VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu
WRITTEN BY: Cameron Johnson
Egos should stay out of the workplace! Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the most scandalous feuds that much, if not most, of a TV show's cast had with one troublesome member. Our countdown includes actors Lea Michele, William Shatner, Teri Hatcher and more!
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the most scandalous feuds that much, if not most, of a TV show's cast had with one troublesome member. Do you want to know more about actors souring their work environment? Join the ensemble in the comments.
#10: Andy Kaufman
For five seasons, audiences fell in love with Andy Kaufman as oddball immigrant mechanic Latka Gravas. For the "Taxi" cast, though, it was a difficult five seasons. Kaufman was infamous for his obnoxious pranks and method acting. An on-set incident with his troublemaking alter ego Tony Clifton is the stuff of legend. But Kaufman had also negotiated a contract that allowed him to come to the set only two days a week. This was a massive hurdle in rehearsals. The frustration was mutual, as Kaufman always resented relinquishing the rights to his "Foreign Man" stock character. "Taxi" alumni are happy to praise Kaufman's one-of-a-kind comedic talents. His professionalism, on the other hand, wasn't much to be thankful for.
#9: Janet Hubert
"The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" (1990-96)
The Banks family always came together after all their hilarious conflicts. Unfortunately, the "Fresh Prince" family couldn't totally survive the notorious conflict between breakout stars Will Smith and Janet Hubert. Smith's accusations that his more experienced co-star had become jealous and domineering technically resulted in her dismissal after Season 3. But on occasion, Alfonso Ribeiro revealed that Hubert created a hostile work environment for everyone on the set. He enjoyed a more civil working relationship with Daphne Maxwell Reid as his TV mom for the remaining three seasons. Smith and Hubert eventually made amends on-camera for HBO Max's "Fresh Prince" reunion special. The fact remains that Hubert's career never fully recovered from both quiet and formal complaints about her behavior.
#8: Balthazar Getty
"Brothers & Sisters" (2006-11)
Domestic issues can be a strain on friends and family including TV friends and family. During the height of his popularity as the star of the family drama "Brothers & Sister," Balthazar Getty made gossip headlines for an extramarital affair. His wife Rosetta Millington had grown close with his castmates. It was thus speculated that the pressure this scandal brought to the show led to Getty being demoted to guest appearances. The truth is that this was a long time coming. Getty had become hostile and difficult, partly because of substance abuse. He has since gotten clean and reconciled with Millington. As for his "Brothers & Sisters" family, they didn't have the chance to get over the scandal.
#7: Heidi Swedberg
George Costanza spent “Seinfeld”’s seventh season trying to get out of his engagement to Susan Ross. This was actually art imitating life. Susan’s actress, Heidi Swedberg, failed to develop chemistry with the cast. Her style just didn’t click with the other actors’. Showrunner Larry David ultimately solved George and the cast’s problem by having Susan lick too many wedding invitation envelopes. A sitcom killing someone off with poison obviously sparked controversy, even if it was truer to this particular sitcom’s humor than Swedberg. David and company have since expressed remorse for such a mean-spirited vendetta. They assert that Hedberg was a great person to get along with; just not to perform with.
#6: Patrick Dempsey
"Grey's Anatomy" (2005-)
The set of “Grey’s Anatomy” has seen as much drama as the show’s hospital setting. Reports of tension seemed to decline after Dr. Derek Shepherd’s shocking death in the Season 11 finale. Actor Patrick Dempsey claimed that his exit was a civil decision between himself and showrunner Shonda Rhimes. But later reports revealed that Dempsey terrorized his colleagues, taking advantage of his star power on the show. Isaiah Washington even alleges that his part in the 2006 fight that got him fired was exaggerated to protect Dempsey. Despite Dempsey denying claims of impropriety, Dr. Shepherd’s death nearly a decade later may have suggested that enough was enough. Even then, McDreamy did return for some dream sequences in Season 17.
#5: Lea Michele
The musical dramedy "Glee" always tried to make everyone feel included. But by many accounts, star Lea Michele didn't live up to that principle. The public only got a hint of this in 2014 when her feud with Naya Rivera led to the latter being written out of the show. But after Michele voiced support for Black Lives Matter in 2020, other cast members revealed that things went much deeper. Samantha Ware accused Michele of opportunism, and a history of sometimes racial hostility. Other former colleagues affirmed these claims. Michele says that she has tried to turn herself around and make amends. Whether that's truly coming from the soul, Michele clearly didn't harmonize with everyone on "Glee."
#4: William Shatner
"Star Trek: The Original Series" (1966-69)
The charismatic Captain Kirk is recognized as one of the great leaders on the frontier of television. Fans are reluctant to admit that William Shatner’s own personality didn’t command nearly as much respect. His petty narcissism made him such a challenge on the show that Martin Luther King Jr. had to convince Nichelle Nichols to not quit. Yes, even Kirk and Spock’s iconic friendship is darkened by Shatner’s aggressive jealousy toward Leonard Nimoy. Despite multiple attempts and public appearances, the actors never completely reconciled. To this day, George Takei openly challenges his co-star’s signature ego. It may have won Shatner fans for generations to come, but it didn’t win any on the set of the original “Star Trek.”
#3: Teri Hatcher
"Desperate Housewives" (2004-12)
With all of the cutthroat drama on Wisteria Lane, Susan Mayer was considered the heart of "Desperate Housewives." That ironically wasn't the case with Teri Hatcher on the production, who was considered a true diva. Nicollette Sheridan reportedly preferred to call her "the meanest woman in the world." Keep in mind that Sheridan herself was written off the show over her own feud with creator Marc Cherry. The highly-paid Hatcher was known to be dominating with cast and crew and closed herself off from her workmates. Where most of the "Desperate Housewives" ensemble became closer friends than the spicy soap opera would suggest, Hatcher's career-damaging reputation is said to be even spicier.
#2: Chevy Chase
Chevy Chase was known by audiences as one of the most popular comedians of his time, and within Hollywood as one of the most difficult. His character of the rude and crude Pierce Hawthorne on the sitcom "Community" was considered too perfectly cast. Chase harassed everyone, exploded into tantrums, and even walked off the set over creative disagreements. This culminated in Hawthorne being written off after Chase casually utilized racial slurs. His defense that Richard Pryor once gave him permission doesn’t wash. With his career once again strained by a bad reputation, Chase recognizes that he's hurt people. ...He just doesn't care. There may be something endearing about that, but not if you're not working with the man.
#1: Shannen Doherty
"Beverly Hills, 90210" (1990-2000)
Once an icon of teen TV, Shannen Doherty is now known for embodying the term “difficult to work with.” She thrilled audiences as shy new girl Brenda on “Beverly Hills, 90210” but in reality, Doherty wasn’t shy about butting heads with cast and crew. She also had a tendency to be tardy. It was ultimately Tori Spelling, one of Doherty’s few friends on-set, who pulled strings to have Brenda leave California in Season 4. Meanwhile, Doherty fell into old habits when she moved to the fantasy drama “Charmed.” Despite the show’s massive success, the lead actress’s behavior supposedly got her fired after three seasons. A more mature Doherty has since been welcomed back to “90210.” Sadly, she may never live down her troubling 20s.