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Series / Gold Rush!

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A Reality TV series on the Discovery Channel detailing the trials and tribulations of a group of down on their luck family men who turn to gold mining in the hopes of finding large deposits of precious metal in order to get out of debt. Originally titled Gold Rush: Alaska, the Alaska part was dropped for season 2 due to Todd Hoffman's decision to add a mine in the Klondike, reinforced by the Hoffman crew being kicked off the Porcupine Creek site.

Began airing in October of 2010 with season 10 airing in 2020.

Due to the on-site and on camera drama between the crew members, crew members and their handling of the machines and with the sometimes questionable nature of the mining machines themselves, the series eventually drifted into Docusoap territory.

See also: Bering Sea Gold for gold mining where the gold is found on the floor of the Bering Sea, just off Nome, Alaska.

This show provides examples of:

  • Alaska: The mining was originally only happening in AK, but the Hoffmans' move to the Klondike widened the scope of the show. Season 2 featured 3 different mine crews, 2 of which were still in AK. The same mines are featured in seasons 3 and 4, with only Dakota Fred's crew remaining in Alaska in the fourth season. From season 5 on, Alaska is only the off-season home of a portion of the miners.
  • The Alleged Car: A number of mining machines are shown to be troublesome and breakdown-prone during the series. The low reliability rating of home-built wash plants counts here as they rely on these machines for their livelihood and frequent breakdowns and failures mean they are left waiting for repairs before they can resume catching elusive little flecks of yellow metal.
  • Anachronism Stew: In recent episodes, of the short-range variety. The kind of continuity things nitpickers and DVR watchers will notice.
    • In one episode, Parker Schnabel's very large dump truck can be seen in the background. It is only introduced as having been acquired in the next episode.
    • In a different episode, Dakota Fred's 930 loader can be seen in the background, with a wheel and hub removed. It isn't until after the following commercial break that we see the breakdown that necessitates the tear down.
  • Bears Are Bad News:
    • Played terrifyingly straight. Early on in the first season, it is mentioned by the narrator that the Porcupine Creek area is inhabited by both brown bears and black bears. They outnumber the humans by something like ten to one. They are occasionally caught on camera, and by the end of one episode, one of the marauding bears has been converted to a feast for the humans.
    • During the Behind the scenes episode, we get to see that the Klondike has its own population of brown and black bears.
  • The Bet: Several bets are placed over the course of this series.
    • During a season 5 episode, Dave Turin bets against Kevin over the quantity of gold in a particular cleanout. Dave loses and must wear an apron while making pancakes.
    • At the start of season 8, Todd bets Parker 100 ounces over which crew will recover the most.
      • Keep in mind that at more than $1200 per Ounce, these two have wagered well in excess of $100k.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Many examples, particularly in season 2 where the miners have expressed agitation with the camera crews filming them during high-stress situations, such as when Dave Turin threw a track on the D8 bulldozer.
  • Break the Haughty: What Dakota Fred seems to be going through during the second season.
  • Camera Abuse: A few cameras do take a beating/soaking. There's also some amount of camera man abuse, though it's not seen until the behind the scenes episode early on in season 2.
  • Canada, Eh?: Starting with Dakota Fred kicking the Hoffman crew off the Porcupine Creek claim in Season 2, The series has increasingly focused on the Klondike gold fields in Yukon Territory, Canada. As of season 5, there are no active mines outside of this area featured on screen.
  • Clip Show: Definitely. Especially in the 2nd season behind the scenes episode.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Tony Beets: Just about every sentence he says will have one or two profanities bleeped out.
  • Cool Car: Mike's opinion of Tony Beets's Oshkosh M1070 tank transporter tractor truck.
  • Cool Old Guy: Even into his 90's, John Schnabel spent time working at his mine, often visited Parker's site, and survived a heart attack (his third) during the filming of the second season. He died at age 96 in March 2016.
    • Jack Hoffman is still pretty capable despite his age too.
  • Cool Shades: Jack Hoffman is frequently seen wearing these.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: In season 2, the mechanic, James Harness's girlfriend flies in from the Lower 48. He takes a break to spend time with her. Todd calls him on this.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: Not only is this an Averted Trope, but, the aversion is lampshaded by both Parker and Fred when their machines develop leaks.
  • Epic Fail: Season 4 for the Hoffman Crew. All of it.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Bears, bad roads, glacier-fed rivers, also the moving heavy machinery.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Played straight to varying degrees in different seasons.
    • During the first season, the guys frequently lament that they are in danger of going into foreclosure on their houses back home. Failure to find any gold means going home not just broke, but deeper in debt than when they started. Unfortunately, by the end of season one, they have failed to find more than a few ounces of gold valued in the tens of thousands of dollars. They need more than 100 ounces worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
    • Season 2 saw the Hoffman crew kicked off their Porcupine Creek claim as well as recovering a relatively small amount of gold.
    • Season 4 saw the Hoffman crew pretty much lose everything in the jungles of Guyana.
    • Parker's first few seasons mining from his grandfather's Big Nugget mine were nothing but disappointment.
    • Although they finally meet their 1000 and 2000 ounce goals by the end of season 5, after the "final" cleanouts, we learn that they need more gold to secure mining rights for the next season (Hoffman crew) or afford to buy a new claim (Parker Schnabel).
    • For season 6, Tony Beets wanted to produce 900 ounces or 1 million dollars worth of gold with his decades-old resurrected dredge. He missed that goal by about 100 ounces. But his high efficiency methods gave him a 50 to 60% return on the digging efforts. (Vs 10 to 30% for stationary washplants.) Operating the dredge taught him and the crew how to do the job correctly and Tony plans on buying a second dredge during the 2016 mining season (season 7).
    • Eight episodes into season 7 and Tony Beets's dredge has been sunk not just once, but twice.
      • The next episode, the inspector declares his top-heavy tugboat unseaworthy, requiring him to go out and find another means of pushing/towing/hauling his new dredge downriver.
      • 2 weeks later, the bucket ladder return pulley suffers a broken bearing, sidelining the entire machine.
    • The Hoffman Crew found mining at the High Bar mine in Oregon's Blue Mountains to be much like their first two seasons and their South American season. The Buckland claim didn't help them fill their 5000 ounce wish list either.
    • Near the end of season 7, Tony learned that while he does indeed own his second, larger dredge, he lacks the proper land use permits he needs to move the behemoth (or its larger removed components) to the river.
    • Season 8 has been fairly good to Parker, but has shown no love to the Hoffman crew or Tony Beets.
      • By the end of the season, the Hoffman crew has mined slightly more than 1500 ounces and lost a 100 ounce ($100,000+) bet.
      • Tony's power barge is broken down and he still hasn't moved any significant portions of his second dredge.
    • Also appearing during Season 8 is a Spin-Off called Gold Rush White Water. It documents the efforts of Dakota Fred and Dustin Hurt attempting to mine an Alaskan canyon-bottom creek. At the end of the season, they have just a single ounce of gold and a sudden storm has nearly washed away their mine and filled a glory hole they spent four months digging. And they owe tons of money ... to Todd Hoffman.
  • Family Business: The Big Nugget mine was run by John Schnabel for decades before his grandson Parker took over.
    • It's mentioned that Dave Turin, a member of the Hoffman crew, works in a family-owned business when he's not mining.
    • Tony Beets has also brought in his own son and daughter to run his dredge for season 7.
  • Gold Fever: Actually mentioned by name at one point.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Todd and Jack Hoffman have a habit of using 'frick' (and variations thereof) instead of dropping genuine F-bombs.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: The faces of the MSHA inspectors are blurred out.
  • Huddle Power: The Hoffman crew frequently do this to pray, usually putting their hard hats together as well.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Dave Turin to Todd Hoffman. As the seasons go by it becomes increasingly apparent that Dave Turin is much more fit to lead a mining operation than the Hoffmans. By the end of the disastrous Season 4 for the Hoffman crew, Dave Turin strongly implies that he will run his own mining operation without the Hoffmans.
  • Jitter Cam: Any camera attached to the shaker part of the wash plant. The cameras attached to the excavator's arm probably also count.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Dakota Fred gets served with this; kicking the Hoffmans out of Porcupine Creek, only for his home in Minot, North Dakota to be destroyed by a flood later on.
    • Happens again when his mine is temporarily shut down by the Miner's Safety and Health Association for not only having a few safety violations, but for not having the properly documented miner's training. Parker Schnabel got shut down for the same reason though, and the viewers realize that the Hoffman's are just as vulnerable to the same thing.
    • And again in Season 4 when he finally gets to the bottom of the "glory hole" he's been digging out for three years. It proves to contain only a few ounces of gold, far less than the hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth he was hoping for. A second attempt to excavate the remaining material proves so risky that he gives up on the site.
  • Let Me at Him!: During the show's 7 year run, several scuffles broke out. Some more violent than others. A few of the standouts:
    • A member of the Hoffman crew wanted to have a 'talk' with Dakota Fred when it was announced that he was kicking them out of Porcupine Creek, and the others had to restrain him to keep him from getting at Fred.
    • In the Clip Show:/behind the scenes episode Dave(the guy holding him back) said had the cameras not been there he might have let him go.
    • Early in the season 7 finale, a significant fight breaks out between Dave Turin and Trey Polson. A cameraman's radio can be heard summoning a camera to film the situation.
  • More Dakka: The very first episode of the series features the guys unloading a multitude of Handguns and rifles from a trailer they had shipped up from Oregon. The AR15 best exemplifies this trope even if only mildly.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: This seems to be Fred's view of the MSHA inspectors during season 2. They put in a second appearance in season 3.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Dakota Fred is shown shooting tin cans with one while waiting for the rest of his crew to show up at Porcupine Creek.
  • Road Trip Plot : Each of the first 4 seasons opens with the miners traveling from their homes to get to the gold mines in the far north.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Happens several times in season 2, with members of the Hoffman team walking off the mine out of frustration. Even one of Dakota Fred's crew pulled this on him. Most cases result in the miners being talked into coming back later on though.
    • And again in Season 4: the Hoffman crew members desert their posts when, in Todd's absence, they discover that the site they're mining has already been worked by a previous crew.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Tony Effing Beets. See Cluster F Bomb above.
  • Smug Snake: Dakota Fred, without question. He shows nothing but contempt for the Hoffmans in both seasons, and when he takes over the Porcupine Creek operation in the second season he doesn't show much compassion for his own crew either.
  • Spin-Off: Seems to have spawned the series Bering Sea Gold, which seems to be Gold Rush meets Deadliest Catch. Interseason specials Gold Rush: The Jungle and Gold Rush: South America featured the Hoffman crew's exploits prospecting in South America. Jungle Gold featured a totally unrelated group from Utah mining in Ghana in western Africa. Bamazon features yet another unrelated group from Alabama, prospecting in Brazil's Amazon Basin.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: With many decades of association between mining and the use of explosives in the pursuit of mineral extraction, it is surprising that it took until season 3 to feature a large limestone outcropping being reduced to gravel.
    • Again in Season 7 when the Hoffmans blew up a massive boulder.
  • Team Pet: The Hoffmans have an Australian shepherd named Blue that's often seen wandering around the mining site at least once an episode. Even became part of the opening sequence in the 2nd season.
    • More recently, Parker Schnabel has adopted a dog named Dozer.
  • This Ain't Rocket Surgery: One eighth season episode has Parker's mechanic mention this trope by name while repairing a loose battery connection on a water pump.
  • V8 Engine Noises: The sound of a carbureted V-8 engine that doesn't want to stop can often be heard when various large, diesel engine powered machines are shown being shut down. They could not possibly all make exactly the same noise when being shut down.
  • Wild Card / Turn Coat, (without the good and evil stuff)
    • Two miners previously seen working for the Hoffmans prior to Season 4 work for Parker in Season 5.
    • Fred Dodge, a mining equipment professional, consults for both the Hoffmans and Parker in season 4.
    • For season 6, Parker's Season 5 Mine Foreman, Gene Cheesman went to work for Tony Beets along with a few other former Parker Schnabel employees.
  • Wild Hair: Tony Beets!