Top 10 Stars Who Destroyed Their Careers on Live TV

Top 10 Stars Who Destroyed Their Careers on Live TV
VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
Well, that didn't go as planned. Many celebs' careers have been destroyed by mistakes on live TV. From Fergie's questionable performance of the national anthem to Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction, these stars' embarrassing moments will go down in history. Join WatchMojo as we count down our picks for the top 10 celebs who killed their careers on live TV.

Top 10 Celebs Who Ruined Their Careers on Live TV

Well, that didn’t go as planned. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top Ten Celebs Who Ruined Their Careers on Live TV.

For this list, we’ll be looking at celebrities who completely tarnished their careers thanks to a controversial mistake or decision on live television. We're also considering stars who made a comeback after their TV fiasco.

#10: Janet Jackson

This is arguably the biggest career-ending fracas in live TV history. You all know the story – Jackson and Justin Timberlake were performing at Super Bowl XXXVIII when Justin ripped away her costume and revealed her breast. This was certainly not Jackson’s fault, but everyone acted like it was. Hollywood all but disowned her and pretended that she never existed, and her subsequent album and singles were blacklisted from radio. Even mega conglomerates got in on the boycott, with an executive at Viacom stating that “the higher-ups are still pissed at her.” Luckily, the heat has since died down, and Jackson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019.

#9: Charles Rocket

Charles Rocket had a budding career on “Saturday Night Live” in the early '80s. He was one of the major players in the 1980-81 season, and he became popular for his impressions, his recurring character Phil Lively, and a regular segment called “The Rocket Report”. Unfortunately, Rocket dropped an F-bomb during the February 21, 1981 episode, breaking strict broadcast standards. This, along with the season’s negative reputation and critical reception, resulted in Rocket’s termination. And while he found some success playing comic foils in various '90s movies, he never quite rose above his status as “that guy.” What can we say? Hollywood takes swearing and nudity very seriously!

#8: Fergie

By 2018, Fergie was already on her way out of the mainstream limelight. The Black Eyed Peas were in the midst of an extended hiatus, and Fergie hasn’t had a top twenty single as a solo artist since 2007. Despite this, she was chosen to sing the national anthem at the 2018 NBA All Star Game. Unfortunately, her performance was…a little shaky and inappropriately sensual, and many people in attendance could barely contain their laughter. Naturally, it also made the rounds online, and Fergie became a viral national laughingstock. It served as the final nail in Fergie’s coffin, and she hasn’t been heard from since.

#7: Paula Deen

Beloved Southern chef Paula Deen found herself in hot water in 2013 when former employee Lisa Jackson sued her for racial and sexual discrimination. According to Jackson, Deen was often derogatory towards African Americans, and even wanted to host a “plantation-style” wedding for her brother, complete with black servants. During the deposition, Paula admitted to using the n-word in the past, further hurting her reputation. Shen then appeared on “Today” to smooth things over but only made the situation worse by playing the victim. When the whole ordeal was said and done, “Paula’s Best Dishes” had been canceled and Deen had lost numerous lucrative partnerships, as all the major corporations had severed their ties.

#6: Brian Williams

From 1993 to 1999 Brian Williams served as the weekend news anchor on “NBC Nightly News” before being promoted to head anchor in 2004. He held this position until 2015, when he was brought under fire for lying about an event that occurred to him during the Iraq War. According to Williams, a helicopter that he was riding in was taken down by an RPG. Numerous soldiers came forward and claimed that Williams was never a part of this group and was in fact thirty minutes behind. They were left insulted by Williams’ false story, and he was suspended for six months. Following this, he was demoted to chief anchor at MSNBC, and his professional credibility was permanently stained.

#5: Howard Dean

It’s amazing how far politics has come since 2004, when a simple scream was all it took to ruin a career forever. After coming in third in the Iowa Democratic caucuses, Dean made an impassioned and “unpresidential” speech that ended with him pumping his fist and screaming “Yeah!” This speech effectively ended his presidential campaign, and the speech and the scream were relentlessly mocked by the media and late night talk show hosts. It soon became known as The Dean Scream, and some believe that the endless coverage was a product of media bias against the politician. While Dean later became the Chair of the Democratic National Committee, his dreams of becoming President were forever crushed on that fateful day.

#4: Natalia Kills & Willy Moon

In 2015, Teddy Sinclair,then known as Natalia Kills, was serving as a judge on the New Zealand version of “The X Factor” alongside her husband, Willy Moon. Unfortunately, both Natalia and her husband were accused of bullying a contestant named Joe Irvine. Natalia insulted him for “dressing like her husband” (despite it being a basic haircut and suit) and stated that she was embarrassed to be in his presence. Following that, Moon compared him to Norman Bates and Leatherface, calling him “creepy” and stating his belief that Irvine was going to steal someone’s face and kill everyone in the audience. You know, solid constructive criticism like that. Needless to say, they were both fired and quickly reverted back to nobodies.

#3: Sinéad O’Connor

Sinéad O’Connor’s career was positively blowing up in the late '80s and early '90s. In that time, she released her double platinum album “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got”, and her single “Nothing Compares 2 U” peaked at #1 in seventeen countries. However, that all came crumbling down on October 3, 1992, when O’Connor appeared on “SNL.” While performing, she ripped a photo of Pope John Paul II to protest sexual abuse against children within the Catholic Church, and soon she became a public enemy. “Nothing Compares 2 U” would be her last #1, and while she continues to release music, she hasn’t had a top five single in her native Ireland since 1994.

#2: Milli Vanilli

In 1989, R&B duo Milli Vanilli released “Girl You Know It’s True”, an album that reached #1 and was certified 6x platinum. They also released five straight top five singles in the United States, three of which topped the chart. However, a huge hiccup occurred on July 21, 1989, when a live performance for MTV suffered a technical malfunction. The track began to skip, revealing that singer Rob Pilatus was lip-synching. While this prompted doubts regarding the duo’s authenticity, it wasn’t until their album was released in America that singer Charles Shaw revealed that his work was being credited to Pilatus and Fab Morvan. With this, the duo admitted to being frauds, and Milli Vanilli was no more.

#1: Ashlee Simpson

And here we have what is arguably the biggest gaffe in live television history, and unlike with Ms Jackson, this one's all on you, Ashlee. While “performing” on “SNL” in 2004, Ashlee accidentally revealed that she was lip-synching when the vocals to “Pieces of Me” began to play in place of those from “Autobiography.” Not knowing what to do, Ashlee awkwardly danced off stage and later blamed the band for playing the wrong song. So, not only was she lip-synching on “SNL,” which in itself is a big no-no, she proceeded to throw her band under the bus. Except, no one bought this, and Ashlee’s career was left in tatters. And that, dear viewers, is why you never lip-synch!