The Biggest Behind-The-Scenes Scandals To Hit Teen Dramas

The following references sexual abuse and misconduct. 

Teen dramas are a genre entirely their own. Typically focusing on the fictitious lives of teens and young adults, the shows — which may have supernatural elements or be grounded in reality — all have one thing in common: they're full of dramatic storylines. From "Freaks and Geeks" to "Dawson's Creek" to "The Vampire Diaries," teen dramas have been a staple on screens for decades. And, they aren't afraid to tackle challenging topics, like Kelly (Jennie Garth) shooting her rapist in Season 10 of "Beverly Hills, 90210," or depicting Marissa Cooper's (Mischa Barton) near-fatal drug overdose during the first season of "The O.C."

So, unsurprisingly, it's easy — perhaps even inevitable — for their dramatic energy to spill off the screen and into reality when tensions are running so high. Behind-the-scenes feuds between cast mates isn't an issue unique to teen dramas, but it certainly is a recurring problem within the genre. And if actors aren't careful, these feuds can turn into all-out scandals when a star departs a popular show unexpectedly or they fan the flames of a feud in interviews. But, the entire crew is responsible for what goes on behind-the-scenes, and sometimes showrunners and other execs draw attention to their show for the wrong reasons, too. And, with actors retroactively speaking out about inappropriate behavior on set, off-air shows are still generating drama. From "Beverly Hills, 90210" to "Wednesday," let's dive into the biggest behind-the-scenes scandals to hit these fan-favorite teen dramas.

Beverly Hills, 90210's stars butted heads

The feud between Jennie Garth and Shannen Doherty on the set of the iconic '90s teen drama "Beverly Hills, 90210" is infamous. Garth played blonde it-girl Kelly Taylor while Doherty played midwestern newcomer Brenda Walsh. The characters become fast friends, but their relationship suffers because of their feud over Dylan McKay (Luke Perry).

This on-screen discord transferred off the screen — and also involved Donna Martin actor Tori Spelling, who was often forced to be the mediator between her co-stars. Garth and Doherty's behind-the-scenes conflict was more than just bickering and young women not seeing eye to eye. "I just remember being outside and the boys having to try to settle us down," Garth said to EW. Though they almost came to blows, the pair confirmed that they never actually hit each other during an interview about their surprising on-screen reunion in the 2008 "90210" spinoff.

Despite seemingly putting all their drama in the past, and reuniting again for "BH90210" in 2019, this three-decades old scandal is still one of the most talked about things when it comes to the teen drama. At the time, the pair just couldn't get past their issues and, in the end, one of them had to go. Tori Spelling took partial responsibility for Doherty's departure after Season 4, having complained to her father Aaron Spelling about her behavior. "I felt like I was a part of something... a movement... that cost someone their livelihood," she admitted on "Celebrity Lie Detector" (via Distractify).

The toxic work environment of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" was another iconic TV series that launched in the 1990s. Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar as the titular Buffy Summers, along with Alyson Hannigan, David Boreanaz, Nicholas Brendon, Anthony Stewart Head, Charisma Carpenter, and Seth Green, who round out the Scooby Gang. What Gellar loves the most about the series is that's fantastical storylines were a metaphor for the horrors of adolescence. This has allowed the show's relatability to continue, making it a firm favorite among teen drama fans. However, "Buffy" has also had to weather a pretty major scandal.

Series creator Joss Whedon was first called out by "Justice League" actor Ray Fisher for alleged unacceptable behavior toward the cast and crew in 2020. In support of Fisher, Carpenter came forward with allegations against Whedon. "Joss Whedon abused his power on numerous occasions while working together on the sets of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel ... The disturbing incidents triggered a chronic physical condition from which I still suffer," Carpenter wrote in a Twitter statement. She also said he mistreated her when she was pregnant and fired her after she gave birth to her first child.

Other "Buffy" cast members, including Amber Benson and Michelle Trachtenberg, came forward with support for Carpenter and made allegations about Whedon's nature on set. In an Instagram statement, Gellar said she stands with those who came forward. "I don't want to be forever associated with the name Joss Whedon," she wrote. Whedon has denied the allegations.

Shannen Doherty and Alyssa Milano didn't have a sisterly bond

Despite the drama on the set of "Beverly Hills, 90210," Aaron Spelling had no qualms in working with Shannen Doherty again. He hired her, Holly Marie Combs, and Alyssa Milano to play the Halliwell siblings Prue, Piper, and Phoebe on the supernatural series "Charmed." But, it wasn't long before rumors of a feud between Doherty and Milano started to circulate, mirroring her past experience on "Beverly Hills, 90210." Combs, who had to play peacemaker on and off the screen, acknowledged the turbulence. "We had times where we were at each other's weddings and there were times where we wanted to throw each other off of buildings," she recalled during a "Charmed" panel.

Doherty unexpectedly announced her departure from the show ahead of Season 4, telling ET that the drama was one of the reasons she didn't want to be there anymore. However, she also played down the feud, saying she always planned to leave because she'd gotten everything she wanted out of the series, including getting to direct a few episodes. Milano has since expressed guilt over her behavior. "I could take responsibility for a lot of our tension that we had. I think a lot of our struggle came from feeling that I was in competition rather than it being that sisterhood that the show was so much about," she said to ET. She also revealed that the two had reconciled amid Doherty's breast cancer diagnosis and are now civil with one another.

Alyssa Milano and Rose McGowan's feud wasn't charming

Unfortunately, Alyssa Milano and Shannen Doherty's feud was not the end of the drama on the set of "Charmed." Rose McGowan was brought in to replace Doherty as Piper and Phoebe's long-lost half sister Paige Matthews. However, her relationship with Milano was arguably worse than Doherty's. In her memoir "Brave" McGowan detailed her time on the show, likening it to a prison.

Since the show has ended, McGowan — who was one of the women to go on record against Harvey Weinstein — has been very vocal about her feud with Milano, and said she created unnecessary drama on set. "Appalling behavior on the daily. I cried every time we got renewed because you made that set toxic AF," McGowan wrote on Twitter. The "Scream" actor has also criticized Milano for being a fake feminist, referencing her use of #MeToo, which was created by Tarana Burke, who wasn't credited at the time. In response, Milano took to Twitter to call McGowan the real fraud, before blocking her former co-star.

Other "Charmed" alums Holly Marie Combs, Drew Fuller, and Brian Krause host the rewatch podcast "The House of Halliwell" and regularly appeared at "Charmed" panels. In 2023, they were joined by Shannen Doherty and Rose McGowan at 90s Con, while Milano was notably absent from the reunion. 

The short-lived One Tree Hill marriage and its aftermath

Brooke and Lucas' relationship in "One Tree Hill" was dramatic to say the least, but there's no denying Sophia Bush and Chad Michael Murray had chemistry. As their characters went through ups and downs, sparks flew off the screen. The duo began dating in 2002, before getting engaged in May 2004. Bush and Murray got married in April 2005, almost a year after announcing their engagement, but their marriage flamed out after only five months. They finalized their divorce the following year, but had to continue working together on "One Tree Hill." As Bush said on "Radio Andy" (via Us Weekly), "Hilarie [Burton Morgan] and I used to laugh, and we were like, 'If we had a behind-the-scenes show, the drama would be so much f**king better than the drama that the writers write."

In the years since her divorce, Bush has spoken out about her relationship with Murray, noting that she felt pressured into marrying Murray because she was afraid to let people down if she didn't. The "Riverdale" alum, on the other hand, slammed his ex-wife for her comments through a statement to Us Weekly, maintaining that the pair married for love only.

On an episode of the rewatch podcast "Drama Queens," which she hosts with "OTH" leading ladies Burton and Bethany Joy Lenz, Bush spoke about their transition working together as exes. She said she got through it by always putting Brooke first, even when she had to film emotional scenes with Murray.

One Tree Hill stars spoke out against the series creator

Chad Michael Murray and Sophia Bush's short-lived marriage wasn't the only scandal to rock "One Tree Hill." In November 2017, Bush, Hilarie Burton Morgan, and Bethany Joy Lenz were among 18 "OTH" cast and crew members who came forward with harassment allegations against the show's creator, Mark Schwahn. Their statement was provided to Variety after "OTH" writer Audrey Wauchope accused the disgraced showrunner of misconduct on Twitter. Bush and Burton have both publicly spoken about their experiences while filming the teen drama, with Bush alleging on "Radio Andy" that the first time Schwahn touched her she punched him in the face in front of six producers. From then on, he knew to stay away from her. She spoke about her decision to stay on the series, saying, "It's not fair to make everybody suffer because one person can't get, they can't rein their entitlement in."

However, the harassment didn't stop, and Schwahn targeted Burton, who claimed on "Drama Queens" that on one occasion Murray had to step in and defend her when Schwahn grabbed her in public while on location in Texas. No one else did anything, and the harassment allegedly continued. Ultimately, Burton (and Murray) decided to leave the show after Season 6. The "White Collar" alum said on a separate ep of the pod it was her co-star Moira Kelly, her on-screen mother-in-law, who encouraged her to make the decision which she said "saved her life." 

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Smallville's Allison Mack was a part of NXIVM

It was never a secret that "Smallville" actor Allison Mack was involved with the cult NXIVM, which was presented by its founder, Keith Raniere, as a personal development company. Mack, who played journalist Chloe Sullivan, got involved with Raniere's organization while starring in the superhero teen drama after her co-star Kristin Kreuk introduced her. But, while Mack rose to be one of the most senior members of the cult, Kreuk's time there was short-lived. The Lana Lang actor took to Twitter to clarify that she left years before The New York Times exposed NXIVM for sex trafficking in 2017. "The accusations that I was in the 'inner circle' or recruited women as 'sex slaves' are blatantly false," she wrote. "I am deeply disturbed and embarrassed to have been associated with NXIVM," Kreuk added. 

As part of her role at NXIVM, Mack ran the secret and illegal sex cult DOS (Dominus Obsequious Sororium), where she was second only to Raniere himself. During that time she entered into a fraudulent marriage with "Battlestar Galactica" alum Nicki Clyne, and recruited women who would then be branded with a hot cauterizing pen in the shape of Raniere's initials. Mack has since pleaded guilty to racketeering charges, while also giving testimony against the cult leader.

In 2021, Mack was sentenced to three years in prison, serving her time at the same California federal prison where Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman served after the college admission bribery scandal.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Did S and B really beef while making Gossip Girl?

The teen drama "Gossip Girl" certainly lived up to its name. While Kristen Bell was busy narrating the complicated and dramatic lives of our favorite upper-east side teens, two of the show's cast members were busy navigating some drama of their own. Blake Lively and Leighton Meester, who played Manhattan's It-girl Serena van der Woodsen and scheming queen bee Blair Waldorf, made headlines for not-so-chic reasons. The characters were mostly the best of friends (and sometimes frenemies), but off-screen the actors were most definitely not the BFFs they portrayed on-screen.

The series was plagued with rumor after rumor detailing the pair's turbulent dynamic on set. In 2008, New York Magazine reported that Lively and Meester apparently did everything they could not to be near each other, while their feud got so bad that they supposedly forced their cast mates to "choose sides." After that article, it was easy for the media to tell stories about the discord between the two stars, but was it really as dramatic as they made out?

Well, not according to the show's executive producer Joshua Safran. He revealed to Vanity Fair: "They were friendly, but they were not friends like Serena and Blair. Yet the second they'd be on set together, it's as if they were." Additionally, cast members Michelle Trachtenberg and Chace Crawford said the rumors of their feud had been greatly exaggerated and both actors were very professional on set.

Lea Michele's Glee co-stars came forward with allegations

Of all the scandals the musical teen drama "Glee" has had to weather, Lea Michele has been at the center of many. Like her character Rachel Berry, she was often called a diva for her on-set behavior, but Michele blamed the pressure she put on herself.  However, her diva attitude was apparently not the worst of her behavior on the set of "Glee." In 2020, her co-stars came forward with allegations of racism and bullying against her. After Michele tweeted a response to George Floyd's tragic death, Samantha Marie Were, who played Jane Hayward in Season 6, tweeted: "I BELIEVE YOU TOLD EVERYONE THAT IF [YOU] HAD THE OPPORTUNITY YOU WOULD 'SH*T IN MY WIG!' AMONGST OTHER TRAUMATIC MICROAGRESSIONS THAT MADE ME QUESTION A CAREER IN HOLLYWOOD."

To make matters worse for Michele, several other "Glee" alums, including Alex Newell and Heather Morris, shared statements of support for Were and set the record straight. Morris, who played Brittany Pierce, confirmed on Twitter that Michele was a bully, noting that working with her was an awful experience. "For Lea to treat others with the disrespect that she did for as long as she did, I believe she SHOULD be called out," she wrote.

In response, Michele took to Instagram to issue an apology and mission statement for the future. "I listened to these criticisms and am learning and while I am sorry, I will be better in the future from this experience," she wrote.

A Vampire Diaries photoshoot gone wrong

"The Vampire Diaries" was a smash success for The CW, amassing over four and a half million viewers when the pilot aired in September 2009. The show's central plot, a love triangle between Nina Dobrev's Elena Gilbert, and vampire brothers Stefan and Damon Salvatore, played by Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder, respectively, immediately gripped fans. But the success of the teen drama's debut came under threat when Dobrev and some of her "TVD" cast mates were arrested just weeks earlier.

In August 2022, Dobrev and her co-stars Sara Canning, Candice Accola, and Kayla Ewell were charged with disorderly conduct after a photo shoot got out of hand. They were arrested with another actor, Krystal Vaysa, and photographer Tyler Shields who claimed to be photographing them for the show. But the shoot, which occurred on a bridge outside of Atlanta, Georgia, where "TVD" was being filmed, left motorists concerned. The police were called when the actors reportedly began flashing the drivers below the bridge.

Per Entertainment Weekly, according to the official incident report, police searched Shields' camera and found "numerous photographs of the females hanging, sitting, and straddling the bridge." Luckily, the actors didn't have to do much jail time, paying a fine and being immediately released on a bond. The actors and the show's publicist declined to comment on the scandal, which, although damning, didn't do much to obscure the success of "The Vampire Diaries."

The real-life Vampire Diaries relationship drama

"The Vampire Diaries" did not go unmarked by scandal during its eight season run from 2009 to 2017. There was the aforementioned arrest, and of course Nina Dobrev's feud with Paul Wesley during the show's early seasons. And then there was Dobrev's relationship with Ian Somerhalder.

Dobrev said that she denied her feelings for a long time, not wanting to date a co-star, but her chemistry with Somerhalder was undeniable and they started dating in 2010. Their relationship wasn't without drama, though, and in 2012, Dobrev denied rumors that Somerhalder had proposed and she'd turned him down. The couple announced their breakup the following year, but continued to play a couple on "TVD." Shortly after, Somerhalder began dating Dobrev's friend and "Twilight" actor Nikki Reed, sparking speculation about a possible love triangle.

However, Dobrev stressed to E! News that the rumors weren't true, adding that she remained friends with Somerhalder and Reed, even after they tied the knot in 2015, insisting that their union was not the reason she departed the series after six seasons. "[W]e're on a teen drama show, everyone's going to look for drama. If there's no drama, there's nothing to write about. I just ignore it," she said. Dobrev returned to conclude Elena's story with Damon in the eighth season finale. They have a mature and friendly relationship now and Dobrev has happily moved on with Olympic snowboarder Shaun White.

Four Riverdale stars were accused of sexual assault

"Riverdale" actors Lili Reinhart and Cole Sprouse, who play Betty and Jughead in the teen drama, have garnered plenty of media attention for their relationship and subsequent breakup. Although they've continued working together and remained friends, Sprouse admitted on "Call Her Daddy" that with hindsight, he should have ended their relationship sooner.

However, their relationship drama is hardly the biggest scandal The CW's hit teen drama has had to weather. In 2020, some members of the cast of "Riverdale" were hit with some serious allegations. The first allegation came out against Cole Sprouse on Twitter from an anonymous account using the handle @Victori66680029. The user accused the former Disney star of assaulting her at an NYU party in 2013. Sprouse vehemently denied these allegations, but not before allegations were also leveled against Reinhart, KJ Apa, and Vanessa Morgan. 

According to BuzzFeed News, allegations against the actors were all made from similar anonymous accounts, with one claiming that Reinhart groped a fan while taking a picture with them. However, the Twitter user then retracted their statement, admitting to making fake claims. "This account was created specifically to create false stories about me and my cast. I can't think of something more twisted than lying about sexual assault," Reinhart said on Twitter. She added: "I hope and pray that this does not discourage real survivors from speaking out about their experiences."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

The Charmed reboot vs. the original

The 2018 "Charmed" reboot followed the same roadmap as the original series, but follows three new witchy sisters, Macy Vaughn (Madeleine Mantock), and Mel (Melonie Diaz) and Maggie Vera (Sarah Jeffery). And, despite taking many elements from the original series, the original cast felt slighted by the way it was marketed — as a feminist version of "Charmed."  This was further compounded in a TikTok video where Holly Marie Combs and Rose McGowan slated the reboot, despite admitting they hadn't watched it.

However, reboot star Sarah Jeffrey took to Twitter to call them out for their comments. "I truly hope they find happiness elsewhere, and not in the form of putting down other WOC. I would be embarrassed to behave this way," she wrote on Twitter. The original cast eventually retracted some of their criticism of the reboot, with Combs saying they were happy it provided jobs and continued the "Charmed" legacy, but wanted to call out the poor marketing.

These comments temporarily drew a line in the sand under the feud between "Charmed" shows, but the reboot's finale stirred up drama once again. In the last scene, Mel, Maggie, and Kayla (Lucy Barrett) find themselves on the front steps of the Halliwell Manor, leaving the ending up to viewer's imaginations. But, Curtis Kheel, a writer for the original series stirred up the feud again, tweeting, "I can tell u what happened next: Piper, Phoebe & Paige vanquished the 3 imposters right after they invaded Halliwell Manor."

Barbie Ferreira's controversial exit from Euphoria

Like "Beverly Hills, 90210," "The Vampire Diaries," and both "Charmed" series which came before it, "Euphoria" has also had to contend with the shocking exit of one of its main cast members. Barbie Ferreira, who plays Kat Hernandez, announced her departure from the teen drama ahead of the show's third season. The actor broke the news on her Instagram Story, writing, "After four years of getting to embody the most special and enigmatic character Kat, I'm having to say a very teary eyed goodbye."

Immediately after her post, rumors began to circulate that Ferreira really quit the series because of a feud with "Euphoria" showrunner Sam Levinson. It was speculated that Ferreira and Levinson could not agree on the vision for Kat in Season 2. Per Elle, a source claimed that one particularly difficult day on set led to Ferreira walking off set and Levinson cutting many of her lines.

The actor chose to address the rumors on the "Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard" podcast, categorically denying that she walked off set. The talk of Ferreira and Levinson's feud may have been slightly over-exaggerated, but having conflicting visions about Kat became the reason she's leaving. "I think there were places she could have gone. I just don't think it would have fit into the show," she said. "I really wanted to be able to not be the fat best friend. I don't want to play that, and I think they didn't want that either."

Jenna Ortega got heat for changing Wednesday's lines

Jenna Ortega was already well known when she starred in "Wednesday," having appeared in hits like "You" and "X." But playing the titular character in the Tim Burton-directed Netflix series launched her into a whole new level of fame. From uttering Wednesday's iconic lines to delivering her pointed and unwavering stare, she provided a fresh take on Charles Addams' classic spooky (and kooky) character.

However, in order to portray a truly authentic version of Wednesday, Ortega explained in a now-viral interview on the "Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard" podcast that she had taken a stand on certain issues. "Everything that [Wednesday] does, everything I had to play, did not make sense for her character at all. ... There were times on that set where I even became almost unprofessional in a sense where I just started changing lines," she admitted.

Ortega became protective over her character, and she said that she worked with the writers to create the best version of Wednesday. But "Wednesday" producer Steven DeKnight slammed her for it. The former "Smallville" writer called her "entitled and toxic,"despite having never worked with her. However, when his comments were met with criticism, DeKnight backtracked on his stance. "I can't stress this enough: She's an amazing talent. It was just an unfortunate situation to expose creative differences publicly," he wrote on Twitter. Obviously, all of Ortega's collaboration worked since "Wednesday" became Netflix's third most streamed series and was renewed for a second season.