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A No Recent Examples rule applies to this trope. Unless the star directly announces their retirement, examples shouldn't be added until five years after the relevant role.


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  • Ben Affleck almost saw his career killed by Gigli right after the maligned Pearl Harbor and Daredevil (2003) had put his status as blockbuster lead material in question. Fortunately, it rebounded by the end of the decade when Affleck embraced his talent as a writer/director to great acclaim, first with Gone Baby Gone, followed by such features as The Town and Argo. His career took a dent yet again after Live by Night crashed and burned, and his public exit from the DC Extended Universe didn't help. It should be stressed, however, that he hasn't had a shortage of acting projects since. He got critical acclaim for his meta role in The Way Back (2020) and was cast in Ridley Scott's The Last Duel, reuniting him with his old pal Matt Damon. He briefly returned to the DCEU for additional scenes in Zack Snyder's Justice League and The Flash (2023), before the reboot of DC Studios. Plus, Air (2023) getting critical acclaim renewed his standing as an actor and a director.
  • Tom Arnold became well known mostly for being Roseanne Barr's husband, and with supporting roles in movies like True Lies and Nine Months, Hollywood tried to make him a movie star. This soon started falling apart with a string of flops in 1996 (Big Bully, Carpool, and The Stupids), but the final blow came the following year when he did the film version of McHale's Navy. His acrimonious divorce from Roseanne also resulted in her using her clout to blackball him from many major productions. He has hardly appeared in a mainstream film since and has done mostly independent or Direct-to-DVD movies. He's had more success as a TV presenter, especially on Fox Sports' The Best Damn Sports Show Period.
    • Big Bully was also the last theatrical live-action movie that Rick Moranis would star in, though it was less to do with this movie and more to do with his wife's passing.
  • Christopher Atkins first debuted in 1980 with The Blue Lagoon (1980) alongside Brooke Shields (see Film Actresses), which was popular and profitable despite being critically panned. However, his next film afterwards, The Pirate Movie, failed to match the hype and heights of The Blue Lagoon, with him even receiving a Razzie nomination for Worst Actor. It also served as a Star-Derailing Role for Kristy McNichol (see Film Actresses). His career went further into the ground with A Night In Heaven, for which he actually won the Worst Actor award. The final straw came when he starred alongside Kirk Cameron (see below) in 1989's Listen to Me, which also was an unsuccessful flop and got him a second Razzie award (this time for Worst Supporting Actor). Post-The '80s, Atkins has only acted sporadically.
  • Dan Aykroyd, after establishing himself in The '80s with successes like The Blues Brothers, Ghostbusters, and Driving Miss Daisy, lost a good chunk of esteem from starring in the massive failure of 1991's Nothing but Trouble (which he also directed and wrote). Luckily, his continued work in the Ghostbusters franchise, as well as return appearances to Saturday Night Live, ensure he's still prominent.
  • Ike Barinholtz, similarly to fellow MADtv alumni Crista Flanagan and Nicole Parker (see Film Actresses), departed the show to try establishing himself in film, and unfortunately like them, also made his feature film debut in Meet the Spartans and Disaster Movie, films by Seltzer and Friedberg. Unlike them, he dodged long-term damage to his career by shifting to supporting roles. He still is far from a marquee name, but at least he hasn't quit screen work like Flanagan and Parker.
  • To quote Michael Beck: "The Warriors opened a lot of [acting] doors for me, which Xanadu then closed."
  • Superhero Movie and College are the only theatrical releases Drake Bell had a lead role in. After both films tanked at the box office, he has only done Direct to Video and TV work before accusations of domestic abuse and charges of child endangerment filed between 2020 and 2021 effectively made him persona non grata for a few years until it was revealed he was a victim of sexual assault by Dialogue Coach Brian Peck, which gained him sympathy with the general public.
  • Roberto Benigni followed his Oscar-winning Life Is Beautiful with a live-action version of Pinocchio (2002) where he portrayed the title character (keep in mind Benigni was 50 back then), which earned a notorious Rotten Tomatoes rating of 0%. Given he directed it as well, the film additionally was a Creator Killer for him (see Film — Individual Creators). He's infrequently worked in films afterwards, with The Tiger and the Snow (a film he also directed) and the Woody Allen-directed comedy To Rome with Love to his credit. He got a bit of critical esteem back much later appearing in a more praised adaptation of Pinocchio in 2019 as Geppetto, a role he was unanimously agreed to be better cast according to critics. In fact, Benigni had almost killed his career a decade ago with Son of the Pink Panther. His performance as Inspector Clouseau's illegitimate son Jacques Gambrelli was unanimously eviscerated by critics, with the film utterly flopping in theaters overnight and earning him a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst New Star. American audiences most likely would've viewed him as a talentless joke were it not for Life is Beautiful.
  • Jason Biggs saw his career take off after American Pie became a hit. However, his subsequent films outside the American Pie series like Loser flopped. Saving Silverman was the final straw, though. After that bombed, he never had a leading role in a mainstream movie outside of reprising his role as Jim in American Wedding and American Reunion. An attempt at recovering his career by playing the male lead in Anything Else failed when it got mixed reviews and bombed at the box office, also serving as a rare flop for director Woody Allen and affecting co-star Christina Ricci; see Film Actresses. However, being in Orange Is the New Black served as a slight comeback for him.
  • Elizabethtown is often blamed for ending Orlando Bloom's run as an A-list Hollywood leading man; despite being one of the most iconic actors of the 2000s thanks to his performances as Legolas, Will Turner, and Paris, most critics reacted negatively to his lead role in Elizabethtown—a purely dramatic film that mostly required him to carry the emotional weight of the story by himself (without Viggo Mortensen, Johnny Depp, or Eric Bana backing him up). He's mostly appeared in smaller films and supporting roles since then.
  • Diego Boneta was already known in his native Mexico as a singer when he chose to pursue an acting career, which started out alright with roles in the TV teen dramas 90210 and Pretty Little Liars. But he then made his film debut in Rock of Ages, which failed to turn Boneta into the superstar the filmmakers wished he'd become despite having popular co-stars like Tom Cruise and Catherine Zeta-Jones. He wouldn't star in another major blockbuster until seven years later in 2019's Terminator: Dark Fate, which revived neither Boneta's career nor the Terminator franchise. His next theatrical releases Monster Hunter (2020) and Die In A Gunfight were liked even less by viewers while the well-received Father of the Bride (2022) was an HBO Max exclusive.
  • J. Evan Bonifant was a child actor who did mostly guest appearances on TV shows, with the exception of playing Tum Tum in Three Ninjas Kick Back. Then he got a role that could've potentially made him a big star, Blues Brothers 2000, but it flopped with both audiences and critics and led him back to mostly doing TV work (with the occasional short film here and there).
  • Valentine killed David Boreanaz's movie career in the crib. His television career survived unscathed when he jumped straight to Bones after Angel was cancelled, but all of his subsequent films have gone Direct to Video in the United States.
  • For a while, David Bowie held a reputation as one of the best actors out there whose main trade wasn't actingnote , being acclaimed for his roles in films like The Man Who Fell to Earth and Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence. Then came 1986, when Bowie starred in the camp-fests Absolute Beginners and Labyrinth. Though cult classics today, they were critical and commercial bombs that put the kibosh on people ever taking Bowie as a serious actor for the rest of his life. Later leading roles were in comparatively minor and similarly-panned movies, the well-regarded films he did appear in only featured him in cameo roles, and his biggest appearance post-1986 was a guest spot in the much-maligned SpongeBob SquarePants special "Atlantis Squarepantis".
  • Stephen Boyd was a regular actor in a number of big Hollywood productions such as Ben-Hur (1959) and The Fall of the Roman Empire, before landing the lead role in The Oscar. Outside of a few films shot before that one opened, Boyd was reduced to smaller films for the rest of his career (he died in 1977 while in talks to make a possible comeback with The Wild Geese).
  • Zach Braff had much expected from him after the success of Garden State and the popularity of Scrubs. Then The Last Kiss (which he received near-complete creative control over in an attempt to create another hit like Garden State) fared so terribly with viewers that he practically vanished after Scrubs was cancelled, while little has been heard from him since. His role in Oz the Great and Powerful in 2013 might have brought him back from oblivion, but he followed it up with Wish I Was Here: for which he had to turn to Kickstarter just to get the funding (which soured his reputation further, as most assumed he was wealthy enough to finance it himself or find a legitimate backer), and eventually opened to mixed reviews in a limited release.
  • After starring in the hit Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Russell Brand seemed to be on the road to being a successful comedic actor. Unfortunately, most of the movies he starred in after Sarah Marshall where he didn't star as Aldous Snow, didn't manage to get the same critical acclaim or box-office numbers did. But after Hollywood tried to make him a movie star with a 2011 remake of Arthur, he seems to have disappeared from movies almost entirely, as the only movies he was in since were Rock of Ages, Despicable Me 2, and the independent film Paradise. After his TV show Brand X With Russell Brand flopped, he seems to have disappeared from Hollywood entirely. His tabloid marriage with Katy Perry probably didn't help.
  • In the early-mid 2000s, Spencer Breslin was an up-and-coming child actor who was in many mainstream movies like The Kid, The Santa Clause 2, and Raising Helen. But his career seems to have been killed by three movies in 2006 – Zoom, The Shaggy Dog, and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause. After those movies, he stopped appearing in major Hollywood films and has primarily done independent work, besides The Happening. Ironically, his sister Abigail's career kickstarted the same year his career died.
  • The bomb Bangkok Dangerous 2008 knocked Nicolas Cage off the Hollywood A-list and marked the beginning of his career decline. He spent the late '00s and early '10s in either supporting roles like Kick-Ass, in Acclaimed Flops like The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, or in bombs like Season of the Witch, Drive Angry, and The Sorcerer's Apprentice. His tax problems during this time, which many have speculated were responsible for his choice in roles, also didn't help his career and reputation. The final nail in the coffin, though, was Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance in 2012, after which Cage's films started going Direct to Video. He has, however, began making a comeback in later years with more non-mainstream films such as Mandy, Color Out of Space, Pig, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, and Dream Scenario. Unfortunately, his first blockbuster in years, Renfield, wherein he played Dracula, underperformed.
  • Saving Christmas finished off what was left of Kirk Cameron's career post-Growing Pains. After the cancellation of his short-lived sitcom Kirk in 1996, Cameron, whose born-again religious conversion during production of Growing Pains led to many of that show's late-period troubles, retreated to making religious films to keep his career afloat and began stoking controversy for his statements regarding homosexuality and the theory of evolution. Then came 2014's Saving Christmas, which ended up getting negative reviews for its poor production values and its questionable messages. Cameron wound up playing the victim card and urged his followers to increase the film's user score on Rotten Tomatoes to counter the "anti-Christian" critics who had panned it. This plan backfired spectacularly when people who had never heard of it before went to see it and realized that the critics had a point, turning Cameron into a laughingstock by the general public and evaporating whatever goodwill he had left from the Christian Right. He's still making films, but he has not had the same impact prior to making Saving Christmas, now considered one of the worst films ever made.
  • Country music star Glen Campbell jumped into film in 1969 opposite John Wayne in True Grit, which was hugely successful. Campbell's follow-up project, the Vietnam-era dramedy Norwood, was a failure, and he was later relegated to supporting roles until he took on the voice of Chanticleer in Don Bluth's animated film Rock-A-Doodle, a legendary critical and commercial failure. Fortunately, it didn't impact Campbell's already successful music career. He retired in 2012 and died from Alzheimer's disease five years later.
  • Nick Cannon, who became a movie star with Drumline, saw his career plummet when Underclassman flopped at the box office, with the Day of the Dead (2008) reboot killing it for good (which also derailed the film career of Mena Suvari; see Film Actresses). He's had more success in television since, enjoying a good career producing and hosting TV shows like America's Got Talent.
  • Jim Carrey, after making a name in the 1990s and '00s as the biggest comic actor going (and surprisingly resilient against occasional box office disappointments), hit a snag with the dismal reception of Dumb and Dumber To in 2014. The film was widely panned by fans, critics, and audiences alike as an inferior sequel to the 1994 comedy hit. While his co-star Jeff Daniels didn't see his career impacted by this film's failure (mainly due to solid work on both TV and film), Carrey retreated from the spotlight for the next few years. (He kept busy and content – pursuing a new career as a painter with his art critical of then-president Donald Trump getting the most attention, appearing in a couple of low-budget films that never saw a wide release, having a pay-cable vehicle with the Showtime series Kidding, and so on.) He finally made a splash on the big screen again as Dr. Robotnik in 2020's Sonic the Hedgehog. The film earned positive reviews (particularly for Carrey's hammy performance as the villain) and was a box office hit, proving Carrey was on a rebound.
  • The Master of Disguise was intended to get Dana Carvey out of the career slump that his failed sketch comedy show, The Dana Carvey Show, had started six years prior; it was also his first big role following his botched heart surgery and the lawsuit which followed. Instead, it obliterated what little of a career he had left. Since then, he's mainly stuck to standup with the occasional minor role in other poorly-received comedies like Jack and Jill.
  • Grease 2 derailed Maxwell Caulfield's then-rising career, who later claimed it took him ten years to recover when nobody would hire him after its failure. His co-star Michelle Pfeiffer didn't lose much career momentum, though Brian De Palma initially refused to consider her for Scarface because of it.
  • Cedric the Entertainer became successful when he was in the hit Barbershop films. They then tried to make him a star with Johnson Family Vacation, which was a modest box office success. However, he then starred in the remake of The Honeymooners, which flopped at the box office. Then he starred in Code Name: The Cleaner, which flopped so hard, it didn't even crack the top 10 on opening weekend. After that movie, he has still popped up here and there in supporting roles, but he has never been given another chance to star in a major mainstream film.
  • For years, Jackie Chan was a popular action star in Hong Kong and the rest of Asia. However, he became popular in America with the Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon series. His other efforts to become a movie star in America, including The Tuxedo, The Medallion, and Around the World in 80 Days (2004) didn't work out so wellnote , but after Rush Hour 3 became a modest success thanks to its worldwide gross, Hollywood tried to make him an American star again. However, that ended when The Spy Next Door flopped at the box office, and while he remains an icon in Asia, he has hardly done any films in America since (The Spy Next Door also annihilated the theatrical career of director Brian Levant, who already had a two-decade-long string of critical busts on his resume by this film's release). The few exceptions were Skiptrace, which (despite mixed reviews) received a healthy box office; and The Foreigner (2017), which earned positive reviews and was a major box office success, mostly due to him Playing Against Type.
  • Justin Chatwin found himself as one of the leads in a Steven Spielberg movie of all things when he was still a complete unknown, one whose biggest roles at that point were a supporting role in Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 and a bit part in Josie and the Pussycats. While some complained about the kids in the film, the movie did boost his star power a bit and he got a lead role in The Invisible two years later. However, any momentum his career had came crashing down when he played Goku in Dragonball Evolution. Not only did the casting of a white guy as an Asian character raise eyebrows and cause many complaints, but the movie met a disastrous response with critics, audiences, and Dragon Ball fans alike. After that movie, he's mostly stuck to independent films, with his only big projects since being a recurring role in Shameless and a supporting part in the movie version of CHiPS. He did recover some credibility after a well-received guest spot in the Doctor Who Christmas special "The Return of Doctor Mysterio".
  • Throughout The '70s and The '80s, Chevy Chase was a big star, but by the '90s, movies like Nothing but Trouble had turned him into a walking joke. But he was still getting lead roles until Vegas Vacation, which killed his status as a leading man in Hollywood. His only big role since has been on Community, which he left after numerous clashes with the show's creator, Dan Harmon, something not uncommon with the notoriously difficult-on-set Chase.
  • Michael Chiklis made his big-screen debut as John Belushi in the 1989 biopic Wired, which was universally panned by critics and became a notorious Box Office Bomb. Although it effectively derailed his career in films aside from Fantastic Four (2005) and its sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Chiklis carved out a respectable niche for himself in television when he headlined two successful, long-running police procedurals (The Commish and The Shield).
  • Andrew "Dice" Clay already made his mark as a stand-up comedian in The '80s with the help of his onstage Greaser Delinquent persona "The Diceman" when he tried becoming a movie star, via playing the title role in The Adventures of Ford Fairlane. It instead tanked critically and commercially, with Clay eventually "winning" the 1990 Worst Actor Golden Raspberry Award for his performance. His next movie was the stand-up concert film Dice Rules, which also bombed and garnered Clay another Razzie nomination. He promptly moved away from films for the next few decades, although he did have some success in recent years with supporting roles in Blue Jasmine and A Star Is Born (2018).
  • Sacha Baron Cohen become big in America after the controversial Borat became a hit. His follow-up Brüno (2009) didn't do as well critically or financially and most people dismissed it as a Borat rip-off, but it was still a modest success. Then he did The Dictator, which did even worse critically and financially and caused him to resurrect his Ali G character for television as opposed to doing another movie. His only subsequent starring role, Grimsby, was a Box Office Bomb that seems to have finished him off. Luckily, his career seems to have rebounded on streaming in 2020 with the success of his films Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and The Trial of the Chicago 7. He received Oscar nominations for co-writing the former's screenplay and for his supporting role as anti-Vietnam War activist Abbie Hoffman in the latter.
  • After starring in Employee of the Month (2006), Dane Cook went on to have supporting roles in Dan in Real Life and Mr. Brooks, and leading roles in two other movies, Good Luck Chuck and My Best Friend's Girl. The latter two movies seem to have derailed his screen career, as he didn't act in another movie until his supporting role in Detention three years later. This would become a trend for him, as most of his post-My Best Friend's Girl film work have been supporting roles in independent films. The only starring role he's had since was a voice-acting role in Planes, which came out in 2013.
  • The critical and commercial savaging of Leonard Part 6 and Ghost Dad killed the film career of Bill Cosby, with him sticking largely to TV and Stand-Up Comedy afterwards until the 2014 sex scandal finished off his career.
  • Superdad was the beginning and the end of Bob Crane's career as a leading man on film, as he was unable to translate the success of Hogan's Heroes to the big screen. (Disney shelving the film for a year also didn't help.) The film's critical and box office failure was so great that he only appeared in one more film before his murder in 1978. His downfall story is told in the Paul Schrader film Auto Focus.
  • Macaulay Culkin suffered this with the 1994 films Richie Rich, The Pagemaster, and Getting Even with Dad. He hasn't appeared often since then, partly due to the Stage Dad tendencies of his now-estranged father Kit. However, he later found some success in smaller indie projects like Saved!
  • In The '80s, John Cusack made many hit movies like Better Off Dead and Say Anything.... His career cooled off a bit in the '90s, but he still had some hits like Grosse Pointe Blank. However, in the 2000s, most of the movies he made were critical (and even sometimes commercial) flops. The Raven (2012) was the last straw, as he's mostly done only independent films since then, with the exception of a cameo in The Butler. Disillusionment with working in Hollywood (particularly its treatment of women and child actors) also played a part in his choice to pull back from larger films and limit himself to independent projects like Love & Mercy.
  • Rodney Dangerfield became a breakout star after Caddyshack, following it up with hits like Easy Money and Back to School. Then he made Meet Wally Sparks, which flopped big time. He never starred in another major film after that disaster, while most of the films he did star in went Direct to Video before his death in 2004.
  • Tony Danza had made a name for himself on television with Taxi and Who's the Boss? when he tried becoming a movie star with She's Out of Control. Its bad reception (which included a Worst Actor Razzie nomination for Danza) quickly ended that possibility. Danza thereafter stuck to TV aside from an occasional supporting role such as in Crash and Don Jon.
  • Drug problems had already put a damper on Brad Davis' post-Midnight Express career when he did Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Querelle (in which Davis played a gay sailor who dabbles in drug-dealing and murder), described as "career suicide" by at least one commentator. (This was before Ellen DeGeneres' coming-out in 1997 made audiences more comfortable with seeing openly gay actors and characters onscreen; Davis came out as bisexual years before Ellen broke that taboo.)
  • Stephen Dorff worked away in film throughout The '90s after establishing himself in The '80s on television, before seemingly grabbing his big break when Blade (where he played the main villain) became a monster hit at the box office. Unfortunately, his career trajectory afterwards sank like a stone. While playing the titular role in Cecil B. Demented did damage his career (in addition to killing that of Melanie Griffith; see Film Actresses), it well and utterly died in 2002 when he headlined three duds in a row: Deuces Wild, Steal, and FeardotCom. His films for almost the rest of the decade underperformed and/or were just as ill-received, the most notorious being Alone in the Dark (which killed his co-stars' careers too; see Multiple Offenders). A shot at a comeback briefly came via a supporting role in Public Enemies and a leading role in Somewhere, but he derailed it after appearing in flops such as Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star and Immortals.
  • Aaron Eckhart saw his film career as a leading man virtually die with I, Frankenstein. He, before its release, amassed critical respect as a character actor in In the Company of Men, Any Given Sunday, Erin Brockovich, Nurse Betty, The Pledge, etc. After attaining mainstream attention with his performance as a tobacco lobbyist in Thank You for Smoking and as Two-Face in The Dark Knight, it appeared his career could only rise further. However, many underperforming films after The Dark Knight (with I, Frankenstein being the worst-received of the lot in 2014) sunk it. Besides a role in Sully (and acclaim went largely to Tom Hanks for his performance or to Clint Eastwood for his direction), Eckhart hasn't appeared in any successful projects since I, Frankenstein. The majority of his following input consisted of obscure independent fare which rarely earned a wide release.
  • Ansel Elgort, who became a popular teen heartthrob by starring in adaptations of the Divergent series and The Fault in Our Stars, broke into more adult fare with Baby Driver in 2017, which, in addition to getting good reviews, was a decent box office success amidst a busy summer season packed with multiple franchise films. His ascent abruptly halted after headlining 2019's The Goldfinch, one of the year's biggest Box Office Bombs. In total, its loss cost nearly $50 million for production company Amazon Studios and distributor Warner Bros.. The film was released during the beginning of the year's Oscar season with expectations it would be a major player come awards time, but its generally negative critical reception immediately put an end to those hopes. West Side Story (2021), delayed from its initial 2020 release because of COVID-19, could've functioned as a Career Resurrection, if Elgort's conspicuous absence from its promo campaign note  hadn't made it uncertain. His next project after West Side Story, the HBO Max crime drama Tokyo Vice, was mostly received positively, though neither audiences nor critics considered him to be a standout.
  • Emilio Estevez suffered this in 1986 with Maximum Overdrive and Wisdom, with the latter also hampering him as a director and a writer. He once starred in hits like The Outsiders and Repo Man, before becoming a prominent figure in the Brat Pack with The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo's Fire. After those two flops in 1986, his career on screen, despite Stakeout, Young Guns, The Mighty Ducks, and each films' respective sequels, lost a lot of traction. When Bobby (a film he also directed and wrote) massively underperformed in late 2006, Estevez has rarely acted besides reprising his role in the Disney+ show The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers (only to leave the show following the first season).
  • Michael Fassbender experienced this with The Snowman (2017). After being introduced to the public eye in 2009 with a notable supporting role in Inglourious Basterds, he truly broke out in 2011 with a quartet of films. He kept that positive streak going with Academy Award-nominated work in 12 Years a Slave and Steve Jobs, along with the fiscal success of X-Men: Days of Future Past. However, beginning in 2016 and continuing into the following year, his star power subsided when X-Men: Apocalypse, Assassin's Creed, and Alien: Covenant underperformed to varying degrees. This culminated in late 2017 when The Snowman flopped abysmally and was panned by nearly everyone who saw it. Fassbender's decline was further set in stone with Dark Phoenix, which was widely panned in 2019 and ended the Fox X-Men Film Series with a sad whimper. That being said, critics who otherwise hated the movie called his performance the best (if not only good) part. He didn't appear in a film for four years until Next Goal Wins (2023) and The Killer (2023). The former, directed by Taika Waititi and based on the documentary of the same name, opened in Toronto to polarizing responses, while the latter, directed by David Fincher and an adaptation of the French graphic novel of the same name, premiered to far more positive reception in Venice. Only time will tell if it kicks off a comeback for Fassbender.
  • Dan Fogler is a Broadway award-winner who was tapped by Hollywood executives to headline several major comedy films, including School For Scoundrels and Balls of Fury. The final straw, however, came with Good Luck Chuck, which bombed and mostly killed his film career before he could go anywhere with it. The only films he appeared in after this were the financially-unsuccessful Fanboys and Take Me Home Tonight, both of which were shot years before he broke into Hollywood, and Mars Needs Moms, which just put the coffin in the ground. In spite of all this, he's managed to land a key supporting role as Muggle Best Friend Jacob Kowalski in the Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, as well as its sequels The Crimes of Grindelwald and The Secrets of Dumbledore.
  • Jamie Foxx lost a great deal of his post-Oscar hype after winning for Ray, when Stealth became a notorious flop in 2005. Besides Dreamgirls, most of his films for the next seven years tanked before Django Unchained kicked off his Career Resurrection.
  • James Franco was once of the biggest rising stars of the 2000s and early 2010s, with roles in numerous hit films to his name (such as Harry Osborn in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man Trilogy, his Academy Award-nominated turn as Aron Ralston in Danny Boyle's 127 Hours, and his Golden Globe-winning one as Tommy Wiseau in his self-directed The Disaster Artist). That is, until he suddenly hit a massive setback between 2018 and 2019 with the combined critical and financial failures of Future World, The Pretenders, and Zerovilleall of which he also directed. Zeroville spiraled into a particularly notorious fiasco since it initially finished filming in 2014, but lingered on The Shelf of Movie Languishment for years after the original distributors filed for bankruptcy. Franco had no projects announced until 2022 besides directing and starring in an adaptation of William Gay's novel The Long Home, which he had also finished making years prior (in this film's case, it wrapped in 2015). It too has been shelved and left unreleased, and will seemingly remain so since he's under scrutiny for many sexual misconduct and assault accusations. He's currently set to play Fidel Castro in an independent biopic, a casting choice which instantly became controversial given Franco's not Hispanic. Several Latino actors and filmmakers (like John Leguizamo) denounced his casting as yet another case of whitewashing, though it also garnered approval from Castro's family.
  • In the 1990s, Brendan Fraser was an up-and-coming actor with hits like School Ties and The Mummy (1999), but by the early 2000s most of the movies he did were flops. However, it seems like Looney Tunes: Back in Action was the movie that ended his career, as he didn't do many mainstream releases for five years after that, except for a supporting role in Crash. Then, after having a small comeback with Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008), his career was again killed in 2010 by Extraordinary Measures and Furry Vengeance. For the rest of the decade, he would mostly do indie films or voice-over work.
    • What didn't help was that he was supposed to star in a film version of the legend of William Tell. However, he ended up suing the producer, Todd Moyer, after Moyer failed to stay on schedule due to financial problems, as he stated that Moyer screwed him out of more than $2 million worth of acting fees as he had to turn down many projects to stay on the William Tell project. To make matters worse, he was also involved in an accident that injured his back and made him unable to perform his own stunts, which limited the types of movies he was able to do.
    • However Fraser has rebounded considerably in recent years with highly acclaimed turns in Trust and his lead role in Doom Patrol (2019) and a younger generation who appreciate his work and the fact that his career decline was partially brought on by his being sexually assaulted by Philip Berk has garnered him immense sympathy. He also had a major role in Steven Soderbergh's No Sudden Move and won an Oscar for his role in The Whale by Darren Aronofsky.
  • Not even Morgan Freeman was immune to this. After his role in the critically acclaimed Se7en, he starred in the 1996 movies Moll Flanders and Chain Reaction. Both were unpopular among critics and audiences alike, though the latter recouped its budget thanks to a decent overseas gross. His star power was weak for seven years before he was cast in Bruce Almighty, followed up by an Academy Award-winning Career Resurrection role known as Million Dollar Baby.

    G-K 
  • Richard Gere became a star with Days of Heaven after first getting noticed in The '70s. The trend kept up into The '80s with American Gigolo and, of course, An Officer and a Gentleman. The Cotton Club failing was blamed on its Troubled Production, but Gere took it right on the nose with King David. For the next five years Gere was largely passed over for coveted roles note  until Internal Affairs performed well enough to make him a viable candidate for Pretty Woman, kicking off his Career Resurrection.
  • The character of George Valentin in The Artist is a once-successful silent movie idol whose career is badly damaged as a result of the prominence of "talking pictures." Valentin's downfall parallels that of real-life silent star John Gilbert. His suave, dashing, and handsome image gained the attention of moviegoers, especially when paired with leading lady (and alleged lover) Greta Garbo. That image was forever destroyed when he appeared in a disastrous "talkie" called His Glorious Night. Audiences laughed when Gilbert squeaked "I love you, I love you, I love you!" to his female lead, literally destroying his career reportedly because of the sound of his voice. The worst part? Many sources claimed that Gilbert's voice was fine,note  but was altered in post-production by studio head Louis B. Mayer (the second "M" in MGM). Mayer hated the star for his erratic behavior and allegedly maneuvered his downfall by giving him roles in awful films, including that one. A heartbroken Gilbert ultimately drank himself to death in 1936; he was 36 years old.
  • This could aptly describe most films Cuba Gooding Jr. made after his Oscar-winning role in Jerry Maguire (Boat Trip, Snow Dogs, Norbit, Daddy Day Camp, etc.). He claims the problem began once all the good roles stopped reaching him while he got replaced as Hollywood's new favorite African-American star by Will Smith. Any chances of him nabbing a comeback were buried between 2019 and 2020 after he was accused by over 30 women of sexual misconduct, a matter taken more seriously following the #MeToo movement.
  • Tom Hardy was supposed to land his breakout role with Star Trek: Nemesis. It was a huge Box Office Bomb that flattened his career, which eventually drove him to drink and to the brink of suicide. He gradually got out of the slump with roles in Bronson, Inception, and especially The Dark Knight Rises, where he played Bane.
  • Rex Harrison permanently damaged his career when Doctor Dolittle becoming a colossal bomb, made possible in part by him acting as a drunken prima donna; he demanded endless script rewrites, completely impractical production changes, and ridiculous cast changes so he could guarantee no one can show him up singing, and also hurled anti-Semitic insults at his Jewish co-star. It didn’t help that Harrison, who by the late '60s was older than most leading men (he was 58 when filming Dolittle) outright refused to play supporting roles. A few years after Dolittle, Sam Spiegel approached him to play Count Witte in Nicholas and Alexandra, a small but important character. Harrison took offense, angrily telling Spiegel "I don't do bit parts!" The role went to Laurence Olivier, who famously had no such reservations.
  • Jon Heder saw his star rise playing Napoleon Dynamite, then it soon fell in 2006: first with The Benchwarmers opposite Rob Schneider and David Spade (who are both listed below), followed by School For Scoundrels. He got a slight reprieve the next year when he starred in Blades of Glory (although that film's success was mostly because of co-star Will Ferrell), only for his comeback chance to leave as soon as it came after the failures of Moving McAllister and Mama's Boy (the latter film also helped derail the career of Diane Keaton; see Film Actresses). He hasn't starred in any major films since 2007.
  • David Hemmings became an international star after appearing in Blow Up (1966), only for his career to implode thanks to the high-profile flops The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968) and Alfred the Great (1969). His reputation for being extremely temperamental and arrogant on-set didn't endear him to producers, either. He practically disappeared besides doing a few foreign movies like Deep Red and directing some television, until experiencing a brief comeback with Gladiator and Gangs of New York before his death in 2003.
  • True Identity was British comedian Lenny Henry's bid for both American and silver screen stardom, but the disastrous critical reception and poisonous box office (on both sides of the Atlantic) ended his US career before it started; other than the concert film Lenny Live And Unleashed, this is his only non-voice-related starring movie to date. (It also singlehandedly ruined the career of the film's director (and fellow cast member) Charles Lane, who's only had one directing (for American Playhouse) and two acting credits since.) Much like Rik Mayall, maybe film wasn't for him.
  • The Art of Getting By killed Freddie Highmore's film career after he had made a name for himself in the 2000's as one of THE child actors of that decade (Finding Neverland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, August Rush, etc.), proving that a successful film career as a child doesn't always translate to a successful one as an adult. Television has been more fruitful for him with hits like Bates Motel and The Good Doctor.
  • Emile Hirsch suffered severe career damage when Speed Racer flopped. Hirsch, who had been in a number of acclaimed films before it, such as Into the Wild, mostly disappeared into supporting roles since, nor did he land another leading role until The Darkest Hour and Killer Joe, both of which also underperformed financially (although the latter was acclaimed). His troubles worsened after getting arrested for nearly killing Paramount executive Daniele Bernfeld at a nightclub, giving studios more incentive not to work with him. Aside from a bit part in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (whose director Quentin Tarantino received some criticism for casting Hirsch when there are several talented actors who haven't tried drunkenly strangling a woman half their size), he hasn't starred in any mainstream productions.
  • Dennis Hopper went from a popular but not especially remarkable actor throughout The '50s and The '60s (with roles in classics such as Rebel Without a Cause, Giant, The Sons of Katie Elder, Cool Hand Luke, etc.) to a stratospheric Hollywood sensation overnight after directing and starring in the low-budgeted, indie road drama Easy Rider, which became a counterculture landmark of the later '60s, a touchstone for the younger generation, and both a Breakthrough Hit plus a Star-Making Role for Hopper. Hollywood thus granted him an Auteur License for his next film, The Last Movie (which Hopper also starred in and directed). Unfortunately, its critical and commercial failure promptly revoked it and killed his star power for many years. He became a recluse from Hollywood during this interval before slowly returning to prominence with a small but memorable role in Apocalypse Now. Hopper later gained praise for Blue Velvet and Hoosiers, with the latter getting him an Academy Award nomination.
  • C. Thomas Howell was an up-and-coming teen actor who starred in hits like The Outsiders and Red Dawn. Then, he headlined Soul Man. Although a box office success, it garnered controversy because he spent half of the movie in blackface. He's hardly appeared in a major Hollywood movie since (a notable exception being The Amazing Spider-Man), and when he has it mostly is either Direct to Video work or minor television roles.
  • Kevin James, after a successful stint in the sitcom The King of Queens and a supporting role in Hitch, took a major nosedive after co-starring with long-time partner Adam Sandler in I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, which was panned by critics despite box office success and marred by accusations of promoting homophobia. He seemed to be on the right track again when he went on to star in Paul Blart: Mall Cop two years later, which despite mediocre reviews was a box office hit. But then his next starring role was Zookeeper, which did not do as well at all critically or financially. And then came Here Comes the Boom the next year, which did even worse. After that movie, he has not starred in another theatrical movie, except for the critically reviled sequel to Paul Blart and a supporting role in Pixels. He then tried to pick up the pieces with another sitcom, Kevin Can Wait, but it ended up being cancelled after a heavily-panned second season in which James' TV wife was written off and replaced by his former TV wife Leah Remini in an attempt to turn the series into a King of Queens clone. As of 2020, he seems to be on a bit of an upswing, with an acclaimed villainous turn in the thriller Becky and a supporting part in the surprisingly well-received Hubie Halloween. He's also started a YouTube channel dedicated to comedic shorts, which has turned out to be reasonably popular. His chances of being an A-list comedic leading man have likely come and gone, but he's at least a bit more respected now than he was during his Hollywood Hype Machine days.
  • Brad Johnson, hyped as a rising star with his role in Steven Spielberg's Always, took a similar role in the big-budget war epic Flight of the Intruder, in hopes it would match that hype. Its failure torpedoed those chances, leaving Johnson's career languishing in straight-to-video sequels and religious films before his death in 2022 due to complications from COVID-19.
  • Heartbeeps derailed Andy Kaufman's potential film career. Universal was leery of having him make films more in tune with his Cloudcuckoolander sensibilities right off the bat, especially after In God We Tru$t (in which he played a key supporting role) bombed. Thus, appearing in a family-friendly sci-fi comedy was a way to prove he could draw an audience; also, he liked the script when he read it. It was a Troubled Production, however, and was cut to less than 80 minutes by the time it was released at the tail end of 1981, whereupon it flopped instantly.
  • Michael Keaton found his A-List reputation put in jeopardy in The '90s thanks to the box office failures of Multiplicity and Desperate Measures, with not even Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown staving off his decline. The final straw came with 1998's Jack Frost, which froze Keaton's leading-man opportunities for many years. He would occasionally resurface in supporting roles: in films like Herbie: Fully Loaded, Cars, Toy Story 3 and The Other Guys – with his most high-profile leading role coming from 2005's White Noise. It would take until 2014's Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) for Keaton, playing a washed-up actor who can't shake the specter of his superhero film success, to experience a true Career Resurrection, as the film was universally acclaimed and put Keaton in heavy contention for an Oscar. He's kept up the momentum with his career arguably doing far better now, and even returned to his most famous role in The Flash (2023).
  • Red Planet, as well as his growing reputation of sabotaging the production of his movies, such as Batman Forever and, most notoriously, The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), ensured that Val Kilmer wouldn't headline any potential mainstream productions. His subsequent bout with throat cancer, which robbed him of his voice, all but permanently sidelined his career as a leading man. However, he has found some renewed recognition recently with his eponymous, critically acclaimed documentary, as well as returning as his Top Gun character Iceman for a small but pivotal appearance in the sequel Top Gun: Maverick.
  • Taylor Kitsch saw his hype from Friday Night Lights vanish after he had the dubious distinction of starring in not just one, but two of the most high-profile blockbuster bombs of 2012. John Carter and Battleship met lukewarm reviews and failed to inspire audiences to turn out, tanking so hard that each of them posted a total loss of over $200 million for their respective production companies Disney and Universal. The final blow came shortly after with Savages, a smaller-budgeted Oliver Stone crime thriller that got a similarly chilly critical reception and barely made back its budget in the US. Just John Carter tanking was bad enough, but the failure of Battleship and Savages a few months later really closed the door on Kitsch becoming a big-time leading man in Hollywood. Most of his biggest roles since have been on television.
  • Chris Klein saw his potential as a leading man stumble several steps backward after he starred in the critically lambasted 2002 remake of Rollerball. Having already garnered notoriety for the American Pie films, he subsequently hit a snag when Rollerball, along with the prior year's Say It Isn't So (which also served as a Star-Derailing Role for its leading lady Heather Graham; see Film Actresses), tanked. His next leading role in Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li appears to have removed him from the spotlight, in addition to being a Star-Derailing Role for Kristin Kreuk (again, see Film Actresses). However, he recently received some notices for his role as the villain Cicada on the CW series The Flash (2014).
  • John Krasinski was afflicted by this with License to Wed (which also derailed Mandy Moore's film career), Leatherheads, and Away We Go in the late '00s. Krasinski was best known for The Office (US) beforehand, with these films being his shot at breaking into film comedy. License to Wed and Leatherheads, unfortunately, both bombed while Away We Go was acclaimed by critics, although its limited release caused it to go ignored at the box office. Thus, he was reduced to supporting roles in indie film for years until his Career Resurrection after the huge success of A Quiet Place (a film he also directed) and Jack Ryan on Prime Video.
  • Ashton Kutcher was one of many young, handsome men who received a big push in the mid-2000's as the next big thing. He first got attention for his role as Kelso in That '70s Show, with that show's ratings success and youth popularity convincing Hollywood he could be a star in the making. He was promptly cast in comedy after comedy (Dude, Where's My Car?, Just Married, My Boss's Daughter, Cheaper by the Dozen (2003), Guess Who, What Happens in Vegas) that were box office hits (besides My Boss's Daughter) and adored by his fanbase despite often receiving negative reviews from critics. His forays into drama, however, were even less liked in general, with Texas Rangers becoming an infamous disaster while The Butterfly Effect, although profitable, getting criticism for Kutcher being badly miscast in the lead role. His film career truly hit the gutter in the 2010's with such flops as Valentine's Day, Killers, New Year's Eve note , and most notably Jobs, with his performance as Steve Jobs being widely criticized as inaccurate despite bearing an uncanny resemblance to Jobs himself in his younger years. He didn't appear in a film – aside from a cameo in Annie (2014) – for over nine years afterwards. He has remained relevant on television after That '70s Show ended, replacing Charlie Sheen as a co-lead in Two and a Half Men until it also ended and starring in the Netflix series The Ranch.

    L-P 
  • After finding success with The Blue Collar Comedy Tour, Larry the Cable Guy tried to become a movie star with Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, which fell $2 million shy of its $17 million budget and was critically ravaged (though it would be Vindicated by Cable soon after). Studios still tried to make him a movie star with Delta Farce and Witless Protection, both of which flopped just as hard. The only major acting roles he's had since then are the more-acclaimed voice part of Tow Mater in the Cars series and a number of supporting roles. Otherwise, he has stuck to doing Direct to Video sequels to family films and reprising his role as Mater in animated shorts and video games. Today, Health Inspector, along with some of his other film work, has garnered a small but respectable cult following.
  • Lorenzo Lamas, after attaining fame in The '80s for his role on the Prime Time Soap Falcon Crest opposite Jane Wyman, tried to parlay that hype into a successful film career by playing the lead in Body Rock, a film about a young break-dancer from the streets hoping to make it big. However, its critical and financial failure, which included a Razzie nomination for Lamas, killed his opportunity before it began, forcing him back to TV. He wouldn't star in another movie for five years after Body Rock flopped in 1984, and when he did it was in a Rambo rip-off called Snake Eater and its sequel released in the same year. When those films tanked as well, he never again appeared in a major film. On TV, he played the lead role in The '90s action drama Renegade and had a temporary run on The Bold and the Beautiful from 2004 to 2006. However, his career on the small screen has also stagnated since he wrapped up on the latter show.
  • Taylor Lautner saw his chance of a career after The Twilight Saga (which briefly turned him into one of Hollywood's highest-paid actors) go up in smoke after Abduction sank with critics and moviegoers alike. Planned roles in adaptations of Stretch Armstrong and the David and Goliath story got indefinitely shelved. His career since has been composed of bit parts and Direct to Video films.
  • George Lazenby's career already suffered a major blow, when he decided not to return as James Bond after On Her Majesty's Secret Service, but what really killed it was Universal Soldier (1971), which he co-wrote and which Lazenby himself described as a comedy with no plot. After that, he mainly appeared in movies made in Australia and Hong Kong (most notably The Man from Hong Kong), TV shows, and made-for-TV movies.
  • While they didn't completely kill his career, Operation: Dumbo Drop and Two If by Sea probably didn't convince studios to give Denis Leary any more starring roles. Leary shifted gears towards television instead, only appearing onscreen by the early-late 00's whenever an Ice Age movie came out, which proved to be a more prosperous endeavor (most notably with the Emmy-nominated Rescue Me). But, once that series ended, he tried to return to movies with a supporting role in The Amazing Spider-Man as well as reprising his role as Diego in Ice Age: Continental Drift. While both movies did well financially, he followed it up with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which underperformed, and Draft Day, which bombed, in the same year. He then acted in Freaks of Nature, which was only dumped in a few theaters, and Ice Age: Collision Course, which did poorly enough to (temporarily) kill that franchise. Since then he's focused more on TV, though hasn't had any major successes there either.
  • 1931's The Gay Diplomat was the first and last film starring Ivan Lebedeff, a would-be Valentino who was clearly full of himself. Diplomat tanked and RKO executives were shocked that Lebedeff got bad notices for his performance as test audiences were allegedly raving about him, judging from all of the screening cards. Then, it was revealed those cards were written by Lebedeff himself!
  • While still working on Friends, Matt LeBlanc decided to make a big break in Hollywood with the comedy film Ed, which was an incomprehensible critical and box office disaster instead. Other than his supporting roles in the Lost in Space and Charlie's Angels (2000) film adaptations (and the former itself wasn't very well-received either), he has barely done any film work since then, and after Friends was canceled he attempted to keep his television spotlight with a spin-off titled Joey, which was Screwed by the Network in its second season and later axed. Burnt out after this, he took a year-long sabbatical that turned into a five-year break. The long break ended up becoming a boon for him. He made his comeback in the critically-acclaimed Episodes and won a Golden Globe in the process. Since then, he became the lead presenter on Top Gear (and one of the few things people universally liked about the show's revamp) and returned to American network television with the sitcom Man with a Plan.
  • Jared Leto, for many years starting in The '90s, balanced a relatively successful career in acting and music, the latter as a member of the rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars. However, his acting career began declining midway through the Turn of the Millennium after Alexander (which he had a minor supporting role in) flopped. It came to a head in 2007 when Chapter 27, where Leto played Mark David Chapman, the man notorious for killing John Lennon, became both unsuccessful and controversial. Besides headlining the initially overlooked but eventual Cult Classic Mr. Nobody in 2009, he didn't star in a movie for six years and instead concentrated more on his music. Leto's Oscar-winning performance in Dallas Buyers Club almost revived his acting career, but he unfortunately followed that up with his divisive portrayal of the Joker in the DCEU film Suicide Squad (2016). After a minor part in Blade Runner 2049, he starred in a couple of otherwise well-liked movies where he was singled out for criticism like The Little Things and House of Gucci. However, Morbius (2022) was the one that really damaged his career when it became both a critical and a financial failure. For House of Gucci and Morbius, he "won" two Razzies.
  • Jerry Lewis had a multi-decade stretch of success (both as half of the comedy pairing Martin and Lewis alongside Dean Martin, and then as an individual) until starring in, directing, and co-writing Hardly Working. Billed as his big comeback movie after a decade-long hiatus, the film, although a slight box office hit in 1980, received horrible reviews, putting his reputation at risk. He nearly bounced back two years later after starring in Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy opposite Robert De Niro, but his next films after that classic were the even worse-received Cracking Up (which Lewis also wrote and directed) and Slapstick of Another Kind. The latter, which was filmed and released overseas in 1982, but had its American release delayed for nearly two years, was based on the Kurt Vonnegut novel Slapstick, and was torn apart as both an unfunny comedy and a bad adaptation of the writer's work. Lewis never had a major role in a film again before he died in 2017, and now is posthumously notorious for controversial behavior behind the scenes becoming public knowledge. Hardly Working and Cracking Up additionally were Creator Killers for Lewis (see Film — Individual Creators).
  • Although he was always a character actor and never a movie star, Tommy 'Tiny' Lister Jr. got some notice for playing Zeus in No Holds Barred, which got him a brief stint as a famous wrestler in the WWE. This helped get him to frequently pop up in supporting and bit parts in many popular 90s and 00s films, including Universal Soldier, Friday, Jackie Brown, The Fifth Element, Little Nicky, and Austin Powers in Goldmember. However he then threw a fit that got him kicked off the set of Friday After Next where he was set to reprise the role of Deebonote . He was then in the combined bombs of My Baby's Daddy and Never Die Alone which seems to have been the straw that broke the camel's back, as he had scarcely appeared in a mainstream film since, except for bit parts in The Dark Knight and Zootopia, before dying in December 2020 due to hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
  • Herbert Lom, throughout an illustrious career onscreen spanning seven decades, starred in many hits like The Ladykillers, War and Peace, Spartacus, and El Cid. He, however, was best known for playing Inspector Dreyfus in The Pink Panther films, often opposite Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau. Lom retired from film acting when Son of the Pink Panther, which was filmed long after Sellers died back in 1980, bombed in 1993. He continued to make occasional television appearances before his own death in 2012.
  • Justin Long was a popular actor in the 2000s, starring in many films (Jeepers Creepers, DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, Herbie: Fully Loaded, Accepted, Live Free or Die Hard, Drag Me to Hell, etc.). He was also an early spokesperson for Apple, appearing as an anthropomorphic personification of the Mac computer for its Get a Mac ad campaign. Unfortunately, he popped up in a chain of bad films in the next decade with Tusk, a body-horror-comedy directed by his friend Kevin Smith, as the biggest one in 2014. He seldom appears in a mainstream project since besides television work and returning for more of Smith's films.
  • Having spent years taking small or supporting roles in many films, Josh Lucas got his first taste of stardom playing the estranged ex of Reese Witherspoon's character in Sweet Home Alabama. After it became a hit, he starred in the 2003 version of Hulk. He was quickly given the chance to star in four big-budget films from 2005 to 2006: Stealth, An Unfinished Life, Glory Road, and Poseidon. But when those films underperformed both critically and commercially, Lucas was never deemed leading man material again.
  • Any chance Norm Macdonald had at being a leading man in Hollywood quickly vanished when Dirty Work bombed at the box office and got negative reviews from critics. He mostly appeared in Direct to Video stuff, the occasional Adam Sandler film, and a brief stint of KFC commercials until his death from cancer in 2021, with his most recognizable role in two decades being a recurring voice-only role in The Orville.
  • Gabriel Macht had a small but steady streak of supporting roles before his big break arrived with 2008's The Spirit. The film bombed miserably, and Macht's film career was basically over then and there. He would go to TV, where he found much better success on the long running Suits.
  • Steve Martin suffered this with The Pink Panther 2. Before that film was released, he had enjoyed a multi-decade run of success as one of the most popular comedians in Hollywood. While The Pink Panther (2006) earned bad reviews (with Martin's performance as Inspector Jacques Clouseau being unfavorably compared to that of Peter Sellers), it nevertheless was an adequate box office hit. Its sequel, though, was both a critical and a financial disaster in 2009, with Martin receiving a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Actor. He nearly recovered later that year with It's Complicated, only for the failure of The Big Year two years later to promptly eradicate that chance. The only big acting roles Martin did for nearly a decade were voice-only roles in animation and sporadic appearances on Saturday Night Live, with his sole live-action film role being a part in the unsuccessful Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. He only received a new high-profile role in 2021 starring with Selena Gomez and frequent collaborator Martin Short in the Hulu comedy Only Murders in the Building.
  • Paul Mercurio first garnered attention for his role in the acclaimed Australian dancing film Strictly Ballroom. Its success brought him to the USA where he landed his first American movie role in Exit to Eden. The latter film earned a savaging from critics and flopped at the box office, causing Mercurio to retreat back to his native country and appear in a string of low-budget and direct-to-video flicks. Plus, he was also more successful as a dancer and as a television personality back there later, never giving Hollywood another chance.
  • Kel Mitchell was a popular comedian due to All That. He ended up becoming so popular that he and his All That co-star, Kenan Thompson, got their own spin-off show, Kenan & Kel. They ended up being such a popular duo that they even got their own movie, Good Burger, which was a modest hit. Then Kel did Mystery Men, which bombed at the box office. Kenan and Kel was canceled a year later and he was never seen in a major film or series again, besides appearing in a revival of All That and competing on Dancing with the Stars back in 2019. Kenan managed to avoid it; despite being in bombs like The Master of Disguise and Fat Albert, he starred on Saturday Night Live for two decades and later headlined his own eponymous sitcom.
  • Eddie Murphy has quite the reputation for being a very good comic actor who should really fire his agent.
    • He emerged as a massive comedy star in The '80s, thanks in no small part to being a Saturday Night Live cast member and barely saving the show from disaster during its 1980-1981 season. After a series of comedy classics like Trading Places, 48 Hrs., and Beverly Hills Cop, as well as his stand-up comedy special Delirious, Murphy's initial decline began with the 1989 Vanity Project Harlem Nights, after which the quality of his films took a nosedive. Roger Ebert, in his review of Harlem Nights, made an excellent point (which was, essentially, career advice) about not taking your fans for granted.
    • The remake of The Nutty Professor became a Career Resurrection for him in the late '90s, with many critics noting that Murphy's Buddy Love character was a massive Take That! to what he had been reduced to in the public eye. Unfortunately, he quickly fell on the same track he was on before with another string of flops, the most notorious being The Adventures of Pluto Nash, which grossed $7.1 million against a $100 million budget no less! His voice acting in the Shrek films kept him on the B-list, and his supporting role in Dreamgirls looked to be another Career Resurrection, with many going as far to peg him as the front runner for an Academy Award (his first nomination for said award and his first Golden Globe win).
    • Then he backpedaled hard with Norbit (despite making a profit, it was savaged by critics and possibly cost him his Dreamgirls Oscar win) and the two family films Meet Dave and Imagine That. Following the critical ravaging of those films, he declared his intention to go back to making mature comedies, starting with the Brett Ratner film Tower Heist. Even this couldn't save him, however, as his next (released) film after Tower Heist was the critically mauled bomb A Thousand Words, which despite having sat on the shelf for about four years was still accompanied by a reasonably strong advertising campaign. But Dolemite Is My Name, which was critically acclaimed, especially for his performance, might prove to be a comeback vehicle, but only time will tell whether or not it will fluke like Dreamgirls and Tower Heist.
  • Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London killed Frankie Muniz's career as a leading man. After that movie, the only lead role he had was a voice-acting performance in Racing Stripes and he only did two other theatrical movies after that – both in supporting roles. However Muniz doesn't seem to mind; in his own words (in response to someone tweeting that his acting is awful): "Yeah, but being retired with $40,000,000.00 at 19 has not been awful." Since then, Muniz has spent the last few years as a racing car driver and playing golf.
  • Mike Myers in the Live-Action Adaptation of The Cat in the Hat, followed up by the finishing blow of The Love Guru. He was a comedy superstar in the '90s and early '00s, with Wayne's World, Austin Powers, and Shrek becoming pop-culture touchstones. Cat, however, outraged the Dr. Seuss estate with its raunchy humor, causing Seuss' widow Audrey Geisel to vow never to approve any further live-action adaptations of Seuss' books, and critics ravaged it for the same reasons. Guru, meanwhile, flopped at the box office and "won" three Razzies. Since the hiatus of the Shrek franchise, Myers has become a painter and semi-retired from the screen (with minor roles in Inglourious Basterds and Bohemian Rhapsody, and hosting a revival of The Gong Show on ABC).
    • Myers' downward career trajectory was largely his own doing. Even as early as Wayne's World, he'd gotten a reputation for being a diva and kept burning bridges on almost every project he worked on. The entire reason he ended up working on The Cat in the Hat was that he'd tried to get out of doing a Sprockets movie with Universal and Imagine Entertainment. Part of the legal settlement with them required he make a different film for them. In other words, he only made that movie because he was legally obligated. After this killed his career for several years, the opening of The Love Guru was tarnished by a massive exposé in Entertainment Weekly on just how many people in Hollywood hated him and hoped the movie would bomb. After it did bomb, it was clear that Myers had completely tapped out the audience goodwill that had kept him afloat in the past.
    • He has been attempting a comeback; for many years he wanted to star in a Keith Moon biopic, but this will probably never happen due to the fact he is now too old for the part and it's a serious subject matter. There are rumours that Austin Powers 4 is back on the agenda again, it remains to be seen if this happens and arrests his career decline.
  • Cold Pursuit appears to have stunted Liam Neeson's career, not just by underperforming, but also with a dark memory from his past that inspired his performance. Mistaken for Racist doesn't even begin to describe the controversy that followed his comments about an attempt to avenge the rape of his friend, and even his clarifying how it went down on Good Morning America (read: he ultimately came to his senses and sought help, and he said he would've done the same thing in a Scottish, British, or Lithuanian community if his friend said a Scot, Brit, or Lithuanian was responsible and he asked his friend for a physical description of her attacker other than race) didn't do much to quell the controversy and help this film's chances.
  • Anthony Newley's first error of judgement was an ill-fated attempt to capitalise on his 1960s success as a singer, songwriter, and stage and movie actor. The former husband of Joan Collins let his ego run away with him in 1969 with the musical Can Hieronymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? Newley starred and directed himself, as well as wrote the songs. Described by a critic as "professional suicide", this film consistently scores highly in any vote for The Worst Film of All Time. It crippled Newley's later career and contributed to his divorce from Collins (who played one of the female leads). His highest-profile work after that was composing Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, for which he earned an Oscar nomination.
    • Newley believed that one comeback movie role would be a huge hit and would re-establish him, but again he chose appallingly badly. The putative career-salvaging role turned out to be a colossal piece of crap and cursed him to work in small TV roles for the rest of his life. That was The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987).
  • Following the mixed reception of the third The Naked Gun film, Leslie Nielsen was unlucky enough to have starred in four critically savaged flops over the next three years: Dracula: Dead and Loving It, Spy Hard, the Live-Action Adaptation of Mr. Magoo, and Wrongfully Accused. After these disasters, he spent the remaining years of his life appearing on TV and spoof movies (which he was notorious for) and never played a lead role in a major motion picture again.
  • Dutch was this for Ed O'Neill. When Married... with Children put him in the Hollywood spotlight, the next logical step was to break into movies, and this one was even written by the great John Hughes. Unfortunately it bombed critically and commercially, though the actors weren't blamed (most saw it as a retread of Hughes's Planes, Trains and Automobiles). It was the end of O'Neill's brief run as a leading man in film, though he has still had a solid career in television and as an ensemble film actor, making a big comeback with Modern Family and a co-lead voice role in Finding Dory.
  • The disappointment of Revolution caused Al Pacino to take a four-year hiatus from acting. His first film after that, Sea of Love, would signal the start of his comeback, leading to his Oscar-nominated turn in 1990's Dick Tracy and his Oscar-winning one in 1992's Scent of a Woman. His star power would later be dented again with the failures of 88 Minutes and Righteous Kill, for which he received Razzie nominations for Worst Actor in 2008. A Razzie win would come three years later for his supporting role in Jack and Jill, amidst ten years of flops before Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and The Irishman brought him back into the spotlight.
  • Mark Patton, after first gaining notice in Robert Altman's Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, signed onto A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge hoping that it would be his big break. Instead, the film's Homoerotic Subtext caused people to question Patton's sexuality (he was gay, though still closeted at the time), and at the height of the AIDS crisis and the wave of homophobia that resulted, his career was destroyed; he only did some TV work before retiring from acting and moving to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The makers of the A Nightmare on Elm Street retrospective documentary Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy had to hire a private investigator to find him. The documentary Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street delves deeper on Patton's experience with the film and its aftermath.
  • Although it wasn't a major dent in his career as a singer, Luciano Pavarotti was not destined for the cinema after the failure of Yes, Giorgio.
  • Any potential acting career Prince could've had was derailed by his second film, the critical and commercial flop Under the Cherry Moon. He waited another four years to make Graffiti Bridge, and when that flopped he took the hint and went back to music for the rest of his life.
  • Freddie Prinze Jr. was once the most popular teen heartthrob in the late '90s, before his time as a leading man came to an end between 2000-2001 with four flops: Down to You, Boys and Girls, Head Over Heels (2001), and Summer Catch, with his résumé growing very skimpy since then. Video games have become his career crutch after providing the voices of Ensemble Darkhorses James Vega and the Iron Bull. Additionally, his role as the voice of Kanan Jarrus on Star Wars Rebels garnered him more acclaim than he ever received as a major leading man.
  • The Prodigal was meant to seal Edmund Purdom's stature as a Hollywood leading man but flopped at the box office instead, impelling him to spend the rest of his career in Europe. His co-star Lana Turner avoided any harm to her career when this film failed with smash hits like Peyton Place and Imitation of Life.

    Q-T 
  • Christopher Reeve claimed in his autobiography that the failure of Switching Channels, along with Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, The Aviator, and Street Smart (which he in part agreed to do Superman IV under the condition that he was allowed to star in this long time "pet project" of his), knocked him off the A-list in Hollywood and he would have to audition for major roles for the rest of his career. Reeve also expressed regret in making Switching Channels (Reeve took on the role because he felt that making a comedy would be a good distraction from the depression steaming from his split with his longtime girlfriend, Gae Exton), believing that he had "made a fool of himself" (Reeve played decidedly against type as Kathleen Turner's hapless fiancé) and had to act as a referee for constantly feuding costars Turner and Burt Reynolds. During his career, Reeve also turned down the lead roles in American Gigolo, The World According to Garp, Splash, Fatal Attraction, Pretty Woman, Romancing the Stone, Lethal Weapon, and Body Heat. Reeve even turned down the lead role in The Bounty after Katharine Hepburn recommended him to original director David Lean; the part ultimately went to Mel Gibson after Reeve dropped out at the last minute.
  • Keanu Reeves initially suffered from a dry spell in the mid-90's after starring in a bunch of flops such as Johnny Mnemonic and Chain Reaction (the latter also derailed Morgan Freeman's career for a while; see above), before rebounding by the end of the decade with The Matrix. Unfortunately, in the 2000's his career started to sink again: culminating in 2012 with the critically panned independent drama film Generation Um.... Besides his critically acclaimed directorial debut Man of Tai Chi (which he also starred in), his next role was in the Box Office Bomb 47 Ronin. Thankfully, John Wick served as another major comeback for Reeves when it became a critical and commercial success upon release in 2014. Not only did it spawn another successful franchise for Reeves, but his return to his past franchises with later entries like The Matrix Resurrections and Bill & Ted Face the Music, along with more successes like Toy Story 4 and Always Be My Maybe, re-affirmed his mega-stardom and ubiquity with the general public.
  • Scottish actor Michael E. Rodgers started his on-screen acting career as a nervous patient (a cameo role) in the 1996 film The Dentist when he was unknown to many people. After guest-starring in some television work and less well-known films, he finally had a supporting role as Mr. Conductor's fun-loving and likable younger cousin, Junior, in the big-screen children's movie Thomas and the Magic Railroad, but the film derailed off the tracks and thus, besides another cameo role in The Patriot (2000), he never appeared in a mainstream film again.
  • Alex Russell's next films after his breakout in Chronicle were Bait 3D, The Host (2013) and Carrie (2013), which all seemed promising but ended up underperforming financially and critically. He has hardly appeared in a mainstream film after those flops, besides a small role in Unbroken. However, he later found a nice niche on television as Jim Street on S.W.A.T. (2017).
  • Kurt Russell saw his renown as a leading man in feature films end in 1998 after the failure of Soldier, compounded by 3000 Miles to Graceland also bombing three years later. A shot at a comeback came after Miracle became a critical and commercial success in 2004, but Russell soon squandered it when Poseidon flopped two years later. Nowadays, he mainly does supporting parts.
  • Paul Rust's career as a leading man began and died after I Love You, Beth Cooper. Whereas his co-star Hayden Panettiere maintained a thriving career with her role in the Scream franchise (plus success on TV with Heroes and Nashville), his acting input has comprised of nothing major besides starring on the Netflix series Love opposite Gillian Jacobs.
  • The double-whammy of Jack and Jill in 2011 and That's My Boy in 2012 seems to have been the point of no return for Adam Sandler. Sandler's movies always received, at best, lukewarm critical receptions; out of a twenty-year leading man career, he has only four movies, Punch-Drunk Love, Top Fivenote ,The Meyerowitz Stories and Uncut Gems, that are rated higher than 70% on Rotten Tomatoes, and all but five of his other films are rated Rotten. However, from the mid-'90s through the '00s Critical Dissonance was in full effect, with Sandler being among the biggest and most Critic-Proof comedy stars of the era. Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy, The Wedding Singer and, to a lesser extent, You Don't Mess with the Zohan are nowadays viewed as comedy classics, and even his few flops like Little Nicky and Eight Crazy Nights were easily brushed off.

    As the '00s went on, however, audiences' opinions of Sandler began to fall more in line with those of critics. While most of his films were still making big money, complaints about his low-brow, vulgar style began to mount, especially after Judd Apatow's style of comedy (ironic, given that Apatow was Sandler's college roommate and longtime friend) started earning the favor of critics and audiences with movies like The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Jack and Jill, despite making money, earned a record ten Golden Raspberry Awards, while That's My Boy was Sandler's first out-and-out flop in years; together, the two films arguably marked the turning point in the public's opinion of him. While the Grown Ups and Hotel Transylvania films were financially successful, Blended, his reunion with his Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates co-star Drew Barrymore, was a dud. The final straw seems to have been Pixels, a big-budget action-comedy that hit theaters with a resounding thud in 2015, spawning a litany of articles about how his star has fallen. Since then, Sandler has been making films almost exclusively for Netflix. Things have finally started to turn around for him, however. In 2017, both he and Ben Stiller gave rare dramatic roles in Noah Baumbach's The Meyerowitz Stories, for which they both earned good notices from critics. The following year, he released his first stand-up special in years to surprisingly positive reception. 2019 wound up being an especially good year for him. In May, he returned to the stage that made him a household name when he hosted Saturday Night Live and wound up being one of the best-received hosts from the last few years. The next month, a new movie of his, Murder Mystery, was released on Netflix. It was met with a resounding "meh" from critics but wound up being an unexpected smash hit for the platform, boasting the largest opening weekend for any movie in the site's history. And later that year, he had a starring role in the thriller Uncut Gems, which saw him cast wildly against type. The movie was met with rave reviews and his performance in particular was universally lauded, with the possibility of him netting an Oscar becoming a hotly discussed potential news story. When he failed to get a nomination, there was significant outrage both online and in the media. While his next project, Hubie Halloween, was a comedy film more in line with the sort of films he's primarily known for, it was met with a decent reception from critics, indicating that his days as a laughingstock are seemingly behind him.
  • Fred Savage was a popular child actor thanks to his roles in The Princess Bride and The Wonder Years. However, the failures of Little Monsters and The Wizard in 1989 discouraged studios from having him further headline any major films. He remained on The Wonder Years until it concluded in 1993, but drifted away from acting and more towards behind the camera work in adulthood – before hitting a snag there with the failure of Daddy Day Camp (see Creator Killer under Film — Individual Creators).
  • Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo put the death knell on Rob Schneider's power as a leading man after it underperformed at the box office. His simultaneous war of words with Roger Ebert didn't help matters, either. After his next headlining film The Benchwarmers tanked too, the only leading roles he's had in theatrical releases are ensemble pieces. For a while, supporting roles in Adam Sandler's films were all that was keeping him in the studio system. Now that he's stopped appearing in Adam's movies, he's made only straight-to-DVD films and some independent movies. Then he did 2013's In-APP-ropiate Comedy and 2016's Norm of the North, both of which bombed completely with audiences and critics alike. He since tried mounting another come back with Real Rob: a supposedly autobiographical sitcom that apes elements from better-regarded shows like Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Modern Family. It lasted two seasons on Netflix only because he paid all the production costs out of his own pocket.
  • David Schwimmer suffered this with Duane Hopwood, his first film project following the end of Friends. Following that indie's flop, he's only made sporadic television appearances while his few major roles were in a bunch of financially unsuccessful independent films. His only noteworthy projects are his voice roles in the Madagascar series as he shifted towards a directing and off-Broadway theatrical career.
  • Tom Everett Scott worked often on TV in The '90s before making his film debut in the Tom Hanks-directed That Thing You Do! It seemed as if Scott would soon become a bigger star, only for his following lead role in 1997's An American Werewolf in Paris (a sequel to An American Werewolf in London) to kill the chance with its very negative reception and overall inferiority to the original. Dead Man on Campus was just as reviled the next year while One True Thing was an Acclaimed Flop, but starring in The Love Letter was the final blow for his career in 1999. Though he's kept working on film with roles in Boiler Room and La La Land, his hype has unfortunately died down considerably.
  • Steven Seagal's career was already floundering after starring in a string of busts, which can be traced back to his Vanity Project On Deadly Ground, but Half Past Dead was the film that dealt a huge blow to his career. Since then, he starred in a series of low-budget Direct to Video films and wouldn't see the inside of a cinema again until Machete in 2010.
  • For a while in the late 2000s, Jason Segel seemed to be on the rise following his presence on the sitcom How I Met Your Mother and a supporting role in the well-received Knocked Up, accumulating in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, a film he wrote and starred in. This was followed by a continuing streak of roles in well-received movies or at the very least movies that were successful. He arguably reached his peak with passion project The Muppets (2011), which he also penned the screenplay for and starred in. That film was incredibly well-received, financially successful, and seemed to set Segel in as an actor who could headline a movie. Then that film was quickly followed up by The Five-Year Engagement, another written-and-starred-in effort by Segel that had more of a mixed reception from critics and was decimated by The Avengers (2012) at the box office. 2014 killed his star prospects, How I Met Your Mother's reputation sank like a stone following its contested finale, the franchise he helped revive was nearly killed as quickly as it was revived after a sequel to his film bombed but the thing that directly affected his career was Sex Tape, currently the final film he wrote the screenplay for in addition to starring in it. That film was largely loathed by critics and was a Box Office Bomb. He hasn't starred in a wide-release studio film and, since then, has mostly left the Hollywood life behind him today, mostly writing young adult fantasy novels, but will occasionally still take some roles more serious than what he used to. He has recently reemerged on the small screen with roles in the critically acclaimed series Winning Time on HBO and Shrinking on Apple TV+, but only time will tell if it becomes a full Career Resurrection.
  • Tom Selleck was expected to be the next face in the action film industry after Magnum, P.I. gave him the catapult to the A-list, subsequently starring in action-packed thrillers like Runaway and An Innocent Man while occasionally Playing Against Type in Three Men and a Baby (the biggest hit of 1987) and In & Out. Selleck's popularity in that era was big enough to help him weather through occasional duds like Her Alibi. Then The Love Letter bombed critically and commercially in 1999, thus blackballing him from feature films. An awkward appearance on The Rosie O'Donnell Show to promote the movie that turned into a gun-control argument (Selleck is very pro-NRA; O'Donnell very much isn't) didn't improve his lot. He retreated back to TV with only three big-screen roles since 1999. While Selleck's film career petered out, he has continued thriving on television with the hit CBS show Blue Bloods (a rare success in the Friday Night Death Slot) and a popular multi-year guest run on Friends.
  • Peter Sellers was actually fired midway through the shoot of Casino Royale (1967) when he proved too unreliable and uncooperative. While the film was finished without him, it was extremely messy. This left a black mark on his reputation (particularly with American studios), and most of his subsequent films through 1974 would turn out to be flops if they even made it to theaters. He experienced a Career Resurrection after that with The Return of the Pink Panther, and remained on top until his death in 1980. Of course, as luck would have it, his body went up in flames just before his career could do so yet again.
  • Charlie Sheen was thoroughly entrenched in a career decline by the end of The New '10s, with an arguable catalyst being the 2012 movie A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III. He was established in the past decade on television with Two and a Half Men, which made him one of the biggest actors on TV and even its highest-paid in 2010 (earning around $1.8 million per episode). Sheen's film career, throughout The '80s and The '90s, thrived with hits like Platoon, Wall Street, Major League, and Hot Shots!, but slowly cooled down by The Early 2000s, which made him turn towards TV in the first place. He was fired from Two and a Half Men in 2011 for a myriad of issues note  and attempted to bounce back the next year by playing the title protagonist in A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III. The film became a Box Office Bomb that was widely slammed by critics and audiences alike, continuing Sheen's downward spiral. Anger Management, an adaptation of the Adam Sandler film of the same name, was his next foray into television, which got negative reviews despite a run of one hundred episodes. His film career also further sunk, while more recent legal and health problems (including accusations of sexual assault and being diagnosed with HIV) hampered his ability to work.
  • Wesley Snipes got his with Blade: Trinity. His career was beginning to cool by the late '90s and early 2000s with the exception of the first two Blade films, which were box office successes. By the time the third movie came out, it received a negative reaction from both critics and fans alike, leading to a disappointing total. It also doesn't help that Snipes filed a lawsuit against New Line Cinema (which distributed the trilogy) and the film's director David S. Goyer, claiming that they cut him out of casting decisions and filmmaking processes. After the film's failure, Snipes appeared in a string of straight-to-DVD releases and didn't make another theatrical appearance for six years (with the film Brooklyn's Finest). He also went to federal prison for tax evasion, putting the franchise on hold. After being released, he attempted to mount a comeback with an appearance in The Expendables 3 (to no avail), and there was talk of doing a fourth Blade film for a while (at Disney; long story). Unfortunately for Snipes, Disney ultimately decided to reboot Blade and gave Mahershala Ali the role, depriving him of a potential blockbuster comeback. He has had some success otherwise, including reuniting with Spike Lee for Chi-Raq, an award-winning supporting role in Dolemite Is My Name, and a role in Coming 2 America, but the rest of his work in the last few years has consisted mainly of indie and direct-to-video films.
  • The complete failure of Billionaire Boys Club on opening day, during which it earned only $126 across 10 theaters, has likely officially established Kevin Spacey as box office poison following multiple accusations of sexual misconduct against young men in response to the fallout from the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal and the #MeToo movement. It didn't help matters when, after initial accuser Anthony Rapp fired the opening salvo, Spacey tried to deflect by coming out as gay, a move that backfired when many people (especially in the LGBT community) accused him of feeding into the highly offensive stereotype of the gay pedophile.
  • David Spade's previous efforts with Happy Madison, Joe Dirt and Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, both bombed at the box office. Despite doing better than the previous two movies, however, The Benchwarmers seems to have been the film that made sure Dave would never lead another movie in Hollywood again, as he's done only supporting roles since (unless you count him as one of the leads in the Grown Ups movies).
  • Just as the 2013 version of The Lone Ranger killed the careers of its stars, 1981's The Legend of the Lone Ranger did the same to that of Klinton Spilsbury, who made his film debut and film farewell here. It didn't help that his voice was dubbed. Not helping matters was the decision by production company ITC to sue Clayton Moore (who had played the character on the TV series and related films, and to many, was the Lone Ranger) for making public appearances as the character, something he had done for decades. The suit greatly offended the American public, who rallied around Moore and stayed away from the film. Moore won the suit, but the film was irreparably damaged from the bad press and negative reviews, resulting in an all-around disaster.
  • In addition to negatively impacting Dana Carvey and Tom Hardy (see above), The Master of Disguise and Star Trek: Nemesis also were the last films Brent Spiner had any significant role in. After both those movies were trashed in 2002, his input went from a bit part in The Aviator, which was a decent hit, to larger parts in Material Girls and Superhero Movie, which weren't. Most of his latest work has come from returning as Data or other related characters in the Star Trek universe.
  • Jerry Springer attempted to jump into the film medium by replicating the success of his talk show with the comedy film Ringmaster, in which he essentially played himself as a tabloid talk show host. The attempt enormously failed at both the box office and critics, the latter of which helped Springer a Razzie Award for Worst New Star. Other than co-starring with Dolph Lundgren in the direct-to-video movie The Defender, he never made any film appearances again before his death in 2023.
  • Daniel Stern never recovered his career after Bushwhacked and Celtic Pride. Following the successes of Diner, The Wonder Years, Home Alone, and City Slickers, much was expected from him. Then these films, which he intended to be his big breaks in Hollywood, were ruthlessly savaged by critics and failed miserably at the box office. Since then, he's been reduced to working on straight-to-video films and television parts, notably voicing the title role in the short-lived television adaptation of the comic strip Dilbert, and has never gotten out of the garbage heap. Whip It could have served as a comeback for him, but despite being praised for his role, it flopped at the box office instead, failing to change his career direction. After a failed NBC project and starring in the much-reviled A Christmas Story 2, Stern landed a dramatic role in WGN's Manhattan, but is far from the rising star of The '90s.
  • John Stockwell's following roles after a breakout part in the film version of Christine were mostly in box office bombs and/or critical flops. Among those included City Limits, My Science Project, Radioactive Dreams, and Dangerously Close, which he unfortunately co-wrote. Any hopes for his return to lead roles in The '90s failed, as by that time his acting career was dead. It's probably because of those films that he became a director.
  • The career of Jim Sturgess looked like it would go places after Across the Universe (2007) and 21 did well. But then he did Cloud Atlas, which flopped at the box office and sharply divided critics in 2012. It ended up on just as many "best of", as well as "worst of", lists of that year. He followed it up with some high-profile projects which also tanked, rendering his buzz all but nonexistent now. It didn't help that Sturgess starred in two films accused of Yellowface21 and Cloud Atlas. He recently starred on the Apple TV+ series Home Before Dark (although most of the praise for that show was heaped upon his co-star, child actress Brooklynn Prince).
  • The universally savaged flop Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star derailed Nick Swardson's chance as a leading man in film before it even began. Its failure also led to Comedy Central nullifying their contract with Swardson and canceling his Pretend Time sketch series, further damaging his reputation.
  • Patrick Swayze saw his A-list status start slipping in The '90s, with flops including City of Joy and Tall Tale. But 1998's Black Dog ensured that he would never headline a major studio film again and relegated him to rather obscure independent films for the rest of his life. Swayze planned a comeback on TV with The Beast, but his terminal cancer diagnosis sadly led to the show's premature end.
  • Jonathan Taylor Thomas was an immensely successful child actor in The '90s, having been on the sitcom Home Improvement and co-starring in movies like The Lion King (1994). He attempted new acting ventures upon growing up and eventually got the lead role in 1998's I'll Be Home for Christmas. It was a massive flop instead that significantly slowed his adult career down as a result.
  • Chairman of the Board was Carrot Top's first and last headlining role. His lengthy stand-up comedy career has continued unscathed, however. It also was the first major film for Raquel Welch in twenty years after her career died back in The '70s (see Film Actresses), but its failure kiboshed hopes for a comeback.
  • Alberto Tomba wasn't a movie star (or even an actor by trade) to begin with, but an acclaimed alpine skier with numerous medals and championships under his belt. Following his retirement in 2000, he chose to star in the crime film Alex l'ariete. Tomba's extremely bad performance (often not even saying his lines intelligibly) ensured he likely won't grace the silver screen again. The movie was unanimously panned by critics and also became a huge Box Office Bomb, with only 285 tickets sold on its opening weekend.

    U-Z 
  • Robert Urich saw his film career grind to a screeching halt with Turk 182, which got bad reviews and made $3.5 million on a budget of $15 million in 1985. Luckily, Urich's career on television didn't slow down one bit. His co-star Timothy Hutton soon recovered from this failure, with a well-received performance in the critically acclaimed spy drama The Falcon and the Snowman released that same year.
  • Casper Van Dien got a huge career boost starring in Starship Troopers, only for his hype to plummet after playing the titular character in Tarzan and the Lost City. Since then, he's mostly appeared in B-movies like various Direct to Video Starship Troopers sequels.
  • Vince Vaughn, in the early-mid '00s, was one of Hollywood's top comedy actors thanks to films like Old School, Wedding Crashers, and DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, which gave him enough clout to guarantee creative control on a film. His career was starting to slip with weaker films like Four Christmases, but on the set of The Dilemma, he suffered a major case of Small Name, Big Ego, forcing many rewrites, taking over creative control from director Ron Howard, and defending his character's homophobic comments. Consequently, audiences stayed away. His follow-up The Watch (2012), co-starring Ben Stiller and Jonah Hill, also didn't do well with critics and audiences either. Now, he's trying to repair the damage by taking smaller roles in dramatic fare. He attempted a return in 2013, co-starring with Owen Wilson in The Internship, but although the film made decent box office, it was generally not well-received by critics and still lost money for FOX. His next film, 2015's Unfinished Business, however, was a critical and financial failure and marked the end of Vince Vaughn headlining any studio film. He has since rediscovered some success as a supporting actor in critically acclaimed films like Hacksaw Ridge and Fighting with My Family (though attention was mostly directed towards Vaughn's co-stars than Vaughn himself), while his performance in Freaky was lauded even if the film's commercial performance was hindered by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  • Ted Wass seemed to be setting his sights for a long and successful career when he appeared as a supporting character in the legendary sitcom Soap, as well as receiving praise for his roles in television movies. He finally got his Hollywood wish as the star of Curse of the Pink Panther, a film that was so poorly received critically and financially that it completely obliterated his film career before it could even start — his only other film role of note came the following year as the main protagonist in Oh, God! You Devil!, which got a middling at best reaction and probably only even did that well due to George Burns's turn in the title roles — and also turned him into a laughingstock by his own TV fans. But come The '90s he found a regular gig again as Blossom's dad, and he has found success as a director for various television programs such as Rules of Engagement and 2 Broke Girls.
  • Damon Wayans was the first breakout star to emerge from The '90s sketch comedy series In Living Color!, with characters such as Homie D. Clown and Anton Jackson. Much was expected of him when he decided to leave the show and break out into the movie business. His first films, The Last Boy Scout and Mo' Money, did fine at the box office, but starring in the 1994 flop Blankman harmed his hopes. He starred in Major Payne the next year, which did decently. However, 1996 was his opportunity to stake his claim on the A-List with leading roles in three films: Celtic Pride, The Great White Hype and Bulletproof. All of them tanked, hurting his career. His next major role was in the 2000 Spike Lee Black Comedy satire Bamboozled, which got mixed reviews in its initial release but was later Vindicated by History. He returned to TV one year later with My Wife and Kids, which had a respectable run from 2001 to 2005 and put another hit TV series under his belt. During this time, Wayans would try one more crack at the silver screen in 2003 with Marci X. The movie was blasted apart by critics and bombed once more, snuffing any chance Wayans had of headlining any future theatrical releases. He stuck to TV afterwards, recently taking on the role of Roger Murtaugh in an adaptation of Lethal Weapon for three seasons from 2016 to 2019 before his departure.
  • Michael Jai White was an actor whose career was mostly made up of bit roles before getting the chance to star in a big-budget Hollywood film, Spawn. However, his career didn't go anywhere when that film flopped both critically and financially. White's mostly done bit parts in things like Dragged Across Concrete and direct-to-video movies since then, though at least years later he would attract a cult following with the blaxploitation parody Black Dynamite.
  • Though his career had been on a slippery slope for a while, Robin Williams was still headlining movies until starring in three poorly-received films in 2006: RV, The Night Listener, and Man of the Year. He began taking supporting roles afterwards (most notably in the Happy Feet and the Night at the Museum films), with his only leading roles being in the equally ill-received License to Wed and Old Dogs – which additionally helped bring down other actors' careers. He also returned to TV with The Crazy Ones, which itself lasted only one season. Sadly, it's thought that the failure of the last one may have played a role in his death.
  • Nicol Williamson won extraordinary acclaim for John Osborne's Inadmissible Evidence and Tony Richardson's production of Hamlet onstage. Between 1968 and 1970, touted as the next Marlon Brando, Williamson starred in a quick succession of movies, two based on his theater roles: Inadmissible Evidence, The Bofors Gun, Laughter in the Dark, and the film version of Hamlet. Each film flopped, which, along with Williamson's crude off-stage antics, short-circuited his career. Williamson later found his cinematic footing with roles in Robin and Marian and Excalibur, but as a character actor rather than a leading man.
  • Just as 1988's Die Hard propelled Bruce Willis from comedic TV actor to big-screen Action Hero, so too did 2013's A Good Day to Die Hard, the film that killed the Die Hard franchise, take down his career for good. The failure of Red 2 that same year, which required overseas box-office returns to break even, didn't help, and his attempt at a mainstream comeback five years later with the remake of Death Wish fared even worse. Nearly every movie Willis starred in since then, mostly in glorified bit parts, went Direct to Video, to the point that in 2022, the Golden Raspberry Awards created a special category for "Worst Performance by Bruce Willis in a 2021 Movie" simply to poke fun at how far his career had fallen note . The fact that Willis was suffering from aphasia, a cognitive disorder that makes it harder to comprehend written and spoken language, also hobbled his career. When he announced his diagnosis in 2022 alongside his retirement from acting, many speculated that his late-period choice of roles was largely so he could make enough money to retire comfortably before he could no longer work.
  • Luke Wilson saw his future potential as a leading man evaporate when Henry Poole Is Here, Tenure, and Middle Men received an indifferent reception between 2008 and 2010, after he had accumulated recognition as a supporting actor throughout the decade. He returned to supporting roles afterwards, not nabbing another high-profile role until Stargirl as Pat Dugan / S.T.R.I.P.E..
  • Ben Winchell's first and last starring role in a film was in the infamous 2016 debacle Max Steel, based on the Mattel toyline of the same name. Having had bit parts in various kid or teen-oriented shows up until that point, he's done nothing noteworthy since then besides more small roles in similar shows.
  • James Woods was afflicted by this in 1998 after John Carpenter's Vampires underperformed. He was a well-respected actor with Academy Award nominations for Salvador and Ghosts of Mississippi before that failure. His input afterwards mostly consisted of voice acting in animation, a venture which began a year before after playing Hades in Disney's Hercules. His most successful work in live-action has been on television before he was negatively impacted by the #MeToo movement, when accused of sexual harassment by several women including Elizabeth Perkins and Amber Tamblyn. Today, he's mostly known for his outspoken far-right political beliefs than as an actor.
  • Sam Worthington was a rising superstar for some years following the advent of Avatar in 2009. Then in 2012, his star was doused after Man on a Ledge and Wrath of the Titans bombed. His career was further hampered by a litany of legal charges in 2014. However, the 2022 sequel Avatar: The Way of Water may prove to herald a Career Resurrection for him.
  • While the failure of UHF completely derailed any chance "Weird Al" Yankovic could've had success as an actor, his long career in music thankfully went on unaffected. UHF has since become a cult classic, and Al still does occasional cameos and voice work, even doing the title role in the Disney series Milo Murphy's Law.

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