There’s a good chance that most of us grew up watching at least one sitcom in our lives, but the history of pop culture has seen its fair share of scandals over the years. Whether they happened in the moment or whether they took their time coming to light, scandals have become inevitable with sitcoms. Read below to find out about them or remind yourself of the ones you thought you’d forgotten.
1. This Good Girl Went Bad
In the 1970s, there was a sitcom titled One Day at a Time, which followed a single mother raising a family. One of the daughters was played by young actress Mackenzie Phillips…until producers fired her. The reason was disturbing. Phillips had a serious addiction problem, and the producers let her go from the show.
2. The Stand-Up Routine That Dropped Jaws
It was a breakdown to rival all breakdowns: former Seinfeld actor Michael Richards, having spent years struggling to move on from his his iconic character Kramer, went onto a stage to do some stand-up in 2006. He ended up unleashing a hateful speech. The ensuing media storm destroyed any hope of Richards’ career recovering from this scandal, rightfully so.
3. Fired Without Cause
After Charlie Sheen’s disastrous departure from Two and a Half Men, he starred in the sitcom Anger Management. The first season co-starred Selma Blair, who quickly earned Sheen’s wrath when she called him out on set. According to sources, Sheen got producers to fire Blair and replace her for the second season.
4. Taking It To Court
As you might expect, Selma Blair didn’t take her abrupt dismissal lying down. She promptly threatened both Charlie Sheen and the producers behind Anger Management with legal action.
5. A Temper Tantrum In The Name Of God
With the success of Growing Pains, Kirk Cameron’s star rose rapidly as a teen heartthrob and the face of the show. This gave him the power to make demands of the network . At 17, Cameron became a born-again Christian and decided that he suddenly had a serious issue with his co-star Julie McCullough for appearing in Playboy magazine.
Cameron had McCullough fired, which forced the writers having to re-edit the upcoming wedding episode where the characters were supposed to get married.
6. This Co-Star Got A Record
Some of you might know Sasha Mitchell from when he played eccentric character Cody Lambert in the 1990s sitcom Step by Step. However, his time on the show came to an end in the fifth season when the authorities detained Mitchell for domestic violence against his spouse.
7. Aunt Viv Says Goodbye
Will Smith has been in America’s good graces ever since The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, though the show wasn’t completely immune from awkwardness behind the scenes. Janet Hubert-Whitten, who played the aunt, left the show abruptly, with producers replacing her.
8. The He Said, She Said
Both Will Smith and Janet Hubert-Whitten have spoken up about why she was let go from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Hubert initially claimed that her dismissal was the result of a vendetta against her. In response, Smith went on the attack, saying among other things that Hubert was difficult to work with and had an ego to boot.
9. Fired For A Pregnancy
Bill Cosby was famous as the role model father on The Cosby Show, and he spun it off into A Different World, which followed Denise Huxtable—played by Lisa Bonet—entering college. However, it quickly spiraled out of control. Cosby was enraged when Bonet got pregnant with her daughter Zoe, and dismissed her from the show after that.
10. Bill Cosby’s Downfall
As for Bill Cosby, his own reputation has infamously gone through a nosedive. On the September 25, 2018, he received 10 years behind bars for assault among other charges.
11. A Gross Love Triangle
Three’s Company followed the always-funny premise of a man pretending to be gay, all so he could keep living with two female co-eds, played by Suzanne Somers and Joyce DeWitt. The women later pointed out that the show’s producers had never treated them very well. It didn’t help that they also ended up feuding with each other. But it gets darker than this.
12. Not Paying Her What She’s Worth
One reason for the feuding was Somers’ demands for higher salaries as the seasons went on. Though to be fair, Somers claimed that she was just asking to be paid as much as some of her male contemporaries of the time. She didn’t react well when producers turned down her requests and then diminished her role before ultimately canning her.
13. The Naked Photo Scandal
As with so many other instances of a scandal, producers replaced Suzanne Somers’ character with a new character. However, the controversial revelations around Three’s Company continued when nude photos of the new actress, Priscilla Barnes, appeared in Penthouse magazine.
14. The Root Of All Evil
In the late 1980s, actress Valerie Harper got the chance of a lifetime; she got a sitcom with her own name in the title. Valerie followed Valerie Hogan’s struggle to raise her three sons while her husband was often gone. However, Harper earned the ire of the producers when they wanted a raise in salaries when the show’s ratings picked up steam. When they refused to grant her request, Harper walked away from the show.
15. The Pettiest Revenge
To the shock of the entertainment industry, producers simply renamed Harper’s show The Hogan Family and it continued without her.
16. Everyone Is Expendable
For years, Kevin James and Leah Remini had acted as a couple in The King of Queens, and so audiences who watched Kevin Can Wait were thrilled when Remini appeared in one episode as a guest appearance. From there, however, James decided to have Remini join him as a series regular. This was actually very controversial. See, James’s already had a spouse that the show killed off to make room for Remini.
16. The Worst Kind Of Color Coding
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers was a show meant for kids, but it’s safe to say that it followed an episodic format like most sitcoms. The show followed a group of teenagers in high school who secretly save the world as the Power Rangers. However, the show gained controversy almost immediately for a rather embarrassing series of casting decisions.
Trini, the yellow ranger, was played by Asian-American actress Thuy Trang. Zack. Meanwhile, the black ranger, was played by Black actor Walter Emanuel Jones. People noticed the racial overtones immediately, leading to the producers scrambling to make it clear that this was an “accident” in casting. Okay guys, sure I believe you.
17. Money Matters, People
As many of you know, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers was originally a Japanese show. The American version uses the original show’s action footage, while actors cheaply filmed the rest of the show to justify said action scenes. The production used this as an excuse to pay the actors almost nothing, with one actor, Austin St. John, later declared that he could have made more money working at a McDonald’s.
18. The Most Toxic Set
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers hid another scandal behind the scenes. David Yost, who played the blue ranger, left the show abruptly in the middle of filming. The reason why was appalling. Yost later revealed that the crew had actively mocked him because he was gay, even driving him to conversion therapy and a nervous breakdown before he accepted himself for who he was.
19. Overworked And Underpaid
Laverne & Shirley was a highly successful spinoff of the show Happy Days. After reaching its eighth season, Laverne & Shirley ended because co-lead Cindy Williams left the production suddenly. To be fair to Williams, she was pregnant and producers wouldn’t let her take any time off. They even scheduled her to work on her due date. This was the last straw…um, obviously.
20. From Bad To Worse
Despite being the protagonist’s sister on That 70s Show, Laurie Foreman only appeared as a regular for three seasons. This was due to the fact that her actress, Lisa Robin Kelly, suffered from alcoholism and eventually lost her job. Tragically, it didn’t end there. After several brushes with the law, Kelly passed in 2013 while she was trying to get clean.
21. Martin The Madman
During the 1990s, Martin Lawrence’s sitcom Martin was a popular draw, but it fell apart quickly behind the scenes as Lawrence embarked on a series of antics made worse by substance use. Wait, did we say “antics”? Maybe we shouldn’t use that word to describe Lawrence bringing a loaded firearm to the set.
22. A Metaphorical Restraining Order
In case you’re wondering how the word broke out about Martin Lawrence’s behavior on Martin, look no further than Tisha Campbell, his co-star. Campbell filed a lawsuit against Lawrence and the production company behind the sitcom in 1997. She only agreed to return to work if she and Lawrence would never appear on set together, leading to several backflips to make the show’s finale work.
23. The Creepiest Father In The World
In 2014, former 7th Heaven star Stephen Collins admitted he had assaulted pre-teen girls in 1973, 1982, and 1994. This was all before 7th Heaven aired, and Collins’ confession came long after the show ended. Still, it’s safe to say that nobody will ever watch reruns of 7th Heaven the same way again.
24. An Unexpected Horror
Phil Hartman spent the 1990s riding high with his success on Saturday Night Live, several movies, and the sitcom News Radio. However, all of this came screeching to a halt with his shocking murder. His wife, Brynn, suffered a breakdown due to addiction and shot Hartman while he slept. She then confessed before killing herself soon after.