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Top 10 Most Brutal Downfalls In Hollywood History

by Lucas Hedinger
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Hollywood is a world that was designed to look as shiny as possible on the outside, but everybody knows that it can be extremely ugly on the inside. Some Hollywood stars that are beloved in the entire world turn out to be something else entirely that most of the public could not have seen coming. And sometimes, a single mistake can turn into a lifetime of career-ending chaos. Here are the most brutal falls from grace Hollywood has ever seen:

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10 Kathy Griffin: One Bad Joke

Believe or not, Kathy Griffin was once a highly appreciated and respected comedian in America, making herself famous in the 90’s through her standup comedy and her clever parodies of music videos and major events in pop culture. Often praised for being a bit of an outsider in Hollywood who thinks outside of the box, Griffin built a quite unique name for herself through the years. But everything came to a scratching halt for her in May of 2017, when she posted to social media an extremely bloody and disturbing picture of herself holding a mask representing Donald Trump’s decapitated head.

The image, snapped by American photographer Tyler Shields, created an instant uproar in the country, and even Trump’s most outspoken detractors came forward to denounce Kathy Griffin’s choice to display such an image to the world, some even comparing it to terrorist behaviors we have seen in the past. In a matter of hours, Griffin’s career was reduced to ashes, being fired from all of her ongoing projects, and having her stand up tour cancelled. She has since gone to great lengths to attempt to revive her career, but despite her apologies and her subsequent work, Kathy Griffin never fully recovered from the incident.[1]

9 Katherine Heigl: A God Complex

How Katherine Heigl Became So Hated In Hollywood

Hollywood has no shortage of rude and entitled celebrities, and everyone is willing to deal with them for the sake of making money. That is why people are still surprised that Katherine Heigl ruined one of the most promising careers of our time for the one and unique reason that she was an insufferable diva. To say that her success got to her head is an understatement — after becoming one of the most talked about actresses in Hollywood during her prime in the mid 2000’s, Heigl began to repeatedly bite the hand that fed her.

While promoting her movie “Knocked Up” with Seth Rogen in 2008, she began bad mouthing the film to the media, famously calling it “a little sexist” in a Vanity Fair interview. Her words caused a lot of people to question her integrity, many criticizing her for deciding to speak up against the movie only after having been paid millions to star in it. Heigl’s diva behaviour on set began to be a problem for many productions she worked on, and everything came to a head when she was nominated for an Emmy Award for her famous role as Dr Izzie Stevens in “Grey’s Anatomy”.

In an ultimate show of vanity, Heigl publicly demanded for her nomination to be withdrawn from the ceremony, claiming that “the material she was given this season was not good enough to warrant an Emmy nomination.” This did not go well for her. The criticism she faced for these comments led to her abrupt exit from the show, her character being written out of it the following season, and Katherine Heigl was blacklisted from Hollywood.

Since then, she has tried to achieve a comeback a few times, to no avail. She notably starred in a number of failed romantic comedies and TV shows, such as CBS’s “Doubt” in 2017, which was historically cancelled after only 2 episodes had aired. She eventually joined the cast of USA’s “Suits”, at a time when the show’s ratings were at an all time low. Unfortunately, the show ended a year later, and she returned to oblivion, where she has now been for over a decade.[2]

8 R. Kelly: Highway To Hell

R Kelly denies sexual abuse in first interview since criminal charges

R. Kelly highly contributed to shaping Hip-Hop in the 90’s and early 2000’s by redefining the R&B genre. From top hits, Grammy Awards and even a Guinness World record under his belt by the age of 31, the man was a force to be reckoned with when it came to music, and his talent was praised from all corners of the world. That was until accusations of human trafficking, sexual abuse and racketeering started to pile on against him, slowly backing him into a dark corner for the better part of 20 years.

Ultimately, the year 2019 became R. Kelly’s doomsday, as he was indicted on no less than 18 charges of pedophilia, child pornography, kidnapping, and more. His offences were all detailed in the now famous six-part documentary “Surviving R. Kelly”, in which it was revealed that he was essentially running a sex cult from his home, where he detained underage girls and enslaved them for his own pleasure. And this time, the evidence against him was too big: R. Kelly has been incarcerated in a Chicago prison since July of 2019, and despite having been savagely attacked by other inmates in 2020, he was denied bail twice in the last year.[3]

7 Louis CK: Too Close To The Sun

Louis C.K Live Comedy Special : Reason for Women || Louis C.K

Louis CK was one of the most successful comedians of his time. He was also one of the most beloved comedians since his very first special “Live In Houston” in 2001, which immediately made him a legend of comedy. Which is why the world was shocked when he was caught in the tsunami of sexual misconduct allegations created by the #MeToo movement in 2017. The accusations against CK were all confirmed by him, as he admitted in his official response that every woman that came forward was telling the truth. As you can imagine, his shiny career went down the drain overnight.

The fallout from the scandal saw the abrupt cancellation of his Netflix deal, as well as his acclaimed TV series “Louie” and his upcoming film “I Love You, Daddy”, which he was in the middle of promoting at the time. CK has completely disappeared from the public eye, aside from a few attempts at a comeback, most of which were very poorly received by the masses. He eventually released a self-produced standup special on his website in 2020 (which got a very divisive response), but it is safe to assume that his career will never go back to where it was.[4]

6 JK Rowling: A Broken Legacy

J.K. Rowling defends comments about transgender people

JK Rowling, the legendary author of “Harry Potter”, is a celebrity unlike any other. Until the last couple of years, it seemed like she could do no wrong. The love and respect she got from the entire world felt like something special and she was undeniably one of the most beloved pop culture figures out there. But things started to change with Rowling’s increasingly dishonest habit to retcon the story of Harry Potter in order to make it more diverse than it actually was.

It started when she announced that the character of Albus Dumbledore was gay at a public event In 2007. While it was met with major acclaim, many questioned why that was never actually made clear in the books. A few years later, when the play “Harry Potter & The Cursed Child” cast a black woman as Hermione Granger, Rowling defended the choice by claiming that she never actually specified in the books that Hermione was white. That claim was a very bold lie that was quickly debunked by fans, but Rowling’s dishonest shenanigans have become way too common over time.

The true scandal, though, came in 2020 when Rowling went on an extensive and highly publicized rant against the Trans community on Twitter which caused an absolute mayhem online and in the media, forcing hundreds of celebrities (including stars of the Harry Potter movies) to publicly come forward to denounce her words. The backlash Rowling faced was astronomical, and she has now become one most of the most disliked personalities in the world.[5]

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5 Roseanne Barr: Gone In A Blink

Roseanne Barr on Supporting Donald Trump

Roseanne Barr is a personality that warmed the hearts of American audiences for an entire decade. Her sitcom “Roseanne” was a huge success in the 90’s, and she became kind of an American monument long after the show ended. So, the excitement that overtook the country when it was announced that “Roseanne” would get a 10th season 21 years after the 9th ended was perfectly understandable. The revival broke records for ABC, premiering to 18 million viewers, but that victory was very short lived.

On May 29, 2018, just one week after the end of the season, Barr posted a highly criticized racist tweet aimed at Barack Obama’s former senior advisor Valerie Jarrett. The tweet (which compared Jarrett to an ape) created an absolute tornado of backlash, and in a matter of hours, Barr’s entire world and legacy crashed and burned — the “Roseanne” revival was cancelled a couple of hours later, and she lost everything. Barr later tried to apologize for the tweet, claiming that she was on Ambien at the time of writing it, but Ambien manufacturer Sanofi responded to that apology by simply tweeting that “racism is not a known side effect of the drug.”[6]

4 Ellen DeGeneres: A Crack In The Mask

Ellen’s Fall from Grace

While Ellen Degeneres has spent almost two decades building a flawless brand entirely based around kindness and generosity, rumours of her on-screen personality being completely fake have been floating around for years, now. But even then, no one was truly prepared for the shock that hit the world when Buzzfeed released anonymous testimonies from both current and former employees of Ellen’s famous talk show in 2020, detailing the terrible conditions of their workplace environment. It quickly prompted other employees and celebrities to publicly denounce Ellen’s true self, not only confirming every rumour, but seemingly affirming that it was only the tip of the iceberg.

Ellen’s perfect image was shattered as more and more people added to the accusations, and claims of common bullying, racism and sexual harassment at her show led to three executive producers being fired before the start of the new season. Her lack of response was highly criticized, until the season premiere, where she delivered a subpar apology in which she mainly blamed others and didn’t address the majority of accusations against her at all. Her fall was brutal, as it was reported that her show’s ratings are currently down 38% from the previous year, making it the biggest decline of any talk show ever.[7]

3 Milli Vanilli: A Deal With The Devil

Milli Vanilli – Girl I’m Gonna Miss You (Videoclip)

Imagine a duo so incredibly successful that their very first single broke charting records in eight countries, and was certified 6x platinum in just seven weeks. Such was the case for German duo Milli Vanilli, who became the biggest Pop sensation in the world back in 1989. They became an unstoppable force, dominating the charts with every single one of their singles, and inevitably making their way to a Grammy Award in 1990. And they did all of that without singing a single note.

Milli Vanilli is now known for being the largest hoax in music history, entirely orchestrated by genius producer Frank Farian. The members of Milli Vanilli had been lip synching to other vocalists this entire time, and kept a tight cover with the help of their team. But their immense success got to their heads and they started getting sloppy. Drugs, alcohol and partying began to take over their lives, and the sloppier they got, the more people started to have doubts about them. And when Farian tried to calm them down in order to keep their cover intact, they turned against him.

Unfortunately for them, Farian was the pillar that was holding the castle, and when they came at him with a lawyer, he decided he was done with this little experiment, and he organized a press conference where he publicly outed Milli Vanilli as imposters.

What followed was a historic catastrophe that completely shook the music industry as a whole. Lawsuits were flying left and right, and the band had to return their Grammy Award and publicly apologize…it was a mess. In the span of 24 hours, Milli Vanilli went from being kings to being the laughing stock of the world. They lost everything, and the lasting consequences even led to the death of one of the members, Robert Pilatus, who died of an overdose at 33, after 8 long years of struggle from the fallout.[8]

2 Shane Dawson: The Fallen God of YouTube

Today, it is almost funny to think that Shane Dawson was one of the most beloved figures in Internet History as recently as last year. One of YouTube’s original creators, with over 15 years of history on the platform, Shane has had his fair share of controversy throughout the years, but nothing even comes close to the insane fall from grace that destroyed his career in June 2020. Now famously known as “Karmageddon”, the dire series of events that lead to Shane Dawson’s end was a 2-year long unfolding of public incidents that ruined the lives and careers of more than one person.

The dangerous tension that was rising since 2018 within a community of beauty gurus on YouTube led to an unceremonious amount of accusations of blackmail, racism, predatory behavior and corruption. It all came to a head when beauty star Tati Westbrook revealed that most of these accusations and lawsuits amongst the community were orchestrated by Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star, in an attempt to hold a monopoly over the extremely lucrative business of beauty products. Public outrage immediately followed, with media outlets from all around the world relaying the story in a matter of minutes.

Shane’s response to Tati was a very public meltdown on an Instagram livestream that same day, which showed millions of people a different side of him that is the polar opposite of the perfect “good boy” persona he had built. The stream saw Shane going on an angry and incoherent rant, during which he attempted to discredit Tati, called her crazy, and claimed she lied about being a victim of abuse. As he paced frantically around his home, screamed and hit himself, even his most devoted fans saw his true face, before he abruptly ended the stream and completely vanished from the Internet, like he was never there.

And while everything was already over for Shane by this point, the final nail in the coffin came a month later, when a young YouTube creator named D’Angelo Wallace released a 73-minute documentary titled “The Exact Moment Shane Dawson’s Career Ended”.

The film takes an extremely detailed dive into Shane’s 15-year long YouTube career, highlighting past patterns of racist, pedophilic and manipulative behavior, brilliantly explaining how his fake “good boy” persona works, and how he went about creating it. The documentary is filled with old videos and lost footage that back up every single one of D’Angelo’s claims. The video took over the world in mere days (watched by over 15 million people) and effectively terminated what was left of Shane’s career.[9]

1 Harvey Weinstein: The End Of An Empire

Harvey Weinstein: The fall of the king of Hollywood

We previously mentioned the #MeToo movement, and how massive it was. So it is only fair to mention the one that started it all. Because what makes Harvey Weinstein’s downfall so legendary is the fact that led to the downfall of hundreds of insanely powerful people after him. The man quite literally inspired a purge that transcended cultures and put an end to hundreds of iconic careers around the world.

Weinstein was one of the most successful movie producers in the history of Hollywood, and he had become so powerful that even attempting to go against him was career suicide. He essentially had the power to banish anyone from Hollywood, and while thousands of people on the inside knew what horrible things he had been up to for decades, many were too scared to speak up. But there is also power in numbers, and when 87 women banded together to take him down at once, his fate was sealed.

For almost three years, Weinstein watched his empire burn down to the ground in a slow and painful agony, until February 24, 2020, when he was finally defeated by a 23-year prison sentence. Knowing that he would finish his days behind bars, the world took a final look at Harvey Weinstein, as his downfall became a shining example that, in the end, karma does not spare anyone.[10]

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fact checked by Jamie Frater