Deadliest Catch is a long-running (in its 10th season and counting) Docu SoapReality 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.Airing the "Opie" season as of June 2014, the show currently revolves around six main boats:
Captain: Sig Hansen (co-owner)
Prominent crew: Edgar Hansen (co-owner/relief captain/deck boss, youngest Hansen brother), Norman Hansen (co-owner/engineer/deckhand, middle Hansen brother), Nick Mavar Jr. (deckhand, Jake's uncle), Matt Bradley (deckhand), Jake Anderson (engineer/deckhand), Mandy Hansen (greenhorn, Sig's daughter)
Captain: Keith Colburn (owner)
Prominent crew: Monte Colburn (relief captain/Bairdi captain/deckhand/Keith's brother), Gary Soper (1st Mate/deck boss), Lenny Lekanoff (engineer), Freddy Maughtai (deckhand), Roger Schlosstein (deckhand, Robby's brother), Robby Schlosstein (deckhand, Roger's brother), Kevin Stafford (deckhand)
Captains: Johnathan and Andy Hillstrand (co-owners, brothers)
Prominent crew: Neal Hillstrand (co-owner/engineer, John and Andy's brother), Eddie Uwekoolani Sr. (deckhand), Eddie Uwekoolani Jr. (deckhand), Scotty Hillstrand (engineer/deck boss, John's son), Axel Hillstrand (deckhand, Neal's son), Nick "Moonbeam" Tokman (deckhand), Ian Wood (deckhand)
Captain: "Wild" Bill Wichrowski
Prominent crew: Zach Larson (engineer/deckhand, Bill's son), Nick Morrow (deckhand), Nick MacGlashon (deck boss), Mahlon Reyes (deckhand), Myles Johnson (greenhorn)
Captain: Elliot Neese (co-owner)
Prominent crew: Mike Neese (engineer, Elliot's father), Jeff Folk (relief captain, deck boss), Mike Pereira (engineer), Nick Dryden (deckhand), Robert Mansfield (deckhand), Dave Pachur (deckhand)
Another boat that was prominently featured in the past was the Cornelia Marie, captained by Phil Harris. Among its crew were his sons, Jake and Josh, and current Wizard deckhand Freddy Maughtai. Phil suffered a stroke and died during the sixth season (2010 opilio season). His sons tried to work toward buying their dad's boat in the seventh season, but friction with new captains thwarted that. They went to different boats in the eighth season—Josh to the Time Bandit, and Jake to the Northwestern (where he spent a few weeks on a crew exchange in the sixth season, 2009 King Crab). Jake also has serious recurring drug issues; in the ninth season, at least during the King Crab season, he left the crab grounds to "deal with his demons". Josh has since bought the Cornelia outright and the boat has returned to the Opie grounds for the 2014 season, with longtime Harris family friend Casey McManus recruited as captain until Josh gets some experience.Two boats also featured in previous seasons include the Kodiak and the Ramblin' Rose. These were captained by "Wild Bill" Wichrowski and Elliot Neese, respectively. While these boats are no longer featured vessels, their captains have moved on to boats that are featured (the Cape Caution and the Saga, respectively).Other boats have been prominently featured, but not as much as the previous: Rick Quashnick's Maverick (first two seasons; Blake Painter captained it in season 3 for king crab); 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' 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."Through season 9, some major developments that will affect season 10 played out behind the scenes: Josh Harris and Michael Fourtner have left the Time Bandit (the former will be running the back at sea Cornelia Marie, though the ship will not be featured in season 10; the later has opted to leave the Time Bandit in order to be close to his family, after learning that his wife was expecting twins). Furthermore fan favorite Jake Anderson is no longer a crew member of the Northwestern, having left to work on a new boat, run by a company that (while offering limited filming in season nine) has declined to allow Discovery to continue filming come season ten. But since Jake's back on the Northwestern, that doesn't really matter.Before season 10, several other changes happened in the fleet. Jake Anderson left the Kiska Sea and returned to the Northwestern, displacing greenhorn Nick Tokman, who signed up with the Time Bandit (but then returned to the Northwestern for Opies). Josh Harris bought the Cornelia Marie outright, but the boat will only be crabbing during Opilio season, and Sig Hansen's youngest daughter Mandy is trying to join the Northwestern as a deckhand (she has in the past helped run the boat in the summer when it does salmon tendering). Additionally, Seabrooke captain Scott Campbell suffered a herniated disk in his lower back, and was forced to leave the boat before the end of the king crab season to undergo spinal fusion surgery. With him still recovering, the Seabrooke isn't taking part in the opie season. Over on the Time Bandit, Johnathan Hillstrand was advised during the off-season that his health really isn't very good at the moment (extremely high blood pressure and several other problems related to a decades-long chainsmoking habit) and he decided to take opies off in hopes of helping to correct his health issues.
This series provides examples of the following:
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The Ace: In addition to being a badass crab fisherman, engineer, and oyster-eating champ, Mike Fourtner is also a volunteer firefighter, EMT, girls' softball coach, and assistant basketball coach.
Evoked in season six by Jake Anderson after spending several weeks on the Cornelia Marie, in regards to his relationship with his crewmates on the Northwestern, in terms of how the former was much nicer to him than the later one in terms of actually listening to Jake and his feelings rather than shrugging him off and not having much thought about how their hazing him affects him.
Dane on the Wizard in season nine, when he refuses to get a mandatory haircut.
Jake Anderson got another round of this when he briefly worked on the Kiska Sea as a trainee captain. The crew felt he wasn't up to their standards of quickness, and proceeded to relentlessly hound him at every opportunity.
Greenhorn Kelly on the Cape Caution, after it was revealed that he was wanted for a weapons charge and was facing jail time; the crew put stripes and a prisoner number on his rain gear. As Captain Wild Bill pointed out, they got the stripes wrong—stereotypical prisoner stripes are horizontal; he described the vertical stripes as looking like a "pimp suit".
The Alleged Car: Or rather alleged ships. Just about every ship has had some major need for repairs but the Cornelia Marie has really stood out in past seasons. Capt. Phil needed to get a huge engine overhaul in season 4 ... and then it still broke down. Even worse, in the opilio half of season 5, the Cornelia needed three huge repairs that held Phil up for a week and put him in a huge money hole.
Subverted with Jake Anderson, as his ambition has led to him ultimately winning the respect of Sig.
Elliot is getting hit by this hard: he used to care more about making money than about his girlfriend, and just when he really started making money she dumped him and took his kids with her.
The older captains mocked Jr. after he constantly declared his boat "the best" and himself "legendary" (in Revelations he admits he's deeply insecure about his legacy, especially as the son of a legitimately legendary captain). In After the Catch, though, while they still didn't consider Jr. "legendary", they acknowledged that he had become a solid crab fisherman, and had earned some respect for his skill.
Anger Born of Worry: Strikes Andy Hillstrand of the Time Bandit after deckhand Travis falls overboard during the start of the 2012 opilio season. After Travis is brought into the galley, wrapped in a blanket and still shivering (he was in freezing water for 2 1/2 minutes), Andy barges into the galley and yells at Travis:
Andy: DON'T EVER DO THAT AGAIN!
One year later, when the crew was starting to act a little goofy in hurricane-force winds and was then hit by a giant wave:
Andy: I'M GONNA YELL BECAUSE I CARE ABOUT YOU DUMB MOTHERFUCKERS!
In the July 23, 2013 episode, it struck Captain Keith of the Wizard after Freddy stripped to his sweat pants and jumped into freezing water to help secure a walrus carcass. Captain Keith's description of how he was feeling after the incident pretty much boils down to the trope name.
At least some (if not most, in later seasons) of Josh Harris's arguments with his brother Jake stem from him being worried about his brother's welfare.
Anyone Can Die: Several boats have sunk with many lives lost during the show's run. Ironically, Capt. Phil Harris and Time Bandit deckhand Justin Tennyson died while they were safely on land.
Andy: (after they almost tipped over trying to get to the dock) If I die within sight of land I'm going to be so pissed.
Ascended Extra: The Cornelia Marie was first seen in the second half of season 1, as a "partner vessel" in the old system with Maverick. Originally only to be seen planning with Maverick's captain, Phil Harris then assisted Maverick in the search for the sunken Big Valley. The Cornelia Marie would become one of the feature vessels for the next six seasons.
Captain Scott Campbell, Jr. also has a blink and miss cameo in season one, but does not become a regular character until Phil Harris died.
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: 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.
Jr.'s dad, "The Colonel" (according to one factoid no one knows how he got that nickname).
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.
Among the few returnees are Josh and Jake Harris and Jake Anderson, and they all looked like scrawny teenagers when they first appeared (Jake Harris still does). Then there's goofy, long-haired hippie-ish Nick, AKA "Sunshine".
Captain Mike Wilson on the Kiska Sea counts - by controlling the hydros FROM THE FRICKIN' WHEELHOUSE!
Badass Beard: Several captains (and many deckhands) sport these. Captain Scott Campbell, Jr. has an especially prominent one.
Badass Grandpa: Captain Jonathan Hillstrand of the Time Bandit. His son, Scott, is a deckhand with a toddler back home.
Bait and Switch and Caught in a Snare and Egged and Floured: "Sunshine"'s initiation prank after he left the Northwestern for the Time Bandit (with Sig's endorsement): The Hillstrands told/ordered him to dress up like a ninja and stencil the Time Bandit logo on Sig's wheelhouse window, which terrified Sunshine; the twist was they told Sig about it so he could devise a counter-prank of his own, so when Sunshine "successfully" boarded a darkened Northwestern he was caught in a net, dangled in the air and egged and floured. The lesson here is always obey but never trust your captain(s), especially if they're the Hillstrands.
Be Careful What You Wish For: Season 10 Cape Caution greenhorn Kelly "Tinkerbell" Collins had apparently been begging Wild Bill for a chance on the Bering Sea... apparently it's a lot different than the Gulf of Mexico.
The Big Easy: After The Catch 2010 was in New Orleans complete with crawdad fishing, voodoo, and a jazz funeral march for the late Capt. Phil.
Hula and Luaus: The 2011 series is in Hawaii (hulas yes, luau no, at least not that I remember). Additionally, the closing music of the preceding episode sounded like a Hawaiian-language choir — perfect background music for attacking a "cathedral of ice".
The Wild West(ish): 2012's edition takes place in Colorado, where the captains went horseback riding, river rafting, and a bit of bull riding (John Hillstrand broke five ribs).
Edgar 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 Game: The 2014 Super Bowl, with the Seattle Seahawks (second Super Bowl appearance) vs. the Denver Broncos (two previous Super Bowl wins and several more appearances), which was very exciting for the Seattle-based fishermen, although Capt. Andy wasn't in any hurry to bet back to port because he was certain the Seahawks would lose. However, things didn't go according to the Big Game script starting with the ball sailing past Denver quarterback Peyton Manning's head◊ and the Seahawks wound up destroying the Broncos 43-8 (unfortunately this didn't make Andy happy because he lost a very expensive propeller which effectively ended the season and he felt his son was rebelling by asking to go to another boat to help offset the Time Bandit's remaining quota).
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.
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. Worse, the replacement captain couldn't earn the respect of the crew, the fishing sucked, and someone (probably Jake) was doing drugs during the fishing trip. It got so bad that everyone quit for the season and Jake quietly took the first plane back home so he didn't look too suspicious
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.
Brain Bleach: In one episode, Captain Keith loses a bet with the camera crew and has to spend an hour chipping ice in his skivvies. After seeing the footage, Sig complains that he is unable to un-see it.
Break the Cutie: Jake Anderson left the Northwestern to take a job as apprentice captain on the Kiska Sea. It's an entirely different boat with an entirely different way of doing things, and as might be expected, he's struggling to keep up. Captain Mike Wilson is giving him some slack, but the rest of the crew are riding his ass 24/7. It's not yet clear whether this is how they really feel, some kind of hazing, dislike for the Northwestern and his status as a reality TV star, or even if they're trying to get him to lose his temper like he's done in the past so they can get rid of the outsider.
Then, in the Season 10 premiere, he reveals that any pride he had in himself was beaten out of him by his experiences on the Kiska Sea. And then, when Edgar starts talking to the camera about Jake's return to the Northwestern, it's clear that a lot of Edgar's respect for Jake is gone due to the way his last stint aboard the Northwestern ended.
Break the Haughty: Keith Colburn, captain of the Wizard and arguably one of the most aggressively ill-tempered Captains on the show, got this on season five. He had the following: health scare, goes broke repairing the boat, near death experience while diving while checking the boat for possible damage that was missed when the boat was repaired months earlier, really really poor fishing for the first half of the season, his brother was severely injured by a massive tidal wave that hit the boat, and he ended the season pretty much penniless and facing several years worth of working with all the cash he earns being earmarked for his creditors.
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.
When the Time Bandit loses propulsion from one of his engines, he uses the production crew's underwater camera to see the condition of his propellers. He's lost a prop and part of the shaft.
Break the Cutie: Greenhorns, especially if they're the captain's own family.
Jake Anderson full-stop. Culminates in season nine when he forced to go before Edgar to face punishment for punching his rival Matt by Edgar and completely loses his mind when he realizes that he's about to be fired and that Edgar will not cut him any slack.
Sig Hanson instructs Edgar and the rest of the Northwestern crew to make his daughter Mandy's life hell out on deck, in the hopes that she will tire of crab fishing and not want to return.
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! Bill: I hope so! Crewman: No, I mean he literally needs to change his pants but he's too scared of you to go inside!
Brought Down to Normal: Jake Anderson, relief deck boss, captain-in-training, and apple of Sig's eye, has to start from the ground up when he gets leaves the Northwestern and goes to the larger and faster-paced Kiska Sea.
Brutal Honesty: Phil had shades of this from time to time, particularly — and most jarringly — right before the stroke which led to his death.
The Bus Came Back: Lenny retired from the Wizard during the start of season five. He came back for a single trip during opilio season when half of the crew was injured from a bad wave. Season six started with Lenny being back without a word.
Butt Monkey: Wild Bill has been plagued with bad luck since returning to the Bering Sea in season six. He seems to have trouble finding the crab, and when he does find it, usually something goes seriously wrong—often a mechanical failure of some kind.
Monte (Capt. Keith's brother): There's a bull sea lion! Is it lucky? Keith:We're in the middle of a [BLEEP]ing ice floe, does it look 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.
A less fortunate example for Wizard deckhand Lynn Guitard during the June 12, 2012 episode. The previous year, Captain Keith warned Lynn that the deckhand was on his last warning as far as tying the crab pots securely (too loose a tie, and the pots will shift as the seas buffet the ship, endangering the crew and the ship).
Keith: Okay Lynn, this is your last warning. You fuck this up again, you're gone, you understand me? If I have to have this conversation again, it's your last season on this boat.
Guess what mistake Lynn made again during the June 12th episode?
At the beginning of opilio '12 the crew of the "Time Bandit" infamously tried to de-ice their boat with a mortar. At the end they celebrated Uwekoolani Sr.'s retirement by setting off fireworks, which were revealed to him like this:
Uwekoolani Sr: What are they doing?
Johnathan: Probably chipping some ice...
Wild Bill's introduction in season five followed a callback to season four, where the Hillstrand family, after finishing King Crab season earlier than the rest of the ships, went south to California for a fishing vacation. Turns out, the boat they were on was captained by Bill.
Jake Anderson and Matt Bradley's fight in season four and Sig's warning that the next person to punch another person was getting fired has been brought back up in season nine with the two fighting again.
Jake Anderson's return to the Northwestern in season 10: for his "re-initiation" he was dangled over the water like when he was as a greenhorn but this time they actually dunked him.
Season 10's fishing start was delayed a week by the government shutdown, which meant the fleet had to go back to the mad dash of "derby fishing", just like Season 1.
Not sure if this is a call-back or a cameo, but one of the boats in the crowded bairdi grounds was the Ramblin' Rose.
Early in the 2014 opilio season, the Northwestern's steering solenoid breaks, and Sig puts out a call to any boats in the area who might have a spare. The boat that answers? The one Jake had left after the previous opilio season, the Kiska Sea.
The deckhand Captain Elliott hired to replace his dad, who'd left the boat, was one of the deckhands he'd rescued off the Arctic Hunter a few months before.
Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Scott Campbell, Jr. seems to have a bad case of this in the 2012 king crab season, first attempting deception on Keith Colburn (who calls him out almost immediately) and later leaving Elliot Neese in the lurch by moving without saying anything.
The previous issues highlighted by Junior's alliances in season 9 were lampshaded by Johnathan Hillstrand, even as he accepted an alliance with Sig Hansen to close out the red king crab season. This time, the trope was averted, and both the Time Bandit and (to a lesser extent) the Northwestern benefited.
Cluster F-Bomb: It's rare that there's an episode that doesn't have at least half a dozen bleeped-out curses. It's especially bad if one of the captains is angry (especially Keith or Wild Bill) or a crewman has completely lost his cool (Rainwater's explosion on the Kodiak, for example).
Josh's birthday phone call to Jake (who was absent from the show while dealing with his issues) was about 85% bleeps.
Jake Anderson's meltdown during blue crab season on the Northwestern had a very high percentage of bleeps.
Apparently one of the stats for the website's fantasy fishing game is number of swear words.
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.
See Behind The Black for a surprise Coast Guard inspection of the Northwestern.
Cold Sniper / Friendly Sniper: Aaron, the Seabrooke deck boss who had to deal with a staph-infected knee, passed an anti-sniping course when he was in the Army.
Comically Missing the Point: Invoked but Inverted by Andy when Josh Harris got nailed by a piece of ice (from the picking boom, i.e. the same way they previously broke their rope coiler)
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. It's also the only 'house forward' boat on the show; the others are all 'house aft'. (House aft gives the captain more visibility of the work area but exposes the crew to more waves; house forward helps protect the crew because their immediate work area is right behind the wheelhouse, but the captain has to rely on video screens or turning around to monitor the work.) 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 Car: Norman Hansen used his first paycheck to put a stereo in his car that was so powerful, when he turned it on in the shop, it cracked the plaster in the ceiling.
Sig is campaigning to be on Dancing with the Stars, which explains his fancy footwork in New Orleans; he also provides the voice of Crabby, which is a cartoon version of the Northwestern in Pixar's Cars 2. He also revealed on Revelations that he was offered a movie role but turned it down.
Sort of: One of the "Northwestern" crew has a sweatshirt of them and the boat done up South Park-style.
Johnathan Hillstrand of the Time Bandit and Scott Campbell Jr. of the Seabrooke made an appearance on the second episode of MythBusters' tenth season, testing various myths relating to their job, such as whether crab pots can be blown up, if taking short naps during 30-hour shifts improves a person's ability to perform their duties, and if it's possible to get pulled overboard and to the bottom of the ocean by getting caught in the rope of a crab pot.
Seabrooke deckhand Mac White made an uncredited appearance on Animal Planet's Off the Hook: Extreme Catches telling host Eric Young about the dangers of fishing on the Bering Sea.
Dark Secret: An "LA Times" article revealed that film crews for this and other action-filled reality shows aren't unionized and can't get insurance because they're so dangerous.
A strong opponent of the union push in action-adventure shows is widely recognized pioneer Thom Beers. A Harley-riding thrill seeker who got his start as an assistant at Turner Broadcasting and went on to produce the hit shows "Deadliest Catch," "Ice Road Truckers" and "Monster Garage," Beers recently bragged that he had just been in Alaska "drinking Jack Daniels straight from the bottle" with his "Deadliest Catch" fishermen.
While the burly, bearded producer didn't deny that his crews face danger on the job, he insisted that they are aware of the risks — and well compensated. Camera operators typically earn $700 to $1,000 a day on action shows.
"We realize the fact that they are putting their lives in danger, which is why we take care of them," Beers said. "We pay them very, very well, way beyond scale, for what they do."
Although Beers declined to discuss the effort to unionize reality shows, many of his peers say that they couldn't afford to produce their shows if they had to pay health and pension benefits and comply with union work rules.
Why Jake Anderson's dad disappeared: He was addicted to prescription drugs and bought them from "someone [Jake] didn't know" and was subsequently murdered on an isolated logging trail. After his dad's drug addiction was revealed the community "turned their backs" on the family; ironically the day before he was killed Jake and his family had decided to stage an intervention.
This goes beyond Jake's dad and applies to the bulk of the guys on the Northwestern in terms of their own drug abuse. Edgar, Matt, and Jake are all recovering addicts (Matt=Meth, Edgar=Drugs and Alcohol, and Jake= Alcohol), though the show goes out of their way to cryptically reference their vices.
Played straight with Jake Harris's drug problem, as being caught stealing his dad's medication red-handed by his father led to him confessing his problems.
Elliott Neese is also a recovering addict. When he suffers a relapse in season 10 due to another argument with Val, he checks into a rehab center after his father calls him out.
Demoted to Extra: Matt Bradley, who was heavily featured as the Northwestern's main deckhand/greenhorn, fades into the background once Jake Anderson is introduced.
Determinator: THESE. GUYS. ARE. TOUGH. They don't listen to "No". Case in point: Elliot Neese, easily the youngest captain, who also had an incredible run of bad luck the last two seasons, was fired as captain of the Ramblin' Rose after Opies 2012. His solution? Take out a loan and buy his own boat; takes "sink or swim" to a whole new level.
The negative side of this was shown in season ten, when Captain Scott Campbell, Jr. stayed on the boat for too long with a herniated disc, trying to tough it out, and as a result his spinal injury severely worsened in even the few days he was there.
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 was considered missing until his remains were found and identified in late June of 2012.
It's pretty telling when Sig asks Jr. "So how old were you when you met (emphasis mine) your dad?" (he was four).
The show features numerous father-son pairs working together. Watching them interact with each other, it's immediately obvious how emotionally distant most of them are from each other.
Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: In one episode, Cornelia Marie deckhand Mark Anderson apparently wants to get the entire deck crew washed overboard.
Mark: Is that all you've got? Bering Sea: *Sends a 5000 gallon wave over the deck*
Double Standard: Sig's daughter Mandy gets a lot of special treatment which she definitely wouldn't have get if she was a guy, let alone the captain's kid. Jake Anderson in particular is annoyed that she gets to set a string and drive the boat on her first trip, something he hasn't done after years of being a deckhand and however much it costs to get his captain's license. To Mandy's credit she's been one of the best-behaved greenhorns (so far), her string was lucky, and she quickly realized she should not be learning to drive the boat in 30 ft. seas. She's also not happy with Sig trying to take it easy on her, her rationale being that she won't know if she can really do the job if he keeps her from failing.
In the season finale, a Coast Guard rescue helicopter is deployed to medevac a man on another boat who was injured by a cable. Usually, when the Coast Guard is called upon in an episode, they're able to make a rescue of some kind (though often it's a Bittersweet Ending), but not this time—the crew member was dead before he could be airlifted.
Season nine keeps piling downer ending on top of downer ending. Between Junior committing betrayal after betrayal on his fellow captains and Jake's confrontation with Edgar effectively bringing an end to his time on the Northwestern, it's been one major bad ending after another. Not to mention a deckhand on one of the other boats in the fleet(that isn't covered on the show) got his fingers caught in the bait chopper and could possibly lose his index and middle fingers from the first joint onward.
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.
Early-Installment Weirdness: Season one had quite a few omission of familiar faces. Captain Phil Harris has a blink and miss cameo as part of a rescue mission when one of the boats sink in season one and doesn't join the cast full time until season two (and his son Josh doesn't become a regular until season four). Similarly, the Hillstrands and the Time Bandit doesn't show up until season two while Keith Colburn and the Wizard and Jake Anderson do not show up until season three. And the POV Greenhorn on the Northwestern, for seasons 1-3, pre-Jake Anderson, is Matt Bradley.
Easy Come, Easy Go: Back in the Derby days(and also when inflation was lower), the crews could make astronomical amounts of money: Phil's first time out as a crabber, he made $130,000 in one month. But given that these were young men in a rough-and-tumble environment, there was virtually no thought to financial planning at all. It was pretty much a constant cycle of work, make money, spend money, go back to work.
Edgar: I made hundreds of thousands of dollars in the 90's. Where did it all go? I'll tell you where it went: right up my nose.
Shortly before 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—presumably, that's why they wear one.
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.
Season six and seven as with the death of Phil and Cornelia Marie disbanding after a disaster of a season respectively.
Equivalent Exchange: The Northwestern is hit by this in season nine. Both Edgar and Sig Hansen and Jake Anderson's professional and personal ambitions require a massive sacrifice; Sig must give up the chair of the Northwestern to preserve his working and sibling relationship with Edgar, who in turn must be willing to sacrifice his protege Jake to ensure his authority as Captain be preserved and Jake must leave the Northwestern to continue to work his way up to running a boat himself after he realizes that Edgar's ascension means he will have to leave Northwestern to further his own ambitions to become Captain.
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, the 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.
Everything Trying to Kill You: Thousand-pound crab pots swing from cranes like giant piñatas. 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, and possibly dragging you the length of the deck first. Giant waves break over the side of the boat, tossing you and your equipment around like so many bathtub toys. There's 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.
Freddy was so pissed at greenhorn Tebo that he threw a small octopus at him. The crew later stuffed a dead one in his luggage as a "parting gift".
Evil Overlord: Aboard ship, the captain is God, and you'd better not forget it.
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.
Final Boss: Since each season always covers the Opi season, when weather is cold and the sea is more turbulent, there is always a super nasty storm at the end of a show season.
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!"
Elliott was offered a full-ride hockey scholarship which he turned down to become a crab fisherman. His dad was... rather displeased with that decision, but now he's very proud of his son.
The Hillstrands' father didn't want any of his five sons becoming fishermen and was incredibly harsh towards them to get them away from the job/lifestyle; he succeeded exactly halfway (two aren't fisher men, two are, and one runs a processing plant on shore).
Sig's daughter Mandy is very eager to join the family business, even foregoing college; Sig is pleased and worried at the same time.
Follow in My Footsteps: The crab fishing industry is absolutely rife with this trope. Almost every single captain featured on the show pretty much had their status handed down to them from their father. The vast majority of crew also come from generations of fishermen, and were born and raised around the industry.
Even the BBC got in on the act, with the rather more prosaically-titled Trawlermen.
Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Jake and Josh Harris: Jake falls asleep while everyone else is working and then has the gall to ask Sig if he can run the boat for a string (Sig seemed fine with it but Edgar, who didn't want him in the first place, refused) while Josh does everything he can and is saving up for a boat of his own. As for the other siblings, Sig & Edgar are both very, very responsible (though Edgar was less so in the past), as are Keith & Monte and Johnathan & Andy (with a dash of crazy).
The Hansens appear to have not one bit of foolishness amongst them but at one point Sig's own father (who had already turned the Northwestern over to Sig) wanted to fire Edgar because of Edgar's drug abuse; when Edgar wanted to run the boat the last few seasons Edgar's past appeared to be one of the reasons for Sig's hesitation ((paraphrased)"You act like you're Mr. Responsible now...!").
Footnote Fever: The "Social Reload" of the season 8 premiere, which was basically Pop Up VideomeetsTwitter. The next version had a few of the captains' twitters (plus a then-spoiler about Jr. winning the bet with Elliot and using the $1000 to pay for his engine). They've done this at least twice more, including the two-hour season finale.
Foregone Conclusion: Capt. Phil's death at end of opie season was, of course, known for months before the episodes aired.
Fun with Acronyms: "BOAT: Break Out Another Thousand" — anyone who owns a boat, of any kind, anywhere, at any point in history.
To celebrate Josh Harris' return to the Cornelia Marie the Hillstrands get him and his partner/trainer matching sweaters that say S.kipper H.arris I.n T.raining (and yes, they did show just the first letters).
Edgar revealed that he excused his drug addiction because "he never hurt anyone": he stayed away from his family in a hotel, he never shared with anyone, and it was never an escape from family conflict - he just got the urge and left for a few days. He quit when, basically, the drugs showed him that he was going to die if he kept using.
It's kind of jarring to hear Sig speaking Norwegian. Or Edgar, for that matter.
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.
Keith used to be a saucier at a French restaurant in Lake Tahoe before becoming a crab fisherman (and wondered why he did it when he saw his first, tiny paycheck), but as anyone who's seen Ratatouille or No Reservations knows being a cook absolutely does not make one gentle.
Another one for Keith: he's a supporter of gay rights, judging by this tweet.
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 Chrisnote The one who had to be medivac'ed off the ship by the Coast Guard., 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. Brady later came on After the Catch, and while Keith gave him credit for having the courage to do that, he and Elliot both lambasted Brady, who did little to prove them wrong.
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!!!!
Green Aesop: One season, King Crab fishing suffered immensely because the quota was literally sliced in half, meaning the fishermen would only make half as much money. The reason behind it? It had to be done, because fishing from previous years left the crabs' population extremely depleted.
For years before that, blue king crab fishing had been completely banned due to previous overfishing. Only recently has the blue crab population rebounded enough to allow even limited fishing again. A similar thing happened with bairdi crab.
Hauled Before A Senate Sub Committee: Sort of: Keith went before a senate committee to advocate for the fishermen (the season was delayed and the quota was probably slashed again) during the 2013 government shutdown.
Heroic RROD: Greenhorn Chris on the Wizard, unlike most greenhorns on the show, ended up leaving due to bodily stress (in this case, leading to a near total-body shutdown and a possible heart attack). Most greenhorns end up leaving due to not being able to handle the stress of the job, sure, but most of them leave because they break mentally.
Heroic Sacrifice: Season 10 had the Coast Guard rescuing the crew of a disabled fishing vessel, a rescue diver suffering a fatal head injury during the course of the operation. The episode ends with a military funeral in his honor.
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. He seems to be loosening up, however; during season nine opilio season, he briefly talked about Jake Anderson's departure. He later appeared in with his brothers when they visited their old high school shop class and spoke a couple sentences. He also was interviewed for "The Legend of the Northwestern" special, and during season 10 he was shown skeet-shooting with Edgar during a run between strings (Norman won handily).
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 and 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 Jake Harris to the airport in season 7; other passengers in the terminal had their faces blurred.
This even extends to ships on occasion; non-featured vessels will sometimes have their names blurred, or bleeped when spoken.
High Turnover Rate: Greenhorns have an 80%-90% failure rate, and it's not always obvious who will last.
Hoist by His Own Petard: When Mandy indicates she'd like to work on the Northwestern, Sig is clearly unhappy at the idea but tells her she needs her mother's approval, confident that his wife will say no. Then he receives a satphone call from his wife who informs him she said yes, and now he's the bad guy if Mandy isn't allowed to join the boat. Sig lampshades that his cunning plan backfired.
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 Hillstrand sends out encouraging news that Phil is recovering beautifully from his massive stroke, to the other captains' joy. Unfortunately...
Bill Wichrowski 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").
Hypocritical Humor: In a preview episode Sig is talking to Johnathan about staying healthy for the sake of his family. Not five minutes later they're outside smoking.
Icy Blue Eyes: Phil had these, and they were as identifiable a feature as his gravelly voice. From season 4 on, the intro featured a shot of him looking right at the camera in close-up, and in seasons 7 and 8, the intro feautured a shot of him staring through the wheelhouse window, symbolizing his absence.
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. When Josh took over the Cornelia Marie in Season 10 he brought back the tradition and its good luck was effective.
Incendiary Exponent: On the Northwestern, the final hook for each crab season is lit on fire before it's thrown. This was Edgar's idea, naturally.
Sig's daughter Mandy overslept. Uncle Edgar and "big brother" Jake awakened her by lighting her cabin up with a flamethrower (lighter + aerosol can). Sig looked incredibly torn about the whole thing (on the one hand the greenhorn deserves punishment, on the other hand said 'horn is his youngest daughter...).
Informed Ability: Jake Harris was frequently cited as a better crabber and better potential captain than his elder brother Josh by their own father Phil, despite the fact that Jake seems to have far worse of a work ethic (let alone drug abuse problems) than Josh does. When Jake and Josh are separated between the Northwestern and Time Bandit respectively in Season 8, the contrast is even more apparent.
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 Wizard's captain getting cracked on the head by the boat, the Cornelia Marie's captain suffering from a pulmonary embolism that should've killed him instantly), 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 out-of-his-mind tired.
Here's what happened in the season 8 finale: A guy got the tip of his finger sliced off, another got his elbow almost crushed, another got his shin slammed by a pot (if his crew-mate was a little slower his whole body would've been crushed). It wasn't just bodily injuries either: Sig missed the last pot of the season.
In-Series 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.
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.
Calm weather, especially several days of it in a row, is never a good sign.
Calm weather, especially after several days/weeks of terrible weather, can make everyone complacent which is when the most injuries/deaths can occur.
If the soundtrack suddenly goes quiet after several full pots are hauled up it's usually a bad sign.
I Was Quite a Looker: Most of the captains certainly looked better due to simple age and having just started being captains whenever old clips or pictures of them appeared. But Phil actually looks quite dreamy in a picture where he's holding one of his baby sons.
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, Bill's crews have not been very good, and have made several major mistakes. In one case, two pots came detached from the crane because they were improperly tied; one crew member in the wrong place at the wrong time when that happens and he could be hurt or killed. Plus, Bill's tiff with his son Zach Larson came after Zach gave Bill a smartass response to Bill trying to teach him some hook-throwing pointers. Amazingly Bill's mood improves after Zach starts being a smartass right back ("Maybe I'll take your name and ruin your legacy"), which he sees as an improvement over his son's former flinchey/apathetic personality.
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. A lot of his issues are due to his personal life being in shambles (see Laser-Guided Karma below), but sometimes his conduct is just inexcusable.
Scott Campbell Jr. is rapidly developing into one of these in the ninth season. He offers to team up with Keith by sharing information about where the fishing is good, then barely a day later voids the agreement and lies when Keith calls him on it. Then he sails up to where Elliot is, and they spend the better part of a few days overfishing the area, to the point where both of their catches plummet. Elliot calls Junior and attempts to bury the hatchet, and Junior offers to team up with Elliot. Elliot keeps up his side of the bargain, but Junior is almost gleefully plotting betrayal the whole time...and when Elliot goes into town to offload his crab, Junior packs up and leaves without telling Elliot, leaving the latter in the lurch.
Freddy has gotten more and more Jerkass-y over the years, even going to far as to threaten Wizard greenhorn Dane Tebo with physical harm. Then when the crabbers were waiting out the government shutdown in 2013, he got into it with Elliot and one of his crewmen. The crewman made the joke that "I always have my bitch light my cigarette", referring to Elliot, but Freddy decided the guy had meant him and got pissed. Then after Keith and Monte broke up the confrontation, Elliot tried to further defuse things by offering Freddy a cigarette and saying that "I just wanna get out of here, get home to my wife and kids. I'm sure you're the same way, you just wanna go see your wife and kids.", to which Freddy paused and then replied "Fuck off."
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 Anderson, although he doesn't skimp on the abuse when Jake screws up.
Jitter Cam: 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.
Not sure if this is Jitter-Cam or No Kill Like Over Kill but in order to get a shot from a boat's rudder(?) the film crew used a camera attached to magnets so powerful they couldn't be taken on a plane.
Karmic Jackpot: 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.
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.
Combined with Poor Communication Kills (not literally, thankfully): In season 9 a producer/cameraman on the Cape Caution discovered blood in his stool and kept it from Wild Bill. Wild Bill mistook the cameraguy's anxiety for being uninterested and the misunderstandings only got worse when he (the cameraguy) was hours late returning to the boat — Bill thought he was messing around at the bar; while the guy did go to the bar it only to gather enough courage to tell Bill he would have to leave because he found out he had cancer. The cameraguy only got to the "leaving early" part and Bill just exploded at him, the guy exploded back, and it was a horrible situation all around (they were able to have a camera-free talk and made up).
Kill It with Ice: Crab boats generally don't have hulls rated for going through ice, which makes the ice pack in opilio season a potential problem for them. The ice pack was an especially big problem in season 8; it covered the fishing grounds twice (the first time, only the Wizard and Seabrooke continued fishing). After that horrible winter the Hillstrands spent just about everything they made to upgrade the Time Bandit with new engines and inch-thick "armor" for the hull.
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 Seabrooke. And When Elliot finally does manage to get through to his ex-girlfriend in mid-season, he discovers that she's already seeing someone else. Later on, after an attempt to patch things up failed miserably, she filed (and won) a restraining order against him. And then he got fired for almost letting a sleepy crewman run the boat into an icefield. Things are looking up for him in the next season, though: he bought his own boat and (somehow) got custody of his kids.
Junior lies to Keith about how he's doing on the blue crab patch they're supposed to be working together (Keith started out well which is why he wanted to share with Junior, but then Keith's area dried up); the next episode finds Junior's deck boss laid up with a staph infection and no antibiotics, and the only one who can help is Keith. Keith gives them the meds because it's the code of the (vast, empty, merciless) ocean to help each other in times of need. In addition, the following opilio season was rough on Junior, culminating in him being forced to ask for help from his dad...and to adopt his dad's more patient fishing style. Next season, he suffered a debilitating back injury which may force him to miss the rest of bairdi season.
Lighter and Softer: Captain Keith Coburn of the Wizard must have taken an anger management class or something between Season 7 and Season 8, because we haven't seen anywhere near as many blow-ups from him during Season 8 (if any). Probably the biggest example of this shift is in an episode set during the 2012 opilio season, when during an argument about miscommunication (sparked by Lenny not speaking loudly enough on deck, causing a buoy to pop as the Wizard was trying to leave iced-up St. Paul harbor), Lenny tells Keith "fuck off" (resulting in an Oh Crap look from Lynn Guitard). Keith's response? Go out on deck ... and tell Lenny to project towards the loud hailer to prevent similar miscommunications in the future. Keith likely would not have reacted nearly as calmly to a comment like that just a season ago.
Dips into Fridge Brilliance when one remembers that Keith felt bad about blowing up at the cameraman near the end of the previous season and admitted that, as captain, he should have had better self-control. (See Took a Level in Jerkass, below.) It's quite possible that he's made a conscious effort to correct that flaw.
Considering when obnoxious greenhorn Tebo tried to sucker-punch Freddy all Tebo got from Keith was a quick punch (for demonstration purposes, i.e. "how did that feel to you?") and a stern talking-to (Keith was going to fire Tebo, but Tebo quit first) those anger-management lessons must be working.
Even the rain gear room "no more bullshit" speech Keith gave in the next episode to get his crew back under control after Lenny told Monte to "fuck off" (which Keith took as a sign of Dane's malignant influence on crew discipline) was remarkably restrained compared to the Keith from even just a couple years ago.
His response in season 10 to Monte reporting gear out of bounds and therefore catching illegal crab also falls under this. He could easily have chewed Monte out for this mistake (especially because it's his boat, and he'd lose more money than anyone), but all Keith does is calmly tell Monte to rail-dump all the crab.
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.
Made of Iron: Freddy Maughtai strips to his underwear and jumps into the water during one Oppie season to secure a walrus carcass the crew found adrift. In the Bering Sea. In the middle of winter. Most crewman who suffer any exposure to the sea outside a survival suit are hypothermic in moments. When Freddy emerged, he wasn't even shivering.
Man on Fire: "You see, when you're on the Bering Sea for so long, you go a little crazy..."
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.
On a happier note, all of Jake Anderson's friends and family at his wedding which was officiated by Sig!.
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.
Mood Dissonance: At the end of "Fearless Leaders" the Seabrooke is bringing up fully loaded pots but the crew is too tired from staying awake through a 39-hour grind to celebrate. Meanwhile, the crew of the Ramblin' Rose, who were on the verge of mutiny after Elliot (basically) ditched them to try and reunite with his ex-girlfriend, begin celebrating as they haul up huge pots while Elliot learns his ex-girlfriend has filed a year-long restraining order against him.
Again with Elliot and his crew: The season 8 finale shows all the boats cheering that their last strings are full ones, except for the Ramblin' Rose — while their pots are full the only one happy is Elliot; the crew has pretty much had it with him and his drama. It appears they were just blowing off steam and six months later Elliot claims they've come back.
And again with Junior: The crew are hauling pots full of cod and are celebrating...while Junior starts snapping at them to hurry up. He'd just learned that his father was in poor health and likely to pass on shortly, and he wanted to get back to port so he could fly home.
Mood Whiplash: The morale of the captains and crews can drastically shift from pot to pot depending on the catch, which is frequently mined for drama.
One minute Josh is celebrating with the rest of the Time Bandit crew then in next scene he discovers nearly all of the Cornelia Marie's supplies and the Harris' personal items have been stolen from their storage containers.
A big one in the first episode of Opilio Season 2013 (Season 9) on the Time Bandit. Within the first ten minutes of the episode, the crew goes from celebrating the Seattle Seahawks about to win a playoff game...to one of the deckhands getting a bad injury from a misfired mortar he was going to set off in celebration of the victory, and they get word that the Seahawks lost in the last seconds of the game.
More from season 9: At a SXSW concert for the show the captains go from excitedly talking about what kind of music they like to being deadly serious about no music playing on the boats because they can't afford to get distracted; meanwhile on the Cape Caution Wild Bill goes from being elated that lovesick greenhorn Mikey Michell has decided to "man up" and finish the season to being extremely disappointed when Mikey's father decided he's done with crabbing and leaves in the middle of offloading the catch.
One minute Josh and the new Cornelia Marie crew are celebrating their full pots, the next minute they discover they're all females and have to be dumped.
Everyone's celebrating the Seattle Sea Hawks thrashing the Denver Broncos (for non-American football fans imagine what Germany did to Brazil in the 2014 World Cup and times that by about 7) in the Super Bowl except Capt. Andy and and his son Scotty because not only do they have to replace a $100,000 part but Andy is furious that Scotty had the gall to ask if he could go on another boat to offset the Time Bandit's remaining quota, which Andy saw as a betrayal.
More Dakka: The Time Bandit has an almost unnerving amount of firepower for a civilian fishing vessel.
How does the crew 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!
When John got annoyed over all the ice in the Bering Sea he stormed out of the wheelhouse, grabbed a shotgun, walked out on deck and started shooting at the ice and yelling "And don't come back!" No coilers were harmed this time, but it scared the crew.
Mike Fourtner: I just had a 12-gauge go off by my head!
Subverted with the Northwestern, as we learn in a Season 9 episode. When the Coast Guard boards the ship for a routine inspection, they ask Sig if there's any guns on board the ship:
Sig Hansen: "There's a .30-06 in my stateroom. It's been there since 1978. I don't even know how to pull the trigger."
Season 10 features some improvised skeet shooting between Edgar and Norman Hansen. Norman wins handily.
Season nine may have tested the limits of the crews' dakka-love: A flaming hook with four (expired) flares covered the "Northwestern" in choking red smoke, and after a crewman on the "Time Bandit" got his wrist shattered in two places injured by an exploding mortar Andy declared "that's it, no more fireworks".
The Movie: Sort of. There was a dramatic recreation of a ship's sinking and rescue that was advertised as a movie.
Mr. Fixit: Several of the captains, ship engineers, and other crew members, are very capable of jury-rigging quick fixes. Edgar Hansen is probably the best-known in the series at finding and fixing problems, some of which were ship-threatening. And Elliott Neese, for all his flaws as ship's captain, proved himself a capable engineer when he quickly fixed a broken steering line in season 10.
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.
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.
Capt. Johnathan swore off cigs for his granddaughter (it lasted an hour), and still snuck one or two while hooked up to an oxygen tank after breaking four ribs and collapsing his lung in Colorado. Andy (who doesn't smoke) wants to help him so they made a bet with Mike Rowe: If Johnathan can quit and get healthy enough to run 5 miles in under an hour, he'll host an episode of next season's "After The Catch".
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 crab 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 during the 2011 king crab season.
Elliot's crew doesn't appreciate how his personal problems caused him to ditch them for a week (on top of really poor fishing), then wait until they're back at sea to pick on them about their attitude, then abandon his post as they're bringing up good numbers (they do feel sorry for him once they learn about his ex's restraining order).
My God, What Have I Done?: When Jake Anderson in season 9 realized how badly he screwed up when he lost his temper and threw a punch on the Northwestern (for the second time, at the same guy) which basically ended his career on the Northwestern, put a black mark on his work record, and might even derail his plans for captaining his own boat. Then again, the reason he lost his temper was because he was stressed about an offer to work on another boat with the intention of eventually captaining it so he might be okay in the long run.
(Nearly) Naked People Are Funny: Especially when said people are on a slippery boat near the North Pole and getting hit by icy spray (and that's on a nice day).
Less funny for Keith when Freddy jumped into the ocean to help snag a dead walrus for Lenny (the only Native Alaskan and thus the only person who could legally harvest the tusks) wearing just his boxers. A special later revealed that A) if Freddy had inhaled while he was in the water it could have frozen his organs and B) after all that trouble the authorities confiscated the tusks from Lenny.
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.
Nausea Fuel: invokedDuring a "behind the scenes" special, one sequence featured the toilet on the Cornelia Marie being so stopped up that it was in danger of overflowing. To fix it, Phil slammed the boat into reverse, forcing water up the outlet and causing an eruption of sewage that sent one deckhand running into the galley retching. Jake's comment: "Man, that's a lot of shit."
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.
Never My Fault: Jake's confrontation with Edgar in Season 9 after violating Sig's long-standing rule against throwing a punch on deck has shades of this, as he offers excuses of why he's not entirely to blame ("[Matt Bradley's] not innocent in this!"). Could also overlap with My God, What Have I Done?, given what Sig said would happen to the next person who threw a punch ("[They're] gone. On the spot, done.")
Completely inverted by Monte Colburn when he accidentally sets pots for bairdi crab outside of the legal area - when he breaks the news to the crew (basically telling them that all their work over the past day or two has to be undone), he says "This is my fault and mine alone."
New Meat: Or as they're called on a fishing vessel, "greenhorns". One crewman estimated greenhorns have an 80% failure rate across the crab fleet. This is likely not an exaggeration.
The Wizard has had approximately one new greenhorn per season, and virtually 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.
Subverted by the new (2012 opilio season) greenhorn on the Wizard — he's sufficiently good at his job that even Keith is impressed and gives him a raise mid-season.
Nintendo Hard: Opie season, which is in the middle of winter in the Arctic ocean. There's no extra lives in this game.
No Fourth Wall: It's a documentary where the subjects are aware of and encouraged to talk to the cameras.
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".
The crew of the Time Bandit, has mentioned in multiple episodes an incident, where they came upon the aftermath of a ship that sank, and saved several crew members, but that the last man they pulled from the water was already dead.
No Such Thing as H.R.: 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") Andy Hillstrand: I mean, whatever happened to that in America? All this "human resources" crap, fuck that.
Off the Rails: Recounted in a story told by Jake and Josh Harris during one of the specials, regarding the time their parents gave them both boxing gloves when they were younger so they could get their mutual hostility out of their systems. At first, they box like normal, with Josh dodging Jake's punch and delivering a solid blow in return. Then Jake grabs a two-by-four and starts chasing Josh with it...
The story was later retold in season six, when Josh admitted his intention to find work on another boat due to him not being able to deal with working alongside his brother any more. This time, Phil added that after getting his butt kicked by his older brother in a fair fight, that it simply convinced Jake to become incredibily passive-aggressive with his brother, just made the sibling rivalry worse.
Offing the Offspring: Cape Caution deckhand Mikey Michell was nearly crushed by his dad twice while the latter was working the hydraulics; that combined with love-sickness and depression compelled him to walk off the deck — definitely not the best way to reward Wild Bill's endorsement of you. Mikey changed his mind on the trip back, and stayed for the rest of the season. His father Kerby, however, left the boat for reasons unknown.
Off The Wagon: Captain Elliott ended up checking himself into rehab partway through season ten after another conflict with Val led him to turn to heavy drinking. Given the reaction of his father (and some of his drunken rambling after one night at the bar), this wasn't the first time he'd done something like this.
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:
Chris would reveal in that season's After The Catch specials that he was unable to articulate that he believed he needed help badly, and so deliberately answered wrongly (possibly alluding to double vision).
In the 7/17/12 episode, the entire crew of the Northwestern has a collective Oh Crap when they find out that, while in really choppy water, the ship's slack tank has filled up with water, greatly increasing the risk of capsizing. Sig later reveals that that same situation sank his father's boat.
In the season 10 finale, an alarm goes off on the Cape Caution that indicates a fuel leak. Zach heads into the engine room to find that it's not just a leak: there's a hole in the air filter and the room is filled with atomized diesel fuel. When he relays this information, the usually stoic-but-irritated Bill's head snaps to the side in shock and his eyes widen. As several people point out, all it would have taken was one spark and the fuel/air mixture would have caused a massive explosion.
Ominous Fog: Doubly so because it not only lowers visibility, it can coat boats with ice faster than just the water.
Once an Episode: The boats' lengths, mentioned just about every time the action cuts from one boat to another.
108: One of the largest pots for the Time Bandit's 2012 king season had 108 crab, which was so notable that Capt. Andy ran down to the deck, shouted "108!" several times, ran back to the cabin, shouted it a few more times, and reported the number to himself.
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.
Enforced in season 9, when the Northwestern got a greenhorn named Nick and veteran crewman Nick Mavar would not tolerate it, saying New Meat-Nick would have to get a nickname (a footnote revealed he was eventually dubbed "Sunshine", for his "sunny disposition").
OOC Is Serious Business: Captain Sig yelling at the cameraman to "GET THE FUCK DOWN!" when a REALLY big wave loomed in front of them. Sig is worried? Oh Crap, this is BAD.
After greenhorn Chris is medevac'd off of the Wizard in bad shape (collapsing onto the floor, convulsing and barely coherent) and the crew goes back out on deck, the camera captures Freddy Maughtai (who has a tendency to be a hardass, and indeed was to Chris) looking as close to being an emotional wreck as we've ever seen him, wondering if he was responsible for Chris' physical breakdown and sounding regretful at having pushed him so hard. If it were anybody else, his emotional state would look "only" depressed, but on Freddy it seems as though he's feeling like absolute shit.
Opening Narration: This can vary from episode to episode, but until the sixth season, each episode started with "The vast Bering Sea ..." as spoken by Mike Rowe.
Plot Twist: The fates of the Michells on the Cape Caution: Mikey, who wanted to leave because he missed his girlfriend, decided to stay (to Wild Bill's delight) while his father suddenly decided he had enough of crabbing and left while they were unloading crab (Bill was significantly less delighted).
The Pollyanna: Nick "Sunshine" Tokman. Whether he's throwing up into a toilet ten minutes into his first crab trip, or getting ribbed by the crew for breaking said toilet later that season, or having his sleeve set on fire as a personal wake-up call, he rarely—if ever—loses his smile.
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 an 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 one boat's 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").
The Hillstrands love fire: They've shot rockets at each other, fired off 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. They may have toned things down after a crewmate nearly lost a hand to a mortar (and were mum on whether they had ever told someone to hold on to one for fun).
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.
Just before Jonathan shoved Keith, he made a reference to Keith "killing his brother", in reference to an accident with a giant wave that severely injured Keith's brother Monte. As might be expected, Keith did not take that insult well.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Jake and Josh. At the end of Opies 2011 they're even wearing corresponding hoodies.
The Rival: Elliot Neese vs Scott Campbell, Jr. Elliot tried to bury the hatchet in season nine, but Junior wasn't ready to let go.
Jake Anderson vs Matt Bradley, first established when they got into a fistfight in season four. This event got a Call Back in season nine, when they went at it again.
As Jake Anderson learned on the Kiska Sea, Oregon vs. Seattle fishermen or as Sig put it "There isn't [a rivalry], the Oregon guys just think there is."
Sadistic Choice: Elliot has to choose between loads of crab and the respect (not to mention earnings) of his crew or going back to port and dealing with his ex-girlfriend's restraining order. He chooses his family. It contributes to his getting fired from the captain's job at the helm of the Ramblin' Rose (due to low productivity), which is why he's on the Saga now.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: What many a greenhorn (fishermen and cameramen alike) wish they could do within days or even hours of leaving port.
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.
Series Mascot: At first Captain Phil was the face of the show with Captain Sig being a close second. Since Captain Phil's death Sig, along with Edgar and Jake Anderson, they get played up as being something of the main charactes of the show in ads.
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.
Good luck rituals. The importance that these captains and crews place on seemingly arbitrary good luck charms and rituals is pretty shocking. This is especially true on the Wizard - aside from the anger Dane Tebo stirred up by not joining in Freddy's mohawk ritual, there was an incident in one season where Keith got pissed at his brother for not waking him up from a nap to see a walrus (an animal that Keith considers a good luck charm).
Shockingly Expensive Bill: Crab pots cost about $1000 each; it costs roughly half a million dollars for one season's worth of fuel for the Wizard; the Time Bandit used all of season 8's opilio profits to upgrade their hull and engines, and then the entire hydraulics system needed to be replaced a year later for a total of just under a million dollars. There's also the mental and physical toll fishing, not to mention the consequences of being a Disappeared Dad. Lampshaded in the first episode of season 9.
Andy Hillstrand: You know how you make a million dollars crab fishing? Start with two million dollars.
Elliot got served for owing $50,000 in child support; later in the same episode he rescued friends from another boat that had run aground afterward he reflected on how screwed financially they're going to be (one had just bought a new house and put their kid in private school).
A greenhorn on the Cape Caution (Wild Bill's new boat) screws up a good spot by packing a little new bait on top of the old instead of putting all new bait in; crabs don't like old bait and as a result they lose an entire day's worth of fishing.
Averted when the Time Bandit takes an actual shortcut through the treacherously narrow and shallow False Pass — at night and with Johnathan's son Scotty at the helm no less.
Andy: (paraphrased) The lives of the men, the safety of the boat, and that season's profits are all in [Scotty's] hands. So no pressure. Scotty: Shut the [bleep] up.
Fisher, who was hired by Elliot after his boat sank and he and his crewmates were rescued by the Saga, decided to save a little time at the offloading area by moving the Saga's crane himself instead of calling Elliot (the controls are in the cabin). Fisher wound up breaking the $10,000 crane and to top things off he initially lied to Elliot about what happened.
Shotguns Are Just Better: One episode had Johnathan Hillstrand blow off steam by going out on deck and firing off a 12-gauge shotgun.
Mike Fourtner: "I just had a 12-gauge go off right by my head!"
When it was pointed out in the season 10 preview show that there would be five Hillstrands on the Time Bandit plus several father-son pairs on the other boats someone pointed out that it was "like Saving Private Ryan or something" (the mission to save Pvt. Ryan was spurred by one family losing all five sons when they were stationed in the same group); this also went into why the Hillstrands' father treated them so harshly — he wanted to get them away from fishing.
In Season 10 the captains take note all of all the classic TV shows whose runs they've surpassed (for example, Giligans Island), which shocks them because syndication made them seem longer than they actually were.
Also in the 10th season, Sig's daughter Mandy asks the rest of the Northwestern crew what her first string of crab pots should be called, to which Jake Anderson suggests "My Little Pony".
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.
Jake, shut up and let Sig praise you! And even after screwing up and basically getting fired the first whole sentence we hear from the rarely-filmed third Hansen brother Norman is about how good Jake is or was... or will be again, hopefully.
When asked if their father would be proud of them, the Hansens' mother got choked up and said "— Yes, very proud".
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.
Seems to be averted in later seasons; the show now generally just uses straight bleeps.
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.
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.
The subsequent opilio crab season took place under the threat of a rapidly advancing polar ice pack.
Super Bowl: One season 10 episode revolves around the crab fleet on Super Bowl Sunday. Justified as the Seattle Seahawks, the closest NFL team to Alaska, were in it. (A few ships, including the Northwestern, are actually based out of Seattle.)
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.
The Swear Jar: Sig on the Northwestern instituted one on Super Bowl Sunday, with the largest contributor having to clean the galley. Everyone in the crew contributed, including Mandy and Sig himself. The end of the episode revealed that Sig had to clean the galley.
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.
In season 9, Keith (again) and Sig/Edgar both decided to go for both blue and red crab.
The wife of the Maverick's captain took part in watching the helm, cooking good food, waking up deckhands, and boosting morale.
The head producer, who let Jake Harris stay at her place after he left rehab and is lovingly and respectfully called "Evil", "Beelzebub", and "[CENSORED]" by the captains, who also consider her the admiral of the Deadliest Catch fleet.
Elliot's current girlfriend could be this as she's going to be the Saga's cook (assuming Elliot's kidney infection doesn't get any worse and prevent them from fishing).
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 and onward feature a cold open (pun not intended), as opposed to the opening narration of prior seasons.
Anyone who didn't run from the ice in Season 8. When almost everyone else stayed home, Jr. went back out and got big numbers until he moved away from the hotspot and Keith decided to go back out after Monte throws dice ("Any combination of fives is good." — *gets pair of fives* — "Well, that's it!") He gets huge, huge numbers.
After Travis fell off the boat at the start of opie season, Andy declared that "nothing bad can happen now!" Cue poor fishing and Eddie Uwekoolani Sr. and Jr. getting nailed by falling ice.
On the Northwestern: "If we keep hauling numbers like this we'll sink the ship!" Edgar: "Something doesn't feel right..." If he didn't think to look inside one of the tanks (which was about to be hidden by stacked pots) the boat could've toppled over just like the Hansens' dad's first boat.
Wild Bill's season 10 greenhorn, a fisherman from Louisiana, had a tradition where everyone kisses a quarter which was then tossed overboard to "pay the god of the ocean" (or possibly "the boatman", as in the River Styx) for a safe trip. Everyone kissed the quarter — except Bill, who said that while he respected the guy's beliefs he didn't care for people who took superstitions that seriously on his boat. And so, after being delayed a week due to the government shutdown, the Cape Caution was ready to leave... and the engine didn't start. Bill kissed the quarter, the engine started, and they were able to start fishing (though the greenhorn didn't hold up too well).
10-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.
A somewhat different example: after Captain Keith of the Wizard brings an incredibly green newbie aboard during 2011 King Crab Season (Chris, the guy who would eventually need to be medevac'd out), Keith relates an instance where he had a "this is gonna suck" moment:
Keith: The last time I had a guy this green on board, I knew we were screwed when his mother called me and wanted to know who did the laundry on the ship for the boys.
When Monte, fishing for bairdi in season 10, realizes his gear has been set outside the designated fishing zone (making any crab caught by that gear illegal), he has this reaction to having to tell first his brother, then the crew.
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!
Edgar (mocking Sig): I'm an idiot! You're an idiot!
Jake Anderson: We're all idiots!
And continuing the theme:
Jake Anderson (via Twitter, after the Time Bandit crew tried to de-ice their crane with a mortar and accidentally broke their coiler): YOU IDIOTS!!!
Dane Tebo, a greenhorn on the Wizard who refused to get a mohawk haircut from Freddy Maughtai (a tradition Freddy started on the Cornelia Marie and brought to the Wizard to change the boats' luck during bad fishing), basically disrespecting Freddie and the rest of the Wizard crew.
He might not have looked so bad if he hadn't continued to insist on not getting one even AFTER hearing the explanation for the haircut (changing the crew's luck during bad fishing) from both Captain Keith AND another deckhand. It's understandable that somebody wouldn't react well to Freddy's reasoning (which boiled down to "I tell you to do something, you do it" - understandable in a life-or-death, on-the-job situation, but not so much with this). After hearing the reason behind the tradition and still continuing to reject it (even calling it "stupid shit" to Keith's face)...yeah, he just looked bad.
Freddy's main problem wasn't Dane calling his good-luck tradition stupid and not following orders, it was Dane disrespecting Capt. Keith — which to Freddy is the same as insulting his family (especially since Keith is Freddy's unborn child's godfather).
Aaaand then he tops himself in the June 25, 2013 episode when he sucker punches Freddie as the deckhands come inside. He claims Freddie was physically threatening him and that he was throwing the first punch because he wouldn't win in a fair fight; whether or not that's true, only the Wizard crew knows (though at least some of Freddie's behavior, including but not limited to throwing a small octopus at the greenhorn, could be interpreted as threatening or provocative). Whatever the case, Keith all but fired Dane at that point, saying that as soon as they hit the dock, he was gone. The only reason he didn't is because Dane quit before he could be fired (but not before getting in a final moment of idiocy on his way out by calling the Wizard a "stupid boat" and Captain Keith a "jackass" within earshot of Keith). A later show indicated he was doing everything he could to get fired, and it worked!
Captain Elliot Neese in the July 2, 2013 episode. He decides not to beat some ice off the Saga before stacking his pots. A few hours later, he gets woken up to the news that the ship is listing dangerously to one side because of all the ice on it. His response? Say "it's not that bad" (despite SEVERAL OTHER CREWMEN and COMMON SENSE saying it is) and telling them to just move some stuff in order to shift some weight over to the starboard side to balance things out! Fortunately, the crew disobeys him and gets out their on their own, waking themselves up from rack time, to beat the ice off the ship and keep it from sinking. And to top it off, Elliot overhears one of the crewmen grousing about his idiocy and says that crewman's going to be fired when the ship gets back to town, despite the fact that the grousing was caused by his own stupidity!
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 ofentitlement. 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.
Torture Technician: During a 90-hour grind Andy muses he'd be a great enhanced interrogator, given that he's already done sleep deprivation and water-boarding to his crew.
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...and some of the trailers don't overstate a dire situation, like when greenhorn Chris on the Wizard falls seriously ill.
Triang Relations: Aside from Type 7a: Captain/Family/Fishing, Elliott had one between his "wife" Val and his girlfriend until Val found out about the girlfriend and Elliott found out about the girlfriend's boyfriend. It finally fell apart when Val ended things for good and Elliott told his girlfriend he bought a ring and wanted to marry her (even the narrator's dumbfounded) but she didn't want to stop seeing her boyfriend — at Elliott's house, no less! — and Elliott took Keith's advice to settle everything so he can concentrate on fishing.
Trigger Happy: The Hillstrands marks special occasions with automatic rifle fire (plus flares and fireworks).
Another Kodiak crewman named Rainwater was washed out of a job after he couldn't stop causing drama.
There might be a clue to "Sunshine"'s disposition in his last name, Tokman.
A deckhand name Fisher was fished from certain doom after his boat sank and Elliot rescued him; he was later tossed overboard (not literally) when he tried to move the crane and broke it, which was the last straw after Elliot's crew complained he was slowing them down.
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.
Greenhorn Nick "Sunshine" Tokman in season nine wasn't even on the boat for ten minutes before he started throwing up. Thankfully for Sunshine, this was not foreshadowing in terms of his crabbing career; he's still fishing as of season 10.
"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. Season 8 revealed that Bill didn't think he was pulling his weight, though Zack's tweets seemed to indicate he didn't see anything unusual about it (or at least didn't consider it to be "yelling")
Wild Bill: "Zack's a great kid, he just has no balls". Considering Wild Bill's dad was a Marine drill sergeant who was so scary that young Bill would leave as soon as he got home, Bill's concern for his son — who he didn't even want to become a crabber — is positively cuddly. The other captains chime in that their dads were pretty much the same (with the addition that their dads would tell everyone but their kids how proud they were of them), although Bad Ass Grandpas tended to be pretty cool.
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; for the aftermath see Laser-Guided Karma above). There's also telling/threatening your ex-girlfriend's mother that you're going to take her grandkids to Mexico.
Jr. stated in After the Catch that the biggest reason he was angry was that Captain Elliott had not just potted him down, he'd done so in a way that caused the lines of the pots to be tangled up, which carried the danger of both captains losing those pots.
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.
Subverted with Jake Anderson, as his father's corpse was found after filming of season seven ended; meaning that the show could not exploit the angst. And if his recent twitter account posting is any indication, Jake seems kind of bitter that the show focused as much as it did on his losing loved ones as it did
You Have GOT To Be Kidding Me: Sig has this reaction in Season 10 when Norman and Edgar decide to have their skeet shooting contest, mostly because both men have been awake for about 36 hours straight at that point.
Sig: You've been awake for a day and a half and now you're going to play with guns?
You Look Familiar: Long-time viewers recognized Elliot's new boat, the Saga, from way back in the pilot and Season 1 — it's the boat where a guy falls overboard and they rescue him with the crane.
The man who went overboard? Kevin "Kado" Davis, then a rookie, now experienced enough, to have been a deckboss on the Ramblin Rose, till his falling out with Elliot.