25 Celebrities Who Tried to Make a Comeback and Failed

It’s not uncommon for celebrities to hit a rough patch in their career. Possibly it’s because the novelty of their persona has worn off. Or maybe their actions behind the scenes poisoned their career. Then there are the actors who have been plagued with being a part of bad shows or movies.

Some of these celebrities have managed to make a comeback through an impressive performance or album. But there are many career killers who have yet to make a comeback. However, this isn’t for a lack of trying. These 25 celebrities have had a moment in their career that could have been a comeback but it was squandered.

So which celebrities have yet to make it back into the public’s good graces? Here are 25 celebrities who tried to make a comeback and failed.

1. Lindsay Lohan

Actress Lindsay Lohan in front of pillows.

Lindsay Lohan | Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

The actress has certainly seen success in her from career, beginning when she was a child and into adulthood. Her last big movie to make money and not get panned by critics was probably Herbie Fully Loaded in 2005.

After that, her personal troubles pretty much took over her career. It all started in 2007 when she was arrested for driving under the influence and possessing cocaine. Then she continued having run-ins with the law for years. The quality of her performance on screen also started declining and she began releasing bombs like I Know Who Killed Me. 

However, the one role that seemed to have the most pressure for her to make a comeback was The Canyons in 2013. This is because it was the first starring role in a movie that she’d scored in a while. Also, director Paul Schrader, of Raging Bull and Taxi Driver, was working on the film.

But the movie was torn to shreds, and there were many stories of Lohan being unprofessional on set, cementing the idea that she wasn’t coming back just yet.

2. Tara Reid

Tara Reid and Dean May sitting on a couch

Tara Reid and Dean May on Marriage Boot Camp | Thinkfactory Media

The actress used to star in major comedies like The Big Lebowski and American Pie. But her life was slowly on a decline due to her partying ways. Now it looks like she has been trying to make a comeback through reality television, with the show Marriage Boot Camp. 

She also got lucky being in the campy television movie franchise, Sharknado. Although the series has been successful, it looks like makers no longer want the actress to be a part of it. They actually let fans vote whether her character lives or dies, which doesn’t bode well for the actress.

3. Ja Rule

Ja Rule is on stage with a tight white shirt and a gold chain.

Ja Rule attends The Barstool Party 2017 | John Parra/Getty Images

The rapper had a good run in the 2000s by collaborating with artists like Jennifer Lopez, Ashanti, and more. But he has pretty much faded from the music scene. This isn’t for lack of him trying. He actually has a tour this year with Ashanti, which some believe is inspired by BeyoncĂ© and Jay Z’s “On the Run” tour. However, it doesn’t have the same star power appeal ,and the two haven’t really made waves from their reunion.

4. Lil’ Kim

Derek Hough and Lil' Kim dancing on Dancing With the Stars.

Derek Hough and Lil’ Kim dancing on Dancing With the Stars. | ABC

Many women have fallen out of the rap scene, including Lil’ Kim, but there was a window for her to come back. She had a rap beef with Nicki Minaj after she accused the newer rapper of stealing her sound and style. This led to Nicki Minaj coming out with a diss track, “Black Friday.” Lil’ Kim then responded with a mix tape titled with the same name. But it wasn’t strong enough for her to get back into the rap game.

5. Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby wearing a tan collared shirt, with his hands out and speaking in an interview

Bill Cosby | ABC

The comedian probably never had to work again, yet he was inexplicably touring when many rape allegations against him were coming out in 2015. When he was performing in Ontario, Canada he had a heckler yell “You’re a rapist!” at him, according to TMZ. There were other reactions like this from people throughout his tour. Although there are still some Bill Cosby defenders, chances are there aren’t enough for him to really revive his career.

6. Alex Pettyfer

Alex Pettyfer with his hand out, scowling

Alex Pettyfer in I Am Number Four | Dreamworks

The handsome actor looked like he could make it big with movies like Wild Child, I Am Number Four, and Beastly. However, those films weren’t exactly big hits. It also didn’t help his career that he had reportedly gotten into conflicts with people behind the scenes.

The last vehicle that was probably meant for him to take off from was in Magic Mike. This movie was a huge hit thanks to its bigger stars like Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey. Sadly, Pettyfer admitted Tatum didn’t like him so he wasn’t asked to return for the sequel, and his career is still in questionable territory.

7. Shannen Doherty

A young Shannen Doherty, wearing a black lace top and smiling

Shannen Doherty on Beverly Hills 90210 | The WB

The Beverly Hills 90210 actress became a household name from the ’90s drama series. That fame was hard to maintain after the show mostly because of her tense interactions with other actors behind the scenes. On Charmed, the conflict between Doherty and her costars was so bad she was written off the show.

After that, her bad reputation followed her such that she only had short stints on television shows and appearing in television movies. She has never been able to recapture the same amount of success.

8. Paris Hilton

Paris Hilton with her legs crossed posing on the hood of a red car

Paris Hilton attends her “Paris Electric Christmas” | Jason Merritt/Getty Images

The hotel heiress reached a crazy level of fame from starring in The Simple Life. After five seasons, she tried to find success on other reality shows like Paris Hilton’s My New BFF. However, they were much shorter lived. She also tried to become a movie star and singer but wasn’t able to make an impact.

The reality star still has a lot of star power overseas and many businesses so she’s hardly a failure financially, but she hasn’t ever been able to take her place back in American pop culture.

9. Mischa Barton

Mischa Barton as Marissa Cooper in 'The OC.'

Mischa Barton on The O.C. | FOX

The O.C. star played Marissa Cooper for three years before leaving the show. Her next big opportunity seemed to be The Beautiful Life: TBL, but the series only lasted five episodes. Since then, Mischa Barton has appeared in smaller roles and has been making it in headlines for her troubled personal life.

10. Lisa Kudrow

Lisa Kudrow is holding up her braids in each hand and is smiling.

Friends | Warner Bros.

Lisa Kudrow is arguably one of the best parts of Friends and is a comedic genius. Sadly, her career hasn’t been as solid after the hit show. She tried to return to television with The Comeback, where she plays an actress trying to boost her acting career. It was very on the nose, but didn’t help Kudrow make a comeback. She is still working on shows like Bojack Horseman, but she hasn’t reached the same following like she did earlier in her career.

11. Macaulay Culkin

Macaulay Culkin is sitting on a panel and is taking a picture with his phone.

Macaulay Culkin attends the Adult Swim Panel: Robot Chicken. | Cindy Ord/Getty Images

The child actor had numerous hits when he was younger, but then had the challenge of figuring out what his career as an adult would look like. He did try to make that transition with Party Monster, but it wasn’t well-reviewed. After that, the actor started making headlines when he was arrested for drug possession.

The actor continued working in smaller parts on television on Robert Chicken and The Jim Gaffigan Show. But he hasn’t been able to reach the same level of success as his early days.

12. Katherine Heigl

Katherine Heigl is leaning on a desk looking worried.

Katherine Heigl on State of Affairs | NBC

The actress had several public stumbles in her career. The first was when she publicly refused to submit herself into the Emmy race for her work on Grey’s Anatomy because she didn’t think it was up to par. Not long after, she was written off the show. The second was when she accused a movie she starred in, Knocked Up, of being sexist, while promoting it.

This type of behavior made it riskier to hire her, so her career took a downturn. But she did try to come back to network television with State of Affairs. However, the show just didn’t cut it in the ratings and was swiftly canceled.

13. DMX

DMX is wearing white t-shirt as she stand on stage.

DMX performs onstage during day 1 of the 2015 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival | Mark Davis/Getty Images

The rapper had a pretty steady career in the ’90s and then started transiting into acting a decade later. But his career lost its stride most likely due to his arrests and jail sentences for drug possession and animal cruelty. Then it looked like he was trying to make a comeback in 2012 by going back on tour.

Instead of the tour thrusting him back into the limelight, the rapper was slapped with a lawsuit by his booking agency for violating their agreement, according to TMZ. The good news for DMX is that it was later dismissed.

14. Ray J

Ray J is posing in a suit and pointing on the red carpet.

Ray J attends 2013 BMI R&B/Hip-Hop Awards | Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

The actor started off working with his sister, Brandy, on the show Moesha. He eventually made it into R&B and released multiple albums. His career took a hard turn when his sex tape with Kim Kardashian was released. Although it launched her career, he struggled to find the same amount of fame.

He tried to come back with singles like “Sexy Can I,” which actually did get a lot of play. But he still hasn’t made it back into the public eye as a serious singer or actor. Now you can catch him on reality television like Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood.

15. Limp Bizkit

Fred Durst is rapping into a microphone while holding up a fist.

Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit | THOMAS LOHNES/AFP/Getty Images

The rap and metal band did have a following in the ’90s, but couldn’t quite make it past that. They did try to come back with their The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1) tour in 2005. But it didn’t work out, partially due to lack of promotion and advertising. There was never a sequel.

16. Lil Mama

Lil Mama is rapping on stage in a black outfit.

Lil Mama attends The Hip Hop Inaugural Ball II | Mike Coppola/Getty Images

The rapper broke out on the scene with her single, “Lip Gloss.” After that, she came out with an album and was featured on some others’ songs. The momentum of her rap career just didn’t pick up. Lil Mama did find some different gigs like judging on America’s Best Dance Crew. 

But what she probably considered her big comeback move was starring as Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez in CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story. Her role did cause some buzz, but the rapper perhaps took things too far by trying to tour with TLC as if to replace the real singer. The rapper’s career faded once again afterward.

17. JC Chasez

JC Chasez is wearing all black and is posing for a picture.

JC Chasez attends the Republic Records Official MTV VMA After-Party | Rachel Murray/Getty Images

The former NSYNC member tried to strike out on his own after the boy band broke up in 2004. His first solo single was “Blowin’ Me Up (With Her Love)” and he eventually came out with an album. However, he didn’t find similar success to former band mate Justin Timberlake, and his solo career ended there.

18. David Hasselhoff

David Hasselhoff is running on the beach as a lifeguard.

David Hasselhoff in Baywatch | GTG Entertainment

The actor is mostly remembered for being one of the many hot lifeguards in Baywatch. After the show ended in 2000, his career slowed down. He made it onto the soap opera, The Young and the Restless, but it still seemed like he was trying to find a similarly high profile role like he once had.

He eventually made the shocking move of going to reality television, starring in The Hasselhoffs alongside his daughters. The ratings were so bad that it was pulled after just two episodes.  

19. Sharon Stone

Sharon Stone is sitting in a chair in 'Basic Instinct 2.'

Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct 2 | MGM

Sharon Stone was the hottest actress on the scene after Basic Instinct. But she wasn’t able to keep up that hot streak due to bad choices in movies. After multiple terribly reviewed movies, she decided to go back to what worked with Basic Instinct 2 in 2006. The obviously desperate attempt didn’t solve her problem.

20. Chris Klein

Chris Klein is talking into a microphone with two hands up in the air.

Chris Klein | Alex Wong/Getty Images

You probably recognize the actor from the American Pie franchise and Election. Although he seemed like he was on the right track to be a leading comedy star, his personal life tanked his career by getting arrested for a DUI. He also started picking terrible projects like Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. He did have a role on Wilfred for four seasons. But he’s now stuck to television movies and small parts on shows.

21. Steven Seagal

Steven Seagal speaks into a microphone

Steven Seagal | MAYELA LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images

The action star had multiple well-received action movies in the ’80s, but his career started to take a turn in the late ’90s. That includes Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, The Glimmer Man, and more. Due to his many flops and gaining weight, he hasn’t been taken seriously by action audiences for quite some time.

22. Chevy Chase

Chevy Chase is clapping while in an audience.

Chevy Chase | Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

The comedian worked on Saturday Night Live for multiple years, then was able to transition into a successful movie career. Things eventually slowed down for him and he got a main role on Community. The show was actually pretty successful and he was great on it. However, his behavior on set was so bad that he was eventually written off the show, ruining a good comeback.

23. Stephen Baldwin

Stphen Baldwin is leaning over a book and is about to write.

Stephen Baldwin | Larry Busacca/Getty Images

The actor seemed like he was on a good trajectory with the movie, The Usual Suspects. But then things took a hard turn with Bio-Dome, Half Baked, and The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas. There just didn’t seem to be anything that could possibly get his career back on track.

24. Vanilla Ice

Vanilla Ice has his arms stretched out towards the camera.

Vanilla Ice | Scott Harrison/Getty Images

The rapper is mostly known for “Ice Ice Baby,” but it soon came to light that the song took the bass line from David Bowie and Queen’s “Under Pressure.” He had to give credit and royalties to them, and he wasn’t able to make another hit after that.

It also didn’t help his career that he began having legal issues. He tried to come back to the music scene and it didn’t work out. He even tried to make it make in the public eye by appearing on The Surreal Life. He is no longer working as a rapper, but now he has a show called The Vanilla Ice Project.

25. Kirk Cameron

Kirk Cameron is holding a candy cane and jumping in 'Saving Christmas'

Kirk Cameron in Saving Christmas | Camfam Studios

The actor was known as a teen heartthrob from playing Mike Seaver in Growing Pains. He tried to come back as the same character but older in Kirk, but it only lasted for two seasons. His career took a turn after the show mostly because he’s a very religious Christian. This led to terrible movie choices including one that is considered one of the worst, Saving Christmas. That along with his controversial views that he made public pretty much killed his chances of a comeback.

Read more: Johnny Depp and Other Stars With Serious Debt Problems

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