Plenty of actors have bad times while making movies, or don’t look back too fondly at the finished product of their movies. It’s a lot easier to deal with a negative experience on a movie set, as movies typically only take a few months to film. Then actors get paid millions as they are flown around the world to promote it in beautiful, exotic cities and often continue to get residuals on the movie for the rest of their lives.
TV shows, on the other hands, tend to require a lengthier and more rigorous time commitment, and except for a few exceptions, for far less money– and as such, actors will usually mull over whether to star on a TV show or not much more than they would a movie. After all, they might get stuck working on a TV show for many, many years.
It’s far rarer that an actor will end up regretting their time on a TV show, and when they do, the reasons are far more diverse– fear of typecasting, a grueling schedule, feuds with producers and co-stars, and tiffs over money are among the most common reasons why a TV star will end up tearing down the show they starred in, be it while the show is on the air or years later upon reflection.
Here are 15 TV Stars Who Hated Their Own Shows.
15. Johnny Depp – 21 Jump Street
Johnny Depp has spent much of this millennium leading a billion-dollar Disney franchise and starring in other major Hollywood movies. It’s easy to forget that the actor was once more known for shying away from the spotlight and preferring smaller roles that kept him just under the mainstream radar. He first developed that distaste for major fame and celebrity during his breakthrough role on the ’80s teen drama 21 Jump Street.
Between starring in a show aimed at teenagers and having that perfect combination of boyish good looks and bad boy attitude, Depp was catapulted to teen heartthrob status shortly after 21 Jump Street debuted. It was the kind of fame and notoriety that Deep wasn’t comfortable with, and he soon regretted taking the role on the show. However, he had already signed a contract, and couldn’t just walk away– so the actor began trying his best to get fired by exhibiting bizarre behavior on the set. He reluctantly got stuck doing the show for three of its five seasons.
However, Depp’s nostalgia for the show has warmed a bit over the years, as the actor did a cameo in the 2012 film reboot.
14. Chevy Chase – Community
He’s Chevy Chase, and you’re not… ever going to understand why he just can’t seem to have a positive experience on most of the things he has worked on. There is so little love for Chase by his peers that his 2002 Comedy Central roast was largely conducted by random comedians who never even worked with him, and was so mean-spirited that the network only ever aired it once.
The most recent example of the actor/comedian having a bad time working on something was his tenure on the cult hit NBC sitcom Community. What began as something of a well-received comeback for the actor – his first high-profile role on an acclaimed production in many years – quickly soured following a highly publicized feud with Community creator Dan Harmon and some leaked audio of the actor using racial slurs and disparaging the show as formulaic and unfunny.
The kindest words the actor could muster for Community is that he liked the cast, although that praise was quickly tempered by him pointing out that “it’s not like [he’s] working with the great innovators of all time.”
13. Penn Badgley – Gossip Girl
It would seem as though anyone who would sign on for a show on the CW called Gossip Girl would know what they were in for and wouldn’t exactly be expecting cutting-edge television. Yet that didn’t stop some of its stars from badmouthing the show, even actors for whom Gossip Girl was their breakthrough and/or most well-known role.
Chace Crawford made a crack near the end of the show’s six-season run that he would have to go back three or four seasons to where he left his dignity before the show ends– though many have read that as good-natured teasing.
However, Crawford’s co-star Penn Badgley’s criticisms of Gossip Girl feel far less jokey. He once pointed out the absurdity of the DVD cover of the show’s first season, saying that he and his cast mates literally lounging on NYC skyscrapers looked like a metaphor for white privilege. He also frequently said the show was ridiculous and made little sense.
Most tellingly, when Badgley was promoting the movie Greetings From Tim Buckley— his first major role post-Gossip Girl— he made remarks about how good it felt to finally be proud of something he’s done as an actor. Ouch.
12. Robert Reed – The Brady Bunch
It has been well-documented that things behind the scenes of The Brady Bunch weren’t nearly as smooth or wholesome as they were within the show’s fictional world. From off-screen flings between on-screen family members to drug use and mental health issues, the actors who portrayed the Bradys were far more dysfunctional than their fictional characters ever led on.
The actors have largely had a complicated relationship with the show’s legacy, with many of them having trouble separating how beloved the show is and the fame it brought them from the personal struggles that it led to for them.
Actor Robert Reed, who played Brady patriarch Mike Brady, likely had more off-screen turmoil than anyone else in the cast. He frequently argued with the show’s producers and executives and never meshed well with the production as a whole.
The actor was also gay, something he had to hide due to his role as one of America’s most beloved TV dads, and as a result he had to settle for having a secret life of hook-ups and cruising for sex without having the freedom to openly pursue a healthy same-sex relationship. Reed eventually contracted HIV and would succumb to AIDS in 1992.
11. Mandy Patinkin – Criminal Minds
Previously best known to mainstream audiences for his role as the six-fingered-man-seeking Inigo Montoya in the classic comedy The Princess Bride, Mandy Patinkin had successfully transitioned to television beginning with an Emmy-winning stint on the ’90s medical drama Chicago Hope. Following his role in the HBO series Dead Like Me, Patinkin saw another major career resurgence when he joined the cast of the hit CBS procedural Criminal Minds— a show he would go on to call his “biggest public mistake.”
Patinkin said that although he knew there would be some tough material in a show about investigating dark crimes, participating in a show where people would “kill and rape all these women, night after night” was “very destructive to [his] soul.” He eventually had enough, and after not showing up to a table read one day, it was soon revealed that he was done with Criminal Minds.
Patinkin feared that the way he chose to exit the show would prevent him from finding future work, but he soon found his way into another hit show– Showtime’s Homeland— which has accrued him multiple Emmy and Golden Globe nominations.
10. Billy Ray Cyrus – Hannah Montana
While there a lot of people in the world who hate the Disney original series Hannah Montana for unleashing a twerking, tongue-wagging Miley Cyrus on the world, it turns out that someone involved in the show hates it even more– and for an even more personal reason.
Country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, both real-life father to Miley and fictional father to her Hannah Montana character, said that the show wrecked his family.
While Miley was in the midst of her transformation from squeaky-clean Disney actress to controversy-baiting pop star, Cyrus– as Billy Ray will soon be known following a recently-announced Madonna-esque name change– said that the show’s popularity had sent his daughter on a path akin to that of ill-fated model Anna Nicole Smith, and had ruined his relationship with both her and his wife.
Cyrus has since reconciled with both women– he and wife Trish remain married- -and Miley didn’t end up meeting the tragic end he had foreseen. But the artist formerly know as Billy Ray still doesn’t have fond memories of Hannah Montana and the damage it did to his family.
9. Katherine Heigl – Grey’s Anatomy
Medical drama Grey’s Anatomy was actually the second major TV role for Katherine Heigl– the actress was also one of the stars of the turn-of-the-millennium sci-fi series Roswell. But even though Heigl had already starred in a TV show and several major films, Grey’s Anatomy was definitely her breakout role. As such, it might come as a surprise that Heigl decided to publicly rag on the show– and after winning an Emmy award for it, no less.
Heigl had started to developed sour feelings for Grey’s Anatomy and the direction the writers were taking her character in, even taking the dramatic step of withdrawing herself from Emmy consideration the year after her win. She also didn’t even feel comfortable with the award she did win, saying she didn’t believe the writing on the show was deserving of awards.
Coincidentally, at around the same time Heigl was criticizing Grey’s, she was also blasting her role in the megahit comedy Knocked Up, saying that the female characters in the movie were unfairly viewed as the villains of the story in opposition of all the fun-loving men.
8. Angus T. Jones – Two and a Half Men
Everyone knows the major feud that erupted between actor Charlie Sheen and Two and a Half Men creator Chuck Lorre– a feud that ended up coinciding with Sheen’s massive public meltdown. During all the claims of “winning!” and drinking of tiger’s blood, Sheen began to slam the show that had made him tens of millions of dollars– but it was a little tough to take seriously given Sheen’s bizarre mental state at the time.
What a lot of people missed during that whole debacle was that another of the show’s titular “men”– the half-man to be exact– had also come out in public opposition to the show. Actor Angus T. Jones, who was only 10 when he first started on the show, was suddenly a 19-year old who had found religion and was calling the show “filth” and saying that people should stop watching it.
Chuck Lorre and CBS didn’t take to kindly to Angus so brutally bashing the show publicly, and gradually lessened his character’s presence throughout the tenth season, until he was completely absent from the show for the final two seasons before returning for a cameo in the series finale.
7. Andy Kaufman – Taxi
The last place that seemed like the right fit for unpredictable comedian Andy Kaufman was in the heavily-scripted, formulaic world of television sitcoms. In fact, Kaufman reportedly balked when his manager told him that the producers of TV series Taxi wanted him to come on the show and play the “Foreign Man” character he had been using in his nightclub act. However, after his manager pointed out that he could use the sitcom money to fund some of his wilder stunts and pranks, Kaufman eventually relented, putting up with the dull world of sitcoms for the easy payday.
Kaufman’s long-time friend and collaborator Bob Zmuda has often told stories of how Kaufman was very disruptive on the set of Taxi, deliberately making things difficult for his fellow cast members–something seemingly confirmed by the biopic Man on the Moon.
Interestingly, though, Taxi producer Sam Simon later claimed that Kaufman was nothing but professional on the show, and that Zmuda had chosen to exaggerate tales of Kaufman’s on-set antics in order to maintain Kaufman’s unorthodox reputation.
6. Chelsea Handler – Chelsea Lately
Comedian and author Chelsea Handler built her career out of her no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is attitude and the ease with which she could take down anyone who dared to challenge her. It was this talent that made her a great choice to host a late-night talk show, which she got when Chelsea Lately debuted on the E! network in 2007.
Being on cable allowed Handler to be just a bit dirtier and more irreverent than she could get away with on network television, and her and her frequent comedian friend guests gleefully pushed the limits as they skewered the news and pop culture happenings of the day.
However, it was the “pop culture” part that eventually wore on Handler. Being on E! meant that she was expected to not only have shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians and Ice Loves Coco as lead-ins, but to have the daily goings-on of reality stars be one of the central topics of her shows.
5. Joe Jonas – Jonas
Before he kept on hoping there’d be cake by the ocean, singer Joe Jonas was in both a band and TV show with his brothers Paul and Nick. The brothers first started out as characters in the Disney Channel Original Movies Camp Rock and Camp Rock 2 before playing a fictionalized version of their real-life family music trio in the Disney Channel series Jonas (sometimes referred to as Jonas L.A.).
Although the Jonas Brothers existed as a real band for eight years before pursuing separate projects, their series only got a meager two-season run– half the length of contemporaries like Hannah Montana and Wizards of Waverly Place. While Joe Jonas arguably wouldn’t be where he is today without the boost he and his brothers got from being a Disney property, he doesn’t have any fondness for Jonas.
Whereas he would’ve liked if the show could be a bit more mature and highbrow, Jonas lamented what ended up being a show full of silly, slapsticky humor aimed squarely at pre-teens. He did realize his show was on Disney Channel and not AMC, right?
4. Nick Lachey – Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica
The defeated, withering look that Nick Lachey gave to wife Jessica Simpson when she asks whether the tuna she is eating is actually chicken is one of the funniest moments in reality TV history.
In fact, much of Newlyweds, a reality show that documented the early days of the marriage between the two pop stars, revolved around Jessica saying and doing dimwitted things and Nick hilariously trying his best to to keep it together in the face of all that absurdity.
It’s easy to assume that the issue that Nick had with the show is just how poorly it portrayed the intelligence and maturity of his young wife. However, Nick’s problem with the show– which he eventually admitted was a huge mistake– was in how invasive it ended up becoming in the couple’s life.
It would’ve been hard enough being two members of TRL-era MTV royalty trying to have a normal marriage, but having cameras follow them around and document their every move made it almost impossible. The couple filed for divorce only six months after the show ended.
3. Shannen Doherty – Charmed
Shannen Doherty has never had a reputation for being easy to work with or bonding with her co-stars, most notoriously through her rocky time as Brenda on Beverly Hills 90210. Despite her high-profile feuds with the cast and crew of 90210 that eventually led to an unceremonious exit from the show, producer Aaron Spelling had enough fondness for her to give her another chance four years later on the bewitching drama Charmed.
Once again, however, her time on Charmed would end up being ill-fated. She may have sparred with co-star Alyssa Milano, but Milano also sparred with co-star Holly Mario Combs, so it wouldn’t be fair to put all of that bickering entirely on Doherty’s shoulders. However, the actress also complained that while she always gave her all on Charmed, her formidable acting chops were wasted on what she classified as a “show for 12-year-olds.”
2. Amy Jo Johnson – Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
In the case of Amy Jo Johnson, she has no ill will towards Mighty Morphin Power Rangers as a show, its legacy, its fans, or her co-stars. In fact, she regards all of that with nothing but warmth and fondness. Instead, what made the original Pink Ranger have a bad time during the filming of MMPR were the grueling hours and low wages.
Shortly after wrapping up her time on the show, Johnson was giving interviews where she complained that she was only making about $600 week– which is an especially paltry number when considering that those weeks often consisted of the cast filming two episodes, meaning they were only making 300 bucks per episode of the mega-hit giant robot kung-fu show.
Surely Johnson made more money on the back end though, right? Nope. The cast of MMPR didn’t see a single cent of residuals from re-runs, meaning that $300 per episode is all they ever got for starring in a massively successful show that launched a franchise that is going strong to this day.
1. John Cleese – Monty Python’s Flying Circus
John Cleese may have been enjoying being on one of the most influential comedy shows of all time in the beginning, but by the third season of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the actor had escaped the landmark series.
Cleese believed that he quality of the show had already started to flag during season two, and wanted to leave the show to pursue other creative ventures. Cleese was so over Monty Python that, even though he appeared in all of the comedy troupe’s movies, he has since ragged on pretty much every one of them–even calling Holy Grail a “miserable experience.”
Reflecting on Flying Circus in particular, Cleese seems to have some fondness for the show and its legacy, but is always quick to follow praise with pointing out how a lot of the sketches weren’t that great, that some of his fellow Pythons were hard to work with, and other such negative embellishments, seeming to keep from praising the show too much.
It should be noted that Cleese tends to view the vast majority of his body of work that way, seeming to only have any true, untainted reverence for Fawlty Towers— his first major post-Flying Circus work.
Are there any other actors who have dissed their own TV shows? Sound off in the comments!
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