Whether you love them or hate them, there’s no denying that celebrities have the ability to affect our lives and culture in major ways. But what happens when our favorite stars are no longer on top?
Some of the biggest celebrities who were canceled will go down in history as greats whose popularity had faded by the time they lost their jobs; others will always be synonymous with whatever went wrong and got them fired in the first place. Let’s take a look at 25 canceled celebrities and the reasons they were fired.
Just a few years ago, Kevin Spacey was recognized as one of the best actors in the world. In 1996, he won his first Oscar – Best Supporting Actor (The Usual Suspects). For his work in 1999’s American Beauty, Spacey earned an Oscar for Best Actor. Starting in 2013, he played the role of Frank Underwood on the Netflix series House of Cards. One year later, he won a Golden Globe – and would go on to earn 10 Emmy nominations between 2013-2017. But now it seems like all is lost – because recently allegations came out that he sexually assaulted eight men during these prime years when he had so much success.
Actor Anthony Rapp claims that he was sexually assaulted by Kevin Spacey when he was just 14-years-old in 1986. When Rapp told his story to the public, 15 other people came forward with similar stories. And two years ago, Rapp filed a lawsuit against Kevin Spacey for sexual assault and emotional distress but there has been no progress since then. Recently, on May 26th of this year, Kevin Spacey faced 4 charges of sexual assaults brought up by 3 British men after being accused of sexually assaulting them while they were minors as well.
R. Kelly’s career has now spiraled out of control due to his criminal convictions. When he first started out, Kelly was widely accepted as one of the best singers in the industry; so much so that some people nicknamed him the King of R&B. His accolades over time included 3 Grammys in 1998 for I Believe I Can Fly – which totaled 25 nominations at last count.
Despite his illustrious and well-deserved fortune as an established musician, Kelly’s career has been tarnished by the allegations against him. For over 20 years he has been subjected to reports of being an abuser. In 1994, when he was 27 years old, he married a young Aaliyah who was only 15 at the time. It wasn’t until 2021 that the charges finally caught up with him; found guilty of racketeering and sexually related crimes such as child pornography involving minors and coercion – all this resulting in jail time for up to 10 years or life imprisonment if convicted
Actors are often scrutinized for choices they make in regards to their appearance. This was the case when actress Jennifer Grey’s decision to get a nose job led some people to criticize her. However, she asserts that these comments did not affect her career nearly as much as one might expect them too because of what she accomplished after her surgery: a Golden Globe nomination for Dirty Dancing—a movie she starred in alongside Patrick Swayze.
Jessica Simpson’s little sister Ashlee Simpson has done a lot for her family. She was the perfect daughter who was often praised and admired by both of her parents; she had everything a girl could ever want or need! Everything changed on one fateful Saturday night in 2004 when she released Pieces of Me. The single only made it to number five on the charts and her first album failed to reach number one status- things started looking grim for the young starlet.
Until one single performance on Saturday Night Live. Simpsons was caught lip-syncing during the ‘live’ performance and subsequently walked off stage as the network quickly cut to a commercial. Simpsons has only had two singles break the top 20 since her SNL performance – both of which occurred in 2005.
The entire world watched on February 1, 2004 as a scene from one of America’s most-watched sporting events occurred: a part of Janet Jackson’s shirt being torn off and exposing her breast. With 150 million people tuning in to watch the event live, it seemed like this event would go down in history but for different reasons than what transpired. One of the biggest musicians today, Jackson did not make it to the 46th Grammy Awards following ‘Nippistgate’. On top of that, Jackon’s ensuing album Damita Jo was shunned from airplay on many major radio stations such as CBS and Viacom; while Justin Timberlake went on without interruption.
Be forewarned, this slide isn’t pretty. Born in Texas, Mark Salling first dabbled in acting at a young age and would continue until he landed his break-out role on the show Glee. However, it wouldn’t be long before his name became synonymous with something far darker than anything involving performing arts. In 2013, an ex-girlfriend accused him of sexual battery–a criminal act. Two years later, Salling agreed to pay her over 2.5 million dollars for what she had done; however not before being arrested for possession of child pornography in 2015. Just two months shy from sentencing time–Salling tragically took his own life; completing an awful storybook ending to one man’s journey through life .
In the past 30 years, Charlie Sheen had been a major player in Hollywood. He created an eccentric persona that left everyone wanting more – from his unabashed honesty to antics and late night parties. His popularity grew in 2003 when he starred on the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men which ran until 2011. Following controversial statements made about Chuck Lorre, who was responsible for creating the show, Sheen’s tenure came to an end; but this also marked what he called his spiritual awakening: Tiger Blood time! With less acting work offered since then, Sheen has slowed down considerably but nevertheless continues living life to its fullest potential because this is all there really is anyway.
Who can forget Jared Fogle? Known to many as Jared from Subway, he had spent his whole life dealing with food addiction. Overweight and weighing over 400 pounds, he managed to lose over 200 pounds thanks to the ‘Subway diet’. After seeing how well-received it was for him by the public; he became the spokes person for Subway soon after. What people were unaware of was that Fogle was also being investigated by the FBI for child pornography crimes. In 2015, Fogle was finally caught on these charges and has been sentenced to 15 years and 8 months in prison.
Depending on what type of movies you’re into, Jeffrey Jones (left) will likely be remembered for two different roles: Amadeus or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. He received a Golden Globe nomination from his performance in the former, and notably played the antagonistic high school principal Ed Rooney in the latter – memorably giving students detention just because they were breaking rules. Jones had an illustrious run in Hollywood during the 80s era, but it all came crashing down when he was arrested for possession of child pornography and soliciting a minor back in 2002. The first charge was eventually dropped, but Jones pleaded no contest to the second charge – resulting in him having to register as a sex offender.
Through history, countless people have committed unthinkable crimes and gone unpunished. Brown is one of these individuals. One of the most talented singers and dancers of the last decade or so, Brown’s career began with a slew of chart-topping hits. But after an argument in 2009 with his then girlfriend Rihanna led to him abusing her – he had reached rock bottom at this point. Left with horrendous injuries which needed hospital treatment – it was clear that no matter how talented he may be – nothing could excuse what he did to her (or anyone for that matter). Now, after pleading guilty to felony assault charges – his success story remains tarnished even though it hasn’t really wavered much since then due to various other incidents over time.
One of the most famous sitcoms in history featured these three talented actors. Michael Richards (on the left) was an Emmy Award winning actor who played Kramer on Seinfeld from 1989-1998. Despite his great reputation, Richards hasn’t been well known since 2006 when he made a racist tirade during a comedy performance at Laugh Factory and subsequently retired from stand up comedy.
Frauds. That is what Milli Vanilli eventually turned out to be. With an eye-catching first album, All or Nothing, they became global superstars within just a few years. The German-French duo had all the success and popularity there was in France and Europe, but it wasn’t long before they failed at fame. By 1990, when they took home the Grammy Award for Best New Artist, Milli Vanilli was already being considered nothing more than fraudulent singers through lip syncing instead of singing themselves.
Boy George, who became famous from his many hit songs such as Karma Chameleon, Time (Clock of the Heart), and Do You Really Want to Hurt Me has been left with an everlasting darkness looming over him in 2008 when he was convicted of assaulting a male escort and sentenced to jail time. After serving just four months out of his fifteen month sentence due to good behavior, he has been attempting a comeback ever since.
Hailing from Wales, Ian Watkins was in the middle of leading a rockstar lifestyle when he was found guilty of committing horrific crimes. In 2000-2012, Watkins helped produce five studio albums with his band Lostprophets. At first glance, everything seemed normal enough; however under the surface, there lay danger in wait for years. Finally having its day on December 19th 2012 —Watkins plead guilty to conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a one year old child; possession and/or distribution of indecent images of children and extreme animal pornography. One could only hope for an even longer sentence than that which has been given out because it is not enough yet.
Teddy Sinclair was famous as Natalia Kills and Verbalicious in the 2000’s. She holds a Grammy Award nomination for co-writing Rihanna’s song Kiss It Better. In 2015, Sinclair and her husband, Willy Moon, became judges on The X Factor New Zealand; however they only lasted one episode. They verbally attacked a contestant which led to the network firing them both along with terminating their contracts.
If you’ve watched Criminal Minds before, then it’s likely that you will recognize this man who played Hotch on the show for 11 seasons. But after one heated argument behind-the-scenes of Season 12 where he reportedly kicked a producer – Gibson was fired from the show. It has since been revealed that Gibson had been prone to unprofessional behavior behind the scenes dating back several years before his single blow up incident.
Lead singer Natalie Maines joined The Chicks in 1995, where she has experienced great success. They have won 13 Grammys awards and 10 Country Music Association Awards over the course of 25 years. Additionally, they’ve been criticised throughout the years – with people finding it hard to keep supporting them after many controversial statements made by Maines herself against President George W. Bush when he was from Texas – which caused The Chicks to receive less airplay on both radio stations and tour bookings due to boycotts done by some listeners.
Before The Rock became arguably the biggest movie star in the world, Hulk Hogan paved the way as the first professional wrestler to become a global icon. Even today, 40 years since his rise to fame, Hulk Hogan remains a household name. However when leaked footage from 2015 of him making racist comments surfaced he was let go from his contract and banned by WWE for 3 years.
Stephen Collins, during his time on the popular show Seventh Heaven, is most well known for this role. He played the part from 1996-2007, and his career ended seven years later. Two months after NYPD started looking into allegations of him molesting a minor – two years after LAPD investigated him – Stephen told People magazine that he regretted something that happened forty years ago. He claimed to have done something terrible which he has regretted ever since then; but during the interview with People magazine Stephen spoke about three different incidents taking place between 1973-1994 – all when minors were involved and getting sexually assaulted by him.
CeeLo Green has been having a really great year! Since 2006, CeeLo achieved two major successes. His first hit came in 2006 when he released Crazy which went on to reach number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart four years later. In 2011, he was announced as one of the new judges for The Voice and even voiced a character in the animated film Hotel Transylvania alongside Selena Gomez. However his career took an unexpected turn after being accused of sexual battery at the end of 2012 – something that wasn’t helped by series of controversial posts related to his trial online. Unfortunately due to this incident, his show on TBS – CeeLo Green’s The Good Life – was cancelled.
Michael Vick captured the hearts of millions while captivating NFL audiences on Sundays across America. Although he was only 26 years old when he played his last game in 2007, you could tell that he had already accomplished so much more than many would dare to dream. When Michael’s career came crashing down because of an animal abuse scandal involving dogs – it tore through every part of him and left him hopeless to continue life without football.
In 2013, Belles Gibson seemed to strike gold. Her app, The Whole Pantry, was deemed Apple’s Best Food and Drink app of the year. As a result of the success, Gibson signed a book deal in order to publish a physical cookbook to go along with the app. However it would soon come out that what she created wasn’t all as honest and straightforward as originally thought- everything Belle shared about herself turned out to be lies. This lead the world coming down on her for deceiving people who looked up to her for years- but now Belle has nothing left after being sued until her dry pockets were drained and owed an unfortunate amount in fees from this whole fiasco.
The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, is without a doubt the most phenomenal performer of all time. His soulful voice and dancing abilities are unmatched throughout history. When analyzing every detail about this man’s life, it may seem like there isn’t enough time. However in this passage we will talk about how he dealt with being accused of child sexual abuse – two times at that (in 1993 and 2003). He was never convicted or found guilty of these claims which makes them even more haunting to his legacy today – since they’ll forever be attached to him whether he deserves it or not.
Paula Deen formed a partnership with Food Network in 1999, which lasted until her controversy in 2013. Before the case went to trial, she had already lost many endorsements and publishing deals due to these lawsuits filed against her for discrimination. She has since seen a slight recovery on new streaming services such as Roku but her reputation will never be restored completely.
Jussie Smollett’s acting career was short-lived, due entirely to his lack of talent. In 2014, he auditioned for the television show Empire and landed the part of a central character – being one of the first openly gay black characters on TV. However, any chance at progression or popularity he had been able to establish quickly dwindled when it became public knowledge that Jussie had staged a hate crime hoax in 2019 – during which he alleged that two masked attackers beat him up and made homophobic slurs against him. As evidence mounted and came forward publicly about these allegations, Jussie finally confessed on December 9th 2021 after pleading guilty on five out of six counts with 150 days served in county jail as punishment.