• The Discovery Channel started in 1985, focusing on educational and informative programming and eventually expanding to include shows about history, culture and adventure.
• The network began producing its own original programming in the 1990s, including the popular “Mythbusters” and “Shark Week”.
• The Discovery Channel entered the 2000s by adding more original content, expanding its focus to include survival, engineering, and travel.
• Some of the reality TV personalities featured on the network ran into trouble with the law due to their volatile nature.
• In recent years, cast members from the shows “American Guns,” “Sons of Guns,” and “Deadliest Catch” have been involved in legal trouble.
The Discovery Channel started out on 17 June 1985 on the premise of a television network that mainly focused on educational and informative programming, as a stark contrast to the already over-saturated array of channels dishing out entertainment and sports onto television screens.
Although it struggled in the initial years, mostly with finding its footing and building a faithful audience, the revolutionary network eventually caught a break upon beginning to feature programs focusing on science, technology and the natural world. It wasn’t long before The Discovery Channel became synonymous with a non-stop stream of educational content.
In the 1990s, the network began to expand its programming beyond science and nature, adding shows about history, culture and adventure. One of the most popular shows of this era was “Mythbusters,” which used scientific experimentation to test the validity of popular beliefs and urban legends.
The Discovery Channel also started producing its own original programming during this time, rather than simply airing documentaries originating from other organizations. One of the first and most successful of these productions was “Shark Week,” an annual programming event that focused on the biology and behavior of sharks.
As the Discovery Channel entered the 2000s, it continued to grow and evolve, adding more original content, and expanding its focus to include a wide variety of subjects, such as survival, engineering, and travel. Today, the Discovery Channel is a major player in the world of cable television, with a global audience of millions of viewers.
To get to that point, however, it had to rely partly on a brand new trend – reality TV. Following the advent of “Survivor” and “Big Brother” in 2000 and their nearly immeasurable success, almost every major player in the entertainment game wanted a piece of the pie, which eventually included The Discovery Channel.
Owing to the nature of the genre, numerous controversial personalities featured on the network, some of whom ran into trouble with the law along the way. This occurred precisely due to the troublesome behavior that originated from their volatile nature, but which landed them the big bucks in the first place.
Brad Kelly from “Bering Sea Gold”
“Bering Sea Gold” is one of Discovery Channel’s uniquely popular reality TV series. It follows a group of gold miners as they search for shiny grains in the Bering Sea, which is located off the coast of Alaska, with Russia to the west. The show has been on the air since 2012, successfully garnering a large and devoted following over the years.
The participants are a diverse group of individuals who come from all walks of life and a variety of backgrounds. Some are experienced miners who have been searching for gold for years, while others tend to be newcomers to the industry, who are just learning the ropes.
They use a variety of methods to locate and extract the gold, including dredging, diving, and employing specialized equipment. The show also follows the miners as they deal with the challenges of life in the remote and harsh environment of the Bering Sea, such as the extreme climate, treacherous sea conditions, and the constant threat of danger from heavy equipment.
One of the main themes of the show is the intense competition between the miners as they fight to claim the biggest and most valuable gold deposits. They are constantly seen attempting to outdo each other, with a great deal of tension and conflict involved in the whole process, making for excellent, mostly genuine reality television.
In addition to the incessant haul measuring contest, the show also follows the participants’ personal lives and relationships. They often form close bonds with each other, and the series explores the challenges and triumphs that they experience both on and off the job. Sometimes the bond is there from the get-go, as certain participants come in as whole families.
Such was the case with Brad Kelly and his two sons – Kris and Andy. However, the trio never seemed to get along, and most of the fault for that seemed to rest on the patriarch. In one example, he can be seen taking the haul from his sons to sell it and keep the money for himself and his girlfriend Courtney. It’s supposed that this is the same woman who later took the reality TV star to court, following a physical altercation that left her unconscious.
According to a police report obtained by TMZ, Brad’s anonymous girlfriend, with whom he has a child, had certain issues that just couldn’t be resolved. The argument exploded into blatant violence by the end of the night at some point in late 2021, with the woman reporting that she went to sleep that night only to wake up in a puddle of her own blood, and with Kelly standing over her.
Brad had a different, much less credible story for the authorities. He stated that she simply fell and hit her head, and there was nothing that he could do to prevent the injury that she suffered. However, he had a hard time explaining why he didn’t dial emergency services on the spot, and as a result, he was immediately arrested and subsequently charged with second-degree assault domestic violence.
There were other charges as well, but Brad took his lawyer’s council and pleaded guilty to felony assault in exchange for the rest being dropped. It was determined by the judge and jury that he serve four years in prison, three of which were suspended. He was incarcerated on 11 February 2022, from which point he had to serve at least eight months before released on good behavior. After his discharge, Brad will be on probation for the next five years.
Johnny Wayne Griffis from “Moonshiners Master Distiller”
The reality TV series “Moonshiners Master Distiller” centered on a group of individuals involved in the illegasupposedly l practice of producing and selling moonshine – a type of homemade, unaged whiskey. The show is set in the Appalachian Mountains, where the tradition of moonshining has a long history, but expanded exponentially in the days of prohibition.
Yesterday I heard someone say watch out here comes that old Moonshiner Outlaw that was busted! Lol When I got close to…
The main focus of the show is on the distillation process, as the moonshiners work to perfect their recipes and create a high-quality alcoholic beverage. Each episode follows a different member of the group, as they go through the trouble of creating their moonshine, from sourcing the ingredients to selling the finished product.
It’s known for its high-energy action and dangerous situations, as the moonshiners must constantly evade the authorities, and compete with other illegal distillers. It also highlights the strong sense of community and loyalty among the group, as they work together to overcome challenges and protect each other from danger.
That being the plot, many viewers and news outlets have questioned the show over the years, not for the legitimacy of the actual moonshining, but of the series’ purported description. A number of experts have pointed out that there’s almost nothing illegal being shown on the screen throughout the entirety of “Moonshiners” and its spin-offs.
Regardless of the verity of the show’s synopsis, it seems that at least one of the cast members indeed had a run in with the law, and exactly for the reasons described by the producers. However, it isn’t certain whether the crime in question has anything to do with whatever’s being done in the series.
As reported by Fox 13, Johnny Wayne Griffis, a participant of both “Moonshiners Master Distiller” and “Alabama Shine,” was arrested around September 2022 in the state of Tennessee, and subsequently charged with manufacture or distillation of prohibited liquors and beverages.
As per the court’s statement, Johnny was caught with liters upon liters of mid-cook moonshine right near the still he was using at the moment of apprehension. He was found to have been in possession of five gallons of clear moonshine, and 19 quarts of the flavored kind.
The moonshiner was charged with a class C misdemeanor that involves selling, offering to sell, possessing or bartering prohibited liquors and beverages. He was released on $3,000 bail, awaiting trial that could potentially send him to prison for anywhere between one to five years.
48-year-old Johnny Wayne Griffis is facing alcohol charges after discussing he was evading law enforcement during the moonshine distillation process on his new television series “Alabama Shine."https://t.co/W2hrQgkPnd
— WEAR ABC 3 (@weartv) September 13, 2022
Richard Wyatt from “American Guns”
“American Guns” was a reality TV series that aired on the Discovery Channel in 2011 and 2012. The show followed the lives of the Wyatt family, who owned and operated a firearms business called Gunsmoke Guns in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. The family consisted of father Rich Wyatt, a former competitive shooter and expert gunsmith, mother Renee Wyatt, and their two children, Paige and Kurtis.
The series focused on the family’s daily operations in the shop, which included buying, selling, and trading firearms, as well as customizing and repairing guns for customers. Each episode followed the cast members as they worked on various projects, and dealt with the challenges of running a small business.
Richard Wyatt was the star of the show, whose knowledge and expertise in the firearms industry were a major draw for viewers. He was known for his ability to appraise and value guns, as well as his skills in customizing and repairing them. Richard was also a skilled shooter, and competed in various shooting competitions throughout the series.
In addition to the family’s business, the show also featured their personal lives and relationships. Renee Wyatt played a key role in the business, handling the finances and customer service, while Paige and Kurtis were involved in various aspects of the trade, including sales and gunsmithing.
“American Guns” was a popular show during its run, having gained a large and loyal fanbase for its unique look at the world of firearms. It was generally famous for its informative and educational content, as well as the entertaining and dynamic personalities of the Wyatt family. To the great misfortune of the Wyatts, the show was canceled in 2012 due to controversy surrounding the mass shootings that occurred in the US at the time.
This wasn’t the only issue of the family, however, as in 2018 Richard was sentenced to 78 months (over six years) of jail time after a year of lengthy court proceedings, for failing to report over $1 million in income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), conspiracy, as well as dealing firearms without being licensed to do so. After giving up his license in 2012, it seems that Wyatt continued working through other gun shop owners, selling his firearms illegally over their counters.
Will Hayden from “Sons of Guns”
“Sons of Guns” was a reality TV series bearing great resemblance to the aforementioned one, focusing on the day-to-day operations of Red Jacket Firearms – a Louisiana-based company that specialized in customizing and modifying guns. The business was owned and operated by gunsmith Will Hayden, a former Marine, and his daughter, Stephanie Hayden.
Each episode followed the employees of Red Jacket Firearms as they worked on a myriad of projects, plus wrestling with the trials and tribulations of running the shop. The show featured a mix of custom builds and repairs, as well as testing and demonstration of the firearms. Will Hayden was the star of the show, known for his expertise in the firearms industry as well as a rather strong personality.
The series also paid attention to the more private aspects of the cast members’ lives, and their interpersonal relations. Will’s daughter Stephanie played a key role in the company, and was often featured in the show, as were other employees such as Kris Ford and Joe Meaux.
“Sons of Guns” initially had a pretty good run, seeming to hold a lot of promise for everyone involved, mostly owing to the entertaining and dynamic personalities of the employees, which, coupled with occasional high-energy arguments, made for great television.
However, it all came to a halt on 9 August 2014, when Will Hayden was arrested and charged with molesting a juvenile, as well as aggravated crimes against nature, which is a legal term for sexual behavior deemed so unnatural and indecent that it’s considered a criminal offense.
His initial response was that the charges were fabricated by the supposed 12-year-old victim’s mother, whom he had a difficult break-up from following a visibly turbulent relationship. The bail was initially set and paid at $150,000 at the start of the investigation, but increased to $350,000 following the account of Stephanie Hayden, his oldest daughter.
She alleged that Will raped her both orally and vaginally in 1992, when she was 12 years old,. It was stated by Hayden’s lawyer, however, that Stephanie’s accusation came only after she stopped receiving funds for her part in the making of “Sons of Guns,” leading some to question the integrity of her claims.
Regardless, on 7 May 2017 Will Hayden was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of probation, suspension of sentence or parole for raping two pre-teen girls. Even in early 2023, Will’s case remains the most profoundly upsetting among all those of his sentenced fellow reality TV stars from the Discovery Channel network.
Joshua Tel Warner from “Deadliest Catch”
Finally, even one of the most popular TV series on the planet, Discovery Channel’s legendary “Deadliest Catch,” has had its cast members run into trouble with the law. The authorities of the Eugene Police Department in Oregon recognized Joshua Tel Warner during the airing of a regular episode of the show in late December 2009.
What made him so easy to spot for the law-keepers was the fact that he was wanted all over the US for a series of three bank robberies. He was arrested right before New Year’s Eve in Peoria, Illinois, and pleaded guilty to all three charges of second-degree robbery, and was sentenced to almost 10 years in prison in May 2010.