‘Deadliest Catch’: Are Any of the Scenes Staged?

by Taylor Cunningham

While Deadliest Catch does highlight the real-life dangers of crab fishermen on the high seas of Alaska, it isn’t entirely genuine in every aspect. The Discovery Channel series is just like every other reality show out there—part drama, part scripted. While some of those shows may fall heavier on one side of truth than the other, there are always certain elements that producers need to liven up in order to keep fans tuned in.

In the case of Deadliest Catch, much of the drama writes itself. The battle to fight both the elements and time is heart-pumping content. And the competition element also adds a flair to the story.

The freezing and unpredictable waters surrounding the Aleutian Islands also cause unavoidable problems that sometimes lead to damaged boats, serious injuries, and sadly even death during filming that fans wish weren’t real. In fact, two of those situations happened as recently as this season.

On April 26th, the series posted the news on Twitter that Captain Rip got “ambushed by a huge wave,” and one of his deckhands named Francis Katungin was injured between two crab pots. Because the pots weigh 800 lbs, Katungin was nearly killed and had to be airlifted to a hospital by helicopter.

And even more recently, new deckhand Devon Davis collapsed on deck after being hurt while working with a chain, and his fellow Patricia Lee crewmates had to revive him. Patricia Lee is also the same vessel that carried 30-year-old Todd Kochutin who died in February 2021 after sustaining unknown injuries on the boat.

How ‘Deadliest Catch’ Producers Ramp Up the Entertainment Factor

But despite all the natural turmoil and danger, the production team still creatively edits the footage to Hollywoodize the series. And almost any reality show that says otherwise is lying.

One notable edit came when the Deadliest Catch creators meshed footage from a flood and a severe storm. The finished product made it look as though a boat filled with water during said storm and nearly capsized and killed the crew. But in real life, the storm didn’t affect the vessel. And no one aboard was in danger of drowning.

Also, some of the rivalry and bickering between the castmates is purely fictional. While some elements are likely true, some of the stars tend to keep to themselves. And the directors believe that’s too boring. So they spice up the plot a bit. Former captain Elliot Neese even spoke up about this during an interview with Newswire.

“I tell it straight. I don’t appease the camera, and maybe that doesn’t always come off right,” he said. “But remember, reality TV isn’t real. It’s entertainment, that’s it.”