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American Pickers is Back, But Fans Still Aren’t Over Frank Fritz's Firing

Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe interviews on American Pickers.
(Image credit: History)

American Pickers kicked off a Frank-less Season 23 at the beginning of 2022, but there still seems to be a subset of fans who are really unhappy with what went down with Frank Fritz in 2021. In fact, reports indicate that ratings are down for the History series after Mike Wolfe’s former co-star was not asked back and a public back-and-forth ensued. Fans are also still commenting about Fritz a lot on American Pickers-related posts. 

While Frank Fritz has not actually appeared on an episode of Pickers since March of 2020, it was more recently that drama between Fritz and Mike Wolfe became apparent online late last summer. A feud of sorts was started after the former said he wanted to come back to the reality series. His co-star Danielle Colby noted Frank “caused so much pain for himself” before Wolfe confirmed that Fritz had not been asked back for Season 23. 

Though the current leads of American Pickers may be aligned, that doesn’t mean the fanbase necessarily is. Ratings on the History show have declined after Frank’s exit became apparent. While live TV ratings in general have shifted across the board given DVR and streaming options, the ratings shift from just over the summer, before the public Pickers drama became known, and the last few episodes is startling.

The gist is: Last summer, episodes of the long-running drama were doing over 1.3 million total viewers. A report over at TV Shows Ace notes a pre-public split drama episode that aired on July 5 of 2021 saw 1,336,000 viewers tune. A July 19 episode subsequently saw 1,322,000 million viewers tune in. Cut to September of 2021, after all the dirty laundry had been aired online, and American Pickers only saw 1,028,000 million viewers tune in to the Season 22 finale. The Season 23 premiere ticked up minorly, but only saw 1,050,000 viewers tune in this January. 

One might be able to blame the changing TV landscape for these numbers, but while the show is still seeing over a million viewers, that's also a significant percentage of the viewership to decline over a short period of time. It’s also worth noting that in this period, a lot of negativity from certain factions of the fanbase has been thrown onto social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. On the most recent FB post about the show at the time of this writing, three of the top five comments seemingly mention or have to do with Frank: 

  • "Frank's presence is the only thing that kept Mikes ego tolerable. What a sh** show."
  • "I miss Frank!! He was more down-to-earth and personable."
  • "Does anyone know the meaning of loyalty anymore?"

To note, a few of the other comments are very polite from fans and are about how those fans still watch the show every weekend and more. And yet, there's a lot of naysaying from a lot of social media accounts. Hop over to Twitter and multiple posts are just a long series of fans being upset about the Frank Fritz ordeal.

Screenshot of fans mad about Frank Fritz's exit.

(Image credit: Twitter)

Now, American Pickers is back for Season 23. Unlike the solo episodes that aired while Frank Fritz allegedly dealt with surgery and rehab, Mike Wolfe has brought in his brother, Robbie, for picking. (Robbie had been in a handful of eps in the years prior.) He’s also made it clear that Frank’s varying issues with “addictions” are what led the show to drop him, though Fritz has said he’s been sober for months now. So, even with varying parts of the fanbase clamoring, it’s unlikely they former star will be returning to History, though he's also noted he'd be open to his own show. The question now is, will American Pickers viewers get lured back in, or is this ratings change the new normal? We'll keep ya posted. 

Jessica Rawden
Jessica Rawden

Amazing Race & Top Chef superfan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.