15 Celebs Whose Careers Can Never Recover

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It all changed in a split second

Celebrities are beloved people who make a lot of money and live life to its fullest in front of the cameras. They’re glamorous and we all envy their jobs and lifestyles. That is, until they make one false move. We tend to put celebrities on a pedestal and when they fall off, they fall hard. Some of their bad moves are deliberate while others are accidental, but that false move is enough to completely obliterate their careers. They can’t come back, even when they try. At least not to the level they were before. All because of that one career-killing move. Would they go back and do it over again? Probably. But in the meantime, we’ll never look at them the same way again.


Billy Bush was a friendly, trusted entertainment news source who hosted a number of shows, including Access Hollywood. As a mainstay on the carpet, interviewing the stars, Bush had an illustrious career and a celebrity of his own. However, in 2016, The Washington Post published a video and article detailing Billy Bush and the POTUS having a lewd conversation about women back in 2005. The pair were on a bus on their way to filming an interview back when the POTUS was on The Apprentice. He went on to become president, but Bush was quickly fired and slunk away to suffer the backlash from the event. Though he was a minor player, he didn’t stand up against the harsh words spoken and that was enough to end his career.


If there’s one thing that’s going to bring your star down fast, it’s committing a fatal crime. Oscar Pistorius is a double amputee who is known as an Olympic sprinter and sometimes “Blade Runner.” He became a sensation all over the world after his performance at the 2012 London Summer Olympics. He didn’t get a medal, but his participation alone was historic and a result of hard fought court battles that overturned the ruling that deemed having prosthetic legs was an advantage over other runners. But all that glory was overturned six months later when he was charged with murdering his girlfriend. He claimed he thought she was an intruder, but the jury judged otherwise and he earned a prison sentence along with an end to a promising athletic career.


Charlie Sheen has been steadily acting and starring in TV shows and movies for as far back as we can remember. In fact, when he was the star on the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, he was the highest paid actor on TV, raking in $1.8 million for every episode. However, he pulled himself out of that job in a huge way when he made nasty comments about the show’s creator, Chuck Lorre. The creator couldn’t get over those comments, which lead to Sheen’s being written off the show when his character was hit by a train. He was replaced by Ashton Kutcher for the remainder of the series. Charlie has had a few roles, but quickly tanked then with his attitude. He’ll probably go down in history more for his scandals than his acting career.


It’s hard to remember, but Gary Busey was an acclaimed actor in the 1970s and ’80s. He even got an Oscar nomination for his pivotal role in The Buddy Holly Story, which released in 1978. However, he has a stubborn streak to him that led to a disaster that sent his career in to a tailspin. He was an outspoken advocate against the life-saving aspects of motorcycle helmets and when he was in a crash in 1988 without a helmet, it caused hours of neurosurgery to remove blood clots on his brain. After that, he fell into drug addiction, yet still refused to wear helmets. His cameos on TV are nothing like his former career and he has had no leading roles other than straight to video, C-level jobs.


It seemed as if Kevin Spacey could do no wrong in Hollywood. The decorated actor shot movie after movie and starred in the critically acclaimed House of Cards on Netflix. But all that came tumbling down around him when the free fall of mounting sexual harassment allegations began to come out around him. The multiple cases, some of which involve minors, came out in a matter of days and lasted for decades. The Academy Award and Tony Award Winner was erased from Hollywood. He was dropped from House of Cards and replaced in the Ridley Scott thriller All the Money in the World, even though many of his scenes had to be re-shot. This catastrophic plummet from grace is not something anyone can ever recover from in this lifetime.


We get that giving speeches could pump a person up. But Howard Dean was the favorite to win the Democratic nomination for president in 2004—until he delivered an excited scream that the whole world heard. When the former Vermont governor gave a speech at the Iowa caucus that year, his overenthusiastic “Yeah!” ended his chances of winning the White House. The media replayed the moment endlessly and everyone from serious news anchors to late-night hosts had commentary on the explosive exclamation. Dean dropped out of the race a month later. One yell could have changed the entire nation. Who knows what the government would have looked like today had he won the race and made it all the way to the White House as president.


There have been a lot of characters removed from Grey’s Anatomy over the years including, most recently, Patrick Dempsey. Katherine Heigl suffered a major hit to her career when she was removed from the show as well. However, no celebrity killed their career through the show as fast as Isaiah Washington. His résumé took a huge hit when he got axed from the show because he used a gay slur during an argument with his co-star. He then made the mistake of repeating that slur backstage at The Golden Globes. It took him a good six years to even try to come back and he went underground for years. He’s now back to working regularly, but he was blackballed for quite some time and his career will never be the same.


Winona Ryder was a huge film star in the ’80s and all the way through the ’90s. She had diverse roles in films like Edward Scissorhands, Heathers, and Reality Bites. However, once she got arrested for shoplifting at Saks Fifth Avenue, she became better known for her personal issues. Ryder struggled with anxiety and depressions, which apparently left her with the need to steal things she could have bought with the money she made from all those films. The arrest put an end to her promising career for many years, though she made a slight comeback in recent days as the mom on the Netflix hit Stranger Things. It’s still a far cry from what she used to do, but having her back is a gift for some fans.


Most people know Elisabeth Berkley for the role she held as a teen—Jessie Spano on Saved by the Bell. The fictional goody-two-shoes character was hard for her to break away from, but she did so with gusto when she took on Showgirls. However, that ended up being a wrong move and she has never recovered. Even the director of the movie took blame for ruining her career in a major way. He said Hollywood turned its back on her because the film failed to convey his vision. She did appear on Dancing with the Stars in 2013 and told her partner she hadn’t expected such backlash from the controversial role, but had since had a lot of doors slammed in her face. She felt her turn on the dancing show was her biggest comeback in 22 years.


It’s safe to say that more singers lip sync than not in certain situations, but they have to be good at it to get away with it. When they aren’t and they get caught, it can tank a career pretty fast. In 2004, Ashlee Simpson performed “Pieces of Me” on Saturday Night Live and all went well. However, when she came back out to sing “Autobiography,” the vocal of “Pieces of Me” began while her mic wasn’t even raised. It was obvious what was going on from that point on. Of course, she tried to recover, but her spontaneous hoedown didn’t help and she then fled the stage. At the end of the show, she looked downright mortified and her band played the wrong song. She has attempted comebacks, but it hasn’t helped much.


Brandy became a pop and R&B sensation in the late 1990s and had hit songs, Grammys and even a TV series called Moesha. She was also a judge on the very first season of the popular America’s Got Talent in 2006. But in 2007, all of her success came crashing around her when she caused a nasty car accident. Brandy was driving 65 in her Land Rover when she didn’t notice that the cars ahead of her were slowing down. She hit another vehicle, which then hit another car. The first vehicle was plowed into the highway divider and the married mother driving was killed in the accident. Brandy settled with the family, but her career was never the same. She lost her judging gig and hasn’t done anything as big since.


The up and coming star who was not only a 90210 alum but also a Jawbreaker lead was a face that the whole country was watching. She was on her way and she was going to do good things in the future. However, in June 2001, her negligence led to a tragedy when she struck and killed a third-grader who was crossing the street. Police reported that several cars before her stopped for the boy before she passed them in the left lane and then hit him. She settled a wrongful death suit with the family, but her career was irrevocably damaged. She has worked since, but mostly on TV movies and in guest-starring roles. Most of her TV projects have been single season television series that didn’t last.


Sinead O’Connor was banned from returning to Saturday Night Live after she tore up a picture of Pope John Paul II during an a Capella rendition of “War” by Bob Marley. The sacrilegious act outraged her fans and those who didn’t listen to her before that point. She got booted from late night TV, of course, but demonstrators started to gather and crush her records, tapes, and CDs. A year later, she had disappeared from the pop scene completely. While many people can bring up a few times she’s made headlines in past years, it’s more often for Twitter feuds or other provocative outcries, not for her music. Her music fell in tatters to the floor along with the picture of the pope. Did she really think that was a good idea?


We expect for celebrities to be eccentric at times and some of their beliefs are even a bit out there. We often forgive them for that. Rapper B.o.B. has laid low since his hit “Airplanes” in 2010, but he did his career in more recently in 2016 when he issues a tweet that the Earth is flat. He got heat from those who really know what’s going on and he responded with a diss track recording of the experts discussing how the earth formed. He got some listens to that track, more than he’d gotten in years, but it still didn’t help his career and, in fact, killed things off further making him a punchline in a joke instead of a headliner or even an opening act in any show.


James Snyder, also known as Jimmy the Greek, was one of those hugely successful sportscasters who everyone expected to hear in the background of a game. He started The NFL Today and stayed in that role for 12 years. However, he was forced out when he made racially charged comments on the air back in 1988. He said things about black athletes not leaving enough sports jobs for whites other than coaching and other things of that nature. He did apologize in public, but he later sued CBS for firing him because of his age and health problems. In reality, he was let go because of his philosophies and the fact that Americans weren’t going to stand for that kind of talk. He disappeared from the sports world after that.

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