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Contractual Purity

"I'm honoured that people would think of me as a role model. On the other hand, I think it's sort of dangerous to choose a person and lift them so high — because at one point, I'm going to play a role that somebody doesn't like!"
Anika Noni Rose, on her role in The Princess and the Frog

When a young actor comes to public prominence in association with clean, wholesome family entertainment roles, the expectation of studios and audiences is that the actor's personal life will reflect the same upright morality of the character he or she plays.

Heaven forbid, then, that said actor should be found engaging in perfectly legal, perfectly normal adult activities like drinking alcohol or having sex. And should said actor take a role in a production where he or she will do things like nude scenes, using foul language or engaging in criminal behavior, then Moral Guardians will arise against that actor for betraying their expectations. Some actors deliberately seek out such roles precisely to shed their image, and seemingly the majority of male ones lately go through a phase of sporting stubble for photoshoots and red-carpet events to remind us they're not boys anymore (even if they are still playing high school students).

There are two sides to what happens with this controversy. First is that Moral Guardians really have no right to get upset that it is "corrupting our youth" because an individual of a certain age is well within their legal rights to smoke, drink, swear, have sex, etc. On the flip side, being a public figure, especially one who is popular and well-known amongst young people, carries a certain degree of responsibility for the influence one may have, since he or she will be treated as a role model. George "Superman" Reeves, for example, took great pains to not smoke or be seen with his lady-friends in front of children. (He was also careful because kids wanted to see if he was as invulnerable as he was on TV.)

Very often will actually be enforced by a morals clause in the contract.

A form of Type Casting. See also Old Shame and Not Allowed to Grow Up. May result in the actor/singer hating the job, but still enjoying the publicity that comes with it. Contrast So My Kids Can Watch, which is when an "adult" actor takes on family-friendly roles, usually so that their children can watch them without being exposed to violence or sex.

Exactly what counts as "purity" varies wildly from culture to culture — see Values Dissonance. For the polar opposite of this trope see Controversy-Proof Image.

Real Life Examples (in alphabetical order when not Disney):

    open/close all folders 

    Disney Graduates 
  • Britney Spears got a lot of heat for this in her early stardom on account of her very sexual image and her fanbase being largely tween and teen girls. Her very first video was quite provocative with her and the backup dancers dancing in scantily clad catholic schoolgirl uniforms, and she posed for a sexually suggestive photo shoot for Rolling Stone magazine. She only got racier from there. While it died down, it still pops up occasionally, such as with her hit single, "If U Seek Amy" (say it slowly), enraging parents as they heard their tween daughters walking around the house singing F-U-C-K Me.
  • Mostly averted by Britney's classic rival and fellow Mickey Mouse Club alum Christina Aguilera, whose early material was always a little suggestive, making her later, more sexually-mature stuff easier to accept. She still took heat for it though on account of her being very popular with teen and tween girls. The Jenny Jones Show actually did an episode in 2003 about young girls who were imitating her.
  • Anne Hathaway was the target of an explosion of controversy when she appeared topless in the movie Havoc. Her previous roles: both Princess Diaries movies and Ella Enchanted. Since then, she's successfully graduated into doing more adult roles with no further controversy, including playing a recovering heroin addict in Rachel Getting Married and starring in Love and Other Drugs, which features several extended nude scenes.
  • Likewise, Lindsay Lohan, who owes her career to her early Disney films even more than Hathaway does.
    • Some people, including her own father, disowned her when she came out of the closet and revealed her girlfriend, Samantha Ronson.
      • Lindsay and her father seem to be have mended their relationship as of late. Also it should be noted that her father was apparently against her being with Samantha not so much out of objection to the lesbian relationship but because he thought Sam was a bad influence on Lindsay (given Sam's recent D.U.I. charges, it doesn't sound so farfetched).
  • Miley Cyrus, Disney's Hannah Montana, was at the center of this almost from the start of her career. From "art shots" taken when she was just fifteen years old, to leaked phone pics of her in a wet T-shirt, to a video of her grinding on the (gay) producer of her film The Last Song when she was sixteen, to her scantily-clad performance of her song "Party in the USA" at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards (where she danced on a pole at one point), there was always a clash between her squeaky-clean Disney image and her real personality.

    Eventually, she fully abandoned this trope and embraced her growing "bad girl" image. While her 2010 album Can't Be Tamed was a start, the true turning point was in 2013, when she cut her hair short and released the album Bangerz, which was heavily influenced by synthpop and "Dirty South" hip-hop. Her videos for "We Can't Stop" and "Wrecking Ball" created mountains of controversy due to their sexuality and drug references, to the point where Todd in the Shadows all but called for an intervention for her. Meanwhile, her highly sexualized, tongue-wagging performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards earned both outcry and mockery, quickly going memetic due to its Fan Disservice and bizarre imagery — even getting one of her self-professed idols to ask her to stop. There's no doubt that this is exactly what she wanted, as her new image sent her from a washed-up Former Teen Idol in the makingnote  to one of the biggest pop stars in the world virtually overnight. She's lampshaded the change a little, saying that, under Disney, she was expected to act like an adult, and now as an adult, acts as a child.
  • Hilary Duff, Disney's Lizzie McGuire, somehow managed to avoid this, despite several close calls. She keeps a low profile in the press, doesn't publicly party, drink, or go out without underwear, and keeps mostly to family-friendly roles like A Cinderella Story and Raise Your Voice. There were some minor controversies involving her relationship with 10-years-her-senior Joel Madden, and her roles on Gossip Girl, where her character was involved in a ménage à trois with Dan and Vanessa, and in War, Inc.., where she played a spoiled, slutty foreign pop star who gets the main character's attention by putting a live scorpion down her pants. Of course, it helped her image that, in the former case, most of the Moral Guardians' ire was aimed at the show's writers and at The CW rather than at Hilary, and in the latter, that her character was a tragic parody of young, oversexed idol singers, complete with a pimp who planned on having her "star" in a porn movie. In any case, all of these blew over very quickly, and failed to tarnish her squeaky-clean image, so it's clear she's overall succeeded in averting this. It also helps that she married a hockey player (generally the least scandal-prone of the major sports leagues) and had her first baby, within wedlock, with him, at the relatively young but perfectly reasonable age of 23.
    • She lampshaded it in an interview on Chelsea Lately, when they talked about how she got pregnant.
      "Everybody thinks I'm a good girl, but I figured it out."
    • It's possible being Duff's second banana got to Lalaine, as well. It's speculated this is why she doesn't appear in the last part of the last season, or the movie. It does appear she's recovered from this stigma; she later became (for a while) the bassist for an all-girl indie rock band.
    • Around the time Material Girls came out, she mentioned turning down a lot of Darker and Edgier roles as she felt that accepting them would've been a betrayal to her fans.
  • Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens of High School Musical, who dated in real life, caught a bit of flak for such terrible things as making out on the beach and letting it be known that they were *gasp* doing things of a more intimate nature. A camera catching a condom falling out of Efron's pocket as he walked the red carpet led to a short-lived outcry. Seeing as how they were pretty much a perfectly-normal couple in their mid-twenties, it was all a little ridiculous. They have both politely but firmly explained this. Repeatedly.
    • Given the fact they remained a steady couple for over three years despite being barely out of their teens, stayed together right at the height of their media frenzy rather than taking advantage of their new fame, were obviously practicing safe sex (see the alleged condom), guarded their private relationship fiercely and even post-break up were genuinely amicable and never used the paparazzi to turn on each other, you'd think parents might see them as good example for teens. Especially as they came off as more mature than a lot of Hollywood relationships. But apparently they had to be as squeaky clean as their high school counter-parts.
    • Hudgens' multiple nude photo scandals, however, are a far straighter example. On top of the usual outcry about a kid-friendly actress posing naked, there were also concerns about Vanessa's age when she took the pictures — while she's in her early twenties now, she was about 17 or 18 when the first High School Musical film came out, which is also around when some of the photos (at least the first batch of them) are believed to have been made. Of course, the fact that the photos weren't made for public consumption is pretty much lost on the Moral Guardians. In addition, the leaks of said photos probably helped Hudgens break out of her Disney type casting more easily than her High School Musical co-stars — she's since taken roles in films like Sucker Punch and Spring Breakers and the role of Mimi in a Hollywood Bowl production of RENT, all of which have her dressed in provocative outfits (and in the case of Spring Breakers, doing nude scenes), and she's done several sexy photo shoots for fitness and fashion magazines.
    • Efron, too, has had troubles with this. He became known as a party animal after the High School Musical series wrapped up, with multiple short-lived stints in rehab, to the point where Lea Michele (whose boyfriend and Glee co-star Cory Monteith died of a heroin/alcohol overdose) begged him to give it up. Like Hudgens, he too has embraced his "bad boy" image, playing a drunken frat boy villain in Neighbors.
      • Not so much purity, but Efron was asked by Disney to downplay some of his hobbies to the public, like playing World of Warcraft, reading Manga (especially Death Note), and generally being something of a nerd.
  • Kiely Williams might have harpooned her career with this. Starting out in the Girl Group 3LW (which got their start during the sugary sweet bubblegum pop era of the early 2000s) and then moving on to being in The Cheetah Girls, she was one of Disney's poster children for a while. Then she does a little video called "Spectacular". To sum up the song, the girl goes out, gets really drunk (it's not hard to imagine she was possibly drugged), and has anonymous sex with a random guy. She can't remember his name, but she doesn't really care "because the sex was spectacular." Kiely tried to backpedal on this by saying it was supposed to encourage women to avoid these situations, but when it's really easy to turn the song's lyrics into essentially "I enjoyed getting date-raped," it didn't work.
    • Adrienne Bailon has also been an enjoyable train wreck to watch since the Cheetah Girls group and movies ended. She hung around the Kardashians for a few years, and eventually staged a fake nude photo controversy cooked up by Bailon and a gossip blogger in an attempt to boost her career. Said controversy caused the group to back out of a planned Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (to be replaced with Miranda Cosgrove and Rick Astley), and the breakup of the group not long after.
  • Brenda Song of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody appeared in The Social Network, where her character has a quickie with Andrew Garfield's character in a bathroom stall in an early scene (though no nudity is seen — it is a PG-13 movie, even with all the swearing). In other scenes, she is seen drinking and setting a scarf on fire over a Facebook relationship status. However, her role in the film didn't garner any controversy, and she still appeared on Suite Life On Deck up to that show's finale in 2011. But wait until she shows up in the West Side Story-inspired movie Boogie Town, which will show a sex scene there...
    • Rumors once circulated that she was pregnant with Trace Cyrus' baby. The two got engaged around the same time. Months later, she stated that she had never been pregnant and the engagement was called off. Many speculate that she miscarried. However, since she was no longer on Disney at this point, there wasn't much backlash to begin with.
  • Suite Life and High School Musical alum Ashley Tisdale posed nude (no frontal) for Allure. The 26-year-old Tisdale is of age (obviously), and even made it a point to say in the article that she's "...not the young girl everyone thinks I am; I'm actually a woman." Disney Channel doesn't seem to care about the shoot, though, since she still has a starring voice role as Candace on Phineas and Ferb, and has reprised her role as Sharpay in a semi-recent Disney Channel spinoff movie.
  • This happened back in the sixties to Hayley Mills (star of the 1960 Pollyanna film and The Parent Trap) when she was considered for the titular role in the 1962 Lolita and Disney told her to step away from the film.
  • Sensi Pearl, now a hardcore pornography actress and active proponent of medical marijuana, first appeared in several Disney movies such as High School Musical and Read It And Weep.
  • 1960s Disney teen star Tommy Kirk's career reportedly came to an end both due to the star's drug issues, diva-like behavior on set and homosexuality. He's since gotten sober and regrets his on-set behavior.

    Actors — Non-Disney 
  • Anime Industry: Averted for the actors who worked for 4Kids Entertainment, which produces anime series that get Bowdlerised for younger audiences. Andrew Rannells is currently starring in The Book of Mormon musical, Jason Griffith did a condom commercial, and most of the others (especially Dan Green) have done Hentai (animated pornography) at some point. Also, most of the actors that work for the company have dubbed earlier titles for older audiences, either for Media Blasters (Veronica Taylor doing Samurai Deeper Kyo comes to mind) or for Central Park Media.
    • Similarly in the Western Animation world people would be surprised that Frank Welker, Hal Smith, June Foray, and Allan Melvin who worked in many Hanna-Barbera productions together once did voice work in a pornographic animated film entitled Once Upon A Girl in which they can be heard swearing and using sexual slang while some of their characters engage in sexual activity.
  • Tim Allen toned down his stand-up after he noticed more and more families coming after he did Home Improvement and once apologized to for starting out with F-bombs in one act. Now post-Toy Story, he asks venues to make concessions for families coming to see him.
  • Julie Andrews did this both in and out of character in her husband Blake Edwards' film S.O.B., playing an expy of herself who appears topless in her husband's new film. She also has a reported tendency to curse up a blue streak, which still shocks people to this day that see her as her more wholesome roles of Mary Poppins and Maria von Trapp. (In fact, S.O.B. is partly based on her and Edwards' experience with the notable 1970 flop Darling Lili, in which she attempted to break out of her goody-goody image by playing a Mata Hari expy).
  • Ingrid Bergman, anyone? She first tried to get out of her goody-two-shoes image with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but it didn't work. Later on, she destroyed the image quite accidentally by leaving her husband for director Roberto Rosselini. The backlash was massive. She was even denounced on the floor of the US Senate. How many victims of this trope can say that?
  • The press had a frenzied field day when Elizabeth Berkley, formerly well-known for playing a straight-laced, vocally feminist high schooler on Saved by the Bell, played a nude, bisexual showgirl in, well, Showgirls. The flop of that killed her career, though that probably had more to do with the quality of the film itself than her playing that sort of role.
  • To get out of her contract on Seventh Heaven, Jessica Biel invoked this trope by posing topless (not frontal) in Gear magazine. When she was just seventeen. This was enough to get her character Put on a Bus for a good while, returning only sparingly and practically evolving into The Ghost with her own entirely off-screen storylines.
  • While some of his earlier, lesser-known roles were not family friendly — he has played a rentboy and a thief/male prostitute among others — Orlando Bloom gained his recognition from the Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean trilogies. The latter made him a teen and tweener idol, so the publicity campaign used with him portrayed him as a safe, non-sexual kind of boy next door that the parents of his 13-year-old fans could feel good about. His attempts to play to a more mature audience while maintaining the tween-friendly image were not very successful. After the last Pirates movie was released and it was no longer necessary to maintain a Disney-approved image, he pretty much became what he was: a normal single man in his late-twenties/early thirties who liked to have fun. To top it off, he began dating Miranda Kerr, a sexy Victoria's Secret model, and couldn't keep his hands off of her (they later got married and had a son, although they're now separated).

    His "offenses" were no different from what one would expect from anyone else in his position and were actually pretty tame, but certain Moral Guardians within the fandom were outraged by his behavior, blowing every incident out of proportion and declaring him ruined because they felt he somehow let them down by not continuing to maintain an unrealistically pure image. Since then, he has moved on to roles more proportionate to his age, aimed at a more mature audience, and has been receiving a decent amount of acclaim for them, so the loss of his contractual purity hasn't hurt him much.
  • Child actor Brian Bonsall, best known for his role in Family Ties as sweet little Andy Keaton, was known for playing young innocent boys who were a bit mischievous in his feature film debut Mikey in which he portrays a 9 year old serial killer who was abused by his original parents. In real life, he became a failed rockstar, drug addict, and eventually a fugitive of justice.
  • Pretty much subverted by Steve Burns of Blues Clues fame — he has explicitly stated that he has no desire to kill the image of Blue's Clues' Steve by doing anything terribly unseemly (he's even said that he has refused requests to have sex in the Blue's Clues 'Thinking Chair' that he was given, on the grounds that it would feel like a bunch of parents were watching him do it). He has more recently pursued a career as an indie rock singer/songwriter and been photographed drinking, but this was long after he left the show.
    • This comes up partially because of a role he took on Homicide: Life on the Street during his tenure on Blue's Clues. Because a child saw him in that role (why the parents allowed it is a mystery for a later time) that Burns made his public statement that he would not take on roles that might upset fans too young to understand that he wasn't really Steve on Blue's Clues.
  • There was some controversy when Keisha Castle-Hughes, who played Mary in The Nativity Story, got pregnant while unmarried and 16-years old. Although many Christian groups did praise her for going through with the pregnancy and raising the child.
  • The single most famous example is Marilyn Chambers. As a young model, her picture graced boxes of Ivory Snow detergent across the United States. When she became one of porn's most famous stars, Ivory Snow got a very quick repackaging. Also, contrary to popular legend, Marilyn Chambers was not the baby, but the young mother holding the baby.
  • One year after the second Home Alone film came out, Macaulay Culkin was seen starring in the R-rated film The Good Son where he plays a 10 year old psychopath. Among the things Culkin's character does are killing a dog with a homemade nailgun, causing a highway crash by dropping a dummy off a bridge, attempting to kill his mother, and as it's later found out, murdering his younger brother by drowning him in the bathtub. Roger Ebert's review can be found here.
    • ...and yet, he still was caught in the trope when, a full decade later, he played Michael Alig, the controversial founder of Club Kids, in Party Monster.
    • To further add fuel to the fire, Spanish dubs of The Good Son gave it the title El Ángel Malvado (The Evil Angel), as a direct allusion to Culkin's earlier Home Alone films, known over there as Mi Pobre Angelito (My Poor Little Angel), just in case people didn't get it was Macaulay Culkin playing this trope.
  • Dakota Fanning getting raped in Hounddog caused controversy until the critics came out of the theater stating they were laughing at that part, and the overall effect was pretty minimal.
    • She might have had more luck playing Joan Jett's former bandmate Cherie Currie in The Runaways. However, this movie didn't have a chance to cause much controversy on account of getting screwed by the studio.
    • Right now, she has several projects (Mississippi Wild, Now is Good, Very Good Girls) where the character she plays ends up losing her virginity.
    • Interestingly, Dakota Fanning was in a CSI episode from circa 2000 ("Blood Drops") where it turns out her murdered father sexually abused her. Oh, and her older sister who also survived is actually her biological mother. It's kinda sordid
  • Annette Funicello maintained this image for most of her career, though Walt Disney himself tried to keep her from wearing bikinis in her Beach movies. She only stuck to this in the first, where she still wore a revealing suit, and later on she wore bikinis anyway.
    • That's because she was still under contract to Disney when she was loaned out to American International Pictures for the first beach party movie, but she wasn't for the rest of them. And anyway, she wore a bikini (albeit a demure one) in Beach Party, so I have no idea why this rumor still persists.
    • Annette Funicello even told the clearly incorrect version in her autobiography.
  • The controversy over the Glee photo shoot for GQ magazine. According to the Parents' Television Council, two 24-year-old women and a 28-year-old man posing for PG-13-rated photos "borders on pedophilia" just because they play teenagers on a TV show that was never intended to be watched by children. Even worse was when the same group of people flipped out, using the same reasoning, when Lea Michele wore a low-cut top on the cover of Cosmo.
  • For a long time, Adrian Hall, who played Jeremy Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, would omit the movie on his resume and ask his manager to not mention it because he was afraid it would damage his credibility as an adult actor, i.e. that casting directors would only see him as a "child actor". But as he got successful in his adult acting career, he would put the movie on his resume and speak about it more often.
  • Nicholas Hammond (aka Friedrich von Trapp) remarked in the special features of the The Sound of Music DVD that he had tried to avoid doing anything that would get him in the papers in a bad light because he "didn't want to ruin the image" and the rest of his castmates agreed with him. Slightly subverted in that A) they didn't seem to mind all that much and B) Nicholas is really the only one involved with film these days (in Australia).
    • Heather Menzies (aka Louisa von Trapp) appeared naked in Playboy's August 1973 issue and did nude scenes in a couple of B-Movies.
  • Alyson Hannigan, sweet little Willow Rosenberg from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, managed to avoid this when she took on the role of kinky, foul-mouthed Michelle in American Pie. Perhaps the fact that Willow herself was allowed to grow up (and come out of the closet) may have had something to do with that.
  • The cast of the Harry Potter films have faced this at one point or another.
    • Daniel Radcliffe invoked a wave of moral outrage when he appeared on London's West End as Alan Strang in a production of Equus. It's an incredible (albeit disturbing) role that any actor would be insane to turn down the chance to play. The Moral Guardians, however, only saw Naked!Harry Potter — which is probably what the production company was banking on, anyway.
      • Radcliffe has managed to avert this in other ways: around the release of the final Potter movie, tabloids started reporting that he liked his liquor a tad too much. However, at this point Daniel's in his 20s and he openly admitted he had a drinking problem and got help for it, so this story produced sympathy and "attaboy"s rather than parents screaming about "Harry" being a bad influence for their sweet little darlings.
    • Similarly, there was some uproar about Clémence Poésy (Fleur Delacour) appearing topless in a French movie, even though it was before she was even cast in the film.
    • Emma Watson has let it be known that she's willing to do nudity in other films, which means it's just a matter of time before the Moral Guardians scream about Hermione Granger showing her breasts in some movie or another. Watson has also been berated by Moral Guardians for the shocking crimes of... going to a nightclub and drinking. There's also a Paris Hilton-esque crotch shot, which those guardians must have been specifically looking for in order to find it.
    • Jamie Waylett (Vincent Crabbe) got this in 2009 after being arrested for possession of marijuana, being written out of the last two films (when his character was slated to be killed off later — they wound up replacing Crabbe's death with that of Goyle for the movie to compensate), even though Crabbe isn't a particularly "wholesome" character to start with. Waylett later attracted further controversy after being charged with violence during the London riots in August 2011.
    • On the other side, it seems pretty much no one cares that Rupert Grint acted in Cherrybomb, playing a character who does drugs and steals cars. Then again, he's a bad guy who's supposed to do bad things.
    • Harry Melling, who plays Dudley Dursley in the films, has lost a huge amount of weight over the years (to the point of having to wear a fat suit for the final movie) and is barely recognizable from his younger self. He's publicly stated he is happy about this so he can avoid Contractual Purity in his adult career as an actor.
  • Melissa Joan Hart of Sabrina the Teenage Witch sent the folks at Archie Comics (who are infamously protective of their "wholesome" brand image) into a frenzy when she appeared in lingerie in an issue of Maxim.
    • This is a particularly interesting example. Maxim's target audience was not the same target audience for Sabrina, but was about the right age to have been the target audience for Clarissa Explains It All. Many readers loved the issue because they got to ogle Clarissa, and at the same time many disliked her shoot because they couldn't stop seeing her as the protagonist of a pre- and early-teen show on Nickelodeon.
      • Amusingly enough, there was an episode of Clarissa that centered on her accidentally stealing a bustier and then attempting to return it without anybody finding out. And it was called "bustier" and even shown on camera, and yes, this was on Nickelodeon in the 1990s.
  • Possibly the most dreadful example of all was Anissa Jones of Family Affair. She was contractually obligated to make promotional appearances with her breasts bound, her hair in childish pigtails, and clutching the Mrs. Beasley doll even as she grew into her teens. This is often cited as a major factor in her eventual death by drug overdose.
  • Deborah Kerr was usually typecast as the English Rose (with the exception of UK drama Black Narcissus) until her appearance as depressed adulteress Karen in From Here to Eternity. It's still considered one of her best roles of all time, even though she took the role only to shake up her image.
  • Completely averted when nudes of Jennifer Lawrence leaked online in 2014. The vast majority of public response wasn't directed at her, but the people who shared the photos. It turns out that hacking into a person's online account, stealing their private pics, and posting them online are far more heinous crimes than a grown woman taking sexy pics intended for her partner's eyes only.
  • Katy Manning got some flak for posing naked with a Dalek some time after she left Doctor Who.
  • Hayley Mills, appeared in the 1966 film The Family Way, which featured a brief shot of her bare behind and caused a scandal. She went on to play a young woman menaced by a psychopathic stalker in 1968's Twisted Nerve, and not long after married a man 33 years her senior. She has discussed how she railed against the strictures of her Disney contract, which forbade her smoking or drinking in public, among other horrors.
    • And she appeared topless in Deadly Stranger after the furor of those died down.
  • Taylor Momsen is starting to get this after adopting a much racier public image, which she puts down to firing her stylist. She has publicly stated that she doesn't want to be compared to squeaky-clean Disney stars, and "doesn't fucking care" about being a good role model for young girls. She's best known for Gossip Girl but began her career as a child actor.
  • This still dogs the Olsen twins, even as real-life scandals hone in on them.
  • This trope dates back to the silent days, at least. Mary Pickford ("America's Sweetheart"), one of the biggest stars of the early cinema, was known for her ingenue roles and her long, flowing ringlets. After she cut off her curls and played an adult role — at the age of 37 — in Coquette, she lost her popularity (despite winning an Academy Award), and retired from films shortly thereafter.
  • Billie Piper:
    • She got some flak for posing in Arena just before her debut as Rose Tyler in Doctor Who. She later had to specifically warn her young fans from that show that it would not be a good idea for them to watch Secret Diary of a Call Girl. She didn't get much heat from the tabloids for switching to the more risqué role, however.
    • Piper was also criticized in the press for being photographed partying around the time of her marriage to radio presenter Chris Evans. She was then best known as a former teen pop star once touted as the British answer to Britney. In fairness, it was more about the fact that she was a teenager and Chris Evans was in his mid-thirties, and when they got married, they'd only been dating for six months. Since Billie's pop career had pretty much died (and her acting one was yet to take off) when she started dating Evans, and since he was an extremely wealthy radio and television presenter (worth an estimated £30million), it was as much about the unseemliness of the apparent "golddigger/dirty old man" dynamic as much as Billie being a role model for teenagers. Much was made in the press, for example, of Chris buying her a pricey sports car for her birthday when she hadn't even passed her driving test yet. By the time of their divorce six years later, Billie was in her mid-twenties and the 16 year age gap between them seemed less important. But the point is that she seems to get a lot more of the flak from the relationship than he does. Although it's most likely partly down to good old misogyny (she must be a gold-digging whore, he's a man who couldn't be expected to resist a young hottie), it seems like her contractual purity plays a part too.
  • Numerous Power Rangers have surprised the fandom with their career moves following the show:
    • Jason David Frank (Tommy Oliver from four different seasonal arcs) is now an MMA fighter. This isn't too shocking to the fandom, who knew that "JDF" is probably the most skilled martial artist in the show's history, but a lot of eyebrows were raised about the massive number of tattoos he's picked up along the way. No wonder he was always wearing large sweaters in Dino Thunder. Perhaps softening the blow is the fact that he's also a devout Christian, running a Christian MMA clothing line called "Jesus Didn't Tap".
      • Frank also appeared on MTV's sex drama Undressed after leaving the franchise (but before returning for Dino Thunder). Nobody really noticed, though that says more about the show than about Jason. Hilariously enough, the majority of his scene were with actress Alyson Kiperman, who also became a Power Ranger (Yellow in Power Rangers Wild Force.) Ranger fans have been laughing their asses off since.
    • Cerina Vincent (Maya from Lost Galaxy) reappeared after Power Rangers in a Naked People Are Funny role in Not Another Teen Movie. She's also shown up, clothes-optional, in some B-grade horror films for the college set. Allegedly, she became concerned about being typecast for nudity and even haggled with a director over how many inches of her derriere would be revealed in a movie (which the director verified with a ruler).
    • Ricardo Medina Jr. (Cole from Wild Force) eventually showed up on the reality competition Kept for VH-1. It was, in a nutshell, a show with a lot of muscular guys being male models and being photographed in their underwear or even in their birthday suits with a Scenery Censor. Ricardo was considered to be quite a Jerk Ass by both the other contestants and some viewers, and was ultimately eliminated from the show for simply being too vain to have around. He has since become an exotic dancer in an all-male revue.
      • Apparently the Nostalgia Filter is stronger than this trope, as he's returned to Power Rangers as the Worthy Opponent Rival in Samurai. This may be helped by the fact that it's been almost ten years since Wild Force, Medina (now going by "Rick") looks very different now, and his acting skills having improved considerably.
      • Also worth pointing out, he was still with the revue while being on Power Rangers, though the group is one in the vein of Chippendales, being classier and not getting down to actual nudity on-stage.
  • Paul Reubens, the man who played Pee-Wee Herman, was quite infamously hit with this. Pee-Wee's Playhouse was originally an Affectionate Parody of '50's kiddie-show hosts created for a Groundlings comedy sketch, filled with double entendres and subliminal adult humor. However, the character was mistaken for an actual kids' entertainer as he became successful, causing Reubens' act to get more family-friendly and his personal life to be taken over by the character. Thus, his arrest for masturbating in an adult theater, and his subsequent arrest for having pornography in his house (not child pornography, as rumored), came as a shock to those who weren't familiar with his older material. This caused comedian Wanda Sykes to remark, "Just where is Pee Wee allowed to masturbate?"
  • Molly Ringwald appeared nude in the film Malicious, going against her "sweet teenage girl" image. However, the film wasn't really memorable, and she hadn't been a teenager for over a decade at that point, so the ripples were minor. Before that, David Lynch offered her the role in Blue Velvet that eventually went to Laura Dern, but her parents refused to let her do it, worried that it would ruin her "sweet teenage girl" image.
  • Though not beginning as a child, Bob Saget had this happen to him over a sixteen-year stretch divided between Full House and America's Funniest Home Videos. He attributes his current profanity-overflowing, exceptionally dirty and rather mean-spirited stand-up routine in part to this, claiming, "That show gave me Tourette's." In actuality, he was an exceptionally dirty comic, even before Full House. At his roast, Jeff Garlin in the character of one of the producers of Full House mentioned an incredibly tasteless joke that Bob told that warmed the producer up to him. People who knew him in college also claimed he did dirty humor, even back then. While he may attribute it to his family shows, his dirty persona may have deeper roots than he lets on. Unlike many cases here, Saget actually enjoys the stigma that follows him, just for the shock that appears on people's faces in the audience, who didn't know better.
  • Likewise, Saget's Full House co-star, John Stamos, was best known for his role on the show as Uncle Jesse. He grew tired of being in family friendly TV shows and movies. So he decided to shed this image by auditioning for the most raunchiest part he could: the Made-for-TV Movie Fatal Vows: The Alexandra O'Hara Story in which he portrays Nick Pagan, a seemingly nice man who is actual a serial killer and later tries to burn his five year old son to death in the bath tub.
    • After his tenure on ER, however, most of his family-friendly stigma is gone. Since then, he's been in a few commercials and has done a few episodes of Law & Order: SVU. One particular episode he stars in has him as a pig who exploits a multitude of women for sex in order to have copious amounts of children, and he sweet-talks them out of whatever job they may have.
  • German-Austrian actress Rosemarie Magdalena Albach, aka Romy Schneider, had her career and her private life damaged by playing Rebellious Empress "Sissi" in three blockbuster movies.
  • On the subject of Sesame Street Muppeteers...
    • Carroll Spinney (Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch) describes a bad encounter in his autobiography. One day, some moron drove onto his lawn, rolled down the window and yelled, "Hey! You the Bird? Do the voice!" Spinney says he wished he could yell "Get the hell off my property!" in Oscar's voice, but instead just silently went inside in case any of his young fans were watching.
    • Kevin Clash was the Muppeteer of Elmo, Baby Sinclair and numerous others. In 2012, he took a sabbatical from Sesame Street after a young man claimed that the two of them had a sexual relationship when he was 16. Clash did not deny the relationship, but claimed it happened after the young man had turned 18. The accuser later withdrew the allegations, but a series of other accusers came forward in its wake. Needless to say, the "sabbatical" has turned into a full-on departure, with Ryan Dillon taking over Muppeteering duties for Elmo since.
  • A big furor was kicked up when Britney Spears' sister Jamie-Lynn got pregnant at age 16. She was the star of Nickelodeon's hit Kid Com Zoey 101. It is widely believed that the scandal was responsible for the show not getting a fifth season.
  • Kristen Stewart became a victim of this after photos of her smoking pot outside her house were published. She began as a child actor and then got her big break as Bella Swan in Twilight.
    • Knowing how Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson feel about their roles as Bella and Edward, it's entirely possible that the reason she didn't take that joint inside is because she was hoping on this trope coming into play. She and Pattinson have admitted that they don't go along with contractual purity because neither would see being dropped from the Twilight series as such a bad thing. She was also probably smart enough to know that she and Pattinson were the faces of the franchise, and could do just about anything except murder or kiddie porn and still be asked back for the next one.
      • ...or later on, except adultery, in the case of Kristen Stewart and Snow White & the Huntsman. The man Stewart cheated with, director (and married father) Rupert Sanders, managed to avoid scandal and get asked back. Somehow.
  • Tara Strong sometimes tells the story at cons of how she turned down a role in a horror film because it would have required her to be topless for a scene, and she doesn't want her young fans (or perverts) looking up nude photos of her online.
  • Kamen Rider Blade was hit with news that Tsubaki Takayuki, who played The Hero, had previously appeared in a gay porn film. This was considered quite a black mark and put a question mark over whether he would appear in future nostalgia cash-ins, though he did reappear for Kamen Rider Decade. Kind of surprising when you consider that Japan does not have too many Moral Guardians and their media displays a huge Values Dissonance with the majority of the west.
  • Shirley Temple proves this is Older than Television.
    • She caused an uproar in the press when was seen drinking, which would've been shocking if not for the fact that she was in her mid 20's at the time. Then again, some states still had alcohol prohibition laws on the books, so this is also a case of Values Dissonance. And speaking of...
    • At age 17, she escaped what she considered a difficult family by marrying a war hero. That was hardly shocking in 1945. Also not shocking was the fact that the "war hero" tore through her money, beat her black and blue, and used her contacts to land acting jobs, all the while trash-talking her to directors so they wouldn't hire her and she'd have to depend financially on him. Shocking was when she decided she'd had enough and divorced the lout. She was denounced in every pulpit and every fan magazine in America as a filthy homewrecker.
  • Gabriel Thomson, who plays the uptight and geeky Michael in My Family, caused a minor outcry in the UK press when he was arrested for drug possession. He is best known for his role as Sasha in Enemy at the Gates at age 8 and then joining the cast of My Family at 13.
  • Elijah Wood, having played Frodo Baggins, was quick to avoid typecasting by playing a horrible mute cannibal who mounts women's heads on his wall and a listless pothead that tries to manipulate a girl's forgotten feelings because he's that desperate for a date. Oh, and one of the two "Hollywood Phonies" who taze Andy Samberg in the butt in a Lonely Island music video. Of course, he's done films since he was a kid (he played North, for crying out loud), so it's not like typecasting was ever a problem for him.
  • Madeline Zima, best known as the little girl in The Hand That Rocks The Cradle and as youngest child, Grace, on The Nanny, later was making out with Hayden Panettiere and punching David Duchovny in the face while fucking him.
  • H.B. Warner and Dorothy Cumming, who played Jesus and the Virgin Mary in the 1927 silent film The King Of Kings, were forced by director Cecil B. DeMille to sign agreements stating that they wouldn't take any unsavory film roles during a five year period, in order to protect their "holy" screen images. In addition, DeMille also forbade them from attending ball games, playing cards, going to night clubs, swimming, and riding in convertibles during filming.
    • During filming, DeMille allegedly paid an anonymous woman to leave the country, as she was trying to blackmail Warner over some unknown scandal.
  • Israeli Children Channel presenters are, according to their contract, not allowed to drink in public. This became a bit of a problem (just a bit, as it seems no-one really cared) once when one of them, Dana Frieder, did this a while back.
  • Tom Baker kept himself under this, not allowing himself to smoke or drink in public in order to set a good example to his young fans, as well as acting like the Doctor while out and about as much as reasonable. This did help build his mythos as being the Doctor, but doing this for as long as he did and as constantly as he did resulted in serious damage to his mental health and was part of the reason why later Doctors had much shorter tenures.
    • In public, Tom Baker held to the Doctor's standards, but in private, he was well known for drinking both before and during filming and being a right bloody terror to the production crew. This tendency only got worse in his later seasons, as he (rightly or wrongly) saw himself as the Doctor note  and refused to take direction on how to play the character from anybody, be they directors or even the series producers. His problems were something of an open secret in the British media, so much younger fans could still believe the illusion of Baker being the Doctor, while older viewers more or less knew better.

Inversions

There are some notable aversions and inversions, where the actor or actress's first role (or at least breakout role) is in a decidedly adult production, only for them to move onto more family-friendly fare. Compare Bleached Underpants, Rated G for Gangsta.
  • The exact opposite of this trope happened when Linda Blair, who played Regan in The Exorcist, tried to break into romantic comedies. After scaring the living daylights out of America, people had a hard time taking her seriously in lighter roles.
  • Jennifer Connelly's first leading role was in Dario Argento's Phenomena making her roles in movies such as Requiem for a Dream not that drastic a change.
  • Kirsten Dunst is another notable aversion who made her breakout role as a child vampire in the distinctly family-unfriendly Interview with the Vampire at the age of 12. She broke out of the "cute fluffy blonde" image as Lux in The Virgin Suicides (she was 16 during filming) after doing some children's movies and the odd Genre Savvy teen flick. In her twenties, she admitted to occasionally smoking weed and drinking too much. This doesn't seem to have caused much outrage except among a few fringe loonies who can't distinguish Dunst from Mary Jane.
  • The trope was played in reverse with Bradley James and Katie McGrath. Both starred in the family-friendly Merlin, but their first television roles involved the former having sex in a toilet cubicle and the latter being taken from behind by Henry VIII.
  • Heather Matarazzo, like Connelly, also started acting at thirteen, her breakout role being in the ultra-dark cult classic Welcome To The Dollhouse. This made her rather, ahem, disturbing demise in Hostel Part II not quite as shocking. Still pretty messed up, though.
  • Natalie Portman has been playing non-family-friendly roles for most of her career, but because of her stint in Star Wars, her general avoidance of partying, and her Harvard degree, she is seen as a good role model for young girls. She then parodied this in the Saturday Night Live sketch "Natalie's Rap", in which she reveals through rap that she drinks, does drugs, has promiscuous sex, enjoys killing and beating people (and dogs) for fun, and has a general disdain for her younger fans.
  • This trope was double subverted by Meg Ryan, who played a number of sexy and borderline-dark characters early in her career, like Donna Caldwell in The Presidio. However, in The Nineties she became known almost solely for her cute and perky roles in romantic comedies — to the point where there was considerable audience backlash whenever she tried to return to her dramatic roots in films like City of Angels and In the Cut.
  • Much like Ryan, Kathleen Turner gained early prominence with steamy roles in films like Body Heat, but then shifted almost entirely into lighter, fluffier fare like Peggy Sue Got Married and Romancing the Stone.
  • Brazilian model Xuxa (show-name; her real name is Maria da Graça Meneghel) started her career with naked pictorials and softcore porn movies. Then she became that country's biggest children's TV hostess. Unlike most of the people on this list, she's never seemed to make any bones about her pornographic past, even making statements to the effect that "sex symbols and children go hand in hand." That said, she did successfully sue Google and various other sites to block search results for one film in particular, Amor Estranho Amor, namely because it has a scene where she seduces a 12-year-old boy while dressed as a teddy bear (said outfit having about the same amount of cloth as one, even).
  • A zigzagged case can be found for Former Child Star Mara Wilson. She first gained fame as the younger daughter character in Mrs. Doubtfire, but played (mostly) family-friendly roles in films such as A Simple Wish, Matilda (as the title character) and Thomas And The Magic Railroad, her final movie. She retired from acting while still a child in 2000, graduated from college while studying drama, and is as of 2014 a blogger, playwright, burgeoning novelist and volunteer social worker in New York City. Despite being in her late twenties, and having not been in any kind of acting role outside of online web project and college stage acting, she often receives (online and in person) negative comments from many fans that their childhoods were ruined regarding how her figure filled out in the years since she left Hollywood, and commentary about her often profane language, liberal outspokenness and more adult humor on her website, Twitter account and writings. She has also expressed some horror that journalists reviewing the Broadway musical version of Matilda recommended fans of the musical see a performance of her play, Sheeple, emphasizing that the play is not for kids.

    Animators 
  • R. Crumb, one of America's edgiest, most perverted cartoonists, said that drawing cute things became a "curse" that he could never completely shake, not in terms of his audience but as something that has pervaded his own personal artistic style. Considering the spectacular depth and intensity of Crumb's perversity, this revelation was shocking in and of itself and pretty much confirms the truth of this trope.
  • Several key animators who worked on Finding Nemo animated on South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.
  • Fleischer Studios animator Myron Waldman, who mostly headed softer cartoons like many of the later Betty Boop cartoons and the more sentimental Color Classics, headed only two Popeye cartoons ("Can You Take It" and "Problem Pappy").
  • Several well known animators who worked on classic Warner Bros, MGM, Paramount, and Terry Toons shorts animated the raunchy x-rated "Fritz the Cat".

    Athletes 
In general, sports stars are often forced to act as "role models" to an even greater degree than most celebrities are.

  • Charles Barkley famously used this stigma to great effect in a Nike commercial that began with him saying, "I am not a role model." The Moral Guardians that protested the commercial apparently skipped the second half of the ad, where Barkley expands on this: "Parents should be role models. I get paid to play basketball, not to raise your kids."
  • In a book about Joe Namath, the author relates how he and Joe were in an elevator and Joe was drinking from a beer bottle. When the elevator arrived at their floor, Joe saw some kids and had to stash the bottle under his shirt.
  • Olympic swimming hero Michael Phelps had a photo of him partaking of a bong (which technically could have had something like tobacco... oh, who're we kidding?), was plastered all over the Internet. He was banned from national competition for three months and Kellogg's dropped him from their sponsorship list. He did dodge the big Olympic-sized bullet as the rules are only about "performance-enhancing" drugsnote  during competition.
    • Also, he was in Ann Arbor, Michigan. You know, the city where the local campus hosts a "Hash Bash" every year on its central quad (the Diag), and where getting caught with marijuana is a civil infraction — no worse than a parking ticket.
  • This seemed about to happen (or at least some people seemed to be trying to make it an issue) following the Women's hockey final at the 2010 Winter Olympics when, after the game, the Canadian team were photographed doing such "unladylike" things in celebration after the arena had emptied such as smoking big stogies, enjoying beer and champagne, and goofing off driving the Zamboni around the rink while whooping it up. Members of the International Olympic Committee (who don't really like women's hockey being an event to begin with) tut-tutted in disapproval and made noises about considering whether Canada should keep the gold medal. Most of the public, and the Canadian reps, pointed out that had the male hockey players been seen celebrating after what was for some the biggest game of their lives no one would have said anything. The image of IOC president Jacques Rogge being tarred, feathered, and hung from a totem pole in Stanley Park probably had nothing to do with the matter being dropped.
  • Tiger Woods had his career wrecked virtually overnight (although it didn't last that long) when various parties revealed that he had a long and colorful secret love life after years of being presented as a role model for all ages.
  • Baseball Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett's long established "good guy" image was forever ruined when in September 2002, he was arrested for allegedly groping a woman in a restroom in the Redstone American Grill in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. To make matters worse, a 2003 Sports Illustrated article from Frank Deford documented Puckett's alleged indiscretions (such as cheating on his wife and being all-around abusive to her).
  • In an interesting aversion, baseball great Stan "The Man" Musial cultivated Contractual Purity when he started playing for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1940s and never broke it for the rest of his life. He stated that he did see himself as a role model and strove to be one. He was 92 years old at the time of death and St. Louisans still absolutely adore him — so much that they campaigned for him to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom and he did receive it in January 2011. While this was wonderful for Stan, it's impossible for any other Cardinal (or any player) to live up to. Of course, it was probably easier to live life as a role model before the invasive modern celebrity culture had developed.
    • Albert Pujols was also the victim of this trope when he signed with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for a 10-year, $250 million contract. Fans had essentially determined that Albert was Stan's successor (and in a lot of ways he is/was: both are/were family men, philanthropists, etc.), and since Stan never left St. Louis, Albert is obviously the worst traitor in the history of traitors ever for doing so. Some Cardinals fans burned their Pujols jerseys and others (mostly older fans) turned the whole thing into a morality play and immediately started going on about Stan and the good ol' days. A few people took the time to understand why the whole things actually happened, though.
  • The face of WWE John Cena has stated in the past that this is pretty much the sole reason that it would be difficult for him to become a villain. He enjoys the charity work that he does, and it would be difficult for him and the WWE to give it up without a replacement handy. This trope was also the reason there was such a scandal over him getting divorced from his wife. Because Super Cena isn't suppose to have marriage problems like a normal guy.
  • Ariane (Cameron Lynn) frets over this on an episode of the reality show Total Divas. She considered getting a boob job, being unhappy with her current size. She ultimately decided against the surgery because she was afraid it would send a bad message to younger fans.
  • Molly Holly speaks against this trope in her shoot interview. As she was a Christian in real life, many dirtsheets 'reported' that she left WWE because they wanted her to "play the T&A card" - and apparently disliked the Fanservice heavy Diva Search contests. Molly said she wasn't bothered by T&A, describing it as "a part of show business". Fans also seem to forget that she still participated in plenty of bikini shoots during her time in the company.
  • Lita similarly may have had this trope in mind. She said one of the reasons she refused to pose for Playboy was because she had so many young girls as fans. Indeed many of the next generation of WWE Divas cite Lita as their idol when they were younger and she reportedly would receive so many presents from fans at events that she wouldn't be able to take all them with her — so she may have had a point. Of course she still had no problem with going out on TV with her thong showing and removing her top during matches so it's likely she wasn't that concerned with purity per se. When she turned heel on TV and became Hotter and Sexier (including a live sex celebration on Raw) the majority of fans hated her guts in real life so it wouldn't have mattered what she did.
  • In late 2010 WWE signed 7 ft wrestler Isis The Amazon and advertised her for NXT Season 3. When it was found that she had erotic fetish photos online, she was removed from the competition and later releasednote . Ironically her replacement Kaitlyn also had erotic photos online and never faced any backlash from it.
    • WWE seem to flip-flop on the issue of racy photos. Other Divas such as Mickie James and Candice Michelle did softcore porn in the past but it never affected their standing on TV. Mickie especially was pushed as a Token Wholesome during the PG Era (though her character did begin as a Psycho Lesbian). Likewise Gail Kim was rehired during the PG Era, despite having done topless photos for a Korean cell phone company. Eva Marie also worries about it on an episode of Total Divas when racy pictures are found from her past.
  • Serena Deeb was abruptly released from WWE while in the middle of a red-hot storyline. The reason was because the company was annoyed at her being seen drinking and getting rowdy in public - when she was supposed to be playing a Straight Edge character on TV.
    • Oddly enough there was a well-known photo circulating the internet of Kelly Kelly peeing into a sink and she never faced any backlash from it. Since she was only 19 when the photo was taken - and another young superstar Kenny Dykstra became known for his aggressive partying - WWE now have a policy that no wrestlers under 21 are called up to the main roster.
  • In their 2012 shoot interview the Bella Twins talked about how scared they were of breaking PG when they first debuted. As Nikki put it, "we were like the G-girls" and said they didn't want to alienate their kid fanbase. Nikki accidentally broke PG when she did some sexy gestures coming out with Miz and Morrison (forgetting their entrance was in slow motion) - and was reprimanded by Stephanie. The twins eventually avoided this and became Hotter and Sexier after their Face-Heel Turn. Nikki Bella also got breast implants, though it was after they had left WWE.
  • WWE Diva Ashley Massaro caused a bit of a scandal in mid-2008 when she was linked with a high quality escort service. Although she was released that year, she still appeared on TV twice after the story broke - and claimed that she had asked for her release to care for her sick daughter. Also the One Steve Limit may have come into play - as reports surfaced that it could have been a second Ashley Massaro, a Las Vegas based bikini model.
  • WWE's policy actually doesn't mind a Diva having done racy pictures in the past - as long as said Diva discloses them to the company. However the company frowns upon women using Amazon Wish Listsnote  and grooming of male fans. It's said to be up there with public drunken behaviour and drug use.
  • Suzy Favor Hamilton was a three-time Olympic marathon winner when it was discovered that she rented out as a call girl, which torpedoed her career.

    Comics 
  • During the 1980s and 1990s, Michael Gallagher wrote for Marvel Comics, often contributing to squeaky-clean titles such as the comic versions of ALF and Care Bears before getting more creative (though still clean) with Guardians of the Galaxy. He then moved to Archie and set the tone for the early Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog with many of the same tricks he used on his Marvel work: No Fourth Wall, Incredibly Lame Puns and stock parodies. Come the mid-1990s, he moved over to MAD, where he now comes up with twisted, grotesque gags such as this.
    • Averted for some of his earlier work for Mad, which mainly consisted of Spy vs. Spy strips drawn by Dave Manak, with whom he worked on the aforementioned Sonic comics.

    Musicians 
Pop stars in particular are held to this on account of their fanbases typically being largely comprised of teen and tween girls.

  • The Beatles had something of a (relatively) clean-cut, madcap, teen-friendly "mop-top" image, and were a youthful breath of fresh air in America following the JFK assassination. They were advised to stay away from politics and kept much of the rougher aspects of their personalities and humor (and burgeoning marijuana use) under wraps. Then came John's "more popular than Jesus" misquote, and later Paul's admission in the British press of trying LSD. Though it took a toll on their "Beatlemania" image, the changing times, refusal to tour and their psychedelic, facial hair-wearing period would soon follow with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. They would be Growing the Beard in more ways than one. By the late '60s, the group would develop a more serious image for the rest of their careers.
    • Inverted in their own country. From the moment they emerged into the public consciousness they were seen in the media as corrupting the morals of British youth with their (comparatively) long hair and snarky image they were quite unlike the clean-cut would-be home-made Elvis clones that came before like Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele, Marty Wilde or Billy Fury, whom one could comfortably take home to tea with one's mother despite those rebellious stage names. By the time the Beatles had hit America The Rolling Stones (and, heaven forfend, the Pretty Things) had emerged and one's mother could then accept the Beatles as cuddly.
  • Bone Thugs-n-Harmony after Tha Crossroads, much to the chagrin of fans that prefer their darker, harder stuff.
  • Charlotte Church began her career aged 12 as a classical singer with a squeaky-clean image that played on her background from a Catholic family in Wales. As a teenager, she was photographed smoking, drinking and going to clubs; and stated repeatedly that she wanted to shed her "choir girl" image, to criticism from fans and the press. She also made offensive comments about Pope Benedict XVI, frequently swore in interviews and engaged in a public feud with the pop group Scooch. She did eventually release a moderately successful pop/rock album, and is now better known as a TV presenter and the ex-girlfriend of rugby player Gavin Henson. Church addressed the problems of this trope herself in her statement to the Leveson Inquiry regarding phone-hacking by journalists.
    • The thing about this (and a large part of her contribution to the Leveson Inquiry) is that while half the press condemned her for doing anything not sweet and innocent, the other half had a countdown to her 16th birthday.
  • The band Evanescence was originally considered a Christian Rock band, and their albums sold in Christian book and music stores. Early on, they began stressing in interviews they did not want to be considered a Christian band, and their label asked Christian music stores to stop selling their CDs. It was probably a wise strategy, since it's unlikely an artist strongly affiliated with the contemporary Christian music scene could have sold 15 million albums worldwide.
    • In general, Christian Rock bands that tour with secular bands that include anything remotely resembling strong language in their lyrics (not just profanity, but lyrics that are "too dark"), drink alcohol (even offstage) or endorse "liberal" (read: not unambiguously right-wing) viewpoints will be accused of betraying the scene/faith by Moral Guardians.
    • A perfect example of this is the the soul-metal band King's X, which, despite always denying that they were a Christian Rock band, picked up a large Christian fanbase in the '90s due to their religious beliefs and their vaguely spiritual lyrics. Then frontman Doug Pinnick came out as being gay, and suddenly their fanbase condemned them as "traitors" to the Christian rock scene.
    • A less extreme but still notable example is Amy Grant, who garners a lot of flack from the Christian music scene for drinking and occasionally swearing.
  • Believe it or not, Elton John got hit with this in 1976, when he identified himself as bisexual in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine and basically sabotaged his status as a Teen Idol at the height of his fame. Everything turned out okay, though.
  • This happened to MC Hammer when he tried to get a tougher image. The irony: earlier in Hammer's career (before the mainstream success), he was a hardcore rapper. He later crossed over with a more dance-oriented sound, which was given note in the Ice Cube diss track "True To The Game".
  • Rapper Nelly arguably damaged his mainstream career by making the "Tip Drill" video. Before it came out, Nelly was being groomed to be like the next Will Smith (but with more street cred), as a rapper who had mass appeal and wasn't like the other hardcore gritty rappers in the mainstream. So now there's this huge backlash and Nelly's career seemed defined by that raunchy vid. It arguably sapped his career's momentum.
  • Jo O'Meara, formerly of the squeaky-clean pop group S Club 7, got this in 2007 when she appeared on Celebrity Big Brother and was accused of racism towards fellow contestant Shilpa Shetty. Also happened to her bandmates Bradley McIntosh, Jon Lee and Paul Cattermole while they were still in the band, after they were cautioned for drug possession. Notably averted by Rachel Stevens, who has successfully moved onto her own pop career with a sexier image; and Hannah Spearritt, now better known for TV's Primeval.
  • Jessica Simpson started out as a Christian pop singer with a clean and innocent public persona — she even taped down her breasts for performances because her promoters felt that her natural bustiness would hurt her good girl image. When she became a mainstream pop star, her record company convinced her to adopt a sexier image. Simpson then started wearing more revealing clothes in public, posed for magazines such as Maxim, and played Daisy Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard film. The change in image from "squeaky-clean gospel singer" to "mainstream sex symbol" did not sit well with some of her fans, and she was accused by many of being a bad role model.
  • Taylor Swift has openly stated she believes in this trope and that she has a responsibility to her younger fans. Here's a clip from her interview with with 60 Minutes where she discusses it.
    Swift: It'd be really easy to say, "I'm 21 now. I do what I want. You raise your kid." But that's not the truth of it. The truth of it is that every singer out there with songs on the radio is raising the next generation, so make your words count.
    • In more recent times, though, Swift has garnered quite a bit of controversy (mostly among her own fans) for the ridiculous amount of short-term relationships she's had during the last few years. Many fans have branded her a slut — somewhat curiously, given that a repeated claim of many of her ex-boyfriends is that she doesn't put out. (Harry Styles went as far as to call her "an asexual prude.") Others (such as Conan O Brien) have joked that the reason for her constant cycle of breakups is so she could have an endless stream of material to write sad songs about.
  • Linkin Park received some flak from Moral Guardians when they began using profanity on their album Minutes to Midnight. Their first two albums, Hybrid Theory and Meteora, were notably G-rated in comparison to the band's Nu Metal peers.
  • Though it's taking a bit of time for the backlash to really set in, squeaky-clean pop star Justin Bieber's recent off- and on-stage behavior has started to get him flak from the Moral Guardians and late night comedians alike. To wit: getting caught leaving a brothel in Rio De Janeiro; being filmed sleeping by a Brazilian prostitute he hired; constantly missing, canceling, or showing up hours late for shows and meet-and-greets with his young fans; getting caught spraying graffiti (graffiti showing his support of convicted felon and girlfriend-beater Chris Brown) in Colombia; abandoning his pet monkey in Germany; desecrating the Argentinian flag onstage (an offense punishable by imprisonment in Argentina); getting into a fight with a British paparazzo; smoking marijuana; reckless driving; public urination (while inexplicably shouting "F*CK BILL CLINTON"); writing that he hoped Anne Frank would have been a fan of his after visiting the Anne Frank House, and showing up in baggy overalls and a baseball cap to meet the Prime Minister of Canada. Add the fact that Bieber is coming of age and a new teen phenomenon from across the pond has already toppled him from his throne, and it sounds like his career should be deader than dead. But no, there are still thousands of teenage girls who adore him.
  • Speaking of One Direction, Moral Guardians seem to be invoking this almost instantaneously over them following a newspaper's release of two of them smoking marijuana.

    Politicians 
American politicians are under even more pressure to act as "role models" than actors or atheletes. While most voters are willing to accept certain levels of corruption from politicians, it's only the stuff that actually comes to the forefront that ends up hurting them. Typically, the quickest way for a politician's career to be derailed is to be caught in a sex scandal, guilty or not.

  • Bill Clinton, US President from 1993 to 2001, had a reputation as a womanizer (including a sexual harassment allegation) going back to his time as governor of Arkansas in The Eighties. This was used against him during his first term campaign, but not only did it fail to derail him, but it may have actually helped bring more attention to him, as he was an unknown "dark horse" candidate. However, this reputation was a key issue that his detractors frequently used against him throughout his presidency, culminating in his second term being dominated by the reveal of his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. This led to Clinton being impeached (only the second US President to have this happen to him) on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, ultimately being acquitted.

    However, it was largely only in the media that it was such an issue. Despite the scandal and impeachment leading to Clinton being the Butt Monkey of countless sex jokes and late-night comics, he still maintained a high approval rating from the public, with only his detractors considering the affair to be a huge deal. In the end, he left office with a record high end-of-term approval rating, with voters viewing him as a Bunny-Ears Lawyer who left behind a strong economy even in spite of his own personal issues.
  • Al Gore, Clinton's Vice President, suffered on account of his belief in this trope. Despite the fact that Clinton still was popular during the Lewinsky scandal, Gore made the foolish move of distancing himself from Clinton on account of the scandal when Gore ran for president in 2000 and wouldn't let Clinton campaign for him. This cost him voters who liked Clinton and failed to win him the ones who didn't like Clinton. This is considered a key factor in Gore losing what political experts think should have been one of the easiest presidential wins ever.
  • Barack Obama might not have been elected US President in 2008 without this trope, as he might not have been elected to the US Senate in 2004. Obama's opponent for the seat, Republican Jack Ryan (no, not that one) was ahead of him in the polls until a sex scandal involving his ex-wife, actress Jeri Ryan (yes, that one!), went public after their previously sealed divorce records were opened. Unlike usual political sex scandals, it wasn't an extramarital affair or an illegitimate child, but one that strictly applies this trope. Ryan had taken his wife to a bondage club several years prior and asked her to perform sex acts with him out in the open. Despite Ryan's denial and Obama asking the Democrats not to inject the issue into the campaign, the backlash forced Ryan to drop out of the race. His replacement, the fringe perennial candidate Alan Keyes, would go on to lose to Obama in a landslide so big that it gave birth to the term "crazification factor"note .
  • US Congressman Anthony Weiner, Democrat for New York, from 1999 to 2011, had his political career shot down after he posted a link to a sexually suggestive photo of himself on his Twitter account. He first denied that he had posted it but later admitted that he had and that he had exchanged sexual pics and messages with at least six other women. Weiner initially refused to resign despite enormous pressure from his fellow Democrats and President Barack Obama, only relenting after a sexually explicit photo was leaked. And then, a similar but different scenario (sexting women other than his wife) shot down his bid for New York City mayor, and his own attitude towards it has pretty much put an end to his political career (and, perhaps, his marriage).
  • US Senator Larry Craig, Republican for Idaho, from 1991 to 2009, had a reputation as an arch-conservative, speaking out against Bill Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal (see above) and staunchly opposing gay rights. This made his 2007 arrest for lewd conduct in an airport restroom (he later plead guilty to the lesser charge of disorderly conduct) even more ironic; matters were only made worse by his attempted denial, which made the term "wide stance" a Memetic Mutation. The ensuing scandal forced him to choose not to run for a fourth Senate term in 2008.
  • A case similar to Craig's happened to Representative Trey Radel, Republican from Florida, who in 2013 was arrested for trying to purchase cocaine not long after backing a plan to make passing a drug test a requirement for receiving food stamps.

    Teachers 
  • The same stigma exists against school teachers; one of the first things that Education programs drill into you is never to be seen doing things that your students aren't old enough to do (with the possible exception of driving a car), for fear that it may affect your credibility as an authority figure. This doesn't mean teachers don't cut loose of course; they're just mindful of where they go and what they post on Facebook.
    • There was a story about a teacher who was fired for having pictures of her drinking wine on Facebook. Another, more saddening story was about a woman where either her insurance or disability payments were cut off because she had depression, but had pictures posted of her having fun on Facebook note .
    • Something similar happened to a Florida teacher who was arrested for drinking with her husband in a bar where sexual shenanigans were going on in the back. The police dropped the charges. The school board didn't.
    • A bill in the Arizona state legislature, introduced in early 2012, would make it illegal for teachers to "engage in speech or conduct that would violate the standards adopted by the Federal Communications Commission concerning obscenity, indecency and profanity if that speech or conduct were broadcast on television or radio." In essence, if passed, every teacher in Arizona would have literal Contractual Purity.
    • In Britain at one time quite a few schools reached a tacit agreement with their older students whereby one designated pub was out of bounds to students and another was out of bounds to teachers. The legal drinking age in Britain is 18 so many older students could do so within the law, but it was also tacitly acknowledged that quite a bit of under-age drinking amongst their classmates was going to go on.
    • A literal trope for many teachers at Protestant Christian schools. Many of them have to sign "covenants" forbidding them from drinking and having sex out of wedlock. Many of them will also enforce this for students as well. This means that they can get in trouble for stuff they do off-campus.
  • A second grade teacher who took a sick day, appeared on Howard Stern's show in a bikini, and returned to find herself out of a job due to violating a school morality code. She ended up suing the school district.
  • Then there was the much-publicized case of a school-teacher being found to have previously starred in porn, with two camps cropping up - those that believed her history shouldn't be factored in as long as she was done with it, and those that believed it sapped all credibility and respect from her. Seeing as she's been fired twice since being found out the first time, it's fairly obvious which side won out.

    Other 
  • Recently, Random House has been trying to enforce this for children's authors.
  • Several of the presenters of UK children's magazine show Blue Peter have fallen afoul of this, with BIG NEWS in the tabloids that some presenters have been caught on camera smoking (shock!) or drinking (horror!).
    • And Janet Ellis, who was allegedly sacked for being single and pregnant.
    • On the other hand, Richard Bacon being sacked after being caught taking cocaine was pretty reasonable.
    • And Peter Duncan was fired for having appeared in a soft porn film. Though in this case, the adult film role in question was one that he did before joining Blue Peter; he was fired for not having revealed it to the BBC during his application (although had he done so, he would probably never have been made a presenter in the first place).
  • This even happens with buildings. Several years ago one blogger posted pictures he'd taken of the house from A Christmas Story and complained about how the owners had made several exterior renovations to the house. The house was auctioned off on eBay in 2004, and the new owners restored the house to the way it looked in the movie and turned it into a museum.
  • This is subject to Values Dissonance. Take Argentina, where they have former nude models or actresses hosting children shows, like Laura Franco (AKA Panam), and they don't mind. It helps attracting more viewers, like the fathers that watch the show with their children for the Parent Service.
  • Lest you think this is purely an American trope, try following any Teen Idol in Japan (even those grown into their twenties!) and you'll see this in spades. If a girl kisses, goes on a date, or heaven forbid, admits to having sex, she is torn apart by rabid fans who are apparently so lonely and hopeless, they can only imagine younger girls as a pristine virginal fantasy and the companies also enforces rules forbidding romantic relationships whatsoever. Anything that shatters that illusion brings on their vicious ire. Just ask Aya Hirano, who got into a bit of trouble just because she was wearing a ring in a picture. Or worse, Minami Minegishi of AKB48, who was demoted to trainee and shaved her head after she broke her band's "no dating" rule. (The demotion was the band's idea, but the head-shaving was Minegishi's.) Yeah, you think America's Moral Guardians are bad, they're still way behind hardcore Japanese Otaku.
    • Of course, this only applies to more "traditional" idols like Kashiwagi Yuki and Mayuyu Watanabe. Sashihari Rino was also caught in a similar incident as Minami but despite suffering from a demotion by being put into the smaller NMB 48 and later to HKT 48, she managed to spin it to her favor and proceeded to become the most popular of the NMB 48 elections after the scandal and secure second place in the 6th Senbatsu General elections.
    • An even more extreme example is that when voice actresses were once gravure or porn actresses. The best they could receive is to have no or little future roles. On worst, it would be outright ban from the voice acting industry, like former voice actress Eriko Ishihara [who played Atsuko in Diamond Dust Drops]; she was banned from the voice acting industry in 2004 when news broke that she also was an AV idol while doing voice acting.
    • Heck, Japanese fans do this to fictional characters too. Probably the most infamous example is Kannagi, where one chapter of the manga hinted that Nagi had a boyfriend once (not that she had sex, just that she was romantic with a guy). Cue angry fans decrying the series and the author, saying "I don't want a second-hand wife", and the author subsequently ending the series for health reasons, which most people believe is the stress she suffered from dealing with said fans. Making it even more bizarre is the fact that Nagi is hundreds of years old, and her fans are still outraged that she might have dated a guy at some point during her centuries-long existence.
    • Although Les Yay and Ho Yay is an exception to the rule. A seiyuu or idol can almost admit they are homosexual or bisexual and no one bats an eye at them. Hitomi Nabatame and Shizuka Ito may be this, though the latter recently admitted to having gotten married to someone outside of the entertainment industry.
  • This from Not Always Right — as usual, with extra delicious Hypocritical Humor on top.
  • Self-parodied by Ron Howard on both Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons. He poked fun at his squeaky-clean image by drinking a beer during his opening SNL monologue and asking Homer to buy him vodka in a Simpsons episode.
  • Lauren Conrad of Laguna Beach and The Hills. Throughout the "Orange County" franchise, Lauren is characterized as a squeaky-clean aspiring designer who's caught in an innocent and chaste Love Triangle between Jason Wahler (the "bad boy" on the show) and Stephen Colletti (who is the "saint" of the series). In actuality, though, Lauren caught a serious amount of flack from viewers and the media during the third season of The Hills when it was alleged that she made a sex tape with Jason. This happened despite the fact that she was a mid-20's woman at that point, who had grown out of her teenage years. The negative press that spiraled out of this revelation (and the interest by the paparazzi) may have been part of the reason why she eventually left the show.
  • Jim Henson received flak at one point for... dating. Just dating. He was as baffled as you probably are right now, and it got dropped fast.
    • If it was after he became famous for the Muppets and Sesame Street, the flak was probably because he was, you know, married. He and his wife separated for a time, but never divorced. So the Moral Guardians may have had a point there. Where he really was frustrated was when he got flak for doing Muppet productions that were not necessarily family-friendly, as, Sesame Street aside, he had created the characters to produce adult shows. The first episode of The Muppet Show is actually titled "Sex and Violence" (though it doesn't really have much of either.)
  • It's not at all unusual to hear about professionals like teachers and newscasters getting fired after posting a sex ad on Craigslist. This becomes Fridge Logic and hypocrisy when you realize that the original accuser would have been browsing the sex ads on Craigslist in order to see it in the first place, barring the occasional case of a Craiglist browser specifically pointing out the ad to Moral Guardians for shits and giggles, not caring that they're ruining someone's career in the process.
  • Often a problem seen on the resumes of female seiyuu, expect to see a lot of fake names for female seiyuu in H-Game works and some like Yuu Asakawa erased her records of working in hentai when she married. Male Seiyuus however are unbashedly allowed to admit they do Hentai, let it be regular hentai or Boys Love. But God forbid a popular male seiyuu get married and have children, as poor Mamoru Miyano found out.
    • There is now an otaku movement to create a law barring female seiyuu from dating or marrying, even demanding that they be virgins. Yes, really.
  • Back in the '20s and '30s, the Ford Motor Company enforced this for factory workers. Ford had an army of private detectives to spy on employees and ensure that they were living morally clean, upstanding, good Christian lives, free of such sins as adultery, alcoholism and atheism, under the belief that moral workers were more productive workers. (This is the same reason why big business generally rallied in support of alcohol prohibition at the time.) Failure to follow the Ford morality clause could get workers fired.
    • This issue was one of the (many) problems that ultimately derailed Fordlândia, Ford's attempt to build a rubber plantation in the Amazon in order to reduce the company's dependence on rubber from British Malaya. The lifestyle that the company tried to enforce — no women, no alcohol, no tobacco, and American food in the cafeterias — was so alien to the Brazilian workforce that a settlement called the "Island of Innocence", filled with bars, nightclubs, and brothels, developed just five miles up the river to serve the increasingly frustrated workers (who rioted in 1930).
  • Vanessa L. Williams was crowned Miss America in 1983. 10 months after winning the crown several nude photos of her (which had been taken before she became Miss America) were sold to Penthouse magazine, who then published them. The resulting scandal was huge and Williams herself became the target of death threats and hate mail. Eventually she was convinced to resign as Miss America and title instead went to the runner-up.
    • This was averted in the long run, however. As a singer and actress, she has had the most successful post-pageant career of any Miss America in the pageant's entire history, and is generally the only one most people can name offhand.
  • Averted on RuPaul's Drag Race. More than one contestant has done porn in the past, and RuPaul has never commented when these revelations are made, implying that he doesn't care and that it doesn't affect his decisions. Granted, GLBT media tends to be much more forgiving in this area than the mainstream.
  • A non-adult version with Soichiro Hoshi and Tohru Furuya, when Tohru was chosen to voice Ribbons Almark in Mobile Suit Gundam 00, he decided to go by an alias. Soichiro Hoshi also had an alias when he voiced a Monster of the Week in Samurai Sentai Shinkenger.
  • Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina is one of several Christian colleges known for having overly complex rules for its students and teachers, based on its interpretation of the Bible. Students are forbidden from listening to rock music, forbidden from having unmarried sex, forbidden from watching virtually any form of non-Christian entertainment (except for PG movies with a chaperone), and female students are required to have chaperones when leaving campus. Students have actually been expelled for criticizing the university, which has also received criticism from Christians and non-Christians alike.
  • A really disgusting example occurred in Scotland in 2009, when the Sunday Express newspaper printed a front page attack piece on some survivors of the Dunblane school massacre, which had happened thirteen years before, for allegedly insulting the memory of their dead schoolmates by talking about drinking, fighting and sex on social networking sites. It was suspected that the story was inspired purely by the fact that they had reached 18 and were no longer protected by Press Complaints Commission rules about intrusion into their private lives.
  • This is a big cited reason for Selective Squick from old-school fans of Doctor Who towards the new show - having watched the show as children when No Hugging, No Kissing was in effect, they are uncomfortable with how the new series is a lot Hotter and Sexier, finding it disrespectful towards the Doctor.

Fictional Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Perfect Blue has an Idol Singer moving into more risque activities. Some people aren't happy.
  • Macross: Do You Remember Love: Hikaru is chastized by his superior officer, Misa Hayase, for having been found kissing Idol Singer Lynn Minmay, never mind it was her idea, because the press had a field day with it, splashing the incident all over the tabloids. Later, after Hikaru "borrows" a training Valkyrie fighter to take Minmay on a joyride. Her manager/cousin claims that it would be the end of her career if the press got hold of it.
    • In Macross Frontier, Ranka is suspended from her school after partaking in a "Miss Macross" contest... which is completely official and gov't-approved.
  • An interesting case in Pokemon Special. White freaks at the idea of one member of her star Tepig couple evolving, thinking that they would no longer be as marketable if it happens. As such, she forces Tep to stop evolving by shaking him real hard.
  • In the episode "Fallen Angel Rina" of the Hentai series Cool Devices Rina, a pink-haired Idol Singer is lauded for her Girl Next Door image... and her manager basically starts pimping her until she reaches the point where she masturbates on stage with the microphone at a concert.
  • In AKB49 - Renai Kinshi Jourei, members of the idol group AKB48 are forbidden from entering into any love relationships. This particular rule is even directly referenced by the sub-title.
  • One story in Black Jack centers around a fifteen-year-old idol who is going through an endoscopic pregnancy. Because she was marketed on the appeal of being a wholesome girl, her manager is desperate that this all be kept under wraps. The story gets out anyway, and Black Jack is disgusted that the manager is more upset that the idol has lost her appeal, rather than being glad that she survived.
  • Idol No Akahon has the titular group of idols get told that they shouldn't date (or be caught in anything resembling anything remotely scandalous) by the CEO of their talent agency to avoid alienating their fanbase.

    Comics 
  • In Pearls Before Swine, Pastis' licensable character Bippy lost his licensable status when Rat got him drunk.

    Film 
  • A large amount of Death to Smoochy dealt with hosts of children shows living less-than-exemplary lives off-screen.
  • In Ernest Saves Christmas, a famous children's show host wanted to break out of the kid scene and have a more serious role, but backed out of it when his role required him to swear.

    Literature 
  • In the novel Second Coming Attractions by David Prill, Ricky Bible is an actor who becomes famous for portraying Jesus. Needless to say, he's ambivalent about telling anyone that he and his (unmarried) girlfriend are expecting a child.
  • Spoofed in Ben Elton's High Society. A drug-addled rock star who became famous through a reality TV show lifts the lid on one of his fellow contestants, who tried to win over the public with a sweet and squeaky-clean image but was secretly a coke-snorting porn queen.
  • There's a short story in which a jaded ex-child-star's pregnancy must be accounted for without destroying her Contractual Purity, so her studio arranges a hasty marriage to an actor whose manly public image also needs shoring up. (The groom is secretly into gay child porn, though he's never acted on his urges.) For added publicity, they're cast in a live-broadcast production of a play about the search for a unicorn. At the climax of the show, right when the surgically-crafted goat "unicorn" is supposed to walk up to the actress in a Tastes Like Diabetes finale, the animal suddenly forgets its training, goes into a trance, and — live on global television — lays its head in the mother-to-be's husband's lap.
  • In W.E.B Griffin's Men At War series, there is Monica Carlisle, an actress who specializes in playing sweet young ingenues and mother of major character Eric Fulton. The studio that employs her goes to considerable effort to make her public think she really is like that, including things like covering up the fact that she has a son in his twenties (Who is only legitimate because she quietly married the father after she got pregnant to maintain her public image, and divorced him a year later), who would have been born when she was seven if one believes the birth date listed in her studio-produced biography. She's also The Prima Donna, who is despised by many of the lesser studio people who have to interact with her on a regular basis.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Dealt with in an episode of Shark, in which such an actress had been murdered.
  • An episode of Diagnosis: Murder had the murder victim (the Executive Head of a PAX-style Christian TV network) given a fatal heart attack by video clips sliced into a show she's reviewing that had images of a lookalike practicing Satanism (which she did in college), something that would ruin anyone's career, let alone hers.
  • This becomes a major plot point in Entourage. After making the Aquaman movie, Vincent is "branded" by the studio as being family franchise only — which means that, until he completes all three movies in his Aquaman contract, the studio is unwilling to let him make his dream film Medellin (about drug lord Pablo Escobar) for fear of hurting the franchise. Of course, since admitting this to Vincent would naturally make him quite angry, the studio tries to deflect the issue by setting up a series of seemingly impossible conditions before they'll let him make the movie. Which backfires even worse, because while Vincent may have accepted the problem if they had told him about it outright, the fact that they lied to him and sent him on a wild goose chase causes him to make an unreasonable demand of his own — thirty millions dollars or he's not putting on the tights again.
    • There is another story arc in Entourage where Vince becomes romantically involved with actress/singer Mandy Moore when the two of them are cast in the Aquaman film together. When Mandy's handlers find out about the relationship, they attempt to force an end to it because they fear that Mandy's squeaky-clean, good girl image will be damaged if the public learns that she's involved with Vincent Chase, who has a reputation as a womanizing party animal.
  • An entire episode of Monk, "Mr. Monk's Favorite Show", revolves around this concept.
  • Parodied in one episode of Chappelle's Show. One episode has a sketch in which comedian Paul Mooney plays "Negrodamus", a black prophet, who is asked why "White people love Wayne Brady so much." Negrodamus replies it is because "he makes Bryant Gumbel look like Malcolm X". A later episode has a sketch where Dave reminisces about spending time with Wayne, in which Wayne reveals himself to be so vile that Dave is afraid to hang out with him again. He's a pimp, murderer, and in one instance, actually says a line that he felt uncomfortable saying for comedy, "Is Wayne Brady gonna have to choke a bitch?"
  • An interesting example happened in the 12th season of the Spanish series Cuentame Como Paso. Back in the first season, six-year-old Ricardo Gomez was cast as 8-year-old Carlitos, and since the series has been on air for over 10 years, the now 16-year-old actor is playing an 18-year-old character who had to become sexually active as it was necessary for the series to reflect the Spanish "destape" age. A few people in Spain thought it scandalous when Carlitos and his girlfriend had sex. The scene was filmed overhead, so the nudity was minimal, but some people admitted to being uncomfortable watching the children they had seen grow up on TV having sex. However, the controversy in Spain was still relatively small compared to what one can imagine would have been the Moral Guardians outrage if something like this had happened in the US.
  • In the British drama, Drop Dead Gorgeous, a high school student is employed by a modelling agency, only to cause uproar when scantily clad photos of her are plastered about town.
  • Lampshaded on Once Upon a Time. When Emma runs into Mary Margaret late at night and asks what she's doing, Mary Margaret replies a little annoyed, "I'm a teacher, not a nun. I was on a date."
  • In The LA Complex, Alan Thicke plays the creator and executive producer of a 7th Heaven-type show one actress auditions for. He expects everyone involved in the production to live as the Bible teaches. (This may be a Take That to Thicke's Growing Pains co-star and current evangelical poster-boy Kirk Cameron.)
    • could also be Take That or ironic Actor Allusion to Thicke himself as he has a reputation as a Ladies' Man and is one of the first to joke that his work on Pageants is all about access to the contestants.
  • In 30 Rock, Jenna Maroney at one point contracts to be the spokeswoman for the wool trade group, which includes a morality clause because of wool's wholesome image. This poses something of a problem for Jenna, since she does have a habit of getting into shenanigans and freaky sex, but then, she reasons, she can always do that in private. Her problem is that her boyfriend Paul is a "gender-dysmorphic bigenitalian pansexualle" who, long story short, dresses up as Jenna for a living (and beat her in a Jenna Maroney lookalike contest). Hilarity Ensues when the president of the wool trade group and his wife come to dinner and Jenna and Paul are trying to act normal...

    Music 
  • "Centerfold" by the J. Geils Band. The speaker fondly remembers a young blue-eyed, sweater-clad girl from school that he had a crush on way back when, and sees her again as an adult later...in a porn magazine. He is initially shocked as it clashed with her squeaky-clean image, but eventually, he not only accepts it, but embraces it.

    Theatre 
  • In Ayn Rand's unproduced play Think Twice, a stage actress known for playing noble, innocent, Too Good for This Sinful Earth characters is desperate to play in a "cheap, vulgar commercial" comedy the part of a conniving social climber who drinks, swears and sleeps around. She declares she's done enough saccharine simpering, her producer be damned.

    Video Games 
  • Paz in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is something of a parody of this treatment towards Japanese pop idols. She has blond hair, is a Pollyanna and is voiced (in the Japanese version) by a Japanese pop star, who even contributes an Image Song for her for the soundtrack. But Paz herself is a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, who is a lot older than she says she is and hates her false identity more than anything else on Earth.
  • Brought up in the SNK Dating Sims Days of Memories, if the girl you-as-the-player want to romance is the pop idol Athena Asamiya. She will often be worried by how her career will be "tainted" if she begins dating the MC, which will happen in more than one game: in Boku no Ichiban Taisetsu na Kimi her manager threatens to resign if Athena's image is harmed, and in Boku to Kanojo to Koto no Koi a scandal breaks out when some pictures of her and the MC are leaked to the I-net.
    • Also alluded to in The King of Fighters XIII: if Athena wins against Benimaru she'll say "As an idol, scandals are taboo, so I can't go on a date with you! ♪", and in Story Mode Yuri will directly ask Athena if it's true that she can't "hang out with friends in public or date and stuff", which Athena will confirm.

    Web Comics 
  • In MegaTokyo, Erika reveals that she once had a pregnancy scare that could have ruined her Idol Singer career, and her boyfriend broke up with her so that it couldn't happen again and she would be safe. This only made her hate her job for destroying her relationship, disappear from the public eye and become the snarky Broken Bird we know and love. Then she discovered that boyfriend was a big fat liar.
  • When Safari Sam was outed, all hell broke loose, beginning the comic's endgame.
  • The major characters of Love Me Nice all need to maintain squeaky clean public personas to protect the image of the popular childrens' show they work for, to the point where one of them getting a boob job is cause for a minor crisis because it might make her look too mature and sexual for the part she plays on the show.

    Web Original 
  • Happens in The Pokemon Squad. After KaBlam! was cancelled, June (who was fourteen at the time) was so upset, that she started smoking and drinking. At her age of twenty-five in the fanfic series, she is a full-blown alcoholic, smokes constantly, and in the episode "The Future is Evil", she starts pole-dancing at nightclubs.
    • As for Henry, he tries not to get himself into trouble. He just has the occasional drink at a party.
    • Doug Funnie, on the other hand, subverts this. While he's still as sweet as sweet can be (and even moreso), he's also an alcoholic, due to various problems in his life (which usually have to do with Barney, Roger never leaving him alone, the stress of being owned by two companies, and his job at McDonald's which is dressing up as children's characters for birthday parties)
    • The main six from Recess caused a scandalous incident when they went to a resturaunt and ordered alcoholic beverages (and they were able to get them because T.J. explained to the waiter at the resturaunt that they were nine in 1997 so they were born in 1988 and could legally drink; however, those characters in the fanfic are under Comic-Book Time and are still nine), and a little kid found them, noticed that they're the ones he saw on Disney XD, and told his mom as they watched them drunkly sing the Texas song.
  • Subverted in an xkcd strip with a video of Mister Rogers fighting his wife. Despite the buildup, it's actually just him talking to her about how much he loves her in spite of their differences of opinion.

    Western Animation 
  • South Park deconstructed this brutally with "Britney's New Look", painting this as a deliberate invocation in the style of The Lottery, where young starlets going into adulthood were routinely sacrificed to guarantee a good harvest. After they were done with Britney, they then turned to Miley Cyrus saying "Next year will be a good harvest."
    • This trope was also used in a later episode, "Taming Strange", where Foofa from Yo Gabba Gabba decides to adopt a more adult-oriented image. Her castmates and Sinead O'Connor try to talk her out of it, but they are unsuccessful, and Foofa gives a raunchy performance.


Content WarningsShow BusinessCult Classic
Christmas RushedCreativity LeashDarker and Edgier
Coat, Hat, MaskOlder than TelevisionThe Convenient Store Next Door
Contest Winner CameoTriviaCopiously Credited Creator
Britney SpearsImageSource/MusicHollywood Pudgy

alternative title(s): Prisoners Of Polly Anna; Mouseketeer Syndrome
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