In the world of entertainment, there are some actors, musicians, and other celebrities who seem to do everything right. They manage to keep themselves on the right side of things by avoiding scandals and poor decisions. Then there are others who don’t handle stardom as well, and they find themselves making mistakes that take them down a path they never thought they’d go down—and many times these same celebrities don’t even realize they’re ruining their careers until it’s too late to turn back.
Every celebrity has a moment where they do something incredibly stupid that results in their career taking a nosedive, and the public quickly turning on them to the point where they can no longer win them back. In this list, we’ll look at 12 celebrities who ruined their careers overnight with one stupid mistake. We’ll examine what exactly each celebrity did to ruin their career and how that affected their overall net worth, as well as why these mistakes led to their demise.
1. Lindsay Lohan
Admittedly not one of Hollywood’s finest moments, Lindsay Lohan shot to fame in such films as Mean Girls and The Parent Trap. She was once considered a role model for young girls, but thanks to alcohol and drug abuse—and that time she shoplifted in New York—she’s been unable to maintain her career. In 2013, she served a nearly two-month stint in rehab. Since then, she has tried to get back on track with roles in Scary Movie 5 and The Canyons, but it looks like her career may be over.
2. Justin Bieber
In 2016, Justin Bieber lost his cool when he was caught on camera using a racial slur to tell a heckler to shut up. Bieber apologized for his racist remark on Instagram—only to be accused of lying after TMZ uncovered another video in which Bieber sings about f*****n n*****s. The Sorry singer later clarified that he does not tolerate racism and that it was all just an unfortunate misunderstanding. Regardless, Beliebers were quick to jump ship; some even launched #ByeJustinBieber hashtags on Twitter and flooded social media with calls for him to go back to Canada (the irony here is obviously not lost).
3. Josh Duggar
Duggar, who rose to fame in 2008 as part of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, was removed from his family’s show in 2015 after it was revealed that he had molested multiple young girls when he was a teenager. The disgraced former reality star admitted to his actions—and said that he cheated on his wife Anna by having two accounts on Ashley Madison (a website for people seeking extramarital affairs).
4. James Franco
In 2012, Franco was accused of sexual misconduct. Though he claims it was consensual, he allegedly attempted to exploit a 17-year-old girl. A source claimed that Franco asked her on set if she’d like to be in one of his art films. She accompanied him and a woman to his hotel room, where they reportedly disrobed. The young actress said Franco then removed a clear plastic guard that covered their genitals while simulating oral sex on her and forcing her to do so on him. He later apologized for inappropriate behavior.
5. Paul Reubens
Mr. Reubens became a household name as Pee-wee Herman—and was doing quite well, thank you very much—when he was arrested in 1991 for masturbating in an adult movie theater. Soon thereafter, all of his future Pee-wee movies were canceled and he was fired from Pee-wee’s Playhouse on CBS. His career has never recovered. Thankfully for us, we got to enjoy him as The Penguin on Batman Returns back in 1992.
6. Kathy Griffin
Has anyone seen Kathy Griffin lately? The comedienne hasn’t made any mainstream appearances since October of 2017, when she got herself in hot water for posing with a fake severed head that looked just like Donald Trump. At a New Year’s Eve party hosted by Anderson Cooper, Griffin posed for cameras as if she were holding up Trump’s bloody head — which was anything but funny to many people.
7. Amanda Bynes
Amanda Bynes is another young star who made a lot of money early in her career. She starred in Nickelodeon’s All That as well as several successful movies. But then she started hitting a rough patch, and her parents were blamed for not helping their daughter get back on track. They wanted to send her to rehab but she refused, so they took legal action against her. This led to an even worse downward spiral, with Amanda making headlines for erratic behavior including drug use and driving under the influence. In 2013, she was arrested for DUI after crashing into a police car. Her father decided that enough was enough at that point, and he filed papers seeking a conservatorship over his daughter. The judge granted him full control over her finances and affairs—and also ordered her to go to rehab immediately. Since then, things have been quiet on both fronts; hopefully, Amanda has turned things around!
8. Rob Lowe
It was once said that Rob Lowe was Hollywood’s most promising young actor. But it all changed when a sex tape surfaced of him engaging in a sexual act with two women other than his wife. Though he has managed to make a comeback, he lost many fans and ultimately some work as well because of his mistake. It can happen to anyone; it just takes one slip-up to ruin your career forever! Be careful out there!
9. Chris Brown
Before pleading guilty to felony assault, Chris Brown was one of R&B’s most promising new stars. But after he violently attacked his then-girlfriend, singer Rihanna, at an industry party in 2009, many fans stopped listening to his music. Following a two-year hiatus from recording and touring (at Rihanna’s request), he released an album that debuted at number one on Billboard—but it sold only 200,000 copies in its first week.
10. Charlie Sheen
Most celebrities learn to temper their erratic behavior once they reach a certain level of success—and some seem to be able to manage it no matter how famous they get. But few stars have proven themselves immune to totally blowing up their careers. Charlie Sheen is one of those few: within two years, he went from Two and a Half Men’s highest-paid star to being fired for erratic behavior that allegedly included drug use, spousal abuse, and assault. After his firing, Sheen embarked on an epic media tour in which he revealed even more embarrassing details about his personal life than had previously been reported. He also appeared on The Howard Stern Show several times, where he made racist comments about his own show’s creator and talked openly about having sex with adult film actresses.
11. Paula Deen
The once-beloved cook is known for her southern cooking and her family’s restaurant, The Lady & Sons. Unfortunately, Deen’s empire took a serious hit in 2013 when a racial discrimination lawsuit was filed against her by an ex-employee who alleged that he was wrongly fired because of his race. The scandal deepened in 2013 after Deen admitted to using racial slurs during a court deposition—and she later revealed that she had Type 2 diabetes.
12. Jennifer Grey
She made her name as a young leading lady in movies like Dirty Dancing and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. But that all changed when she starred in Copacabana, a clunker of a film released in 1988. Critics ripped into it, and her acting career took a big hit. By 1992, she was in rehab for alcohol abuse. It wasn’t until 2005 that Grey got back on track with roles in The Producers and Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. Still, if you saw her cameo in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, you know she has not completely recovered from that movie-ruining flop from decades ago.
The Bottom Line
In Hollywood, reputation and popularity are everything—you could be on top of the world one day, with an award-winning performance in your newest film, and the next day you could find yourself without work, without fans, and without hope. Some celebrities get caught up in scandals that suddenly tarnish their image; others are victims of circumstance and end up taking the fall for things they didn’t do, and some make foolish decisions that instantly ruin their careers overnight. Regardless of how it happens, a bad reputation can mean the end of your career as a celebrity.