It seems that recently, more and more people have been uncovering scandals about the shows on the Discovery Channel. Discovery Communications, the parent company of TLC, Animal Planet, and The Discovery Channel is probably used to just about every controversy by this point. While these things cause the cancellation of a show every once in a while, we can’t help but wonder why the Discovery Channel attracts these kinds of behavior. Let’s take a look at some of the most scandalous things that happened in Discovery Channel’s history.
Bear Grylls Got Fired
We don’t think there are a lot of things that Bear Grylls can’t do. However, he almost got fired by not putting in the work on anything other than Man Vs. Wild. As it turns out, he wasn’t completely willing to work on two upcoming projects by the network. Instead of letting him stay on the show that gave him his fame, they fired him after six seasons.
It Was Fake
The most damaging thing a reality show can do is pretend to be something it is not. Having invested so much time and emotional bandwidth in a series only to discover that it was staged makes viewers feel foolish. Survivor Bear Grylls was featured on Discovery Channel’s Man vs. Wild, a show that followed the military-trained British survivalist as he ventured out into the wilderness with nothing but his unique set of skills. He always managed to make it through… in part because the whole thing was so meticulously staged.
It’s The Other Way Around
According to the Sunday Times, after the first season of the show aired, a crew member revealed that Grylls was not always sleeping on twigs and leaves, but was instead staying in a nearby hotel. Once, an episode implied that Grylls constructed a strong, water-resistant raft on his own when, in fact, a crew had previously constructed the raft to see if it would float before carefully disassembling it so that Grylls could assemble it himself. And what about those wild horses that Grylls came across? Those came from a horse-rental establishment.
The Alaskan Bush People Are Not Alaskan
This isn’t the first time that this show has faced controversy. The truth is, the people on the show aren’t even Alaskan. To top it off, their old home was only 10 miles away from the town center. The family was given citations for false statements about the residency on their hunting and fishing licenses. They were living in Texas and Colorado before they moved to Alaska in 2012.
Alaskan Bush People Were Guilty Of Fraud
It looks like the people on the show can’t stop lying about their time in Alaska. Back in 2015, the Browns admitted they lied about living there to get government checks. Billy and Bam Bam both pleaded guilty to second-degree unsworn falsification. They claimed they were from southeast Alaska, giving full-time residents a lot of money to stay in the state from the Alaskan Permanent Fund Division. Billy said he got $7,956, and Bam Bam got $1,174. They both were sentenced to a month in jail.
American Guns Got Cancelled After Controversies
Discovery decided to make some money on the firearms obsession with this show. It followed the Wyatt family, the owners of Gunsmoke Guns in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. The very last episode aired in 2012 even though both seasons of the show got good ratings. It’s been said that the network canceled it because of gun-related incidents like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Gunsmoke Guns Was Robbed After Show Cancellation
After it got canceled, the Gunsmoke Guns were robbed through a hole in the ceiling. The police didn’t know if it was done by one person or more, but the robbers got away with 3 rifles and 12 handguns. Plenty of news sources say it was such an unfortunate incident that no one could have been prepared for what happened to the family just a few weeks later.
Richard Wyatt Did Not Have A Gun License
Another thing that’s been found out is that Richard Wyatt didn’t have a permit to sell guns. Back in 2012, he somehow lost his Federal Firearms License for violating federal laws and regulations. He kept on selling firearms through a straw license that was owned by someone else. He was accused of changing the address of a different store to Gunsmoke’s. When a person would buy a gun at Gunsmoke, they were asked to go to Triggers and fill out all the paperwork there. It might seem like nothing more than a loophole, but in 2016, he got indicted for this.
Richard Wyatt Did Not Report $1.1 Million In Personal Income
Just nine days after the robbery at Gunsmoke Guns, IRS conducted a raid for tax evasion. The investigation began in 2010 when an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives found out that Wyatt might be hiding six fully automatic weapons without the right permissions. Wyatt failed to report $1.1 million in personal income from 2009 to 2012. On top of that, he was charged with filing a false tax return. He was found guilty of 10 felony counts.
American Guns Had Criminals For Clients
On top of everything, American Guns also contributed to the sale of a stolen firearms. In the finale of the premiere season, a man named Wylie Newton wanted to sell a $20,000 antique Colt Pistol. It turned out to be stolen from the New Mexico Museum. He almost got away with it, only selling it on TV wasn’t the best idea. When someone who knew about the robbery saw the show, they called the authorities.
Kim Ford And Stephanie Hayden Were Arrested Too
The Hayden family seems to be full of criminals. After her father was arrested, Stephanie Hayden Ford and her husband Kris Ford were arrested for cruelty to juveniles. They allegedly hit their 9-year-old son with a belt and caused him bruises. While Kris was thought to be the one to perform the act, Stephanie was brought in for being present at the time of the beating.
Sons Of Guns Stars Were Mistaken For Terrorist
Soon after the show’s first season premiered, two members of the production team drove up to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and parked a rental truck loaded with pyrotechnics and a few firearms outside Terminal B. They then left the truck unattended while they went in search of a third member of their group. A truck loaded with explosives and guns was briefly abandoned outside an airport, and the authorities were called.
Even worse, they carried out the attack on September 11, 2011, the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The owners of the truck were tracked down and interrogated by airport security and the FBI. The crew members were eventually released, and the terminal that had been closed for several hours was reopened after a few hours.
Cody Lundin Said His Dual Survival Co-Host Threatened Him
Dual Survival, a survival reality TV show, faced controversy when Cody Lundin sued the entire network. The lawsuit said the co-host Joe Teti threatened to kill him while they were shooting the show. Lundin claimed that producers wanted him to act like he was going crazy during filming.
Not Once, But Twice
However, Teti was waving an ice ax and threatening to bury him in a Norwegian mountain. The second time Lundin was threatened was while they were in Hawaii. Teti threatened to use a spear to impale him. According to Lundin, Teti showed him pictures of the people he allegedly killed while in the CIA.
Naked And Afraid Helps The Contestants
The popular Discovery survival show suffered when contestants revealed that the show was more or less fake. On the show, a pair of survivors team up to live off nature for 21 days. Naturally, getting help from the crew would defeat the purpose. However, the Daily Mail said that the show fed a female contestant rice, bread, and even baby food after getting sick from eating a turtle. She was given IV drips as well to avoid dehydration. While this was all necessary to save her life, the show should have owned up to it.
Naked And Afraid Contestant Claimed It Was Scripted
In season 3, Honora Bowen and Matt Struzel competed in Brazil. While Matt finished the challenge, Honora needed to leave early due to heat exhaustion. She then wrote on her blog, revealing a few interesting things. According to her, she was instructed to start a fight with Matt to make things interesting. She said the producers went as far as coaching her about what to say about her background and father. As it turns out, she had a bladder problem, not heat exhaustion. She simply faked a medical issue to quit.
It’s Not A Titillating Show
Naked and Afraid is not a titillating tv series, in spite of the fact that it features a group of naked, fit people hanging out in the middle of nowhere — those people are literally naked and afraid, whether of wild animals, deprivation, exposure, or freezing to death. They’re preoccupied with finding shelter and modesty-providing leaves that they haven’t had time to devote to improving their personal relationships.
It Was Canceled
Upon the show’s debut in 2013, One Million Moms, an organization dedicated to decency and family-friendliness in all media, encouraged its members and supporters to boycott it and demanded that Discovery Channel cancel the show outright because they believed it to be filthy. The show was ultimately canceled by Discovery Channel.
Visitors At Count’s Kustoms Were Not Impressed
Back in 2012, Counting Cars went on the air. The Pawn Stars spin-off followed the world of selling, buying, and customizing unique cars at an auto shop named Count’s Kustoms. Danny Koker was a car expert on Pawn Stars, leading him to get the show. People who went to the shop might have seemed happy on TV, but plenty of visitors didn’t feel that way. They found the location rather sketchy, and the merch was overpriced.
Not The Whole Picture
American Pickers is a show that stars Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe while they look for discarded items that are actually valuable treasures. The two also get help from Danielle, the store manager. In reality, a lot of things they find don’t even make it to the screen. The producers sift through the collections and pick the best items out of the finds.
Items Are Pre-Selected In These Shows
American Pickers and Pawn Stars are from the same network, so a similar protocol makes sense. Rick Harrison seemed to be friends with everyone, but he didn’t actually find the items on the show. Truth is, the producers already bought the valuable items and then planted them on set.
Restorations Are Not Up To Par
Another spin-off of Pawn Stars is American Restorations. It follows a team that attempts to restore old objects to their former glory. If you watch it, you’ll see the results of their hard work. However, fans noticed a few mistakes. One example is in an episode named ‘Secret Fan’. A viewer noticed the wheels on the restored go-kart were put on crooked. This made the kart wobble. Considering how much they charge for their services, it’s a good idea to go somewhere else.
Pawn Stars Rarely Go To The Store
This show is famous for its stars, Chumlee, Corey, Rick, and The Old Man. Before the cameras came around, they worked in the store regularly. However, that isn’t the case anymore. Nowadays, they hardly go to the store since the camera crew gets in the way with sales and customers. Now, they only go there to shoot.
The Show Is Staged
Plenty of the collections have been planted in American Pickers, so it’s worth it to check if there is anything else they did. They found collections and then sold the focal points off of them. When they did sell, they staged the negotiations. This isn’t much of a surprise since there is no way the seller would bicker with Mike and Frank every single time. The target price is always agreed on before the pickers even get there.
Man Did Not Get Eaten Alive
We all know that misleading advertising isn’t so uncommon. However, this is a serious offense that the Federal Trade Commission has specific guidelines for. When the Discovery Channel special Eaten Alive aired, fans were furious when Paul Rosolie was face-to-face with a 20-foot anaconda. For months on end, the network said he would get eaten alive, but he was rescued by a team several hours later. However, the snake did swallow his head and nearly broke his arm. The network faced plenty of backlash for this.
PETA Spoke Out Against Eaten Alive
So many angry people online claimed the Discovery Channel had misleading advertising. So much so that PETA voiced its concern about the way Rosalie was allowed to put an oxygen-supplying helmet and a special carbon-fiber suit to torment the anaconda. They also said it would have probably killed the snake if it had swallowed the man alive. They released a statement, saying, “Shame on this pseudo ‘wildlife expert’ for tormenting this animal and shame on the Discovery Channel for giving him the incentive to do so.”
Mama June Went Out With A Child Molester
Another company owned by Discovery, TLC, faced plenty of controversy with Honey Boo Boo. Suddenly, the show was canceled when Mama June started dating a convicted sex offender. Mark McDaniel spent an entire decade in jail for molesting her daughter, Anna “Chickadee” Cardwell. He was accused of repeated sexual abuse when they were in the same bed. An apology was issued only after they broke up.
Chickadee Sued Mama June For Withholding Money
Even though the show was taken off the air, it still managed to find a way to get to the headlines. Chickadee sued Mama June and TLC for withholding a $201,000 profit from the show. She said her 2-year-old Kaitlyn was also owed almost $100,000. TMZ reported that the family made $22,500 per episode, which would be split among the kids. Mama June claimed that the money got directly deposited.
Swamp People Legal Woes
This show is about the day-to-day life of alligator hunters in Louisiana. It seems like a wild ride, but wait until you hear what their lives are like off-screen. Chase Landry, Nick Payne, and Jay Paul each have their own legal battles. Trapper Joe Lafont has the most serious one out of them all. He has a history of domestic abuse that began in 2012 and happened again in 2013 and 2015.
Changes Out Of Nowhere
Television shows, mainly reality shows, always have a risk of changing. It’s very rare for one to keep going with nothing changing along the way. After its 6th season, Swamp people went through a huge change. The shift started when 12 cast members suddenly were replaced. Not to mention, the History Channel never explained the reasoning behind it. Fans only found this out in the 7th season premiere.
Not That Off The Grid
People who watched Mountain Men got to watch a group of people looking for a simple way to live. However, viewers couldn’t help but feel somewhat tricked by the cast. After all, Jason Hawk runs an online store. Not to mention, Nancy and Tom Oar have cable. These things clearly show that it isn’t all that authentic.
Even Encounters Are Staged
We’ve learned about staged events from History Channel, but even the casual encounters aren’t as real as they want you to think. Those are also set up by producers. Most sellers are found and then scheduled when to appear on the show. Rick gets time to learn about the item, which makes it easier to talk with an expert.
Fritz Is Not That Invested
A lot of American Pickers fans might be convinced that Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz are both devoted to what they do. However, it turns out that they aren’t exactly treasure hunters who are passionate about antiques – at least not until they went on the show. Mike might be, but Fritz is another story. He’s much more interested in business and collecting.
His Questionable Views
When he’s out of his shop on the show, Counting Cars, Danny Koker isn’t afraid to share his political views. When he spoke to The Morning Show, he spoke about hybrid and low-emission cars. According to him, they were pretty much useless. Other than this, Koker openly supported Donald Trump during the presidential race. The network doesn’t want him to use the show for politics, but he doesn’t seem to care.
Hunting Is Misrepresented
When reality shows fail to live up to their names, it can be quite frustrating. Plenty of people called out the fact that a show about alligator hunting should be more honest. These same people also reckon that the alligators supposedly hunted on the show are dead beforehand. They also believe it’s common for alligators to be that large all the time. As you can see, only experienced hunters can see the authenticity of shows like these.
Poor Buying Decisions
One enjoyable thing about the show would be the negotiations regarding the price. A lot of people have no idea they’re already staged, but they’re still amused by the interactions between the staff and customers. Most of the time, the staff comes out on top with the deals. However, there still are times when the members of the cast make poor purchases. The cast has been open about these bad decisions. These mistakes can set them back as much as $10,000 at a time!
Chumlee And His Legal Problems
If you’re like most Pawn Stars fans, you might think that Chumlee is a vital cast member. His personable approach to the job charms most of the fans. Even though he’s a laid-back guy, he did get into some trouble back in 2016. When police raided his house, they found illegal firearms as well as drugs. He only got probation for these things, meaning he was able to continue appearing on the show.
Not Much Faith In Street Outlaws
A huge secret was revealed by Justin “Big Chief” Shearer. He said no one was optimistic about how well the show would do. He mentioned it began with smaller media companies and it only grew from there. The producers themselves had no idea how the show would do after its first season. However, this is the mindset that allowed them to go all out while they were filming – enough to end up getting 10 seasons!
Stopped By The Police
This show focuses on the cast that makes moonshine illegally. A lot of viewers caught on to the show. Every now and again, someone from the show would be stopped by the police with the cameras rolling. Oftentimes, they can walk or drive away, but it does make for TV drama. Once, Tim Smith said that law enforcement asked him about the show and he invited the cop for dinner.
Losing The License
If you’re a car racer, you should know that appearing on Street Outlaws will seriously help your stick. A lot of new fans are guaranteed. All the same, you risk losing the license if you do so. The National Hot Rod Association has threatened drivers in 2015 to take racing licenses if they do this. While this decision has seen a lot of backlashes, the agency remains the same.
An Undercover Sting
Sometimes, things are too good to be true. This TV show is about illegal high-end street races. Joe Woods didn’t think the show would become as successful as it did. He even thought it was a secret spy operation. He didn’t trust the producers of this show. Honestly, we can’t blame him.
Virginia Revealed The Truth About The Moonshiners
It turned out that the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control said they were misled about the show. It didn’t end there, however. It also came out and was reported that Discovery was airing what was called a false show. Viewers questioned why the state allowed such a crime to happen, so there was no choice but to admit that there was no illegal moonshine.
Fake Shark Week Documentary
Back in 2013, The Discovery Channel got a lot of backlash for airing a fake documentary named “Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives” to start Shark Week. It was about a 70-foot ancient shark that was still alive. Megalodons mostly likely existed between 1,000,000 to 2,000,000 years ago. People complained about the hoax online. However, an incredible 4.8 million users still watched the episode.
Vetting Reality TV Stars
Seeing as so many reality stars get caught up in scandals, you must be curious about how the cast gets picked. Each reality star is expected to come with some drama. However, it’s too much to hire a convicted rapist. What makes it worse is the thought of how much money these people make through the show. Business Insider reports that the reality stars have varying salaries, but the popular ones can make as much as $10 million for a single season!
Behind The Scenes In A Casino
Viwers were given an inside look at the day-to-day business and operations that take place behind closed doors in one of the most secure and secretive places in the country: a glitzy Nevada gambling resort, thanks to American Casino, which premiered on Discovery in 2004 before moving to sister network the Travel Channel the following year.
It Aired Some Shocking Scenes
The Green Valley Ranch casino and hotel in suburban Henderson was the focus of the story, despite the fact that it did not take place on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip. Despite the fact that American Casino did not rely heavily on the soap opera-like personal conflicts that characterize most reality television shows, it did feature some shocking and tragic off-camera scandals.
It Was Accidental
Michael Tata was a guest star on the first season of the show, where he was seen going about his business as vice president of hotel operations. Tata passed away in July 2004, while Discovery was in the middle of airing American Casino. He was 33 years old. Afterward, a medical examiner determined that the death was accidental and that it was most likely caused by a combination of alcohol and fentanyl, an extremely powerful opiate pain reliever. American Casino was dropped from Discovery’s schedule due to a pre-scheduled break (it was Shark Week), but the show’s producers quickly returned to work, producing additional episodes less than a month after Tata’s passing.
Jesse James Monsters’ Issues
Former reality television star Jesse James was the central character on the Discovery Channel’s motorcycle series Monster Garage from 2002 to 2006. Before becoming best known as Sandra Bullock’s husband who cheated on her and then started dating fellow reality TV celebrity as well as tattoo enthusiast Kat Von D, Jesse James was a reality television star. The show followed James and a group of mechanics, fabricators, as well as artists as they tried to do crazy things to automobiles on the show’s set. Attempts were made to transform a DeLorean into a hovercraft and a pair of compact cars into Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots, among other things. James came to the series with a long list of accomplishments, including being the owner and primary builder of custom and souped-up motorcycles at West Coast Choppers.
He Broke The Law
James also asserts a historical and familial claim to his bad-boy persona, claiming he is a distant descendant of Wild West outlaw Jesse James, who is said to have inspired the character. On the surface, it appears that Jesse James of the twenty-first century broke the law, just as his 19th-century forefather did. After charging James and West Coast Choppers with violating California’s clean air regulations by customizing and selling motorcycles that blatantly flouted the state’s environmental regulations, the California Air Resources Board levied a fine of more than $270,000 against the pair.
It Wasn’t Certified
An investigation discovered that his “monsters” did not come equipped with state-certified exhaust and fuel system emissions equipment and that they generated hydrocarbon emissions ten times higher than the legal limit. James and his team worked on the bikes in question between 1998 and 2005, which coincided with the period during which Monster Garage was broadcast on television.
There was a lot of focus on large, trailer-flattening explosions that launched Busters into the air, but there were also smaller, more controlled explosions that were demonstrated. The show paid a visit to a bomb range in Alameda County, California, about 25 miles north of San Jose, in the wee hours of the morning one December morning. More than 50 times, they had already visited the site. Instead of bringing a cannon, they built one specifically for the show, which they fired a few times to test the trajectory of a cannonball the size of an American softball. The projectile was intended to rip through a few barrels of water and a wall of cinder blocks before coming to rest somewhere in the protective hills surrounding the bomb range. It was a successful mission.
The cannonball, on the other hand, missed the water barrels. As a result, it flew through the wall, bounced off one of the hills, and crashed into the nearby town of Dublin. The cannonball continued on its path, passing through the front door of a house, through the wall of an upstairs bedroom, and through the window of a minivan parked 100 feet down the road. That house was taken up by three people at the time, all of whom managed to sleep through the night. MythBusters sent a producer to the family’s home and decided to meet with the insurance companies on their behalf.
International Space Station
Back in 2006, the Discovery Channel made history after they broadcasted the first live episode from the International Space Station. This broadcast consisted of 19 minutes in which Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria gave a tour of the space station and spoke about some of their work and experience living in space.
In December of 2007, Planet Earth made its debut on the network. This 11 season series was loved by fans and exceeded any expectations. While it was on the air, it was seen by 65 million homes, making it the most-watched series in history. It was awarded an Emmy for “Outstanding Non-Fiction Series.”
Supporting Youth Education
In 1997, Discovery created the “Discovery Channel Education Partnership” now known as the “Discovery Learning Alliance,” which was aimed at supporting and educate youths worldwide. This channel helps improve education and lifestyle in certain areas. They also have a young scientist challenge that is a full library of educational video content that is available in the classroom setting. On top of this, they have online textbooks like science, social studies, and math that came out in 2010.
Discovery is catching on to Virtual reality as the next frontier in the video technology world. They even have their section dedicated to full video experiences involving nature, wildlife and outer space. There is also an app available on Apple and Android called “Discovery VR” for specific viewers interested in virtual reality.
Discovery decided to change their tagline in 2013 to “Grab Life by the Globe.” This was intended so that viewers could post their pictures/videos outdoors and in special locations. All they have to do is choose what they want to post and caption it #GrabLife.
In 1985, the channel mostly focused on educational science as well as historical documentaries. They also had a few news episodes in their 12-hour programming, including World Monitor and Vremya. They broadcasted about 66 hours of Soviet TV every week.
Longest-Running Programming Event
Every since 1987 there has been an annual tradition where the channel broadcasts SharkWeek. It is the longest-running programming event in TV history that began as a way to educate people about animals they were not familiar with. Now it is integrated into American culture and has influenced pop culture references.
Sponsors A Museum
Discovery Channel sponsors Discovery Times Square, which is a museum in NYC that focuses on traveling exhibits and introduces a plethora of information as well as exciting and engaging activities to satsify all family members.
In 1996 the Discovery Channel was introduced as Discovery Civilization, which was a network focused on broadcasting material associated with ancient history. Five years later the NY Times invested 50% in the network and wanted to move the shows focus to current events. It was then re-established as Times Discovery. However, in 2006, the NY Times sold its share and Discovery Communications swooped in to make it a channel about crime, known as the Investigation Discovery.
Investigation Discovery president Henry S. Schleiff said in a 2015 interview with the NY Times that his desire to create a crime-all-the-time network was partly motivated by the long-running crime television franchise Law & Order CSI, and NCIS. Their mission was to make viewers feel like that at any point during the day they could come to the program to find crime and suspense.
Schleiff was influenced by the data that directed him and his partners to create an all-crime network. However, this was also beneficial because it was cost-effective. Creating programs for Investigation Discovery would essentially cost the network around one-tenth of what it would cost to create a scripted drama series.
Female Fan Base
Investigation Discovery is amongst one of five top cable networks for females, especially those 24-54 years old. This is because women love using their mystery-solving skills to get to the bottom of crime stories. They also feel like they learn from positively watching Investigation Discovery.
A well-thought-out series title is what engages audiences and sets the stage for a hit show. The executives on the show all get together and brainstorm together. The executive producer Schleiff told Crain’s New York that he is very proud of the process in which they get together and shout out different ideas. There is no exact order but he loves that feature.
While ID has so many loyal followers and fans, there are also many celebrities on the list. These include big names like Lady Gaga, Serena Williams, and Nicki Manag are some of the program’s most famous and dedicated fans.
IDCONis a crime convention located in New York City hosted by Investigation Discovery in 2016. Fans from all over die at the thought of attending this event and tickets sold out in less than 24 hours. Over 7000 fans put their names on the waiting list just hoping for a chance to get in. In 2017, there was the second IDCON but no guarantee of one in 2018.