Follow TV Tropes


Series / Shipping Wars

Go To

Shipping Wars is a 2012 A&E reality TV series that follows the lives of several independent cargo shippers who make their living by hauling loads too big/heavy/bulky/awkward for conventional shipping companies to take. In a typical episode, the shippers place bids on uShip for two unusual hauling jobs. After the auctions are over, the rest of the episode follows the winners as they load and haul their shipments (along with snarky comments from the other shippers). Marc Springer (The Big Rig), Roy Garber (The Handyman), Jennifer Brennan (The Cowgirl), and Jarrett Joyce (The Rookie) have been featured throughout the show's run. Season 1 had Suzanne and Scott Bawcom (The Veterans), but they were replaced in Season 2 by Christopher Hanna and Robbie Welsh (The Hotshot Couple).


On January 17, 2014, Roy Garber died at the age of 49 after suffering a heart attack. He appeared in a few Season 6 episodes that were filmed before his death. Chris and Robbie did not return for this season; new drivers introduced are Dusty Davie (The Prodigy), Jessica Samko (The Road Warrior), and Todd and Tamera Sturgis (The Double Threat). The final episode aired in 2015.

Not to be confused with Ship-to-Ship Combat, A.K.A. Shipping Wars, which are about the other kind of shippers.


This series provides examples of:

  • Auction: Inverted. The winner is (usually) the person with the lowest bid, though at times some of the shippers will bid the same price; in these cases, the bid from the one with the higher customer feedback rating takes priority. The shippers have to be careful not to bid so low that there is no profit to be made for the job.
    • In one episode, Marc actually bids UP on a job and wins it from Jen.
    • The client has the option to award the job to the lowest bidder, or to a higher bidder based on feedback ratings. In one episode Jarrett bids $1500 on a job. Marc in turn bids $2000, betting on his reputation to get the load, and ends up winning the job.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Marc's big rig is awesome, but it's also mass overkill for small loads unless he finds some other shipments to take on the same trip. His rig also becomes an issue when he has to go to places that have very little maneuvering room and/or low overhead clearance.
    • Also true for Jessica in Season 6.
  • Boring Yet Practical: Everyone else on the show has trailers hitched to their trucks (a van in Jarrett's case), which is more practical for smaller loads (like animals). In Season 4, Jarrett replaces his van/trailer with a church bus and rips out most of the seats to create cargo space.
  • Carrying a Cake: Jen had to do this. It didn't end very prettily.
  • Catchphrase: Roy's "Perfect, just like me." Also Chris's "Just another day at the office."
  • Classified Information: Jarrett wins a bid to transport a locked safe to a lab, with its owner and his hypnotherapist coming along for the ride. The owner initially refuses to reveal the safe's contents, but eventually does so after Jarrett insists on knowing what he's hauling as a condition of the deal. When the safe proves to contain what the owner claims is an alien implant taken out of his leg, Jarrett realizes he's dealing with a Cloud Cuckoolander.
    • Roy wins a bid to transport a locked strongbox to a mystery location. The client won't reveal its contents, even after Roy threatens to walk away unless he gets full disclosure. He only agrees to the job once the client offers to double his fee to $15,000. At the end of the extremely aggravating run, he finds out that this was all part of a training exercise for a private military contracting firm. He is not happy about it. To add an extra layer of uncomfortable, at the end of the episode they joke about giving Roy a heart attack. A few days after the episode aired, Roy actually did pass away from a heart attack.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: The aforementioned safe owner. Some of the other clients fall into this category as well.
  • Confession Cam: The shippers not on the job spend the episode snarking on those that are.
  • Conflict Ball: Generated between Jarrett and Marc, when a customer is — for some reason — permitted to demand Jarrett's shipment arrive before Marc's, under threat of no payment. This even though Jarrett has much further to travel with his shipment. It is so contrived that one half-expects it to turn out to be a big put-on against the rookie, but as far as we ever see, it's played totally straight.
  • Continuity Nod: Most shippers will make references back to past jobs.
    • In one of the latest episodes where Marc wins a bid to transport Evel Knievel's transport truck, Marc mentions he wanted to bring his buddy along to make up for the "Carny BS" they experienced before (See Ted Baxter below).
    • Marc refuses to bid on a shipment that originates from a storage locker, noting the grief he had with a previous shipment. He even warns the winning bidders the perils of taking on a job from a storage locker.
  • Fanservice: Jen/Robbie for the guys (The shipper in the episode "Not with a Whimper but a Bang" spent most of the time hitting on Robbie to Chris's dismay). Jarrett for the ladies.
  • Fanboy:
    • Marc is a fanboy of Evel Knievel.
    • Jarrett is a fanboy of Mumford & Sons, to the point that he heavily underbid everyone else in order to win a job hauling a "Chicken Car" that they wanted to use at one of their shows. He hoped to meet the band at the venue, but got shot down after he was four hours late making the delivery.
  • Friend to All Living Things:
    • Jennifer thinks she's one. But most of her animal shipping jobs seem to say otherwise.
    • Averted with Jarrett, who takes a job to deliver a couple of monkeys. When he sneaks them into his hotel room, they proceed to trash the place and make so much noise that he gets kicked out. By the end of the run, he's out several hundred dollars in cleaning bills and hoping never to see another monkey again as long as he lives.
    • Oddly enough, the ever surly Roy truly is a Friend to All Living Things, so long as said living thing isn't a human. He even travels with a cat, named Muffy, who he has a tendency to treat like a little baby.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In one episode, Roy undercuts Jennifer on a bid, thinking that she was desperate to get the job. Jen decides not to bite, leaving him with a low-profit job he really didn't want. Cue an Precision F-Strike.
    • Somewhat subverted with Jarrett and Chris/Robbie. The two were battling to ship a large Crooked House. Chris, wanting to "punish" Jarrett, lowers a bid to cost Jarrett some profit. Jarrett's computer suddenly loses power, and he frantically tries to find a car charger. Chris gets an Oh, Crap! moment when Robbie tells him that Jarrett isn't bidding. Chris wins the bid, and is not pleased. Jarrett finally gets on his phone to get into uShip but sees that the auction is over and is bummed out that he didn't win (Though in hindsight, he confesses that he's glad he didn't win this job after seeing the many issues Chris and Robbie had.)
    • Chris and Robbie nearly get hit with this one after they refit their truck to run on used cooking oil. Having bet their client $400 that they can finish the run on time with this setup, they have trouble finding restaurants with full grease traps that they can pump out for fuel. One owner even orders them off the property during a late-night stop. After this, though, they start calling ahead to get permission to empty the traps, and they end up winning the bet.
    • In one episode, Roy bids down an item despite having won the previous one, then backs out at the last second. Chris and Robbie win, but an enraged Chris calls Roy and gives him an earful. He then makes a bet with Roy: If he can deliver his item on time without damage and get a higher seller rating than Chris, Chris will give him the entirety of his pay for his delivery. Later on, Roy adds that the loser must wrap their truck with a giant message saying that the winner is the better transporter. Chris ends up being Blinded by Rage and having several difficulties with customers, but still manages to get on time with a 4-star rating. Immediately afterward, he brags that "there's no way Roy could beat that." Unfortunately for him, Roy fulfills his end of the bet, delivering it flawlessly in the nick of time and getting a higher than possible rating of 5.5 stars. As a result, Roy gets a big bonus, whileChris and Robbie end up losing all of the money they worked so hard for (they had to deal with some very difficult customers, which was worsened by the competitive, ill-tempered Chris). Chris is obviously very pissed off by this, as seen when he meets Roy to "pay the piper." He never admits, or even thinks to admit that he kinda deserved it.
  • Idiot Ball: Mostly Jarrett. Jennifer has her moments too, like paying a mechanic to look at her truck when all he did was shift to put it into gear.
  • Inappropriate Hunger: Robbie has talked about how hungry she is while on the job.
    • Jennifer once ate a bunch of candy on the road, giving herself a bad stomach ache and almost throwing up in front of a customer.
  • Jerkass: From the shippers to the haulers to the receivers.
    • Roy. The guy has practically no people skills, though it's sometimes justified when customers make rather unreasonable demands. Also, never "suggest" to him how to ship or secure items.
      • The episode "From Sphere To Infinity & Beyond", one shipping job was to deliver a Buzz Lightyear coin-operated ride to a boy who just lost his parents. All the shippers talk about doing the job at a reduced rate until Roy wins the bid by doing the job for free. In the Confession Cam, Roy talks about how he's doing this job for the kid. Turns out he may just be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold (thought that remains to be seen)
      • Roy's son Travis takes after him in this respect. When the two ride together on a delivery run, they get on each other's nerves so much that Travis asks to be dropped off along the way. He eventually has a change of heart and shows up at Roy's destination to help unload the cargo.
    • Marc's shipper in "One Crystal Short of a Geode." From asking him to break laws and regulations to giving him the riot act and withholding payment, it turns into a Small Name, Big Ego situation really quickly.
  • Karma Houdini: A non-villain example, the episode "Chicken Ship", Marc wins a bid to transport a custom-built hot-rod. The shipper asks him if he has a tarp, which Marc replied no and won't be covering it. One storm later, all the exposed metal on the hot-rod is rusted. To his credit, Marc did feel bad about it and was dreading the dropoff, but to his surprise, the receiver was actually fine with it (Prompting a Big "WHAT?!" from Jarrett).
  • Karmic Jackpot: Jen hopes for one when, unable to carry a large candy display, she carries bottled water to a relief center for free (Despite the fact she was already in the hole for the truck rental).
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Inverted. Roy has a cat named Muffy whom he genuinely loves, but he is not a people person and is considered a miserable bastard by all but the most patient customers he meets.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In one episode, Roy ended up getting a very low rating (0.5 stars) from a customer who was not afraid to point out how rude and disrespectful he was.
  • MacGyvering: They don't call Roy the Handyman for nothing. For as much as a Jerkass he is, he's very intelligent and has MacGyvered many solutions to potential shipping problems.
  • My Van Hates Me: Seems like Jarrett's van always breaks down on the job.
  • Noodle Incident: Suzanne reminds Scott about the "incident" in Mexico in "Baja or Bust."
  • Odd Couple: In one episode, Jen takes a job to transport three bulls, but the client tells her at the site that she has to take nine instead and she calls in Roy to help. It goes about as well as one might suspect.
  • Oh, Crap!: Practically Jarrett's Catchphrase
  • Race Against the Clock: If a load must be delivered by a strict deadline, with disastrous consequences for lateness, you can bet that by the time the shipment is loaded there will be no margin for error left.
  • Rage Quit: Several jobs have either ended this way or come to the brink of it.
    • Chris and Robbie cancel a job to ship a houseboat that turns out to be too heavy for them to legally haul on the trailer they have with them. In addition, the client turns out to have no equipment available for loading the boat onto the trailer.
    • Marc rage quits with the shipper of a carnival ride. See Small Name, Big Ego below for details.
    • Jen almost rage quits when the shipper of the nine bulls treats her with disdain while he heaps praise after praise on Roy.
    • On a job to ship a submarine statue, Roy almost quits when he finds out the shipper lied about the weight of the load. He eventually takes two lighter statues instead.
    • One of Jen's clients rage quits over a job to haul a giant statue made of butter. Jen wins the auction without realizing that she needs a refrigerated truck larger than her trailer. She, the client, and a crew spend several hours cutting the statue apart and lining the trailer with insulation and dry ice in a fruitless attempt to keep the butter from melting. Even though the client cancels the job, she still pays Jen the full fee.
  • Right-Hand Cat: Muffy, Roy's pet cat that always goes with him on the job. Whether it's villainous or not depends on if you see Roy as a villain.
  • Shout-Out: After learning that both jobs involve getting stuff out of storage lockers, Marc sarcastically questions if he ended up on Storage Wars.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: All of them, but especially Roy. However, his subsequent replacement after he died is even worse.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Some shippers and receivers of goods come across as this.
    • In "One Crystal Short of a Geode," Marc deals with a guy who sends out a job to haul Geodes across the country. Upon arriving to pickup the load, he encounters a situation where the shipper wants Marc to break numerous laws and regulations to ship his Geodes, which Marc refuses to do. After going through the hassle of dealing with the shipper and partially shipping the load (to be in compliance of weight limits), upon arriving at the destination, the shipper has called ahead and told the receiver not to pay Marc until he arrives and gives Marc the riot act. After an endless rant, the shipper eventually pays Marc and has the goods unloaded. Marc comments this is one of the worst loads he's ever done.
    • Marc again deals with an unrealistic shipper whom has a carnival ride going out. Unfortunately, the trailers are not road legal, and Marc attempts to try and ship them out as best as he can. The shipper sniffs at Marc saying that he isn't responsible for the mess, and ultimately, Marc just gives up on the load after a massive blow-up with the shipper.
    • Roy deals with a couple who bought a food truck in "Tavern on the Greenbacks." The couple seem to show no animosity to Roy and give him endless amounts of grief when delivering the truck at the final destination to the point where THEY force him to wait for a flat tow-bed to pickup their load from Roy's trailer. This compounds the fact that Roy's time waiting could be better spent making money with other loads.
  • Smug Snake: Roy by leaps and bounds. He seems to be the most snarked on of the other shippers. However, he could back it up.
    • Chris qualifies as well, especially when he makes a bet with Roy in a fit of rage after the latter bids down an item even though he already has a load. Unfortunately for Chris, Roy wins the bet.
  • Sore Loser: Chris makes a bet with Roy in one episode after the latter pulls a massive dick move For the Evulz, but Roy wins; see Hoist by His Own Petard above.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Jarret finally gets rid of his old van by blowing it up.
  • Unpredictable Results: Very rarely does a job go without a hitch. Most of the time it's a shipper's vehicle breaking down.
  • Unsatisfiable Customer: Ray (Type 3), the man who had geodes to ship and was a nightmare to work for. See Small Name, Big Ego above.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Hinted with Roy and Marc.
  • Where Do They Get All These Wonderful Toys?: Chris and Robbie seem to have a fleet of different trucks in various color schemes and wheel arrangements that they use.
  • Younger Than They Look: Roy looks like he's at least in his sixties. His grumpy, antisocial personality doesn't help. He was 49 when he died.