Man vs Wild, Bear Grylls, Fakes Situations

A NY Times blog is reporting that many of the situations on the Man vs. Wild show presented to viewers as naturally occurring are in fact staged. Some examples of this deception include:

“While filming in California's Sierra Nevada mountains – an episode in which Grylls, 33, is seen biting off the head of a snake for breakfast – Grylls actually spent some nights with the show's crew in a lodge outfitted with television, stone fireplaces, hot tubs and Internet access.”

“In another instance, where Grylls was supposed to be surviving on a desert island, he was actually in Hawaii and spent nights at a motel.”

“The same episode had Grylls building a Polynesian-style raft using only materials around him, including bamboo, hibiscus twine and palm leaves for a sail. Weinert said he actually led a team of builders to construct the raft. It was then taken apart so that Grylls could be shown building it on camera.”

This is quite disappointing to me. I knew Bear Grylls was doing things that normal people wouldn't do because they're risky, but I never considered that the situations were outright staged. I'll have to go back to my comparison of Bear Grylls vs. Les Stroud (Survivorman) and reassess my ratings of their skills.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 3.20 out of 5)


  1. It was apparent when watching Man vs Wild that some things were not as factual as portrayed. Such as when Bear walks right up to what is supposed to be a wild horse in the American west. The wild horses in the American west are uncombed skittish wild creatures with scrapes, and cockleburs, not the gentle manicured saddle horse which was seen in that episode. That being said, Man vs Wild was very entertaining and did provide some very useful survival tips. If you are looking for a factual survival setting, check out some of the true non fiction books out there and leave the television programs to those of us who are looking to both Bear Grylls and Les Stroud for entertainment and a few useful tips.

  2. BG is showing us an idea of what to do if we need to.
    Les is the real man showing us he can do it all ALONE :-)

  3. Bear Grylls is a popular guy. the press just wants to create a believable senario that makes Bear or his show look bad so that they can tell the world and earn big bucks.

    Since Bear is ex SAS, he has the ability to do these things, and i dont think you can enjoy doing something as much as he does if it is fake. Besides, even if the show is fake, it provides valuable information on how to survive horrendous situations that people may be faced with, and at the same time pure entertainment! he obviously still put himself in life threatening situations and eats crude things such as snakes and insects. also, i have seen many Man vs Wild shows that actually show footage of Bear staying the night in the wilderness.

    i have no idea who Weinert is, but i do know you cannot believe everything you hear, especially when it involves someone famous. This article and the logic and facts behind Bear Grylls don't match up.

    after seeing how ecstatic Bear gets about these shows and his adrenalin lit face, i am positive they are not fake.

  4. Bear Grylls is a popular guy. the press just wants to find something wrong with him or his show so that they can tell the world and earn big bucks.

    Since Bear is ex SAS, he has the ability to do these things, and i dont think you can enjoy doing something as much as he does if it is fake. Besides, even if the show is fake, it provides valuable information on how to survive horrendous situations that people may be faced with, and at the same time pure entertainment!

    after seeing how ecstatic Bear gets about these shows and his adrenalin lit face, i am positive they are not fake.

  5. Why are people so quick to jump on the Bear Grylls haters wagon. It clearly says at the beginning of the show that Bear is sometimes presented with situations to show people how to survive in the same types of situations. He also makes references to his crew helping him build objects or providing him with animals in order to show how to cook them etc.

  6. I don't care what Bear does when camera is off. Bear is much better than Ray or Les ! Point .

  7. I know in many of the Man vz. wild Coll. 1 Episodes I watched Bear actually said "I won't be staying here tonight, but here's how you .. ". Are people just not listening? I am disappointed that he doesn't actually rough it overnight in those places though. And as for eating snakes and bugs - calm down, by Bear eating one of them isn't going to do any more damage than you eating your steak or chicken and driving your car around....seriously, get a grip.

  8. well; this is funny reading about people with little or searching the internet for information to say and do on their survival shows; bear is fake......climbling a coconut hahahaha that is the worst advise someone can give it will bruise ur stomach and chest.....the other one so comfortable in the desert navada cause he is from there; try and go somewhere where you are entirely bud naked to nature and see how reality is to you but it's home to us advise is to stop giving advise to things that you know so little kills people who knows that shit and thus kills real people who think what you're saying is true......go educate or come to here and live the real life......

  9. I can't help think that there's something considerably disturbing with the scenes enacted in this show. Though the purpose may be legitimate, the means to prove man's survival skills seem out-of-touch with man's condition today. Considering the locations and filming situations, we all know Bear is never alone and will never deliver an equal combat with natural elements so what is the real need for these fake survival situations? I too object the staged killing of animals with the superficial excuse of "Bear has no other choice than to kill the animal or he will be killed". Come on! Who are we fooling? Corridas are being banned because of the harm done for entertainment well, this show does the exact same thing and leaves me with a very uncomfortable feeling. Why does the urban, all comfort-equipped and all educated man need to prove himself capable of surviving in the "wild" - a concept he has reduced to folklore and that he has created to maintain control over?

    • I really don't care if the situations are staged. You know he's never alone because of the camera crew, and in several episodes he admits to having the crew help him. Regardless of whether or not it is staged, it's still a great show and makes for good entertainment.

  10. "or 'happen' to come across a bear in Romania."

    I admit to not having seen the episode, but there are more bears in Romania than there are in the rest of Europe. 'Happening' to come across bears is not that uncommon.

  11. Both shows are equally good to watch.I dont think that bear lives in motel's while filming. In one episode les speaks about lions being present at a place and he is aware about it because he saw them there when he was travelling through the same place with the scouts.This shows that everything is preplanned which happens on both the shows.Both shows provide with good knowledge of survival.Bear looks a bit adventerous while climbing mountains,down climbing huge waterfalls.The only difference is that bear has his crew whereas les is alone.

    • Rappy the two shows could not be more different. As for Survivorman, we know exactly how that show was made because it was totally transparent. Stroud did a behind the scenes show where he explained that they do some scouting ahead of time and consult locals and if there is ever a problem he shows it. For example the lost at sea episode he admitted right in the show that dangerous weather forced him to take refuge with the crew on their boat.

      Man Versus Wild is the total opposite. On one hand you can guess and speculate on how it’s done, as you have. Or you can piece together little bits of info in various articles, as I have. What I have discovered is that Bear is not even present when his team scouts out locations. They show up weeks ahead of time and look for specific things like waterfalls for example; often these locations are miles apart. When the production team arrives with Bear they set up a “base camp” which can be at a motel or resort. At the end of EVERY DAY of filming they return to base camp. Bear himself has admitted that the safety crew requires this so that he will be well rested (and fed) so he can safely perform the next day’s stunts. Here is a behind the scenes video at - As you can see Bear’s “crew” consists of at least 10 guys including a director who yells “ACTION”. As for his survival skills; the guy apparently can’t even start a fire with a ferro rod without faking it. I think that sums up his level of “expertise” fairly well.

  12. Les Stroud's low impact conciliatory approach to survival is more realistic than Bear Grylls combat action. It is clear that Man vs Wild is just an opportunity for Bear Grylls to get out there and eat something with eyes, and it strikes me that this is one of the most staged aspects of his show. How could you believe that he would happen to come across a full carcass of a Bison in the N. Dakota Badlands, or a fresh sheep in a bog in Ireland, or 'happen' to come across a bear in Romania. For goodness sake these animals are highly managed, you would not come across a fresh sheep in the bogs of Ireland unless you had paid the farmer to kill it for you that day. It is the regulations of European animal welfare that would prevent him from killing it himself, but not being one to relinquish the chance for a bit of 'Man vs anything non human' Bear wanted to eat a bit of tenderloin. With the other creatures he does unnecessarily kill he usually only eats a tiny bit of them and leaves the rest to rot (for example alligator in Mississippi). At least in Survivor man Les Stroud is conscious of the fact that he is killing something, and he also seeks out other forms of protein beyond animal protein. I don't like the unnecessary emphasis on finding sources of animal protein in Man vs Wild. You can survive for 3 weeks on minimal food intake, and there are plenty of sources of food around. I am not a vegetarian, so don't get me wrong, I just object to this show being used as an excuse for Bear to kill something every time. It is a set up, at least with Les Stroud you know that he is on his own, and the less risky approach he takes to things is the more realistic way to survive when lost in the wild. In that regard Stroud wins hands down when it comes to how you should conduct yourselves if you find yourself lost in the wild. If you were to suggest to me that climbing down into a crevasse to then find my way out through a sub glacier stream if lost on a glacier, I would suggest you were already 'lost' in more ways than one.

    • Absolutely right on. I think that while Bear does demonstrate many useful survival techniques including hunting animals, the tarzan-like approach he takes is often totally unrealistic and that sometimes he could just explain how to kill animals instead of always actually killing them.

  13. Also.. Bear says all he has is a water bottle, knife and flint. Where do these metal cups come from?

  14. Backcountry is right. Les is upfront and honest about everything. He is the true survivalist. When bear says he is looking for food, right before he finds it, the camera is in the perfect position to capture it as Bear is walking towards the camera and halfway through points and says 'wow look what I found' You can clearly see that he has already found it, gets the crew into place and then pretends to find it.

    Lets also remember Les is ALONE all by himself, Doesn't carry a flint.. maybe just 1 match and does ALL the camerawork himself. Sometimes that involves reclimbing a huge cliff face just to place the camera, then climb up again only to climb down it again. If it wasn't for the camerawork he does, it would be a breeze for him. He even once said that the camerawork takes up 65% of his time.

    I am a Les fan all the way. Better Humour & personality. Bear is an arrogant loser. Everytime I watch the show I get the Ex SAS mount everest crap rammed down my throat and if I hear him say "To be really honest...." again, I think I am going to scream. BTW not once have I heard Bear say "you sweat you die" when in cold areas, he just loves getting wet!

    • I agree with all of these comments but I think everyone should remember that bear's point in these shows are to show people what to do in certain situations. When they find themselves stuck in the wilderness his point is to show you some things that might be able to help you survive. His point isn't necessaily to really put himself into a survival situation like les does.

      And why do you watch bear grylls if he annoys you so much? He may not be surviving in the wilderness alone every time he shoots an episode and some things might be staged so he can show you what to do in that certain situation (its not like he can sit around and wait for nature to give him the situation he needs to help people learn what to do to survive) all I know is if I was stuck in the wilderness I would feel extremely lucky to have bear at my side. You and all these ignorant people would never survive in the wilderness and if you ever found yourself in a situation like that don't act like you would be saying all these things about him if he was there with you.

  15. Jose- you mean like the scene in which he is teaching you how to float down a set of river rapids. He enters the river with a grey sweatshirt on then in another shot of him floating down the rapids you can clearly see the outline of a life vest under his sweat shirt. Or when he happens tocome upon a heard of wild horses that he is going to try and mount one to help him on his travels the horse he is trying to mount happens to have a set of hrse shoes on. Bear clearly stages his scenes and has a lot of outside assistance. I just finished watching an episode of when he is down is the swamps of southern US. They show him falling though the swamp into a water hole. As he is walking up to the hole they show him from the back and his water bottle is strapped over his shoulder from his left hip to his right shoulder. They cut that shot and show him actully falling through the hole and his water bottle strap is from his right hip to left shoulder. In survival mode why woould you run and climb when you dont have to after all its about conserivng your energy. Remembering that you dont have a grocery store near by to get a quick snack. there is no dought taht Bear is a great outdoorsman, but the MVW show is not truly surviving, rather more of a "do as I say" not "as I do" show. Les's show although not edited and does not have the fancing producing behind it, it is a more realistic survival show. I think we all could learn alot from these two men.

  16. Les Stroud is a cheater.In one episode,he brought along a Reese's Peanut Butter cup and a big stack of cheese.On the other hand, Bear Grylls has only been seen with little sweets.I think Man v.s Wild rocks and Survivorman is poorly made.I like the episode where Bear travels to Zambia.I think it shows real surviving without cheating and is good for kids to learn how to survive if they ever get lost in the wild alone.Please please please watch Man v.s Wild instead of Survivorman.It will teach you a big lesson on surviving for real, like eating snakes and catching your meals with only your bare hands.P.S- Les doesn't do this dangerous stuff like Bear Grylls.

  17. I think that Bear Grylls is a cheater and he does not deserve to have a t.v. show. First, he stays in motels and he has a camera crew, so that is not real surviving. He also fakes a lot off things. If you want to watch real surviving, you should watch survivorman. He really survives without cheating.

  18. Beavis- It sounds like you're try to say that anyone complaining about the show is an idiot; which is fine, you’re entitled to your opinion. But the reality is that if you find this show "very informative" then you are no better and have fallen for the BS yourself. It's not that SOME things are staged, it's that EVERYTHING is. Even the so-called "advice" he gives can be called fake. Most of it is completely ridiculous and what’s left is either done wrong or taken so far out of context as to be worthless. What makes this show fake is that they claim to be giving survival advice when in reality they are just using the concept of "survival" to draw in a wider audience and as an excuse to perform "outrageous stunts" (Bear Grylls own words). Using your example of taking a first aid course let me ask you a hypothetical question- If 80% of what was taught to you during that course was incorrect in the best cases and just total BS in the worst, would you consider that course to have been "very informative"? Or do you think that "fake" would be an appropriate word to describe it? As for "sneaky intention to deceive" In the past Bear Grylls had gone on tv shows such as Oprah and Jimmy Kimmel and talked about things he had done which were later reveled to be flat out lies. Also can you think of another example of any other tv show were so many people were confused about what they were actually seeing? Do you think anyone who watches CSI actually believes those people are real crime scene investigators? So how do you explain how soooo many people believe that he is out in the wilderness at all when the reality is that he’s practically (if not actually, which has been proven to be the case much of the time) parked on the side of the road with an 8 or 9 man production crew? I think it's safe to say that most people aren’t going to believe what they see on a fictional tv show unless there is a deliberate effort made to deceive them.

    Tom- Survivorman has done more than one behind the scenes episode and has been very upfront about how the show is made. Consulting local experts (or just the locals in the remote areas) for up to a week in advance, having a general idea of where he'll be, having a safety crew somewhere within several miles usually, having a sat phone (which works most of the time). He's even admitted that on several occasions he had to call in the crew to deal with camera problems and on more than one episode he admits that conditions got dangerous enough that he had to call for support or even stop filming before the 7 days had ended. If he had a desire to hide anything from the viewers these kinds of things would be easy to edit out of the show and we’d be none the wiser.

  19. +1 Tom Arnold

    i have just finished watching only my 4th ep of MVW -- and its already VERY apparent that some stuff is staged.

    but, being that i know a thing or two about the practical necessities of TV production, it doesnt surprise me or worry me in the slightest. so far at least...i dont feel there is any sneaky intention to deceive here.

    i am finding it very informative and interesting. its clear Bear does *enough* of the hard yards to warrant respect, but beyond that i expect he is rarely in mortal danger. if anything surprises me, its the attitude of people who assume it could ever be 100% real.

    a while back i did a First Aid course. and guess what? you can actually learn how to tie a sling for someone who is only pretending to have a broken arm. its not invalid information because they were 'faking'.

  20. this is crap. where's the evidence? i am a huge fan of man vs wild, and everything looks real. bunch of bull crap.

  21. So one of them has been checking into hotels, or pre-staged on equipments, but so what?? Maybe the other one hasn't get caught yet? The objectives of the two TV shows are to teach people how to survive in extreme conditions, not to compare who's tougher or who's being more real.

    You want real? How about a man trying to light a fire in the rain for a whole hour? or travelling from point A to point B through out the show but having nothing happen in between? In remote situations like these there really aren't alot happening around you. I'm sure both men have planned their show and had walk-through with the crew (and I'm sure both has a crew too!) to prepare the necessary tools so that one can demonstrate how things work, that's the whole idea of watching them, to learn how to work things, right?

  22. Exactly as I said ont the Bear vs Les page... its a TV show, take it for what it is. Have you seen the episode with on a vocanic island, he changes his jacket and rucsack about 3 times, when he's supposed on his own? But he is Ex SAS so respect where respect is due.

    Anyone ever seen Ray Mears over there, now this guy his some info.

  23. I like both men, why dont people get over it and just enjoy the shows for what they are entertainment. If you want 100% reliable sourses for survival buy one of the many excellent books on the subject. I hope they put Bear back on the air, he is very entertaining, as is Les.

  24. I had seen one episode that Grylls jumps into freezing water. He begins his demo on how to "extract your self from freezing water". Which jumping into the water was empressive enough. What I did notice just before he jumps in is that two hand holds were dug out.
    But he goes on to explain that "you have to try to grip the ice with all of your might".
    If you watch cafefully his hands prod around the holes and then "BAM" he's out.
    not once did he mention the hand holds. I think that episode was at NORTH POLE.
    "Good looking out Santas" helpers! The sad part about this is that my son and his friends really enjoyed the show. But even they started to notice and ask questions.

    I agree with Evan pitch for what it really is.

  25. The only thing that gets me is that if he's not really in danger and in the wild, Bear that is, wouldn't he be in serious violation of some conservation laws? I'm sure he's killed a few animals he wouldn't have been allowed to unless he was surviving. I don't know. I like Les and Bear. If Bear is all fake then it's just a "reality" show and they should just pitch it as that.

  26. Thanks for your response. I'm glad you agree. I'm looking forward to Les' new episodes because he's going to some of the more exotic locales that Bear got to go to out of the gate. So we'll get a different take on him I think. I can't believe the guy has the energy to film the whole thing too. That's equally hardcore in its own way. I am amazed by Grylls, but if he is staying in hotels between shots or stuff like that it would really ruin some or the cred he has. I like your site btw, and have bookmarked it for future reading ;) Cheers, Scott

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    I agree that Les deserves a lot more credit than what I originally gave him. However, I'm keeping the original article up because it represents my thoughts at the time. If I was a politician I'd want to erase my mistakes, but since I'm not, I'm fine with admitting and learning from my errors.

  28. I think you should revisit you crits of Les Stroud. He was just a guy doing this by himself in the beginning, and it seems like until this new season he didn't have the same level of support that Bear has had. I would argue that Les' skills are very comparable. He screws up sometimes, but so does Bear. What I like about Les' show is that he uses stuff that an actual person might have with them in creative ways, and shows some different techniques (water stills, fires from a convex tin can bottom, etc), that Bear has not addressed, and because of his format, probably won't. I think they're both great, just different.

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    My comparison was written before I even suspected Bear of faking. I took the show at face value even though I felt much of what he did was riskier than necessary. I've kept my comparison up on the site because I don't think mistakes should be hidden. But I did update it with a link to this article so people can get a full picture of what's going on .

  30. First of all Im glad I found this site and I am looking forward to checking it out more.

    I do want to say though that the more you look into Man vs Wild the more you find that was faked for the show. It gose anyware from tame "wild" horses, to hotel stays, to even pretending your deep on locatoin when he was a few hundred yards from a major road and even some buildings.

    Just way to much fake and not enough survival for me personaly. I was surpriesd to see your Les vs Bear thing giving so much to Bear though.

  31. I may have been a little harsh when questioning the authenticity of your site. I apologize. I had just read the Les v Bear article and was surprised that Bear’s techniques and unbelievable luck had been taken at face value. There are many, many examples of bad advice and faked scenes. Hopefully, in light of recent events, all of these will finally be revealed so survival enthusiasts will not be further misled. Btw- the avocado was in the Hawaii episode. The one where he admits to being in Hawaii I should say.

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    You're certainly welcomed to question the authenticity of a web site. Thinking is an asset so feel free to continue to do so.

    I hadn't heard or read about critics questioning the Man vs. Wild show. I always felt that he did things that ordinary people wouldn't do so that the show would be entertaining, but I didn't know the extent of his shortcuts.

    As for the avocado, I'm not sure I've seen that episode, but I'll certainly keep my eyes open for it.

  33. I have to seriously question the authenticity of this website if it took the NY Post for anyone here to realize many things on Man versus Wild were faked. Critics have been pointing out flaws in that program since it first aired. Based on his demonstrations I doubt seriously that Bear Grylls could start a fire with a bow and drill and as far as his ability to find food, let me just say this. Avocados don’t ripen until they FALL OFF THE TREE. A fresh picked avocado is as hard as a rock, so why was the one he picked all soft and ripe? Maybe the mystery knife stuck in the tree behind him (watch in slo mo) had something to do with that. Just another faked scene like the rest of the show.

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    The "facts" are coming from the NY Post. The link is above in my article. Obviously I can't say if the NY Post is making it up though. It does look like the Discovery Channel is conducting an investigation though.

  35. Where are facts coming from. Are you just making this stuff up>

  36. That's a load of crock. I don't think anyone knew that stuff would fake let alone have someone do it for him.

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