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Deadliest Catch is a long-running (in its 8th season and counting) Reality TV show on The Discovery Channel that follows crews of fishermen during their two seasons on the rough Bering Sea seeking a valuable commodity -- the enormous red king crab around October, and the opilio or snow crab around January. It is repeatedly stated that this is the "deadliest job in the world", and tragedy does occur, such as the sinking of other ships, as well as serious injuries and near-fatal accidents on the featured boats. The opilio season is particularly dangerous due to weather concerns. The show debuted in April, 2005 and is still ongoing.
The show currently revolves around six main boats:
- Captain: Sig Hansen (co-owner)
- Prominent crew: Edgar Hansen (co-owner/deck boss, Sig's younger brother), Jake Anderson (apprentice deck boss), Nick Mavar Jr. (Jake Anderson's uncle), Jake Harris (deckhand)
- Captain: Keith Colburn (owner)
- Prominent crew: Monte Colburn (relief captain/deckhand/Keith's brother), Gary Soper (1st Mate), Lynn Guitard (deckhand), Freddy Maughtai (deckhand), Lenny Lekanoff (deckhand)
- Time Bandit
- Captains: Johnathan and Andy Hillstrand (co-owners)
- Prominent crew: Neal Hillstrand (co-owner/deck boss, John and Andy's brother), Mike Fourtner (deckhand), Eddie Uwekoolani Jr. (deckhand), Scotty Hillstrand (deckhand, John's son), Josh Harris (deckhand)
- Captain: "Wild Bill" Wichrowski
- Prominent crew: Zach Larson (deckhand, Bill's son), Jason Rainwater (deckhand), Nick Morrow (deckhand)
- Ramblin' Rose
- Captain: Elliot Neese
- Prominent crew: Aaron Steiner (engineer), Tim "Cat" Lovins (deckhand)
- Captain: Scott Campbell Jr.
- Prominent crew: Chris "Whip" Welch (deckhand, Junior's brother), Mac White (deckhand), Derek Haist (deckhand), Kevin "Kado" Davis (deckhand)
Other boats have been prominently featured, but not as much as the previous: Harry Lewis's Incentive; Wade Henley's Lisa Marie; Wayne Baker's Trailblazer; Larry Hendricks' Sea Star (Hendricks' crew retired, and now he captains a chase boat) and Jeff Weeks's Billikin among others.
Due to a combination of extreme situations, smartass crewmen and genuine emotion (and a need to unclutter this page), there is enough material for the show to have separate Crowning Moment pages for each of these: Awesome, Funny and Heartwarming.
In September 2010, John and Andy Hillstrand of the Time Bandit became embroiled in a $3 million dollar breach-of-contract lawsuit with The Discovery Channel over what Discovery executives claimed was the Hillstrand's refusal to complete work on an off-season show called Hillstranded. The Hillstrands and Northwestern captain Sig Hansen released a joint statement saying that "given the current situation with Discovery", they are "unable to continue participating in Deadliest Catch," with Hansen further saying that "the captains stand together, and me and my brothers support them 100 percent." Fortunately, as of October 10, 2010 the Hillstrands and Discovery have reached a settlement and all three captains have returned to the show. From here: "We're happy we worked everything out with Discovery," the trio said in a statement. "A deal's a deal. We're heading up to Dutch Harbor to start filming the new season of Deadliest Catch and hopefully it will be the best one yet."
In the 8th season (2012) Jake and Josh Harris are no longer on the Cornelia Marie but instead working as deckhands on, respectively, the Northwestern and the Time Bandit. According to the season premiere, the brothers didn't make enough money to finance another trip, with owner Cornelia Devlin instead having the boat fish as a trawler, again under captain Tony Lara.
This series provides examples of the following:
- Aerosol Flamethrower: Edgar Hansen loves these.
- Affectionate Nickname: Keith often calls his brother Monte "Mouse".
- Aint No Rule: Neese justifies setting his pots on top of Jr's (basically cheating since Jr found the spot first) because you can't claim territory in the ocean.
- Aloof Older Brother:
- Josh Harris (the one with facial hair), although he's just quieter compared to his Shia Labouf-expy of a younger brother Jake, who gives him endless grief about his (Jake's) technical seniority.
- Edgar Hansen is growing to see Sig as this.
- Ambition Is Evil: Mike Fourtner got touched with this in season 6, getting a big head about the Capts. Hillstrand choosing him as a potential captain; see Took a Level In Jerkass.
- Anyone Can Die: Several boats have sunk with many lives lost during the show's run. Ironically Capt. Phil (and recently a fairly young newcomer to the series) died while safely on land.
- And You Were There: Inverted Trope. In the 2010 season finale, Sig mentions he had an unnervingly vivid dream where he was at Phil's house looking all over for him but he wasn't there, for obvious reasons.
- Ascended Extra: Phil first appeared briefly around the middle of season 1, when a ship went down and he aided in the search. He became a regular in Season 2.
- Awesome But (nearly) Impractical: Phil's burial at sea had about a half-dozen boats within as many feet from each other plus fireworks and automatic rifles. Capt. Keith later said he was mystified that the ocean was so calm and that nothing horrible happened.
- Badass Grandpa:
- Captain Jonathan Hillstrand of the Time Bandit. His son, Scott, is a deckhand with a toddler back home.
- Phil's dad is pretty bad ass, considering he and his crew survived a storm that knocked out all their power and they had to get back to port with no navigation and learned that everyone (including Phil, who was in the hospital) thought they were dead. He's still alive, too.
- Badass Normal: The captains and crews, in a nutshell. Rodeo cowboys, firefighters, even Navy SEALs have all been unable to handle for more than a single season (in some cases, even a single day) the strain that fishermen who smoke too much, sleep too little, and don't eat well deal with year after year.
- Big Brother Is Listening: All the miked crewmembers' audio can be heard by the captains.
- Big Eater:
- Since the work can go for hours and hours, meals are few and far between so carbo-loading is mandatory.
- In New Orleans, Mike Fourtner beat everyone in a oyster-eating contest by eating 25 in, like, half a minute.
- Big Fancy House:
- Edger Hansen has a very nice house, or at least one with a luxurious kitchen.
- Phil had lived in BFHs but liked his two trailers the best, which sounds like a bit of a comedown until you find out it has a big HDTV, gold plated kitchen fixtures, marble counter tops, and maid service.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: To a certain extent, the boats' crews. The captains for the most part act like tyrants (though in their defense, they have to), the crews' moods swing up and down depending on how the weather and fishing is going, and of course human nature dictates that any group of people who have to live in close quarters around the clock will get on each others' nerves very quickly.
- In Season 7, the Cornelia Marie was the best (worst?) example, as red crab season captain Derrick Ray's style of running the boat broke the crew. He got on Jake's bad side by constantly accusing Jake of doing drugs on the boat (which, admittedly, it wasn't proved that he didn't); he got on both Josh and Jake's bad side by talking shit repeatedly about Phil for not teaching Josh and Jake everything they needed to know; he got on the rest of the crew's bad side for not being able to find any crab; they caught just enough to pay for their supplies but not any crew salaries; and Mark and Freddy quit, though for different reasons (Mark because he was burned out, Freddy because loyalty to Phil had kept him around for less money but he needed a raise).
- Bittersweet Ending: Most definitely the 2010 season finale: All the boats (even Bill's) have successful seasons, various disputes are settled, and Jake Harris enters rehab, but Phil is gone.
- Blond Guys Are Evil: Captain Sig.
- Bottle Episode: After The Catch, a yearly special during which the captains (and some of the other fishers and crew and other guests) meet in a pub to trade stories and talk about the show. Usually hosted by Rowe, but season 3 was hosted by Cash Cab's Ben Bailey.
- Bound and Gagged: To get back at Josh Harris for winning the crab bet and then bragging about it, the rest of the desk hands duct taped him to a ladder, and taped over his mouth.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall:
- In one episode, Captain Keith got into a shouting match with a rookie cameraman that resulted in Keith shoving said cameraman down a hallway and then confining him to his quarters, which Keith later explained as being for the cameraman's safety so things didn't escalate further.
- Johnathan on the Time Bandit threatened to "get rid of these cameras" when Mike Fourtner was griping to them about a disagreement with the Hillstrands instead of shutting up and getting back to work.
- Break the Cutie: Greenhorns, especially if they're the captain's own family. Subverted with Jake on the Northwestern, who managed to earn Capt. Sig's respect in his first season and only started acting up in his second.
- Bring My Brown Pants: "Wild Bill" recalled the time he literally scared the shit out of one of his crew by throwing him against the pots to break up a fight.
Crewman: You scared the shit out of him!
- Call Back:
- To the lucky walruses:
Monte (Capt. Keith's brother): There's a bull sea lion! Is it lucky?
- Aboard the Time Bandit, Josh Harris used his father's method of sniffing out crab farts to set a string of five pots during a competition between the deck hands to see who could catch the most crab. He won the bet.
- Camera Abuse:
- They have something like 20-30 cameras per boat, and killing practically all of them during a season is normal.
- Also cameraman abuse by the elements...and the fishermen (more so in the beginning. See also Breaking The Fourth Wall above).
- Captain Existence Failure: Captain Phil Harris of the Cornelia Marie suffered a stroke on January 29th, 2010, and passed away 11 days later on February 9. The boat was captained by someone else to finish out the season's taping, but Jake, Josh, and the rest of the Cornelia Marie crew's involvement in both fishing and the show was, for a time, up in the air. In Phil's episode of "After The Catch" Josh said that although Phil left them his part-ownership of the boat, they were going to take at least one season off to give it a major refurbishing after they scattered Phil's ashes at the start of the next king crab season. In the end, though, they went back to fishing that very next season.
- Canon Immigrant: It sure seems that way when someone moves to another boat.
- Catch Phrase: Freddy Maughtai of the Cornelia Marie: "BEST ____ EVER!!!"
- Clip Show
- Cluster F-Bomb: Dozens of bleepable words per episode.
- Coast Guard: Quite prominently featured as the heroes they truly are; naturally they get a special thank-you in New Orleans.
- Coast Guard Nettles (AKA "Noodles") astonishes the captains by relating that he and his crew came from disparate parts of the country and fit together right off the bat thanks to rigorous training and that they now train to rescue people from buildings with chainsaws.
- Featured prominently when greenhorn Chris has to be airlifted off of the Wizard after suffering a massive seizure-like episode.
- Cool Boat:
- Of them all, the Time Bandit is probably closest -- it has luxuries like a sauna, queen-size beds, a dishwasher, and even sports a Jolly Roger on the prow. She's definitely the "fun boat", according to her captains.
- The Northwestern is specifically built for crabbing and is also one of the largest ships. Conversely the tiny Lisa Marie barely looks like it should be out there, and yet it gets the job done.
- The Wizard is not only the largest vessel shown in the show (156 feet in length) but the oldest. It was built as an oiler for the US Navy during World War II.
- Cool Old Guy / The Stoic: The captains.
- Crossover: One of the Northwestern deckhands got a tattoo on L.A. Ink in honor of his father; the captains appeared on The Martha Stewart Show (!) to cook crab; the Time Bandit appeared on the mini series Bristol Bay Brawl (about herring fishing in Alaska's Bristol Bay); Andy Hillstrand, Josh Harris and the Hansen brothers appeared on Cash Cab; the Hillstrands appeared on American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior, and Sig is campaigning to be on Dancing With the Stars, which explains his fancy footwork in New Orleans; Sig provides the voice of Crabby, which is a cartoon version of the Northwestern in Pixar's Cars 2.
- Dead Sibling:
- Chelsea Dawn Anderson
- Jeff Nes, Davin Nes's dead little brother, who fell to his death off the Sea Warrior's stack.
- Determinator: THESE. GUYS. ARE. TOUGH.
- Disappeared Dad: For months at a time, and a few of the captains have been divorced several times over. It's so bad that at least one man decided not to join the family business despite being good at it for the sake of his newborn son. Just two years later his worst fears are confirmed: his dog ran away, his wife left him and is now suing him for custody of their son, and he's still going out to sea. Jake Anderson's father really did disappear; his truck was found, but he's still missing.
- Disproportionate Retribution / Escalating War: The captains and crews love pulling pranks on each other.
- Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: In one episode, Cornelia Marie deckhand Mark Anderson seems to try to get the entire deck crew washed overboard.
Mark: Is that all you've got?
- Downer Ending: "F***, we lost Dad, dude..."
- Dysfunction Junction: You've got a ship full of very tough men on a job where death or serious injury is a daily hazard, as well as being constantly exhausted from the work, while being away from their families for months at a time, half of it in the worst weather imaginable. It gets worse when the fishing is rotten, which kills morale and makes everyone even more stir-crazy. The captains often don't help things, either by driving the crews to work in really bad conditions or general jerkishness, and sometimes both.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Not quite in the spirit of the trope, but they really do earn their money.
- Embarrassing Name: Say hello to the almighty Sigurd Jonny (pronounced "Yonny") Hansen everybody!
- Empathic Environment:
- Around the time of Phil's death, a massive storm struck the Bering Sea. Afterward, the sea went eerily calm...and stayed that way for days, almost as if it were in mourning. Commented on by the captains, both in the show itself and in After the Catch.
- Get complacent and turn your back to the ocean, get smacked by a wave. Keith was particularly unnerved going shellfish picking in Hawaii since it's nothing but turning your back to the ocean (sure enough a wave hit him so hard he almost fell face-first into a rock; fortunately his facemask protected him).
- End of an Age:
- Season 1 ended on an awfully bittersweet note. On the one hand two of the ships hit records; on the other hand six had died, and it was the final season for Derby style fishing. While safer, the Quota system would make it harder for the crews to make money, as well putting a lot of crews out of work. This change has caused a number of tough captains to shed Manly Tears.
- The future of the Cornelia Marie and her crew is very much in doubt after they all quit in the middle of king crab season.
- After 22 years working the deck on the Northwestern, Edgar Hansen quits before Season 7, Opilio. He decided to return two episodes later, but had a special request for Opies: he wanted to run the ship, to his brother's surprise.
- Equivalent Exchange: Season 8's red crab season was so great for the Time Bandit that they made a game out of their last string (each deck hand sets five pots and whoever catches the most wins money Josh Harris won). Opilio season started with Travis falling into the water (at the dock, thankfully) and later an attempt to de-ice the boat faster with fireworks wound up busting their coiler.
- Escalating War: Prank the Hillstrands at your own peril; they will get you back.
- Captain Sig and the Northwestern tried this after the Hillstrands freaked out Sig by launching 40 Chinese lanterns from upwind. At the end of opilio season, Sig and crew intercepted the Time Bandit on the way back home and launched a massive cache of fireworks at them. Of course, Time Bandit had their own supply of fireworks aboard, so they returned fire. Much fun was had by all.
- And it's not over yet: the crew of the Northwestern declared war on the Time Bandit at the beginning of 2011's king crab season by sneaking aboard the Time Bandit while the crew was asleep and inflating a life raft in the middle of the crew's kitchen/living area. Then Jake Harris threw a bucketful of flour into his brother Josh's face when he came up to the wheelhouse to investigate.
- Captain Sig and the Northwestern tried this after the Hillstrands freaked out Sig by launching 40 Chinese lanterns from upwind. At the end of opilio season, Sig and crew intercepted the Time Bandit on the way back home and launched a massive cache of fireworks at them. Of course, Time Bandit had their own supply of fireworks aboard, so they returned fire. Much fun was had by all.
- Everybody Smokes: It's not healthy, but nothing about this job is healthy.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: Thousand-pound crab pots swing from cranes like giant piñatas (Insert "Soviet Russia" joke here). The water is so cold that, without a survival suit, you will die of hypothermia before you have a chance to drown. Ice floes in the water can smash through the hull of the boat. Ice can build up on the superstructure until it either breaks and falls on you, or gets so heavy it capsizes the boat. The ropes attached to the pots can wrap around your leg, dragging you overboard and down to the bottom. Giant waves break over the side of the boat, tossing you and your equipment around like so many bathtub toys. You get a lot of second-hand smoke from all the cigarettes.
- Sometimes with almost supernatural instigation: On the Time Bandit in Season 7, a line snaps and encircles two crewmen in the space of two or three seconds; had they not jumped out of the way they would have been dragged over a second later by the weight of the crab pot.
- It's been said that crab fishing has a 100% injury rate; it's not if you'll get hurt, but when and how bad.
- One of the factoids on "Social Reload" was that in the bad old days an average of 37 fishermen died each year.
- Everything's Squishier with Cephalopods: An octopus comes up inside one of the "Time Bandit's" crab pots and freaks Andy out as it crawls across the deck because A) octopuses are creepy and B) they eat crab and scare them away.
- Evil Overlord: Aboard ship, the captain is God, and you'd better not forget it.
- Evolving Credits:
- The show's credits change to reflect the boats that are featured most prominently.
- The credits for the sixth season featured the Cornelia Marie's crew first, and also featured a group shot of the captains which zooms in on Phil's eye as a scene transition.
- The credits for the seventh and eighth season feature an image of Phil from behind a window, almost like an apparition. Likely intentional, reflecting his current status; the lyric playing over this is "where the faces are so cold", and the image fades to the faces of his sons Josh and Jake.
- Fandom: The captains are a bit perplexed that not only are they recognized as stars, but they even have their own convention, CatchCon.
- Fan Nickname: "Sucker Punch Hillstrand!" - Keith's off-the-cuff insult to John Hillstrand. See Rant-Inducing Slight, below--it's not clear whether Keith was reacting to the comment about "killing his brother", being shoved into a pile of scrap, or both.
- First Name Ultimatum / Full Name Ultimatum: Capt. Phil referred to his sons as Joshua and Jacob when he was especially annoyed.
- The Fishing Addict: Fishing is referred to as a dangerous addiction by the fishermen themselves, who are very aware of problems such a hazardous job (and subsequent rush of money, if you're good at it) can cause. Additionally: "It's called 'fishing', not catching."
- Phil seemed to be going through withdrawal symptoms in a story where the fishermen were on strike and he was constantly pacing at meetings and muttering "We have to get out there, we have to get out there!"
- Foils: The Hillstrand brothers, who clearly love each others company (most of the time) vs. practically all the other brothers on the show. Edgar was once surprised to see the two actually hugging, and when Sig hugged him he actually turned bright red.
- Follow the Leader: Swords, Lobstermen, Whale Wars...
- Even the BBC got in on the act, with the rather more prosaically-titled Trawlermen.
- Footnote Fever: The "Social Reload" of the season 8 premier, which was basically Pop Up Video meets Twitter. The next version had a few of the captains' twitters (plus a then-spoiler about Jr. winning the bet and using the $1000 to pay for his engine).
- Foregone Conclusion: Capt. Phil's death at end of opie season was, of course, known for months before the episodes aired.
- Foreshadowing: Alas poor Phil...damn gratuitous raven.
- Frivolous Lawsuit: Well, maybe not all that frivolous...it was feared it might even prevent the Hillstrands from being in the next season. Fortunately, the lawsuit was settled, and the Time Bandit returned the following season.
- Functional Addict: And not just to fishing. Probably the Dark Secret of this and other The Real Heroes-style reality shows.
- Funny Foreigner:
- It's kind of jarring to hear Sig speaking Norwegian.
- Played straighter: one of the older crewmembers of the Lisa Marie is Polish, and needs subtitles even when speaking English.
- Freddy Maughtai, a Samoan, sometimes has to be subtitled when speaking English as well.
- Genre Savvy: The somewhat superstitious nature of the fishermen, combined with clever editing and Tempting Fate, can make some of them seem positively prophetic.
- Gentle Giant / Hidden Depths: Phil loved making elaborate bird houses, complete with bird furniture, bird stairs, bird bonsai and bird bathrooms. He also had an adorably tiny dog and an obsession with Meerkat Manor.
- George Jetson Job Security: Averted, despite how close-knit some of the crew can become. In the end, fishing, especially high-dollar fishing like crabbing, is about bringing money home, and if you jeopardize that, you're gone.
- One episode featured Bill Wichrowski firing one of his crew for being an all-around jackass. This was in the middle of opi season, so said crewmember wouldn't get his full percentage of the season's money, either.
- Played straight with Lenny, one of the crew members on the Wizard. He mentioned in the "Best of Season 7" special that Captain Keith has fired him twice, and yet he was on the boat all throughout Season 7, so Keith must be changing his mind on those firings.
- At the end of the 2011 king crab season, Keith fired Brady, the greenhorn who'd hired on at the same time as Chris, for laziness, constantly whining, and basically being dead weight. Brady left the boat almost as soon as it was at the dock, and Keith had the rest of the crew applaud him as he walked away.
- Giant Wall of Watery Doom: Huge waves and swells are a constant hazard to boats and crews alike. In season 2, the Aleutian Ballad was slammed onto her side by a rogue wave that had to be at least 50 feet tall. A wave hitting the Wizard during 2009's opie season while crew were on the pot stacks led to broken ribs and awful bruising, as well as other injuries.
"BIG,BIG,BIG,BIG,BIG,BIG,BIG"...KERSPLAAAASH!!!! "GET THE F@#K DOWN"...KERSPLAAAASH!!!!
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: Norman Hansen, engineer and third co-owner of the Northwestern, hates being filmed and avoids the cameras whenever he can. Additionally, he refuses to talk to the cameramen, so by the second season, they'd given up and stopped even trying to film him, to his relief.
- Also the observers who work on the boats. They're not allowed to be filmed by the camera crew while they're working even though they have to be on the boats to collect data for Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game.
- Citizens of Dutch Harbor & St. Paul who aren't part of one of the crab boat crews will occasionally have their faces blurred out as well. An example of this was when the Alaska State Trooper tailed Josh Harris to the airport in season 7; other passengers in the terminal had their faces blurred.
- Even extends to ships on occasion; non-featured vessels will sometimes have their names blurred, or bleeped when spoken.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Mike Rowe, man of a thousand talents, narrates the show.
- Hollywood Voodoo: While they're in New Orleans, the formerly battling captains of the Wizard and the Time Bandit are sent to find a voodoo shop to spiritually patch things up. The Time Bandit captain is very uncertain of this since he's only heard of the evil Hollywood version, but after seeing a picture of Jesus in the shop he figures they can't be too bad ("I only need to listen to The Big Guy -- and His Kid").
- Hope Spot: John Hilstrand sends out encouraging news that Phil is recovering beautifully from his massive stroke, to the other captains' joy. Unfortunately...
- Bill Wicherowski finally lands on great fishing seemingly for the first time all opie season, but it's thwarted by poorly secured pots that caused all the crab to escape. A cameraman who was too sick to shoot the filled pots didn't help either (to quote the producer, "G-BLEEPBLEEP-ing m-BLEEPBLEEPBLEEPBLEEPBLEEP").
- Hula and Luaus: The 2011 After The Catch series is in Hawaii. Additionally, the closing music of the preceding episode sounded like a Hawaiian-language choir -- perfect background music for attacking a "cathedral of ice".
- Important Haircut: The crew of the Cornelia Marie (excluding Phil) will give each other Mohawks to "appease the Crab God(s)" when the catch is poor. This has happened twice, and both times it worked. Phil did shave his beard once, just for good measure, as he was stuck in the harbor and needed some luck. The tradition seems to have carried over to the Wizard with Freddie and hasn't lost any of its effectiveness.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: CRABALANCHE!
- Injury Tropes: The injury rate for crab fishermen is pretty much 100%. Excluding gunshot and arrow wounds (so far -- there was bow-fishing in New Orleans), it's rare when someone is not injured (The Wizards captain getting cracked on the head by the boat, the Cornelia Maries captain suffering from a pulmonary embolism, which should've killed him), nearly injured (multiple near-fatal-misses involving chunks of ice, giant waves, swinging/loose steel crab pots, loops of rope, slippery decks and open hatches...), or just nearly out-of-his-mind tired.
- It Got Worse: Generally, the weather during opie season, which seems to get worse each year.
- "Wild Bill"'s return to crab fishing was so bad that three of his crew (including his own son) quit after king season; opie season brought crewmen who apparently couldn't count and poorly-closed pots that wasted a very fertile spot. On top of that he was 0-for-10 when he and Andy went crawdad fishing in New Orleans. That, at least, was a prank - they put all of Bill's crawdads into Andy's traps.
- Phil's last few seasons have been like this: first he broke a/several rib/s when a rogue wave hit the boat, which dislodged a blood clot that could've killed him, and when he returned his boat kept breaking down. More recently he had horrible pain that caused him to stop fishing, which in turn led to the discovery that his son was stealing his pain killers. He then had a stroke when they got back to shore, was put into a coma, emerged from the coma, then passed away. And then the next season every single thing went to hell without him.
- Season 8 started with the red crab quota being sliced in half and the reveal that the Harrises couldn't keep the "Cornelia Marie" and split up to work on the "Northwestern" (Jake) and "Time Bandit" (Josh), respectively.
- It's Personal / You Insulted My Father: The Harris brothers put up with a replacement captain who wasn't a good match for the crew until he insulted their father and his way of doing things, then everything went to hell.
- It's Quiet... Too Quiet:
- Calm weather, especially several days of it in a row, is never a good sign.
- If the soundtrack suddenly goes quiet after several full pots are hauled up it's usually a bad sign.
- Captain Keith comes off as this in the Greenhorn Special, saying something along the lines of "There's not much entertainment on a crab boat, so we're going to have some fun at a greenhorn's expense" while talking about the Wizard's reputation for being particularly hard on greenhorns.
- Derrick Ray, the guy hired to captain the Cornelia Marie for the 2010 king crab season, comes across this way; constantly insulting and belittling the crew and making constant references to Jake Harris' past drug problems, even calling the cops on him (no solid evidence is found and Jake refuses a drug test, citing harassment). Josh and Derrick get into a shouting match and nearly get into a fight over the debacle later on during the After the Catch special.
- "Wild Bill" Wichrowski will belittle his crew the instant they screw up, especially his son. That being said, his crews haven't exactly been quality hands, but still...
- Elliot Neese will also snap at his crew over small things, frequently comes off as petulant and snotty, and has a tendency to abuse the beeper that lets the crew know a wave's coming. Also, see Laser-Guided Karma below.
- Jerkass Has a Point: While Derrick Ray did not come across as the best (or nicest) of captains, and he certainly was not loved by his crew, he did discover drug paraphernalia in the engine room (as documented on camera), so his prior suspicion that Jake (or at least someone in the crew) was using marijuana was almost certainly correct.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Sig Hansen. When his wife was interviewed for the Bottle Episode she says he's very sweet when he's home with her and their daughters. He's also heartwarmingly kind to Jake, although he doesn't skimp on the abuse when Jake screws up.
- Jittercam: In addition to the usual abuse, the 2010 season premiere featured cameraphone footage of crewmen from one boat rescuing all four men from another, rapidly sinking boat, and again when another man had to be rescued after suffering from a heart attack. Cameras are also attached to hooks, pots, booms and helmets.
- Keeping Secrets Sucks: Phil requesting his producer/cameraman keep quiet about his broken ribs and coughing up blood so the crew (especially his sons) wouldn't be distracted. Turns out it was in fact a pulmonary embolism that Phil was lucky to have survived; he could have dropped dead right then and there and no one would have known.
- Laser-Guided Karma:
- A deckhand falls off the stack on a nearby boat. The crew of the Time Bandit fishes him out of the water. The rest of their King Crab season is a record setter.
- Neese bets Jr. $1000 who can catch the most blue crab, then sets his pots right on top of his rival's -- a major faux pas akin to cheating. Neese's catch is so poor (and only gets worse when he moves to another location) that the boat's owners threaten to send in someone else, if not fire him altogether. Meanwhile Jr. (after moving to a new location) gets a huge number and a gentlemanly congratulation from Neese, and then Neese's girlfriend left him, took their kids and won't talk to him, and his deck boss moved to the Seabrook.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Each boat features at least five crew, not including the captain, and the show features at least four boats each season, plus the boats that only show up occasionally. Do the math.
- Man On Fire: "You see, when you're on the Bering Sea for so long, you go a little crazy..."
- Manly Men Can Crabfish
- Manly Tears:
- Whenever the captains hear that a crew has been lost.
- Entire crews upon learning of Phil's death. The Northwestern crew was especially visible, startling to the average viewer of that normally stoic vessel.
- Meaningful Funeral: Phil's funeral was attended by family, friends, and biker buddies; half his remains were placed in a beautifully airbrushed Harley-Davidson gas tank (the other half was scattered at sea during king season), which was buried next to his mother's grave. There was also a huge memorial for the fans which took place at a convention center in Seattle, he got a nice send-off in New Orleans, and finally a burial-at-sea attended by all his friends.
- Money, Dear Boy - Why would you leave your family for as much as four months at a time, endure little sleep, unhealthy food, unsafe working conditions, hellish weather, and knowing you could very well die any day of the week? Well, how would you like to earn a year's salary in those four months?
- More Dakka: The Time Bandit crew have an almost unnerving amount of firepower for a civilian fishing vessel. How do they honor the passing of fellow fishermen? They break out pistols, AK-47's, and AR-15 rifles and fire until they run out of ammo!
- The Movie: Sort of. There was a dramatic recreation of a ship's sinking and rescue that was advertised as a movie.
- Multicultural Team: Several of the ships' crews are multi-ethnic, including Inuits, Poles, Norwegians, and even the odd Polynesian. One doomed ship had several black crew members (see Aneurysm Moment, above).
- Must Have Caffeine: One way to combat the constant fatigue that comes with the job is to drink lots of caffeinated beverages, such as coffee and/or energy drinks. In Season 2, the crew of the Rollo was forced to ration their coffee grounds, and suffered accordingly.
- Must Have Nicotine:
- Capt. Sig stops smoking after some mysterious chest pains. He starts again an hour later. Later on, Sig threw out his cigarettes when he found out about Phil's stroke, and several other people also dropped their tobacco habits.
- Phil himself managed to drop from nine packs a day to just one.
- Capt. Keith's daughter has been trying to get him to quit chewing tobacco; it's not going so well.
- Some of the crewmembers, including Captain Sig and Josh Harris, are currently using e-cigarettes.
- The Mutiny: Practically unheard of in a crab fishing boat.
- The closest thing resembling a mutiny was on the Early Dawn. After a disastrous starting run of strings for the king crab season, a greenhorn, who was the son of the boat's owner and far from a model fisherman, was able to convince his father to lease the boat's remaining quota rather than continue fishing. This was done with the consent of the other deckhands and behind the captain's back.
- The remaining Cornelia Marie crew were so frustrated with their replacement captain and his bad fishing spots that they seriously discussed leaving and ultimately quit king season early.
- Neese's crewmembers don't like his abrasive leadership, and really don't appreciate it when he basically has them fishing in a hurricane.
- Narrator: Dirty Jobs's Mike Rowe. When he had to choose between which show to host and which to narrate (they were paired together and the execs wouldn't let him host both), he chose to narrate Deadliest Catch since his usual schtick of cracking-wise on camera wouldn't be appropriate on a show where there was a real chance someone could lose their life.
- Necessary Evil:
- How the crew views the captains and how the captains view themselves (especially Sig).
- How the captains view the operators of the processing plants that they deliver their catch to.
- New Meat: Or as they're call on a fishing vessel, "greenhorns". One crewman estimated greenhorns have an 80% failure rate across the crab fleet.
- The Wizard has had approximately one new greenhorn per season, and none of them lasted; one episode of After The Catch mentioned that the Wizard was the hardest on greenhorns. At the end of the 2011 king crab season, both of the Wizard's greenhorns were gone - Chris had to be medevac'ed off the ship and Brady was fired.
- Nintendo Hard: Opie season, which is in the middle of winter in the Arctic ocean. There's no extra lives in this game. See Badass Normal.
- No Fourth Wall: It's a documentary where the subjects are aware of and encouraged to talk to the cameras.
- Not Quite Saved Enough:
- A ship came within touching distance of a man whose ship had sunk; unfortunately it was a giant car-carrier (the closest opening or rung was 20' above the water's surface, and on top of that there was a storm) and the people on board couldn't do anything but watch as the man drifted past.
- Phil should've died immediately of his massive stroke, but doctors were able to relieve the pressure on his brain in time to save him. He was regaining movement on his paralyzed side and the doctor was quite confident about starting an eight-month therapy program when he had a fatal "event".
- No Such Thing as HR: Apparently an ideal that Captain Andy Hillstrand of the Time Bandit thinks America should aspire to, judging by his comment in the "Best Brawls" special:
(after making a comment along the lines of "I should be able to fire someone because I don't like their face")
- Oh Crap: Spoken lots of times during particularly dangerous seas or when something goes wrong.
- In season 8, greenhorn Chris Scambler on the Wizard starts convulsing:
Capt. Keith: How many fingers am I holding up? (holds up two fingers)
- Ominous Fog: Doubly so because it not only lowers visibility, it can coat boats with ice faster than just the water.
- One Steve Limit: Averted:
- There's two Jakes (three if you count a greenhorn cameraman), and now the Kodiak has a Jake on deck. In fact, as of season 8, the Northwestern has two Jakes (Anderson and Harris).
- There's Josh Harris, briefly Josh Fullmer (a greenhorn who thought he could fish for crab after watching some videos on the internet), who was replaced by another greenhorn named Josh.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Captain Sig yelling at the cameraman to "GET THE #$%# DOWN!" when a REALLY big wave loomed in front of them. Sig is worried... Oh Crap, this is BAD.
- Opening Narration: This can vary from episode to episode, but until season six started with "The vast Bering Sea..." Season six doesn't use the phrase.
- Percussive Maintenance: Using sledgehammers to break ice off the ships and equipment.
- Perfectly Cromulent Word: Crabalanche!
- Precision F-Strike: Courtesy of Sig Hansen and a rogue wave: "GET THE FUCK DOWN"
- Product Displacement: With varying degrees of success and possibly to the point of a Running Gag:
- In one scene, Josh Harris is wearing a hat with the Hurley logo covered with gaffer's tape -- poorly: it barely covered the middle of the logo; the next scene has him shot from the other side, and word Hurley (with tiny version of the logo) is uncovered. Currently, any boardsports logos are just ignored to the point where as of 2011 the Cornelia Marie's sorting table is coated with DVS Shoes logos and one crewmember showed up wearing a(n unblurred) Hurley jacket.
- Two hilarious examples occurred on the last two shows in 2011: When Scott Hillstrand was looking at photos of his son they blurred out the Batman logo despite it being really obvious who the kid was dressed as (it was Halloween); a scene in the Wizard's (I think) kitchen had a cereal box directly behind someone's head, as if to highlight how poorly the box was taped over (imagine two thin lines going through "Cap'N Crunch").
- Product Placement:
- Edgar Hansen enjoys fire a little too much.
- The Hillstrands love fire: They've shot rockets at each other, flares in memory of their father, sent up about a dozen flying lanterns just to screw with Sig, and shot off a semi-automatic rifle at Phil's burial at sea.
- Rant-Inducing Slight: Occurs about five times per season per boat, especially if the season's greenhorns are particularly poor.
- Captain Keith of the Wizard was very upset when his brother didn't wake him up to see a pod(?) of walrus, the reason being that every time he's seen walrus while fishing it was a good season.
- Keith appeared to be trying to get one of the Time Bandit crew to join his boat (he says he was just joking), which infuriated the Bandit's captain to the point where he shoved Keith into a pile of scrap metal in front of the other captains.
- "Wild Bill" has had lousy luck both king and opie seasons. He finally lands on a great spot...only his cameraman is too sick to film. To quote the producer, "G-BLEEPBLEEP-ing m-BLEEPBLEEPBLEEPBLEEPBLEEP".
- Keith (again): A simple request for coffee after a long dry spell almost caused him to throttle an irritating cameraman
"You do nothing around here and you can't even make me a [bleeping] pot of coffee?!."
- A commercial for After The Catch had Keith, wearing a pink flower lei, state that he is in fact misunderstood and very sensitive.
Mike Rowe: *Spit Take* Really?
- The Real Heroes:
- Say, do you like crab? Maybe you should watch a few episodes to see what it took to get get that crab to you.
- The Coast Guard crews that are sent out to help boats in trouble. They fly over water so cold it can kill you in minutes, and they deliberately dive into it.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Obviously.
- Real Song Theme Tune: "Wanted Dead or Alive" by Jon Bon Jovi. Interestingly, a Sixty Minutes segment on Bon Jovi featured a snippet from his concert, and during that song crashing waves were in the background.
- Downloads, DVD collections and international airings use a similar-sounding generic recording for licensing reasons, certainly not because Discovery is too cheap to buy more complete use rights.
- Reality TV / Docu Soap: The Other Wiki has this classified as a "Fishing Show".
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Jake and Josh. At the end of Opies 2011 they're even wearing corresponding hoodies.
- Role-Ending Felony: It seems that an ex-greenhorn (who was already wanted when he joined the show) robbed a bank and fled to Canada.
- Sell Out:
- The Hillstrand brothers are now doing advertisements for Geico. In-series, Andy also drinks from a huge Geico mug.
- Captain Keith (one of the more hot-headed captains) doing lighthearted promos for Despicable Me during a marathon.
- Captain Keith also appears on a commercial discussing acid-reflux disease.
- In Season 8, he can be seen in commercials for Lifelock.
- The Other Wiki notes that people had a problem with Sig making a deal to endorse crab sold by Wal-Mart, which was acquired from the Barents Sea fishery. Sig severed the relationship when it was discovered the manufacturer was selling crab caught by poachers.
- Serious Business:
- According to Sig: "Pranks are like fishin', man, serious business!"
- Phil's love of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. When Jake called his dad to brag about his new bike and mentioned it wasn't a Harley, Phil promptly fired him and hung up. When Josh brought his new non-Harley to his dad's, Phil told him to take it off his property. Josh thought he was joking. Phil punched his son square in the chest. They've never brought any non-Harleys onto the property since. When Phil pulled up to one of the "After The Catch" bars in his latest Harley, he greeted Mike Rowe with "I don't want to talk to you." Mike reasoned he wanted to talk about Harleys, something he had no experience with. Phil confirmed this, then tossed Mike the keys and tells him they'll talk when Mike gets back from his ride.
- Short Cuts Make Long Delays, metaphorical version: The Time Bandit crew tried to de-ice their ship faster by blowing huge chunks off with a large firework. They did manage to get rid of a ton of ice -- which landed on their coiling machine so now they have to resort to "Neanderthal fishing" and have someone looping the rope by hand.
- Shout-Out: The Time Bandit.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Jake and Josh Harris, and Sig Hansen and his deck boss brother Edgar. Interestingly, both pairs recount a time when their wise parents bought them boxing gloves...
- Sibling Rivalry: Josh and Jake of the Cornelia Marie. As of season 8, they're working on different boats.
- So Proud of You: Sig when Jake Anderson reveals he's completed his training and gotten his captain's license.
- Sound Effects Bleep: ... and horns and clangs and whistles and telephones -- any sound one might hear aboard a fishing boat, although they'll just use a straight bleep if the situation is serious.
- Spin-Off: Hillstranded, featuring the Hillstrand brothers. There was a lawsuit over the Hillstrands not completing their obligations for the show, but it has since been settled.
- A Storm Is Coming: Especially during winter.
- This was used to great effect during Capt. Phil's final episode. The viewer can feel the tension with Phil's time winding down...and a storm hits the fleet at the same time.
- Season 8's red crab season occurred during the biggest hurricane to hit Alaska since the 1970s.
- Super Drowning Skills: No matter how good of a swimmer you are, falling overboard in the Bering Sea is pretty much a guaranteed death sentence due to hypothermia if you're not rescued within a few minutes. Even having a special survival suit on will only prolong your life a few hours.
- Take a Third Option: When the red crab quota was halved in season 8, newer captains Neese and Jr. chose to go after the harder to find but more expensive blue crab; experienced captains Sig, Wild Bill, and the Hillstrands stuck with red crab, and Capt. Keith decided to go after both. It didn't work out the way Keith planned at all.
- Team Mom: The wife of the Maverick's captain took part in watching the helm, cooking good food, waking up deckhands, and boosting morale.
- Team Pet: While not a permanent example, animals that sometimes stow away on the boats often end up becoming this, the crews letting them stay aboard due to believing said animals may bring them good luck, such as when Edgar Hansen discovered a rat onboard the Northwestern in season 8.
- The Teaser: Seasons 6-8 feature a cold open (Pun not intended), as opposed to the opening narration of prior seasons.
- Ten-Minute Retirement: After several seasons of saying he's getting too old for this, Edgar Hansen retired after red crab season in 2010. Two episodes later he says he'd like to return for red crab; as for opies he'd like to run the ship (Sig: (long pause) "We didn't discuss this....").
- He later decides to sit out the 2011 opilio season.
- He returns to the Northwestern in season 8, though it's hinted he still wants to be captain.
- Thousand-Yard Stare: Phil does this when his son Jake confesses that he's addicted to drugs. It almost crosses into Heroic BSOD territory, especially the way Phil seems to age ten years in as many seconds.
- Jake Anderson does a pretty good one in the commercials.
- This Is Gonna Suck: Said word for word by Sig as an arctic hurricane bears down on the fleet in Season 8.
- Too Dumb to Live / What an Idiot!: If you think you know what to expect if you want to be a crab fisherman, you don't and that can get you killed.
- Jake Anderson, who stole the older Hillstrand captain's iconic USA jacket, then bragged about it on camera. For that he was hung then burned in effigy.
- Jake Harris probably thinking he could get away with stealing his dad's pain killers on a boat in the middle of the ocean that's bristling with cameras and microphones.
- Basically anyone who forgets who is the boss on the boats and that these particular boats are covered with cameras and microphones.
- Josh the Seabrooke greenhorn who thought he could do this job after watching some YouTube videos. He didn't even last six hours and was possibly only hired to remind viewers how hard the job is. In a follow-up interview he says he's learned his lesson and wants to try again.
- The beginning of season 8's opilio season:
Sig (angrily): You're all idiots!
- Took a Level In Jerkass: AKA "Going Captain".
- Resident Woobie/Determinator Jake Anderson of the Northwestern at the beginning of Season 6. Seems like his rapid ascent from greenhorn to full share deckhand, although well earned, left him with a sense of entitlement. It earned him a few weeks of exile on the Cornelia Marie.
- Mike Fourtner's attitude after the Hillstrands chose him to be a captaincy candidate over their own son/nephew (they ultimately decided on another long-time, non-Hot-Blooded crewmember who they just plain overlooked).
- Keith certainly did in the next-to-last 2011 episode, physically assaulting a cameraman who dared protest because Keith yelled at him for not being his personal coffee boy. In fairness to Keith, however, during a later special episode, he said that he regretted losing his temper that time, saying that as captain, he should have done a better job holding it together.
- Trailers Always Lie: A normal situation will be edited into something dire in previews. Of course, this being a reality show set in a genuinely dangerous situation, you can't tell if it really will go wrong...
- Training From Hell: It's almost all on the job here. And you thought yours sucked.
- Trigger Happy: The Hillstrands marks special occasions with automatic rifle fire (plus flares and fireworks).
- Trope Co Trope of the Week: The Coors Light Crab Count.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: May be why at least one person wasn't too keen on the idea of Edgar possibly running the boat during Opie season.
- Unintentionally Meaningful Name:
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Played straight all over the series. In the infrequent "behind the production" episodes, showing the camera guys and what they have to put up with, they puke all the time.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Captain Phil with his sons, Jake and Josh; Captain Jonathan with his son, Scotty; the captains in general to the greenhorns.
- Sig outright said he considers Jake Anderson as his son.
- Subverted in Season 6 King Crab with Wild Bill's son, Zack Larson.
- It Got Better as Zack Larson is on the Kodiak for Season 7.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Neese setting his crab pots on top of Jr's is basically cheating since Jr did all the work finding the crab (Neese rationalizes it by noting that no one can claim territory in the ocean). See Laser-Guided Karma above.
- Wring Every Last Drop Out of Him: If you're a cynical viewer. The producer took great care to say before the season started that it was Phil's decision to keep filming because he wanted his story to be complete, regardless of the ending.