Top 10 TV Scandals That Got Actors Fired
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Top 10 TV Scandals That Got Actors Fired

VOICE OVER: Sophia Franklin WRITTEN BY: Don Ekama
These TV scandals caused so much damage that they got actors fired. For this list, we'll be looking at the most controversial incidents that got actors booted off TV shows. Our countdown includes "Scandal," "Empire," "Roseanne," and more!

Top 10 TV Scandals That Got Actors Fired

Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 TV Scandals That Got Actors Fired.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most controversial incidents that got actors booted off TV shows.

Do you think any of these shows were affected by the actor’s absence? Let us know in the comments.

#10: Thomas Gibson
“Criminal Minds” (2005-20)

After mainstay gigs on shows like “Chicago Hope” and “Dharma & Greg,” Thomas Gibson got arguably the biggest role of his career as Aaron Hotchner on “Criminal Minds.” Gibson had starred in the series since its inception, and even wore the director’s hat for some episodes. In 2016, while directing an episode, Gibson got into a heated argument with a producer that quickly turned physical. This also wasn’t his first violent altercation on the “Criminal Minds” set. He was said to have been verbally abusive on more than one occasion and, six years earlier, he had a spat with an assistant director and had to undergo anger-management classes mandated by the studio. Following the second outburst, the network made the decision to terminate his contract.

#9: Shannen Doherty
“Beverly Hills, 90210” (1990-2000); “Charmed” (1998-2006)

This affliction occured not once, but twice with Shannen Doherty. Doherty first gained international recognition playing Brenda Walsh on “Beverly Hills, 90210.” While working on the show, Doherty became known for her inexcusable behavior on set, including chronic tardiness and physical altercations. A fight between her and co-star Jennie Garth proved to be the last straw, and she was soon given the boot. The same behavior would resurface years later on the set of the fantasy show “Charmed.” Doherty and co-star Alyssa Milano were involved in a heated feud, allegedly causing Milano to demand her firing.

#8: Taylor Momsen
“Gossip Girl” (2007-12)

Since landing the gig on “Gossip Girl,” Taylor Momsen’s trajectory pretty much mirrored that of her good-girl-gone-bad character, Jenny Humphrey. According to an insider on the show, Momsen’s behavior became more and more erratic, and the actress frequently forgot her lines on set. Producers decided to scale back her appearance on the fourth season and, by the next year, she was practically off the show. While this may have been seen as a former child star being rebellious, in reality, Momsen had mentally checked out of acting and moved on to music. Her rock band, The Pretty Reckless, became the first with a female lead to top the Mainstream Rock Chart.

#7: Columbus Short
“Scandal” (2012-18)

Shonda Rhimes’ political thriller “Scandal” wasn’t without some scandals of its own. After starring in the regular role of Harrison Wright for the first three seasons, Columbus Short was unceremoniously fired in 2014. Short’s departure was reportedly due to his relationship with his wife Tanee McCall who, at the time, had filed for a restraining order against him. McCall alleged that Short had gotten violent with her and posed a serious threat to her life. According to Short, his marital and legal troubles, combined with substance abuse, all led to him losing his job on the hit ABC show.

#6: Jussie Smollett
“Empire” (2015-20)

It all began on January 22nd of 2019 when “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett received a threatening letter with a suspicious powder later confirmed to be Tylenol. The following week, Smollett reported that he had been attacked by two men who doused a chemical over him and called him derogatory slurs. Investigators immediately got to work on what seemed to be a hate crime. But, police eventually began to find loopholes in Smollett’s story. It was later revealed that the actor had staged the incident with two men who had appeared as extras on the musical drama series and it didn’t take too long for producers to kick him off the roster.

#5: Isaiah Washington
“Grey’s Anatomy” (2005-)

For the first three seasons of the beloved medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy,” Isaiah Washington played the enchanting cardiothoracic surgeon Preston Burke. But, just as Burke leaves Cristina Yang at the altar, Washington was forced to leave the show due to an utterance he made about a co-star. While in an argument with fellow actor Patrick Dempsey, Washington allegedly referred to fellow cast member T. R. Knight using a homophobic slur. Although Washington initially denied using the term, he later put out a statement apologizing for his actions. This, however, didn’t cut it for the network’s executives. A few months before the fourth season premiere, Washington found out he had been taken off the show.

#4: Roseanne Barr
“Roseanne” (1988-97; 2018)

The 2018 revival of the long-running 90s sitcom “Roseanne” received smash-hit ratings. Unfortunately, the star of the show managed to prove that all good things must come to an end. After the sitcom was renewed for an eleventh season, Roseanne Barr put out a racially insensitive tweet about Valerie Jarrett, the former Special Advisor to President Obama. Soon after, Barr was hit with a massive wave of backlash from both viewers and her colleagues. While she initially defended the tweet, she later apologized for it, chalking up her disparaging remarks to the effects of a sedative. The comedian and actress not only lost her job, but caused the entire show to be canceled altogether, and rebooted with under a new title: “The Conners.”

#3: Robert Downey Jr.
“Ally McBeal” (1997-2002)

Before he became everyone’s favorite iron-clad superhero, Robert Downey Jr.’s career suffered a few setbacks due to his struggle with addiction and substance abuse. Soon after his release from rehab in 2000, RDJ was hired on the legal comedy show “Ally McBeal.” His presence largely contributed to the ratings bump the show saw on its fourth season. However, his legal troubles were far from over. During his appearance on the series, RDJ was arrested for drug use - a scandal which the producers let slide. Unfortunately, a second arrest in 2001 just couldn’t be overlooked. The actor was written out of the show and didn’t appear in its fifth and final season.

#2: Charlie Sheen
“Two and a Half Men” (2003-15)

Charlie Sheen was one of the highest paid actors on TV when he starred as Charlie Harper on “Two and a Half Men.” But, the numerous scandals in his personal and professional life soon brought his run on the highly rated sitcom to an end. In 2011, Sheen checked into rehab due to his then-ongoing battle with substance abuse, causing production on the show to be halted. Then, in a move that basically signed his sack letter, Sheen went on multiple interviews where he insulted Chuck Lorre, the show’s co-creator. He was dismissed from the sitcom and replaced with Ashton Kutcher for the ninth season.

#1: Kevin Spacey
“House of Cards” (2013-18)

It was the scandal that shook the TV world. Amidst the #MeToo Hollywood wave, actor Anthony Rapp came forward with allegations that Kevin Spacey had assaulted him when he was a teenager in 1986. In response, Spacey put out a statement claiming to not remember the incident and weirdly decided to use the opportunity to come out as gay. This decision was seen by many as an attempt to deflect from Rapp’s allegations and garner sympathy for himself. The misconduct halted production on the show’s sixth and final season and led to massive rewrites. Spacey was fired from the production and his character, Frank Underwood was killed off.