dramatic.

She also said that producers coached her to make statements about her background and her relationship with her father that weren’t true. She didn’t tap because of heat exhaustion. She developed a bladder issue and producers wouldn’t let her leave though she asked to tap out several times. She ended up faking medical issues to get off the show.

Chumlee Has His Troubles

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Many viewers think Chumlee is the best part of Pawn Stars. Sometimes he is not as outspoken about some of the historical items but his personable, sometimes dim-witted approach to the job is what makes him one of the favorites. He may have a laid-back style but he found himself in some deep trouble in early 2016.

His house was raided by the police. Once inside, they found various narcotics and illegal firearms as well. He ended up getting three years of probation so his appearance on the show would not be interrupted.

Ann “Chickadee” Cardwell Sued Mama June For Here Comes Honey Boo Boo Money

WE TV
WE TV

Though Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was taken off the air, the family still found their way into headlines when Chickadee sued Mama June. The reality TV star sued her mother and the network for allegedly withholding $201,000 in profits from their series.

Cardwell claimed that her 2-year-old daughter Kaitlyn was also owed nearly $100,000. According to TMZ, the family was paid $22,500 per episode, which was meant to be split amongst the kids. Mama June claimed all the money was directly deposited and she never saw a dime. TLC didn’t comment.

The Legal Woes Of The Swamp People

swamp
History
History

This show is all about the everyday lives of a slew of alligator hunters living in Lousiana. Yes, that already seems a bit wild but you’d be shocked to learn many of these hunter’s lives are crazier off-screen than on. RJ, Jay Paul, Nick Payne, Chase Landry, and Randy Rivers Jr. have all had their legal battles. But the most serious offense came from Trapper Joe Lafont.

He has a domestic abuse history that spans back to 2012. His first offense came from assaulting his girlfriend in the hotel lobby. The same type of charges came in 2013 and 2015.

Are They Really Off The Grid?

History
History

Viewers of Mountain Men get to enjoy the lives of a group of individuals who seek to find simpler times prior to the comforts we enjoy today. There are a select few who choose to live their life this way but viewers feel a little shaded by the unauthentic lifestyle of the cast.

Jason Hawk has an online store while Tom and Nancy Oar have a cable subscription. These are some of the issues that make people think the cast is not as removed as they want us to believe.

Nothing Is Organic

History
History

We’ve learned about a few other staged events on some of these History Channel shows but why stop there. Another feature that isn’t as real as one would think is the encounters. It shouldn’t be that shocking that the producers set that part of the show up as well.

The majority of sellers on Pawn Stars are found and then it is arranged for both the experts and sellers to appear on camera. In doing so, Rick has ample time to learn about the item that is on its way so it is easier to be in talks with whichever expert comes in.

Fritz Doesn’t Care

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History
History

On American Pickers, it is presented to viewers in a way that makes you believe Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz are devoted to what they do. By what they do we mean, treasure hunters who have been looking for antiques for years before the show even started. We have been fooled by Fritz.

Wolfe has been collecting antiques for years since he was younger but Fritze can’t be put in that category. Fritze is more interested in the business side of things and collecting. He doesn’t get nearly as excited as his partner does when they get new finds.

Questionable Views

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History
History

This is Danny Koker of Counting Cars. Koker isn’t afraid to share his political views outside of the shop. When he was interviewed by The Morning Show, he went in on the topic of hybrid and low-emission cars. He said that they were practically futile, and also discussed his political views.

His track record is now a bit questionable. The network doesn’t want Counting Cars to be a platform for Koker to discuss politics but it seems like he does not care if his views are publicized.

Poor Buying Selections

History
History

One thing that many people who watch the show enjoy a lot is the price negotiation segments. Even though many don’t know that they are staged, they are amused by the interactions between the staff and customer. The majority of the time, the staff come out on top during the deals but there were times when the cast made some bonehead purchases.

The cast has been open about some of their bad purchases. For example, Corey buying stolen Rolex watches or when the Old Man bought cubic zirconias. Some of these faulty purchases cost them up to $10,000 dollars, like the fake Willie Mays uniform.

Little Faith In Street Outlaws

Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel

Justin “Big Chief” Shearer of Street Outlaws told people a huge secret. The secret was that no one had faith in the show being a success. Shearer said that it started with smaller media companies filming races and then it all grew from there.

Not even the producers thought that the show would surpass the first season. Because of that mindset, they chose to not hold back while filming season one. The network was impressed so they gave them 10 full seasons.

Threatened Off Camera

moonshiners
Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel

Moonshiners revolves around the cast making moonshine illegally. Millions of viewers tune in for this docudrama-style show. From time to time, some of the cast members on the show are stopped by police while the cameras are going. They are often always able to walk or drive away but it makes for good TV tension.

Sometimes, they aren’t all caught on camera. Tim Smith admitted that law enforcement tried to ask him about the show one time at his home. He said he kept his cool and invited them to come in and have some dinner.

Close To Lost

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Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel

Appearing on Street Outlaws as a racer can boost your stock tremendously. You are almost guaranteed to gain fans. Sadly, you also put yourself at risk to lose your license if you appear on this show. The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) threatened drivers in 2015 to take their racing license if they appear on the show.

Drivers backlashed at this decision but the NHRA stood by their statements. They said they wanted to stop licensed drivers from openly promoting illegal and hazardous activity. They also stated that they hoped drivers would do the right thing.

It Could Be A Sting

Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel

Some things are too good to be true. A television show about illegal street racing of high-end cars is one of them. And Joe Woods thought the same thing. Since no one thought the show would succeed at first, what was the point of filming it anyway? According to Woods, he thought the network was a secret spy operation.

He said he didn’t trust the producers of the show one bit when they first started filming. He took it as far as to say they were an undercover sting. Would you have thought the same thing?

Virginia Called B.S. On The Moonshiners

moonshiners-2
Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel

The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control had already reported they were misled about the nature of the show but they didn’t stop there. Virginia also came out and threw dirt all over Discovery for airing a false show so they say. Viewers kept asking why the state was letting a crime take place, Virginia came out and said they weren’t actually showing illegal moonshine.

The cast members continued to preach the opposite. They say the state is just mad they haven’t been able to catch them in the act of producing the illegal moonshine.

Discovery Channel Got Flak For A Fake Shark Week Documentary

Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel

In 2013, The Discovery Channel got some major flak when they aired a fake documentary to launch Shark Week. The documentary titled “Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives” was about a 70-foot prehistoric shark that somehow was found to be still alive.

Megalodons are thought to have existed between one and two million years ago, and though the documentary was obviously a ruse, people took to the Internet to complain about the hoax. A whopping 4.8 million users tuned in to the show and the special was the highest-rated telecast in Shark Week’s 26-year history (so we’re guessing that Discovery doesn’t care one bit).

Should The Discovery Channel Find a Better Way to Vet Their Reality Stars?

Chumlee-Vegas
Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images for Murray The Magician
Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images for Murray The Magician

With so many of The Discovery Channel’s reality stars caught up in scandals, it makes you wonder how they vet the people they choose to work with. Sure, every reality star comes with their own (expected) drama, but employing people with these kinds of track records is a different story.

It only makes matters worse when you consider just how much these reality stars make. According to Business Insider, reality stars’ salaries are varied, but some of the most popular can earn up to $10 million a season.

The Mythbusters Made An Explosive Mistake

Entertainment Weekly's Comic-Con Celebration - Arrivals
Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images
Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Anyone who has ever watched an episode of Mythbusters knows how much Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage love to blow stuff up. If an episode doesn’t include something blowing up, then it should just never be aired.

In all cases, these explosions happen under controlled conditions. All conditions except that one time the charge went off too close to a woman’s house in California, shattering her window and shaking her couch.

Naked And Afraid Faced Harsh Criticism

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Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel

Naked and Afraid has had quite a controversial run since it debuted. Along with the behind-the-scenes moments you already learned about, there was also pressure from outside organizations to get the show canceled.

One Million Moms began a petition in 2013 to get the show canceled almost immediately after the series premiered. On their website, the organization wrote “Discovery should be ashamed to air nudity and then call it entertainment.”

Mythbusters Got Busted

Discovery Communications TCA Winter 2015
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Discovery Communications
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Discovery Communications

In 2007, the stars of Mythbusters thought that it would be a good idea to make an episode about RFID, radiofrequency enabled credit cards, and how hackers steal your information. When advertisers such as American Express became concerned, Discovery pulled the idea off the table.

After the dust settled, the team was eventually able to air an episode about a similar topic, but it still wasn’t exactly what they had originally planned.

Certain Man Vs. Wild Elements Are Faked

Celebrities Visit Build - March 28, 2019
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Almost as soon as it debuted, Man vs. Wild became one of Discovery Channel’s most popular shows. People couldn’t get enough of learning survival techniques from Bear Grylls. The wheels fell off the carriage, though, when a crew member revealed the truth to the Sunday Times.

It turned out that certain elements from the first season of the show weren’t as authentic as they appeared. For instance, on some nights Grylls would sleep in a hotel instead of the wild. A raft in one episode was also pre-assembled to make sure it would work before being taken apart so the host could build it on camera.

Jesse James Was Full Of Bad Exhaust

Book Signing for
Albert L. Ortega/WireImage
Albert L. Ortega/WireImage

Jesse James made a name for himself building custom motorcycles for wealthy clients on the show Monster Garage. Unfortunately, James wasn’t much different than his namesake and appeared to cut corners to maximize profits where he could.

James’ custom-built hogs would regularly generate ten times the legal amounts of hydrocarbons allowed in California. For his failure to comply with state laws, he was given a fine of $270,000, which we’re guessing he could easily afford considering his popularity.

The Mythbusters Cannonball That Couldn’t Be Stopped

President Obama Hosts White House Science Fair
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Another embarrassing mistake by Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman happened near the town of Dublin in Alameda County, California. They planned to launch a cannonball, which was supposed to hit some water barrels and slow it down.

Unpredictably, the cannonball missed the barrels completely and went straight on a collision course through someone’s house and car. Luckily no one was hurt during the incident and the Discovery Channel was able to work with insurance companies to take care of the damage.

Bear Grylls Vs. A Real “Bear”

Launch Of 'Journey Of Discovery' Expedition From Birmingham to Beijing
Tony Woolliscroft/Getty Images
Tony Woolliscroft/Getty Images

In Man vs. Wild, Bear Grylls goes up against some death-defying odds. In one episode, it was night, and he thought he was being stalked by a dark shadowy animal — most likely a bear.

A set photo from behind the scenes later revealed the “bear” was more likely a crew member dress in a bear costume. The unfortunate photo leaking to the press didn’t do much to help repair the show’s already questionable reputation.

Street Outlaws Might Not Be Doing Anything Illegal

street outlaws
Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel

While the NHRA might not approve of its possible drivers taking their careers in their own hands-on Street Outlaws, the truth is there isn’t anything illegal about the show.

The street races depicted take place in public, in wide open and well-lit areas. Lots of crew are around, as well as spectators. Do you think the Discovery Channel would really put so many people at risk of being put in jail for your entertainment?

Jeremy Wade Does More Than Catch Scary Fish

Discovery Upfront 2018 - NYC
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Discovery
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Discovery

River Monsters made a surprise star out of extreme fisherman Jeremy Wade when it first aired on the Discovery Channel sister network Animal Planet. And while the kinds of fish he catches might be controversial, this upcoming story is more sensational.

The crew was shooting when they spotted a boater who had his vessel capsized. They put filming aside to save this man’s life, who was quickly losing his battle with the water. The moment never made it into the show, but it did make headlines nationwide.

The Swamp People Can’t Stay Out Of Trouble

Time Warner Cable Media
Rob Kim/FilmMagic
Rob Kim/FilmMagic

When documenting the lives of professional alligator trappers, it’s only safe to assume the cast would be full of colorful characters. We’ve already revealed some of the legal drama of the stars, but that’s not all of it.

One story we haven’t covered is when Paul Molinere attacked another man with a broken bottle and was arrested. Roger Rivers Jr. was also caught and punished by law enforcement for selling illegal meat.

Audiences Were Fooled By Bigfoot Captured

bigfoot_tracks
History Channel
History Channel

Audiences couldn’t have been more thrilled when History Channel announced Bigfoot Captured. The feature-length documentary promised to show proof that sasquatches are real, even culminating in the capture of one for science.

Anyone who stuck around for the credits was shocked to see a disclaimer admitting the entire documentary was faked. Fans were furious that History Channel hid the truth just to sucker viewers in for event ratings that would not have been achieved otherwise.

History Channel Did Not Solve The Disappearance Of Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart in Airplane Cockpit
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

The History Channel should have done its research before airing Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence. The documentary claimed to have solved the mystery of the disappearance of the fabled female pilot.

What actually happened was minutes after the broadcast was over, a blogger online debunked the network’s key piece of evidence. The photo that was presented as proof Earhart was still alive was revealed to have been taken two years before she went missing.

The Curse Of Oak Island Faked Documents

Oak Island Archive
Bill Tompkins/Getty Images
Bill Tompkins/Getty Images

Everyone wants to know the truth about The Curse of Oak Island. The show follows two brothers who are obsessed with unraveling the mystery. But, just how mysterious is it, really?

It’s not always mysterious enough, according to people with behind the scenes knowledge. Looking to make sure there is enough footage for episodes, producers have faked documents that have been featured on the show. That’s not very honest now, is it?

Alone Isn’t Very Isolated

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History Channel
History Channel

Alone was kind of like History Channel’s version of Naked and Afraid. The show took willing participants and abandoned them in far-away locations where they were forced to find ways to survive.

The problem was fans quickly figured out that contestants weren’t really “alone.” Aside from the obvious concept of a camera crew, locations chosen by producers were recognizable by eagle-eyed viewers. Many were located close to nearby towns and had several trails connected to them that would lead the way to safety.