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Sig Hansen's 7 Best And 7 Worst Deadliest Catch Episodes

As the most featured captain on "Deadliest Catch," it's hard to believe that Sig Hansen originally didn't want to participate in the production. Fortunately for fans everywhere, he reluctantly allowed cameras onto his family vessel, the Northwestern, and we've since been with him through some of his highest highs and his lowest lows. Not only in terms of fishing, but the show films so much of Hansen's life, that viewers have witnessed many of his most important family events, life-threatening medical issues, and even his real-time mourning of good friends.

Since "Deadliest Catch" first aired in 2005, Sig has been featured in more than 200 episodes, rider shows like "After the Catch" and "The Bait," as well as dozens of one-off specials. Six of these one-off specials aired in 2022 alone, and with Season 1 of Hansen's spin-off series, "Deadliest Catch: The Viking Returns" in full swing, his relationship with the franchise seems stronger than ever. Through thick and thin, he keeps answering their calls. Now, to focus specifically on the thickest and the thinnest of times, here are Captain Sig Hansen's seven best and seven worst "Deadliest Catch" episodes.

Best: A Frozen Finish (Season 3, Episode 12)

As a fourth-generation crabber who got his start on the Northwestern itself, life on the boat is second nature to Sig. A greenhorn — who doesn't yet know the ins and outs of the job and the boat — needs to hit the ground running. We see just how wary Sig is of rookies in his very first appearance on the show. In the premiere episode of Season 1, "Greenhorns," Bradford Davis is ready to try his hand at crabbing. As one does when first meeting their new boss, Davis extends his hand for a handshake. Sig initially goes to shake it but stops himself and says, "I'll shake it after the season, if you do a good job."

The bar was set for then-greenhorn Jake Anderson. We first meet Anderson in the Season 3 episode "New Beginnings," where Sig gives him the same greeting he offered Bradford Davis. However, Sig and his crew were more than impressed with Anderson. After constantly proclaiming his dreams of receiving a Northwestern jacket, the Season 3 episode "A Frozen Finish" concludes with Sig giving Jake the jacket off of his own back. 

"That's like a rite of passage. You have to earn that jacket," Hansen tells TVInsider. "Now Jake is a captain, he's got his own boat, but when he got on here, he was just like a little boy. Looking back and looking at what he has become, that's pretty proud stuff. It's like your little boy, you finally kicked him out of the nest."

Worst: Fire At Sea (Season 12, Episode 14)

This episode truly highlights the drastic highs and lows of fishing on The Bering Sea. Near the end of the Season 12 episode "Fire At Sea: Part 1," Sig and the Northwestern are enjoying some of the best fishing of their season. They pull pots of over 600 Opilio crabs and celebrate when Edgar Hansen yells, "910!" Fans know that this is a truly staggering number as they've seen celebrations for pots of 300. The crew's celebration comes to an abrupt halt as, in classic cliffhanger fashion, we don't hear of the emergency until the very end of the episode.

Initially thinking it's a power outage — which is dangerous in its own right, as it can leave a boat "dead in the water" — we soon hear the crew yelling, "Fire! Fire!" In "Fire At Sea: Part 2," we delve into the severity of the situation. A fire engulfed the breaker box, leaving the captain and crew on a dark ship, choking on smoke. Highlighting how grim the situation could have been, Sig tells TVLine, "We were very lucky that we didn't have to get in lifeboats and actually leave the boat. The guys were super lucky that we were awake when the fire broke out, so they were able to put it out right when it happened."

Best: Last Damn Arctic Storm (Season 13, Episode 19)

In the Season 13 episode "Last Damn Arctic Storm," Sig is not at the helm of the Northwestern. Having been emotionally distraught from the loss of a friend, he heads home, leaving his younger brother Edgar in charge. Edgar thrives as relief captain, catching enough crab to finish out their season with only one string. Sig hears of Edgar's triumph and says, "Proud of you, man. You're a true fisherman at heart. And that's something to be proud of." With a single tear rolling down Edgar's face, we head to Mandy's wedding.

Sig had known about Clark and Mandy's relationship for a while, and although he wasn't ready to hear Clark's intentions at the time, he clearly came around. While Mandy and Clark stand at the altar in front of the Northwestern, Sig says, "You know, for the last season, there was a lot of negatives. It was tough, but to end it like this on a positive. I mean, what could be better, ya know?" Popping champagne, he continues, "This is what life's all about."

Worst: The Widowmaker (Season 12, Episode 18)

While wrapping up a particularly stressful season, an interview with Sig is abruptly interrupted by sharp chest pains, and the camera keeps rolling during his entire battle with a heart attack. Initially thinking he's experiencing "muscle cramps," Sig tells the producer and cameraman, "We're doing your interview. I'm not dying, so let that go. I'm not gonna let my family see that." Since the scene only makes up the final minutes of the Season 12 episode "The Widowmaker: Part 1," the aftermath in "Widowmaker: Part 2" could easily be on this list as well. We'll just consider them one big "worst" for Sig Hansen.

Edgar Hansen takes the wheel, calls for medical assistance to meet them at the dock, and steams for Dutch Harbor. Sig is then airlifted 800 miles to a cardiologist in Anchorage, Alaska, where he, his family, and fans everywhere hear that it was, in fact, the "widowmaker." Although Hansen lists the moment as one of his essential episodes, he admits to TVInsider, "I don't even like to watch it. It hits you like a ton of bricks every time."

Best: Sailor's Delight (Season 18, Episode 12)

On November 10, 2021, Mandy Hansen and her husband, Northwestern deckhand Clark Pederson, welcomed their daughter, Sailor Marie. Prior to this episode, a major storyline of this season was Sig's race to meet his granddaughter. During his very first King crab season in Norway, narrator Mike Rowe explains Hansen's desire to finish this Norwegian King crab season to then finish his Alaskan Bairdi crab season — which would end around the time of Mandy's due date.

Hansen makes it home just days after the birth, and the special moment was captured in the Season 18 episode "Sailor's Delight." Mandy Hansen is a fifth-generation crabber, and by naming her daughter Sailor, she seems to be pushing for a sixth. Sig tells "Deadliest Catch" cameras, "This is another part of our legacy. There was a lot of sacrifices made this year. The reality is, it won't be too much longer before we are back out at sea again. And ya know, it's moments like this that does make it harder to back up there and go fishing."

Worst: Lost At Sea (Season 13, Episode 18)

"Lost At Sea" is a truly devastating episode for everyone on "Deadliest Catch," but it hit Hansen particularly hard. Having never been featured on the show, fans first heard of Captain Jeff Hathaway and his Destination crew as they saw Sig hear the tragic news of the ship capsizing. Much like his heart attack, we see his devastating, real-time reaction as he asks, "Are you talking about Jeff Destination? My ... My buddy? What?" Fearing the worst, a mournful Hansen tells the producer, "I know you want me to probably say something, but I ... Maybe just give me a little bit and I'll tell you what I think, okay?"

The sinking of the Destination will forever be known as one of the saddest moments in "Deadliest Catch" history. Ultimately, Hathaway and his five crew members were never recovered, leaving only speculation as to what actually happened. Visibly shaken and questioning his ability to captain the ship with a level head, Sig decides to head home, stating, "I'm freaked out. I just lost one of my best friends." He asks his brother, Edgar, to finish the season, stating, "Right now, I need to get off the boat. I'm spooked. I'm heartbroken."

Best: The Bitter, Bloody End (Season 8, Episode 16)

You wouldn't think an episode titled "The Bitter, Bloody End" would have such a precious ending, but Season 8's finale concludes with Hansen straightening Jake Anderson's tie and officiating his wedding. Anderson has looked up to Hansen as a father figure, and this father/son moment is made even more special since Jake had recently lost his father, Keith. Hansen cited this episode as one of his "essentials," telling TVInsider, "Jake Anderson, when he got married, that was a big moment." He went on to joke that it was the only wedding he had witnessed that had hecklers.

Footage of the wedding could easily be titled "The Tale of Two Jakes" since cameras also focus on the Cornelia Marie's Jake Harris — who is clearly struggling with substance abuse. Harris' struggles highlight how far Jake Anderson has come in his own battles with addiction. Johnathan Hillstrand and Sig Hansen discuss how proud they are of Anderson for not even having a drop of alcohol at his bachelor party. The episode concludes with the veteran captains discussing a bright future for Anderson — who continues to take steps in the right direction.

Worst: Winter is Here (Season 15, Episode 7)

Not to downplay the seizure itself, but the sheer amount of mechanical issues facing the Northwestern in Season 15, Episode 7: "Winter Is Here" alone could add up to a "worst" episode for Sig. With the Northwestern losing power and its exhaust manifold smoking, deckhand Nick Mavar tells "Deadliest Catch" cameras, "We have a crane issue, now we might have an engine issue, so we ain't goin' out." Norman informs Sig that he should head back to town while they remedy what easily could have been a fire at sea.

Cameras film Norman at work, and just as he turns a corner, we hear his body drop and a voice yell, "Oh my god, he hit his head. Call 911!" Clark Pederson and crew rush to Norman's convulsing, unconscious body and report that he's turning blue, having a seizure, and bleeding from his head. Sig rushes down, and they cover him with a blanket before paramedics arrive and take Norman to the hospital on a gurney. Worried about his brother, Sig yells, "He's not okay! He's f***ed up!" He soon heads to the hospital himself.

Best: Cold War Rivals (Season 16, Episode 1)

As a competitive guy, you wouldn't think Sig would actually enjoy being bested at anything — especially at something he's done his entire life. Still, his fatherly pride takes over in the Season 16 episode "Cold War Rivals" when his daughter beats him in a friendly game of finding the crab. Earlier in the episode, Mandy is alone at the helm for the first time in her career. This alone should be a proud moment for Sig, but he ends up being quite upset with her first decision as captain. While setting pots for "wet storage," Mandy sets them too far apart and wastes valuable time.

Later, Sig has trouble locating the crab, and Mandy has some suggestions of her own. They choose to set competing strings, and to Sig's surprise, Mandy out-performs him by a long shot. In an interview with TVInsider, Sig says, "That kid impresses me so much. She sticks out with her fishing decisions and instinctive moves. She found crab and I didn't. She stepped up and told me she made a move. Her decision-making has really changed. She did a little more here and that surprised the heck out of me." Since she's filling his boat with crab, it's a win-win for Sig either way.

Worst: Battle Lines (Season 14, Episode 1)

Jake Anderson is no stranger to physical confrontations on the Northwestern, but an altercation with Sig in the Season 14 episode "Battle Lines" was a new low. As a new captain under a ton of pressure to catch his quota, Jake approaches Hansen out of desperation. He asks Sig if they could work together, but it becomes pretty clear that Anderson really just wants Sig's information. Wanting Jake to finally leave the nest, Hansen responds, "You can't ask for help every single season, because then you'll be reliant on someone else every season. Whereas if you do it yourself, then you're self-reliant."

In the movies, this father-son moment would have ended with, "You're right, dad. Time to prove I can do this on my own." But Anderson suggests that Sig gets his information from other captains over the radio, and crosses a line. As reported by Yahoo, Hansen snaps at Anderson, saying, "So are you calling me a radio fisherman? Because if you are, get the f*** off my boat!" Hansen slams his radio, opens his door, and physically pushes Jake out of his wheelhouse. The heated exchange concludes with Anderson screaming, "I'm a f***ing better fisherman than you any day of the f***ing week!" Sure you are, Jake. Sure.

Best: Brother in the Bight (Season 18, Episode 6)

With the closing of the Alaskan King crab fishery, Sig makes up for that lost income by fishing in his ancestral land of Norway. His father, Sverre Hansen, immigrated to Seattle, Washington in 1958 and had always preached Norwegian pride to his sons. Aiming to make his late father proud and keep the Hansen family fishing tradition alive, Sig (whose first language is Norwegian) makes some calls and winds up captaining the Norwegian crabbing vessel Stålbas.

Having fished the Bering Sea on the Northwestern since 1979, fishing on a completely different boat in completely different waters had its learning curve. Up until the Season 18 episode "Brother in the Bight," Sig wasn't having much luck, and time was running out. In a last-ditch effort, he fishes along the Russian border, and one of his Norwegian deckhands tells the camera, "This is pretty unknown territory. Not been fished there for maybe 6 to 8 years with pots. It's a big gamble." Sure enough, Hansen's gamble pays off, as this Hail Mary string is all they need to finish the season. 

This moment marks the beginning of Sig's prosperous future in Norway, helping to spark the spinoff series, "Deadliest Catch: The Viking Returns."

Worst: Mayday Mayday (Season 16, Episode 8)

Another of the saddest moments in "Deadliest Catch" history comes in the Season 16 episode "Mayday Mayday" – one which clearly hits every cast member pretty hard. For Hansen, the episode opens with heavy ice building on the Northwestern as Sig explains his prospecting plans for Opilio crab. His explanation is cut short by a mayday distress signal, informing the fleet that the Scandies Rose is sinking. About their captain, Gary Cobban Jr., Hansen tells the camera, "Gary's been up here for forever and a day. I've known him for as long as I can remember."

The Coast Guard shares a glimmer of hope as they report that survivors are being pulled up, but we soon realize that only two men, Jon Lawler and Dean Gribble Jr., were safely rescued. Captain Gary Cobban Jr., his son David, and three other crew members were never recovered (via The Seattle Times). Hansen remembers Gary Cobban fondly and shares that Cobban took him under his wing, teaching him a lot about Bairdi crab fishing. The episode concludes with the fleet, particularly the Wizard and the Summer Bay, giving the Scandies Rose a beautiful send-off.

Best: Now or Never (Season 15, Episode 21)

After seeing spotty fishing all of Season 15, in the episode "Now or Never" Sig hopes that Mandy can begin setting her own pots — completely free of his input. Mandy's decision can either get the Northwestern's quota in on time or have them possibly come in short. Sig pulls up Mandy's string, simply stating, "This is a defining moment." However, as reported by TV Over Mind, Mandy's parallel strings result in one of the biggest hauls in "Deadliest Catch" history.

Relaying his pride, Sig tells the camera, "Mandy stepped up, and that's the reward, what we're seeing there. I'm so proud of her for that. That she not only learned but went by her own true gut." During the offload, we see Clark Pederson doing "crab angels" on top of the enormous haul, and we hear that, because of Mandy, the Northwestern pulled in 1.8 million dollars worth of Opilio crab. Capping off the finale with a heartwarming moment, Sig hands Mandy an official Northwestern jacket and says, "Now you're official."

Worst: Crane Wreck (Season 15, Episode 13)

On the heels of a crane malfunction, engine failure, and Norman's medical emergency "Crane Wreck" sees Hansen receive some pretty devastating news. Earlier in the episode, Sig tries to navigate a very narrow channel in St. Paul Harbor, and things between Sig and his daughter Mandy get pretty heated as Mandy's spotty information almost lands them on the rocks. Later, Hansen and crew are not having any luck catching Opilio crab, so he decides to stack his pots and head north to (hopefully) better fishing grounds.

Just then, Sig goes quiet as he receives an eerie call from his wife, June. Leaving Mandy at the helm, he fights back tears as he informs the camera, "It sounds like my wife has a form of cancer. We do know that this area on her neck is definitely cancer, we just don't know if there's more." With this news, Sig no longer wants to go north, even though there's probably better fishing. He decides to stay close to land in case he and Mandy need to rush home to be by June's side (via Country Living).