Actors who make it big on television and go on to become stars on hit shows will generally have it pretty easy. If they manage to land a role on a successful program, they can set themselves up for life, ensuring that they will have a long career. It also gives them plenty of financial security, as leading TV stars can earn astronomical figures for working on a popular show. Wages can range from tens of thousands of dollars per episode to hundreds of thousands. Some particularly lucky actors will be able to earn in excess of a million dollars for every episode they appear in, making it seem all the stranger that stars can go ahead and throw it all away.
Yet, it’s something that happens on a fairly regular basis. Actors are just like ordinary people, facing many of the same everyday problems and issues that plague everybody. So it shouldn't be a huge surprise to learn that they can make bad decisions and suffer unintended consequences just like the rest of us. Of course, it is made worse by the fact that television actors are big personalities and are constantly in the public eye. This makes their meltdowns all the more disastrous as they are broadcast to millions of people around the world.
It’s not uncommon to turn on the news and find that another high profile star has had a meltdown, whether it is because of an argument with the people they are working with, or due to other personal issues. Whatever the case, these breakdowns can often be catastrophic for their careers. They might well end up sacked for their erratic actions and find it hard to break back into the industry, as producers and studios refuse to work with people burdened with such baggage. This article looks at 10 such stars whose meltdowns led to them losing their jobs unceremoniously
10 Richard Bacon
Richard Bacon got his big break on television when he became part of the presenting team on the long running British children’s television show, Blue Peter. However, the now 39-year-old lasted just 18 months before he let fame go to his head and was photographed taking cocaine on a night out. This was something that the BBC could not tolerate from one of its children’s presenters and his contract was terminated with immediate effect.
Luckily for Bacon, his career was not hindered too much by the controversy, as he was able to move on from the incident and continue to get work on both television and radio. He has since spoken about his regret for taking drugs but that getting caught was the best possible outcome, as it allowed him to straighten his life out.
9 Shannen Doherty
8 Angus T. Jones
The Texas born Angus T. Jones was a fixture of the Two and a Half Men cast from the very beginning, and stayed on even after the Charlie Sheen incident. Earning almost $300,000 per episode when he hit 17, everything seemed to be going smoothly for his career. That is until November 2012, when Jones came out with a host of negative remarks about the show that had set him up for life and kick-started his career. While it’s fine to hold religious views that prevent you from doing certain work, Jones seemed to have a complete breakdown and labelled the show filth and that he had been a paid hypocrite for taking part in it. He was downgraded from a regular cast member soon after, before being let go entirely. Although, luckily this didn't stop him from appearing in the final episode of the series in 2015.
7 Brett Butler
Grace Under Fire went through a period of lowering ratings and had something of a reputation for its difficult off-screen environment. The major influence behind this was the star of the show, Brett Butler. Over the course of the first three seasons, she was involved in a number of unsavory incidents and contributed to a difficult working relationship between the cast and crew. One was the apparent flashing of her breasts to 12-year-old Jon Paul Steuer, but she went through a wide range of strange behavior issues, leading to several members of the show leaving or being withdrawn from it. Butler became even more erratic from the third series on, making extreme demands of the studio, arguing with her co-stars and battling an addiction to painkillers. She was let go by ABC when they cancelled Grace Under Fire in 1998, largely as a result of Butler herself.
6 Mackenzie Phillips
The 1975 show One Day at a Time, launched the career of Mackenzie Phillips following her role in American Graffiti, raising her reputation as one of the leading child stars in the US. Like many child stars before her though, the fame and intense scrutiny proved too much for her and she soon lost her way. Phillips began taking drugs at the age of just 11, and this habit led to her downfall. By 1977, she was already acting erratically on set, turning up late for recordings and was often unable to take part in shooting due to her being intoxicated. She was eventually arrested and forced to seek treatment. This didn’t help her situation though, and her drug habit continued until she was fired in 1980. Eventually she was allowed to return to the show but she once again, began abusing drugs and so was again sacked, never returning to One Day at a Time.
5 Damon Wayans
4 John Amos
3 Charlie Sheen
2 Isaiah Washington
After being part of the key cast for Grey’s Anatomy for three seasons, Isaiah Washington had something of a change in fortune thanks to his behavior during production. It was alleged that Washington had been unruly on the set and had had an altercation with co-star Patrick Dempsey, with some suggesting he may even have assaulted Dempsey, while he later went on to insult his gay co-star, T.R. Knight. Referencing his homosexuality, Washington used a homophobic slur against Knight and was forced to enter counselling by the show’s producers. However, after he made disparaging comments in a public interview, he was sacked from the show when the studio refused to renew his contract.
1 Columbus Short
Columbus Short, who played the character Harrison Wright on the drama Scandal, was fired from the show in 2014. He had been a part of the cast for three seasons before issues in his private life were revealed. The actor had apparently assaulted his wife by putting a knife to her throat and threatened to kill both her and himself. He also faced other allegations of domestic violence and possible child abuse, leading to his then-wife getting a restraining order against him. This left producers with no option but to fire the actor following his very public breakdown.