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Things You Never Noticed In The First Pawn Stars Episode

For 20 seasons and over 500 episodes, "Pawn Stars" has showcased a variety of the world's greatest treasures. Gifting audiences with spontaneous history lessons in art, culture, sports, and literature, the onscreen disputes of everyone's favorite pawning family have made "Pawn Stars" one of the longest-running reality shows on the History Channel. Meanwhile, the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, in which a majority of the series is filmed, has become a Las Vegas staple for fans hoping to catch a glimpse of the stars or cash in on the next big deal.

After debuting in 2009, much has changed for store owner Rick Harrison and his crew of wheelers and dealers. Sadly, Richard "Old Man" Harrison passed away in 2018, forever changing the dynamic of the series. Meanwhile, the show has undergone a few significant format shifts, including recently transitioning from half-hour episodes to filling one-hour timeslots and streamlining seasons to 14 episodes from the 40-plus episode collections of years past.

"Pawn Stars" premiered to an unsuspecting audience on July 19, 2009. The episode "Boom or Bust" features a cannon from the 1800s, a replica Roman suit of armor, and the Old Man getting his eyes tested to prove to his co-workers that he still has what it takes. But there are some things that you probably overlooked during your first introduction to the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop 13 years ago. Keep reading to catch up on how far things have come for Rick and company.

A formula that has barely changed

Change is one of the few constants in life and television. Reality TV specifically spends much of its efforts attempting to outdo its previous season to draw in more viewers. However, with 20 seasons under its belt, "Pawn Stars" has done little to shift its winning formula. Aside from necessary adjustments due to casting, the experience of watching the "Pawn Stars" of today is a largely similar to viewing the first episode.

Building that consistency and expectation is part of what makes "Pawn Stars" an easy show to digest. As Rick Harrison explained in a HistoryCon interview, viewers can tune into "Pawn Stars" at any time and find something interesting. Whether you binge the series from the beginning or randomly fall upon the middle of a chance episode, you can expect to see a unique piece of merchandise and chuckle at some gentle teasing between the cast. Besides the noticeable changes in production values and the cast members' ages, the first "Pawn Stars" episode is easily exchangeable with any other installment.

There are no customers

The World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop has become so popular for tourists in Las Vegas that there are routinely line-ups of visitors around the block. On a daily basis, the store can draw 4000 to 5000 visitors, all hoping to catch some of the dealings in action. Despite the celebrity attention, the store remains a working pawnbroker, as it has been since 1989 when it was opened by Richard Harrison.

Looking back at the first episode of "Pawn Stars," something uncanny is happening at Las Vegas' most-popular pawn shop — it's empty. While the storefront does not appear much in the series premiere, the scenes that do take place in the pawn shop feature a store devoid of customers. General manager Travis Benton told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that bystanders are routinely kicked out for filming. Still, later seasons of the show often feature a store loaded with extras, making the quiet halls presented in the first episode feel almost eerie by comparison.

The show's first expert has never reappeared

The primary pawn stars may be the ones with their faces on the posters, but there's a long list of recurring "Pawn Stars" experts that have become fan favorites. Specialists like bibliophile Rebecca Romney and sports memorabilia aficionado Jeremy Brown are two of the recognizable regulars who have gained media clout from their televised pawn shop consulting. Meanwhile, mechanical whizzes like Rick Dale and Danny "The Count" Koker have turned their repeated appearances on "Pawn Stars" into their own History Channel spinoffs.

So, when rewinding back to the first episode of "Pawn Stars," there is reason to be hopeful to see at least one series-regular expert make their debut performance alongside the main cast, especially when Rick Harrison mentions "having someone look at" an 1890 Hotchkiss cannon for a potential purchase. The pawn shop owner has a Rolodex of weaponry and militaria specialists that have given their expertise throughout the years. Yet surprisingly, the first expert ever called in — a cannon restorer also named Rick — never appears again during the 20 seasons of the show.

Chumlee's negotiation skills

Austin Lee Russell, better known as "Chumlee," is often the target of the Harrison family's battering ram of insults and jests. In the series premiere, the lovable oaf is degraded by his childhood friend and co-worker Corey Harrison as the "village idiot." Truthfully, Chumlee is far more adept than the show's early seasons portray him to be. While he had been working at the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop for five years before filming began, this "village idiot" turned the opportunity into becoming a fan favorite and launching multiple businesses utilizing the residual fame.

More relevantly, Chumlee is no rookie to the art of negotiation. Over the course of 20 seasons, the pawn shop employee has swindled with the best of them, especially when showing off his extensive knowledge of pinball machines, Pokémon cards, and sneakers. Yet in the beginning, as Chumlee explained to the PodKats podcast, he was happy to embrace the role of "whipping boy" to catch the show a few extra laughs. Hilariously, Chumlee doubles down on his dolt character choice in the series premiere by acting particularly terrible at negotiating. When a potential purchase of a replica Roman suit of armor enters the store, Chumlee not only tries on the ill-fitting helmet, but offers the seller his asking price, much to the annoyance of Corey "Big Hoss" Harrison.

The Old Man's car

While "Pawn Stars" features a wide array of merchandise, from pop culture collectables to classic pieces of art, the series has always included a healthy number of automobiles. From the elegant to the wacky, many rare vehicles have driven through the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop parking lot. It is no surprise to anyone that the Harrisons are luxury car enthusiasts. Third-generation pawnbroker Corey "Big Hoss" Harrison has made news for stopping at nothing to purchase a vehicle he has set his intentions on. "Pawn Stars" patriarch Rick Harrison has an even unhealthier addiction to buying rare automobiles. Whether genetic or through influence, the younger Harrisons undoubtedly gained their love for motor vehicles from the original pawn star, the Old Man.

Richard "Old Man" Harrison's desire for big American cars is front and center in more than one episode of the series — most notably on the occasion when the cast of "American Pickers," "American Restoration," and "Counting Cars" helped surprise the Old Man with a 1957 Chevrolet 150 birthday gift. While the moment was memorable, the Old Man can be seen driving an equally classic car in the series premiere. While attending the eye doctor to appease his kin, Richard Harrison pulls up in a 1962 Cadillac Sedan deVille, which he later told Hagerty was still his favorite car.

Rick doesn't work the storefront

The first image that pops into most viewers' minds when they think about "Pawn Stars" is Rick Harrison standing behind the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop counter surrounded by valuable coins, trinkets, and oddities. It is what the series is known for — a customer brings an item in, and stationed behind the counter, Rick or one of the other pawn stars negotiates stakes. Every once in a while, one of the main crew will head out of the shop to inspect a big-ticket item, but for the most part, it is a you-go-to-them situation.

Surprisingly, that is not so much the case in the series debut. The now internationally famous pawn shop hardly makes an appearance in the episode, aside from the Harrisons' desks where they have since spent hundreds of episodes chattering at one another. Instead, the two significant items examined within the premiere both earn an on-site visit from Rick "The Spotter" Harrison. While this is not the standard set throughout the remainder of the series, it is more in line with reality. According to Starcasm, the pawn stars do not spend any of their off-air time manning the counters.

An actual pawn at the pawn shop

Every potential seller that comes into the shop has a few options implied by Rick Harrison's line, "What are you looking to do with this?" Most of the time on the show, the seller either successfully convinces the pawn stars to purchase their merchandise, or they leave hoping to exchange it elsewhere. However, the third option that we hardly ever see on the series but makes up a significant portion of pawn shop income across the country is a pawn loan. In the first episode, Rick refers to pawning as "the simplest form of banking." It allows an item's owner to receive a temporary payment with an agreed-upon period to buy it back.

Despite the namesake, it is extremely rare to see anyone pawn anything on "Pawn Stars." Thankfully, the series premiere gave fans a range of what happens at Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. After striking a deal on a cannon and passing on a replica Roman suit of armor, Rick investigates the episode's third piece of merchandise — a Knapp custom table saw. While not the most alluring items to appear on "Pawn Stars," carpentry tools are a pawn shop staple, bringing in significant value with a quick turnaround.

Chumlee gets to work

A significant portion of the work typically done at a pawn shop is behind-the-scenes action rarely showcased on "Pawn Stars." Whether stocking shelves, cleaning merchandise, or moving around heavy items, there is a lot of manual labor happening at Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. Although this type of work is obviously necessary for the success of any retail business, the lead cast is not usually seen participating in the hard labor.

Despite Chumlee's ups and downs, including a death hoax and a drug scandal, he has always been a regular fixture on the series. Already showcased as a terrible negotiator earlier in the episode, Chumlee is positioned as an anything-goes employee. This includes being tasked with maneuvering a 3000-pound table saw, much to the dismay of his coworkers. From what we have learned about the lovable comic relief throughout the years, Chumlee is more of a liability than a pawn star under such conditions. 

The most valuable item in the shop at the time

For many fans, one of the highlights of watching "Pawn Stars" is the trivia questions that pop up during commercial breaks. Happily, it is a tradition carried by the series since the earliest episode. But what that first episode's trivia question demonstrates is how far Gold & Silver Pawn Shop has come since its first airing in 2009.

The query dives into the most valuable item available at the infamous pawn shop during the time; a Super Bowl ring from 2001 takes the cake with the hefty price tag of $60,000, surpassing a 15th century samurai sword and an original ink sketch by Pablo Picasso. As spendy as the NFL prize may be, it's nothing next to the most expensive "Pawn Stars" purchases from the show's 20 seasons.

Since the series premiere, Rick has doled out the dollars on plenty of big-ticket items, including classic cars, guitars formerly owned by rock stars, and plenty of precious metals. While each of these make the $60,000 Super Bowl ring look like a light purchase, none of them equal the "Pawn Stars" biggest onscreen acquisition. In Season 15, Rick splurged $250,000 on a collection of Maurice Sendak's original sketches of "Where the Wild Things Are."

Little-known pawn shop employees

Aside from the rotating roster of merchandise experts, "Pawn Stars" has given plenty of faces their 15 minutes of fame. Even the under-heralded blue-collar employees of Gold & Silver Pawn Shop are likely to make an appearance at one point or another. Throughout the years, viewers have met some of the most colorful characters who make an honest living working for the Harrisons. Most famously, Olivia Black, who made a splash in her first appearances but was later taken off television after revelations of her nude modeling surfaced.

Still, the earliest episode of "Pawn Stars" made it seem as if the regular employees of the pawn shop would be making consistent appearances throughout the series. The first show introduces two little-known behind-the-scenes personnel, Travis and Johnny. Travis Benton became general manager of Gold & Silver and has explained that his lack of later appearances is due to his responsibilities of holding down day-to-day operations. Meanwhile, Johnny was an in-house mechanic whose knowledge of racing and sports memorabilia later came in handy on the series.

A minimally tattooed Corey

Love him or leave him, Corey "Big Hoss" Harrison has been a staple of "Pawn Stars" since the beginning. Although he told Inquisitr that his father and grandfather initially didn't want him to join the family business, Big Hoss has spent most of his life working at Gold & Silver and is likely being groomed to inherit the storefront.

Regardless of his high dealings as a televised pawnbroker, Corey has grown as a person throughout the series, earning his stake in the company and becoming a father. Meanwhile, one of the most significant changes to take place before our eyes is Big Hoss' growing tattoo collection. Now that we recognize the youngest Harrison for his full sleeves, it is almost strange to see him in the first "Pawn Stars" episode with minimal tattoos. Of course, we have seen Big Hoss gain some of his ink on television, but without the extra art, he almost looks naked.

Family dynamics never change

Undisputedly, "Pawn Stars" is an international hit, dubbed in over 30 languages and airing in 150 countries. The series has inspired many nations, such as South Africa, Australia, and the U.K., to create their own "Pawn Stars" variants. And while the driving factor of the show's success is the chance to view rare and unique collectables, the series would not be the same without the tensions and comradery of the Harrisons and their close friend Chumlee.

The realistic family repartee is present in the series premiere when Rick and Corey urge the senior Harrison to get his eyes tested after mistakenly pricing a silver dollar, and it has been a constant throughout the 500-plus episodes. While losing Old Man Harrison in 2018 was a blow to the family and the dynamics of "Pawn Stars," much of the lovable jousting remains a part of the series. As Rick stated in a Fox News interview, as long as the fun remains, he will happily continue to film "Pawn Stars" for another 20 years.