There are many things that make History Channel’s “Forged In Fire” a great show. Granted, not everyone is interested in seeing a group of guys doing metalwork, but the whole competition factor added to the exciting blade demonstrations makes up for it.
Whether you’re a big fan of the show or simply a casual enjoyer, it’s impossible to deny the huge impact “Forged In Fire” has had. However, as with any other long-running series, “Forged In Fire” has gone through many cast and format changes throughout the years, which have sometimes turned out well, and other times haven’t.
So what did happen to it? If you’ve tuned into the show recently, you were probably surprised to find out how much of it was revamped, so the big question is: were these adjustments actually worth it?
Stay with us to discover what’s up with “Forged In Fire” and what could happen to the show in the future.
- 1 What’s Up With “Forged in Fire”?
- 2 Why Wil Willis Left The Show?
- 3 Where Is “Forged In Fire” Cast Now?
What’s Up With “Forged in Fire”?
So far, “Forged In Fire” has aired eight seasons and almost 200 episodes over the course of six years. Regardless of that and the huge amount of entertainment the series has provided us with, it’s understandable that at some point the production staff wanted to try out new things.
Anyway, the most notable change “Forged In Fire” has gone through as of lately is the undeniably shocking exit of its long-time host Wil Willis, who stuck with it from the first to the seventh season.
As well as his predecessor, the show’s new host Grady Powell is also a former US Army veteran, having served as a Senior Weapons Sergeant for several years. Besides his notable career in the military, Powell is also a renowned survivalist, who has appeared in shows such as “Ultimate Survival Alaska”.
All in all, his impressive experience in the field makes Powell a fitting replacement, but judging by comments on social media and fan forums, it’s evident that not everyone has easily accepted that Willis is no longer in it.
Why Wil Willis Left The Show?
To be honest, it’s still unclear if Wil Willis was fired from the show or if he left of his own accord. Nonetheless, since his exit was announced in late 2020, more information about it has been brought to light as time has passed.
For starters, History’s initial statement on the topic didn’t straightforwardly address the reason behind why Willis’ was no longer the show’s host. Limiting themselves to saying that they ‘appreciated’ the time Willis spent as the show’s host, and contributions he made to it, they made it clear that no plans were in store to bringing him back.
Moreover, their insistence on the fact Grady Powell taking the empty host spot meant the start of ‘a new chapter’ for the show, leaves us to assume the change was merely a creative decision, instead of being the result of a behind the scenes brawl, as many people assume.
Anyway, in December 2020 Willis finally broke his silence, and during an interview with the podcast “B3F” on YouTube, he confessed working conditions on the set of “Forged In Fire” weren’t ideal for him. Describing the lengthy filming times as the ‘most boring process in the world’, he also admitted that his trailer wasn’t in the best condition.
Despite his claims, the fact Willis’ words held no animosity towards the show is revealing.
Are There Any “Forged In Fire” Scandals?
Besides all the speculation surrounding Wil Willis’ apparent firing from the show, “Forged In Fire” had to face other serious issues during its eight seasons.
As it happened, in late 2020 the production was accused of allowing a neo-nazi sympathizer to appear in the show. The topic was actually brought out by the subReddit community ForgedInFireShow, on which the most punctilious viewers noted that the eighth season’s premiere contestant Brandon Rader, was sporting tattoos which suspiciously resembled Nazism symbols.
Judging by the fact that Brandon’s tattoos were covered by a scarf and bandages, it’s supposed the production was aware of the meaning of his tattoos, and requested that he cover them, or on the contrary, that he did on his own accord. The former option is generally assumed as the most possible, which only makes the show look even worse.
Though the negative implications of Brandon’s inked symbols were just speculation at some point, a now-deleted article posted by Metaflix confirmed everyone’s suspicions about him, based on his social media photos.
Finally, the episode featuring Brandon was aired, but aware of the huge backlash it could cause, the show’s production deleted all promotional videos.
Has Someone Been Hurt On Set?
So far there hasn’t been any reports of “Forged In Fire” contestants getting seriously injured in the show, but it’s a different story for a certain judge.
As it happened, back in the fourth season Doug Marcaida suffered an injury while trying to test a ‘heavy blade’ off camera. Although the cut wasn’t so deep, it eventually caused Doug several mobility problems with his arm, something he underwent surgery to correct, and a long recovery process. Then with an arm not suitable to test weapons well, Doug didn’t perform any blade demonstrations for a while in the show.
Though being injured in such a way might be traumatic for a lot of people, Doug took the experience as a way to discover more about his health and physical limitations. In his words, the ‘boo-boo’ incident allowed him to ‘learn about my whole being, and how to turn it into the best of what is left’.
Taking four months of post operative process and a longer time to keep his fans updated on his evolution, in addition to what he described as a learning ‘journey’, it’s undeniable that Doug truly teaches us many unexpected but valuable lessons on perseverance and patience.
Where Is “Forged In Fire” Cast Now?
Despite not being part of the “Forged In Fire” cast anymore, all the years Wil Willis hosted the show inevitably led him to become its most well-known face.
Knowing that he’s no longer in the series, many people genuinely wonder what’s up with him. Fortunately for his fans, the former Army veteran is doing more than well nowadays. In 2017, Will married his long-time girlfriend Krystle, with whom he welcomed their first son Flash Orion in March 2020. Though Wil already had two other sons from a previous marriage, the birth of Orion was at first suspected to be the cause of his absence from the show. Of course, this theory was proven wrong later on, it wasn’t far-fetched to think he wanted to take a break from TV to focus on his small family.
While his wife Krystle is a visual artist who also works as a real estate agent, it’s unknown what ongoing projects Wil might be working on. As seen on his Instagram page, he’s lately spending his time fixing up his auto, and sharing political opinions.
Although his future on TV is unknown for now, it’s surely a relief to his fans that he hasn’t disappeared from the public eye.
Every fan of “Forged In Fire” knows who the veteran Mastersmith J. Neilson is. He’s been in the series since the start, and although he’s taken some breaks from it due to health problems, he’s still pretty much active both in the show and in the blade-making business.
J. Neilson’s role in “Forged In Fire” isn’t that of a judge, but of an expert, testing and examining the weapons made by the show’s contestants. He also owns Mountain Hollow, an online shop on which he sells his blacksmithing creations directly out of his workshop in Pennsylvania’s mountains.
Besides his online business, J. Neilson often makes public appearances in blacksmith events and conferences. On his very active Instagram account, J also offers free advice on the art of knife-making.
Besides appearing as an expert blacksmith in the show from time to time, Ben Abbot holds the honor of having won the “Forged In Fire” competition two times. His knowledge is a mix of self-taught techniques, a lot of practice, and the knowledge other experts have passed down to him.
Ben Abbot sells his knife creations through his online shop Ashgrove Forge, and takes custom orders. However, the latter service is not always available due to the heavy number of commissions he gets.
Ben made his comeback to “Forge In Fire” during its eighth season as a judge and will probably continue to do so in the future.
Another well known name for any fan of “Forged In Fire” is definitely Doug Marcaida, the expert martial artist, weapons specialist and former military man.
His self-named online shop isn’t limited to selling only knives, but includes other interesting items for his fans, such as apparel and accessories.
Interestingly enough, Doug also sells online courses of a variety of techniques developed by himself. As well, his academy Marcaida Kali offers martial arts courses taught by experts from places all over the world, such as Mexico, Greece, Italy and of course, from the US. When it comes to his weapons, items such as knives, trainer combos and impact and trainer weapons.
Nowadays, Doug is still an active “Forged In Fire” weapons specialist.
Unlike his fellow cast members, David Baker is not a former military man. However, his expertise in arms is not to be underestimated, considering his knowledge of history and weaponry replication is enviable.
Out of all of the cast members, David is the one who’s probably had the most prolific career on TV. As an expert in weapon fabrication, David has appeared in shows such as “Deadliest Warrior” and “More Extreme Marksmen”, and has also worked for the art department of several productions, including films “Beowulf”, “Legion”, and the “NCIS: Los Angeles” series.
Interestingly enough, David has acted in several movies too, including “The Hunted” and “Scary Tales”, and while these roles weren’t memorable enough for him to make a name for himself in Hollywood, it was thanks to these that he was able to step up some levels in the industry.
While David doesn’t have an active online website as of yet, he often showcases his crafts on his social media. As well, he’s still actively appearing in “Forged In Fire” nowadays.
With over 100,000 followers on Instagram and thousands of YouTube subscribers, Jason Knight’s name as a bladesmith expert goes well beyond the fame he gained through his few appearances in “Forged In Fire”.
Through his Knight Forge Studio, Jason offers not only a wide variety of self-made weaponry for sale, but his course “Forged” is one of the most sought-after in the field. Offering both online and personal classes, Jason’s over 20 years of experience in the field make his renown as a master worthy of envy.
Jason’s fame is so huge, that personalized merchandise of his brand is available for sale. As well, his YouTube channel has amassed over four million views thanks to his knife-making video series, which often features other bladesmith experts, including some of his former “Forged In Fire” cast members.
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Is “Forged In Fire” At Risk Of Being Cancelled?
Arguably, every TV show is at risk of being cancelled at any point. While normally this is related to low ratings, other factors such as internal problems between the cast or production staff, huge scandals, lawsuits or simply being aired for far too long could result in the end of a reality series.
Nonetheless, “Forged In Fire” hadn’t been at fault of any of the aforementioned issues until its eighth season, when audience ratings went downhill. Following reports by ShowBuzzDaily, the series was listed the 33th best Original Cable Telecast with 0.14 audience points on its season finale, which is a big drop considering that back in season seven, it held 15th position of the same ranking with 0.22 points.
These negative changes could be logically attributed to Wil Willis’ exit from the show, but admittedly it’s still early to determine if this puts “Forged In Fire” at risk of being cancelled.
In fact, for such a long running series, it would be more logical for the production to try new strategies to put ratings on the rise again, before even considering ending the show altogether