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Series / American Chopper

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Started out in 2003 as a Docu Soap on the Discovery Channel about the Orange County Choppers bike shop, ran by Paul Teutul and his sons Paul Jr. and Mike. They built bikes; they argued. And at times, they just goofed off.

Then, the unthinkable happened: Sr. fired his son from the company, which ultimately led to the show's apparent Cancellation. But what seemed like the end of the saga, turned out to the beginning of a sort-of new series, American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior. This continuation had a similar formula, but this time, the arguments between father and son are Serious Business. As in, Paul Sr. did everything he could to put the workshop of his son, Paul Jr. Designs, out of business. It ran for four seasons in this format and then ended in a Grand Finale with Sr. and Jr. deciding to abandon their business relationship in order to save their familial one.

In November of 2013, ads began appearing for a new program, Orange County Choppers on a different network, featuring Paul Sr. At this point, expectations are for more or less a continuation of American Chopper.

In 2018, the show began airing all-new episodes, billed as a revival of the original series (rather than Senior vs Junior). While they have mellowed out and patched up some of their differences, There is still enough drama to continue making an interesting show. This ran for two seasons before a special, The Last Ride, aired in 2020 to provide a definite end to the series.

Tropes Appearing:

  • The Alcoholic: Bordering on a family trait. Mikey goes into rehab two seasons before Paul Sr. hit his "25 years sober" anniversary.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Paulie has a tendency to favor such designs, focusing on intricate aesthetics that result in beautiful bikes that can't actually be ridden for very long.
  • Badass Biker: The whole cast are Badass Bike Builders.
  • Berserk Button: Paul Sr. has quite a few:
    • The shop being disorderly.
    • Things taking longer than (he thinks) they should.
    • Anything dealing with Paul Jr...
    • Implying that Paulie is responsible for his success. When Paulie did this Senior reacted by kicking his office door out.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Paulie is quite protective of Mikey, especially when the extent of Mikey's addictions came to light and Mikey had to go into rehab. Paulie even set aside a corner of his new shop exclusively for Mikey's use and provided his younger brother with an array of very expensive art supplies so that Mikey could pursue his artistic ambitions while under Paulie's watchful eye. None of this stops Paulie from busting Mikey's balls, however.
  • Brooklyn Rage: The Teutels are New Yorkers, and it shows.
  • Cool Bike: Custom choppers are about 1/2 the premise of the show.
  • Crossover:
    • With Sons of Guns, featuring a chrome-plated machine gun with handlebars and a clutch lever trigger.
    • The 2011 "Build-off" with Paul Sr., Paul Jr., and Jesse James.
  • Family Drama: Deconstructed. The drama that goes on splits the family, and makes the show extremely hard to produce.
  • Gearhead Show: A reality show following the Teutuls, who operate the family business of building elaborate customized motorcycles.
  • Hot Paint Job: Averted in most of the custom bikes featured on the show, played straight by the customer bikes.
  • Hypocrite: Paul Sr. shows himself to be a bit of this. In most episodes, he criticizes Junior for trying to finish designing instead of helping to fabricate parts. However, in a later episode, when building a bike, Paul Sr. says, "We didn't get much fabrication done today, but we did get the design done, and as I always say, designing is half the battle."
  • Idiot Ball: Mikey totes this around a lot. In one episode, the crew goes to Paris. Mikey has a few hours to kill, so he decides to see Jim Morrison's grave. Except he doesn't speak French and has absolutely no idea where it is, so he wanders the streets in basically random directions, hoping to trip over it.
    • It's apparently mandated Once an Episode. "We're a week behind on [bike]. So, let's go ride go-carts/play mini golf/do something else time-wasting, stupid, and completely unrelated."
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • A company underlines the "New York" after "Orange County" to emphasize that they are not Californians.
    • Paul Sr. even got a tattoo on one of his biceps to help differentiate the two when in public.
  • It Has Only Just Begun: The advertisements for Senior vs. Junior begin with "What looked like the end...was only the beginning!".
  • Jerkass: Paul Sr., big time. He sued his son several times, scandalizes him constantly on international television and during radio shows, and has apparently convinced himself that his company's fame can only be attributed to his achievements, despite having stated otherwise previously, and seemingly having forgotten that this being a reality show, the truth has actually been filmed.
  • Motorcycle Jousting: One episode had them doing this in pairs, though one was on a scooter.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Rachel. She's regularly seen shuffling paper in Paul Jr's shop and acting as his sounding board (they are married), but what her job actually IS is never outright stated. One cannot deny, however, that she looks really good in the tight-fighting tops and hipster jeans she's always wearing.
  • Product Placement: During Senior vs. Junior, Vinnie wears caps and shirts with the logo of his own shop, V-Force Customs, prominently displayed. This was because Vinnie wanted to make clear to the audience that his personal business was still in operation.
  • Only Sane Employee:
    • Vince could qualify here, with the Teutul clan arguing for about half the show, and bikes needing to be built.
    • After the show got Uncancelled, this applies to Rick from Paul Sr.'s team, as he is the only worker who doesn't hate (or acts as if he hated) Paulie's guts.
  • Product Placement: Some savvy companies realized that simply hiring the Teutels to make them a themed bike effectively granted them two free hours of advertising on the Discovery Channel. So the guys have made bikes for Jay Leno (promoting The Tonight Show), I, Robot, and Siemens, among others.