Actors Who Ruined Their Career In A Matter Of Seconds

Everyone is guilty of making split-second decisions they later come to regret. It's simply human nature. When two choices present themselves or when you're in a stressful situation, you can make mistakes that have lasting ramifications.

There are many moments like that for celebrities. Because they live in the public eye and under intense scrutiny, their mistakes can be potentially controversial or even career-ending. Now, scandal is nothing new in Hollywood, but if you're an actor and your private transgressions happen to go public, you better be prepared to look for a new line of work. While some disgraced stars manage to claw their way back into the limelight from seemingly impossible positions, for most, retiring from the public eye with whatever dignity remains intact is the only option. Here are some celebrities who chose wrong, messed up, or who gave in to their most undignified and base instincts ... and blew up their careers in the process.

Randy Quaid

Randy Quaid doesn't always get the credit he deserves for being a solid comedic actor. Sure, not all his movies were prestigious (just try to watch "Pluto Nash"), but his work in the "Vacation" films, "Kingpin," and even "Independence Day" is pretty great. Plus, the guy was nominated for an Oscar in 1974, so how did it all go so wrong? In September 2009, Quaid and his wife, Evi, were arrested for not paying a $10,000 hotel bill, as per The Telegraph. They were arrested again for squatting in a home they used to own, so they skipped town and headed to Canada. Now, not paying bills and squatting is odd behavior for a well-known actor, but nothing too crazy. But in Canada, things got weird.

Though people assumed the Quaids were on the run from the law, they claimed they'd fled to the North to avoid the "Hollywood Star Wackers," a secret organization that took celebs out or manufactured scandals to discredit them. Why Quaid would be on the top of their list, no one knows. Quaid told the Vancouver press about the mysteries behind the Star Wackers and claimed that Heath Ledger, David Carradine, and Chris Penn were the cabal's latest victims. Since those bizarre claims, the Quaids were arrested and released once more in 2015.

In February 2017, Quaid posted a video to Twitter of himself with a full mountain-man beard pretending to get it on with his wife while she wears a Rupert Murdoch mask (via The Telegraph). A big comeback seems unlikely, but Quaid is slated to appear alongside Chevy Chase in "The Christmas Letter."

Jennifer Grey

When a resume has starring roles in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Dirty Dancing," you must be an '80s darling with a fantastic career ahead of you. Matthew Broderick and Patrick Swayze did just fine, but whatever happened to Jennifer Grey? In case you haven't brushed up on your '80s starlets in a while, Grey was Bueller's sister in the John Hughes film and the Baby of "Nobody puts Baby in a corner" fame (via Biography). You've definitely seen her be snarky and get lifted in a lake. But if you saw her today, you'd have no idea.

Grey was known for her nose, but as her career slowed down a touch in the early '90s, she got a nose job. She left the operating table with a smaller nose that looked completely different. The plastic surgery left her unrecognizable, which made casting all the more difficult — she probably had to whip out her ID and an old headshot at every audition. Grey told the Mirror in 2012, "It was the nose job from hell. I'll always be this once-famous actress nobody ­recognizes because of a nose job" (via US Weekly).

While not the mega-star she was in the 1980s, Grey has worked off and on in the 2000s and beyond, settling into a solid career as a character actor, guest-starring on "Grey's Anatomy," "The Conners," "House," and "Phineas and Ferb." She was also part of the ensemble cast of "Red Oaks," an Amazon original series not-so-coincidentally set in the 1970s.

Wesley Snipes

Wesley Snipes was a big star with roles in "White Men Can't Jump," "To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar," and the "Blade" trilogy. He was doing pretty great. Then Snipes decided to not pay his taxes.

Now, it's obvious that not paying your taxes is bad, but what's the worst that could happen? You pay it back plus some fines and maybe have to make "Demolition Man 2" to get some cash? Nope. Snipes' tax offenses were bad enough that he went to jail, reports The New York Times. Snipes was found guilty of willfully not filing taxes for three years and got a year in the slammer for each year he failed to make a trip to H&R Block. Plus, he had to pay back $17 million in taxes and penalties. Since it's pretty hard to make a "Blade" sequel from jail, his tax evasion put a complete stop to his career. Let that be a lesson to all you movie stars out there: If you want a career, don't try to get tricky with the tax man.

With scandals receding from the collective memory and a groundswell of nostalgia for his iconic roles in '90s movies, particularly as a vampire-hunting vampire in "Blade," Snipes is slowly staging a comeback in the 2020s. He recently starred alongside Kevin Hart in Netflix's "True Story," cameoed as a vampiric version of himself on "What We Do in the Shadows," and stole all of his scenes in the long-awaited '80s sequel "Coming 2 America" as the unsettlingly friendly General Izzi.

Paz de la Huerta

With her role as Nucky's girlfriend in "Boardwalk Empire," Paz de la Huerta was about to become a sensation. The actress excelled at sexy, mysterious characters and was more than happy to take off her clothes for a role. When New York Magazine did an article about her before the launch of "Boardwalk Empire," they claimed she had once entered a sauna naked (the only one unclothed), rubbed honey all over herself, and then berated other patrons in the sauna. This slightly nutty actress could either use her eccentricity to make great art or go full-blown Sean Young. She chose the Young path.

While she was on the show, she got a reputation as a party girl. TMZ got footage of her super drunk after the Golden Globes. She slipped and fell — not a big deal, but it left her breast hanging out, and she was far too wasted to notice. Next, she was arrested for assault. Allegedly, she threw a glass at a reality star then punched her in the face. The Hollywood Reporter stated that Lindsay Lohan, also attending the party, spent part of her night picking glass shards from the reality star's leg. When Lohan is the most put-together person at a party in 2011, you know things have gone terribly wrong.

On set, things didn't seem to be much better. There were many rumors (via Uproxx) of de la Huerta's erratic behavior, including a predilection for publicly shaving her pubic hair between shoots and showing up to work drugged and crying. In 2012, "Boardwalk Empire" had enough and fired her from the show. However, a 2018 lawsuit may shed some light on the circumstances of de la Huerta's exit and career slump. According to the Los Angeles Times, de la Huerta sued former studio boss, producer, and convicted sex criminal Harvey Weinstein, alleging he assaulted her twice and then persuaded Martin Scorsese to fire her from "Boardwalk Empire."

Michael Richards

Actors who dabble in the minefield of stand-up comedy need to ensure that their routine isn't going to negatively impact their career on-screen, though one thing you can never fully predict is the influence of hecklers. When Michael Richards of "Seinfeld" found himself in a battle of wits with a member of his audience during a live show in 2006, he made a split-second decision that destroyed his career in an instant. Richards responded to the man's criticism with a series of racial slurs, demanding that the African-American customer be thrown out of the club, reports The Washington Post.

A video of the incident soon found its way online, showing Richards stopping his show mid-monologue and turning on the audience member, telling him that "fifty years ago they'd have you hanging upside down with a f*****g fork up your a**." There were audible gasps in the room as the incensed actor then repeatedly used the N-word, despite the man shouting back that the language was uncalled for. The comedian left the stage without finishing his routine.

Richards appeared via satellite on the "Late Show with David Letterman" to apologize for his outburst, telling the nation that he was "deeply sorry" about what happened and insisting that he wasn't actually a racist. It didn't do him any good; his career since has mostly been limited to the occasional token TV appearance.

Tila Tequila

Tila "Tequila" Nguyen began her questionable path to fame by becoming one of the earliest recognized social media celebrities, graduating from the most popular person on MySpace to one of the most unpopular personalities in recent history. MTV saw fit to capitalize on her online fan base by giving Tequila her own dating show, "A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila," in 2007, and she made her first film appearance (as a Hooters Girl in "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry") that same year, though it all came crashing down after bizarre posts on her website sympathizing with Adolf Hitler, as per The Hollywood Reporter.

The Singapore-born celebrity wrote that she had "learned the truth about the war and what Hitler truly did," insisting that "he was not a bad person as they have made him out to be." On top of the inflammatory piece, Tequila posted photos of herself posing in front of a picture of Auschwitz dressed as a scantily clad Nazi.

Tequila attempted to get her career back on track in 2015 when she appeared as a housemate on the U.K.'s "Celebrity Big Brother," though once showrunners learned of her Nazi sympathizing, she was booted out of the house. The premature eviction didn't teach her a lesson, however. She was at it once again in 2016, launching a scathing attack on Jewish conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro, whom she reportedly tweeted "should be gassed and sent back to Israel" (via Wear Your Voice Magazine).

Lindsay Lohan

Being under the spotlight is nothing new for Lindsay Lohan, who began working as a child model when she was just 3 years old. She soon made inroads into the acting business, with her regular spot on soap opera "Another World" getting her noticed by Disney, which cast her in their surprisingly successful 1998 remake of "The Parent Trap." The redheaded actress became a teen sensation in the years that followed, finding more success in 2003's "Freaky Friday," 2004's "Mean Girls," and 2005's "Herbie: Fully Loaded." Her hot streak came to an abrupt halt early in 2007.

On May 26, Lohan was taken to the hospital in Beverly Hills after getting into a car accident, reports CNN. The actress had recently been discharged from the Wonderland Center rehab facility in Los Angeles for undisclosed problems, though the nature of these issues became all too clear when Lohan was charged with DUI, possession of cocaine, and misdemeanor hit-and-run following the incident. If her career wasn't compromised on this occasion, it certainly was when she was arrested on the same charges just two months later, days after another unsuccessful stint in rehab.

The severity of her downfall was highlighted by the critical response to her next film, the "incoherent and semi-vile" "I Know Who Killed Me." Lohan plays opposite herself in the two main roles, and her double performance won her the worst screen couple at the 2008 Golden Raspberry Awards as well as worst actress. The film took home a record eight Razzies in total. But all is not lost for Lohan. In 2022, she starred in a high-profile Christmas movie for Netflix, and in 2024, news broke Lohan will join Jamie Lee Curtis in a "Freaky Friday" sequel. 

Paul Reubens

Bow-tied man-child Pee-wee Herman was huge during the 1980s, the subject of two feature films as well as an Emmy-winning children's TV series. But the public perception of both the character and the man behind him changed drastically in 1991. During a visit with his parents in Sarasota, Florida, Paul Reubens was arrested for indecent exposure at an adult movie theater, with sheriff's deputies claiming that they spotted him masturbating during the movie, reports UPI. The actor, 38 at the time, pleaded no contest and agreed to take part in a new anti-drug campaign to avoid a trial on the misdemeanor charge. Pee-wee toys were pulled from shelves across the nation, as per the Village Voice, and Reubens retreated from the public eye entirely, disappearing for the remainder of the '90s.

His attempted comeback at the turn of the century was quickly thwarted when more charges of a sexual nature were brought against him, this time relating to child pornography. Acting on a tip, officers seized thousands of items from a collection of vintage gay erotica, and while Reubens has always denied he owned any sexual images of children, the tatters of his reputation went up in flames.

It took another decade before Reubens dared return to the character, which he did successfully in 2016, starring in critically acclaimed Netflix film "Pee-wee's Big Holiday." The positive response to his comeback is scant consolation for a man who spent most of his career in hiding because of a few very bad decisions. Reubens died in 2023 at the age of 70.

Rob Lowe

One of the items confiscated from Paul Reubens' stash of pornography was the infamous Rob Lowe sex tape (via the New York Post), the first video of a celebrity having sex to be copied and sold at large. Lowe was a prominent member of the Brat Pack in the early and mid-'80s, appearing in the likes of "St. Elmo's Fire" and "Youngbloods," but when a video of him having sex with a 16-year-old girl was leaked, his promising career took a severe nosedive.

Lowe was in Atlanta to attend the 1988 Democratic National Convention when he took two girls to bed after meeting them in a nightclub, unaware that one was only 16, reports People. As the legal age of consent in Georgia was 14 at the time, Lowe escaped prosecution, but his public image was dealt further damage when a second clip showing him and a friend having sex with a woman at the same time surfaced. While he admits that he has never been out of work, Lowe is aware how much of his career those tapes cost him, claiming that he lost a role in "Titanic" because of the fallout, as per GQ. But Lowe tenaciously crawled his way back up the Hollywood food chain to where all of this tawdry business is almost completely forgotten because he was just that good (and, as it turns out, quite funny) in stuff like "Wayne's World," "Tommy Boy," and "Parks and Recreation."

Brendan Fraser

Brendan Fraser graduated from a character actor to a bona fide movie star when he appeared as the swashbuckling Rick O'Connell in "The Mummy." That franchise came to an unspectacular end in 2008, though Fraser struck gold when another of his films released that year became an unexpected hit.

The 3-D fantasy adventure "Journey to the Center of the Earth" returned a worldwide box office total of $242 million from a budget of $60 million, reaffirming Fraser's position as a genuine leading man and presenting him with a chance to establish the character's longevity in further films. This is the point at which Fraser took a wrong turn that would eventually derail his career. In a monumental error of judgment, Fraser turned down the chance to reprise his role in "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island." Content with the work he had done in "Extraordinary Measures" and Furry Vengeance," Fraser felt comfortable letting the role go to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, though when those two films became two of the biggest box office bombs of 2010, it became clear that he had made a huge mistake. "Journey 2" went on to surpass the original, raking in an eye-watering $335 million.

In 2018, a comeback labeled by Cultured Vultures as the "Brenaissance" began, with Fraser having landed roles on prestige TV series "The Affair" and "Trust" in short order. While promoting the latter, Fraser's relative disappearance and reemergence was the subject of a long profile for GQ, in which he explained that his career had been on a downswing because of a combination of retreat and professional retaliation by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organization that awards the Golden Globes. Fraser alleged that he'd been assaulted by HFPA president Philip Berk.

In the 2020s, Fraser's career is looking up, with parts in big movies by some of Hollywood's most acclaimed directors, including "The Whale" for Darren Aronofsky and "Killers of the Flower Moon" for Martin Scorsese.

Jeffrey Jones

Jeffrey Jones rose to fame in the '80s as the principal in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," a guy who had a job to do and rules to enforce and somehow became the villain for it. Turns out, he's quite the villain in real life, as he not only has child pornography on his record but a knack for repeatedly trying to hide that fact from the world.

In November 2002, Jones was arrested on suspicion that he had hired a 14-year-old boy to pose for inappropriate pictures. He pleaded no contest and received no jail time, though he did receive five years' probation and was ordered to register as a sex offender. And just like that, his career skidded to a halt. He's had only a few screen credits since, though he did wrangle some decent screen time on a couple seasons of HBO's "Deadwood." 

But in 2010, some years after leaving that show, he sunk the knife just a little deeper into his career, getting himself arrested for failing to update his California sex offender status, CBS reports, something all offenders are required to do each year. He received three more years' probation plus 250 hours of community service, which is the most work he's done in years.

Mark Salling

Mark Salling became a big deal thanks to his turn as "Glee's" Noah Puckerman. But in December 2015, Salling was arrested in Los Angeles on charges that he had possessed and distributed child pornography. According to an official statement from investigators, they found a laptop, USB drive, and hard drive filled with thousands of pictures and videos of child sex abuse, and the ages of the children were believed to range from 5 to 12. You can see why his planned post-"Glee" project, the miniseries "Adi Shankar's Gods and Secrets," dropped him without a second thought. As the show said in a statement, "The innocence of our planet's children is something that must be protected at all costs." Even if it means moving on without the jock from "Glee."

Salling eventually agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors, reports USA Today, but before sentencing, he died by suicide in a canyon near Los Angeles and was found dead on January 30, 2018.

Amanda Bynes

Once upon a time, Amanda Bynes was a rising star. But that was a long time ago. The star of "The Amanda Show" and "She's the Man" ran afoul of drugs and alcohol like many child stars before her, but what truly killed her career was her complete and total Twitter meltdown in the weeks after her arrest. It was like a teenager getting fired from McDonald's for tweeting how much they hated working there, only so much worse.

Her 2012 tweetstorm, as compiled by E! Online, included such claims as how much she wanted rapper Drake to "murder [her] vagina," a suggestion Drake wisely passed on. She also tweeted Rihanna, taunting that "Chris Brown beat you because you're not pretty enough." She called Miley Cyrus and Jay-Z "ugly" and berated herself for being the same. Away from Twitter, she apparently set a driveway (and her own pants) on fire. All this resulted in her being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and twice placed in a psychiatric facility, and her career being placed on ice. 

Years later, a seemingly reformed Bynes is still trying to regroup and regain her life. She went to Los Angeles' Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising to learn about clothing lines and claimed she had no real interest in acting. Considering what acting had already done to her, that was probably a wise choice. In June 2017, that wisdom went out the window when she stated she was ready to come back. But, according to People, as of summer 2021, she's been laying low at the beach, finishing up her degree, and apparently dabbling in rap music. 

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins got famous for playing a moralistic pastor on "7th Heaven," but if you needed more proof that playing someone on TV doesn't make you that person, observe how Collins flushed away his career thanks to one of the least moral acts imaginable.

According to People, Collins confessed during a 2012 therapy session that he had assaulted underage girls. Unfortunately for him, his then-wife Faye Grant was secretly recording the sessions, which leaked to TMZ in late 2014. Once that happened, the NYPD, LAPD, and Manhattan Special Victims Squad launched investigations into Collins' purported crimes. In December 2014, Collins confessed to People that he had indeed assaulted three underage girls. The incidents, according to him, occurred between 1973 and 1994, and he insisted he hadn't had any urges to be with underage girls since. Regardless of that, and regardless of whether police investigations ever lead anywhere, Collins' career is all but done. He hasn't worked since the tape leaked and, according to Entertainment Weekly, Seth MacFarlane fired him from "Ted 2" shortly after. When even the "rude, perverted teddy bear" movie wants nothing to do with you, you know you're finished. According to exclusive photos from the Daily Mail, Collins has since remarried to a "super fan" and moved to Iowa. 

Kathy Griffin

Controversy has helped make Kathy Griffin famous. But then she went too far, with a stunt that, depending who you ask, was either a poorly presented joke or a violent threat to the life of a sitting president.

In May 2017, Griffin posted a picture of herself holding a blood-soaked Donald Trump mannequin head. According to her, she was mocking Trump's remarks that reporter Megyn Kelly had "blood coming out of her wherever" (via Time). Unfortunately for her, few saw it that way, least of all her employers. CNN quickly canned her from its New Year's Eve broadcasts, and Squatty Potty (yes, Squatty Potty) flushed their contract with her down the toilet. The FBI even investigated her over the picture. Griffin apologized, saying the joke went too far, lamenting, "I don't think I'm going to have a career after this. I'm going to be honest, [Trump] broke me."

Months later, she seemed less broken. In August 2017, she retracted her apology, reports the Los Angeles Times, saying the backlash had gone too far. According to her, not only did she lose her CNN gig, but her entire standup tour was canceled because most of the theaters got death threats. She says her "little picture" cost her jobs, money, and close friendships, and she's done apologizing for something everyone blew way out of proportion. 

Griffin returned to the road for a sold-out tour in 2018 (according to Forbes), and in the 2020s appeared on the popular comedies "Crank Yankers" and "Search Party."

Ingrid Bergman

Ingrid Bergman's career-ruining wasn't too outrageous, but the consequences were pretty bad. The star of "Casablanca" and "Gaslight" appeared to be a typical woman of the time, married and happy to serve her husband. In reality, she was a free spirit who wanted to screw around like all her male costars. Though she was married to Peter Lindstrom, Bergman began an affair with her director on "Stromboli," Roberto Rossellini (via The Daily Beast). Bergman loved Rossellini, and when she got pregnant with his child, she left Lindstrom and her first kid to go off with the Italian director. For a woman to publicly admit an affair, leave her husband, and have a child with the other man was an insane scandal.

Though a woman having an affair and getting a divorce seems pretty tame compared to the exploits of Tila Tequila, America was freaked out. The fervor went all the way to Washington when Senator Edwin C. Johnson proposed a bill that would require movies to be approved not just based on the moral content of the film itself but the moral character of the people involved in filmmaking.

Johnson claimed that Bergman "had perpetrated an assault upon the institution of marriage" and was "a powerful influence for evil," and he even tried to ban her from all future American films. Bergman stayed out of the country for eight years, and though she continued to make films, her star status was permanently damaged by an affair of the heart.

Robert Blake

In a career spanning the best part of 70 years, Robert Blake went from child star of MGM's "Little Rascals" to the Mystery Man in David Lynch's "Lost Highway," the last character he played before the murder of his wife in 2001. Bonnie Lee Bakley was shot in the head at point-blank range in Blake's car, which was parked around the corner from the Studio City restaurant the couple ate at that night, as per History. Blake claimed he had to return to the restaurant to collect his missing gun when the fatal shooting of his wife took place.

Police determined that Blake's missing gun was not the one used to kill Bakley, though Blake was arrested in 2002 when two former stuntmen came forward claiming that the actor had tried to hire both of them to murder his wife on separate occasions. Both men had a history of drug abuse, something Blake's legal team leaned on heavily during Blake's defense. Three years after his arrest, Blake was acquitted, though a civil court claim later found him guilty of "intentionally" causing Bakley's death and ordered him to pay $30 million to Bakley's children.

Blake's criminal trial was the nail in his career coffin, though that didn't stop the then-71-year-old actor from issuing a plea to producers in the aftermath. He proclaimed himself "broke" and announced himself available for work. Unsurprisingly, work never came.

Fatty Arbuckle

A star of the silent film era, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle was at the height of his fame when he made a decision that would bring his career in Hollywood to an abrupt end and land him in court. As the New Yorker details, on September 5, 1921, the actor and comedian booked three rooms at the St. Francis Hotel, where he intended to throw a party. An aspiring actress named Virginia Rappe was one of several women who were extended an invite, though it was an invitation she should never have accepted.

Rappe was found seriously ill in Room 1219 of the hotel, the room Arbuckle was sleeping in. After allegedly telling people Arbuckle had hurt her, the hotel doctor declared her simply intoxicated. She died four days later of a ruptured bladder. Opinion in the media was split, with some reports suggesting Arbuckle's weight had caused the damage as he assaulted her, while others suggested that the actress's recent abortion had simply gone wrong.

Arbuckle was arrested and charged with manslaughter, though the jury failed to reach a verdict and a mistrial was called. After a second trial yielded the same result, Arbuckle's legal team stepped up their defense, making sure that the third one went in their favor. Arbuckle was acquitted, though his career was over nonetheless, with his films subject to bans and his reputation in tatters.

Sung Hyun-Ah

Dating in Hollywood has never been straightforward, but it isn't just the actresses of Tinseltown who find their love lives under intense scrutiny. Former Miss Korea contestant and up-and-coming actress Sung Hyun-Ah had a short relationship with a prominent Korean businessman, and it eventually destroyed her show business career. Sung found herself embroiled in a prostitution scandal in 2013, indicted for allegedly accepting a payment of 50 million won (approximately $44,000) from the businessman in exchange for three instances of sexual intercourse, reports the Korea Times. The actress attempted to counter-sue, but the court dismissed her claims and found her guilty.

Sung took her case to the Supreme Court which, two years after her guilty verdict, overturned the decision and found her innocent of all charges relating to prostitution, reports the International Business Times. But the damage was already done. Her lawyer confirmed that her career would be taking a backseat while she recovers from her ordeal. She has since returned to acting, with roles in a television series and a feature film called "Transfer Student." 

Eileen Bowman

Headlining the big opening number at the Academy Awards can be a star-making turn for a rising performer, but for Eileen Bowman, it was her first Hollywood job ... and nearly her last.

In 1989, the Oscars telecast opened with a bizarre, rambling 11-minute sequence featuring Bowman dressed as the Disney version of Snow White, walking through the host theater accosting movie stars in their seats and singing a high-pitched version of "I Only Have Eyes for You," but with the lyrics changed to the movie-referencing "We Only Have Stars for You." Then, with the stage transformed into a replica of an old-fashioned nightclub, Merv Griffin sang his 1950 hit "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts" in front of old movie stars (Vincent Price, Roy Rogers) while Bowman-as-Snow White danced wildly elsewhere on the stage. Finally, Griffin announces that Snow White's heretofore unmentioned "blind date" has arrived: Rob Lowe! Then Bowman and Lowe lead an agonizing performance of "Proud Mary," but with the lyrics changed to be about cameras rolling rather than a river.

The Hollywood Reporter called the number "a nightmare," while The New York Times said it had earned "a permanent place in the annals of Oscar embarrassments." Bowman left Hollywood and returned to her hometown of San Diego within 48 hours of the performance to lay low for a while. She did return to Hollywood for a few years, winning just seven small roles over the next decade.

Jamie Kennedy

After "Scream" and the prank show "The Jamie Kennedy Experiment," Jamie Kennedy's prospects faltered, and he took on roles in flops like "Son of the Mask" and started playing white rappers in stuff like "Malibu's Most Wanted" because a white person pretending to be a grossly stereotypical African-American urban youth is apparently hilarious. By 2012, Kennedy was at the point where he had to host a Los Angeles-only New Year's Eve special broadcast on the local CW affiliate. "First Night 2013" produced some live television magic; in other words, it was a disaster.

As The A.V. Club details, in Kennedy's opening monologue, he made an off-color joke about Psy (of "Gangnam Style" fame): "Now when you hear the word, 'Asian rapper,' you won't just think of a little plastic bag that holds your fortune cookie." Technical gaffes marred the production, as did product placements for Carl's Jr. and a local casino. (For the latter, Kennedy appeared in a comedy sketch dressed up like a Native American chief.) Later on, Kennedy interviewed an African-American woman on the street and coined a crude, "white" version of the saying "once you go Black, you never go back." The whole point of a New Year's show is the countdown, which Kennedy somehow bungled, unable to locate a clock at midnight and missing the moment by 10 seconds.

Unbelievably, Kennedy told The New York Times that the show was terrible on purpose. "It was totally supposed to be like that," Kennedy claimed. "We wanted to make almost an anti-New Year's Eve show."

Warren Beatty

It'll probably always be the most famous gaffe in awards show history: At the 2017 Academy Awards, Warren Beatty and co-presenter Faye Dunaway gave the best picture trophy to the wrong movie. As the Hollywood Reporter details, the nominees were announced, and Beatty, a true Hollywood legend, opened the envelope. Rather than read the words, he paused, obviously confused. At first it seemed sad, as if his brain had failed him. But then he abruptly handed the envelope to Dunaway. Dunaway glanced at the envelope's contents, and, not wanting to produce even more weirdness and silence, blurted out what she saw: "La La Land." The producers of that movie hit the stage for their acceptance speeches ... until one of them, Jordan Horowitz said, "There's a mistake. 'Moonlight,' you guys won best picture." Sure enough, he held up the best picture envelope — the correct one.

Apparently, one of the PricewaterhouseCooper accountants on hand had given Beatty the previously awarded best actress envelope by mistake. It said, "Emma Stone, 'La La Land,'" which is why Dunaway said what she said. So "La La Land" lost, but the person who really lost here was Warren Beatty. The once mighty filmmaker and actor behind Oscar-winning classics like "Reds" looked like an old fool on that stage because of somebody else's error ... and then a few more times as he made the interview circuit explaining how everything had gone so wrong.

Megan Fox

Playing Mikaela Banes in 2007's "Transformers" made Megan Fox a star. Within a couple of years, she'd made the sequel "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," the comedy "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People," and the cult horror-comedy "Jennifer's Body." That year, 2009, was also when Fox sat for an interview with the U.K. magazine Wonderland. When asked a softball question about working with "Transformers" director Michael Bay, Fox answered honestly and provocatively. "He's like Napoleon and he wants to create this insane, infamous mad man reputation," Fox said, comparing her director to a man who tried to conquer Europe two centuries earlier, and then to another, even more notorious historical figure. "He wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is."

Despite comparing him to the mastermind of World War II and the Holocaust that took the lives of millions of Jewish people, Bay still hired Fox for "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" but, according to The Guardian, was reportedly overruled by producer Steven Spielberg, director of "Schindler's List" and founder of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, a Holocaust awareness organization. Fox's team denied reports to People that she'd been ousted and rather stated she left the project of her own volition, but the career damage was done. Fox appeared in a couple of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" movies, some flop indie movies, a few episodes of "New Girl," and a music video for her fiancé, Machine Gun Kelly.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Fox said she retreated from Hollywood to "escape" the misogyny and find her "purpose."

Minnie Driver

At the 1998 Academy Awards, Judi Dench was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her work as Queen Victoria in "Mrs. Brown." That marked Dench's first of eight Oscar nominations (including one win) in a career that includes a whopping 27 BAFTA nods in her home country, where she's an icon of the stage and where Queen Elizabeth II proclaimed her a Dame Commander of the British Empire a decade earlier (via Biography). In other words, it's probably not going to fly with Dench's huge number of fans and admirers if someone publicly disparages her, and it certainly didn't go well when fellow Oscar nominee Minnie Driver did.

In 2002, Driver spoke to a newspaper and used Dench to illustrate a point about the differences between the U.S. and the U.K.,  according to The Daily Mail. "In England, with all due respect, we have some of the plainest actresses in the entire world as our greatest," Driver said. "Maybe it is because theatre is the great love of England, but you can have Judi Dench, a very small, round, middle-aged, lovely, mothering type, playing Cleopatra." Driver added that in the U.S., Dench "would melt into the crowd in a second." According to The Guardian, Driver's remarks earned her the label of "venomous" from tabloids.

Driver still worked extensively after the Dench incident, but not much in the U.K., primarily in American projects and quickly canceled sitcoms like "About a Boy" and "Speechless."

Jackie Mason

In the 1960s, when TV was lousy with variety shows, "The Ed Sullivan Show" stood apart as the premiere showcase for emerging talent. The Sunday night institution could instantly make a star out of a performer or elevate an established celebrity by providing a captive audience of nearly 30 million viewers.

In October 1964, Jackie Mason performed on "The Ed Sullivan Show" about a dozen times in three years, delivering one of his meandering humorous monologues that made him one of the era's best-known stand-up comedians. Mason was running long and threatened to jut up against a scheduled televised speech by President Lyndon Johnson to which the show would break away. According to the "Sullivan" website, the host wildly signaled to Mason to wrap it up immediately, to which the comedian responded by mockingly aping Sullivan's gestures back to him. Sullivan, however, thought Mason had given him the obscene middle finger gesture, and on television no less. According to The New York Times, Mason vigorously explained and apologized, but to no avail — Sullivan canceled the comedian's six scheduled appearances and refused to pay him for his performance that night. The two eventually made amends, but for two years, Mason was blacklisted from the highest-profile avenue for comedians, seriously upending his career momentum.

Gilbert Gottfried

Gilbert Gottfried was something of a minor pop culture icon in the 1980s and early 1990s. After a one-season stint on "Saturday Night Live" in the early '80s, he popped up in numerous comedy movies and TV shows — including "Beverly Hills Cop II," "Hot to Trot," "The Adventures of Ford Fairlane," and the "Problem Child" trilogy — doing his schtick as an annoyed, abrasive man with a shouted, purposely grating voice. It was his signature, and it served him well, particularly as a voice actor. Gottfried played Iago the parrot in Disney's "Aladdin" and the Aflac duck in a series of insurance TV commercials.

Off-screen, and before, during, and after his movie career, Gottfried made his living as a relentlessly touring club comedian, according to his website. It's in that mode where Gottfried issued some remarks that wreaked tremendous damage on his career and reputation. According to The Hollywood Reporter, when a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in 2011 (and killed at least 3,000 people), Gottfried tweeted out a dozen dark, quippy one-liners. Among them: "Japan is really advanced. They don't go to the beach. The beach comes to them." Twitter users called out Gottfried for what they felt was bad taste and questionable judgment, while the comedian's bosses at Aflac, one of his main and most notable gigs at the time, fired him. "There is no place for anything but compassion and concern during these difficult times," Aflac CMO Michael Zuna told the AP (via CBS News).

Gottfried eventually went on to frequent voiceover work and hosted the longrunning "Amazing Colossal Podcast." He died in 2022 at the age of 67.  

Alex Pettyfer

With only a few credits to his name, Alex Pettyfer looked to be one of the breakout stars of 2011, thanks in large part to his starring role in "Magic Mike," one of the most talked about movies of the year that also received critical praise and earned $113 million at the American box office. Just before the release of Pettyfer's "I Am Number Four," The Hollywood Reporter ran an exposé alleging the actor's misbehavior on the set of that film (in the wake of a salary standoff) and on another upcoming film, "Beastly."

Rather than do much damage control, Pettyfer doubled down on the animosity. In an interview with VMan, the actor called Los Angeles a "s***-hole," and "an insidious pool where nearly everyone lives in fear." He likened acting to a prison sentence. "You go, you serve your time, you try to replicate Johnny Depp's career — and then you move to Paris," Pettyfer quipped. The actor later told the Mercury News that the interview may have led to a rift with his "Magic Mike" co-star Channing Tatum. At any rate, Pettyfer wasn't invited back for "Magic Mike XXL," and he's appeared in supporting roles and in relatively obscure fare ever since.

Charles Rocket

The 1980-81 season was a transitional one for "Saturday Night Live," with the remainder of its original cast departing in favor of a new group of comedians, including Eddie Murphy, Joe Piscopo, and Charles Rocket. According to "Saturday Night: A Backstage History of 'Saturday Night Live'," incoming producer Jean Doumanian thought Rocket would be her breakout star, an actor and comic in the mold of "SNL" all-timers Bill Murray and Chevy Chase.

Rocket indeed made a name for himself on "SNL" with "The Rocket Report," a cheeky series of pre-taped "man on the street" bits. He was so well known that a special 1981 episode revolved around him. In a parody of the "Who Shot J.R.?" craze on "Dallas," (via Entertainment Weekly), in reference to guest host and "Dallas" co-star Charlene Tilton, an unknown assailant shot Rocket. At the end of the show, with the cast gathered on stage, Rocket appeared in a wheelchair, and Tilton asked how he felt. "Aw, man. It's the first time I've ever been shot in my life," Rocket said. "I'd like to know who the f*** did it."

Within weeks, Rocket was fired from "SNL." He went on to have a modest movie career, usually playing yuppies, jerks, and dads in things like "Earth Girls are Easy," "Dumb and Dumber," and "Hocus Pocus," but nothing approaching the resumes of Murray and Chase. Sadly, according to the Seattle Times, Rocket died by suicide in 2005 at age 56.

Klinton Spilsbury

In 1978, Klinton Spilsbury made two brief TV appearances then secured the title role in the big-screen "The Legend of the Lone Ranger" because he looked good in the character's iconic mask. Really. "We had to find an actor whose eyes were not close together," producer Martin Starger told Entertainment Weekly.

Amidst the media hype leading up to the 1981 release of the movie, Spilsbury agreed to a meeting with Andy Warhol, proprietor of Interview Magazine. Warhol would go on to call the interview "nutty" in "The Andy Warhol Diaries" because the actor seemed dead-set on "blowing his whole image" of being a heterosexual leading man in that far more conservative era. Spilsbury claimed to have married and had a child with a wealthy woman who left him because he needed too much alone time. Then he got drunk in front of Warhol and admitted to crushes on male actors and a one-night stand with the fashion designer Halston.

Apart from that weird press, Spilsbury was apparently difficult to work with. Co-star David Hayward said that Spilsbury needed dialogue cuts "because he was having trouble with the lines," and producers had to eventually dub in another actor delivering his lines (via Entertainment Weekly). Critics hated "The Legend of the Lone Ranger," with Janet Maslin of The New York Times calling it "half-hearted adventure fare." It flopped at the box office, earning $12.6 million and quickly disappearing from theaters. Spilsbury disappeared, too — he'd never act in another movie or TV series.

Antonio Sabato Jr.

In the 1990s and beyond, Antonio Sabato Jr. could often be found on soaps, both the primetime and daytime varieties. Sabato brought his smoldering appearance and vibe to prominent broadcast shows like "Melrose Place," "Charmed," "General Hospital," "General Hospital: Night Shift," and "The Bold and the Beautiful." Since the late 2010s, he's appeared in only a handful of obscure films, including "Carolina's Calling," "One Nation Under God," and "Santa in Training." The reason: Sabato claims he can't get work the way he used to because of his public and exuberant support of Donald Trump and ideas espoused by the politician.

In 2016, Sabato was a featured speaker at the Republican National Convention. He praised Trump in his speech and in an interview afterward, stated his belief that outgoing president Barack Obama was secretly a Muslim. "I was the first celebrity to come out and talk about the president, and he had my vote from day one," Sabato told Variety. "My integrity is intact. What I believe in is still intact." He later ran a failed campaign for a congressional seat, one of the few celebrities who've run for public office. Due to his political beliefs, Sabato says, he found himself cut from a planned reality series. Then the work dried up to a point where he moved from Hollywood to Florida to take a job as a construction worker. "I had to sell everything. I had to pay all my debts. I was blacklisted."

Dani Mathers

Dani Mathers was just starting to get her acting career going when a quick snapshot intended to be social media content derailed her rise and landed her in a courtroom. The 2015 Playboy Playmate of the Year, the model and actor had landed only a few small roles in a few projects, including a short film, the daytime soap "The Bold and the Beautiful," and the TV series "Badass!" In July 2016, Mathers entered the showers and locker room area of an LA Fitness gym in Los Angeles. She then captured and posted to Snapchat a photograph of a much older woman taking a shower — naked, and with a physique Mathers found grotesque, judging by her expression of shock and the caption (per The Washington Post), "If I can't unsee this then you can't either."

Body-shaming — for which Mathers received a mountain of criticism and bad press — is merely untoward, but it's illegal to publicly distribute a photograph of a naked person taken without their knowledge. For her Snapchat post of the 71-year-old nude stranger, Mathers was charged with a misdemeanor count of invasion of privacy. After entering a no contest plea, Mathers received a sentence of three years probation and 30 hours of community service. Since the case, Mathers has acted on screen just once, in an 2023 indie horror movie called "Kill Her Goats."

Felicity Huffman

While also an Academy Award nominee for Best Actress for her 2005 movie "Transamerica," Felicity Huffman rated among the most acclaimed television actors of the 2000s. In 2005, she won an Emmy Award for "Desperate Housewives," and she would earn three straight nominations from 2015 to 2017 for playing different characters in the anthology series "American Crime." Huffman's workload diminished to nearly nothing after she was implicated in a high-profile academic scandal.

Nicknamed "Operation Varsity Blues" by the FBI, the sting named 33 high-income parents, including Huffman, who paid consultant Rick Singer to forge and doctor data on their children's college admission applications in order to get them into top schools. Such acts are federal offenses, and Huffman paid $15,000 for Singer to tweak her daughter's SAT results. In May 2019, Huffman entered a guilty plea to counts of fraud and conspiracy. The actor paid a $30,000 fine and spent 11 days in prison. Since her legal issues came to light, Huffman has barely worked. Following a four-year post-prison hiatus, Huffman appeared in an episode of "The Good Doctor" and co-starred in the narrative podcast "Supreme: The Battle for Roe."

Jay Johnston

A comic actor with dozens of credits to his name, Jay Johnston was best known for his association with edgy, alternative comedy. He was part of the original cast of the HBO sketch series "Mr. Show with Bob and David," had a recurring role on "Arrested Development," appeared in "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," and co-starred as Officer Jay on "The Sarah Silverman Program."

More than 1,200 people were arrested for their involvement in the siege on the U.S. Capitol building which involved rioting, looting, and violence with the ultimate goal of stopping the certification of the 2020 election in support of losing candidate Donald Trump. In March 2021, the FBI posted to X, formerly known as Twitter, a photo of a man at the Capitol on January 6, resembling Johnston. Comedian Tim Heidecker, a collaborator of Johnston's, gave a positive identification, as did a former coworker, Cassandra Church. Johnston was arrested in June 2023 and faced a felony charge of obstruction of officers during civil disorder as well as impeding passage on the Capitol grounds, and unlawful entry of restricted property. Johnson allegedly used a swiped Capitol Police riot shield to force back arriving authorities.

From 2011 to 2021, Johnson played the title character's restaurant-owning nemesis Jimmy Pesto on "Bob's Burgers." Johnson lost that job in December 2021, and he hasn't booked any new ones since.

Will Smith

All Will Smith had to do at the 2022 Oscars was show up and collect the Best Actor prize for "King Richard" he was predicted to win. But then Best Documentary Feature presenter Chris Rock told some jokes, including one at the expense of Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. "'G.I. Jane 2,' can't wait to see it," he said, likening the actor to Demi Moore in a '90s military drama. Jada Pinkett Smith rolled her eyes, annoyed; Will Smith laughed. And then, very quickly, Smith grew darkly serious, marched up to the stage, and violently slapped Rock. "Wow, Will Smith just smacked the s*** out of me," an incredulous Rock quipped. Smith kept the confrontation going from his seat, yelling, "Keep my wife's name out your f***ing mouth!" Rock asked Smith to calm himself, and Smith repeated what he said, only with more volume and vitriol. "That was the greatest night in the history of television," Rock said before handing out an Oscar.

Moments later, Smith won his Academy Award. In a tearful speech, Smith attempted to explain away his earlier actions: "Love will make you do crazy things." He'd apologize to Rock in an Instagram post the next day and receive a 10-year ban on attending the Academy Awards. Apple, distributor of Smith's next movie, "Emancipation," delayed the release of the completed film. A "Bad Boys" sequel, announced in 2020, didn't enter production until 2023, which put some more distance between Smith and his Oscars outburst.

Jonathan Majors

After a few roles in indie films and TV series in the 2010s, Jonathan Majors' career exploded in 2020. He landed the leading role of David in Spike Lee's "Da 5 Bloods" and starred on HBO's "Lovecraft Country," for which he earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Leading Actor in a Drama Series. Majors quickly lined up prominent roles in big franchise movies, including "Creed III" and "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania," portraying Marvel Cinematic Universe mega-villain Kang the Conqueror. Majors was all set to be a focal point of Disney's MCU for years to come, starring in, at the very least, "Avengers: The Kang Dynasty."

In March 2023, police in Manhattan responded to a 911 call reporting a domestic assault. Authorities noted the victim's visible injuries, and the accused perpetrator, Majors, was charged with assault, harassment, and strangulation. By April 2023, Majors had lost his manager, his publicist, and roles in the films "Otis and Zelda" and "The Man in My Basement," as well as a Texas Rangers marketing campaign. In October 2023, the release of Majors' bodybuilding movie "Magazine Dreams" was canceled. That same month, Disney+ aired Season 2 of the MCU series "Loki" which strongly featured Majors as Kang, the last project he'd complete before his arrest. Immediately after Majors was found guilty on a misdemeanor count of assault and a minor harassment charge in December 2023, Disney parted ways with Majors, removing him from its future MCU plans.

O.J. Simpson

After a lengthy, televised trial, football legend turned actor O.J. Simpson was found not guilty in October 1995 for the June 1994 murder of his former wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. Simpson's acting career, which included the blockbuster "The Towering Inferno" and three installments of "The Naked Gun" franchise, never really recovered. Acquitted of a crime in a controversial trial, Simpson could have attempted to regain the public's good favor, but he instead made a series of questionable career choices that did little to rehabilitate his image.

In 2006, ReganBooks announced that it would release a book co-written by Simpson called "If I Did It." Loaded with disturbing details, it's Simpson's hypothetical confession of committing the Brown-Goldman murders. "If I Did It" was about how Simpson would have committed the murders, if he committed the murders, which he still claimed that he didn't commit. The book, and a related TV special of the same name, were canceled after major public outcry.

That same year, Simpson tried to get back on TV by taping a pilot for a hidden prank show. "Juiced" featured Simpson, a man who countless people presumed was a violent murderer who had gotten away with his crimes, sneaking up on people and scaring them. The program aired once, as a pay-per-view special. 

Armie Hammer

Armie Hammer made a big impression in major movies by important directors in the 2010s. He co-starred in David Fincher's "The Social Network" and Clint Eastwood's "J. Edgar" before headlining "The Lone Ranger" and "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." and then moving back into artsier fare like "Call Me by Your Name" and "On the Basis of Sex."

About six months after Hammer's wife filed for divorce in the summer of 2020, a woman known only by the Instagram handle @houseofeffie shared texts Hammer sent her during their four-year dalliance. They graphically depicted the actor's violent fantasies regarding cannibalism, vampirism, and sexual assault. More women came forward with similar stories about Hammer, including app developer Courtney Vucekovich. "He said to me he wants to break my rib and barbecue and eat it," she told Page Six. Another former partner accused Hammer of multiple acts of violence, sexual coercion, and sexual abuse. The Los Angeles Police Department formally opened an investigation into the actor's potentially criminal acts.

Within weeks of the first allegations in early 2021, Hammer's agency cut ties with the actor, who subsequently lost all the roles in which he'd already been cast. He was fired from the streaming series "The Offer," the films "Billion Dollar Spy" and "Shotgun Wedding," and the Broadway play "The Minutes." As of 2022, the year his last completed project to date, "Death on the Nile," hit theaters, Hammer was working as a timeshare salesperson in the Cayman Islands.

Ezra Miller

Following memorable appearances in the "Fantastic Beasts" series, Ezra Miller landed a long-standing role in Warner Bros.' DC Extended Universe. The actor portrayed superhero the Flash in ensemble projects "Suicide Squad" and "Justice League," setting up a big solo movie. In the long lead-up to "The Flash," Miller was accused of shocking and violent behavior as well as multiple criminal acts. In 2020, a video hit the internet showing the actor throttling and shoving a woman at a bar in Iceland. Two years later, Miller was arrested on harassment and disorderly conduct charges after multiple tense confrontations in a Hawaii karaoke bar. The same night, Miller allegedly threatened to kill the couple with whom they were temporarily living, leading to the granting of a restraining order. In April 2022, Miller threw a chair at a woman, leaving a forehead laceration, and in June 2022, they were accused of grooming a teenager, which led to another restraining order.

In the midst of Miller's legal troubles, Warner and D.C. higher-ups met to discuss the actor's role in future projects with the company. They reportedly decided to not cast Miller in any more films after "The Flash," which, upon its release a year later, proved to be a box office bomb. The DCEU was dismantled, and Miller hasn't booked any new gigs since. In 2024, Prime Video fired Miller and recast their voice role in the animated series "Invincible."

James Franco

A highly active Hollywood gadabout, James Franco stayed perpetually busy for about 20 years. After breakthrough roles in "Freaks and Geeks" and "James Dean" (for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award), he appeared in more than 100 projects, ranging from blockbusters like "Spider-Man" to awards-graspers like "Milk" and "127 Hours" to broad comedies like "The Pineapple Express," alongside frequent collaborator Seth Rogen. He also hosted the Academy Awards; directed narrative films, TV episodes, and documentaries; published several books; and opened and operated an acting school. It's the latter which would provide Franco's undoing.

In 2018, an actor alleged on X, formerly known as Twitter (via NPR) that Franco sexually assaulted her and attempted to seduce her 17-year-old friend. Franco dismissed the claims at the time, but those allegations would lead to a lawsuit filed in 2020 claiming that Franco's institution, Studio 4 Film School, coerced students into making sexually charged class assignments. Franco settled the lawsuit, paying $2.2 million to his accusers. The once prolific Franco has made just one TV appearance in the 2020s; even his once close friend and cohort Rogen won't talk or work with the actor anymore.

Jussie Smollett

A child star in the early '90s on the sitcom "On Our Own" and the movie "The Mighty Ducks," Jussie Smollett enjoyed a major second act as an adult performer in the 2010s with roles in "Marshall," "Underground," and "Empire." One of the most popular shows on TV upon its debut in 2015, the Fox soap concerned a family-owned record label. Smollett portrayed Jamal Lyon, would-be successor to his powerful father, a role that landed him many awards nominations.

In January 2019, it appeared that Smollett, a Black man who identifies as gay, had been the victim of a hate crime. He told Chicago police that two men screamed out slurs of a racist and anti-LGBTQ nature before punching the actor, placing a rope around his neck, and dousing him with a chemical. An investigation culminated in the arrest of Ola and Abel Osundairo. The brothers told Chicago police that Smollett had agreed to pay them a total of $4,000 for the attack, which they all rehearsed beforehand. Authorities asserted that Smollett arranged the phony attack to gain sympathy and attention as a way to get himself a pay raise on "Empire." The actor would be found guilty on five counts of felony disorderly conduct and sentenced to 150 days in jail.

If Smollett's motivations were to advance his acting career, his actions backfired. He never appeared on "Empire" again, and he hasn't acted in any other projects since he was written off that series.

Jeff Conaway

Jeff Conaway had a very successful 1978. He starred as Kenickie in the movie-musical "Grease," the top-grossing film of the year, and then settled into a role as cabbie and aspiring actor Bobby Wheeler on the lauded ensemble sitcom "Taxi." Conaway landed two Golden Globe nominations for the show, but after four seasons, he left "Taxi." At the time, Conaway said that he had grown bored and frustrated playing Bobby and needed a change. "Bobby was written into an empty hole. There was nowhere to go," he told The Daily News Leader. "Not only was the character going down the drain, but me too. I had to make a move before becoming a has-been."

More than a year after exiting "Taxi," Wheeler re-emerged, starring in the CBS fantasy series "Wizards and Warriors," which lasted just eight episodes. After that, Conaway's career descended primarily into guest-star stints, main roles on quickly-canceled shows, and low-budget B-movies; nothing on the level of "Grease" or "Taxi." In 2006, Conaway turned up as a contestant on VH1's "Celebrity Fit Club." After an on-screen meltdown, Conaway checked into a drug rehabilitation facility. In 2008, "Taxi" writer Sam Simon revealed on "The Howard Stern Show" that Conaway's substance abuse had gotten the actor fired from the sitcom — he hadn't actually quit. Conaway died in 2011 at age 60.

Marcus Chong

In 1999, "The Matrix" captured both the zeitgeist and $463 million at the box office. It was a no-brainer for studio Warner Bros. to order some sequels, and most of the original cast — Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Laurence Fishburne — signed on to return for "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolutions." Absent from the sequels: Marcus Chong. He played Tank, a ship operator in "The Matrix." In the sequels, Harold Perrineau played Link, a new operator. Just after the release of "The Matrix Reloaded" in 2003, Chong sued Warner Bros. He alleged that the studio violated his contract by not casting him again and had also spread lies and defamatory information about Chong to the media. Some details left out of Chong's account: He'd engaged in sequel salary talks with Warner Bros. in 2000, but they fell apart and he was dismissed from the franchise. Afterward, Chong reportedly made threatening telephone calls to the Wachowskis, the writer-directors who made "The Matrix," and stole food from a "Matrix" production office.

Chong, a prolific actor before "The Matrix," with a career that began in 1978, showed up in a handful of TV episodes in the early 2000s and co-starred in the obscure sequel "The Crow: Wicked Prayer." He walked away from acting entirely in 2013.

George Lazenby

The first James Bond replacement actor, stepping in for original series headliner Sean Connery who had decided five 007 movies was enough: George Lazenby. A model with no screen-acting credits at the time, it was a remarkable vote of confidence from Bond movie producers and a coronation of sorts for Lazenby as a new star in the making.

Lazenby's Bond debut, 1969's "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," was a hit, and filmmakers wanted to be in the Lazenby-as-Bond business for a very long time. Offered a $1 million bonus on top of a handsome salary for portraying Bond in six more movies, Lazenby declined it all. He thought the character, and the 007 movies, were in danger of becoming archaic relics of another time in the wake of the countercultural movement of the late 1960s. "You had to have bell bottoms, long hair, flowery shirts. That all gave me the impression Bond was over, so I didn't feel like I was doing the wrong thing by myself," Lazenby told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2017. And with the youth of the world wrapped up in the hippie movement, Lazenby believed that if he kept playing Bond, he wouldn't get to enjoy himself. "It was 'make love not war.' I just wanted to get laid, and if you had a suit on you looked like a waiter," explained Lazenby, who never again starred in a blockbuster movie.

Thomas Gibson

Not long after a successful and lucrative five-season run on ABC's "Dharma and Greg," Thomas Gibson jumped to CBS's crime procedural series "Criminal Minds." A long-running and consistently popular drama, Gibson stayed employed at "Criminal Minds" for 11 years, portraying Supervisory Special Agent Aaron "Hotch" Hotchner. But early in the show's 12th season, Gibson blew it all up.

In one of the biggest scandals to hit CBS, during production of an episode the actor was also directing, Gibson got into a verbal scuffle with a "Criminal Minds" staff writer over plot issues. It got so intense that Gibson kicked the writer in their shin. A few weeks after Gibson was suspended from his show for the incident, and after other past reprimands came to light — he pushed a crew member on set in 2010 and was forced into an anger management program — CBS decided to fire the actor. Since his 2016 termination, Gibson has barely worked, providing a voice in the 2017 movie "Axis" and starring in the 2019 non-theatrically released action movie "Shadow Wolves."

T.J. Miller

Stand-up comic T.J. Miller made his screen debut in the hit monster movie "Cloverfield" then parlayed his oddball persona into dozens of comedic and voiceover roles. Miller co-starred in "Extract," "Yogi Bear," "Big Hero 6," and the "How to Train Your Dragon" franchise, all before securing his two most significant parts: bartender sidekick Weasel in the "Deadpool" movies and Erlich Bachman on HBO's "Silicon Valley."

In 2017, "Silicon Valley" wrote out Erlich — he wound up trapped in a perpetually drugged state in an Asian opium den. That was all done to get Miller off the show. "It was kind of becoming clear that he didn't want to do the show anymore," co-creator Mike Judge told The Hollywood Reporter. The actor often missed taping days, and if he was present, he was often intoxicated.

Less than a year after he lost his job on "Silicon Valley," Miller was arrested for a federal crime. In March 2018, Miller drank heavily on an Amtrak train and grew loud and angry after a female passenger didn't respond to his attempts at flirtation. After a verbal altercation, Miller made a 911 call to report that the woman was in possession of a bomb. Miller was ultimately tossed off the train before his destination over his drunken behavior. The federal charge of reporting a false bomb threat was dropped in 2021, the last year to date that Miller acted professionally, voicing a character in an episode of the animated series "F is for Family."

Clayne Crawford

When Fox ordered a TV reboot of the vintage buddy cop action-comedy movie franchise "Lethal Weapon" in 2016, Clayne Crawford, fresh off the acclaimed "Rectify," landed the role of wild card detective Martin Riggs. During Season 2 of the show, Crawford got to direct an episode. It involved a carefully staged explosion, and under Crawford's watch, the stunt didn't go as planned. 

Airborne debris struck the other "Lethal Weapon" lead, Damon Wayans, in the head, leaving a bloody gash and adding to the long list of actors who were tragically injured on set. Wayans left for the day and his double finished the scene on his behalf. A day later, Wayans confronted Crawford over the botched stunt that left him injured. In a video of the standoff leaked to Variety, Crawford blew off Wayans' concerns. "You're the biggest crybaby p**** I've ever met in my life," Crawford said. "I mean, how does it feel to only be in the game because your f***ing brothers are in the game?" he added, referring to Wayans' successful relatives.

That incident — along with the fact that Crawford had been punished for at least one other act of on-set misbehavior, which led to a director quitting — resulted in the actor's firing from "Lethal Weapon." Producers replaced him with Seann William Scott playing a new character; the former network TV star now makes the occasional indie movie, short film, or B-movie.

Steve Whitmire

In the late 1970s, Steve Whitmire landed a dream job for a puppeteer: a position with Jim Henson's studio responsible for all Muppet media. Following the tragic death of Henson, his family asked Whitmire to succeed the entertainer in his two most important roles: operating and voicing Kermit the Frog in various TV and film projects and Ernie on "Sesame Street" properties. Whitmire served in that capacity for more than 25 years, until he was fired by Muppets parent company Disney in October 2016. Whitmire, a self-styled guardian of the legacy of the Muppets, engaged in creative disputes over the direction of the 2016 adult-oriented sitcom "The Muppets."

"The first issue was that they felt I had been 'disrespectful' in being outspoken on character issues with the small group of top creative people during the ABC series," Whitmire told The Hollywood Reporter. "I also have insight into their limitations with respect to how well they know the Muppets." It all stemmed from a scene where Kermit tells a small lie to his nephew, Robin. "Kermit is too compassionate to lie to him to spare his feelings," Whitmire said.

The two parties weren't able to resolve their differences, but Whitmire may have sealed his fate by being too expensive. Unnamed sources close to the situation told Gizmodo that Whitmire asked for "too much money" and wanted Disney to pay for perks like first-class flights and a separate, substantial paycheck for his wife-slash-manager.

Roseanne Barr

Despite some TV storylines that came out of nowhere, "Roseanne" was very popular in its 1988-1997 run and in its spring 2018 revival. Starring Roseanne Barr as Midwestern matriarch Roseanne Conner, the nine-episode reboot finished the 2017-2018 as the third-most-watched show on all of broadcast TV. A renewal came after just one episode had aired, which ABC abruptly reversed on May 29, 2018. Hours earlier, Barr used X, then known as Twitter, to write, according to ABC News, "muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj." Barr had suggested that Valerie Jarrett, a Black woman and senior adviser to President Barack Obama, shared the ideology of an organization labeled a terrorist group and that she also resembled a primate.

After the cancelation, Barr explained that she'd tweeted while under the influence of a powerful sleeping pill. "I apologize to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans," Barr said in a later-deleted tweet (via NBC News). "I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks." Barr's representation firm dropped her, reruns of "Roseanne" temporarily disappeared from television, and ABC reworked the reboot into "The Conners," a new version of "Roseanne" with the same cast, except for Barr. Five years later, Barr resurfaced with a comedy special, "Cancel This!", which aired on the little-followed streaming service Fox Nation.

Mischa Barton

"The O.C." led to lasting careers for three of its four main young stars: Ben McKenzie, Adam Brody, and Rachel Bilson. Seemingly left out of the career opportunities was Mischa Barton, who portrayed idealized girl-next-door Marissa Cooper. At the end of Season 3 of "The O.C.," Marissa Cooper dies in a car accident, and Barton spoiled that plot twist. "My character has been through so, so much, and there's really nothing more left for her to do," Barton told "Access Hollywood" (via E! News) in 2006, days before the episode aired, announcing her exit from "The O.C." But "The O.C." creator Josh Schwartz later said that Barton's exit wasn't necessarily per her request. "Mischa didn't want off the show anymore than any of the other kids wanted off the show," he told The Daily Beast. "It was a complicated chemistry with the cast."

Fifteen years after her exit, and following a string of quickly-canceled series and overlooked movies, Barton told E! News why she departed "The O.C." "We started doubling up on episodes and shooting [got] so much harder, and again a lot of that was too much for me. I didn't know where the character was going," Barton said. "And sort of general bullying from some of the men on set that kind of felt really s*****." An unidentified "O.C." insider told Page Six that Barton's recollections were incorrect. "It wasn't that she was bullied. People didn't appreciate waiting for hours for her to show up."

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, may be the victim of child abuse, or is struggling or in crisis, contact the relevant resources below:

  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
  • The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.
  • Call or text 988 or chat