Hidden Secrets and Scandals Covered Up by the Discovery & History Channel Revealed

By: Lisa Lee | Last updated: Nov 08, 2023

The Discovery and History Channels have tons of fascinating shows: Pawn Stars, MythBusters, Alone, Naked and Afraid and The Curse of Oak Island to name a few. The channels only grew in popularity when they absorbed TLC and Animal Planet as well. But the only thing more entertaining than the T.V. shows themselves are the scandals behind them.

These shows are littered with scandals from misleading audiences to employing convicted criminals! The Discovery Channel has tried to keep these under wraps for appearance’s sake, but we’ve uncovered the juiciest secrets that they don’t want audiences to see. Read on and pull back the curtain on the REAL History and Discovery channels. 

'Alaskan Bush People' Don't Actually Live in Alaska

These stars of Alaskan Bush People really have a hard time with the truth. Fans started to question if the show was real or scripted. In 2015, the Brown family admitted that they fabricated the statement about living in Alaska to receive government checks. Two of the stars pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree unsworn falsification.


Source: Blastingnews.com

It seems that the Browns claimed to live in southeastern Alaska. That part of the state offers full-time residents thousands of dollars to dissuade them from moving. The show’s stars collected the money, were caught, and sentenced to 30 days in jail.


'Pawn Stars': They Don’t Always Win

It’s terrific fun watching customers try to wrangle more money out of the Pawn Stars guys. The back and forth is interesting, and while it seems sometimes the dialogue is staged, it’s entertaining nonetheless. 


Source: u/kevonicus/Reddit

Most of the time, the cast ends up offering the client less than what they hoped to get for their item. But, what you don’t see is how often the cast gets ripped off by the customer. Whether the item is a forgery or ends up being stolen, sometimes the owners do lose money. As Rick Harrison told NPR, “It’s the cost of doing business.”

Selling Guns Without a License on 'American Guns'

American Guns star Richard Wyatt, it turns out, was not actually authorized to sell guns! Apparently, he had violated federal laws, which resulted in him losing his gun license. However, that did not stop Wyatt from continuing to sell guns at the store, despite not having a permit to sell. 


Source: TheRichWyatt/Twitter

And if that wasn’t bad enough he had actually tried to fake out the federal authorities with a sneaky change of address scam but got caught anyway. What he thought was a brilliant loophole got him into big trouble.  Unfortunately, the man didn’t learn his lesson and found himself in prison for ANOTHER federal crime.

More Scandal from Richard Wyatt

Well, in addition to selling guns without a permit AND losing his gun license, Wyatt’s store got a visit from IRS agents as part of a financial investigation for tax evasion. It had begun in 2010 because the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives heard that Wyatt might own illegal and fully automatic weapons. Further investigation turned up more illegal transactions.  


Source: Denver7News

Wyatt was charged with income tax evasion between 2009 and 2012 and was found guilty on felony charges of conspiracy and tax evasion. He had failed to report $1.1 Million in income! He was found guilty and convicted of 10 felony counts including conspiracy, fraud, and tax evasion. He was sentenced to 78 months in prison. 

Chumlee is Not the Lovable 'Pawn Stars' Character We Thought He Was

If you watch Pawn Stars, you know cast member Austin “Chumlee” Russel. He is widely considered the heart of the show and quickly became a fan favorite. However, he has managed to get himself into some serious legal trouble that the show doesn’t speak on. 

Source: YouTube

Police raided Chumlee’s house in 2016, where they found drugs and illegal firearms. The TV star pleaded guilty so that he could avoid jail time and also served probation. By serving probation, it meant he could continue filming the show. Since the show went on as normal, most fans didn’t even know about the legal transgression. 


'Moonshiners' Get Stopped by Police, But Manage to Escape

One of the wackier shows on Discovery is Moonshiners. This one highlights people making illegal moonshine and how they avoid getting caught by the police. As a viewer, you might wonder how these guys could avoid the law for so long – especially in those episodes where they were stopped by the police and let go!  

Source: YouTube

Well, the show’s executive producer, Dolores Galvin pulled the veil back on the show and revealed why the moonshiners never got arrested. She told the New York Daily News that “You have to catch them in the process of making it.”  This loophole allowed them to escape any real legal trouble.


Twisting the Truth on 'American Pickers'

American Pickers stars Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe go around the country hoping to find treasures that others have discarded. They literally pick through junk, then hope that they can find something really valuable. But it turns out that this isn’t exactly true and fans were none too happy when they discovered they had been lied to. 

Source: Elmundo

The producers receive items from collectors, then sort through them to decide which are appropriate for the show. So, the stars do not “travel the country” at all, but are simply handed the items. Thus, very little luck is involved in this production and much of the magic of the show is lost.


The Real Reason 'Here Comes Honey Boo Boo' Was Cancelled

The Discovery Channel absorbed TLC and with it came a whole host of different television shows that fans couldn’t get enough of. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was an instant hit when it aired and fans couldn’t get enough of the hysterical Georgia family, especially the young Alana. However, the family is no stranger to controversy. When the show was cancelled fans were outraged! As it turns out, the real reason the show was taken off the air was rather dark.

Source: YouTube

Mama June’s love interest at the time was serving time for the sexual assault of a minor. It sparked a complete outrage from fans toward June. To try and avoid anymore drama, TLC cancelled the show immediately. Since then, many more secrets about the family have been unveiled as well.


'Naked and Afraid' Contestant Reveals Reality of the Show

Similar to the show Alone, in Naked and Afraid, participants are left in a remote location and have to fend for themselves for 21 days, living off the land.  

Source: YouTube

Contestant Kim Shelton reported that she was fed bread, rice, and baby food after she got food poisoning from consuming a turtle’s liver. She even received rehydration. Yes, she was ill, but the show never told viewers that the contestant had been fed.  I guess it just wouldn’t make for as good of television.


Street Racer Legal Trouble

Street Outlaws is one of those shows that makes you scratch your head and wonder how they got away with it. Honestly, this is the case for many of the shows on this channel! Street racing seems quite dangerous and risky, but it is obviously something viewers want to see, and Discovery provides it.   

Source: YouTube

Any street racer that appears on the show enters the race knowing they could lose their driving license if caught. In 2015, The National Hot Rod Association told the show that any participant on the show would lose their license because the show portrays dangerous and illegal street racing. So, anyone on the show is well aware of the risks.


The Bad Apple on '19 Kids and Counting'

The TLC show 19 Kids and Counting was one of the biggest shows on the channel while it ran in the 2010s. People were enthralled by the enormous family and they grew a huge fan base as well as critiques as the show progressed. However, the show abruptly came to an end in 2015 following tragic charges pressed against one of the Duggar children.

Source: Reddit

Josh Duggar, one of the eldest Duggar children was accused of taking advantage of several underaged girls. In a horrifying addition, some of his own sisters were among the girls he abused. He was convicted and is serving a prison sentence for his crimes. This was not the only scandal that surrounded the Duggar family but it was certainly the reason the show was cancelled.


Fans Were Majorly Misled About the 'Moonshiners'

If you are a fan of Moonshiners, you were a bit misled. The show apparently led viewers to believe that producing the state of Virginia was looking the other way when it came to manufacturing moonshine. In fact, the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control reported to The Associated Press that the show seriously misled viewers.

Source: YouTube

Discovery spokeswoman Kathleen Shaw told the Associated Press that her company would not have participated if they knew that moonshine is totally illegal in the state. The channel then agreed to contribute to the parts of the program which “documents the history of moonshine and moonshine investigations in Virginia.”


'Eaten Alive' Doesn't Live Up to the Name

The Discovery Channel put out a special starring Paul Rosolie called Eaten Alive. The show teased for MONTHS that Paul would be eaten alive by an Anaconda, but the special did not live up to the name. When Rosolie came face to face with a 20-foot anaconda, things took a dangerous turn and he had to call the whole thing off.

Source: YouTube

The enormous snake wrapped itself around him and crushed his arm while stretching its mouth around his head. Experts had to rush in to save Rosolie from a horrifying demise. Naturally, the fans who had expected a little more gruesome outcome were gravely disappointed and felt misled by the show’s teasers.


Jesse James’ Start in 'Monster Garage'

Before Jesse James became a famous Hollywood personality, he starred in Monster Garage, a show about mechanics who take old vehicles and transform them into totally new driving machines.

Source: Getty Images

At that time, he was married to actress Sandra Bullock. While on the show, he cheated on Bullock and started dating his castmate, TV star Kat Von D. James, who is also known as the founder of The West Coast Choppers. He did end up apologizing to Bullock but was quoted in The Daily Mail, calling cheating a “part of life.” Naturally, diehard fans of Bullock turned their backs on Jesse and the show he was associated with.


Jesse James Broke the Law

Jesse James has developed a persona as the all-time bad boy. He claims to be a descendant of the infamous outlaw Jesse James and is the man’s great-great grandson. This has never been proven.  

Source: Pinterest

However, just like the Jesse James of the Old West, this one, related or not, has a history of law-breaking. People Magazine reported that authorities fined him and his West Coast Choppers $271,250 because their customized bikes violate California clean-air laws.


Accidents and Injuries Behind the Scenes on 'MythBusters'

The show Mythbusters is hosted by Hollywood special effects experts and uses scientific methods to test whether rumors, movie scenes, sayings, and even some internet videos, are actually true. It looks like a smooth production, but lots have gone wrong during its 19 seasons.   

Source: YouTube

There have been serious electrical shocks, blown-out windows, and even a cannonball shot into someone’s home. In short, there were lots of accidents and injuries. Most of the time, the accidents occur to one of the show’s co-hosts.  


A Cannon Misfire Lands the 'Mythbusters' in Deep Trouble

Perhaps the most famous attempt gone wrong on MythBusters occurred when the staff made an error in firing a cannon beyond the bomb’s range. The cannon shot went into a California neighborhood through someone’s front door. 

Source: YouTube

The shot then continued, shooting through the wall of a bedroom, and then into a minivan parked down the street. Fortunately, there were no injuries, but we can imagine that the house was pretty badly damaged. Let’s hope the show compensated that family.  That was far too close of a call.


'Swamp People' and Violence

This wild show covers the lives of alligator hunters in Louisiana. We guess people love watching programs about others who take their lives into their hands every day. The stars’ daily lives are not only dangerous, but they have also had lots of trouble with the law.  

Source: Biography

For example, Trapper Joe was arrested in 2012 after arguing with his girlfriend, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The same domestic violence charges were leveled against at least twice more, in 2013 and 2015, according to Fox 8.


Attacked by Bear?

In the episodes of Man vs. Wild, star Bear Grylls is left stranded somewhere, a film crew in tow. The crew follows him to document his attempt to survive and get back to civilization. In one episode, Grylls found himself confronted by a bear. This was one of the scarier scenes of the entire season.

Source: Khaleejtimes

But it wasn’t a bear at all, just a man in a bear suit, as reported in The Daily Mail. It seems, according to crew member Ron Hood, that it was a colleague in a bear costume. Photos from the TV set that were released later also proved this to be true. So, was it a fake-out for the viewers?


PETA Comes After 'Eaten Alive'

When stuntman Paul Rosolie attempted the infamous snake trick where he was to be eaten alive by an anaconda, both he and the Discovery Channel received major backlash. PETA was particularly angry about the stunt; they explained that it was almost certainly lethal for the animal.

Source: Alamy

PETA argues that anytime animals are used for entertainment, there is likelihood that it will result in injury, distress, or death of the animal. Public opinion largely agreed with them, feeling that it was not a necessary stunt and was a gross display of animal cruelty.


Amelia Earhart’s Disappearance Is Still Unsolved

Amelia Earhart and her co-pilot were on an around-the-world flight in 1937 when they disappeared. The mystery has never been solved. In 2017, the History Channel’s Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence claimed to have solved the mystery and showed a photo they said was evidence. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons

A Japanese historian told The Guardian that the photo came from a travel book and was taken in 1925, a good two years before the famous flight. The mystery remains unsolved and as you can imagine, fans felt misled and let down.


Not Really Alone

The History Channel’s show Alone abandons contestants in remote locations, and they are supposed to find a way to survive. However, the entire premise of the show turns out to be not true!

Source: Fictioninfo.com

In Season 2, Larry Roberts, the second-place winner, debunked the premise of the show. As he said to Outdoor News, “They did check on us on a regular basis. We had a GPS tracker that we were required to carry. They would check in with us at least nightly, to make sure that we were OK.” So much for being alone.


Is 'Naked and Afraid' Scandalous?

As the title implies, the contestants are all dropped off in the middle of nowhere with absolutely nothing to live on, and they are all undressed. Being without clothes is considered to be just one part of the challenge.  

Source: Heavy.com

The contestants do not spend time developing relationships but focus on finding food and shelter. They may be somewhere cold, surrounded by wild animals, or somewhere dry where it’s hard to find water. Falling in love is the least of their interests!  


Is 'Naked and Afraid' Inappropriate for TV?

It’s not surprising that the show Naked and Afraid has gotten people riled up. After all, it’s about people being stark naked, which is a pretty weird premise. An organization called One Million Moms petitioned the network to cancel the show because they considered it highly inappropriate.  

Source: mojtv.com

They even encouraged their members to boycott the show when it premiered in 2013. As they said, “Discovery should be ashamed to air nudity and then call it entertainment. In fact, having the cast be naked is the basis for 50 percent of the show.”  


Chickadee Sues Mama June on 'Here Comes Honey Boo Boo'

Mama June’s eldest daughter- more commonly known to fans, friends, and family as Chickadee- sued her mom in 2015. This was following the controversy and show cancellation regarding June’s alleged romance.

Source: Instagram

Apparently, June had withheld more than $300,000 that was owed to her daughter, Anna from the show. Not to mention, she also sued TLC for not ensuring that the money owed to her was given to her and her 2 year old daughter.


Are the 'Pawn Stars' In the Pawn Shop?

Chumlee, Corey, Rick, and The Old Man are now household names, thanks to the popularity of Pawn Stars. But if you actually visited the store, you wouldn’t find any of them. That seems a little disappointing, but these guys are busy.   

Source: pawnstars/Twitter

They do show up in the store every once in a while to sign autographs and talk to fans, but usually, that’s because their publicist, or the network, has arranged an event. We guess that with fame comes busy schedules, so don’t bother traveling to the store to see them. 


New Producer Cuts 12 Cast Members on 'Swamp People'

When you really like a show, you get comfortable with the cast and look forward to seeing them every episode.  But, in reality TV, cast changes seem common.

Source: Reddit

In season 7 of the show, Swamp People fans were shocked when 12 cast members were suddenly replaced. It seems that a new producer was hired and decided to change most of the cast. And, on top of that, the History Channel never explained the change to the fans.  


They’re Already Dead!

Here’s another disappointing fact about Swamp People. This show is supposed to be about alligator hunting, but there are plenty of viewers who believe that the alligators are already dead when they’re caught. 

Source: SwampPeople/Twitter

The fans began to notice that, during the capture scenes, the alligators don’t seem to be struggling at all. Even more, fans feel that the alligators are not real, based on the idea that alligators are not always as huge as they are on the show.  


Was the 'Shark Week' Documentary Real?

Shark Week has been on the air since 1988, but in 2013 the Discovery Channel messed up big time. They aired a fake documentary called  Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives, and the fans were terrified.

Source: Gerard Soury/Getty Images

The documentary told of the return of a prehistoric 70-foot shark.  There was a warning that the show was fiction, but many of the 5 million people who watched were terrified. Since it was the highest-rated episode to that point, the Discovery Channel probably didn’t get upset about that.


American Guns Gets Canceled, Fans Get Angry

Taking advantage of the obsession with firearms in the U.S., Discovery created a show called American Guns. The show was about the Wyatt family, who owned a store called Gunsmoke Guns in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.  It was wildly popular but Richard Wyatt’s legal trouble stood in the way of the show running for too long.

Source: Pinterest

American Guns ran for two seasons and was canceled, although it received good ratings. The public assumed that school shootings like the one at Sandy Hook were the reason for the cancellation, but actually, the show had to be cancelled due to Wyatt actually going to prison. Tax evasion, fraud, and selling guns without a permit were only a few of the reasons he got into hot water. 


Grylls Doesn’t Survive His Show

Bear Grylls, the host of Man Vs. Wild, would do just about anything to survive. He even drank his urine once. But somehow he couldn’t survive his own show. He got fired from Discovery because he refused to take part in two of the channel’s planned projects.  

Source: Man vs wild: BEAR Grylls/Facebook

Because Grylls wouldn’t take part in the two new ventures, the channel fired him from the successful show he’d been hosting for six seasons. In the end, it was contract disputes that did Grylls in, not living in the wild.


'American Guns' Gets Canceled, Then Burgled

The show American Guns was canceled in 2013, much to the dismay of many fans. For the cast, however, things got worse immediately after the cancellation. Then, someone broke into their store Gunsmoke through a hole in the ceiling.  

Source: gunenthusiastspeaks.com/Pinterest

The thieves may have acted alone or with accomplices, but their total take was 12 handguns and three rifles. The newspapers reported that the burglary was unfortunate, but that didn’t compare with the news that both fans and the family received afterward. 


'American Guns' and Stolen Weapons

American Guns’ reputation worsened when it was discovered that the show contributed to the sale of a stolen weapon. Unfortunately, this happened in the very first season. In the last episode, a man named Wylie Newton came into the store to sell an antique Colt Pistol worth $20,000.

Source: Discovery/Youtube

The weapon had been stolen from a museum in New Mexico, and the seller wasn’t too bright. He tried to sell the gun on the TV show; a viewer recognized it and told the police.  


Cody Lundin Insists That His 'Dual Survival' Co-Host Try to Kill Him

Cody Lundin of Discovery’s survival reality shows Dual Survival filed a lawsuit against the network claiming that his co-host, Joe Teti, threatened to kill him during filming. When Teli was waving an ice ax around, producers made it look like he was losing his mind, but according to Lundin, Teti was threatening him.  

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Lundin also reported that during filming in Hawaii, a co-host threatened to stab him with a spear and that another co-host claimed to have killed people while working in the CIA.   


'Naked and Afraid' Fake Argument

The fans of Naked and Afraid were disappointed with the Season Three finale of the show. After the airing, Honora blogged that the producers wanted her to argue with another contestant to add drama to the show. Also, viewers were told she suffered from heat exhaustion and could not complete the challenge.  

Source: NAXL/Twitter

Contrary to what the producers said, she did not suffer from the heat but developed a bladder issue, and the producers would not let her leave the show! She faked the heat exhaustion to escape the show.  


The Fake 'Alaskan Bush People'

The Discovery Channel’s show Alaskan Bush People has been met with fan controversy since it began. Fans doubted that the premise was even true. In fact, the people featured in the show are not even from Alaska and their home is definitely not in the bush, but close to the town.  

Source: AlaskanBushPPL/Twitter

The six family members were cited for making false statements about their residency when they applied for hunting and fishing licenses. They were not born and raised in the wild and only moved to Alaska in 2012.  


'Counting Cars' Flops

The show Pawn Stars spun off another show called Counting Cars which premiered in 2012. This one was about the stars buying unique cars and refurbishing them, then selling them. One of the Pawn Stars cast, Danny Koker, starred as the car expert.

Source: WeHeartIt/Pinterest

On the show, most customers who come into the shop are thrilled by seeing the customized cars. But others have reported that the shop is located in a mildly dangerous part of the city and that the cars are way overpriced. The general reaction to the show was bland.  


Jesse James’ Motorbikes

It was also reported in People that the bikes not only violated the California clean-air laws, but they weren’t even fitted with state-certified exhaust and fuel system emissions equipment. Missing this equipment meant they generated hydrocarbon emissions that were ten times the legal limit.  

Source: monstergarage/Twitter

Those bikes James and his crew built were sold between 1988 and 2005. Those are the same years that Monster Garage was on television, which means that, during the airing of their show, they were building illegal bikes.