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  • Ben Affleck almost saw his career killed by Gigli right after the maligned Pearl Harbor and Daredevil 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 and was cast in Ridley Scott's The Last Duel, reuniting him with his old pal Matt Damon. His departure from the DCEU would be brief as he would soon return for additional scenes in Zack Snyder's Justice League as well as The Flash.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Roberto Benigni followed his Oscar-winning film Life Is Beautiful with a live-action version of Pinocchio (2002) with himself playing the title character (keep in mind that Benigni was 50 at the time), which earned a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 0%. He has barely worked in film since then, with only The Tiger and the Snow (another directorial effort) and a turn in Woody Allen's From Rome with Love to his credit. He is still a name performer in his native Italy, however, with his biggest post-Life Is Beautiful success the one-man stage show TuttoDante.

    In fact, Benigni had almost killed his then-unknown career in America almost a decade before. His performance as Jacques Gambrelli, Inspector Clouseau's illegitimate son, in Son of the Pink Panther was unanimously mauled by critics, and the film completely flopped in theaters overnight and earned Benigni a Razzie Award nomination for Worst New Star. Had it not been for Life is Beautiful and Down by Law, American audiences would've viewed Benigni as a talentless celebrity.
  • Jason Biggs' career took off after American Pie became a hit at the box office. However, his subsequent films outside the American Pie series flopped. Saving Silverman was the last straw, though — after that movie bombed, he never had a leading role in a mainstream film outside of reprising his role as Jim in American Wedding and American Reunion and being the lead in Anything Else. However, being in Orange Is the New Black did serve as a small comeback for him.
  • 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. 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 2008 bomb Bangkok Dangerous 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 in Kick-Ass, in Acclaimed Flops like The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, or in duds 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 did little to help his career and reputation. The final blow, however, came with Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance in 2012, after which Cage's leading-man films started to go Direct to Video. However, in later years he has started to make a comeback with more non-mainstream films such as Mandy, Color Out of Space, Pig, and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.
  • 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's career as a movie star began with Drumline and ended only three years later when Underclassman flopped at the box office. He's had far 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 the then-promising career of Maxwell Caulfield, who is on record as saying it took him ten years to recover when no one would hire him after the movie. Michelle Pfeiffer's career wasn't so damaged, but it did take a beating (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).
  • 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.
  • Sean Connery had been enjoying a long-term career resurgence ever since The Untouchables won him an Oscar in 1988. Then, in 1998, he played a villain in The Avengers (based on the TV show, not the comics) and the film and Connery's performance were so badly lambasted that many critics predicted the end of the veteran actor's career. The mixed response to his next film, Entrapment didn't help (though it was more popular than Avengers thanks to the chemistry between Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones). Connery was able to redeem himself with critics with the 2000 drama Finding Forrester, but after his very next film, 2003's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen tanked again, Connery retired for good. During the last few decades of his life, Connery wrote a memoir titled Being a Scot and took on a few voice-over roles (including a Role Reprise as James Bond for the video game version of From Russia with Love).
  • 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.
  • Between them, Leonard Part 6 and Ghost Dad convinced everyone that Bill Cosby doesn't belong on a screen that can't fit in your living room. This was before his sex scandal, which resulted in a criminal case in his own hometown, convinced everyone that he doesn't belong on even those screens, either.
  • 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 in the 1994 films Richie Rich, The Pagemaster, and Getting Even with Dad. He has not been seen often since then, partially due to the Stage Dad tendencies of his father Kit, from whom he is now estranged. He has, however, found some success in smaller indie productions like Saved! and Party Monster and as a voice actor on Robot Chicken.
  • 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 some hits like Easy Money and Back to School. Then he made Meet Wally Sparks, which flopped at the box office. After that movie, he never starred in another major film again and most of his movies went straight to video, before his death in 2004.
  • Tony Danza had made a name for herself 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.)
  • Though he had a few starring roles in the late '80s, Patrick Dempsey didn't really hit it big until he got the role of Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd in Grey's Anatomy. Due to his sudden burst of popularity, they tried to make him a movie star again in the '00s. First, he got the male lead in Enchanted, which became a big hit in 2007. Unfortunately, he followed that film up with Made of Honor, which didn't do well either critically or financially. After that movie, he's been relegated primarily to supporting parts.
  • Stephen Dorff worked away in film throughout The '90s after establishing himself in The '80s via 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. For almost the rest of the decade, his films underperformed and/or were just as ill-received. A brief comeback opportunity arose with a supporting role in Public Enemies and a leading role in Somewhere, but he derailed it after starring in films such as Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star and Immortals.
  • In the early 2010s, Hollywood tried to make Josh Duhamel a movie star with movies like When in Rome, Life As We Know It, and New Year's Eve. However, it seems that Safe Haven killed his career as, despite doing well at the box office, his next movie after it was a Direct-to-DVD Planes rip-off called Wings and he never really had another major role again. However, he still managed to score supporting roles in Transformers: The Last Knight (granted he was already part of that franchise) and Love, Simon.
  • Aaron Eckhart's film career essentially died with I, Frankenstein, at least as a leading man. Before its release, he had accumulated critical respect as a character actor in such films as In the Company of Men, Any Given Sunday, and Erin Brockovich. 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, he starred in a bunch of underperforming films after The Dark Knight, with I, Frankenstein being the worst-received of the lot in 2014. Besides a role in Sully (and its acclaim was directed primarily to Tom Hanks for his performance and Clint Eastwood for his direction), Eckhart hasn't appeared in any successful projects since I, Frankenstein bombed. The bulk of Eckhart's input afterwards was in obscure independent fare which never got a wide release.
  • Alden Ehrenreich had a lot of buzz behind him in the early 10's, starting with his turn in Blue Jasmine in 2013, and his widely praised breakout role in Hail, Caesar! in 2016. He then prepared to make the leap to a major franchise as the lead in Solo. However, it became the first Star Wars film to be a Box Office Bomb and received mixed reviews, and while Ehrenreich did win some critical praise for his performance, his portrayal of Han Solo divided the fanbase. He hasn't appeared in a film since, with his attempt to shift to TV in Brave New World receiving mediocre reviews and being cancelled after one season. However, he has been announced for the role of Richard Feynman in Christopher Nolan's upcoming biopic of J. Robert Oppenheimer, so time will tell if he can turn things around.
  • 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 summer season with multiple franchise films. His ascent was abruptly halted when he starred in 2019's The Goldfinch, which bombed critically and financially (costing up to $50 million combined for production company Amazon Studios and distributor Warner Bros.). West Side Story (2021), delayed from its initial 2020 release because of COVID-19, could possibly serve as a Career Resurrection, but Elgort's conspicuous absence from the movie's promo campaign note  makes this uncertain. His next project after West Side Story, the HBO Max crime drama Tokyo Vice, was mostly received positively, although neither audiences nor critics considered Elgort a standout.
  • 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 critically ravaged and ended the Fox X-Men Film Series on a low note. That being said, critics who otherwise hated the movie called his performance the best (if not only good) part. He has a couple of projects in the pipeline (a sequel to Kung Fury, the lead role in David Fincher's adaptation of the French graphic novel The Killer, and a film adaptation of Next Goal Wins directed by Taika Waititi), any of which could potentially serve as a Career Resurrection.
  • 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.
  • 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 star as Fidel Castro in an indie biopic.
  • 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, 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 is set to play the lead in the next film by Darren Aronofsky as well as a role in Martin Scorsese's next film, indicating that a full blown comeback might be in his future.
  • 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 
  • After getting notice in mid-'70s supporting roles in movies like Baby Blue Marine and Looking For Mr. Goodbar, Richard Gere became a star with Days of Heaven. The run continued into the early '80s with American Gigolo and, of course, An Officer and a Gentleman. The failure of The Cotton Club was blamed on that film's Troubled Production, but Gere took it right on the nose for King David. For the next five years he was largely passed over for coveted roles note  until Internal Affairs did well enough to make him a viable choice for Pretty Woman.
  • 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 trope could be applied to a lot of Cuba Gooding Jr.'s work after his Oscar-winning role in Jerry Maguire (Boat Trip, Snow Dogs, Daddy Day Camp, etc.). He attributes this problem to the fact that the good roles stopped coming to him once Will Smith became Hollywood's new favorite African-American actor.
  • For Tom Hardy, Star Trek: Nemesis was supposed to be his breakout role. The film was a 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-stars. It didn’t help that Harrison, by the late '60s older than most leading men, 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's star rose with Napoleon Dynamite, only for it to fall soon after in 2006: first with 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 didn't enamor him to producers, either. Hemmings all but disappeared, doing a few foreign movies and directing some television, until a brief Career Resurrection with Gladiator and Gangs of New York before his death in 2003.
  • Martin Henderson was an up-and-coming actor who relocated from his native New Zealand (where he first earned recognition on the soap opera Shortland Street) to find success in Hollywood, which seemed to start well when he starred opposite Naomi Watts in The Ring. After he played the lead role in Torque, he saw his career reduced to bit parts, Direct to Video films, and TV shows which lasted only one season. Only in 2014, ten years later, did Henderson start making a comeback, thanks to his starring role on the critically-acclaimed Australian miniseries Secrets & Lies (which later got an American remake from ABC starring Ryan Phillippe). Henderson later obtained a multi-season gig on Grey's Anatomy between 2015 to 2017 as Dr. Nathan Riggs, before he was cast as the male lead on the Netflix romantic drama Virgin River. On film, he would appear in a supporting role in the 2022 slasher X.
  • 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.
  • C. Thomas Howell was an up-and-coming teen actor who starred in hits like The Outsiders and Red Dawn. Then he made Soul Man, which, although it was a box-office hit, garnered controversy because he spent half of the movie in blackface. He's hardly been in a major Hollywood movie (with the notable exception being The Amazing Spider-Man) since, and when he has, it mostly has been in straight-to-video work and smaller roles on TV.
  • 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 Speechless, Multiplicity and Desperate Measures. The final straw was 1998's Jack Frost, which froze Keaton's leading-man opportunities for 15 years. Keaton would occasionally resurface in supporting roles in films like First Daughter, Herbie: Fully Loaded, Post Grad, 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 than ever, and he's even returning 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.
  • 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 in License To Wed (which also derailed Mandy Moore's film career), Leatherheads, and Away We Go in the late '00s. Beforehand, he was best known for The Office (US), with these films being his shot at breaking into film comedy. License to Wed and Leatherheads both bombed, however, and while Away We Go was well-received by critics, its limited release caused it to go ignored at the box office. Since then, he's been relegated to supporting roles and indie films. Luckily, with the huge success of A Quiet Place (which Krasinski also directed) and Jack Ryan on Prime Video, his prospects are much higher.
  • 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.
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    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.
  • Taylor Lautner's chance of a career after the Twilight films (which briefly turned him into one of Hollywood's highest-paid actors) pretty much went up in smoke after Abduction sank with critics and moviegoers. Planned starring roles in adaptations of Stretch Armstrong and the David and Goliath story got shelved indefinitely. 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 (the most notable being 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 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 flopped, and RKO executives were shocked that Lebedeff got very bad notices for his performance as test audiences were allegedly raving about him, as evidenced by the screening cards. It turned out that 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.
  • 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, it seemed like the combined bombs of My Baby's Daddy and Never Die Alone harmed his career, 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 diseasenote .
  • Herbert Lom retired from film acting after the failure of 1993's Son of the Pink Panther, though he continued to make occasional television appearances. His last major project was appearing a 2004 episode of the ITV series Marple; he died eight years later.
  • Josh Lucas in Stealth and Poseidon. After years of taking small and supporting roles in numerous films, Lucas got his first taste of stardom playing the estranged ex-husband of Reese Witherspoon's character in Sweet Home Alabama. Following its success, he starred in the 2003 version of Hulk and was quickly given the opportunity to headline two big-budget films in the span of a year, Stealth and Poseidon. But after those two films failed critically and commercially, Lucas returned to supporting roles and was never deemed leading man material again.
  • Ken Marshall was supposed to make it to the big time with Krull following his acclaimed role in the miniseries Marco Polo. But when the film completely bombed, Marshall didn't take another acting job for four years, and has since done many guest appearances on numerous TV shows, most notably with a recurring guest spot on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
  • Any chance Norm Macdonald had at being a leading man in Hollywood was killed by both Dirty Work and Screwed as they both bombed at the box office. He mostly did straight to DVD/indie stuff, the occasional Adam Sandler film, and a brief stint of KFC commercials before his death from cancer in 2021, with his most recognizable role in two decades being a recurring voice-only role in The Orville.
  • 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 Hours, 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 writing 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. Following these disasters, he spent the remaining years of his life appearing on TV movies and spoof films (which he was notorious for), never playing a lead role in a major motion picture again.
  • Edward Norton was a huge star during the late '90s thanks to movies like American History X & Fight Club. However, he was also infamous for his over-involvement in movies with him as the main star and Hollywood eventually caught up on that with The Incredible Hulk becoming the last big movie with him as the major star. This also led to Mark Ruffalo replacing him for The Avengers and later MCU films. He still got roles for a while with larger roles in smaller productions, or smaller roles in larger productions. However, Norton's leading man status only came to a close when Motherless Brooklyn became one of the biggest Box Office Bombs of 2019 (a film which he also wrote, directed, and produced).
  • Ryan O'Neal became an A-list star in The '70s thanks to Love Story, What's Up, Doc?, and Paper Moon, but his acting career began to sag by the following decade, leading to his infamous performance in Tough Guys Don't Dance ("OH GOD, OH MAN!"), which he has never fully recovered from. By the '00s, however, he managed to secure a respected recurring part as Temperance Brennan's father on Bones.
  • Dutch 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.
  • Joe Pesci was pretty successful in the early 1990s with an Academy Award for Goodfellas, following it with the Lethal Weapon sequels, the first two Home Alone films, My Cousin Vinny, and Casino. Then in 1997, Pesci's star power was snuffed out by the back-to-back bombs of Gone Fishin' and 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag. Following Lethal Weapon 4 the next year, he retired from acting barring a handful of occasional gigs since (most notably his Oscar-nominated role in The Irishman, although coaxing him into coming out of retirement was reportedly a struggle and he didn't even bother attending the ceremony).
  • 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.
  • Summer Catch spelled the end of Freddie Prinze Jr.'s days as a Hollywood leading man. Once the popular choice for teen romantic comedies in the late '90s and early 2000s, his résumé grew 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 
  • Despite not being a huge hit financially, Max Records got a lot of praise for his performance in Where the Wild Things Are. After The Sitter flopped both financially and critically, he vanished until one of his movies, I Am Not a Serial Killer, appeared on Netflix.
  • Christopher Reeve in Switching Channels. In his autobiography, Still Me, Reeve claims that this film's failure, 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.
  • 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, apart from another cameo role in The Patriot, he never got another chance as a huge film star. Then, in the mid-to-late 2000s, Rodgers starred in a decent selection of guest-starring roles in television shows and had a well-received voice role as Anti-Villain Judge Gabranth in the 2006 JRPG Final Fantasy XII, but a few years later, he decided to start a film school in Italy, where he teaches to this day.
  • The failure of Immortals sadly killed all the hype Mickey Rourke accumulated right after he experienced a fleeting Career Resurrection with his Oscar-nominated work in The Wrestler. Since then, he has primarily appeared in low-budget action and crime flicks that went straight to video.
  • Alex Russell, after his breakout role in Chronicle, followed that up with The Host (2013) and Carrie (2013), both of which seemed promising but ended up flopping at the box office. After appearing in those two films, he has hardly appeared in a mainstream film aside from a small role in Unbroken. However, he has found a place on television as Jim Street on S.W.A.T. (2017).
  • 1998's Soldier, as well as 3000 Miles to Graceland three years later, ended Kurt Russell's stint as a leading man in feature films.
  • Paul Rust's career as a leading man began and ended with I Love You, Beth Cooper, but he's still working (such as the Netflix series Love).
  • 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.
  • 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 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 in Duane Hopwood, his first film project following the end of Friends. Since the indie's flop, he's only made occasional television appearances and his only major roles were in a series of financially unsuccessful independent films. His only projects worth noting are his roles in the Madagascar series as he shifted toward a directing and off-Broadway theatrical career.
  • 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 has starred in a series of low-budget Direct to Video films — he would not see the inside of a cinema again until Machete.
  • 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, 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. Segel hasn't starred in a wide-release studio film since. Today, Segel has mostly left the Hollywood life behind him, mostly writing young adult fantasy novels, but still will occasionally take some roles more serious than what he used to.
  • 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, and occasionally Playing Against Type in Three Men and a Baby (the biggest hit of 1987) and In & Out. Then he did The Love Letter, which bombed critically and commercially and blackballed Selleck 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 help either. He retreated back to the TV, with only three big-screen roles since 1999. Although his film career petered out, he continues to thrive on television thanks to the hit CBS series Blue Bloods, a rare hit in the Friday Night Death Slot, and a popular multi-year guest run on Friends.
  • Peter Sellers in Casino Royale (1967). He was actually fired midway through the shoot when he proved too unreliable and uncooperative, and 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 firmly entrenched in a career decline by the end of The New '10s, with an arguable catalyst being the 2012 film 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 up to $1.8 million per episode). Sheen's film career thrived throughout The '80s and The '90s with hits like Platoon, Wall Street, Major League, and Hot Shots!, but had slowly cooled down in 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 issues (including accusations of sexual assault and being diagnosed with HIV) hampered his ability to work.
  • Wesley Snipes in 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. Now that he's been released, he's started to mount a comeback with an appearance in The Expendables 3, and there is talk of doing a fourth Blade film (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 Chiraq, 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 theatres, has officially established Kevin Spacey as box office poison following his exposure as the most high-profile gay sex offender to be hit by the fallout from the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal and the #MeToo movement. It didn't help matters when, after his 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, 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.
  • 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 has not made any film appearances since then.
  • Daniel Stern in Bushwhacked and Celtic Pride. After 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 90's.
  • Jon Stewart's middling film career was brought to a complete halt by the failure of Doogal, a pointless star-laden dub of The Magic Roundabout where he played the Big Bad. He's since gone entirely back to his political satire career, with his only acting role since being a guest spot on Gravity Falls which he got as a thank you for convincing its creator to go ahead with a second season and give the story a proper conclusion despite his exhaustion after the first.
  • John Stockwell had a breakout role in the film version of Christine but followed that with starring roles (City Limits, My Science Project, Radioactive Dreams, and Dangerously Close which he unfortunately co-wrote) that were box-office bombs and/or critical failures. Any chance for his to return to leading acting 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 was looking like it would go places after Across the Universe (2007) and 21 did well. But then he did the historical drama Fifty Dead Men Walking, which flopped at the box office despite earning praise from critics. He has followed it up with a few high-profile projects, but even those flopped and Sturgess' buzz is all but non-existent today. It didn't help that he has starred in two films accused of Yellowface21 and Cloud Atlas. He recently starred on the Apple TV+ series Home Before Dark, but most of the praise for that show was heaped upon his co-star, child actress Brooklynn Prince.
  • The universally savaged and colossal flop Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star derailed Nick Swardson's career as a leading man in motion pictures before it could even get started. The film also led to Comedy Central terminating their contract with Swardson and canceling his Pretend Time sketch series, further damaging his reputation.
  • Patrick Swayze's A-List status was on thin ice during most of the 1990s, with films like City of Joy, Father Hood, and Tall Tale all flopping. But 1998's Black Dog ensured that Swayze would never headline a major studio film again and he was relegated to making little-seen indie films for the rest of his life. His last well-known film appearance after this was a supporting role in Donnie Darko. Swayze plotted a comeback on television with The Beast, but sadly, his terminal cancer diagnosis led to the show's premature end.
  • Jonathan Taylor Thomas was an immensely successful child actor through the 1990s, having starred on the sitcom series Home Improvement and co-starred in movies such as The Lion King (1994). He attempted new acting ventures after growing up, eventually landing the starring role in 1998's I'll Be Home for Christmas. The film proved to be a massive flop and his adult career has slowed down significantly as a result.
  • Chairman of the Board was the first and last starring role for Carrot Top.
  • Alberto Tomba was not a movie star (or even an actor by trade) to begin with; he was an acclaimed alpine skier with multiple medals and championships under his belt when in 2000, after his retirement, he decided to star in a movie called Alex l'Ariete. His extremely poor performance (often not even speaking intelligibly) ensured he will never grace the big screen again. The movie also bombed mightily, with only 285 tickets sold on its opening weekend.

    U-Z 
  • Turk 182 (budget, $15 million, box office, $3.5 million) brought Robert Urich's theatrical career to a screeching halt. His career on television didn't slow down one bit.
  • Vince Vaughn in The Dilemma. In the early-mid '00s, he 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 of the early 90s sketch comedy series In Living Color!, with characters such as Homie the Clown and Anton Jackson. Much was expected of him as he decided to leave the show and break out into the movie business. His first releases, The Last Boy Scout and Mo' Money, did OK in the box office, but in 1994, he starred in Blankman, which flopped at the box office. The next year, he starred in Major Payne, which also did OK business. But 1996 was his big chance to earn his stake on the A-List, which saw him star in three films: Celtic Pride, The Great White Hype and Bulletproof, all of which tanked, killing his leading man career. After dabbling on TV for a while and starring in the Spike Lee flop Bamboozled, Wayans returned to TV with My Wife and Kids, which had a respectable run, giving him another successful TV series under his belt. During this time, in 2003, he would take one more crack at the big screen with Marci X. The film was blasted by critics and once again, bombed, killing any chance he had of headlining future theatrical releases. Since then, he stuck to TV, recently taking on Roger Murtaugh on the TV adaptation of Lethal Weapon. Time will tell if he can add a third successful TV series under his belt.
  • Sam Worthington was a rising superstar for a few years in the advent of Avatar. Then, Wrath of the Titans flopped and his star went out. However, the sequel Avatar: The Way of Water may prove to herald a future Career Resurrection for him.
  • Michael Jai White was an actor whose career was mostly made up of bit roles. Then he got the chance to star in a big-budget Hollywood film with Spawn. However, after that movie flopped with both critics and at the box office, his career didn't go anywhere and he's mostly done bit parts in things like Dragged Across Concrete and direct-to-video movies since, though at least years later 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..
  • 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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