is a long-running (in its 10th season and counting) Docu Soap Reality TV
show on The Discovery Channel
that follows crews of fishermen during their two seasons on the rough Bering Sea seeking a valuable commodity — the enormous red king crab
around October, and the opilio or snow crab around January. It is repeatedly stated that this is the "deadliest job in the world", and tragedy does occur, such as the sinking of other ships, as well as serious injuries and near-fatal accidents on the featured boats. The opilio season is particularly dangerous due to weather concerns. The show debuted in April, 2005 and is still ongoing.
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)
- Time Bandit
- 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)
- Cape Caution
- 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)
- Cornelia Marie
- Captain: Casey McManus
- Prominent crew: Josh Harris (owner, captain trainee), Zack Fritz (deckhand), Travis Lofland (deckhand), Jake Jolisbois (deckhand), Tim Pennington (greenhorn), Cody Moen (greenhorn)
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
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
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
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.
- Aerosol Flamethrower: Edgar Hansen loves these.
- Affectionate Nickname: Keith often calls his brother Monte "Mouse".
- Ain't No Rule: Neese justifies setting his pots on top of Jr.'s (basically cheating since Jr. found the spot first) because you can't claim territory in the ocean.
- All of the Other Reindeer:
- 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.
- Aloof Older Brother: Sig Hansen, to younger brother Edgar.
- Josh Harris to his younger brother Jake, though in a subversion, Jake technically has seniority over older brother Josh.
- Ambition Is Evil: Mike Fourtner got touched with this in season 6, getting a big head about the Capts. Hillstrand choosing him as a potential captain; see Took a Level in Jerkass.
- 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!
- 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.
- And You Were There: Inverted. In the 2010 season finale, Sig mentions he had an unnervingly vivid dream where he was at Phil's house looking all over for him but he wasn't there, for obvious reasons.
- Ascended Extra: 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.
- Behind the Black: A US Coast Guard cutter managed to sneak up on the Northwestern to administer a (surprise?) inspection. Sig and company wondered how they'd missed seeing it coming.
- Big Brother Is Listening: All the miked crewmembers' audio can be heard by the captains.
- 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).
- Big Eater:
- Since the work can go for hours and hours, meals are few and far between so carbo-loading is mandatory.
- In New Orleans, Mike Fourtner beat everyone in a oyster-eating contest by eating 25 in, like, half a minute.
- Big Fancy House:
- 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 nephew 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
- Blond Guys Are Evil: Captain Sig.
- Bottle Episode: After The Catch, a yearly special during which the captains (and some of the other fishers and crew and other guests) meet in a pub to trade stories and talk about the show. Usually hosted by Rowe, but season 3 was hosted by Cash Cab's Ben Bailey.
- Bound and Gagged: To get back at Josh Harris for winning the crab bet and then bragging about it, the rest of the desk hands duct taped him to a ladder, and taped over his mouth.
- 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 penniless and facing several years worth of working with all the cash he earns being earmarked for his creditors.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall:
- In one episode, Captain Keith got into a shouting match with a rookie cameraman that resulted in Keith shoving said cameraman down a hallway and then confining him to his quarters, which Keith later explained as being for the cameraman's safety so things didn't escalate further.
- Johnathan on the Time Bandit threatened to "get rid of these cameras" when Mike Fourtner was griping to them about a disagreement with the Hillstrands instead of shutting up and getting back to work.
- 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!
- Broken Bird: Jake Anderson.
- 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.
- 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.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Not quite in the spirit of the trope, but they really do earn their money.
- 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 a constant cycle of work, make money, spend money, go back to work.
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
- Embarrassing Name: Say hello to the almighty Sigurd Jonny Hansen everybody!
- Empathic Environment:
- 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.
- End of an Age:
- Season 1 ended on an awfully bittersweet note. On the one hand two of the ships hit records; on the other hand six had died, and it was the final season for Derby style fishing. While safer, the Quota system would make it harder for the crews to make money, as well putting a lot of crews out of work. This change has caused a number of tough captains to shed Manly Tears.
- 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.
- Everybody Smokes: It's not healthy, but nothing about this job is healthy.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: Thousand-pound crab pots swing from cranes like giant piñatas. 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.
- Evolving Credits:
- The show's credits change to reflect the boats that are featured most prominently.
- The credits for the sixth season featured the Cornelia Marie's crew first, and also featured a group shot of the captains which zooms in on Phil's eye as a scene transition.
- The credits for the seventh and eighth season feature an image of Phil from behind a window, almost like an apparition. Likely intentional, reflecting his current status; the lyric playing over this is "where the faces are so cold", and the image fades to the faces of his sons Josh and Jake.
- Fandom: The captains are a bit perplexed that not only are they recognized as stars, but they even have their own convention, CatchCon.
- 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.
- First Name Ultimatum / Full Name Ultimatum: Capt. Phil referred to his sons as Joshua and Jacob when he was especially annoyed.
- The Fishing Addict: Fishing is referred to as a dangerous addiction by the fishermen themselves, who are very aware of problems such a hazardous job (and subsequent rush of money, if you're good at it) can cause. Additionally: "It's called 'fishing', not catching."
- Phil seemed to be going through withdrawal symptoms in a story where the fishermen were on strike and he was constantly pacing at meetings and muttering "We have to get out there, we have to get out there!"
- Fishermen Want Non-Fishing Sons / Turn Out Like His Father: Jr.'s dad and Wild Bill did not want their sons to become fisherman — Jr.'s dad even gave his men carte blanche to scare Jr. away from the business.
- 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.
- Foils: The Hillstrand brothers, who clearly love each others company (most of the time) vs. practically all the other brothers on the show. Edgar was once surprised to see the two actually hugging, and when Sig hugged him he actually turned bright red.
- Follow in My Footsteps: The crab fishing industry is absolutely rife with this trope. Almost every single captain featured on the show 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.
- Follow the Leader: Swords, Lobstermen, Whale Wars...
- 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 Video meets Twitter. 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.
- Foreshadowing: Alas poor Phil ... damn gratuitous raven.
- Forgiven, but Not Forgotten: Sig seems to have this attitude regarding Edgar's previous drug addictions. This attitude eventually gets Edgar to call Sig out on it (season 9 premiere).
- Frivolous Lawsuit: Well, maybe not all that frivolous ... it was feared it might even prevent the Hillstrands from being in the next season, but fortunately the lawsuit was settled in time to allow business to go on as usual.
- Fun with Acronyms: "BOAT: Break Out Another Thousand" — anyone who owns a boat, of any kind, anywhere, at any point in history.
- Functional Addict: And not just to fishing. Probably the Dark Secret of this and other The Real Heroes-style reality shows.
- 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.
- Funny Foreigner:
- 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 , 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.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Apparently no one noticed the FUCK graffiti behind Mike Fourtner's head in the WW2 bunker.
- 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.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen:
- Norman Hansen, engineer and third co-owner of the Northwestern, hates being filmed and avoids the cameras whenever he can. Additionally, he refuses to talk to the cameramen, so by the second season, they'd given up and stopped even trying to film him, to his relief. 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 near 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.
- It's Quiet... Too Quiet:
- 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.
- Jerk Ass:
- 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.
- Laser-Guided Karma:
- 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.
- Love Martyr: Captain Elliott, to his girlfriend Val.
- Mad Crab Captain's Beautiful Daughter: Mandy Hansen.
- 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..."
- Manly Men Can Crabfish
- Manly Tears:
- Whenever the captains hear that a crew has been lost.
- Entire crews upon learning of Phil's death. The Northwestern crew was especially visible, startling to the average viewer of that normally stoic vessel.
- 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 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 nephew 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.
- 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.
- Must Have Nicotine:
- Capt. Sig stops smoking after some mysterious chest pains. He starts again an hour later. Later on, Sig threw out his cigarettes when he found out about Phil's stroke, and several other people also dropped their tobacco habits.
- Phil himself managed to drop from nine packs a day to just one.
- Capt. Keith's daughter has been trying to get him to quit chewing tobacco; it's not going so well.
- Some of the crewmembers, including Captain Sig and Josh Harris, are currently using e-cigarettes.
- 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: During 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."
- Necessary Evil:
- How the crew views the captains and how the captains view themselves (especially Sig).
- How the captains view the operators of the processing plants that they deliver their catch to.
- 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.
- Not Quite Saved Enough:
- A ship came within touching distance of a man whose ship had sunk; unfortunately it was a giant car-carrier (the closest opening or rung was 20' above the water's surface, and on top of that there was a storm) and the people on board couldn't do anything but watch as the man drifted past.
- Phil should've died immediately of his massive stroke, but doctors were able to relieve the pressure on his brain in time to save him. He was regaining movement on his paralyzed side and the doctor was quite confident about starting an eight-month therapy program when he had a fatal "event".
- 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.
- Once a Season: The crew of the Northwestern start every crabbing season by having someone bite the head off of a herring, and end it by snaring the final crab pot with a flaming hook.
- 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.
- One Steve Limit: Averted:
- There's two Jakes (three if you count a greenhorn cameraman), and now the Kodiak has a Jake on deck. In fact, as of season 8, the Northwestern has two Jakes (Anderson and Harris).
- There's Josh Harris, briefly Josh Fullmer (a greenhorn who thought he could fish for crab after watching some videos on the internet), who was replaced by another greenhorn named Josh.
- 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.
- Percussive Maintenance: Using sledgehammers to break ice off the ships and equipment.
- Perfectly Cromulent Word: Crabalanche!
- 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.
- Precision F-Strike: Courtesy of Sig Hansen and a rogue wave: "GET THE FUCK DOWN!"
- Product Displacement: With varying degrees of success and possibly to the point of a Running Gag:
- In one scene, Josh Harris is wearing a hat with the Hurley logo covered with gaffer's tape — poorly: it barely covered the middle of the logo; the next scene has him shot from the other side, and word Hurley (with tiny version of the logo) is uncovered. Currently, any boardsports logos are just ignored to the point where as of 2011 the Cornelia Marie's sorting table is coated with DVS Shoes logos and one crewmember showed up wearing 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").
- Product Placement:
- DVDs of Deadliest Catch can be found in the Norway pavilion at EPCOT Center along with Helly/Hansen (no relation to Sig... probably) gear.
- The Hillstrands' obnoxiously large GEICO mugs.
- Elliot Neese seems to be sponsored by 686 clothing.
- Scott Campbell seems to have this with Bass Pro Shops.
- Pyro Maniac:
- Edgar Hansen enjoys fire a little too much.
- 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).