The Truth About Frank's Final American Pickers Episode

Now in its 22nd season and counting, History's "American Pickers" has piqued the interest of viewers who have followed the adventures of Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, two longtime friends who travel across the United States in search of forgotten treasures that may seem like useless junk to the average person, but may actually be far more valuable than they appear to be. Often featured on the show is Danielle Colby, the manager of Antique Archaeology's Iowa and Nashville stores who helps Wolfe and Fritz by recommending new places for them to do their antique-hunting.

But just in case you haven't been following the show in its more recent seasons, there is one prominent "American Pickers" cast member who hasn't been on the show for quite a while, and that's none other than the shorter, stockier, bearded half of the series' focal duo. Frank Fritz stopped appearing on the History series early last year, and when it was officially announced this summer that he was out, Fritz unloaded on his ostensible best bud, dropping some bombshells regarding what many viewers thought was a tight on-screen and off-screen friendship. 

While we're eventually going to be revisiting the drama between Fritz and Wolfe, let's first take a closer look at Fritz's final "American Pickers" episode — the calm before the proverbial storm that took place more than a year later.

Frank Fritz's last American Pickers episode aired in March 2020, and it was well-received

Frank Fritz's last episode on "American Pickers" was titled "Burlesque Queen," and it aired on March 2, 2020, making it the series' 13th episode of its 21st season. As suggested by History's brief synopsis, the title is mainly connected to Danielle Colby's discovery of what the network described as the "mother of all burlesque collections." But as for the show's two main stars, Fritz teamed up with Mike Wolfe one last time as they visited a Kansas City marina to look for rare items. During the episode, there was no indication whatsoever that Fritz would be departing "American Pickers" — it was the two longtime buddies doing their thing as they always did, albeit in what can be considered as a side story.

In terms of the episode's reception, IMDb still does not have any detailed user reviews for it. But it has gotten a very strong average rating of 8.0/10 so far, with one user giving it a perfect score, six users rating it between 7 and 9, and one person giving it a middling 6/10. That's good enough to place it among the top 60 out of 300-plus "American Pickers" episodes, though it's not like most of the episodes have a ton of users rating and/or reviewing them.

His departure was only confirmed more than a year after his last appearance

With each new episode of "American Pickers" after "Burlesque Queen" arriving with Frank Fritz nowhere to be seen, more and more fans started commenting that they missed his presence on the reality series. As someone who has been dealing with Crohn's disease since he was a young man (via The Sun), it appeared possible that he went on hiatus because his condition put him at greater risk of testing positive for COVID-19. However, one fan pointed out on Facebook in March 2021 that "American Pickers" viewers should be aware that Fritz previously had back surgery, and that he was still being mentioned on occasion, thus making it possible that "Burlesque Queen" wouldn't be his last episode after all. The user also stressed that Fritz's castmates had referenced his recovery from surgery on previous episodes.

After more than a year of speculation, Wolfe finally took to Instagram in July to confirm that Fritz wouldn't be returning to "American Pickers," though no specific reasons were stated for his departure. "I will miss Frank, just like all of you, and I pray for the very best and all good things for him on the next part of his journey," Wolfe wrote in the last paragraph of his statement, which started out by emphasizing that Fritz had been "like a brother" to him for so many years. That seemed all well and good ... until you realize that Wolfe's post came a few days after Fritz had some less than flattering things to say about his co-star in an interview.

Were Frank and Mike faking their friendship on Burlesque Queen and other episodes?

We don't need to elaborate that talking to someone and ostensibly having fun with them on a TV show is different from those same two people actually having a conversation and hanging out in real life. So while it seemed that Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz were getting along famously while they hunted for antiques in Kansas City in the "Burlesque Queen" episode, that might not have been the case off-camera, as Fritz alleged in an interview he did with The Sun that was published on July 19, 2021. Again, let us remind you that this was less than a week before Wolfe issued his statement confirming Fritz's departure.

"I haven't talked to Mike in two years," Fritz told The Sun. "He knew my back was messed up, but he didn't call me up and ask how I was doing. That's just how it is." He went on to say that "American Pickers" focused way too much on Wolfe, and that it would be hard for him to continue doing the show while pretending to be chummy with his apparently estranged friend. "I think Mike wants to get his brother Robbie in there to replace me. I don't know why he's behaving like that towards me," Fritz complained.

Fritz also confirmed that he did have back surgery after shooting his last episodes of "American Pickers" and that the COVID-19 pandemic prevented him from returning as planned. However, he stressed that he "didn't leave the show" of his own volition. In a later interview with The Sun, Fritz also refuted Wolfe's statement on Instagram, calling it "bulls***" and claiming that his former co-star didn't even say "five nice things" to him over the last decade.