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Hollywood Hype Machine

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And then came the Hype Backlash.
What a twist!

"There's no business like show business, like no business I know..."

Ever since Hollywood has been in existence, it has tried to make new stars. A new big star can sell a movie, and once they're proven a success, they can sell many other movies. This is especially handy when the fickle viewing audience turns on a big-name actor with star power, or Real Life Writes the Plot and they do something scandalous. Having a long line of replacements always pays off, and you can never have too many major stars.

The Hollywood Hype Machine refers to the massive set-up that is in place to create said new stars, or new TV shows, books or movies. An aspiring, good-looking young actor, after getting a few noteworthy roles in indie films, TV shows, or their home country under his or her belt, will be chosen by a studio to be the "Next Big Thing" (or "It Girl" if female) and will thus get a major headlining role. They'll immediately appear in celebrity magazines and on entertainment programs and be touted as the Next Big Thing, and they'll give interviews in every medium possible. Several new roles will be announced at once. Tabloids will start following them around. Men's/women's interest magazines will be lining up to offer them a sexy photo shoot. They'll show up to host Saturday Night Live. They'll make People's list of the 50 Most Beautiful People and, if they're female, the "Top 100 Hottest Women" list of any men's magazine. Meanwhile, failed stars will suddenly drop off these lists. Did they suddenly become less good-looking? No, they're just not worth pushing any more.


If the resulting push succeeds, great. If it bombs...? Well, the star will linger for a year or two before disappearing, as people wonder "what the hell ever happened to...?". At best, they will continue working in indie flicks, low-key studio pictures, and television, and may even be able to mount a comeback later. At worst, they will be in rehab, unemployment lines, and "Where Are They Now?" specials (or worse). Sometimes, even if they're successful, the actors may get overwhelmed and suffer public burn-outs, become typecast or too associated with a particular role, or simply reject Hollywood for a normal life.

The Hollywood Hype Machine is very fickle, but has a never-ending supply of willing young stars and starlets ready to take the place of the old one. The reason that magazines, tabloids and TV shows (even ones unaffiliated with Hollywood studios) get into it is because, by pushing these new big stars, they can have big headlines and have paparazzi follow them around, thus selling more magazines and getting higher ratings.


Not even the might of the Hype Machine can determine what the public's tastes are going to be and while it can be powerful, it requires a certain delicacy of touch; trying too hard to make someone the Next Big Thing is a very good way of making the public sick of them very quickly. Still, the very existence of Hollywood and the television industry depends on fresh young talent. It's likely that every major star of today, good and bad, has at one point benefited from this.

Women seem more affected by this than men, perhaps as a result of roles and stardom coming to the most recent pretty new girl on the scene. As the female stars age, Hollywood decides they aren't pretty enough anymore, and casts the new young thing. Male stars, meanwhile, are offered a lot more leeway with their looks, and can even be downright unattractive (and can therefore get known for things besides their bodies), so they are less affected and are generally less replaceable. The main exceptions are, of course, young Pretty Boy actors whose main purpose is to make young women squee their way to the theater. For every Leonardo DiCaprio who makes it to the top, there are countless young studs off of The WB or The CW who don't.

Compare Deader Than Disco, Hype Aversion, Hype Backlash, Music Is Politics. Also compare it to the "star system" employed by the studios during The Golden Age of Hollywood, which this is effectively a modernized version of. A related term in Professional Wrestling is referred to by fans as "pushed to the moon." Basically, when the people backstage take a particular shine to a new wrestler, they're hyped ("pushed" in wrestling slang) and promoted well beyond their current skill set (both wrestling ability and characterization and ability to cut promos, known as "mic work.") Some can catch up and become superstars, others sadly can't.

Many examples of actors and directors from all folders can be found in "What the Hell Happened?"


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Real Life Examples:

     Examples that didn't hold up 


  • Kevin James rose to become the next top comedy star with the popularity of The King of Queens and the success of Hitch marking high notes in his career. Then, just two months after the cancellation of Queens, he co-starred with longtime partner Adam Sandler in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, which critics everywhere tore apart for alleged gay stereotyping. He bounced back a couple years later with Paul Blart: Mall Cop, which was also panned but became the highest grossing film released in January, only to take another downturn in the next two years with Grown Ups and Zookeeper, both of which received bad reviews and did mediocre business at the box-office. After yet another Sandler-James collaboration, Pixels, bombed critically and financially, he decided to go straight back to television in the CBS sitcom Kevin Can Wait. That series got canned after its second season due to CBS attempting to make it more like The King of Queens, going as far as to fire Erinn Hayes, kill off her character and replace her with Queens co-star Leah Remini, a decision met with largely unfavorable reactions.
  • Chris Tucker was actually considered to be "the next Eddie Murphy" after Friday and the first Rush Hour movie in the mid-late '90s. Unfortunately, Tucker wasn't much motivated to branch out and capitalize immediately; he had become born-again during that time, and declined to reprise his role in Next Friday due to its raunchy content. Tucker has only appeared in a handful of movies since 1998, two of which were the sequels to Rush Hour (Tucker was apparently paid $20 million for Rush Hour 2). Tucker has seemed to be more passionate about his charity work, buddying up with the late Michael Jackson, and his stand-up. Rumor has it he was offered the same type roles over and over again, and turned them down out of frustration. After landing a major supporting role in the 2012 acclaimed comedy Silver Linings Playbook, it seemed he had an opportunity to make a comeback in film. However, his only film role since then was Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, which was a critical and commercial flop.
  • Josh Hartnett rocketed to super-stardom in the late 90's and early 00's with roles in teen films like The Virgin Suicides, Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later, and The Faculty, and was voted several times by People Magazine as one of their top teen stars of the year. Gradually, however, his momentum died down — in spite of a starring turn in the critically acclaimed Black Hawk Down, Hartnett was in a long list of commercial flops including Town And Country, Pearl Harbor, and Hollywood Homicide. His last work of note, 2007's 30 Days of Night, barely recouped its production budget, and he's spent the late '00s and early '10s working on small indie projects. He's started a small comeback in the Showtime horror series Penny Dreadful, but time will tell if he'll be able to return to maiunstream success.
  • Daniel Stern. While he wasn't much of a big name to begin with, he had supporting roles in smaller fare in the early 1980s, but then he changed when he co-stared in the 1982 comedy drama Diner, a film that was largely applauded by critics that it gave Stern a shed of light to being the next young comedy star in Hollywood (to the point where the producers of the Back to the Future series offered him the role of Biff Tannen, which he unfortunately turned down), and years later he got a voice part in the largely successful sitcom The Wonder Years, which would last over six seasons. His biggest career pushes, however, came with Home Alone and City Slickers, both of which grossed over the $100 million mark at the box office and renewed Hollywood producers' attention toward Stern.

    His newfound success, however, did not last long. While he tried to look for main roles in films, he still was degraded to the supporting role he had played in many of his works, and his works after City Slickers suffered heavily as a result. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York ended up grossing less than its predecessor, Rookie of the Year (which he also directed) wasn't much of a hit, and City Slickers II nearly floppednote . After these snags, he was finally given a starring role in the two comedy movies Bushwhacked and Celtic Pride (which he intended to be Star Making Roles for him), both of which fared so badly with critics that they were massive box office flops that literally obliterated all the hype Stern had built for his entire career. Since then, he's only made television appearances and direct-to-video movies, including turning down offers to reprise his role in the third and fourth Home Alone movies, and his comeback attempt in Whip It was a box office disaster, despite being applauded for his role.
    • He was cast in a supporting role alongside Miranda Cosgrove in the NBC sitcom Girlfriend in a Coma, but the series didn't go ahead. However, he did get cast on Manhattan, and the series has been renewed for a second season.
  • Edward Burns was heavily hyped as being a future voice in independent film after starring and directing in the acclaimed The Brothers McMullen in 1995. However, numerous attempts at trying to recapture the success of that film and his follow-up She's The One, combined with attempts to break into acting (despite those talents not being as good as his directing skills) and a failed attempt to make his ex-girlfriend a star, failed to catch on and his hype died out fast. He's still around, but most of his films (starring or directing), like A Sound of Thunder and the One Missed Call remake, were critical and commercial failures and either go Direct-to-Video or get barely released.
  • Dougray Scott got a lot of hype after his role as Prince Charming in Ever After and soon became the front-runner for roles such as Wolverine and James Bond. But after Mission: Impossible II went over schedule, he was forced to give up the Wolverine role to a little-known Australian actor named Hugh Jackman. While Jackman became a huge star, Scott's career fell into a tailspin as he's spent much of his career toiling away in TV movies, short-lived TV series (plus a single season on Desperate Housewives, just as the show was beginning its long descent in ratings and buzz) and little-seen movies (his possible low point being the 2011 film Love's Kitchen, which grossed just £121 at the UK box office).
  • Emile Hirsch was a rising star who had built up much acclaim from films such as Into the Wild and Alpha Dog. Then the failure of Speed Racer (an attempt to turn him into a big star) more or less led his hype to dry up, as he would not appear in another lead role until the 2011 flop The Darkest Hour. Though he still has the occasional supporting role, Hirsch's time seems to have passed.
  • After appearing in a number of well-regarded supporting appearances in various films and TV shows, Brandon Routh got a massive push when he was cast in the role made famous by Christopher Reeve in Superman Returns in 2006. His Star-Making Role ended up being a dead end when the film received mixed reviews, general viewer apathy and (despite making $400 million at the box office) negative profit due to prior production costs. Routh then disappeared for two years before landing a pair of cameo roles in a couple of films (Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) and a guest spot on the third season of Chuck, all of which failed to make much impact with audiences. His intended comeback in Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, based on a bestselling comic series, also flopped at the box office ($4 million against a $20 million budget). Barring a major hit, it seems like he'll be stuck making small indie projects for quite some time. Though, he got a major role in Arrow as Ray Palmer aka The Atom and then, he's one of the main cast of the spin-off, Legends of Tomorrow so, at least, playing another superhero doesn't hurt.
    • Routh is only one of several actors who are believed to fall victim to the second version of the "Superman Curse." Namely that the role is so iconic, any actor who plays him is inevitably doomed to type casting and is unable to shake it. Routh is but one example, with Tom Welling and Dean Cain also seen as examples of it. People are already telling Henry Cavill to be careful because of it.
  • Mike Myers was one of the bigger stars of Saturday Night Live at the turn of The '90s, especially after a movie based on the Wayne's World sketches he toplined was a hit. The sequel and So I Married an Axe Murderer weren't as successful, but a few years after those he struck gold with the first Austin Powers film and his two highly quotable characters in it. Though not a box-office blockbuster, it proved so successful on the video market that the 1999 sequel was. His star rose even higher after he voiced the title character in Shrek.

    However, he developed a reputation for being egotistical and tough to work with, walked out of a planned movie adaptation of the SNL "Sprockets" sketches, and the Austin Powers sequels were met with frostier critical reactions (primarily due to vulgarity and Sequelitis) than the original had. A Star-Derailing Role came with his critically roasted turn as The Cat in the Hat in 2003, which was so terrible that Dr. Seuss' estate has prohibited any more live-action adaptations of his works, and it was his last live-action leading role for five years. In the interim he continued with the Shrek franchise, but that went into decline with the third installment. 2008's The Love Guru was intended as a comeback vehicle but bombed spectacularly. With the Shrek saga closing out quietly in 2010, and no leading roles in the pipeline, early hopes that he would be the second coming of Peter Sellers have proven unfounded. In the summer of 2017, ABC is relaunching The Gong Show with "English presenter" Tommy Maitland, who just happens to be Myers under heavy makeup and a Scottish accent (though of course the network is denying that). Time will tell if it helps Myers' career.
  • Myers' old costar, Dana Carvey, had it even worse. After a few minor roles, he got his big break in 1986 with Tough Guys, where he managed to hold his own alongside Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster. Shortly thereafter, he joined SNL, and was one of the people to help reverse its declining popularity and make it "must-see TV" once again. After his success in the Wayne's World movies, it seemed like he was destined for great things.

    However, his work afterwards was a story of disappointment and missed opportunities. His first movie after Wayne's World 2 was the critical flop Clean Slate, a pattern that would continue for The Road to Wellville and Trapped In Paradise. In 1995, he turned down a role in Bad Boys because he felt overwhelmed by fatherhood. 1996 gave him a chance at a return to form with The Dana Carvey Show. However, Carvey made the ill-advised decision to try out raunchier, edgier material, despite the show airing during primetime. While it was notable for launching the careers of Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert (The Ambiguously Gay Duo first appeared on the show), ratings declined and the show was cancelled after only seven episodes. His attempted comeback vehicle, The Master of Disguise, failed in its intended purpose. Since then, Carvey has mostly retired from the screen and stuck to stand-up.
  • Martin Lawrence was one of the fastest rising comedic stars of the '90s. His sitcom, Martin, was incredibly popular, and then in 1995 he starred along with Will Smith in Bad Boys, which was the Star-Making Role for both actors.note  Unfortunately, real life drug issues and a sexual harassment suit would stain his career. On the film side, while Smith went on to star in other smash hits, Lawrence stuck with acting in comedies that only produced lukewarm responses (the first Big Momma's House and Wild Hogs arguably being exceptions).
  • Might come as a surprise, but Kadeem Hardison was actually fairly popular in the early '90s (at least in the black community). It was assumed (perhaps naively) that he was going to become a huge breakout star after A Different World ended. Needless to say, for whatever reason that never happened. It might be a case of both Critical Dissonance and Pop-Culture Isolation. Same could be said for Jasmine Guy, and Lisa Bonet.
  • After the success of Garden State and the popularity of Scrubs, much was expected from Zach Braff. Then The Last Kiss (which he was given near-complete creative control over in an attempt to create another Garden State) fared so badly with critics and audiences that he more or less disappeared after the cancellation of the latter and little has been heard from him since (his first film project after this one was the little-seen 2011 film The High Cost of Living).
  • ABC threw Eddie Cibrian in every single "beefcake Latin Lothario" role they could think of for a three-year period, including Ugly Betty and the failed Football Wives pilot, even though nobody was interested in him and the Ugly Betty fan reaction when he was paired up with Betty's sister was 'anyone but him'. ABC eventually gave up and after the mess of his personal life involving his affair and eventual tabloid-ready marriage with LeAnn Rimes was dredged up (we also have him to blame for his ex-wife and mistress becoming Real Housewives regulars) and a quick season of CSI: Miami where he did nothing memorable, he was poison, and his derided role in The Playboy Club assured his star burned out quickly; everything he's done since then has been C-level cable network work, and his 2014 VH1 reality series with his wife saw substandard ratings which should make sure he never sees a major television role again.
  • Much was expected from Freddie Highmore after his roles in Finding Neverland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (both of which paired him with megastar Johnny Depp). However, a series of flops (such as Arthur and the Invisibles and August Rush) and criticisms that his acting talent never improved past his earlier successes derailed his chances of a successful career in his teenage and adult years. An attempt to do an edgier role in The Art Of Getting By resulted in awful reviews and low box office, signaling an end to his career as a leading man on the big screen. The small screen turned out to be a much more fruitful frontier for him, first with Bates Motel and second with The Good Doctor.
  • The Sixth Sense got the then-eleven-year-old Haley Joel Osment an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in 1999, making him the hottest child actor since Macaulay Culkin. Unfortunately, his first film role afterward was as the saintly hero of Pay It Forward, a failed piece of Oscar Bait that became Snark Bait instead. He had one more chance to prove himself as a star with A.I.: Artificial Intelligence the following summer, but that film proved to be a divisive box-office underperformer. Afterward he did several films' worth of voiceover work for Disney and Secondhand Lions; his highest-profile gigs since then have been voicing Sora in the Kingdom Hearts video game franchise.
  • There was at one point in the late-2000s, when there were three movies made in an attempt at turning Dane Cook into a movie star, beginning with Employee of the Month and continuing with Good Luck Chuck. The last film, My Best Friend's Girl, ended up a flop, and showed that success as a comedian doesn't always translate into a successful acting career. Since then, Cook has mostly done stand-up and supporting roles in both films and TV.
  • Shia LaBeouf - who ironically didn't get the hype machine from Disney like his contemporaries, has had the most post-Disney success. While being featured in several big blockbusters in a supporting role (such as I, Robot and Constantine) helped to establish his cred, it was his relationship with Steven Spielberg that pushed him over the edge. Through Spielberg, LaBeouf got cast as the lead in the Transformers franchise and one of the leads of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Overtime though, LaBeouf developed a negative reputation when he started to publically slam the movies he was part of. Though unlike most, LaBeouf's falling off ended up being his own decision after revealing he hates the studio system. Then he was found to be plagiarizing a Daniel Clowes comic for a short film that he premiered at a festival and was reviled for months (to the point where he wore a paper bag over his head), though the backlash eventually died down. He later got a supporting role in David Ayer's WW2 film Fury (2014) and has worked steadily since, though he doesn't appear to be eager to get back up to his former heights of fame. If anything, he moved onto a niche role as a performance artist starring in bizarro stage acts and public one-man theater shows.
  • Colin Farrell, starting with Hart's War, had a big push in the early to mid-00's, starring in or having large supporting roles in blockbusters like Minority Report, Daredevil, S.W.A.T., The New World and most infamously, Oliver Stone's Alexander and Michael Mann's Miami Vice. With the exception of Minority Report, all of these films flopped or under-performed, and Colin went under the radar for a few years, starring in smaller budget/indie films. While he's had some small hits like In Bruges and Fright Night (2011), he's still made flops like the Total Recall (2012) remake, and regardless his career is nowhere near the A-List status it once was. Then, he's one of the main cast in the second season of True Detective as one of the main leads. He was praised for his performance on the show if it wasn't bogged by the convoluted plot, making the second season a Tough Act to Follow. In 2016 he appeared in the Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as the lead villain, but it's too soon to tell.
  • Keanu Reeves first made a splash with the Bill & Ted stoner comedy films. Soon after he got a big push with such films like Point Break (1991) and Bram Stoker's Dracula. However it would be 1994's Speed that would cement Reeves as an A-List star. While he maintained steady work throughout the rest of the '90s, people were beginning to notice his limited acting range and his star power began to fade. Then came 1999 and the release of The Matrix, and Reeves was once again launched into super-stardom for a time. Unfortunately, this new rise to fame went as quickly as it had come. The highly anticipated Matrix sequels left a bad taste in both audience and critics' mouths, and The Matrix franchise would be functionally dead by mid-decade. Coupled with, again, criticism of Reeves' acting range (or lack thereof) the rest of his films in the '00s were flops or under performers. The 2013 film 47 Ronin seemed to be one last attempt to bring him back to the A-List status, but the film was plague with a Troubled Production and was a Box Office Bomb. Now he's attempting a comeback yet again with John Wick, which proved to be a Sleeper Hit and its sequel John Wick: Chapter 2 was well received by viewers and critics. Only time will tell if it brings him back to his former glory.
  • Stephen Collins made a name of himself beginning with his critically-praised role in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and the cult series Tales of the Gold Monkey, but he wouldn't hit the big time until seventeen years later when he was cast as the Reverend Eric Camden in the television drama 7th Heaven, which became the highest-rated program of The WB for much of the network's existence and caused studios left and right to offer Collins roles in various films and shows. However, none of these roles offered Collins the star power he had with 7th Heaven, and thus the spotlight began turning away from him, especially following the cancellation of 7th Heaven after just one season on The CW. Since then, Collins tried to find suitable roles and avoid being cast as Eric Camden again, to little success. He made several appearances in the ABC series Private Practice and Scandal, but all that became overshadowed by his highly-publicized divorce with Faye Grant and the nasty proceedings that followed. And then came TMZ leaking an audio tape of Collins admitting to Grant during a private therapy session that he had molested several children decades prior, and the Hype Backlash came. Role-Ending Misdemeanor doesn't even begin to describe the immediate fallout from the scandal, such as his character in Scandal getting McLeaned, Collins resigning from his position at the Screen Actors Guild board, getting fired from production of Ted 2, and multiple stations and networks yanking reruns of 7th Heaven from their schedules. With all these events, it's safe to say Collins may never be able to repair his career.
  • After coming to the public's attention with his role in Skins, Dev Patel's career exploded with the success of Slumdog Millionaire. He was nominated for many awards, and looked to be a star in the making. Unfortunately, his next role was as Zuko in The Last Airbender, a critically-derided bomb that quickly put a stop to his rising international career. He managed to repair his reputation somewhat in Britain with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and landed a good supporting role in Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom, so he's not completely gone, but his chance at superstardom seems to be long past. However, he was nominated for an Oscar in 2017 for Lion, so things may be looking up for him.
  • Armie Hammer has suffered repeated disappointments, including one legendary bomb. After several years of TV roles he got a breakthrough part (or parts) in The Social Network. All of Hammer's subsequent projects - Mirror, Mirror, J. Edgar and The Lone Ranger - have flopped critically and financially. He's still getting high-profile roles, including the The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) remake... but it failed to light the world on fire. It's only until in 2017 where he received a lot of critical praise in Call Me by Your Name.
  • Ryan Reynolds had the fortune/misfortune of coming along when Hollywood had a dearth of young leading males. After getting his big break in the ABC series Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place, Reynolds starred in a number of well-regarded comedic roles. However, most of his films from the late '00s and early '10s (with the exception of Buried) received mixed reviews at best. His intended dramatic breakout performance in 2011's Green Lantern was also a critical and commercial underperformer, and then The Change Up didn't do well either; thus he was not the bankable star Hollywood perceived him to be. It's hard to say how well his career will turn out at this point, though the success of 2012's Safe House (though Denzel Washington was obviously the big draw, and there's a lot of debate about how much Reynolds' presence really contributed) could help him regain momentum. The bombing of R.I.P.D. and the under-performance of Turbo, on the same weekend no less, seems to suggest his momentum is trending downward once more. But with the critical and commercial success of Deadpool film, with much praise for his performance as the lead character, this might change most especially when he earned nominations from the Golden Globe Awards, of all things. While it received mixed reviews from critics, Reynolds had another hit with The Hitman's Bodyguard.
  • Australian actor Julian McMahon came to national attention for his Mr. Fanservice roles on Charmed and Nip/Tuck, and got something of a push - even being considered as a potential James Bond. His turn in the blockbuster Fantastic Four (2005) was critically panned, but the movie was a success. His attempt at headlining a project alongside Sandra Bullock in Premonition was a critical disappointment, and he didn't make another film after the Fantastic Four sequel bombed. He has stuck mainly to TV and smaller roles since Nip/Tuck ended its run. However, he managed to get a role as the Big Bad in the Marvel Cinematic Universe webseries, Runaways (2017)
  • C. Thomas Howell was one of the 80's top rising stars, appearing in hits like The Outsiders and Red Dawn (1984) and becoming a Teen Idol. However, he blew it all with 1986's Soul Man, which (while a box office success) garnered controversy as Howell spent most of the movie in blackface, which, in the 1980's and beyond, is extremely taboo for obvious reasons. Since then, Howell has been appearing in a bunch of B-movies and TV shows.
  • Tim Allen. With his pre-teenage life marred by the loss of his father, and his adult years disfigured by drug use, Allen managed to make a name of himself in the stand-up circuit, both on television and record, so that his life can go on the right track. He never conceived himself to be an actor, having stated at one point that he could only act based on "personal experience," but he eventually found his big break when he became star of the ABC sitcom Home Improvement, which became one of the highest-rated sitcoms of the 1990's. A chart-topping book from him soon followed, his first major film role, The Santa Clause, became the 4th highest-grossing domestic release of 1994, and then he voiced Buzz Lightyear in a little animated project known as Toy Story, which became a pop-culture behemoth overnight. Hollywood soon began courting him for more film roles, but he turned down most of them due to his limited acting experience. Consequently, the only studio he received film roles from was Disney, who produced both The Santa Clause and Home Improvement and whom Allen had a close relationship with. During that time, he starred in the Disney films Jungle 2 Jungle and For Richer or Poorer, whose theatrical runs were overshadowed by Allen's highly-publicized DUI arrest in Michigan, with his troubled past having caught up with him. After Home Improvement was cancelled in 1999, he seemed to be heading back on the road to stardom, starring in Galaxy Quest (his only non-Disney project during his hey day) and reprising his role as Buzz in Toy Story 2, but quickly fell back into recession after starring in a few more forgettable film roles after that. While he hasn't disappeared from the spotlight completely, thanks to another ABC sitcom, Last Man Standing, running for an impressive six seasons before cancellation, and the continued success of the Toy Story franchise, his career heights from the 1990's have long passed.
  • Michael Cera came out with a vengeance after Arrested Development went off the air, appearing in several films that got mainstream recognition and artistic credibility (particularly Juno), and things were looking up. Then Year One put him in a bumpy road before his push fell apart in 2010, as both of his films that year (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Youth in Revolt), despite positive critical reception, flopped badly. His problem? Cera played the exact same nerdy-shy-guy character in every film he's been in so far, right down to specific mannerisms and vocal style. This eventually stuck to him in a big way, and his career took a tumble. He hasn't had a major hit or appearance in years, and now Jesse Eisenberg (who has a similar appearance and acting style) has gone on to become a bigger star.
  • Tom Selleck was supposed to be one of the biggest action stars in Hollywood thanks to his starring role in Magnum, P.I., one of the most successful action shows of the 80's. However, he preferred to play against type when it came to movies. His first breakthrough film role was Three Men and a Baby, which got decent reviews and was the biggest box office hit of 1987. After Magnum P.I. was cancelled, Selleck decided to take his action personality to film with An Innocent Man and Quigley Down Under. Although neither were box office hits, they went on to become cult classics, and Selleck would continue to build up his film career throughout the 90's while still being a television favorite. And then came 1999's The Love Letter, which despite Selleck being in a supporting role got poor reviews and failed to turn a profit. Not helping matters was when Selleck decided to show up on Rosie O'Donnell's talk show to promote the movie only to be confronted by O'Donnell over his appearance on a recent National Rifle Association advertisement, a move that O'Donnell received heavy criticism for and forced her to apologize. Even though the moment didn't harm Selleck as much, the failure of The Love Letter did, and his film career entered a steady decline thereafter. His TV career was also flagging simultaneously, eventually culminating in the romantic comedy Killers, which bombed and killed Selleck's film prospects for good. Although Selleck's TV career is still kicking, with Blue Bloods being a network favorite and a reboot of Magnum P.I. in the works, it's safe to say that his glory days during mid 80's and early 90's are dead in the water.
  • Following Avatar and Terminator Salvation, Sam Worthington has got a big push as Hollywood's next big Action Hero. The Clash of the Titans remake followed, as well as a number of smaller action movies. Like several others on this list, however, Worthington has taken criticism for playing more or less the same character in most of his roles. For a while there was even a debate if he is going to be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger or the next Steven Seagal... and them he simply stopped getting roles at all, aside random episodes as One-Scene Wonder. The critical and commercial savaging of Wrath of the Titans, which served as the sequel to the remake of Clash, was the last straw for Worthington. With news that James Cameron's Avatar sequels entered production, it might change things in his favour.
  • After a slew of minor film roles in the 90's, Jack Black exploded onto the scene starring opposite John Cusack in High Fidelity, which became a huge critical hit despite moderate box office intake. He would follow the success of that role throughout the decade with roles in Ice Age, School of Rock, the King Kong remake (in a major turn against comedy), Nacho Libre, Kung Fu Panda and Tropic Thunder, all of which scored critical and commercial success and cemented Black as one of Hollywood's biggest comedy stars. He further gained popularity as one-half of the comedy rock act Tenacious D. Unfortunately, audiences soon began to notice that, like Michael Cera, Black was playing the same screwball, hammy character in most of the films he had appeared in. This problem became apparent with the release of Year One, which incidentally paired Black with Cera and exposed just how stale their humor had become. Its critical and commercial thrashing sent both men's careers in a downward spiral, with Black's decline culminating with the massive flop that was Gullivers Travels, an In Name Only adaptation of the classic book that bombed with both critics and audiences, becoming one of 2010's biggest box office failures. His brand recognition faded almost immediately, as more box office bombs stymied an attempted comeback the following year with Bernie, which wasn't picked up for a wide release despite rave reviews. While Black still has the good fortunes of continuing his role as Po in the Kung Fu Panda films, along with his association with Tenacious D and positive signs with Goosebumps and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, it will take a long time for Black to experience a true resurgence of popularity.
  • In the early 2000s Eli Marienthal was getting a push as a child star following his One-Scene Wonder role in American Pie (as Stiffler's younger brother). He was the voice of Hogarth in The Iron Giant and given a prominent role in The Country Bears. Both films flopped at the box office (though the former became a Cult Classic on home video). He was tested out as the star of his own sitcom Tucker which only lasted one season. His role as the love interest in the Lindsay Lohan vehicle Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen was commercially successful but trashed by critics, and he retired from acting shortly afterwards.
  • Steven Seagal is a classic story of an actor who worked his way up the ladder, had a brief time as a big star, overreached himself, and sunk into obscurity, becoming a punchline to countless jokes about washed-up celebrities. He started work in movies as a stunt coordinator and martial arts instructor (including on Never Say Never Again, where he infamously broke Sean Connery's wrist during a spar), but made the transition to actor when one of his aikido students, superstar talent agent Michael Ovitz, arranged for him to demonstrate his martial arts skills on the Warner Bros. lot. Warner Bros. decided to take a chance on him, and in 1988, he wrote and starred in Above the Law, which was a commercial success despite mixed reviews. His next two movies, Hard to Kill and Marked for Death, both opened at #1 at the box office, and while the former was a critical flop, the latter received good reviews. 1991 saw the release of Out for Justice, his third straight number one box office opening. To promote the movie, he hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live... and is still widely considered to be the worst host in the show's history, which many consider in retrospect to be a portent of things to come. While he was a niche actor up to this point, his appearance in the critically acclaimed blockbuster Under Siege allowed him to break out to general audiences and compete with A-list action heroes. Seagal used his newfound clout to make an environmentally conscious movie called On Deadly Ground, which was his directorial debut. The movie was a critical and commercial flop, and the following year's Under Siege 2: Dark Territory was a box office disappointment and received poor reviews. While 1996's Executive Decision was a success, it didn't do much for his career. Still, he would continue to appear in high-budget action movies, but after The Glimmer Man and Fire Down Below both flopped and his original multi-picture contract with Warner Bros. ended, his next major role was in a 1998 direct-to-video movie titled The Patriot (not to be confused with the Revolutionary War movie of the same name). In 2001, he seemed slated for a comeback after Exit Wounds, but the disappointing performance of Half Past Dead would push him off the big screen for good. Aside from Machete, he's been stuck in direct-to-DVD movies and Reality TV.


  • Silent film actress Clara Bow was the original "It Girl" (because she starred in a movie called It). Natural charisma and an earthy sexuality uncommon for that era made her a huge star in the latter 1920s. She was able to overcome a thick Brooklyn accent and transition to talkies, but an exceedingly fragile psyche combined with an adversarial relationship with Paramount Pictures led to a nervous breakdown in 1931. Paramount fired her, and after an abortive comeback attempt she retired from movies at the age of 28.
  • Back in the 1940s, a former Rockette called Lucille Bremer impressed officials at MGM with her screen test and they began to test her as a potential star. She made a successful debut playing Rose in Meet Me in St. Louis, with director Vincente Minnelli saying more than once that he felt she came close to stealing the film from Judy Garland. However her first starring role Yolanda And The Thief flopped at the Box Office (despite good reviews) because of its fantasy theme. She took the blame for this and, despite a few more starring roles, MGM soon lost interest in promoting her. She opted to retire from films before the decade was over.
  • Kate Hudson had a huge star-making role as a drugged-out groupie in Almost Famous. Immediately, she was given major role after major role in romantic comedies, all of which did middling business and resulted in critics (including Roger Ebert) hemming and hawing over how far she had fallen. Years of magazine covers, bikini shots, and other big movie roles haven't done much for her career, though that certainly hasn't stopped her from trying. Almost Famous is the only film of hers still fondly remembered today. Now she is more known for her successful "Fabletics" athletic wear brand.
  • Alicia Silverstone exploded into Hollywood in 1995 thanks to Clueless, gaining so much fame that she even had a 3-picture deal with Columbia that even gave her a production company, First Kiss Productions, to call her own. The summer of 1997 completely derailed her career before it could continue, thanks to the one two-punch of serial career killer Batman & Robin and her company's first (and only) project, Excess Baggage, becoming a major flop. Silverstone nowadays is remembered as a quintessential One-Hit Wonder in the acting world, and is now more well-known for her political/social activism and promoting her vegan lifestyle.
  • Gretchen Mol was touted as another "It Girl" when she debuted in Rounders. It didn't pan out, with Rounders doing middling business, and even she (with newfound indie-cred from playing the lead role in The Notorious Bettie Page) admits that it was a particularly bad example building up an unprepared starlet. She is doing quite well with films and a recurring role on critical favorite Boardwalk Empire.
  • Lindsay Lohan. This one wasn't related to any lack of talent — Meryl Streep, of all people, vouched for her acting ability, as did her Mean Girls co-star Tina Fey. Instead, her decline came from a combination of a disastrous relationship with her parents, chronic partying and drug/alcohol abuse (which did quite the number on her looks and eventually led to legal troubles), and a reputation for being a diva who often showed up to the set late and hungover (if not completely missing filming days altogether). Attempts to revitalize her career — such as the Lifetime biopic Liz & Dick — have mostly flopped, with the qualified success of her 2014 West End theatre debut in Speed-the-Plow the one exception. Nowadays, she's far better known for her appearances in the tabloids, and is considered a cautionary tale for the Former Child Star. It's also been joked that Emma Stone has the career she would have had.
  • Paris Hilton. Unlike the other people on this list, this heiress and socialite did not earn her fame through "legitimate" routes (film, TV, music), but through a Home Porn Movie that was "leaked" online in advance of the debut of her Reality Show The Simple Life. Not only did the video turn her into a mega-star virtually overnight, it also established the home sex tape as a viable route for would-be celebrities and fading stars to boost their careers. She went on to channel her fame into careers in music and (non-pornographic) film, both of which have been non-starters, and the latter notable only for producing her performance in Repo! The Genetic Opera. Despite these failures to branch out she remained a tabloid mainstay until about 2008, when she was replaced as America's favorite reality TV starlet by Kim Kardashian (who rose to fame under similar circumstances as Hilton). Because of this, by and large the media stopped paying attention to her. She attempted a comeback in 2011 with a new reality show The World According To Paris, but the series was cancelled after only one season. Since then she's kept a pretty low profile, with only an occasional mention in the local Hollywood papers. She has since found moderate success as a DJ and continues to be popular on social media.
  • Marion Davies is a famous historical example, since it was William Randolph Hearst who financed her bid for movie stardom. While her looks were as good as people expected from a former Ziegfeld girl, and she was far more talented and off-screen amiable than her Roman à Clef opera singer counterpart in Citizen Kane, Hearst kept pushing for her to be cast in heavy-duty "respectable" dramatic roles when she was much better at comedy.
  • ABC in the early 2000's attempted to push Kiele Sanchez in anything they could, first in the three-episode flop That Was Then, and later in the sitcom Married to the Kellys without stirring up much in ratings or interest in the actress. Her role as the female half of the infamous Nikki and Paulo couple on Lost though finally ended any interest in building her up after Nikki and Paulo were hastily dropped, and after a run in Samantha Who? to finish up her ABC deal, eventually found steady work in the A&E series The Glades and DirecTV's Kingdom.
  • Jessica Biel has faltered badly, much to her fans' chagrin. Despite a lot of hype early on from 7th Heaven, an amazing fitness-girl body that still frequently shows up in magazines, having a high-profile marriage to Justin Timberlake, and several potential break-out roles, she has had a string of critically trashed box-office bombs like Blade: Trinity and Stealth (a massive dud that also sank Jamie Foxx's post-Ray hype and, along with Poseidon, halted Josh Lucas's career in its tracks). When she finally got naked in a "serious" movie (hoping for the extra career boost that it usually provides hot, young, fading actresses), it was a straight-to-video stripper role (Powder Blue) that earned her zero legit cred — and sadly for all concerned, is more likely to be remembered as Patrick Swayze's final film. The bombing of the Total Recall (2012) remake, which reportedly cost Sony over $200 million in losses, seems to cement her even further into this, especially as her "generation" of actresses include megastars like Anne Hathaway and Scarlett Johansson. To date, despite being on tons of magazine covers, she's still just a minor star, and at this point is basically "Justin Timberlake's Wife". However, she in 2017, she returned to the small screen with her critically acclaimed role in The Sinner, receiving Golden Globe and Emmy nominations.
  • Denise Richards started out with mostly mediocre movies, until he got the role of military pilot Carmen Ibáñez in Starship Troopers and an all-star nude role in Wild Things, making her a household name (amongst men) overnight. A bit of the Hype Machine got underway, but most of her subsequent films were trashed by critics and weren't too successful at the box-office (with the exception of The World Is Not Enough, and that was hardly down to her, it being a James Bond film; in fact, one of the most mocked/derided aspects of said film was that Richards wasn't convincing in her role of a nuclear scientist), she stopped doing nudity and basically vanished from Hollywood within the year. A failed marriage to Charlie Sheen later, and she's now more tabloid-bait than an actual star. She now appears on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
  • Kate Bosworth had bit parts and a cancelled-after-one-season TV show on The WB called Young Americans before her starring role in Blue Crush. Once that hit, she was catapulted to the position of It Girl, hyped as the greatest and most beautiful actress of her generation (sometimes this phrase was used verbatim), and she became a regular tabloid and fashion mag staple because she was dating the premiere heartthrob of the time. Fast forwarding to 2010, and just about every film since Blue Crush, with the exception of Superman Returns, has been a critical and/or commercial failure, though not for lack of trying for that great comeback.
  • Rachel Bilson was something of a TV It Girl during her days on The O.C. Once that ended, Bilson did a few underperforming films like Jumper and forgettable TV appearances and, like Bosworth, is now mostly known for attending various Hollywood functions and getting paparazzi photos of herself performing mundane daily tasks. However, she did score a TV series with Hart of Dixie.
  • Rachael Leigh Cook first came to fame thanks to her role in a famous anti-heroin Public Service Announcement in which she demolishes a kitchen, and became a star proper when She's All That came out. The flop of 2001's Josie and the Pussycats and, to a lesser extent, Antitrust and Texas Rangers (she had supporting roles in those films, and unluckily for her, they came out the same year as Josie) derailed her career, and she spent the following decade playing bit parts on television and various forgettable straight to DVD flicks. In recent years, however, she has had some success as a voiceover artist and plum guest roles in the likes of Psych and Ghost Whisperer, so a comeback isn't an entirely unrealistic prospect. She stars in Perception, alongside Eric McCormack.
  • The success that was Buffy the Vampire Slayer turned Sarah Michelle Gellar into a star and she was suddenly everywhere in the late 90s. Despite the Box Office success of Cruel Intentions, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scooby-Doo and The Grudge and attempts to resist typecasting, audiences couldn't see her as anyone other than Buffy Summers. The failures of The Return and The Air I Breathe saw her turning to voice-over work and direct-to-video films, gradually fading from the mainstream. She also took some time off to raise her children.
  • Pia Zadora is a notorious example from The '80s. After years of bit parts (including a small role in Santa Claus Conquers the Martians as a child), her bid for fame started when she married billionaire Meshulam Riklis in 1977. Her career peaked in 1981, when she won the Golden Globe for Best New Star of the Year for the film Butterfly, which was largely financed by Riklis. However, it has long been rumored that Riklis had "bought" Pia her Golden Globe by financing lavish trips to Las Vegas for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, allegations not helped by the fact that her performance also won her two Razzies for Worst Actress and Worst New Star. She won the Worst Actress Razzie again the following year for her performance in The Lonely Ladynote , a film that essentially killed her acting career and left her doing small parts and cameos. She wound up having far more success as a singer, even earning a Grammy nomination in 1984.
  • Elizabeth Berkley was supposed to be the Next Big Thing with Showgirls. Too bad that trainwreck of a film completely derailed whatever film career she may have had. The fallout was so bad that when she requested $2,500 to be interviewed for the V.I.P. DVD edition of the film, she was turned down. Ouch.
  • The CGI actress Aki Ross from Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was supposed to have a long "career". The intention was for the computer model created for the movie to be used in projects unrelated to Final Fantasy and spanning multiple media formats (movies, games, etc.). "She" even got a photo spread in Maxim, including a plot on their "Hottest Women" list, and was promoted as the very first in what would be a long line of virtual actors. The failure of the movie to even recoup its astronomical production costs, and the subsequent collapse of the studio that financed it, resulted in a somewhat shorter career than numerous magazines had been predicting. It also ensured that the trend of "virtual actors" was stillborn, no doubt leading many SAG members to breathe sighs of relief (and ensuring that the Hype Machine would remain necessary for the foreseeable future).
  • Demi Moore has had various ups and downs, but has been hyped a lot. She was the most successful member of the '80s Brat Pack, and went on to some major success in The '80s, but a string of huge box office bombs in The '90s completely derailed her star. The Scarlet Letter was universally loathed by critics, and Striptease, a wannabe star-defining role for which she earned the then-highest paycheque of any female in Hollywood history, was another mega-bomb. She vanished for literally a decade, only resurfacing as Ashton Kutcher's new wife, and a storm of hype from her hot body (despite her age) in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle failed to amount to anything. Now, since her breakup with Kutcher and subsequent dating of an even younger man, she's best known as "that older chick who's into younger guys."
  • Julia Ormond was an unknown in the US when she landed lead roles three big mid-nineties films (Legends of the Fall, First Knight, and the remake of Sabrina), starring opposite such actors as Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Sean Connery, Richard Gere, and Harrison Ford, but all were box-office and critical disappointments. She's still working, but she never became the "star" Hollywood expected.
  • Jennifer Garner was promoted as the next big Action Girl after coming to public attention with the TV series Alias. But she turned out to be remarkably unsuccessful in headlining movies. Her big action film debut in Elektra flopped, whereupon she turned to romantic comedies and did only marginally better (13 Going on 30 being a minor hit). These days, she seems stuck in small supporting roles, such as in Juno, Valentine's Day (with Jessica Biel, mentioned above), the Arthur remake and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. After a career spanning almost fifteen years, Sydney Bristow is still far and away her most iconic role.
  • Shannyn Sossamon was another teen actor who was a media darling, having catapulted herself to the A-List in 2001-2002 with starring roles in A Knight's Tale, 40 Days and 40 Nights, and The Rules of Attraction. Afterwards, she spent the 2000's starring in a long string of DTV and indie films, as well as some TV work (most notably on the short-lived CBS vampire series Moonlight), but it failed to drum up any major following.
  • Nia Vardalos came out of nowhere to star in and write My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which became the biggest indie film and romantic comedy of all-time. After getting an Academy Award nomination for her script, big things were expected from her. However, her star fell as soon as it rose with a series of flops (the TV spinoff My Big Fat Greek Life, Connie and Carla) and she faded back into obscurity. A couple attempts at a comeback (starring in 2009's My Life in Ruins and writing 2011's Larry Crowne) have resulted in critical drubbing and box office failure (the latter was also a rare misstep for Tom Hanks).
  • Canadian actress Estella Warren got a huge push in 2001 when she starred as the love interest and femme fatale in two major Hollywood films — Planet of the Apes (2001) and the Sylvester Stallone racing film Driven. That, along with dating her Driven co-star Kip Purdue and landing a spot on Maxim's Hot 100 Babe List before she had a single film out, did a lot to jumpstart her fledgling career in spite of both films' middling box office and scathing reviews. However, Kangaroo Jack killed any momentum she had. What followed were a string of unsuccessful direct-to-video flops and indie films, along with an unsuccessful marketing push in 2005 (features in FHM and a supporting role in Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), which was cut prior to the film's release). These days, she's more well-known for her tabloid antics (including trying to break out of a police station after being arrested) than her film career.
  • Elisabeth Shue had a solid career as a child/teen actress, with prominent roles in The Karate Kid, Adventures in Babysitting, Cocktail and Back to the Future Part II and III, but really hit the big time with a critically acclaimed performance alongside Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas, going against her previously established, girl-next-door image. Big things were expected, but a few high-profile critical and commercial flops (such as The Saint (1997) with Val Kilmer and Hollow Man with Kevin Bacon) didn't really hit the heights that were anticipated, and she had a more-or-less solid but unremarkable career since then. She parodied this with a starring role in Hamlet 2, where she played a fictionalized version of herself who quits acting in disillusionment to become a nurse. She may be on the verge of... something... replacing Marg Helgenberger on CSI in 2012.
  • Sophie Marceau was expected by many to have a successful crossover in American films, having found success in her native France and having played major roles in Braveheart and the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough. However, a number of flops and a bizarre, rambling speech she made at the Cannes Film Festival in 1999 fast derailed her in the US. She still makes films, but many of them barely get released outside of France (you would think Ne te retourne pas, a film where she teams up with Monica Bellucci and which they embraced topless on the cover of Paris Match to promote, would have gotten a decent international push).
  • Susan Ward was hyped as a potential "next big thing" after marrying one of the heads of Morgan Creek and having a movie built around her (The In Crowd). Then, the movie bombed and her hype fell as fast as it rose. Nowadays, she's known for her numerous plastic surgeries (which began before making the movie) rather than the numerous straight-to-DVD movies she appears in (or her regular role on the first two seasons of Make It or Break It).
  • Nikki Blonsky is a rather sad example of this. After being heavily hyped for her role in the 2007 remake of Hairspray, a lot was expected of her. Sadly, Hollywood didn't know what to do with her and she's been mostly stuck being typecast as the fat girl in little-seen TV movies and the short-lived Huge. Her first post-Hairspray film role wasn't until four years later (a small role in the critically panned Waiting For Forever) and it's since been discovered that she's been working in a salon to pay the bills.
  • The younger actors in American Beauty, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley, and Mena Suvari. The three got huge pushes from the movie but none of them ever really amounted to anything.
    • Suvari was probably the most successful, as she also got major hype from American Pie (detailed above), but all in all is not that big of a star.
    • Birch had already established herself before the film, but had a Star-Derailing Role in the form of Dungeons & Dragons. She later won acclaim for Ghost World, but threw any momentum away when she refused to part ways with her father, whose Stage Dad tendencies cost her several major roles.
    • Bentley got some notable roles like the main antagonist in Ghost Rider, but an out-of-control drug habit seemed to have destroyed his career. However, he had no less than six films scheduled for released in 2012, including Seneca Crane in the successful film version of The Hunger Games, so only time will tell if he can make it work or disappear into oblivion.
  • Megan Fox came out of Transformers as the new It Girl sex symbol, and promptly rode it to tons of covers, press coverage, etc. So far, however, it doesn't look good. Jennifer's Body and Jonah Hex were spectacular failures that seem to be sticking to her, her attempt to go indie with Passion Play failed (though her performance itself was praised), and she either left or got booted from the third Transformers film. Though she did get supporting roles in Friends With Kids and This Is 40 and she re-united with Michael Bay for the TMNT reboot, so while she's not quite the hot commodity people were expecting, she's still getting work nonetheless, and motherhood and marriage have mellowed her considerably.
  • After a long string of appearances in failed pilots and short-lived series, Adrianne Palicki finally broke through the mainstream when she took the role of Tyra Collette in Friday Night Lights, which received significant critical and commercial acclaim. However, her roles after the series ended have been weak at best - she starred in the FOX flop Lone Star (cancelled after two episodes) and had the title role in the Wonder Woman (2011 pilot), which wasn't picked up and was trashed by critics and fans. The Red Dawn (2012) remake was similarly torn apart by critics and bombed in theatres (32.5 million box office against a 65 million dollar budget), with Palicki's presence in the film barely getting a mention from most critics and viewers. However, G.I. Joe: Retaliation did well enough at the box office ($122.5 million domestically and over twice that overseas) to justify a third film; while waiting to see if she returns, she's transferred from the Joes to S.H.I.E.L.D. (And now to The Orville.)
  • Octavia Spencer got major acclaim and won an Oscar for her role in The Help. However, like her co-star, Viola Davis, she hasn't done anything really big since then; this isn't due to lack of talent, but more of how what kind of roles Hollywood offers Black actresses. She got her own series, Red Band Society on Fox and got a prominent role as Johanna in the Divergent movies at least. Spencer has since gone back to being a character actress, with another Oscar nomination for 2016's Hidden Figures.
  • Amanda Bynes is a rather sad example. Debuting on All That as a preteen before segueing into her own spinoff The Amanda Show, her knack for physical comedy drew multiple comparisons to Lucille Ball. She was able to successfully graduate off the chidren's networks to the WB's What I Like About You and did moderately well in her ventures to lead roles in films (and even better in supporting roles such as Hairspray and Easy A.) However, in the new tens, it started to unravel. Several brushes with the law and bizarre behavior in real life and on Twitter made people worry for her mental health. As of 2015, she hasn't worked in several years, has repeatedly "retired" from acting for short periods of time, and has been put under several psychiatric holds.
  • Nancy Valen could be regarded as a starlet who unfortunately never got any traction in her career. After a couple of bit parts in movies (such as Porky's Revenge and Loverboy as Patrick Dempsey's love interest) and TV (such as Miami Vice and Charles in Charge), she got the cover of TV Guide as one of the stars of an ill-fated attempt at a TV musical drama series on NBC called Hull High. Like Steven Bochco's similar show Cop Rock on ABC, it failed after only a few episodes. After that, she went back to occasional guest-starring roles on TV (like Murder, She Wrote, Full House, Boy Meets World, Friends, Walker, Texas Ranger and perhaps most notably, in the second season of Saved by the Bell as the sexy new school nurse in a role that was originally meant for swimsuit model Kathy Ireland) and appearing in small B-Movie roles. Oddly enough, at least twice she seemed poised to get a long-term role which suddenly evaporated. The first occurred on the late-night USA Network series Silk Stalkings. After appearing as an IRS auditor in Season 3, she returned in Season 4 to play the role of Dr. Jillian Michaels, who became the love interest of Detective Chris Lorenzo (Rob Estes), one of the show's two main characters. But the storyline was never continued. Two years later, she got her gig on Baywatch as the new lieutenant, Samantha 'Sam' Thomas (which is pretty much, her best known acting role), who was brought in to replace the long-running character Lt. Stephanie Holden, played by Alexandra Paul. That particular season ended with Sam in bed with none other than David Hasslehoff himself with the two of them discussing how to break the news of their relationship to Hasslehoff's on-screen son, Hobie. So everything seemed set for her to return the next year with an expanded role as Mitch Buchanan's girlfriend and partner in command. Alas, that didn't happen. Baywatch instead returned with even more former Playboy Playmates, including Carmen Electra and Angelica Bridges as the newer lieutenant, and Nancy Valen's character Samantha had disappeared with no explanation. After guest appearing during the final season of Spin City, Valen seemed to go into semi-retirement from acting. She only had two more roles (last appearing in the 2007 Christian drama film The Wager) only to resurface as an infomercial host.
  • Amanda Seyfried, after well-received early appearances in Veronica Mars and Mean Girls, was seemingly on a streak of success in becoming a top box-office draw (with hits such as the aforementioned Mean Girls and Mamma Mia!). But in an eleven-month period from 2011 to 2012, she had three major flops in a row (Red Riding Hood, In Time, and Gone) with some reviews for the third one questioning if she even had appeal or talent in the first place (though others reviewers contended she was better than the material). Les Misérables (2012), in which she played Cosette, was successful critically and commercially, but most of the acclaim was directed at Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman. Her role as the title character in Lovelace has gotten her a lot of praise, but the movie made only half a million at the box office. Hollywood has long-since given up on an A-List role for her, but she can probably maintain a solid career as long as she doesn't overreach. Her attempt at becoming part of a franchise to boost her success crashed and burned with the critical and commercial failure that was 2015's Pan. She reprised her role in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again in 2018, which was a moderate success.
  • Big things were expected of Bo Derek. After a minor role in Orca: The Killer Whale, she got her big break in Ten, which propelled both her and Dudley Moore to stardom. She was even unironically compared to Marilyn Monroe. However, her follow-up movie, 1980's A Change in Seasons, got unfavorable reviews and disappointed at the box office. The 1981 movie Tarzan, the Ape Man, while doing better financially, was mutilated by critics and earned her a Worst Actress Razzie (shared with Faye Dunaway for Mommie Dearest). She didn't get another film offer until 1984's Bolero, which bombed at the box office, and earned her another Razzie. She took a five-year hiatus, and her intended comeback film, Ghosts Can't Do It, only put her career even further in the ground. She spend the next few years making TV films, not returning to the big screen until Woman of Desire came out to very little fanfare. After that, her most prominent role was in the 2006 telenovela Fashion House. By this point, it's safe to say that her career is toast, with some even going so far as to ask how she even got so big in the first place.
  • Shannen Doherty became a star in the late '80s and early '90s with hits such as Heathers and three respectable TV shows - Little House on the Prairie, Our House and Beverly Hills, 90210. The late 90s were kind to her as well, when she headlined the supernatural drama Charmed. But cracks started to appear as early 1994 when she was fired from 90210 for getting into fights with her co-stars. Stories surfaced about her difficulty on the Charmed set too - with actor TW King leaving after the first season being rumoured to be because she didn't like him. Tension between her and co-star Alyssa Milano caused her to be fired again. After being fired from two hit network shows, she was given a few reality TV projects to headline - all of which did middling business. After that she stuck to doing TV movies and her star power quickly faded. Her recent battles with cancer have also put her career on hold.
  • Keisha Castle-Hughes is regarded as the next big thing back in 2004 after many critics and viewers praised her role in Whale Rider where she's nominated for Best Lead Actress at the Oscars, making her the youngest Best Lead Actress nominee at the age of 13 (until 9-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis beat the record in 2013). Then, she appeared in Revenge of the Sith and had another lead role in The Nativity Story. But after that, she didn't seemed to get much impressive roles as she got pregnant too early. She did get a guest role in The Walking Dead and eventually got in Game of Thrones Season 5 as Obara Sand, the oldest Sand Snake daughter of fan favorite Oberyn Martell. Unfortunately, viewers and critics hated the Sand Snakes due to the Narmy lines, flimsy characterization and horrible acting. Though this didn't seemed to put a dent on Keisha's career as she still got more TV roles, it's a long way for her to get back on the A-list. Unlike that of nearly every other actor involved in the show, her role on Game of Thrones has not been able to supplant that of Whale Rider as her best known, and she is widely considered a One-Hit Wonder for it.
  • With the initial success of Gossip Girl, Leighton Meester was praised as a potential breakout star. Five major films featuring her were released from 2010-2011 - including Country Strong, clearly intended as Oscar Bait. All of them flopped with audiences and critics, though Leighton herself was praised as being better than the material. After Gossip Girl ended, she turned to indie films and had some minor success with a music career - but nothing with the high profile she once enjoyed. She did land a role on the FX comedy Making History, so time will tell. Ironically the opposite happened with her co-star Blake Lively; widely predicted that she would only remain famous for fashion and her marriage to Ryan Reynolds, she surprised everyone with very against-type turns in Hick and The Town. She later won critical acclaim for The Age of Adaline and The Shallows, which were modest Box Office hits - showing that she wasn't above taking risks in acting.
  • Julianne Hough is touted as "The Next Big Thing" by The Machine, and America will be subjected to the Dancing with the Stars performer's films left and right for the next several years until she either hits it big or they give up. The remake of Footloose was a good first step, the box-office and commercial flop Rock of Ages (which also included Tom Cruise and Catherine Zeta-Jones elsewhere on this page)... not so much. However, Safe Haven became commercially successful despite not getting good notices from critics. As of 2017, she has not been in any big film roles since, but has returned to Dancing with the Stars as a judge.
  • During the 1980s and early '90s, Kim Basinger was not only one of the most sought after actresses in Hollywood but also one of its biggest sex symbols (serving as Hollywood's epitome of "the blonde bombshell"). Basinger with personality traits like shyness and sensitivity along with incredible physical beauty and sensuality, was arguably the closest '80s equivalent to Marilyn Monroe. After working as a fashion model and gradually paying her dues in films like the unofficial James Bond film Never Say Never Again, The Natural, Fool For Love, 9½ Weeks, No Mercy, Blind Date, Nadine, and My Stepmother Is an Alien, Basigner officially reached the A-list when she was cast as Vicki Vale in Tim Burton's 1989 blockbuster Batman. Shortly after Batman however, a series of commercial duds and her ego problems badly damaged her career. Around the same time that Batman was out, Basinger spent $20 million to create a film studio and festival in Braselton, Georgia which, was a commercial failure. In the 1990s, Basinger starred in The Marrying Man alongside Alec Baldwin, Final Analysis alongside her No Mercy co-star Richard Gere, Ralph Bakshi's Cool World, and The Real Mc Coy alongside Val Kilmer. All of them were commercial and critical failures that were more than often tainted by Basinger's clashes with the production teams. While working on The Marrying Man in particular, Basinger demanded that the director of photography be replaced and stalled production with having her makeup completely removed and re-applied between takes. Her collaboration on Cool World was particularly disastrous as she censored the movie to show for sick hospital children (which was not what Bakshi intended), which in turn drove Bakshi away from filmmaking.

    However, the biggest story of 1993 for Kim Basinger was Boxing Helena, a movie that she backed out of at the last minute. To make a long story short, just before filming began, Basinger got cold feet about playing a woman who is held hostage by a surgeon who amputates her limbs. Not surprisingly, the makers of Boxing Helena suednote  and Basinger was forced to pay a settlement of $3.8 million dollarsnote . But the damage was done; combined with her costly legal battles and failed Braselton buyout, Basinger filed for bankruptcy. It still might have been worthwhile, though, as the film ended up as a notorious disaster that outright annihilated the career of its eventual female lead, Sherilyn Fenn. In 1994, Basinger co-starred with her then-husband Alec Baldwin in the remake of the 1972 crime drama film The Getaway. Despite some buzz if not controversy over some steamy sex scenes, it was not enough to make The Getaway a hit. Ultimately the aforementioned lawsuits, bankruptcy and box office flops, caused Basinger to retreat from Hollywood for a few years.

    Three years later, Basinger was primed for a comeback in the form of Curtis Hanson’s 1997 film noir, L.A. Confidential. Basinger's performance as glamorous, sexy femme fatale earned her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, putting her back on Hollywood's A-list. Despite the overwhelming success of LA Confidential, Basinger didn’t jump right back into starring roles until I Dreamed Of Africanote  and Bless the Child in 2000. Both received bad reviews and underwhelmed at the box office, killing the momentum of her Oscar win. Shortly after that one-two punch, Basinger and Alec Baldwin entered a tumultuous divorce proceeding and custody battle over their daughter, further overshadowing her professional work. Since then, her career has been on a slow decline with Basinger only starring in low-budget movies (or participating in small, borderline "money for hire" parts in films like The Sentinel, Charlie St Cloud, The Nice Guys, and Fifty Shades Darkernote ) and becoming a recluse. Her most high-profile role since was in 8 Mile with Eminem, where she played his character's mother. Once she won her Oscar, it seemed as if Hollywood stopped paying her much attention even when she appears in high profile movies. To put things in proper perspective, Basinger appeared alongside Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone, Alan Arkin, and Kevin Hart in 2013's Grudge Match yet was nowhere to be found in the movie's marketing. Nowadays, Basinger is more known for her failed marriage to Alec Baldwin, uncooperative ego, animal rights activism, and lack of financial success than her actual acting abilities. Even most of Kim Basinger's filmography, aside from films like Batman, LA Confidential, and 8 Mile, are only remembered largely as vehicles in launching the careers of such stars as Bruce Willis (Blind Date), Brad Pitt (Cool World), Jennifer Lawrence (The Burning Plain), and Chris Evans (Cellular).
  • Claire Forlani got to share the screen with a number of high profile stars in the '90s - notably in Mallrats, The Rock, and Meet Joe Black. Despite well-received performances, most of the films were commercial disappointments and she starred in three bombs in a row. She quickly faded from leading roles and turned to television instead.
  • Molly Ringwald is a serious case of this, to the point she could rival the above-pictured Shyamalan for the Trope Illustrator title. She seemed set for great things after a trio of hits with writer/director John Hughes, even making the cover of Time Magazine at the age of eighteen. However, a vicious split from Hughes and failed attempts to broaden her appeal to audiences utterly destroyed her future as a leading girl. After the failure of Betsys Wedding in 1990, Ringwald has rarely seen the silver screen since. Nowadays, Ringwald is both Persona Non Grata in Hollywood and virtually uninsurable. She currently makes a living guest starring on TV and taking character roles in B-movies for a quick paycheck, a very far cry from her ultra-popularity in the '80s. Though Riverdale received some critical buzz, and despite being slated to appear alongside Keanu Reeves in the upcoming thriller Siberia, it will take an act of divine intervention for her to regain even a modicum of her former stature.
  • Katherine Heigl. After several years of TV appearances in stuff like Roswell and Grey's Anatomy, she gained a lot of fans for her starring role in Knocked Up... only to throw them all away within weeks. She was on her way to becoming a household name before leaving Grey's Anatomy presumably to pursue more film work, and went on to star in flops like Killers, New Year's Eve, One for the Money, and The Big Wedding, and developed a reputation of being difficult to work with, in part thanks to her mother/manager. Not long after Knocked Up came out, however, she did a very vocal interview where she attacked basically everyone involved in the film, calling director Judd Apatow a sexist and lead actor Seth Rogen a slob, among other things. Despite the backlash, her next two works, 27 Dresses and The Ugly Truth, did very well at the box office despite not-so-great reviews. However, her reputation took another hit when she criticized the writing of Grey's Anatomy publicly on multiple occasions and was eventually Put on a Bus (so bad was the backlash to her behavior that she did an interview with Entertainment Weekly to apologize for her antics). Since 2009, her films have opened under $16m and have grossed less than $60m total domestically, and her latest try at television, in 2014-15 with State of Affairs, was derided by critics and canned after one season despite airing behind The Voice. In 2017, she made another television attempt with Doubt, which got cancelled after two episodes, and made another movie called Unforgettable, which flopped critically and commercially. Her career and reputation are basically in tatters at this point.
  • Back in the '80s Helen Slater found herself getting a big push. It started with Supergirl, which was unfortunately a flop. Her next project was The Legend of Billie Jean, which she hoped would be her breakout role, but it was a Box Office disappointment (it did later get a cult following from TV airings however). She did have notable successes in Ruthless People, The Secret of My Success and City Slickers but work seemed to dry up in the 90s. While she's still working away, she's best known as Supergirl, and her high profile work is usually something that acknowledges this (such as Smallville or Supergirl (2015) ).
  • Kristy Swanson got a minor push in the late 80s and early 90s, first with One-Scene Wonder roles in Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Lead roles came in the form of Flowers in the Attic and Buffy the Vampire Slayer - but the sequel to the former was cancelled and the latter got retooled into the more famous TV series with Sarah Michelle Gellar as the lead. The failure of The Phantom caused high profile roles to dry up for her, and she drifted towards guest spots on TV and Made For TV Movies.
  • Kristen Bell has been pushed heavily by Hollywood in the past few years, but it was her Forgetting Sarah Marshall co-stars, Mila Kunis and Russell Brand (himself in danger of this trope), who became bigger stars out of the deal. So far, she's decently well-known, but is nowhere near what Hollywood was hoping. While she had a lead role in Disney's box office juggernaut Frozen, voice-over success tends to not translate back into live-action (ask Tangled's Mandy Moore) and the majority of the hype that did come out of Frozen seems to have gone to Idina Menzel (or even Josh Gad). She's only been in a few live-action films that grossed more than $40 million (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Couples Retreat, The Boss', Bad Moms and the latter's sequel) and she was part of an ensemble with all of them; with the Veronica Mars film having a simultaneous launch on video-on-demand, her cold live-action streak on the big screen will live on; as far as she's concerned, television is indeed The Good Place.
  • Danielle Harris. She got her start as a child actress with lead and supporting roles in films like Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead, and Free Willy. By the mid-90s, she was building a steady career as a teen actress with a high-profile supporting role in Roseanne. She later co-starred with Katherine Heigl in the Disney Channel film Wish Upon a Star, and with Sylvester Stallone in Daylight. The June 1998 issue of Teen People featured her on the cover alongside Scarlett Johansson, Kirsten Dunst, and Jessica Biel. Sadly, it was not to last. Aside from voicing Debbie Thornberry in Nickelodeon's The Wild Thornberrys, her career never really took off as once expected, something Danielle herself acknowledges, saying she never really truly got a breakout lead in a mainstream film. She confessed that she was even working at a hair salon in the early 2000s to make ends meet. Danielle did undergo a minor Career Resurrection in 2007 by returning to the Halloween franchise in Rob Zombie's reboot of the franchise, getting her typecast as a scream queen in the years that followed. She also dabbed in directing with 2012's Among Friends. These days, she's largely put acting on hold to focus on her family.

Ensembles and Other Group Examples

  • Most of the "New Brat Pack" (a pun on the Brat Pack of The '80s) that emerged from the American Pie movies ended up like this. Many of them got star pushes of different levels, but in the end, only Alyson Hannigan went on to bigger fame — and this most likely had more to do with her pre-Pie exposure on Buffy the Vampire Slayer than anything else. Examples:
    • Shannon Elizabeth became a sex sensation after Pie came out. She showed up in countless men's magazines (including an all-nude shoot in Playboy) and got a half-dozen roles in films like Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Thir13en Ghosts, and Tomcats. Just a couple of years later, she was a bit player and was essentially gone from any mainstream Hollywood attention. This may or may not have to do with her decision to no longer do nudity in film, even though that was what made her a star in the first place. She's since become more famous as a professional poker player and as a Dancing with the Stars contestant, and though she does still act, most of her films now go Direct-to-Video and it's unlikely she'll do anything noteworthy anytime soon.
    • Mena Suvari, between Pie and American Beauty, got a decent push, but slowly vanished from the spotlight and is now best known for indie films. She even inspired a blogger to start a series on the Hype Machine's victims once he was shocked to see her in Day of the Dead (2008).
    • Jason Biggs tried playing the same down-on-his-luck regular guy character (especially in The Loser) a bit too much, and he now mostly plays supporting roles in films like My Best Friend's Girl and Over Her Dead Body. His luck seems to be improving as of late following a stint as the voice of Leonardo on the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series and a role on Orange Is the New Black. However, he ruined this opportunity by turning his Twitter feed into a place where he boasted about questionable sexual practices with his wife, terribly sexist jokes about the wives of Republican candidates, and racist jokes about the Malaysian Airlines missing plane. This, along with tantrums over TMNT fans and parents who criticize him for his off-screen vulgarity made him seem like poison to anyone hoping to promote their products. The only reason his character existed in OITNB is because of the source material, and fan response to Larry has been of him as The Scrappy of the show. He was written out of season 3 of the latter with a nearly-closed invitation to return only when needed, and season 3 of the former saw him be permanently replaced by Seth Green, which may mean he's again on a downward slope.
    • Similar to Biggs, Seann William Scott did mostly the same kind of "big dumb happy guy" roles and mostly vanished from the limelight after the Hotter and Sexier The Dukes of Hazzard film came out. He now mostly plays supporting roles in films like Cop Out, however his roles in the Ice Age franchise has made him the most financially successful of his former cast mates.
    • Tara Reid had one of the better shots, but problems with drugs and alcohol, botched plastic surgery, and a penchant for carrying the Idiot Ball (though she claimed that she was only "acting" dumb, most people aren't sure of whether that's true or not) derailed her into a mess, though that still hasn't stopped her from doing DTV films. Although, she has since found success with the Syfy cult films, the Sharknado franchise.
    • Chris Klein was an ill-fated attempt to establish an attractive leading man that went nowhere after his hoped-for star turn, the remake of Rollerball, turned into a Star-Derailing Role instead.
    • Eddie Kaye Thomas (Finch) went from Pie to a series of "dorky, lovable loser" roles in films like the infamous flops Freddy Got Fingered and Dirty Love, as well as a string of DTV films rebranded under the "National Lampoon" banner. However, he has at least attempted to restore his cred in recent years with appearances in the Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle film series, as well as a starring voice on American Dad!, the HBO series How To Make It In America and his current gig on Scorpion. Only time will tell whether he can bring his star back.
    • Ironically, John Cho, who plays a minor character in the film, is the one whose movie career is most on the rise, between Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Star Trek (2009), and the Total Recall (2012) remake.
    • Natasha Lyonne is an especially unhappy case. She got even more cred with But I'm a Cheerleader, but a serious problem with drugs and alcohol, as well as health problems and extreme mental illness, all but destroyed her career. There was even a period where she was living homeless on the streets of New York after being evicted from her apartment for her behavior. Eventually she came back with a cameo American Reunion), and is finally coming back to prominence for her praised role in the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. Unlike Biggs, Lyonne completely escaped the shadow of Pie after landing the show.
  • The cast of Twilight all enjoyed a big push, particularly Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Anna Kendrick. Stewart's first big post-Twilight role was Joan Jett in the biopic The Runaways, and while her stone-faced performance of Bella became a running pop culture gag, at least seems to get regular work and even some critical acclaim (albeit often in a "wow, she actually can act" sense) in fairly low-budget indie movies; Pattinson had the romantic dramas Remember Me (which seems to be more famous for its controversial ending than anything else) and Water for Elephants and the complicated David Cronenberg dramas Cosmopolis and Maps to the Stars; and Kendrick went for indie and Oscar cred with her performance in Up in the Air, not to mention mainstream success in Pitch Perfect. She even got a top ten chart hit in "Cups", a track from the aforementioned film's soundtrack. If anything, Kendrick (who has a sarcastic and self-depreciating demeanor in real life) has maintained stardom following the end of the franchise, and appears to be the most ready of the three to hit the next level. Other cast members don't seem to have the same luck as them, however:
    • Taylor Lautner parlayed his good looks and fame from playing Jacob into the action movie Abduction, but it was panned by critics and flopped at the box office. He's largely-disappeared into Adam Sandler movies.
    • Kellan Lutz seems to be on even shakier ground, since his biggest claim to fame is being shirtless at every available opportunity. He recently dragged out the "I want to be taken seriously" line, but since he has yet to put his shirt back on, some people didn't really believe him. His first big post-Twilight work, The Legend of Hercules, was a flop.
    • Stewart and Pattinson have had a much better push in recent years with Stewart pulling off three critically acclaimed films in 2014 and becoming something of a critical darling (Even nabbing a Cesar award, making her one of only two American actors ever to do so). Pattinson has followed a similar path and Good Time seems to have finally given him the push he needs to break out from under the shadow of Twilight. The two, particularly Pattinson, have also done themselves favors by making it clear aren't very fond of the films either. Eventually, Pattinson got cast in Christopher Nolan's upcoming 2020 film and is selected as the new Batman for the upcoming solo movie of the Cape Crusader himself directed by Matt Reeves.
  • The cast of the MTV reality show Laguna Beach fell under this. When it premiered, Laguna was the first teen-oriented reality series on the network, and rode a wave of commercial acclaim, teen mag appearances and ratings domination. The teenage cast members all attempted to parlay their exposure into different avenues (to various levels of success), with most falling into obscurity after high-profile appearances in series or films. Lauren Conrad made the jump to her own successful spinoff, The Hills, but left the program after several seasons to unsuccessfully try her hand at a fashion line. Kristin Cavallari took up Lauren's spot as the main character of The Hills, but she mostly does DTV films now. Jason Wahler is more well-known for his guest stint on Celebrity Rehab than any of his prior work. Audrina Patridge's self-titled spinoff didn't last long. Only Stephen Colletti from the first season (who parlayed his fame into a long-running role on One Tree Hill) has had a relative degree of success.
  • Thanks to Professional Wrestling becoming quite mainstream in the 90s, and The Rock managing to parlay his wrestling success into a respectable acting career, others have followed suit.
    • Sable was an example that came before The Rock's breakout role in The Mummy Returns. Her beauty and popularity with fans led to her gracing the cover of Playboy (and she later got a second less than a year later), and she soon left wrestling hoping to break into the mainstream. It mostly translated to small parts on TV shows, a failed comic book series and B-movies. She returned to WWE in 2003, stayed there for one year and kept a low profile after leaving a second time.
    • Chyna's mainstream popularity was almost as big as The Rock's in 2000, and she got a Playboy cover too. There were rumors of her playing Wonder Woman and the T-X, and she got a second Playboy cover. But numerous personal problems behind the scenes led to her abruptly leaving WWF, and her drug problems led to her being persona non grata. After a few years of appearing in small parts on TV shows and a failed music career, she moved to Japan to become a teacher, and passed away tragically at the age of 46.
    • John Cena rose quickly through the ranks and had become WWE Champion within three years of his debut. He released a successful rap album, and made his feature film debut in The Marine. He has appeared in various action films over the years that mostly catered to his physique, and he flirted with dramatic credentials in the 2010 flop that was Legendary. Unlike many others, he has made it clear that wrestling is his main passion, hence why he hasn't gone into films full time. Things do appear to be changing in the late 2010s - as John is now in his 40s, he has taken more breaks from his WWE schedule and enjoyed more success in voice-over with Ferdinand and a proposed Transformers spin-off.
    • The Miz is unique in that he was first famous for reality TV - The Real World to be specific - but didn't start to make it big in wrestling until 2010. He's had several attempts at acting roles, but most of them are in films made by WWE Studios (and therefore go Direct-to-Video). He has yet to star in a film outside WWE. But he parodied this in 2014, adopting the gimmick of a Small Name, Big Ego who thought he was a Hollywood star.
    • The cast of Total Divas got lots of hype after the show proved to be a ratings hit on the E!Network. Eva Marie left wrestling altogether in 2016 to launch onto film work - and her debut Inconceivable was trashed by critics, despite its All-Star Cast. The Bella Twins appear to be doing the best, with their reality show Total Bellas proving to be a successful spin-off and launching a successful fitness and clothing brand. Cameron announced an intent to produce music and go into acting, but has yet to make anything happen. The rest have focused almost entirely on wrestling.
    • Stacy Keibler attempted to go mainstream in the mid-2000s, appearing on Dancing with the Stars and managing to get guest spots on How I Met Your Mother, Psych and Chuck and small parts in a few movies. She enjoyed a higher profile when she dated George Clooney but after they split up, she quit Hollywood - fed up with the politics of the industry.
  • The entire Inhumans franchise went through this. After years of being a minor group in the Marvel universe, usually in supporting roles, they had a number of well-received series. Then came the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which could not use mutants, which are tied to the X-Men film rights (which were owned by 20th Century Fox, locking them out of being able to appear in the Disney-owned Marvel Films), but did still use some characters that are normally mutants. While this hasn't been confirmed, the majority of readers see the 2010s Inhuman push to be an attempt to popularise them so that they can be used in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a Suspiciously Similar Substitute to mutants (the Guardians of the Galaxy were similarly pushed before their film was announced, but nowhere to the degree the Inhumans were), all but confirmed by insiders who note that Ike Perlmutter, the guy in charge of Marvel, would literally tear down posters featuring characters whose film rights didn't belong to Marvel. This also extended to video games, with developers stating that they were explicitly told to not use X-Men characters. An Inhumans movie was announced for Phase 3 of the MCU, and their origin setup in Agents Of Shield. After months of being hyped up as Marvel's next big thing, the main Inhuman comic book series was delayed, leaving a bunch of tie-ins to a story which nobody knew anything about. Then, months behind schedule, the series finally released and... needless to say, the response was not what Marvel wanted, with a heavy 'meh' heard across the comic world, and the general consensus being that it was not worth the wait. The first issue of the series wasn't even able to break the top 10 of the month, and the second issue dropped all the way to barely making the top 50. Then came their relaunch as Uncanny Inhumans, which attempted to push the brand with multiple ongoings, while also re-working the Inhumans to have more of a grounded presence in the Marvel Universe akin to mutants. This didn't take either, not helped by Marvel starting a plot about how the Terrigen clouds that give Inhumans' their powers were killing mutants, in what many saw as an unsubtle metaphor for the franchise war. The Inhumans comics still didn't sell well. This culminated in the despised Inhumans vs. X-Men event, which only made longtime Marvel readers despise the Inhumans more for the attempt to shill them and failing spectacularly. Finally, with Resurr/Xion, the Inhumans comics were consolidated down to Royals and Black Bolt, with the latter in particular receiving critical praise, although neither were strong sellers (Royals was outsold by reprints of decades old single issues). During this time, the Series/Inhumans TV show premiered — by this point, Marvel Studios was restructured to report directly to Disney and not Marvel, and Kevin Feige apparently had no interest in the Inhumans — and bombed both critically and commercially. Then Marvel/Disney made an offer to acquire Fox that had to wait for government approval, and while that was happening, Marvel quietly turned down the Inhumans hype with one last miniseries, Death of the Inhumans, before shunting the franchise away, just a few months before the Disney/Fox merger was approved and the film rights to the X-Men were regained.

     Examples that did hold up 
  • Meryl Streep burst onto the scene very quickly in the 1970s with a One-Scene Wonder role in Julia that led to Robert De Niro recommending her for The Deer Hunter - which got her an Oscar nomination. Her second - for Kramer vs. Kramer - she won. Another Oscar came for Sophie's Choice but Hype Backlash set in during the 90s. Meryl herself grew tired of Oscar Bait roles and longed to go against type and do more comedies - which had varying degrees of success. But she came back to prominence with The Bridges of Madison County, confirming that she was here to stay. Fans and critics alike view Mamma Mia! as a real turning point for her as well; when it grossed over $600 million worldwide, they remarked that "the greatest American actress has now become a movie star". Throughout the years she has alternated between critic-pleasing dramas and various other genres, continuing to prove her versatility. These days she's essentially the standard against which all young actresses are measured.
  • Angelina Jolie. Years of indie-cred roles in Gia, Hackers, and other films paid off with a big push from Girl, Interrupted in 1999, which won her the Best Supporting Actress Oscar and resulted in a near-endless push that got her big roles in such films as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005). When the latter got her together with Brad Pitt, the "Brangelina" media juggernaut was born. Clearly a major success story for everyone involved, as her films do generally well (though she stopped making them so quickly and focused on her home life and activist work), and the magazines get to make money off of her image (proof that being tabloid-bait isn't always a bad thing — only if that's all you're known for). Ironically, Jolie has stated on several occasions that she wants to give up acting for her growing family.
  • Tom Cruise got a big push in The '80s, and tons of film roles. Virtually every one proved to be a success. Obviously, he kept on being famous and having huge box office smashes until he royally screwed up and went crazy in the mid-2000s, with the infamous couch-jumping incident on The Oprah Winfrey Show being the telltale sign of his downfall. Twenty years? A pretty good run. Currently, he and the Hype Machine are going into overdrive to re-make him as a successful A-Lister, as he pokes fun at himself with humorous roles, and tries to fit back into the "romantic Action Hero" archetype once again, with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol coming out to rave reviews and Oblivion (2013), Edge of Tomorrow and Jack Reacher also being modest hits. With the continued success of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation solidifying both the franchise's continued bankability and Cruise's return to stardom, the future is looking bright, with Mission 6 already confirmed, Jack Reacher 2 filming, and a biopic, Mena, forthcoming.
  • Nicole Kidman received a big push after earning critical praise for her role in To Die For, and her career has held up pretty well since then. Though her career didn't really take off until Tom Cruise dumped her and she won an Oscar for her role in The Hours.
  • Hulk Hogan: Began this way in late 1980/early 1981 as an extension of his arrogant heel character in the WWF, when he bragged endlessly on TV about being the "next big thing" in movies and wrestling. In an era before Entertainment Tonight and the Internet ( wasn't even a twinkle in anyone's eye, for instance), it was possible for on-screen announcers to roll their eyes and be skeptical about Hogan's "supposed" connections with Sylvester Stallone and that he had been cast as a professional wrestler named "Thunderlips" in Rocky III, and successfully pull off their skepticism that he was actually going to be in the movie and be the next big thing because of it. Of course, that all did come to pass, Rocky III was a huge box-office success (in part because of Hogan) ... and although Hogan's acting career wasn't exactly a major success, his wrestling career would become legendary.
  • Heath Ledger started out as this in a big way, to the point where they even made a joke about it in Josie and the Pussycats. However, the reclusive Ledger went back to having a low profile until Brokeback Mountain established him as an actor to truly be taken seriously. Sadly, he then experienced the greatest career surge of all — a premature death. The Dark Knight helped establish his legacy, and at the very least, he will be more remembered for his latest work than for being a Teen Idol.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio did some very well-received work in indie films (notably the retarded brother in What's Eating Gilbert Grape alongside Johnny Depp) before being cast as the romantic, bishonen male lead in Titanic. Starring in the highest-grossing film (before inflation) of the 20th century will turn anyone into a star. Even when Titanic wound up getting hit hard with Hype Backlash, DiCaprio's career and reputation managed to come out completely intact, thanks to his work with Martin Scorsese, winning an Oscar for Best Actor in The Revenant, and ability to take on different roles.
  • Kate Winslet got her big break in Titanic too and thus attracted the hype machine. Luckily she already had some cred before Titanic - with an Oscar nomination for Sense and Sensibility. She chose her projects well over the years, making her a critical darling and netting Oscar nominations for Little Children, Iris, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Steve Jobs and The Reader (which she won for). She opted to stay away from big budget studio releases save for Contagion and the Divergent franchise, and these days is considered one of the best actresses of her generation.
  • Sandra Bullock got her big push from Speed much like Keanu Reeves did. However, she has had much better luck channeling that into a long-lasting career. There was initial worry as the "Chick Flick" movement slowed down in the late '90s and she vanished for a while, but with a long string of more recent hit movies running through the Turn of the Millennium, including the two biggest hits of her career (one of which won her an Oscar) in 2009, there's no doubt about her place on the A-List.
  • Julia Roberts got her huge push with Pretty Woman in 1990, and Hollywood got behind her as they rarely ever do for a female star not known for nudity. Twenty years later, she's still a bankable A-List star, though with less "legit" cred as she sticks to more mainstream, pedestrian "chick flicks" than serious films. Still, movies like Erin Brockovich gave her some critical acclaim (and in Erin's case, a Best Actress Oscar).
  • Cameron Diaz got tons of publicity after The Mask became a Top 10 box-office hit and for several years after she was in many critically and/or commercially successful films such as My Best Friend's Wedding, Gangs of New York, There's Something About Mary, and Being John Malkovich. She is the second actress to earn $20 million for a film, after Julia Roberts. Also branched out into voice work and struck gold with the Shrek film series.
  • Gwyneth Paltrow got a huge amount of hype right from around Se7en and several high-profile romances with major Hollywood hunks (including Brad Pitt and Ben Affleck). Unlike most flash-in-the-pan hotties with famous boyfriends, she proved her acting chops and won an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love, had several hits (enough to offset the occasional bombs — and she was in her fair share, enough to derail almost any career), and has managed to become a legitimate star in her own right. Her movies are rarely blockbusters (Iron Man notwithstanding), but she has artistic cred and enough of a name to get almost any role (it's unlikely anyone regrets her being on Glee, especially after she won an Emmy).
  • Reese Witherspoon certainly worked out well. After being a fairly run-of-the-mill actress in the early '90s, she all of a sudden got this massive push, first with the critically acclaimed Election and then commercial success with the Legally Blonde series and various Chick Flicks. She effectively became the next Julia Roberts, and even got an Oscar for her trouble (for Walk the Line).
  • Madonna. Coinciding with a huge breakout in the early to mid 1980's music scene, she soon sought to capitalize in film as well, and it seemed to work at first, with her first starring role in Desperately Seeking Susan proving very well with critics and audiences. Although her acting career quickly fell flat with Shanghai Surprise (which would cost her her marriage with future mega-star Sean Penn), her music career got even stronger, and she would become the biggest-selling female music artist of all time.
  • Robert Downey Jr. has been a Zig Zag with the Hype Machine. Starting off as a member of the Brat Pack in the 80's, Downey got his big break in the late '80s - early '90s which culminated with him getting an Oscar Nomination for his role as Charlie Chaplin in the biopic Chaplin. Unfortunately he had a real life downward spiral that led to drug abuses and arrests. After gaining sobriety in the mid 2000s, Downey returned to acting in the indie scene. He ended up making his Career Resurrection in 2008 with his starring role in Iron Man and has since then taken off and hasn't looked back since.
  • Ben Affleck, like Thurman, is an example of both failure and success in the Hype Machine. After Good Will Hunting and Armageddon, there was a period from 1998 through 2003 in which he was the biggest star in Hollywood. Then came Daredevil, Gigli, and the entire Bennifer saga, which derailed his career so badly that he wouldn't do any movies at all in 2005. He became a Hollywood punchline in the mid-'00s. However, he was able to quickly bounce back with "legit cred" in 2006 and after, not only as an actor in films like Hollywoodland, State of Play, and Company Men, but also as a director with the critically acclaimed crime dramas Gone Baby Gone and The Town. He was comfortably married with kids to Jennifer Garner, and he mostly stays out of the tabloid limelight. In 2012 he topped himself by directing and starring in Argo, which went over big with critics and audiences and won three Academy Awards - although he wasn't nominated either for acting or directing, he still received one for Best Picture (this Oscar is awarded to a film's producers, which in this case included Affleck himself). In recent years, his acting career has also improved with turns in his own work, being cast in David Fincher's Gone Girl and, most notably, being cast as Batman in the hotly anticipated Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
  • In recent years, Melissa McCarthy has become a seemingly unstoppable draw for audiences in television and movies alike. For a while, she was usually known for various supporting roles (such as her character Sookie on Gilmore Girls), but after garnering an Academy Award nomination for her much-lauded role in Bridesmaids, she continued her streak of box-office successes with Identity Thief and The Heat. Her proverbial Midas touch hasn't been lost in her television work, either. She won an Emmy for her role on Mike & Molly, and she's been Emmy-nominated for guest-hosting Saturday Night Live not once, but twice. With a Distaff Counterpart film of the James Bond series planned with frequent collaborate Paul Feig, it's safe to say that she'll be around to stay for quite some time.
  • In Matthew McConaughey's case when A Time to Kill and Lone Star came out in 1996, he was called the "next Brad Pitt" and given a ton of new major roles. People covers soon followed, and he was expected to become the next A-list star. What ended up happening was a major string of box-office disappointments and minor roles over the course of the '00s, and he became instead known for appearing shirtless in "Celebrity Beach Body" specials, showing up in Direct-to-Video indie films, and being the romantic male lead in Chick Flicks. Not quite what was expected. It was only in the early '10s when he had a Career Resurrection as a "mature" leading man, with his acclaimed performances in The Lincoln Lawyer, Killer Joe, Magic Mike, Mud and Dallas Buyers Club. And with winning an Oscar for Best Actor for the latter film and starring in Christopher Nolan's film, Interstellar, there's a good chance that he's going back in the limelight.
  • Will Smith had a huge one. Starting out as a comedic rap star, of all things, he had a pretty funny sitcom for years with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and had a decently-sized box office hit with the buddy-cop action movie Bad Boys. Then, starting with Independence Day and never stopping, he was showing up in one guaranteed A-List movie every other year. His comedies and action/explosion movies all make huge money (even his bombs make $100 million), and he has earned legit cred from his more artistic or serious movies. His career has slowed in recent years, with no movies at all from 2009 to 2011 (presumably his own choice), but he did have a hit with Men in Black 3 in 2012 and only really stumbled with After Earth, but he's nevertheless still high in demand and could easily come back. His role as Deadshot for 2016 DC Extended Universe film, Suicide Squad (2016), still have some bumps (most of the good things about the film is Margot Robbie's performance as Harley Quinn) but earned more money despite the negative reviews.
  • Jennifer Lawrence is considered one of the better actresses of the new generation, and is currently one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. She first came to notice with Winter's Bone which earned her an Oscar nomination but it seems to be The Hunger Games that is getting her the most press. That franchise as well as her role as Mystique in X-Men: First Class and her roles in films like Silver Linings Playbook (which won her a best Actress Oscar) and American Hustle (which got her another Oscar nomination) are likely to keep her around for a while.
  • Tom Hanks has had a blockbuster career right from the start, spending much the 80's starring in well-received comedy hits such as Splash and Big, as well as cult classics Bachelor Party, Nothing in Common and The 'Burbs. Although he initially preferred to stick to comedy fare during those years, he got into more serious subject matter just a decade later, which ended up pushing his career to heights he would had never imagined in the 80's. He ended up scoring two Academy Awards for Best Actor in a row for his performances in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump, as well as a nomination for his performance in Saving Private Ryan. Since then, he's mostly stuck to dramatic fare and away from comedic roles, and most of his performances during those years have been accused of being Oscar Bait, but despite that and a few slip-ups here and there, his career or reputation hasn't faded one bit.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch was not well-known outside of the UK until he played the titular character in BBC's Sherlock which earned him a lot of praise and fans (most of them are girls) and few years later, he won an Emmy. Because of this, he appeared in several critically acclaimed films such as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, 12 Years a Slave and The Imitation Game (which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor) and three franchises (The Hobbit, Star Trek Into Darkness and the Marvel Cinematic Universe where he took the title role of Doctor Strange). And since he's listed in Time magazine's "Most Influential People in the World" in 2014, he will be around for a long time.
  • Will Ferrell. After a stint with The Groundlings for several years, he first got his big break as a cast member of Saturday Night Live in 1995. There, he performed many of the most memorable impressions of the show's history, namely that of Robert Goulet, George W. Bush and Alex Trebek, and became one of Saturday Night Live's most beloved cast members. During Ferrell's final season at SNL in 2001, he performed as the antagonist in the Cult Classic Zoolander, and two years later had his first starring film role post-SNL in the moderately-received Old School. But his career soon got a huge push later that year, when he was cast as Buddy in the Christmas comedy film Elf, which was highly successful critically and commercially and solidified Ferrell's status as an A-list comedy superstar. He followed the film up a year later with Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, which became a pop culture touchstone throughout the mid-2000's. Despite a slip-up in 2005 with The Producers '05, Kicking & Screaming and Curious George, he soon bounced back with Stranger Than Fiction and Blades of Glory. Since then, his films continue to draw critical praise and large crowds (with the critically-panned Box Office Bomb Holmes & Watson being a rare exception), and even though he's also balanced his major work with less-known indie fare, he's likely going to be a big name in Hollywood for a long, long time.
  • Cate Blanchett. In a big way. After her Star-Making Role in Elizabeth earned her widespread critical praise, numerous high profile magazine covers (such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, etc) and an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, she was tipped for very big things. Immediately following that she was cast as Galadriel in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy which went on to become the most financially successful movie trilogy of all time, as well as one of the most popular and critically acclaimed. Since then she's barely put a foot wrong in the eyes of, well, near enough everyone. She won her first Oscar (Best Supporting Actress) in 2005 for her role as Katharine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator (making her the only actor in history to win an Oscar for playing another Oscar winning actor), and has since gone on to receive five more Oscar nominations for Notes on a Scandal, I'm Not There, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Blue Jasmine and Carol. She won her second Oscar (this time for Best Actress) for Blue Jasmine, and in fact achieved the largest awards sweep for a single movie performance of all time, earning an astonishing 46 individual industry awards for her performance. These days, as one of Hollywood's most acclaimed and profitable actresses (not to mention, "the greatest actress of her generation", as the media is constantly calling her), she is in the very enviable position of being able to pick and choose her movie roles, fitting them around her work in the theatre (her first love) and her role as the mother of four children. Whereas, in her earlier career, she was often called 'the next Meryl Streep', the young up and coming actresses of this generation sometimes have the honor of being called 'the next Cate Blanchett'.
  • Keira Knightley was predicted as a possible new star with highly praised roles in Pirates of the Caribbean. A lot of the blockbusters she headlined were hit and miss, but she became a critical darling with an Oscar nomination for Pride & Prejudice (2005). She tried to resist typecasting in period films at first, but eventually embraced it and delivered very well received performances in Atonement, Anna Karenina, The Duchess, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World and eventually a second Oscar nomination for The Imitation Game. She has also successfully made the transition to the stage, with praised appearances on the West End and Broadway.
  • Amy Adams labored for years in small parts on TV shows, direct-to-video films and other projects. When she was cast in Catch Me If You Can, Steven Spielberg hoped it would be her breakout role and he was devastated when she didn't work for a full year afterwards. But a Best Supporting Actress nomination for the film Junebug got the ball rolling, and she achieved worldwide fame with the blockbuster success of Disney's Enchanted. For a while there was worry that she'd been typecast as Genki Girls and Manic Pixie Dream Girls but she did stay in critics' good graces with projects like Sunshine Cleaning, Julie & Julia and the adaptation of Doubt. Working with David O Russell helped show her range, allowing her to go against type in The Fighter and American Hustle - as well as her drastically villainous turn in The Master and playing Lois Lane in the DC Extended Universe. With five Oscar nominations to her name, Amy Adams is now considered one of the best actresses working in Hollywood.

     Examples on the fence 
  • A rather sad example is Anna May Wong, who is recognised as the first Asian-American movie star in Hollywood. After a few years working as an extra, she made a bang with her first leading role in The Toll of the Sea - and the Hype Machine got behind her. The only problem? Hollywood had no idea what to do with her - reluctant to give leading roles to an actress with Chinese ancestry. For most of her Hollywood career, she was stuck playing Dragon Lady roles, while white actresses in Yellowface were given the meatier parts that she wanted. There was considerable hype when an adaptation of The Good Earth was produced - and the press cited her as a perfect choice for the lead O-Lan. But The Hays Code prevented her from playing the love interest to a white actor (even if he was in Yellowface). She ended up going to Europe and Asia, where she was able to play non-stereotypical roles - and managed to do so in a few American B-movies too. So while she never became the Bette Davis or Mary Pickford level leading lady that was predicted, she is at least recognised as a significant contributing factor to humanising Asian-Americans to American audiences.
  • The entire cast of Friends were given countless movie roles the second that show became a sensation. The results have been mixed.
    • Courteney Cox and Matthew Perry have gone back to TV. The former had a flop with Dirt, and while Cougar Town was initially a hit, declining ratings led to it being put on hiatus in the middle of S2, held for mid-season in S3, and pushed from ABC to TBS for S4. The latter was 0 for 3 with Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Mr. Sunshine and Go On, though critics like his recurring appearances on The Good Wife and he finally landed a series that didn't get cancelled after one season with The Odd Couple.
    • Matt Le Blanc made a series of hellacious bombs: he did Ed, a movie with a baseball-playing chimp, and Lost in Space... and then there was Joey. He's currently starring in the low-rated but critically successful Showtime comedy series Episodes (playing himself, no less). After Episodes finished production, he was immediately announced as one of the new hosts of Top Gear and simultaneously had a network TV hit with the three-camera Man with a Plan.
    • David Schwimmer started directing, where he seems happy. Although, as of late, he has been trying to do more dramatic television roles, such as playing Robert Kardashian in American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson.
    • Lisa Kudrow went for indie cred, partially to avoid being typecast.
    • Jennifer Aniston has fared the best so far — while she didn't headline a $100 million hit until 2011's Horrible Bosses (which arguably was helped out by the other heavyweights like Jason Bateman and Kevin Spacey in the film — she's never had a starring role do that well until We're the Millers in 2013, and is mostly known for Romantic Comedies), she was fortunate enough not to have a major flop during the time in between, and at the very least she's treated like a major star by most of Hollywood.
  • Chris Rock got his start as a Saturday Night Live cast member, then his career exploded in the mid 90's with the HBO stand-up special Bring the Pain, which made him a network favorite for the rest of the decade. He soon got film roles for a number of comedy films including Dogma, Beverly Hills Ninja and Down to Earth. Unfortunately, most of his films were mediocre at best, and didn't draw many audiences to the theaters. He eventually took a break from starring in films in the mid 2000's and went to voice work, notably voicing Marty in the Madagascar series, and eventually ventured into television production with the highly successful sitcom Everybody Hates Chris, which ran for four seasons. He's also hosted two Oscar ceremonies to wit, so he's still kicking for the time being.
  • Uma Thurman was victimized by this. After notable roles in the late '80s with films like Dangerous Liaisons and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, she became an "It Girl" with Pulp Fiction. This push ultimately faltered within three years after subsequent films, particularly Batman & Robin and The Avengers (1998), did poorly, and she vanished from the limelight (rumour has it she took time off to concentrate on motherhood, which might have killed buzz even further) before Kill Bill reignited her career in 2003. Since then it's partially faltered again (her film Motherhood set a British record by only selling eleven tickets in its opening weekend), but most people like her acting no matter how the film itself does.
  • Louis C.K. started out as a struggling hack comedian with a few unsuccessful projects under his belt like Pootie Tang, which he wrote and directed, and his HBO show "Lucky Louie" which only lasted one season. Eventually he revised his comedy act using George Carlin's method of writing new material every year and scrapping his old material, since then he has become one of the most popular stand up comedians in the world. He parlayed his success with stand-up into other forms of entertainment, giving well received performances in films like American Hustle and Blue Jasmine. He also created and starred in Louie, a semi-autobiographical TV show that became popular with both audiences and critics. He also had a leading role in hugely successful animated film The Secret Life of Pets.
    And then that wave of success came to a screeching halt in late 2017 when he was accused of sexually harassing various women, and unlike other men being accused of sexual misconduct around that time (most famously Harvey Weinstein), CK immediately admitted that the allegations were true and apologized. Netflix, FX, and various other companies that were in business with him immediately cut ties, and even though there's a small chance his honesty will save his career, it doesn't look good.
  • Disney has started creating an alarming number of Kid Coms in recent years, starting with the success of Lizzie McGuire and Hilary Duff. With Duff, they managed to create a crossover starlet (with movies, TV shows, albums, and clothing lines coming out) of high repute. They immediately created a formula with this, spawning Hannah Montana and others, with all their myriad starlets being built up the exact same way. Most of them (although there are exceptions) have only received minor hype after their Disney shows' runs were finished, and have mostly failed to find real stardom outside of their original shows.
  • Ryan Gosling became a star with The Notebook and a critical darling with Half Nelson, and Hollywood seems intent on selling the idea that he is sexier than sex. It's debatable whether there's widespread audience agreement. His movies have done fairly well financially, but a lot of that could be the result of high-profile co-stars like George Clooney and Steve Carell. Critics still love him, but he has yet to headline a real blockbuster, and given that he tends to choose small-scale dramas over special-effects spectacles, he might never become another Tom Cruise or Will Smith. (It's possible or even probable that he prefers it that way, though.) It should be also noted that he's somewhat becoming typecast after Drive, with all his upcoming or released projects being bend on giving him similar roles of tough guys in very violent (read: R-rated) actionesque flicks. However, he earned a lot of praise for being a funny guy in The Nice Guys and his musical performance in La La Land won him a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.
  • In a tragic example of this trope, Aaliyah was never able to prove whether or not she deserved all the hype she was given. After being the female lead in the surprise 2000 hit Romeo Must Die, it was widely predicted that she would be able to translate her highly successful R&B career into being a Hollywood leading lady, resulting in her getting the title role in Queen of the Damned, along with a major part in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. Unfortunately, right after finishing principal photography on Queen of the Damned, she was killed in a plane crash, and the rock performance-heavy nature of the film meant it was extremely reliant on ADR dubbing, which she never had the chance to do before her death, meaning that nearly all her character's dialogue in the finished film was recorded by a sound-alike (her part in the Matrix sequels was subsequently recast with Nona Gaye). If nothing else however, the enduring success of her music well over a decade later shows that the hype around her R&B career was entirely justified.
  • Much was expected of Rachel McAdams after her roles in Mean Girls and The Notebook, and she was immediately hailed as Hollywood's new it girl. With the successes of Wedding Crashers and Red Eye, the hype appeared to be justified. But then she took a break from 2006 to 2007, halting her career in its tracks, and admitted that she had never wanted to be a big movie star. She did eventually make a return, with high points including The Time Traveler's Wife, Midnight in Paris, Doctor Strange (2016), and the Sherlock Holmes franchise, but her films have been hit or miss outside of that. Her career appears to be thriving, but she could have been as A-list as anybody given the chance.
  • James Franco had a slower climb to the top than most, with noted roles in the short-lived Freaks and Geeks and the Spider-Man Trilogy. His push didn't come until 127 Hours and being named the Sexiest Man Living in 2009. For the next three or so years, he headlined a lot of big films - some did well and others less so. He took a step back from acting to focus on his education, and has leaned more towards becoming a producer and director in addition to acting. Things seemed to be going well for him when he won a Golden Globe for his role as Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist, but almost immediately afterwards, he started getting sexual assault allegations thrown at him, which probably contributed to him not getting Oscars for the film. Only time will tell if his career can recover from those allegations.
  • Alyssa Milano got fame as a child star in the 80s with Who's the Boss? and got a huge Japanese following - enough to sign her to a five album recording contract over there. As she entered her twenties, she suffered the age-old Contractual Purity that dogs many child stars. She finally succeeded in breaking out of her nice girl image with erotic films that became cult classics. Magazine covers and cosmetic endorsements followed, as did a Ms. Fanservice push in Melrose Place and Charmed. The latter lasted a shocking eight seasons and it was predicted she would become a breakout star from it. Film offers came but she never had a notable hit. In The New '10s, she settled comfortably into the host of Project Runway: All Stars. It's not the career it could have been, but she doesn't seem stuck for work. However in the late 2010s, she became well-known for her progressive political activism during the Donald Trump presidency; in particular, her feminist activism in the wake of the sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein by kickstarting the #MeToo movement and supporting the Time's Up movement.
  • The cast of Band of Brothers undoubtedly got this - the most prominent of which included Damian Lewis and Ron Livingston. Lewis's attempts in films didn't amount to much - with bombs like Dreamcatcher, Stormbreaker and Your Highness. But on television, he fared much better with the worldwide success that was Homeland. After he left that, he successfully transitioned to another headlining role in Billions. Livingston already had fame from Office Space but remained in below-the-radar projects, the most high profile of which was The Conjuring. The men in the cast who became stars - Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Tom Hardy and Simon Pegg - had minor roles, with Fassbender the only one who appeared in more than two episodes. Donnie Wahlberg maintained a steady career of supporting roles, including the Saw series, before getting the lead in Blue Bloods. Neal McDonough, Ross McCall, Michael Cudlitz, and Richard Speight Jr. became TV regulars, while Frank John Hughes transitioned to screen writing. Scott Grimes's attempt at joining a franchise - Ridley Scott's Robin Hood (2010) - was unsuccessful, but he enjoyed more success in voice acting and music. A lot of the rest were doomed to type casting or else retired from acting altogether.
  • Diane Kruger debuted with a memorable bang in Troy as Helen and got lots of work in America as a result, most notably in the National Treasure films. She also won lots of critical acclaim for Inglorious Basterds. But she rarely found herself getting work outside of roles that catered to her beauty, and her momentum seemed to dry up in The New '10s. She's still modelling and working away though, so she's not completely gone.
  • The actors who played James Bond had some hits and misses in their careers particularly after their tenure in playing the character:
  • Scarlett Johansson. An indie darling in the late '90s, she was crowned the new "It Girl" in 2003 on the back of her two acclaimed performances in Lost in Translation and Girl with a Pearl Earring. Her failure to secure an Oscar nomination for either film did a lot to stall her momentum, and her follow-ups were not nearly so well received. Luckily for her, Woody Allen declared her his latest muse and they made three films together, including one of his most popular latter-day films, Match Point. This kept her career on life support until she made a stab at a mainstream comeback with Iron Man 2 and The Avengers (2012). She followed this up with acclaimed turns in Her and with Lucy being her biggest hit outside the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and her first film as a solo lead to pass $100 million). However, Under the Skin, albeit a smashing success with critics, flopped at the box office. Ironic, as she was brought into that film because a star with a big draw was needed. Her next solo movie, Ghost in the Shell, was also a Box Office Bomb after being hit with the controversial Race Lift casting, costing Paramount more than 60 million. Rough Night landed with a thud with both critics and audiences as well. Though she still had other movies, it remains uncertain if she can still have a leading role.
  • Much like his Red Eye co-star Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy is a case who deliberately didn't want to live up too much to the hype. His role as Jim in 28 Days Later was the first major exposure he got to American audiences, and then he hit the big-time in 2005 with Batman Begins, Red Eye, and Breakfast on Pluto (the last of which earned him a Golden Globe nomination), and several entertainment outlets touted him as the "next big star". However, between his discomfort with the Hollywood system and celebrity culture and annoyance with being Type Cast as a "villain actor" because of his performances in Batman and Red Eye, he's deliberately gone out of his way to stay out of the spotlight. He's still steadily working and earning rave reviews for his performances, especially in Peaky Blinders, but he could have been as A-list as anybody if he'd wanted to be.

     Would-be and one-time A-Listers 

These examples fit for people who were once big names (often for years), and then faltered, or people who failed to hit the A-List, but nonetheless managed to have decent careers.

  • Where do we even begin with Adam Sandler?
    • Sandler made his first hit as a cast member for Saturday Night Live for five seasons, at a time when the show was about to head for another Dork Age since the infamous season six. After leaving SNL, he made his feature film debuts in Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore, both of which were released a year from each other. Despite both film receiving mixed reviews, they both scored modest box office returns. His next film was Bulletproof, which was critically panned and nearly fizzled out his career, but then got a huge push when he became star of The Wedding Singer, which became Sandler's first blockbuster hit. This paved the way for Sandler becoming a Critic-Proof star, with The Waterboy and Big Daddy becoming big hits against a backdrop of otherwise mediocre reception. With the exceptions of Little Nicky, Eight Crazy Nights and Reign Over Me (the latter of which was a rare departure from comedy to drama), Sandler's films managed to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars and turn big profits regardless of poor critical reception.

      However, by the early 2010's, audiences began to lose interest in Sandler's crass humor, and his films began to underperform. Jack and Jill went on to be regarded as one of the worst films ever produced, and That's My Boy became Sandler's first biggest flop since Eight Crazy Nights. Additionally, studio executives began to grow irritated with how terrible his movies were becoming to the public eye, and his usual friendliness with everyone he works with ended up going downhill one day when Sandler marched into Sony's studio offices demanding that $200 million be set aside for a potential Candy Land movie, a move that ended up sending the film into Development Hell. He did one final attempt to save his floundering career with Pixels, but it instead became one of the most hated films of 2015 and bombed spectacularly, ensuring that audiences were no longer attracted to Sandler's comedy as they were a decade ago. Following this flop, Sandler began to divest himself heavily from Sony and has almost completely disappeared from the silver screen aside from voice parts in the Hotel Transylvania films, and has been relegated to doing films for Netflix.
    • His career behind the camera hasn't worked out well, either. Aside from his own films, most of Sandler's off-screen production ventures, such as The Master of Disguise and Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star, were universally panned and did poorly at the box office, and also helped derail the careers of those who starred in them. All of them were produced through his company, Happy Madison Productions, which has become synonymous with abysmal low-brow humor.
  • Eddie Murphy was the hottest comedian around back in The '80s. He started out on Saturday Night Live during one of its toughest Dork Ages, perhaps being the reason SNL escaped cancellation. He would soon bring his wit to the big screen in films like 48 Hrs., Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop and Beverly Hills Cop II, and Coming to America (his only misstep was 1986's The Golden Child), as well as his standup specials Delirious and Raw, and even a couple of hit songs such as "Party All the Time". But after the failure of his 1989 vanity project Harlem Nights, in which he directed and starred with his comic idols Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx, Murphy's career plummeted in The '90s, with Another 48 Hours, The Distinguished Gentleman, Boomerang, Beverly Hills Cop III, and Vampire in Brooklyn all bombing (though Boomerang has been Vindicated by History). He had become a walking punchline, infamously mocked by David Spade on SNL in 1995 when he said "Look, kids! a falling star! Make a wish!", which really made him mad. He bounced back with his 1996 remake of The Nutty Professor, and other films like Metro, Dr. Dolittle, Mulan, Life, and Bowfinger. But in the 2000s, Murphy slipped again as he made more family-friendly films, which, with the exception of the Shrek series, were poorly received. Films like Daddy Day Care, The Haunted Mansion, Meet Dave, and Imagine That, were panned by audiences and critics, and 2002's The Adventures of Pluto Nash was one of the biggest bombs in Hollywood history. He received an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor for Dreamgirls in 2006, but the much-maligned 2007 film Norbit probably torpedoed his hopes of winning. He was praised for starring in Tower Heist in 2011, but 2012 brought A Thousand Words (filmed several years before its release), which was universally panned (and had the "privilege" of being his first film to go Direct-to-DVD in Britain). Since then, he has only had an appearence at the SNL 40th anniversary special and one film called Mr Church, which, while a more dramatic role for Murphy, was still critical panned and was a box office failure.
  • Similar to Eddie Murphy, Jim Carrey was the big comedian of the 1990s. Carrey started off playing supporting or minor roles in movies in The '80s, but after the back-to-back successes of Ace Ventura, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber in 1994, his star shot up like a rocket. Unfortunately for him, while his comedic roles brought a major bank, it made him severely typecast as an actor. Attempts at more dramatic fare, such as The Truman Show, Man on the Moon, The Majestic, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, while earning him praise from critics, under-performed if not flopped at the box officenote  compared to his broad comedies. Unlike most however, Carrey's status is more self-imposed, making a conscious decision to pursue more serious works rather than continue with the comedies that made him incredibly popular. After making a second Ace Venture film, he repeatedly refused to star in sequels to his comedic works (except for Dumb & Dumber), which was likely a wise choice given the critical receptions those films wound up getting.
  • Jude Law spent years as a bit player as well as earning two Oscar nominations for both The Talented Mr. Ripley and Cold Mountain before receiving a huge, notable Hollywood marketing push in 2004, starring in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, the remake of Alfie, and half a dozen other films. Chris Rock engaged in some Lampshade Hanging at his expense at the Oscars ceremony, making fun of how this "Tom Cruise Lite" was receiving so much hype and so many pictures for what seemed to be no reason ("If you can't get Tom Cruise... just wait!"). Of course, every film either bombed or was a disappointment, and then he got caught cheating on his then-fiance Sienna Miller with his children's nanny, shattering any hopes for him as an A-Lister. Even with his career damaged, however, Law has continued plugging away, with major roles in Sherlock Holmes (2009), Repo Men, and other recent Hollywood films. It's a serviceable career, although not nearly the highly bankable, Cruise-style A-lister that the studios were hoping he would be. This might changed after he was cast as the younger version of Albus Dumbledore in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and as Yon-Rogg in Captain Marvel which shows that he's still around.
  • Orlando Bloom appeared in The Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean trilogies and was one of the biggest stars of the early-mid '00s. Since then, his career has suffered several hits, including critical thrashing and Hype Backlash, but he works steadily in highly regarded (if small) productions, for which he is finally starting to receive positive attention from the critics. His career appears to be thriving, but it's doubtful it will reach its former stratospheric heights. By all accounts, this seems to be his intention (he reportedly turned down Jake Gyllenhaal's role in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time).note 
  • Faye Dunaway exploded onto the scene with Bonnie and Clyde and a subsequent Oscar nomination. She was hyped up throughout the 60s/70s with hits like The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), The Towering Inferno, The Three Musketeers (1973), Chinatown, and Network (for which she won an Oscar). She got singled out by Joan Crawford, who said that she was the only actress of her generation who "has what it takes" to become a star. Prophetic words - as Faye was chosen to play Joan herself in the adaptation of her daughter's tell-all book Mommie Dearest. What was anticipated as a hard-hitting and gritty biopic ended up a hammy unintentional comedy with the portrayal of Joan turned into a deranged cartoon character. Her hopes of winning an Oscar vanished, and the film's reception as a So Bad, It's Good camp classic destroyed the star's reputation - along with stories of her being a massive primadonna on set (rumour has it that the cast and crew found her so horrible they told her there wasn't a wrap party). She all but vanished from leading roles afterwards, with her most notable credits since being Supergirl and Dunston Checks In.
  • Jennifer Lopez practically became an A-list star overnight after her performance in Selena was praised by critics, and she followed it up with several critically acclaimed films such as Out of Sight and The Cell. She also became noteworthy for being one of the few thespians who was able to successfully juggle both a singing and acting career, in 2000 she became the first person to have both the number one album and star in the number one film in the same week. Though some critics were disappointed when she later switched over to starring in middling romantic comedies like The Wedding Planner, Monster-in-Law, and Maid in Manhattan, but her films were still successful box-office wise for the most part, and even the critically mauled Gigli didn't seem to stall her career much. But then she took a four-year break from her film career, and her first film since her break, The Back-Up Plan received worse reviews then any other film she's starred in so far, so while Lopez is still getting work in films (and television), it's pretty likely she'll never return to her former A-list status.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger started out as a low-budget actor with forgettable films like Hercules in New York in his name, but soon found luck when a little-known director named James Cameron tapped him to play the title role in The Terminator. Although the movie received initially mixed reviews, it soon became such a massive pop culture behemoth that its sequel in 1991 grossed seven times its predecessor. He soon scored more action roles throughout the 1980's and 1990's, with major box-office hits like Predator, Total Recall (1990) and True Lies becoming quintessential action flicks of the era. Unfortunately, his stint as Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin didn't fare as well, and it ended up freezing his star power for the rest of the 90's. He made one final stint as T-800 in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines before deciding to take a break from acting and serve as the Governor of California for eight straight years before returning to film. His recent films though haven't been particularly successful with even his return to the Terminator series, Terminator Genisys, proving to be a commercial disappointment. He did recently host a celebrity season of The Apprentice in 2017 but left after one season. Now, with Cameron back in the Terminator fold, Schwarzenegger will return as T-800 once again in a new Terminator film that will conclude the franchise for good. Time will tell if that helps Schwarzenegger get back on his feet.
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones made a major splash with her Fanservice-y role in The Mask of Zorro, and instantly became a household name (internationally, anyway - she had already been fairly well-known for a while in the UK). Unfortunately, before she could get much work, she hooked up with Michael Douglas and practically vanished for years, only making the occasional movie like Chicago (for which she won an Oscar). She doesn't seem to mind her current obscurity, but she could have been as A-List as anybody given enough of a push.
  • Johnny Depp. Making his debut as Freddy Krueger's first victim, he spent much of the 1990's starring in critically-acclaimed and financially successful films, such as Edward Scissorhands (his first film with Tim Burton), Benny & Joon and Donnie Brasco. However, he wouldn't hit the A-list until the Pirates of the Caribbean series, which turned his Jack Sparrow character into a pop culture icon, catapulted him to the top. Magazine covers of him soon followed, and nearly every film he starred in thereafter turned a major profit for the studios who released them.

    However, with the live-action Alice in Wonderland film being critically mauled but financially successful, Hype Backlash soon kicked in. Many audiences grew tired of Depp's Large Ham tendencies in his roles, and also got caught in some bad press whenever he plunged into drug and alcohol abuse, which have plagued his career since the mid to late '80s. In 2011, while Rango and the third Pirates movie proved to be successful, The Rum Diary and Dark Shadows, the latter film released the following year, tanked. Complete derailment came in the summer of 2013 with The Lone Ranger, in which he played the title role's sidekick Tonto and thus subject to massive backlash over the character's whitewashing. The film received mediocre reception and became Disney's biggest box office bomb in the studio's history, leading to a studio write-down of $190 million and the end of the studio's long-time relationship with producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Depp's star power faded overnight, with his next films, Transcendence and Mortdecai, being critically panned and failing at the box office. Although he did receive critical praise for his performance in Black Mass, that only turned out to be a brief respite for in 2016 came a high-profile domestic violence case against him from his former wife, Amber Heard, who published shocking pictures of bruises on her face, allegedly from Depp, to back up her claims. The public fallout of the case led to audiences staying away from Alice Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to the aforementioned live-action Alice in Wonderland, leading to its box office failure. He never recovered from the scandal and his days as a leading man came to a halt when Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales became the lowest-grossing film of the franchise to date, resulting in Disney publicly distancing themselves from him and Warner Bros. downplaying his role in the marketing campaign for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald in the wake of the #MeToo movement increasing scrutiny of him due to his domestic violence history.
  • Following her Star-Making Role in When Harry Met Sally..., Meg Ryan starred in a string of successful romantic comedies and dramas over the course of the 1990s (most notably her three films with Tom Hanks, with Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail both grossing over $100 million at the domestic box office). She very quickly became "America's Sweetheart" as a result. However, Ryan's reported affair with her Proof of Life co-star Russell Crowe (while Ryan was still married to, albeit separated from Dennis Quaid) did serious harm to Ryan's "good girl" image. She gained even more negative publicity when she appear on the UK talk show Parkinson while promoting the erotic thriller (and very much a Playing Against Type role) In The Cut. The interview was awkward and uncomfortable, with host Michael Parkinson later calling her "terrible" while Ryan shot back saying she felt like he was a "disapproving father" towards her with his tone. Not helping were the ill-advised cosmetic procedures, which further diminished her "girl next door" appeal. Following the 2004 boxing drama Against the Ropes (which flopped at the box office and was panned by critics for being a stale Rocky clone), Ryan wouldn't appear in another movie for three years. She would resurface in the independent movie In the Land of Women and direct-to-DVD movies like The Deal and Mom's New Boyfriend. That was already a massive slide from where she'd been previously, but quite possibly the biggest nail in her coffin was her next major theatrically released film, 2008's The Women. Response from critics was overwhelmingly negative, with the film garnering a 13% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and Ryan herself would also be nominated for a Worst Actress Razzie (alongside co-stars Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Debra Messing).

    Ryan had been the queen of The '90s, but between problems in her personal life (which would irreparably damage the public's perception of her) and poor choices in roles, she's now disappeared from the Hollywood landscape (literally too, as she's now living in New York). While some of her earlier films are still well liked for nostalgic reasons, it's also clear many of them haven't aged well. Ryan herself meanwhile isn't looking to make a comeback anytime soon either, as she's stated in later interviews that she's felt liberated since losing her America's Sweetheart image and generally likes keeping a low profile and living a normal life.
  • Mel Gibson was an A-list superstar and a beloved heartthrob in the '90s. While he'd always been known to have some fairly controversial views, he kept them under wraps well enough that audiences were able to ignore them and turn out for his movies in droves. His career peaked in 2004 with The Passion of the Christ, a retelling of Jesus' crucifixion which, despite controversy (especially over its portrayal of the Jews), was one of the most successful independent films of all time, financed largely through Gibson's own efforts. Not long after The Passion, however, things changed virtually overnight thanks to the revelation of his racism, anti-Semitism, and Jerkass treatment of his girlfriend across a number of widely publicized incidents, which only made the controversy over The Passion that much more notable.

    Nowadays, he's a despised joke punchline and virtually persona non grata, to the point where even those who think he's a good actor will stop well short of defending his views and behavior. Even his older films that were popular in their day, such as the Mad Max and Lethal Weapon series, have notably fallen from the pop culture landscape even as other '80s franchises were rediscovered and put through the Nostalgia Filter. As this article by Bob Chipman noted, the ads for Mad Max: Fury Road went out of their way to downplay any association with Gibson (who had played the title character in the original films), lest he serve as box-office poison merely through association with the series. As for Gibson himself, it's been noted that post-meltdown he's shown a willingness to take on villain roles, something he had never done before, perhaps implying he's embraced the public perception of himself. He did have a major comeback with Hacksaw Ridge, which he directed but didn't star in, so he's not quite finished yet.
  • Ginnifer Goodwin received something of a Kate Hudson-esque push, getting numerous romantic comedy roles and magazine covers. But she didn't do a film after Something Borrowed until 2016's Zootopia (a five year gap). She was however chosen as the headliner of ABC's Once Upon a Time which has been a consistent hit with viewers. She appears to be slowing down after giving birth, and has had consistently less screen time in recent years, but remains part of the main cast at least.
  • Mila Kunis was well-known to audiences for her roles in That '70s Show and Family Guy, but she got a big breakthrough with Forgetting Sarah Marshall - taking much of the spotlight away from Kristen Bell (mentioned above). She won lots of acclaim for her role as Lily in Black Swan, and was named the Sexiest Woman Alive in 2013. Although her next big blockbuster Oz: The Great and Powerful made plenty of money, her performance was widely panned. Not helping matters was her first headlining role - Jupiter Ascending - being a Box Office Bomb. She has Family Guy to fall back on, and plenty of magazine covers, so time will tell.

     Too Early To Call 
  • Emma Roberts was heavily hyped as being the next big thing due to her relation to Julia Roberts (she's her niece) and roles in a few high-profile movies. After an adaptation of Nancy Drew in 2007 (among other flops like Wild Child and, which both went Direct-to-DVD in North America), it looked that she was never going to break out. Despite the obvious fact that no-one was biting, Hollywood continued to push her, which led to lackluster performances of Scream 4 and The Art Of Getting By. Emma's still around, but it will take a major hit film to turn things around for her. On the brighter side, hooking up with Ryan Murphy helped - she got positive reviews for her role on American Horror Story: Coven, returned for American Horror Story: Freak Show and American Horror Story: Cult, and starred on Scream Queens (2015).
  • Gerard Butler. After roles in such films as Dracula 2000 and the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider sequel, People magazine predicted he would become a megastar upon the release of the movie version of the musical The Phantom of the Opera (2004). However, not only was that film a modest performer at the box-office, but Butler turned out to be a big reason for the fandom's Broken Base. In early 2006, he finally attracted big-time attention via 300, and since then has alternated between action films (Gamer, Law Abiding Citizen) and Chick Flick/Romantic Comedy fare (The Bounty Hunter, The Ugly Truth). He's getting plenty of work, but The Onion probably had a point when it joked that saying Butler is starring in a film is just false advertising.
  • Alexander Skarsgård got a lot of attention for True Blood and for dating former starlets, but what his current fans perceive as famewhoring and paparazzi baiting seems to be turning them off. He's on the fence until future efforts succeed in replenishing the ranks. Solid and Ho Yay-riffic work on Generation Kill seems to be doing the trick. He also won lots of acclaim for his turn in Big Little Lies.
  • Jake Gyllenhaal and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Hollywood seems entranced by the both of them, despite their continued failure to gain traction with audiences. The movie Bloom turned down, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, performed under expectations, and even Maggie's presence in The Dark Knight hasn't been enough to bolster her career, with most of the praise she received only being in comparison to Katie Holmes, the woman she replaced. Her unconventional facial appearance (big jowls and looking much older than the current crop of young starlets) is part of it as well. But the suits seem undeterred, so who knows? Maybe someday, one of them will hit it big. Family Guy, naturally, was not above pointing all of this out with a cutaway gag in which the two bickered over which one was "more offputting" and "more unappealing in a lead role."
  • The fictional character Batwoman. When the character was announced as appearing in the weekly comic series 52 in 2007 there was a massive media response, even branching into non-comic related formats. The character was a recreation of the classic character from the 1950's, but was written as a lesbian involved with one of the primary characters for the series. Most of the media focus was on her sexuality, and she became regarded as the highest profile gay superhero in The DCU. Dan DiDio, Chief Editor of DC Comics, has said that even he was completely unprepared for the massive news fixation on the character, and did not know how to properly respond. Though unconfirmed, rumors circulate that the Batgirl series being published at the time of her introduction was canceled in order to make room for her character. However, the amount of coverage on the character was completely out of proportion to her role in the series, which was a supporting role spread out over a year, and she spent the following two years as a minor and unused character, only appearing in guest spots in other series. However, in 2009 she became the headline character in Detective Comics and received a well-received title-series by Greg Rucka that effectively delved into her backstory.
  • Justin Bieber rode an immense wave of success in the early years of his career (despite releasing the same album three times note  and a Christmas album), with his third album (and second album of all original music) going platinum in several countries. He was a major sensation to pre-teen girls, but like most people with that target fanbase, their careers are prone to flaming out quickly. The biggest threat to Bieber's career as a mature performer was initially people getting completely sick of him, as he saturated every form of media out there, even appearing on shows and in magazines that have nothing to do with his target demographic of young children and teens. Hype Backlash was thus a major concern.
    • Recent years have not been so kind — in 2012, a certain British boy band started to cannibalize his fanbase. He did manage another successful album (Believe, considered to have grown the beard) and another successful world tour... but his next concert film flopped and his subsequent album was withdrawn from iTunes. He soon got an arrest and a DUI under his belt, adding to the likeliness that he would burn out.
    • The tables finally turned in 2015. After spending the first half of 2015 on an apology tour and doing his best to undo the damage of his 2014 scandals, along with the surprise hit with Skrillex and Diplo "Where Are Ü Now", his highly-promoted comeback single "What Do You Mean?" debuted at #1 on the Hot 100, something that One Direction never achieved; his subsequent album Purpose was released on the same day as 1D's, and went on to trounce it, debuting at number one (subsequently ending 1D's perfect #1 album streak at 4) and having two enormously successful followup singles ("Sorry" and "Love Yourself"), which were the two biggest hits of 2016. Two more tracks featuring Bieber, Major Lazer's "Cold Water" and DJ Snake's "Let Me Love You", were also smash hits in the summer of 2016. While he's still on shaky ground (and 1D arguably still has a bigger "hardcore" following), he gained a larger casual following than he or 1D ever had. It's certainly a positive turning point and the future looks bright.
  • The boys of Supernatural. Both Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki have gotten incredible praise for the show (including helping to raise it above the Scifi Ghetto), and for being a couple of members of "Young Hot Hollywood" who can actually act instead of relying on their good looks. However, both of their attempts at film careers after starting Supernatural (Jensen in My Bloody Valentine 3D and Jared in the Friday the 13th (2009) remake) went nowhere. The big test will be when they branch out of the sci-fi/horror genre, and when Supernatural ends they can be choosier about film roles (since right now they are limited to what they can do while Supernatural is still on the air).
  • Patrick Dempsey had a serviceable but unremarkable film career for a while. Once Grey's Anatomy became successful, Hollywood started trying to promote him as the next big thing. Of the leading-man roles he's had since then, only Enchanted was really a critical and/or commercial success, and that one was arguably helped by having the Disney name behind it as well. His other roles haven't really set the world on fire, though he readily admits that his acting on Grey's mainly helps finance his auto racing career and he wouldn't mind pursuing motorsports full-time.
  • Gemma Arterton began being hyped as the next big UK starlet after a One-Scene Wonder role as Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace (managing to overshadow even lead female Olga Kurylenko). However, none of her post 007 roles (The Disappearance of Alice Creed, Tamara Drewe, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Clash of the Titans, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters) have managed to meet the hype. There's still a slight chance that she could pull it off but it's looking very unlikely.
  • Justin Timberlake has been a very successful singer since his days in *NSYNC, but his movie career has had a lot of ups and downs. His entrance into Hollywood was rough: Alpha Dog had mixed reviews, but his performance was mostly praised. Then Southland Tales, Shrek the Third, and The Love Guru ruined the careers of everyone involved, including him. Nobody cared for The Open Road, but then The Social Network gave him a massive career boost. From then on it was bumpy again: voicing another CGI character, picking the wrong sci-fi thriller to star in, and being hit or miss with the rom-com genre. A supporting role in Inside Llewyln Davis may keep him afloat acting-wise in the short term; to work with both David Fincher and The Coen Brothers illustrate that some big-name directors still have a lot of faith in him.
  • Seth Rogen has been dancing around this trope for a while. He's been acting since the late nineties but he got his biggest push from Knocked Up in 2007. Like Michael Cera, he was then on the receiving end of criticism for playing the same character (The vulgar but loveable slacker) too many times in films that weren't successful or were despite his presence. The biggest exception was Observe and Report, in which he played against type as a delusional, sinister mall cop, but it received mixed reviews. Though he earned back quite a bit of cred with his surprising dramatic performance in 50/50 which have made people view him in a better light, and This Is the End, which he co-wrote and starred in, was a commercial and critical success, as was his follow-up Neighbors and his infamous North Korea comedy The Interview. Some of his works after like Danny Boyle's Steve Jobs biopic and Neighbours 2 weren't as successful though he did have another hit with the rated r animated film Sausage Party.
  • Emily Blunt became known outside of the UK in 2006 with her performance in The Devil Wears Prada and a Golden Globe win for the drama Gideon's Daughter. But since then, her career has been a rollercoaster of critical hits (The Adjustment Bureau, Sunshine Cleaning, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) and major misfires (The Wolfman (2010), The Five-Year Engagement). She actually had to decline the role of Black Widow in Iron Man 2 (and the subsequent appearances in films like the box-office juggernaut The Avengers) because of a scheduling conflict with Gulliver's Travels, which was a box office bomb during the 2010 holiday season. However the year 2014 was very good to her with hits like Edge of Tomorrow and Into the Woods and the repeated commercial success of Sicario and The Girl on the Train seems to have kept the ball rolling.
  • Guy Henry, better known as Henrik Hanssen in Holby City has become critically acclaimed, and has avoided things such as Small Name, Big Ego etc. Unlike Justin Bieber, he isn't criticised or the subject of jokes, and is considered attractive by a lot of women - as much as the aforementioned individual.
  • Beth Behrs, from 2 Broke Girls has also received critical acclaim as well, and time will tell if this lasts or not. However, her Germans Love David Hasselhoff status - in the United Kingdom - probably counts for this too.
  • Viola Davis has had a string of very well-received roles over the past few years starting with the acclaimed Doubt. However she hasn't done anything really big since then; this isn't due to lack of talent, but more of how what kind of roles Hollywood offers black actresses. Davis' later films included small supporting parts in Ender's Game, Beautiful Creatures, and Prisoners; something she's not very happy about, calling these roles "mammy-ish" and "down-trodden". But she landed her own series with How to Get Away with Murder on ABC which got renewed for a fourth season, and resulted in her winning an Emmy. She was also praised for her role as Amanda Waller in Suicide Squad (2016) and won a well-deserved Oscar for her performance in Fences which showed that her career is going steady for her.
  • Although prominent since Clueless, character actor Paul Rudd's stint as a Hollywood leading man has been built upon the popularity of the Judd Apatow films he has appeared in. He had a promising start with Role Models and I Love You, Man, but practically every film since then have been either box-office flops or disappointments. This Is 40 has gotten a lot of praise though and he's guaranteed a career in prominent supporting roles. His performance as Scott Lang in the 2015 Marvel Cinematic Universe film Ant-Man boosted his career a bit.
  • Andrew Garfield had a string of indie successes (Boy A, Lions for Lambs, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus) before hitting it big with The Amazing Spider-Man. Even critics who didn't care much for it praised him in the title role, favorably comparing him to Tobey Maguire (who also found the right balance between big budget films and small dramatic films). Although, he left the Amazing Spider-Man franchise over creative disputes with Sony, he became a critical darling with his acclaimed roles in fare such as The Social Network (which many felt he was overlooked for at the Academy Awards), Silence and Hacksaw Ridge (which did earn him his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor). As such, it's looking hopeful he'll stay big for a long while.
  • Emma Stone also fits, with Spider-Man crowning a rise after a series of well-received movies (Zombieland, Easy A, The Help). She later earned an Oscar nomination for Birdman. Then in 2016, she earned a lot of praise for her performance in the musical film, La La Land, for which she won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical and an Oscar for Best Actress. Later, she got nominated again at the 2019 Oscar in the supporting category for her role in The Favorite.
  • Jeremy Renner seems to be avoiding this trope so far, helped by the fact that, he is much older than most of the stars usually being hyped. While he's been working pretty consistently since 1995 and got attention for his roles in Dahmer and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, it was his role in The Hurt Locker in 2008 that brought him huge acclaim and an Oscar nomination. He's since followed it up with critical acclaim and another Oscar nomination for The Town, a supporting role in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and a central role in The Avengers (2012) as Hawkeye. While Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and The Bourne Legacy did well at the box-office but not so well with critics, it looks like his career will be strong for awhile.
  • Ever since the Pussycat Dolls split up, Hollywood has been trying their absolute damnedest to make Nicole Sherzinger a pop superstar. She had one album, long stuck in Development Hell, released in 2010, to mild success. She's also won a season of Dancing with the Stars, had multiple TV spots, including judging spots on the UK and US versions of The X Factor and her own episode of Behind The Music. It's still up in the air if all of it will finally pay off.
  • The entire cast of Star Trek (2009) has gotten huge hype from their roles but arguably none more so than Chris Pine, playing the role of Captain Kirk. While he had some hits and critical acclaim before, it was his role in the 2009 reboot that put him firmly on the A-List. Since then, he's had some great success with roles in Unstoppable, This Means War! and Rise of the Guardians. He was also cast as Jack Ryan in the film of the same name, taking over a role previously held by Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin and Ben Affleck. His latest major role as Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman has done much favors for him as the film was not only a critical and commercial hit, but many praised his performance and chemistry with lead Gal Gadot.
  • Australian star Jason Clarke, similar to Jeremy Renner, is an older actor who is gaining huge success in his forties with roles in Zero Dark Thirty, Lawless and The Great Gatsby as well as a leading role in the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Terminator Genisys. Time will tell if he can keep it up.
  • Tom Hardy was once considered the next big star with a role in Star Trek: Nemesis. However the film flopped badly and nearly killed his career before it got started. This resulted in Hardy falling into an addiction to alcohol and crack which he eventually overcame. His role in Bronson helped revive his fortunes but it was his role in Inception that made him big again. He followed it up with Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Warrior, This Means War!, Lawless and, most notably, his role as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises which was a colossal hit and earned him huge acclaim. 2015's Mad Max: Fury Road opened to rave reviews, ending up being the most critically acclaimed film of the year, and The Revenant nabbed him an Oscar nomination, so don't expect Hardy to fade into obscurity anytime soon.
  • Aaron Tveit has kicked around Broadway for a few years with the occasional recurring part, but the Powers That Be have been actively looking for a vehicle to introduce him to the mainstream. It finally happened with a turn in the film adaptation of Les Misérables (2012) and the new show Graceland. However, as seen under Amanda Seyfried's entry, much of the attention of Les Mis was directed toward Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman, and while he's getting great praise for Graceland, its status as a darker show on the normally bright and optimistic USA Network has made its reception a little lukewarm.
  • Michael Shannon had been kicking around for years in prominent supporting roles in films such as 8 Mile and Bad Boys II but it was his scene-stealing role in Revolutionary Road in which he just about stole the film from Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and Kathy Bates with ten minutes of screen time, that earned him huge praise and an Oscar nomination. Since then, he has gone from one success to another with acclaimed starring roles in films like The Iceman and Take Shelter, rave reviews for supporting roles in Premium Rush and The Runaways and most notably his role in HBO's Boardwalk Empire and his role as Zod in blockbuster Man of Steel. He later received another Oscar nomination for Nocturnal Animals and was praised for his performance in The Shape of Water. While he may not exactly be anyone's idea of a leading man, it is likely he will stay around for a while.
  • Bryan Cranston has been acting for over three decades, but 2008 onwards have seen him make his way up to the A-List. Already famous and acclaimed for his role in Malcolm in the Middle, it was his role on Breaking Bad that saw him win enormous acclaim, three Emmys and has since been considered one of the best actors on television. His film career has been shaky with his some flops (Total Recall (2012), Rock of Ages, John Carter) and some big hits (Argo, Godzilla), but he was not the major box-office draw of these films. Like Michael Shannon and Jeremy Renner, he has the advantage of being considerably older and having a more distinctive presence than most other actors and he has a hugely dedicated fanbase, with type casting being a lesser issue as he has already proven he can reinvent himself even late in his career. Time will tell what happens next.
  • Cranston's costar from Breaking Bad Aaron Paul is less lucky. He won three Emmy Awards for his role as Jesse Pinkman. However, the films he starred after his breakthrough, Need for Speed and A Long Way Down, were critical flops. He has had some success with his involvement in Bojack Horseman, though and is cast for the third season of Westworld.
  • Boy Band One Direction took America practically overnight. While they had a slower rise in Europe, they were relatively unheard of in the United States—and then they started appearing everywhere. Although initially pegged as rivals to fellow rising boy band The Wanted, One Direction made short work of them, and The Wanted's career fizzled after one big hit. Then, the band's eyes were set on Justin Bieber. One Direction shocked the world when they defeated Justin Bieber at the 2012 Video Music Awards, which was a sign that Bieber's reign atop the teen world was coming to an end. One Direction proved that the victory was no fluke by continuing to dwarf his accomplishments and sales. Not only were the Brits' popularity skyrocketing past the Canadian's and closing in on his peak, but it was also obvious that Bieber's popularity was starting to fall (his own behavior would hurt it even worse). It's quite clear that One Direction are the biggest teen phenomenon since *NSYNC.
  • Taylor Kitsch has been having a rough time with this trope as of late. He first rose to prominence with his role in Friday Night Lights showing he could be a very good actor in addition to being fan service like in The Covenant. His post career has been very rough with 2012 proving a disastrous year with three high-profile disasters in Battleship, Savages and most notably John Carter, which was one of the biggest box-office disasters in recent memory. He does have an advantage in that he wasn't blamed for any of the failures, with John Carter's attributed to a very poor marketing campaign and an enormously bloated budget, and the fact that critics and audiences already know how well he can act. He's been confirmed for the second season of True Detective but earned mixed reception for his performance which doesn't help that the second season was not as good as the first.
  • Channing Tatum broke out into the mainstream with Step Up and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. This had the effect of typecasting him as either a bland meathead or a Mr. Fanservice. Although he attracted a swarm of Estrogen Brigade, critics didn't think too highly of him, nicknaming him 'The Charming Potato' - though he had proved that he did have some acting prowess in his earlier roles in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints and Stop Loss. The year 2012 was very successful for him - with both 21 Jump Street and Magic Mike proving to be Box Office smashes and critical successes. Both were followed up with successful sequels, and he won lots of acclaim for a dramatic turn in Foxcatcher as well as a wildly against type role in The Hateful 8. The Box Office failure of Jupiter Ascending and the Development Hell for his Gambit movie seems to be throwing a bit of a wrench into things however. Though his work with Steven Soderbergh has won him considerable acclaim and earned him a new life as a more respected actor.
  • Chris Evans has had his ups and downs with this trope. After his role in Not Another Teen Movie, he got a number of prominent roles, most notably as the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four franchise. While most of his films did fairly well, they were usually not well-received by critics, and he never broke out as a major star. While he did get some positive press for his roles in Sunshine and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, they didn't do very well at the box office. However, his career started to pick up in 2011, when he was cast as Captain America in Captain America: The First Avenger and the subsequent Marvel Cinematic Universe films. While his films outside it (The Iceman and Snowpiercer) have been only moderately successful, his Marvel roles should keep him around for a while. Especially with the success of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. If anything kills Evans's career it may well be Evans himself; he's expressed ambivalence about his blockbusters and stated that he may well retire after his Marvel contract is up to focus on directing. He has seemed more enthusiastic during the lead-up to Avengers: Age of Ultron, though, and suggested he may be willing to extend his contract until Avengers: Endgame which is his last movie as Captain America.
  • Since Divergent is considered by several in terms of hype to be "The New Hunger Games," being a film adaptation of a popular Young Adult book series (and every new such franchise launched between the two has bombed), there are already some press that are hyping up Divergent star Shailene Woodley as "The New Jennifer Lawrence." Adding to this comparison is the fact that both got their first break on low-budget cable series (The Bill Engvall Show for Lawrence, The Secret Life of the American Teenager for Woodley.) The box office success of The Fault in Our Stars is certainly a step in the right direction but after Allegiant bombed so badly, she refused to return to the final movie which was regulated as a TV movie. Fortunately, her performance in Snowden and Big Little Lies was praised which means there's hope for her.
  • Olivia Wilde, after a successful stint as Thirteen on House, was given a big push in by starring in such blockbusters as TRON: Legacy, Cowboys & Aliens, and In Time. While all of these movies under-performed, she is still getting steady work in film and TV, so another (successful) push is not out of the question...
  • 5 Seconds of Summer are an Australian pop rock boy band who got their big break opening for One Direction, and the success they experienced was enormous, becoming the only boy-band able to stand toe-to-toe with them. Groups like The Wanted and Big Time Rush had their careers flushed down the toilet by their rivals, whereas upcoming groups like Emblem3, Midnight Red, and Union J were unable to take off, so 5 Seconds of Summer was expected to suffer the same fate. But instead, the group debuted at number-one with their first album, outsold One Direction's opening, got 5 top 40 hits in only three months, and are apparently next in line for the teen idol throne.
  • Michelle Dockery came to national attention for her role as Lady Mary in the worldwide hit Downton Abbey and much was expected of her. She didn't do much work outside of Downton so it remains to be seen if she'll remain prominent now the show has ended. She was given her own TV show in America; Good Behaviour, in which she goes wildly against type to critical acclaim. The show was also successful enough to gain a second season.
  • Lily James has received a lot of good press, coming from Downton as well. She was at one point touted as "the next Keira Knightley" and was brought to national attention with her widely praised role as the title character in Disney's live-action remake of Cinderella. Her first follow-up to that - Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - playing with her 'English Rose' typecasting, was a Box Office Bomb. But she already had Downton and another well-received role in the BBC adaptation of War and Peace to fall back on, so time will tell. Starring in Edgar Wright's hit Baby Driver is certainly promising.
  • Her Cinderella co-star Richard Madden has received similar hype, he too coming from a hit TV-show (Game of Thrones). His first follow-up - the film Bastille Day didn't make much headway and got mixed reviews. Then, he got the lead role in BBC's Bodyguard which earned him critical praise and a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama Series. He is also set to star in Elton John's biopic, Rocketman (2019), as his music manager and is cast in the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe film, The Eternals.
  • Kevin Hart is climbing up this ladder as we speak, in large part thanks to his highly respected stand up career. While the films he's starred in, like Ride Along and Grudge Match, haven't been well-received by critics, audiences have enjoyed them more thanks to box office gross. Forbes even named him the top-paid comedian of 2016 with $87.5 million, surpassing long-time record holder Jerry Seinfeld. More recently, he has had a couple of commercially and critical successful films that costarred Dwayne Johnson: Central Intelligence and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle as well as having a role in the highly successful animated film The Secret Life of Pets. He was supposed to host for the Oscars 2019 but after two days since the announcement, he dropped out after a series of his old homophobic tweets resurfaced which he apologized on the next day.
  • Sarah Rogers, ITV news reporter has had critical acclaim and her Twitter feed is popular - although it's very much a dry type of Twitter, with no controversial tweets. She was believed to be in Strictly Come Dancing but that never got anywhere, amd she's covered many dark and edgy news topics, sometimes news stories with An Aesop in them, and she is considered a good up-and-coming reporter who deserves national attention. Time will tell if she becomes as big a star as Scarlett from Gogglebox.
  • Carolin Roth from CNBC is well-known to the fanbase who watch Street Signs on CNBC weekday mornings 9am-11am UK time, but recently, she's become very popular and has been well-received for her appearances with Louisa Bojesen on Street Signs and her ability to present, with an interesting mixture of Technician vs. Performer. Although it's too early to call, she is still getting a cult following from viewers, and people are expecting her to be on reality shows by 2017 (although the probability of that is anyone's guess).
  • Irish actor Jack Reynor was given a lot of hype thanks to his breakout role in What Richard Did. Hype Backlash set in pretty quickly, especially after his turn in Transformers: Age of Extinction, which had some viewers questioning whether the former was just a fluke. He did earn critical acclaim for his parts in smaller films like A Royal Night Out, Sing Street and the 2015 adaptation of Macbeth so time will tell.
  • Felicity Jones had a slow climb to the top, starting out as a child actress in The Worst Witch. She had a series of respectable roles in well-received films, before netting a lot of acclaim for Like Crazy. Her attempt at joining a franchise - namely as Felicia Hardy in The Amazing Spider Man 2 - didn't go so well when Sony sold the Spider Man rights back to Marvel. But an Oscar nomination for The Theory of Everything gave her a real boost and she headlined three films in 2016 - Dan Brown's Inferno, A Monster Calls and the Star Wars spin-off Rogue One. Time will tell if this translates into superstardom.
  • Around The New '10s, Hollywood was clearly looking to give Lily Collins a breakout role. As the daughter of famous musician Phil Collins, she attracted a lot of attention from guest spots on the revival of Beverly Hills, 90210 and a supporting role in the Oscar-nominated The Blind Side. However her first attempts at leading roles - as the love interest in the Taylor Lautner vehicle Abduction and Snow White in Mirror, Mirror - were unsuccessful. The former was trashed by critics and was a Box Office Bomb, while the latter was overshadowed by the other Snow White film Snow White and the Huntsman. The Hype Machine really got behind her with the announcement that she would play Clary Fray in the film version of the hit Urban Fantasy The Mortal Instruments. The film ended up becoming a flop with audiences and critics, the sequel was cancelled and the franchise rebooted as the Netflix series Shadowhunters with a new cast. Lily was however praised for her performances, some even comparing her to Audrey Hepburn, and she did earn a Golden Globe nomination for 2016's Rules Don't Apply, lots of acclaim for the Netflix film To The Bone and was chosen to co-lead the 2019 biopic Tolkien - so time will tell.
  • Emilia Clarke is slowly rising on the top ever since she was cast as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones which got her an Emmy nomination. By then, she landed a role as Sarah Connor in Terminator Genisys which received negative critical reviews and most of these reviews panned her performance. Although she quickly recovered with her starring role in Me Before You, her film career was hampered by the commercial failure of the film Solo. Only time will tell if she will stay on top, or instead be remembered as a one-hit wonder.
  • Tom Hiddleston has been gradually climbing to the top ever since he first gained mainstream exposure as the villainous Loki in Thor with subsequent reprisals as the villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe only adding to his stardom. In between starring as Loki, he has been finding consistent, critically-acclaimed work like The Night Manager, which netted him a Golden Globe award. His biggest hit that he headlined outside of the MCU was Kong: Skull Island, which received good reviews and grossed over $550 million world wide though some felt that his otherwise solid performance was overshadowed by the All-Star Cast. What helps Hiddleston stand out from the other MCU cast members is how takes an active role in smaller budget productions to garner goodwill from critics and avoid high-profile flops that could tarnish his record. For the time being, Hiddleston seems to be doing well and may be on his way to securing A-list stardom if he can continue his consistent track record.
  • Tessa Thompson suddenly started attracting a lot of praise with well-received roles in Creed and Dear White People. This led to her getting a prominent role in Westworld, and she was brought to international attention when cast as Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Endgame. She was noted to be the standout of the cast, and her star power was enough to make her feel comfortable to propose an all-female team-up movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She also earned roles in Men in Black: International and the live-action adaption of Lady and the Tramp.
  • Jon Hamm has had an odd relationship with this trope. After a few years of doing bit work and supporting roles, He burst onto the scene with Mad Men and won huge acclaim for his role and he has made a few forays into film such as The Town and Bridesmaids, the latter of which allowed him a chance to prove his comedy skills. But he hasn't fully made the leap to film success yet. This is partially due to his admitted aversion to franchises that require long contracts, ruling him out of superhero films even though many had been and still are pushing for him to play Batman in the DC Extended Universe, something which Hamm has said he'd be up for if the script were good enough. Like some other actors on here, his older age gives him a degree of protection from being replaced and his acclaimed work on TV means he'll be around for a good while. He also had a huge hit with Baby Driver so the possibility of him breaking out as a film star is definitely still there.
  • Margot Robbie, although somewhat well-known in her native Australia, got a lot of attention after being in Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, where she turned out to be surprisingly talented for an actress in a role that could've easily been written off as Ms. Fanservice. Then, she starred in several films such as Focus and The Legend of Tarzan, neither of which performed that well with audiences or critics. Her starring in the financially successful but critically panned Suicide Squad (2016) also didn't help, although her performance as Harley Quinn was noted to be one of the more enjoyable parts of the move. However, she made a quick recovery by gaining critical praise for her performance as disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding in the Biopic I, Tonya, which got her numerous nominations during the awards season including a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical and an Oscar for Best Actress. For what it's worth, she is willing to pursue roles in different genres to avoid typecasting and her willingness to perform her own stunts in Suicide Squad and I, Tonya does sell her as a committed actress. Not to mention that Warner Bros. is willing to give her more creative input on the upcoming Birds of Prey movie, going so far as to bump her up to the producer role and letting her choose the writers and director. She also has a major role in Quentin Tarantino's next film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Time will tell if Robbie will indeed live up to the hype and keep a good career going.
  • Barry Keoghan became a household name in his home country of Ireland with a starring role in Love/Hate. He's been given the opportunity to star in high profile films such as Dunkirk, The Killing of a Sacred Deer and Black 47 - though not as a lead yet. Time will tell if he can live up to the hype.
  • Domhnall Gleeson had some hits with Harry Potter and a supporting role in Dredd and was known in his native Ireland for being the son of Brendan Gleeson but it was About Time that really launched his career. Since then, he's been on a major critical and commercial hot streak with Ex Machina, Brooklyn, The Revenant, American Made and, most notably, a major role in Star Wars among other films. If he can continue his ability to choose good projects and mix respected smaller films and major commercial hits, he will have a very successful career ahead.
  • Gal Gadot started out playing a supporting roles in The Fast and the Furious, but her big break came when she played Wonder Woman in the DC Extended Universe. Although the character deubted as a supporting character in the polarizing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Gadot's performance was well-received even by the film's harshest critics. The subsequent Wonder Woman origin movie was a critical and commercial success with many critics positively comparing Gadot to Robert Downey Jr. and Christopher Reeve as the generation's most iconic superhero actor. Not only that, but a Wonder Woman sequel was fast-tracked while many other DCEU movies linger in Development Hell, ensuring that she will keep playing Wonder Woman even as her co-stars Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck leave the franchise. Outside of the DCEU, she had a voice role in Ralph Breaks the Internet and managed to surprise many by being not only a decent voice actor but also a good singer. If anything, Gadot may become the new face-of-the-brand player just like Robert Downey Jr and Scarlett Johansson have become for the rival MCU.
  • Tom Holland. Although he started out in the stage adaptation of Billy Elliot and The Impossible, his mainstream break-out performance came when he played Spider-Man in the MCU starting with Captain America: Civil War. Holland's performance was highly praised for balancing both the wisecracking action hero and nerdy everyman aspects of Spider-Man. Although his role was primarily comedic, many fans and critics noted how Holland was also surprisingly adept at dramatic performances in scenes with Holland improvising the much lauded death of Peter Parker in Infinity War. Even with his tendency to occasionally spoil movies hasn't hurt his popularity since he goes out of his way to show utmost humility and avoid burning bridges.
  • Pedro Pascal played a lot of minor and supporting TV roles in the past until he played the dashing Prince Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones which earned unanimous praise from critics and viewers. Later, he was given one of the lead roles in the Netflix series, Narcos and was cast in The Great Wall, Kingsman: The Golden Circle and The Equalizer 2. This boosted more on his star power which eventually led him to getting a supporting role in the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984 and playing the titular character for Disney+'s The Mandalorian.

Fictional Examples:

Comic Books

  • Much of The Fade Out is about the studio's attempts to make an up-and-comer a star after a film's starlet is strangled to death late in production. The studio sets her up in a public relationship with a secretly gay actor to kill two birds with one stone.


  • Discussed in How to Lose Friends and Alienate People with the characters of Vincent Lepak, a pretentious "hip" filmmaker, and Sophie Maes, an up-and-coming starlet. (There's also the older actress who comes back into the spotlight after suffering from obscurity for many years.)

Live-Action TV

  • An episode of Angel dealt with a young actress who, knowing that she'd be spit out by the Hype Machine in a few years, tries to become a vampire so that she could retain her youth and beauty (and, by extension, her career) forever.
  • A two part episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was devoted to this trope in regard to Ashley. Will helps Ashley breakout as a singer, turning her into an overnight success. Ashley quickly develops an ego due to her new found success but no less than a few weeks later her album completely bombs because people got sick of her. This also becomes a rather unfortunate "Funny Aneurysm" Moment because Tatyana Ali's real life efforts to break out into the music business failed miserably.

Web Animation

  • The transformed (not) winners of the Lottery in Lucky Day Forever are frequently displayed on the news and are frequently cast aside as soon as another Prole wins.

Western Animation

  • Rocko's Modern Life had Rocko briefly enjoy success as an underwear model, only to be usurped at the end of the episode by Heffer.


  • Allegra Coleman. In 1996, Esquire ran an article on the "Next Big Thing." They created their own Hype Machine behind her, talking about her role in a new Woody Allen film, her rocky relationship with David Schwimmer, and her friendship with Deepak Chopra. The problem? Allegra wasn't real. The whole thing was an elaborate fabrication created by writer Martha Sherrill as a hoax/publicity stunt/Take That!. The interesting part of the whole thing was that, despite not being real, the Allegra Coleman hype machine still worked, jump-starting the acting career of the model used in the photo shoot, future Heroes star Ali Larter.


Example of: