American culture wouldn’t be what it is without celebrity worship. And the other side of that very same coin is, of course, the rush our society seems to get from a celebrity meltdown (anyone else remember that episode of South Park?). Recently, Redditor u/True_Egg_5685 posted the question,
“Which celebrity went on the fastest, hardest and most destructive downwards spiral from their peak?”
and there were so many answers that even we were a little surprised. Read on for our 20 favorites…
1. Kurt Cobain
“Kurt Cobain. Formed Nirvana in ’87, and went from playing record store gigs and dive bars in the late 80’s to putting out Nevermind, a record that knocked Michael Jackson out of the #1 spot in Jan of ’92. Back then, something like that was unheard of and considered impossible in the industry. For the next couple of years Nirvana were arguably one of the biggest and most popular rock bands in the world, but Cobain was already thinking of ways to essentially sabotage the bands popularity because he was so uncomfortable with how famous they got while dealing with his own inner demons and drug addiction. They performed at the Reading Festival in ’92 in what many consider one of the great live rock performances of all time. Put out their second major studio album, In Utero in Feb of ’93, that went to #1 instantly despite the record company originally thinking it was ‘unreleasable’ and some major retailers refusing to sell it due to the album art and the song ‘Rape Me’. Performed their iconic MTV Unplugged set in November of ’93, despite Cobain being in the heavy throes of herion addiction and them not knowing if he’d be able to perform until showtime. In March of ’94 he intentionally OD’d in Rome while on a European Tour. Came back home, went to rehab for a couple of days, hopped the fence, and week later he blew his head off with a shotgun.
Nirvana has sold over 75 million records worldwide despite only being a band for less than 7 years, and only releasing essentially 2 major label albums (Nevermind & In Utero), 1 indie album (Bleach), 1 album of b sides (Incesticide), the MTV Unplugged album and a ‘greatest hits’ album (Nirvana).
I’d say that qualifies as a pretty destructive downward spiral, especially considering their ascent was so rapid as well.”—DrRDuke
2. Whitney Houston
“I would have to say Whitney Houston.
I suspect many people here were either not alive or too young to remember how insanely big Houston was.
She was literally the biggest female artist in the world and one the biggest artists, and this was before social media.
She holds the record for having 7 consecutive number-one singles on the Billboard Top 100, record sales of over 200 million, a host of awards including 28 Guinness World Records.
The only other artist that could stand shoulder to shoulder with Whitney in regards to success would be Michael Jackson.
However between 2000 – 2005 her entire career and life completely disintegrated.
Her marriage to Bobby Brown, her addiction to crack, the car crash that was her own reality TV show utterly destroyed her career.
She attempted a comeback in 2009/10 by doing a world tour but it was painful to watch to say the least.
She was unable to hit high notes, she no longer had the range she had, many performances were cancelled, I think it was one in Australia which was an utter car crash.
She made the audience wait for hours and when she did appear she simply couldn’t sing.
Pretty much everyone booed her and she gtfo in a very short time.
The general consensus was her tour was a major flop.
She tried to comeback a couple times afterwards but she never got even close to her former glory.
I have never seen somebody who arguably was the world biggest artist fall so hard and fast as Whitney Houston.”—GhostRiders
3. Chris Benoit
“Fastest, hardest, and most destructive, from his peak?
Chris Benoit, no contest.
The man was at the pinnacle of his career, and he was going to win his third world championship on June 25, 2007. In the three days leading up to it, he tied up and murdered his wife, drugged and strangled his son to death, and committed suicide by hanging himself on his lat pulldown machine.”—RusticBelt
4. Oscar Pistorious
“I mean, Oscar Pistorious was a pretty sharp fall from Paralympian champion/role model to spouse murderer.”—kateshakes
“The Onion had two major takes on this and were both quite solid: “Double Amputee Proves He Is Capable Of Anything” and “Report: World Now Down To Five Stories That Are Inspirational.“—MisterBadGuy159
5. John Belushi
“John Belushi. In a brief period in the 1970’s starred is SNL, Animal House and The Blues Brothers but died in 1982 from a heroin overdose.”—c-fox
6. Brad Renfro
“How has no one said brad renfro?”—GhoulishlyGrim
“he died of a drug overdose at the age of 25 after a steep downward spiral
it is suspected he was the victim of Hollywood predator types when he was still a young boy, right after starring in “The Client” as his star was rapidly ascending
i think i have all that right, this is off the top of my head and it happened in 2008″—igneousink
“He was born addicted to heroin. The kid never stood a fucking chance.”—Ill-Idea-9863
7. Gia Carangi
“gia carangi. she started modelling in 1978 at age 18. reached her peak in 1979 and was considered THE supermodel. but by 1980 her career was already in steep decline due to her hardcore drug addiction alongside her erratic personality making her a difficultly to work with. by 1981 her career was basically over at only age 21. she tried to make multiple comebacks but it never stuck and officially left the modelling industry for good in 1983. she ended up working as a store clerk and even a prostitute for some time but in 1986 she ended up dying of AIDS at age 26 suspected to be caused by contaminated heroin needles. she was in such poor condition when she died then when the doctors picked her up the skin fell off her back. no one in the fashion industry attended her funeral or even knew she had died. she fell just as quickly as she rose. in the end no one she thought cared about her in new york ended up being there for her during her final months except for the friends she made in rehab.
though through the demise of gia brought about the rise of cindy crawford. cindy and gia share a lot of resemblance so many photographers would use her in place of gia because she was far easier to work with. she was even nicknamed ‘baby gia’ at the beginning of her career.—AltruisticBreak9
8. TJ Miller
Called a bomb threat on a train he was on when he was rejected by someone he was trying to flirt with.”—Cashim
9. Antonio Brown
“How about Antonio Brown. NFL superstar to… Oh boy. Just read the list.”—An_Actual_Pine_Tree
” •Kicked out of Florida International University after fighting a security guard
•”Don’t touch me. I’m the franchise”
• His second year in the league he took a personal stretch limo to a charity event, had them open every single expensive bottle of wine, rejected it. Refused to pay for it (charity, remember), then left. -credit Nduguu77
• Threw fits over not getting enough targets
• Drove 100 down McKnight Road in Pittsburgh, which has a 45 MPH speed limit
• Trashed a condo and threw furniture out a window 14th floor window, which almost hit some people, notably a child
• Killed a home aquarium full of piranhas and refused to pay the man who installed the tank
• Refused to play week 17 for the Steelers
• Dyed his mustache blonde
• Refused to pay a chef because he thought he threatened him by placing a fish head in the freezer (the fish head was saved to make a soup)
• Farted on a doctor
• Demanded a trade from the Steelers
• Became “Mr. Big Chest”
• Threw a fit over Juju winning team MVP and trashed him on social media
• (Allegedly) nixed a trade that would’ve sent him to the Bills
• Showed up to Raiders training camp in a hot air balloon
• Held out and refused to show up to training camp because the NFL would not approve his helmet because it was too old for their safety standards
• Froze his feet
• Tried to paint over his old helmet, hoping no one would notice I guess
• Acquired a newer version of the same model of helmet, which the NFL refused to let him use
• Picked out a new helmet and finally showed up to the Raiders
• Got fined by the Raiders for not attending camp
• Tweeted the fines
• Tried to fight Mike Mayock, called him a cracker, had to be held back by Vontaze Burfict, then punted a football down the practice field and said “fine me for that”
• Got fined for that
• Released a video where he used audio of Jon Gruden, who didn’t know he was being recorded, which is illegal in California (full disclosure, Gruden has said he gave permission, but the generally accepted theory is that he said that in the hope that it would help get him to show up to the facility and not alienate him)
• Demanded a release from the Raiders
• Was released
• ”GRANDMA I’M FREEEEEE! FLY LIKE A FREEEEE!”
• Made a lot of crazy tweets saying stuff like ‘Devil is a lie’, a proverb about burning down a village… he made a lot of crazy tweets around this time is the point here
• Liked a tweet about Mayock getting raped in the ass
• Signed with the Patriots
• Moved in with Tom Brady
• The sexual assault allegations came out (the one where he’s getting sued)
• The sexual harassment allegations came out (the one where he’s not getting sued)
• Threatened the woman not suing him in a group text that included his lawyer and had a picture of her kids in the text
• Got released by the Patriots after one week
• Went off on a tweet storm and said a lot of crazy shit about a lot of people, and was supportive of people sending threats to the writer of the article detailing the sexual harassment allegations
• Said he was done with the NFL
• Went back to college via online classes
• Tried to outsource his homework to Twitter
• Wants to come back to the NFL
• Filed several grievances to try and get more than $40 million from the Raider’s and Patriots
• Was ordered to show up for a deposition regarding trashing the condo
• Was accused of “reprehensible behavior” during the deposition Note: I cut the specifics about the deposition so I could fit this as a single comment. You can read more about it here if you’re interested, because it, like everything else, is nuts
• Said that the Patriots have to pay him anyway, so they might as well let him play
• Tweeted a couple of bizarre tweets about the Raiders using him for HBO ratings and the Patriots trying to steal his stuff and kept using this weird chicken based metaphor
• Tried out for the Saints and brought an entourage and film crew to shoot a music video with him when specifically told not to do that
• Called out Robert Kraft for his rub and tug massage session in Florida
• Starting training for a boxing match with Logan Paul
• Tweeted “No more white woman 2020”
• The attorney representing him in the suit involving the condo quit
• Used a bunch of slurs and profane language towards cops in an Instagram video he posted
• A police youth football league cut ties with him and returned a donation after the release of the video saying there was a “irreparable rift” between the department and AB
• Threw a bag of gummy candy dicks at the cops in a video he posted
• Got dropped by his agent
• Was involved in a disputed with movers at his home where he allegedly threw rocks at the movers and moving vans. He is currently being investigated for battery by the police.
• His trainer was arrested and he is still a suspect in the battery case.
• Warrant issued for the arrest of AB.
• AB turns himself in to Broward Country Jail wearing this suit
• Rumors spread about AB signing with Tampa or Seattle
• AB announces his retirement (for what I believe is the third time, it’s hard to find a good record of the rest of them)
• Two days later AB wants to play again and is asking for the league to wrap up it’s investigation
• The NFL announces an eight game suspension for AB
• AB signs with the Buccaneers on a one-year deal
• Before he signed with the Buccaneers AB was accused of destroying a surveillance camera at a Florida gated community, throwing bike at a security-guard shack, and is not charged because HOA president “feared” retaliation, per police report
• AB is under investigation by the NFL for the bike throwing incident
• Allegedly acquired fake covid-19 card
• confirmed to have acquired a fake covid-19 card and subsequently suspended for three games
• benched mid game vs the Jets losing by 14 in the 3rd quarter
• Strips off clothes, throwing them into the crowd while celebrating running to the locker room in the middle of the 3rd quarter
• The night prior to his walk off, AB smuggles a social media influencer (whose claim to fame was licking an airplane toilet seat in an attempt to catch Covid) into the team hotel for a date, breaking Covid protocol. Said influencer states Brown lasted about “5 seconds” and trash talked the NFL repeatedly.—reverend_fancypants
10. Conor McGregor
“I know it’s a bit of a niche but… Conor McGregor.
He wasn’t everyone’s superstar. Ask people from Ireland and they’ll tell you they hate his guts. Still, while he was a controversial and cantankerous figure, he was mostly inoffensive on his meteoric rise.
Blew through contenders like paper, destroyed the greatest featherweight ever with one punch, and his ego got out of control. He got brought back down to earth by Nate Diaz, adjusted his approach, and went up a division to dethrone the lightweight champ. First simultaneous double champion. Conormania was IN. Everyone was raving about him. Highest selling PPV star in MMA, celebrity appearances… if you thought of combat sports from 2015 to 2017, you thought of the name Conor McGregor.
All that box office success drove him to a matchup with Floyd Mayweather. Months of back and forth trash talk as Conor was known for but as the talk progressed it felt like Conor was losing a step. It seemed like all the wit and charm he had on the rise was eroding. Then came the fight, and it was the usual spectacle of a Conor performance, but Floyd destroyed his aura of being untouchable. At the same time Conor got exactly what he always dreamed of: more money than any human should have.
This money led to a sense of invincibility. He flew halfway around the world to throw a dolly at the bus of his rival Khabib with a pack of Irish gangsters. The glass from the window the dolly smashed injured several fighters in that bus. He was arrested, but got off easy. Money.
The Khabib fight was the biggest in his career. Two years of layoff, returning to face an unstoppable juggernaut. The press conferences were packed with vitriol and pure bile rather than the typical tongue in cheek charm. It was uncharacteristic – or rather, it was the mask coming off at last.
He got humiliated badly, and everything went wild. Cocaine. Sexual assault scandals, whether true or not. Alcohol. He started his own whiskey brand. Apparently it’s garbage, but don’t take it from me. Take it from the old man he sucker punched in a bar for refusing to drink it.
Another two years off – he comes back against Donald Cerrone, someone well below his level and everyone knows it. He’s surprisingly mild mannered and kind in the lead up to the fight. It’s unclear if this is the new him, the real him, or another mask. He seems to be back on track.
Another year off. Thanks, covid. He makes a cordial fight offer to former opponent Dustin Poirier, world class good-guy of the sport. The lead up to their rematch is mild and gentlemanly as befitting a seemingly reformed McGregor and a laid-back Louisiana slugger. It’s an electrifying rematch regardless – and the last time we ever see this side of him again.
He gets humiliated again. Badly. In the aftermath, he’s cordial, but in the lead up to the rubber match something snaps. Cocaine. Anxiety. Alcohol. SOMETHING goes wrong and goes wrong badly because he returns with an uncharacteristic, substanceless viciousness. He starts involving Dustin’s family in dirty, charmless ways. Attacks him at the press conference. He can’t get his charm going because it’s been replaced with coke and cash.
The fight itself ends with McGregor on the ground, his leg snapped in two, screaming obscenities at Dustin and promising that he and his family will die in their sleep. He uses his post fight interview to rant about how it’s not over and he’ll still batter Dustin in the parking lot (on one leg).
There’s nothing left of the young Irish kid who made it big. Now there’s just a bitter laughingstock ranting on the floor about another man’s wife and leaving the sport that made him famous behind on a stretcher.—DrJonesPHD62
11. Tila Tequila
“Tila Tequila going from bisexual reality TV vixen to Nazi was pretty astonishing.”—MsCellophane
“Brain damage can cause all manner of drastic personality changes. (She had a drug overdose and then a brain aneurysm…)
EDIT: /u/Parniculus correctly pointed out that the overdose didn’t cause the aneurysm.”—Ironoclast
12. Armie Hammer
“I just realized Armie Hammer is an actual person. For some reason I assumed he was some spoof character off the Simpsons or something. I looked him up… turns out I haven’t seen a single thing he’s been in except one voice acting gig for the Simpson’s episode that parodies the Social Network.”—Jenifarr
“Armie Hammer comes from a crazy, Succession-like familyLaMareeNoire
13. Ezra Miller
“Armie Hammer. And apparently Ezra Miller is just batshit”—Suspicious_Music_494
“Every Ezra Miller headline is just a MadLib at this point.
Ezra Miller commits [felony] in [random location] while talking about [whatever dude just write something]”—Cambro88
“Idk when Ezra Miller went full Manson Family, but I fully understand how these things snowball now.
Edit: I said I fully understand.”—FlintWaterFilter
14. Allison Mack
“Oh yeah, the other day I was talking to a friend about Smallville for whatever reason. We googled her to find out why we really hadn’t seen her around and oh boooooy.
For those who don’t know, she was part of a sex slave cult.
Also fun fact, a bunch of Mexican politicians were also involved in that same cult.”—Zazilium
15. Kevin Spacey
“Kevin Spacey getting revealed to be a predator, using his sexuality as an excuse, getting fired from his projects and then posting an insane super-villain-level youtube video as Frank Underwood basically blaming the viewers for being complicit.”—soysaucesausage
“‘What in the name of Kevin Spacey’s self-made Christmas Eve video message to try to get back on House of Cards is going on here?’ – Shawn, The Good Place”—PointlessTrivia
16. Lindsay Lohan
“Plus she had that weird episode a few years back where she was trying to take children off the street claiming they were kidnapped or trafficked or something? After offering the family a hotel? I don’t remember the logistics. And then last fall with the goddamn furry NFT. Insanity.”—thisissodisturbing
“In hindsight of everything we’ve learned of how young Hollywood girls get treated, doubly so if you worked for the Mouse or Nick in fhe 90s/00s, I’m not putting that on Lohan.
Trauma and having to deal with it as ‘part of the process’ is a b—h.”—moriarty70
17. Roseanne Barr
“Rosanne did one of the fastest disappearing act that I can think of.”—Aggravating_Dot_5217
“You know it’s bad when they get written off the reboot of the show they were the titular character for. They said she died of a drug overdose and nobody was even mad about it.”—NativeMasshole
18. Charlie Sheen
“Has everyone forgotten Charlie Sheen? Did #winning stop winning? What about Tiger Blood and a bevy of porn stars?
He went down so hard they made a series vaguely based on it and cast him in the lead role.”—jaredearle
19. Amanda Bynes
“Amanda Bynes. Went from the girl next door cast in every teen movie to a conservatorship and addiction issues.”—Kmammy
“I’m reading Jeannette McCurdy’s (one of the child actors on iCarly) memoir right now, and my heart sank realizing that schnider also was on The Amanda Show. She was definitely abused.”—sadi89
“I hear she got clean and is recovered now. The courts lifted the conservatorship recently. Hopefully she restores her acting career. I did like her back when she was on All That & The Amanda Show.”—Sea_Perspective6891
20. John Wilkes Booth
“Everyone is mentioning modern celebrities and forgetting historical standards.
In all honesty? It’s got to be John Wilkes Booth.
The man was from a prestigious acting family and not only famous from his own skill and roles on stage, but became seriously wealthy too, and was in demand across the country. People knew him. He was twenty-six years old and a goddamn superstar.
But he had sympathies with the Confederacy and planned to kidnap Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, with the help of conspirators to end the war more favourably. When they surrendered he was enraged, changed the plan to kill Lincoln and several high-ranking officials with the help of his conspirators, and make the South rise up and welcome him as a hero.
And then he killed Lincoln.
This wunderkind acting behemoth, barely past his mid twenties, with a famous family and a huge amount of prestige and wealth to his name, killed the President of the United States in the pursuit of a delusional belief that he could change the outcome of an already-decided war. He not only dissolved his own reputation in an instant, as both the Union and the former Confederate states were left utterly horrified by his act, but was killed within two weeks of an extensive manhunt and took several hours to die a painful, humiliating death. And on top of that he removed a great reformer who could have positively rebuilt the former Confederate states and help eliminate the institutions left over, having him replaced with a more neutral leader who disagreed with the idea of Reconstruction and ended it prematurely, setting back the redevelopment of the south while also causing it to severely regress to such an extent that it still isn’t fully resolved from the Civil War nearly two centuries later.
That, friends, is the fastest, hardest and most destructive downward spiral of a celebrity from their peak.”—MrShoggoth
“In a truly amazing coincidence, Edwin Booth, John’s older brother and the most famous actor in America at that time, saved the life of Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert, just a few months before the assassination.”—sevenandseven41