Off-screen drama can often get in the way of television gold. The disruption of a solid series due to an actor or host’s messy personal life is an unfortunate, but not uncommon, occurrence. When these unsavory revelations come to light, it can often make it difficult for a series to recover, no matter how highly rated it once was.
1. Flip or Flop
HGTV’s popular house-flipping reality show, Flip or Flop, was turned upside down when formerly married hosts, Tarek and Christina El Moussa, revealed they were separating in December 2016. The announcement came after an ugly altercation involving a gun in May 2016, in which police were called to their California home.
Tarek officially filed for divorce in January 2017 and the two have seemingly resumed a more amicable relationship, even walking a red carpet together in May 2017. HGTV plans to continue the series’ production. But it’s hard to imagine that the show will be the same after the scandalous split.
2. Growing Pains
Kirk Cameron deemed himself an atheist at the start of his career on ABC’s successful family sitcom, Growing Pains. But after he became a devout Christian in the series’ later years, his religious beliefs often got in the way of production. He demanded that storylines and dialogue be excised from scripts that he found too racy.
The scripts suffered, as did the mood, after Cameron allegedly insisted the show fire new actress Julie McCullough for having posed nude in Playboy magazine. She was replaced with Cameron’s off-screen romantic interest, Chelsea Noble.
3. The Cosby Show
Bill Cosby was once the avatar for wholesome, observational comedy, and his wildly successful sitcom hewed closely to his usual themes of family, while taking care to avoid depicting any stereotypes of its African-American characters.
In recent years however, Cosby’s wholesome image has been almost totally demolished by the dozens of women who have accused the comedian of using his celebrity to drug and sexually assault them. It’s hard to accept Cosby as paternal after allegations like that.
Community creator Dan Harmon and star Chevy Chase, butted heads on set almost from day one. Their feud finally came to a head when a voicemail Chase left on Harmon’s phone, cursing the showrunner’s lack of talent, leaked online. The call contributed to NBC’s decision to fire Harmon as showrunner. It also led to a dramatic dip in quality the following season. The show never fully recovered — even after Harmon was reinstated.
For his part, Chase continued to be a difficult presence on set until he was fired, and his character killed off shortly after Harmon returned.
5. 7th Heaven
Like Cosby, Stephen Collins is another beloved TV dad who couldn’t live up to the high moral standards of his on-screen counterpart. Collins played Reverend Eric Camden on 7th Heaven for the entirety of the show’s run, providing a role model for his children in the series and those watching at home.
A tape leaked in 2014 showed Collins admitting to past sexual abuse of an underage girl. The police never found anything conclusive, but Collins admitted to having “inappropriate sexual conduct” with three girls over the years in an interview later that same year.
6. Two and a Half Men
Charlie Sheen’s very public meltdown in 2010 and 2011 included a few slights directed toward Chuck Lorre, creator and showrunner of the Sheen-starring series, Two and a Half Men. Sheen’s drug use and belligerence inspired the show to write his character off in favor of a new star played by Ashton Kutcher, who generally managed to keep the show afloat during its final years.
However, another of the series’ stars created further problems, when young actor Angus T. Jones converted to Christianity and publicly denounced the show as “filth that contradicts his moral values.”
Like The X-Files before it, Bones built much of its storyline around a will-they-won’t-they dynamic between its male and female leads. But star Emily Deschanel’s pregnancy, which occurred during the show’s sixth season, upset the series’ already delicate balance.
Uncertain how to work around this development, the writers unwisely forced Deschanel and David Boreanaz’s characters to suddenly pair up to prepare for their new baby. The series already had plenty of issues, and this irreparable twist in its character dynamics only doomed its fate.
8. The Good Life
TBS canceled its reality show, The Good Life in 2014 following a storm of controversy created by the series’ star and host, CeeLo Green. The singer was accused of drugging and raping a woman in Los Angeles, and unwisely chose to combat the allegations with a series of tweets on the subject of rape, including remarks like, “People who have really been raped REMEMBER!!!”
9. Spin City
Michael J. Fox left Spin City in 2000, shortly after announcing his struggle with Parkinson’s disease. Charlie Sheen replaced him. He came to dominate the ensemble-based series with a romantic story line involving him and Heather Locklear.
The series experienced a noticeable drop in quality and ratings. Sheen ultimately proved that a Fox-less Spin City just simply would not work.
10. 19 Kids and Counting
TLC canceled its popular reality series 19 Kids and Counting after a magazine found and published a 2006 police report about one of those 19 kids, Josh Duggar. The report claimed he had sexually molested five underage girls, four of whom were his sisters. The series ended in July 2015.
Duggar is now married with three children of his own and counting, unfortunately.
11. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo
Another reality hit for TLC, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo followed the lives of titular child beauty pageant star Alana Thompson and her family, particularly her mother “Mama June.”
Reports surfaced in 2014 suggested that June dated a convicted child molester. She firmly denied these allegations even as they brought down her reality series. The network canceled the series in 2014.
12. Criminal Minds
CBS suspended longtime Criminal Minds star Thomas Gibson from the drama in August 2016. The actor reportedly kicked one of the show’s co-executive producers. Initially thought to be a temporary suspension, that changed after ABC Studios and CBS Studios, joint producers of the series, launched an investigation into the altercation.
Soon after, it was announced that Gibson had been permanently dismissed from the show. His firing marked a major upset for the veteran drama. Gibson had been on Criminal Minds since the show’s premiere in 2005.
13. Top Gear
The BBC suspended and subsequently dropped the former Top Gear host from the show in March 2015, following an altercation with a producer at a hotel. According to BBC, producer Oisin Tymon suffered swelling and a split lip in the assault by Jeremy Clarkson and visited a hospital for his injuries.
Clarkson had been with the network for 27 years prior to the firing and he later admitted that getting dropped from the series “was my own damn fault.”
Co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May opted not to return to the show without Clarkson. That left the BBC to hire new stars. Producers brought on Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc to lead a revamped version of the show in Season 24. Unfortunately, the new iteration didn’t quite live up to its predecessor. It garnered unsteady ratings and received mostly negative feedback from critics — particularly for Evans, who left the show after only six episodes.
LeBlanc remains as one of the show’s presenters. Despite that, recent episodes haven’t been able to draw the high ratings it used to.
14. Grace Under Fire
Brett Butler starred in the successful ABC sitcom, Grace Under Fire, for five years. In 1998, the show fired the actress. According to The Hollywood Reporter, she was asked to leave the set after displaying irrational behavior due to drug use.
At the time of the incident, the show was already five weeks into production on a new season. Instead of attempting to continue the show without her, ABC opted to pull the plug altogether.
15. Sons of Guns
This reality series aired on the Discovery Channel from 2011 to 2014. The show centered on Louisiana-based business, Red Jacket Firearms, which manufactures and sells firearms to law enforcement and collectors.
The show ran for five seasons, until Will Hayden — the series’ star and owner of the shop — was arrested on various sexual assault charges. Following his arrest, the channel quickly pulled Sons of Guns from its lineup.
Additional reporting by Michelle Regalado.
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