Whether it’s for good or bad, reality TV is known for providing its audiences with more than just realistic entertainment. Arguments, temper tantrums, personal struggles, addictions and more are a huge part of why shows such as “Deadliest Catch” have been on air for so long.
However, while part of the cast has overcome their fair share of personal difficulties, the same can’t be said about some others. The latter applies well to Elliot Neese, whose controversial personality and bad temper is still a topic of discussion until this day.
So whatever happened to him? Why did he leave “Deadliest Catch” and what has been going on with him? Keep with us to discover all about the current life of the former Captain of the Saga.
Where Is Elliott Now?
While the TV industry usually brings positive things to people’s lives, some other times it means bad news for those involved with it.
Such is the case of Elliott Neese, who was known in “Deadliest Catch” for not getting along with a lot of his cast mates and subordinates while captaining the Saga, in addition to easily exploding against people on social media.
Although his exit from the show in 2015 meant Elliott could take a break from public scrutiny, recently his name was in the headlines again, but not for good reasons. Reportedly, in 2019 Alaska’s authorities found ‘six ounces of heroin, a small amount of methamphetamine, digital scales’, in addition to $80,000 in cash in Elliott’s house.
Said information was kept a secret until December 2021, when it was brought to light that Elliott had admitted to being involved with a local heroin trafficking operation, which of course was related to the previous search in his home. While Elliott could be facing decades in jail for this crime, details about the case, including his agreement with prosecutors and sentencing schedule, weren’t revealed to the general public.
Though Elliott resumed posting on social media in early 2022, and told his fans he’s still roaming the Bering Sea in a new ship, he didn’t let out any information about his legal issues.
Previous Legal Problems
Elliott’s problems with justice are surely unfortunate for a man whose career on high seas and reality TV seemed promising at one point. However, any long-time fan of “Deadliest Catch” remembers this isn’t the first time Elliott has been involved in unfortunate events.
As it happens, back in 2012 his former girlfriend and mother of his child Valerie Gunderson, filed a restraining order against Elliott for violent behavior. As court documents stated, Elliott had a long history of damaging Valerie’s belongings, physical attacks and other events of domestic violence which had apparently started happening in 2006.
Following Valerie’s claims, early that year Elliott’s behaviour became frantic every time she refused to talk to him and reached new highs, to the point he would call her dozens of times per hour.
Besides the aforementioned, Valerie claimed some of the reasons she feared for her life were related to Elliott’s alcoholic tendencies and drug addiction, in addition to him telling her mother that ‘If I can’t have (Valerie) nobody can’, leaving Valerie no other option than to search for protection.
Despite the severity of the claims, Elliott kept appearing in “Deadliest Catch” just as normally as ever. However, the incident wasn’t easily erased from many people’s minds.
His Exit From The Show
As if that wasn’t obvious enough, Elliott’s not-so-kind behavior caused many issues both on and off-screen throughout the years. Unsurprisingly, his ultimate exit from “Deadliest Catch” in the 11th season was related to these tendencies too.
Back in May 2015, Elliott joined a 60-day long rehab program in Malibu to get rid of his dependency to drugs, which had affected his performance as Captain of the Saga for a long time, as seen in “Deadliest Catch”.
Though his trouble-making personality was a big reason he often clashed with his crew members, and even with people on social media, the truth is that Elliot himself admitted to having a substance problem back then, eventually leading to him leaving the Saga’s wheel to Jeff Folk.
Although Elliott successfully completed his rehabilitation, his time with the show was over. Captain Jake Anderson took his spot on the Saga in the following season, which obviously didn’t sit well with Elliott. As he told Insquisitr in 2016, Anderson was only the Saga’s ‘Captain for TV’, while he remained ‘the real one’, who won’t appear in the show for some time, even though he affirmed that he was still on board of the Saga: ‘I won’t be on this season because of what I had to do to get better. I’ll be on a time or two, but not all season’.
Despite Elliott’s words, he’s never returned to “Deadliest Catch”.
What About His Personal Issues?
Although Elliot’s exit from “Deadliest Catch” and the Saga was controversial to say the least, he seemed to be doing well on the personal side back then. Following his departure from a California rehab center in 2015, Elliott was apparently recovering well despite the struggles: ‘I’m doing great. I have my good days and my bad days, you know. But, it’s going great’, he told the Inquisitr.
Proud of his accomplishments, Elliott continued to update his fans on his path to keep himself clean the following year. As well, he wasn’t shy about his new-found romance with a woman named Erika Fridenbergs, whom he met during his time in rehab in Malibu and was apparently planning on moving with to Hawaii.
More importantly, he was apparently rebuilding his relationship with his kids: ‘I keep in touch with my kids every day, I talk to them a lot. Things are good there’, he affirmed in the same interview.
Nowadays, Elliott’s bond with his two children seems to be in place, but his relationship with Fridenbergs apparently ended at some point, judging by the lack of pictures of her on his social media. Unfortunately, his updates on sobriety stopped at some point as well, leaving his followers with no clue about his current personal endeavors.
What The Producers Had To Say
As many long-time “Deadliest Catch” fans might remember, the situation on board the Saga was quite dramatic prior to Elliott Neese’s exit. Before handing the wheel to his first mate Jeff Folk, Elliott had angrily snapped at one camera-man and warned him to better not be filming.
Although the job on the high seas is always dangerous, Elliott’s attitude and the then-current dire weather conditions obviously worried both viewers and the show’s crew.
As admitted by “Deadliest Catch” producer Jeff Conroy, the well-being of the show’s staff was a big concern during those stressing times: ‘We reassigned our chase boat so that it would be within range of the Saga, and if necessary, we could pull our guys off’, as he told Yahoo! Entertainment in 2015.
Although Conroy considered ‘the safest alternative’ leaving Folk in charge at the wheel, he admitted that the problems aboard the ship were somewhat expected: ‘Knowing what’s going on, you look at that and go ‘this is a person with a real problem.’ He’s at that point where he doesn’t want to fully face it’, he said in reference to Elliot’s then-current drug addiction, recalling how in previous seasons he had already denied having a problem with substances.
How Usual Are Drug Problems On the High Seas?
As dramatic and eyebrow-raising as the situation with Elliott Neese might have been, he isn’t the first seaman to have dealt with addiction.
One of the most commented on of these cases featured in “Deadliest Catch” is that of Jake Harris, who despite not having a Captain’s position, became one of the most controversial cast members, given his issues with drug and alcohol abuse.
Following his departure from the series a couple of seasons after his father Phil’s death in 2010, Jake had repeated problems with the law, and was ultimately sentenced to 18 months in jail in 2019 for possession of heroin, with intent to manufacture or distribute.
The current Saga’s Captain Jake Anderson also dealt with drug addiction, developed after he suffered an injury in his teens. Although Anderson overcame that unfortunate stage of his life, the fact these issues are apparently so common is worrisome to say the least. As affirmed by the show’s producer Jeff Conroy in 2015, nine out of 10 people in the industry have been affected in some way by substance abuse.
However, in his opinion, bringing these issues to light could help other people suffering the same: ‘That’s what sets us apart, to be able to tell authentic, real stories. That’s what I would hope would be the legacy of this show’.
Was Elliot Going To Return To The Show?
Regardless of his personal struggles and the mixed feelings he caused in the audience, Elliott Neese’s exit from “Deadliest Catch” was apparently not definitive. Following his completion of rehab, he told Inquisitr: ‘I’m going to talk to Discovery about getting on season 13, but I want them to tell my side of the story’.
While Elliot’s promise to return to the show might have sounded unconvincing, in April 2016 he tweeted that he was still hopeful that his comeback to “Deadliest Catch” might happen, claiming he wanted to show the world that ‘there is hope, that recovery is possible’.
Though in the following months Elliott seemed busy working both on crab fishing and in a local touristic sea company, in early 2017 he directly asked “Deadliest Catch” producer Decker Watson on Twitter if his return to the series was possible.
However, Watson answered that despite ‘trying like hell’ to get Elliott in the 13th season, things hadn’t turned in their favor. Although he promised there was a chance for Elliott to appear in the 14th season, that never happened either.
All in all, it seems that Elliott’s initial claims that his comeback to “Deadliest Catch” would happen sometime in the future were sincere, probably other events made it impossible.
Ever since Elliott Neese was introduced in the eighth season of “Deadliest Catch”, viewers knew he was meant to become memorable. Despite his young age, Elliot appeared to be ruthless and bad tempered as the Captain of the Ramblin’ Rose, an image which was only cemented by his seemingly rough relationship with his family.
However, no matter how much of a bad guy he seemed to be, Elliott evidently loved to be on the high seas, which is unsurprising knowing his backstory. As it happens, Elliott inherited his passion for crabbing from his father Mike, who worked his entire life as a fisherman, and took his son on board a ship for the first time when he was two years old.
At 16 years old, Elliott finally made his dream of working on a ship come true. On board the Ocean Cape, he realized this was where he was meant to be: ‘I thought it was fascinating. It’s something only the top one percent of people can even do; it’s like being a rock star’, Elliott told Boating Mag in 2014.
After spending a couple of seasons on the Ramblin’ Rose, in 2012 Elliott and his co-associate Lenny Herzog finally bought the Saga, but his final accomplished-dream of owning his own boat soon ended.
Elliott’s Portrayal In The Show
It’s not a secret that Elliott Neese was regarded as controversial and a villain for the “Deadliest Catch” audience.
However, he always argued that what was seen in the show wasn’t his true self, claiming the reason many people had a negative perception of him was due to him not trying ‘to appease the camera’.
That being said, he considered his appearances in the show a ‘misportrayal’, meant to put him in a negative light for the sake of entertainment: ‘They just twist and turn everything the way they want’, he told BlastZone in 2013, claiming that if his personality was as bad as seen in the show, then there wouldn’t have been any reason for his crew to keep working with him.
However, while it was apparent that he understood why he was portrayed in a certain way, he was evidently upset his loved-ones became involved in the show’s drama: ‘I wouldn’t have let them film my family if I had known how they would show it’.
Whether or not Elliott’s claims hold any truth, it’s for sure that the not-so-positive reputation “Deadliest Catch” gave him, still haunts him these days.