Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Rules That The Storage Wars Cast Must Follow

For 13 seasons, A&E's "Storage Wars" has entertained audiences by following a group of people who make money by purchasing storage lockers being auctioned off after renters have abandoned their leases. The catch is that none of the bidders have a clear idea of what they're buying since most of the storage lockers are filled with boxes and random items they can't inspect until they win the auction. As viewers know, some of the finds in those lockers make the competitive bidding worth it, with cast members walking away with such hauls as newspapers valued at $90,000, collectible toys worth thousands, rare coins valued at $500,000, and classic comic books worth five figures. 

This reality series, which has spawned multiple spinoffs, has also featured a diverse cast of personalities since launching in 2010. There have been bickering couples such as Brandi Passante and Jarrod Schulz, aggressive and hostile bidders like Dave Hester, and seasoned bidders such as Barry Weiss. While the show might have seemed completely unscripted, the truth is, the cast had certain rules they had to follow.

Storage units can't be inspected prior to the auction

Most auctions allow bidders to know exactly what they're bidding on, but "Storage Wars" producers seem to have one basic rule — buyers can't closely inspect the contents of units before bidding, which only makes the show even more entertaining to watch. Past reports have indicated bidders only have five minutes to look at a storage unit without going inside it. Cast members are often as surprised as the audience at the finds in each storage locker, whether those items are nothing more than junk or high-value collectibles. However, there might have been some deception in the past. 

According to Deadline, a lawsuit filed in 2012 by former "Storage Wars" star Dave Hester alleged that producers inspected units prior to the auctions and planted expensive items in some units to create drama. Hester and the network eventually settled out of court, and Hester even returned to "Storage Wars" in Season 6. In 2021, Brandi Passante told Distractify there was never any tampering on the show, pointing out that many storage units contained nothing of value. "I don't think the show really highlights the bad ones as much ... but it definitely happens," she clarified. Even though no court ever officially recognized Hester's claims as proven, many fans on Reddit took the combative star's allegations as fact, with one user asking, if real items of value were in the units, "why on earth would anyone pay to store that stuff?"

Physical violence isn't allowed

Let's face it. One of the joys of watching "Storage Wars" boils down to the conflict between cast members bidding over the same storage units. While bickering is commonplace on the show, viewers have rarely seen physical altercations on screen. In 2015, TMZ reported a brawl onset between stars Dan and Laura Dotson and Dave Hester, in which Hester pushed Laura Dotson to the ground. Months later, the footage was aired during Season 8, marking one of the only physical altercations ever shown on "Storage Wars." 

Hester, who often squabbled with his co-stars, might have still threatened to punch people, but he never did so on camera again, indicating the producers didn't want to encourage more physical violence on the show. While physical violence isn't allowed, the feuds between buyers often get heated. As Brandi Passante told People, "When you bid against me, the claws come out."

Winning bidders must pay cash

If you've ever tried to bid on a storage unit, you know that winning bidders are required to pay cash only. That's certainly the case for the cast of "Storage Wars," too. This also means bidders are prohibited from going to an ATM for more cash in between bids, writing checks, or using debit or credit cards to pay for units they've won. Much to the entertainment of viewers, some cast members developed cunning and petty methods for weeding out the competition for the units they wanted to win. 

Often, cast members hiked up the cost of units they didn't even want by bidding on them, simply so the winner would have less cash to bid on the units others really wanted. The "Storage Wars" official YouTube page has a compilation video of the show's top six bidding wars that illustrates this better than any words could. 

Producers can give cast members scripted lines

Following a lawsuit by Dave Hester, "Storage Wars" executive producer Thom Beers spoke about the show's behind-the-scenes policies during a panel discussion sponsored by the National Geographic Channel, according to Reality Blurred. One of the topics discussed was the cast interviews shown between other segments. "In the old days, we avoided talking heads because it was the death knell," he said, explaining narration turned off viewers. 

During the panel, Beers admitted reality stars are not actors, which means their narratives aren't always presented well. "I have to admit: There's some writing involved," he said. "We do it in 'Storage Wars,' we do it in 'America's Lost Treasures.' ... I'm so tired of narration driving story." He admitted cast members are fed approximately half their lines through producers to "allow them to translate what we need to push the story." However, Beers also insisted that these lines didn't really "push" the show's overall narratives, as "the story is the story."