It’s okay, it really is, to admit that you never saw the recent allegations and revelations against actors Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K. coming. After all, you and I don’t move in the same circles as they do (nor, apparently, their victims) and we have never had the chance to see them up close and personal — not that anyone would want to, if you know what I mean — to know how badly behaved both of these men have been for a very long time. Sure, Spacey has played more than his fair share of creepy roles (with strangely, K-PAX being the all-time creepiest, in my opinion) and C.K. has traditionally been a dark shock in comedy, but we didn’t see this coming, did we now?
Of course, both gentlemen in question have been dumped, cut, and erased from every current project they had going on. Time itself will be the only reveal as to whether either one will ever recover. But there have also been plenty of other TV stars over the years who have lost their jobs to controversy. And when I say lost their jobs, I mean axed, booted, and given the old heave-ho, often from the very shows they helped make famous. Sometimes, it’s been because of financial disagreements, sometimes it was because of terribly diva-like behavior on set, and sometimes it’s been because of a celeb’s inability to control his or her addictive impulses. Whatever the case, there are plenty of Hollywood big shots who got canned from their own TV shows. Here are 15 of the most famous.
15. A Different World — Lisa Bonet Was Pregnant
Even though you’ve probably never heard of her, there was a time when Lisa Bonet was a huge star and one half of one of the major power couples in Hollywood. You see, Bonet got her start as a child actor on the once-beloved Cosby Show (with, of course, the guy who makes both Spacey and C.K. look like amateurs in the predator business) and parlayed that fame into her own spinoff, A Different World, which waired from 1987 to 1993. That’s six seasons about a bunch of college kids, which means they were either the least motivated students in the history of education or the producers just didn’t care. Unfortunately for Bonet, she became pregnant with hubby Lenny Kravitz’s child after the first season and was written out of the second season for “creative differences.” That, of course, was Hollywood jibber-jabber for “we can’t have a pregnant college sophomore as our main character.”
14. Scandal — Columbus Short Had An Addiction
Talk about a scandal! I know that was bad, but the line was just sitting there ripe for the taking, wasn’t it? Anyway, Columbus Short was a major player on Scandal, the Washington D.C. political drama that is currently halfway through its seventh and final season. The thing is, though, Short hasn’t been around much to enjoy the success of the show he helped get off the ground. You see, his character was killed off in season 3, never to return. Now I know that his litigious character, lawyer Harrison Wright, was more than a little abrasive, but was that any reason to kill him off? The answer is no. The real reason Short lost his job was a little bit darker. Apparently, the actor struggled mightily with his substance addiction, something that contributed to his removal from the show. The fact that he was charged with felony assault after a bar fight and was also charged with domestic violence probably didn’t help his case.
13. Three’s Company — Suzanne Somers Wanted Fair Pay
Three’s Company was one of the original hip, risqué sitcoms of the ’70s and early ’80s. After all, how could it not be with a premise that pitted a swinging bachelor against his two hot roommates? Suzanne Somers made her bones on this show, playing the hot, “innocent” blonde Chrissy Snow. However, after 5 seasons and with male co-star John Ritter raking in top dollar compared to her (this was the ’70s after all, when the glass ceiling was just a little bit lower. Somers asked for a raise. Instead of receiving a well-deserved pile of cash she was taken right off the show. Well, it was the ‘70s after all, not a time known for its enlightened attitude toward women, no matter what anyone might say differently.
12. Grace Under Fire — Brett Butler Hit Rock Bottom
There was a time when Brett Butler was a huge rising star. Initially known as a stand-up comedian, this funny lady was almost as big as Jeff Foxworthy and had the redneck credentials to prove it. Born in Montgomery, Alabama, Butler was a guest star and writer for that weird old Dolly Parton show (aptly named Dolly). What better country credentials can you ask for? She got her real big break when she landed her own sitcom Grace Under Fire. Even though the show lasted for 6 seasons and was both a critical and popular success Butler’s star waned as she went through multiple substance abuse issues. ABC finally had enough of her struggles and dropped the show in 1998. Supposedly, Butler went into a tailspin after the cancellation of her show and ended up in a homeless shelter — not really a very graceful performance under fire, actually. She eventually cleaned up and rejoined the Hollywood ranks as a recurring guest star on Anger Management — Charlie Sheen’s vehicle that we will be hearing from again in a few entries.
11. Criminal Minds — Thomas Gibson Hated On The Writers
Just because you are a longtime series mainstay and big Hollywood star doesn’t mean that you can mess around with the people behind the camera. At least, that’s probably the words of wisdom we can take away from the sudden demise of Thomas Gibson on Criminal Minds. Gibson was a main character on the show for 12 seasons until he was unceremoniously axed. Which is really too bad for him as the darn series just keeps going and is now in its 13th season and shows no signs of stopping. What brought Gibson down was an apparent on-set “altercation” between Gibson and the series’ writer and producer, Virgil Williams. I’m pretty sure fighting with the guy who both writes your part and signs your paycheque is not the way to advance your career.
10. Sam & Cat — Jennette McCurdy And Her Leaked Photos
As we will see again in another entry, sometimes child stars, well, grow up, so to speak. That seems to be exactly what happened to Jennette McCurdy, star of the hit Nickelodeon show Sam & Cat, alongside co-star Ariana Grande, when scandalous photos of her were leaked to the Internet. McCurdy doesn’t seem to be one who shies away from publicity as she not only instantly posted more photos on her own Instagram, but also declaimed on Reddit, “I am not a role model. I don’t claim to be, I don’t try to be, I don’t want to be.” You go girl! Well, except for that little problem of Nick instantly canceling the entire show.
9. The X-Files — David Duchovny Got Duped
David Duchovny, who used to be the face of Fox’s long-running, incredibly successful franchise The X-Files, was actually and amazingly removed from the very show he helped make such a huge hit. I know Gillian Anderson was really the face of that show, at least to all of the red-blooded, all-American nerds who drove that show’s ratings every Sunday, but Duchovny was still an ultra-star. So it’s pretty wild that Duchovny ended up suing the studio for $20 million in back pay he claimed they never gave him. That might explain why his character, Fox Mulder, one of the great creations in TV history, was cut out of the show for its last two seasons. He was never technically fired, just removed. What’s even weirder is that Duchovny and Fox apparently made nice, as he is about to star in his second reboot of the series in the last three years!
8. Grey’s Anatomy — Isaiah Washington Was A Hater
And now for something completely different. We’ve already seen stars booted for real offences, so why not get in on a little on-set in-fighting that ended with homophobic slurs being thrown around. That’s apparently what happened to the star of Grey’s Anatomy Isaiah Washington, who played the main character Preston Xavier Burke for the show’s first three seasons and had one of the driving storylines due to his romance and engagement to Sandra Oh’s character, intern Cristina Yang. Washington was involved in the incident in 2007 with fellow cast members T.R. Knight and Patrick Dempsey. And then, before he could say “whoops, I didn’t mean it,” he was dumped from the show, appearing only to break off his character’s engagement and get out of Dodge. In a very surreal twist, Washington was actually asked back for the tenth season in 2013 to help the storyline of the departing Oh. I’m not sure if all is fair in love and ratings, but maybe it is.
7. Beverly Hills 90210 — Shannen Doherty Was Not So Popular
She was one of the original bad girls of TV, but Doherty’s character Brenda was a totally nice, innocent young lady. Which is really funny in retrospect since the actress herself was not the nicest or easiest to work with. Or at least, that’s what her costars said when they banded together to get her fired from one of the seminal shows of the ’90s. That was “only” 6 years before the show’s run finally came to an end in 2000 — not an auspicious end for one of the breakout stars from said show. Tori Spelling, who also starred on the show has publicly said that the other stars got together to demand of the executive producer (her father Aaron Spelling, go figure) that he let Doherty go for her diva-like behavior and bad attitude. That’s one way to fire a star, that’s for sure.
6. Degrassi: The Next Generation — Drake Had To Make A Choice
That’s right, one of the most successful rappers of all time actually got his start on a Nickelodeon kid’s show. Drake was on Degrassi: The Next Generation as “Wheelchair Jimmy” for a freaking 145 episodes until 2009. He was the man on that show! But, as he himself said, “Back then, I’d spend a full day on set and then go to the studio to make music until 4 or 5 a.m. I’d sleep in my dressing room and then be in front of the cameras again by 9 a.m. Eventually, they realized I was juggling two professions and told me I had to choose. I chose this life.” I wonder if the Degrassi producers have ever regretted their ultimatum.
5. Anger Management — Selma Blair Versus Charlie Sheen
This next celebrity firing is just a weird one. Here’s the deal — if you work with the guy who takes up our next entry, you’re probably going to experience some hard times. That seems to be exactly what happened to Selma Blair who played Charlie Sheen’s love interest in the Fox sitcom Anger Management in 2012 to 2013. It seems like Blair’s major problem was that she complained about Sheen’s work ethic and punctuality. Did she really think working with Sheen was going to be a walk in the park? I mean, expecting Charlie Sheen to act like any kind of normal person is like expecting a shark not to eat you if you swim by it trailing blood — it’s just not going to happen. Blair was fired shortly into season 2 when Sheen threatened to walk if she remained. She countered by threatening to sue both the production company and Sheen and the two sides supposedly came to an agreement — anger management indeed!
4. Desperate Housewives — Nicollette Sheridan Was Causing Drama
Desperate Housewives was a huge hit, an absolute monster, when it broke in 2004. It ran for 8 seasons, which is beyond respectable for a prime-time drama and more than enough seasons for a massive syndication deal. Unfortunately, one of the original stars never got to see the end of the show she helped make so successful. Nicollete Sheridan, who played Edie Williams, had her character unceremoniously killed off in the fifth season, just a few short years after her Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. The producers claimed they were simply done with her storyline. But Sheridan sued them, counter-claiming that she was fired after revealing publicly that one producer had hit her over the head during an on-set argument. Her lawsuit was filed in 2010 and is still working its way through the courts. Now that’s a desperate housewife indeed!
3. Two And A Half Men — Charlie Sheen Was A Disaster 24/7
Charlie Sheen’s epic meltdown on Two and a Half Men was a major scandal in Hollywood, until Spacey and C.K. threw him down from his top perch of awful badness. After all, what Charlie did just pales in comparison to those two evil dudes. If you recall, Sheen was notorious for going on epic alcohol-fuelled benders, spending more time in rehab than filming the show. He also fought with everyone on the show when he actually managed to make it to work. Even though he was on the show for years and was a major Hollywood player, it was just a matter of time until he was canned. His behavior after being fired — the crazy press conferences and crazy revelations — surpassed anything Tom Cruise or Mike Tyson could ever utter and was even more surreal than his behavior before the axe came down.
2. Louis — Louis C.K. Was Exposed
Louis C.K. always seemed to have that droopy, hound dog act down to a tee. But he also seemingly had another whole act going on, one which involved a bunch of public exposure and really inappropriate behavior toward the ladies in his life, whether they knew him closely or not. In fact, it’s safe to say, at this point, pretty much all of the ladies in his life probably wish they didn’t know him so closely, if you know what I mean.
1. House Of Cards — Kevin Spacey Had Secret
Well here we have him — the king of TV losers. That’s okay because Kevin Spacey has proven to the world that he is one seriously awful and horrible individual. Everyone knows now that Spacey has been accused by more than a dozen men of assaulting them, most of them when they were underage and many of them when they had been plied by Spacey with strong drink. One of the fallouts from these accusations is that Spacey’s highly critically acclaimed hit series on Netflix, House of Cards, was instantly dropped by the streaming giant like Spacey was an unseemly turd someone found on the living room floor. Which, now that I think of it, is pretty much exactly what he is. Here’s one time when the star of show was dropped with plenty of reason.