Some of our biggest stars in Hollywood got their start in television. The list of former TV stars who went on to have illustrious careers is massive– Robin Williams, Chris Pratt, George Clooney, etc.
The list is ever growing, as the idea of doing big things in the television world before deciding to transition into the Hollywood movie making world is a successful formula that has continued to work for several different stars. Well, some stars at least.
While the formula has proven to produce high results, it is not a formula that works for everyone. Some big time TV stars fail and are unable to transition, loosing out on blossoming careers once their big show goes off the air.
Sometimes this is because every other show and/or movie that they do afterwards becomes a flop. In other cases, unseen circumstances in these actor’s personal lives prevent them from reaching the next level.
For some stars, they cannot progress with their careers because they are only ever seen as the one character who made them famous. Regardless of the reason, some actors careers fail rather than bloom after their famous TV shows go off the air.
With that said, here are the 16 Actors Whose Careers Flopped After Their TV Shows Ended.
16. Miranda Cosgrove
Miranda Cosgrove was at the height of her fame as a child star during the 2000s. After capturing audience’s hearts with her role in School of Rock, she was added to the cast of Drake & Josh as the brothers’ sister, Megan Parker.
The show left the airwaves after 59 episodes, but Cosgrove quickly bounced back with a lead role in a show of her own, iCarly. That show lasted a whopping seven seasons, but after the show ended, Cosgrove was not able to bounce back into the limelight so easily– at least not onscreen.
Cosgrove has played the voice of Margo for the Despicable Me franchise, but she hasn’t done anything major in live action form since. She planned a comeback to television with NBC’s Crowded, but the series was canceled after 13 episodes.
15. Brenda Song
After starring in a string of Disney Channel Original Movies, Brenda Song was given the supporting role of London Tipton on The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. She was the surprise breakout show stealer, and was so beloved that her role continued on the spinoff series Suite Life on Deck, making her Disney Channel’s longest ongoing female character.
It’s too bad that Song hasn’t been able to continue her streak after the two shows ended. The closest role she had to something major was her short cameo in the Oscar winning movie, The Social Network.
14. Melissa Joan Hart
Melissa Joan Hart practically owned TV in the ’90s thanks to her two television shows, Clarissa Explains It All and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Many of her fans hoped that her post-Sabrina career would continue to flourish, but she hasn’t done much since.
In fact, she sparingly appeared in movies or on shows, other than the occasional TV movie. She didn’t do anything noteworthy until the early 2010s, when she starred with fellow child star Joey Lawrence on Melissa & Joey for four seasons on ABC Family.
After that, she appeared in God’s Not Dead 2, but unfortunately the movie only became noteworthy after being so critically panned. Both critics and audiences alike enjoyed the movie but only because they could make fun of it.
13. Drake Bell
When Drake & Josh was a hit show on Nickelodeon, Drake Bell was expected to become the huge star once the show ended. To everyone’s surprise, that accolade went to his co-star, Josh Peck.
Even Miranda Cosgrove went on to have a more noteworthy career than Drake Bell to some degree, since Bell has done basically nothing since he left Nickelodeon.
After the show, Bell focused on his musical career, though his songs have yet to make it high on the charts. The biggest thing he did since Drake & Josh was provide the voice of Spider-Man for all of the recent animated Marvel shows.
Other than that, if not for his Twitter presence and his brief feud with Josh Peck, Drake Bell wouldn’t be heard of at all.
12. Sarah Michelle Gellar
Sarah Michelle Gellar won the hearts of many viewers when she appeared as the titular character on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her fan base grew in between filming when she appeared in huge movies like Scream 2, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Cruel Intentions, and Scooby-Doo, with the latter becoming Gellar’s biggest live action movie success to date.
A year later, Buffy the Vampire Slayer had its final episode, and though many fans believed that she would go on to great things, Gellar didn’t star in many other things after.
She spent much of her post-Buffy life starring in small independent movies and in TV shows that quickly got canceled after their pilots. She had a bit of a comeback in the CBS show The Crazy Ones, which she appeared in with Robin Williams, but the show was canceled after one season.
11. Jenna Fischer
Jenna Fischer was essentially primed to be the latest rendition of the America’s Sweetheart following her lovable, flawless performance as Pam from The Office.
Things were looking good for Fischer for a while when she turned in stellar supporting performances in movies like Walk Hard and Blades of Glory. However, things took a turn for the worse in 2012 when she starred in her own movie, The Giant Mechanical Man.
The movie bombed terribly, earning only $7,396 from a $900,000 budget. Things became even worse when she starred in her own TV show on NBC, You, Me and the Apocalypse. The show was canceled after 10 episodes and, unfortunately, Fischer hasn’t done much work on screen since then.
10. Fran Drescher
Fran Drescher was on a steady rise to fame after appearing in small roles in hit Hollywood movies like Saturday Night Fever, This Spinal Tap, and UHF.
She finally got her big break when he starred on the television show, The Nanny, as Fran Fine. In addition to being a ratings smash hit, The Nanny earned Drescher two Golden Globe wins and two Emmy nominations for Best Actress.
The show came to a close in 1999 and seemingly, so did Drescher’s career. She hasn’t picked up much work since, though this partly has to do with Drescher’s cancer diagnosis in 2000.
9. David Caruso
David Caruso has the distinction of having his career end after not one, but two TV shows. The first of which was NYPD Blue. For his role, he was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor.
Despite the early success, Caruso decided to leave the show after one season in order to pursue a career in movies. He most notably starred in Kiss of Death and Jade. Both movies tanked at the box office and earned him Razzie nominations for Worst New Star.
After this, he decided to return to television in 2002 to star in CSI: Miami. The show gave him a proper comeback. However, it ended in 2012 and we haven’t seen him onscreen since.
8. Madeleine Martin
While few know her by name alone, Madeleine Martin is recognized best as the daughter of David Duchovny’s character in Californication. She was on the show for its entire run until it ended in 2014.
Many expected her to have a blooming career after the show ended, but she hasn’t done much on the screen since. Martin joined the main cast of Hemlock Grove in season 3, but that same season, the show was canceled.
Other than that, the only times we’ve seen her on screen since the end of Californication was when she guest starred on one episode of The Good Wife and starred in a Lifetime TV movie, The Daughter Must Live. She also provided the voice of Fionna on Adventure Time, but the show ended in 2017.
7. Mark-Paul Gosselaar
Mark-Paul Gosselaar was everybody’s favorite teenage heartthrob in the late ’80s and early ’90s. He portrayed Zack Morris on Saved by the Bell.
Similar to what happens to most teen stars, Gosselaar failed to capitalize on the success of his show after it ended. He was able to rely on the show’s mid-’90s spinoff TV movies to stay relevant, but didn’t work on much else.
Everything else he tried bombed in one way or another. His career briefly found new life when he joined the last few seasons of NYPD Blue. He also tried to make a true comeback in 2008 starring in Raising the Bar, but it was canceled after 25 episodes.
Gosselaar had another show in 2011, Franklin & Bash, but after four seasons of middling ratings, it was canceled as well. Most recently, he had a supporting role on FOX’s Pitch, but it met the same fate as the others– it was canceled after 10 episodes.
6. Ben Savage
In a minor contrast to the career success of his brother, Fred Savage, Ben Savage hasn’t done anything in TV shows or movies beyond the show that made him famous, Boy Meets World.
After his seven season run as Cory Matthews finally came to a conclusion, Savage practically disappeared from acting altogether. Though he did not stop acting, he failed to appear in anything memorable or notable.
Since the show left the airwaves in 2000, he has not had any big role in any movies and has only had a few small guest spots on various TV shows. His career would not be relevant again until he reprised the role of Cory Matthews for the spinoff show Girl Meets World, which was canceled in 2017 after three seasons.
5. Amanda Bynes
Amanda Bynes had a promising career as a child star. After breaking out with All That, she received two shows her own– The Amanda Show and What I Like About You.
She then starred in one box office hit after another: Big Fat Liar, She’s the Man, What a Girl Wants, Hairspray, Easy A, etc. Things were looking up for the former child star as she transitioned into adulthood. However, she decided to retire from acting in 2010.
Two years later, she was charged with a DUI and was detained shortly after for starting a small fire. Her life then appeared to spiral out of control, and she was eventually admitted into a hospital.
4. Orlando Brown
Orlando Brown is best remembered for playing Raven’s best friend Eddie on That’s So Raven. He hasn’t done anything noteworthy in movies or television since the show ended.
However, he did pursue a career as a rapper, but has since not made any waves in the music industry. For a while, Brown only maintained a semblance of relevancy due to his shockingly lewd interviews, where he talked candidly about his former relationship with Raven-Symone.
His crude attitude got him blackballed from appearing in the new spinoff show Raven’s Home. Brown has also been arrested in recent years for obstruction of justice, domestic battery, drug possession, misdemeanor, and other offenses.
3. Nicholas Brendon
Nicholas Brendon is best remembered as Buffy Summer’s best friend, Xander Harris. Throughout the seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Brendon was the only actor other than Sarah Michelle Gellar to appear in every episode.
Following the show’s finale, things were quiet for Nicholas Brendon. He only appeared in failed pilots and minor television movies. The biggest thing that Brendon has done since Buffy was a small recurring role on Criminal Minds.
In real life, he struggled with alcohol addiction for over a decade, which led to some unfortunate run-ins with the law. On a December 2015 interview on Dr. Phil, Brendon revealed that he had finally been 90 days sober. However, on October 2017, he was arrested for harming his girlfriend at a bar.
2. Chad Michael Murray
In the early 2000s, Chad Michael Murray became one of Hollywood’s most attractive teen stars after leading the cast of One Tree Hill during the first six seasons.
In between filming for the show, he was able to star in some box office hits like Freaky Friday, A Cinderella Story, and House of Wax. Oddly enough, instead of the show being a launching pad for an even bigger career– as was normally the case for beloved teen stars– Murray appeared in virtually nothing after he left the show.
He made a small appearance in an occasional movie here and there, but nothing typical of someone who had huge success on TV. He returned to television in 2015 for an attempt at a comeback by joining the cast of Agent Carter. However, the ratings tanked and the show was soon canceled.
1. Michael Richards
For many people, Kramer, who was played by Michael Richards, was their favorite character on Seinfeld . Years later, those same people realized that they were not very huge fans of Richards himself.
After winning three Emmys for his performance as Kramer, Richards began working on his own show– The Michael Richards Show. The show received horrendous ratings and even worse reviews.
This caused the show to be canceled after two months. Richards’s luck would worsen years later, when, in 2006, he gained mass negative attention for using the N-word during his set during a stand-up routine at the Laugh Factory .
This inspired him to retire from stand-up a year later. He tried to make a comeback on the show Kristie in 2013, but it was also canceled after less than a year.
Can you think of any other actors whose careers flopped after their TV shows ended? Let us know in the comments!
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