Is ‘Pawn Stars’ Fake? Rick Harrison and the Other History Stars Don’t Even Work the Counter Anymore

Pawn Stars is one of the History Channel’s most popular reality shows, full of humor, family conflict, and interesting historical tidbits. For years, the show has captivated fans, and even though the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected the filming of upcoming episodes, Pawn Stars remains a force to be reckoned with, beloved by viewers all around the world.

Although many fans love the show for the way it highlights historical artifacts, the unfortunate fact is that Pawn Stars is not always the most realistic show around — and when it comes to filming, the stars have very strict rules that they are forced to follow. 

Rick Harrison attends the 'Pawn Stars' photocall
Rick Harrison attends a Pawn Stars event | Eric Catarina/Getty Images

When did the show debut?

According to IMDb, Pawn Stars debuted in 2009 and follows the day-to-day exploits of a family team as they operate their pawn shop. The World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop was founded in 1989 by Richard “Old Man” Harrison.

It has been run for years by his son, Rick Harrison, Rick’s son, Corey “Big Hoss” Harrison, and the family friend, Chumlee Russell. Every day, customers bring in rare and valuable historical artifacts (as well as few not-so-valuable) for the crew to evaluate and possibly purchase.

Pawn Stars quickly became one of the network’s most popular shows, and over the years, it has only grown more beloved. Viewers love the way that the show highlights cool memorabilia and incredibly rare historical pieces, as well as the focus that the series has on family dynamics. These days, Pawn Stars is still going strong, with the sixteenth season debuting in early 2019. 

How realistic is ‘Pawn Stars’?

RELATED: ‘Pawn Stars’: The Richest Stars on the Show

Although viewers are led to believe that Pawn Stars is a realistic show, chronicling the everyday happenings at the Vegas-based pawn shop, the truth is far different.

Rick Harrison, the proprietor of the shop, is set up as a true celebrity, and based on the show alone, viewers might assume that he is in the store every single day, meeting with clients and brokering deals. However, Harrison actually spends close to half the year completely off the grid, allowing his employees to run the show. 

In addition, Corey Harrison and Chumlee Russell might be good friends behind the scenes (just as they are on the show) but the reality is that the pawn shop actually has close to seven hundred employees, and it is those employees who mainly operate the shop on the daily, per The Talko.

Harrison and Russell are primarily in the shop for filming purposes, and reportedly tend to keep to themselves on days when they aren’t filming.

The ‘Pawn Stars’ leads have to follow strict rules

The cast of Pawn Stars probably didn’t set out to become stars, but now that they are reality show heavyweights, they have had to adapt accordingly. According to Looper, there are a number of rules that Rick Harrison, Corey Harrison, and Chumlee Russell have to follow when filming for their show.

When looking at prospective items and sellers to be featured on the show, they can’t just choose something that looks interesting — in fact, they must also “vet out” the sellers ahead of time, and go through a pre-negotiation process.

Additionally, the stars tend to work off of scripts, although the writers presumably know them well enough by now to tailor it to each cast member’s individual personalities. While these rules mean that the show might not fit what a lot of viewers think they understand about Pawn Stars, it doesn’t mean that the series is any less special — after all, the people who bring in their treasures to sell are still very real.

Also, Pawn Stars is far from the only show on the History Channel to utilize selective realism. American Pickers is another show on the same network that has been accused of highlighting only the drama, while saving the most boring parts of the job for off-camera.