Sitcom Stars Who Need To Realize They Aren't Famous Anymore

This article contains references to hate crimes, addiction, and sexual assault.

As the "BoJack Horseman" theme song reminds us, the title character of the animated dramedy was "in a very famous TV show" three decades earlier, and struggles to face the fact that his glory days are over. One reason why "BoJack" resonated with so many viewers is that, all too often, we see our own beloved stars in the washed-up, ailing sitcom character. 

Showbiz is a fickle industry, after all. At the best of times, it can be mercilessly cutthroat: There are no concessions made for actors desperate to rekindle their stardom. Many actors long to see the day that their names are carved on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but few are fortunate enough to make it. For sitcom stars, in particular, this rings all too true. Transitioning from sitcoms to the big screen can be extremely difficult, too. Though there are exceptions, Will Smith being one of the most notable, most sitcom stars are either typecast as their on-screen alter egos, or languish for years in small parts and Lifetime movies. There is a particular poignancy to constantly being reminded of one's heyday through TV reruns, whilst simultaneously struggling to reclaim that very stardom.

For the actors in this rundown, no longer being famous is now a lived reality. They made us laugh; now they make us cry. These sitcom stars need to realize they aren't famous anymore.

Scott Baio has seen happier days

Joanie loved Chachi, but audiences no longer love Scott Baio. On "Happy Days" and its aforementioned spinoff, Baio embodied the sweet, eager-to-please Chachi, who was forever in awe of his super cool cousin, The Fonz. And, well, that's about it for his acting career as Baio is now known for unhappy days. In 2010, he infamously tweeted, "Taxes are DONE ... That should feed, house and provide medical [welfare] for a few lazy non-working people at my expense" (via Salon). Some critics felt this was an ironic statement given that Baio hadn't had any major acting roles since the early '90s. 

In fact, the "Arrested Development" guest star is now more famous for his numerous controversies than his sitcom heyday. A proud wearer of the MAGA hat, Baio was condemned by Henry Winkler, aka The Fonz, for spreading misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine, per MSN. How times have changed ... Fonz be not proud. Baio and his wife, Renee Sloan, have also disseminated conspiracy theories relating to the Sandy Hook school shooting, with Sloan even appearing to mock a victim's mother (the actor defended his wife in the wake of the shocking statements, per Newsweek).

Baio's hardly glowing reputation has been further sullied following allegations of sexual misconduct. In 2018, his "Charles in Charge" co-stars, Nicole Eggert and Alexander Polinsky, both alleged that Baio sexually abused them, with the former star suggesting she was underaged at the time, per Variety. Baio denies the claims and has not been charged for the alleged crimes, per People.

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).

Debra Messing's fall from grace

Although some critics have argued that the once beloved sitcom has aged pretty badly due to its reliance on gay stereotypes, "Will & Grace" was nonetheless groundbreaking for the '90s. As Will's titular gal pal, Debra Messing was an ever stylish and witty complement to her prim and proper bestie. The role earned her an Emmy in 2003. Since then, however, Messing's schedule hasn't exactly been jam-packed.

When she's not getting into Twitter wars with Susan Sarandon, Messing is having to reconcile the fact that she hasn't had a major gig in years. A few movie roles and a stint on the widely panned "The Mysteries of Laura" aside, she has been stuck in career limbo. As Observer wrote, "If you tried to name a show that Debra Messing starred in that I would never, even under threat of my life, ever watch again, well I would probably call that show 'Smash.' But I would also call it 'The Mysteries of Laura'!" Yikes.

Inevitably, Messing may forever be known as Grace, a role that she revisited in 2017. Although the reboot seemed initially popular, it didn't take long for fans and critics to notice the cracks. Vanity Fair suggested the only merit of the failed revival was that it would likely "prevent the recreation of more revivals as unnecessary as this one has been." Alas, Messing is no longer the sitcom superstar of her '90s heyday.

David Spade hasn't been a major name in years

His girlfriends may be getting younger, but David Spade's career is increasingly looking like a relic. After a stint on "Saturday Night Live" and two successful sitcoms, "Just Shoot Me" and "Rules of Engagement," the comedian has become a B-list celeb, appearing in a slew of critically lambasted flicks. Often a background character for his pal, Adam Sandler, Spade appeared in such panned fare as the Quentin Tarantino parody "The Ridiculous 6," and the "Grown Ups" films — the first of which was likened by The Telegraph to "being sat on by all your least favorite school bullies."

In the words of Homer Simpson, "I'm like David Spade without Chris Farley: alone and useless." While that summation is pretty cruel, there's a kernel of truth to it: Farley was, after all, Spade's right-hand man, and ever since his friend's tragic death, he's struggled to make a major name for himself as a solo star.

In 2019, Spade attempted to revive his television career with the talk show, "Lights Out with David Spade," which the actor had excessively hyped on Instagram. Alas, it was canceled after one season. Nevertheless, Spade has been able to poke fun at his declining career. "Listen, I just saw myself in 'The Wrong Missy' and went, 'Oof I am no prize, Jesus,'" he quipped to Page Six. "So I've got to call Kylie Jenner and get all her people and really fix me up."

Melissa Joan Hart and those God-fearing flicks

As the spellbinding star of classic '90s sitcom "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," Melissa Joan Hart seemed destined for great things. Sadly, the actor went from bewitching sweetheart to plain bewildering. It's been a hot minute since she was hanging with her kooky aunts and sassy feline BFF, Salem. These days, she has lent her name to less-than-acclaimed fare. 

In 2016, she starred in "God's Not Dead 2," which was heavily criticized for promoting the notion of Christian persecution within the United States. Hart made matters worse by uttering some ill-advised statements to Blaze Media, in which she claimed that she herself was being persecuted for appearing in pro-Christian films. "I was ready day one for the persecution for this one, the spiritual warfare," she said.

Outside the realm of God-fearing flicks, she was given another shot at the sitcom format, with little success. "Melissa & Joey" failed to reach the heights of her past glory and, more recently, she starred in the Netflix con-artist comedy, "No Good Nick," which was canceled after one season. Away from the small screen, Hart has dipped her toes into politics, joining Libertarian Gary Johnson on the campaign trail during the 2016 presidential election, per People. Suffice to say, Johnson didn't make it to the oval office, which wasn't helped by his infamous admission: "What is Aleppo?"

Charlie Sheen: no longer a hot shot

Once flying high due to the success of "Two and a Half Men," Charlie Sheen killed his career with numerous outlandish statements and indiscretions. In 2011, he was infamously accused of "borderline antisemitism" following a controversial dig against the sitcom's creator, Chuck Lorre. He then later attempted to justify his choice of language by claiming that he himself is Jewish (allegedly, he's not). Unsurprisingly, he was fired following the outburst. In the aftermath of his dismissal, he launched an attack on co-star Jon Cryer, branding him "a turncoat, a traitor, a troll" in an interview with E! News.

He may have been axed, but that didn't stop Sheen from seemingly exhibiting delusions of grandeur: who can forget those "winning" rants? Reflecting on his admittedly bizarre behavior, he told Yahoo! Entertainment, "People have [said to] me, 'Hey, man, that was so cool, that was so fun to watch' ... My thought behind that is, 'Oh, yeah, great. I'm so glad that I traded early retirement for a f***ing hashtag.'" Well, he has a point. Except, he isn't even a Twitter hashtag anymore.

After "Men," he snagged the heavily panned "Anger Management," where Sheen was accused of bullying his co-star, Selma Blair, per Deadline. In further attempts to rejuvenate his ailing stardom, he has attempted to latch onto the A-listers of today, including an unprovoked Twitter tirade against Rihanna, in which he claimed that she deemed herself too good to dine with his kind. 

Danny Masterson won't be working again any time soon

Steven Hyde was the rebel of "That '70s Show," always ready to take on "the man" with his acerbic wit. It remains the role that Danny Masterson is best known for, though he did team up with his co-star and IRL pal, Ashton Kutcher, for "The Ranch" in 2016. His time on the latter show abruptly came to an end, however, when Masterson was accused of sexual assault by multiple women, per Deadline.

Facing a criminal trial for several rape accusations at the time of this writing, Masterson has had a mighty fall from the top. Insiders claimed he was using his fame within Scientology to subvert the course of justice, per the Los Angeles Times. His accusers argue that Masterson utilized his power and connections with the organization in an effort to silence them. As reported by TMZ, he is accused of having employed Scientology agents to terrorize, stalk, and threaten alleged victims, with one of the women claiming that he was responsible for killing her dog. However, both Masterson and the Church deny these claims, per People.

At the time of Masterson's initial court hearing, Hyde hadn't been quoted in a hot minute and the actor is now known as an alleged abuser as opposed to a sitcom star. As he awaits his August 2022 trial, Masterson's showbiz career fades further into obscurity.

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).

Not everybody loves Patricia Heaton

Patricia Heaton may have played compassionate, doting moms on "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "The Middle," but her controversial IRL remarks of recent years would make Frankie Heck recoil in horror. In 2006, after "Everybody Loves Raymond" ended, Heaton set her sights on unwittingly slamming one of America's most beloved stars, Michael J. Fox. 

When Fox released an ad supporting stem cell research, which is believed to be helpful in treating Parkinson's Disease, Heaton lent her name to an anti-stem cell research ad, per Fox News. As The New York Times highlights, Heaton's remarks in the ad appeared to be a direct attack on the "Back to the Future" star, and seemed comparable to Rush Limbaugh's erroneous claim that the actor was "faking his symptoms for sympathy." Heaton told the outlet that she never intended to upset Fox.

Be that as it may, Heaton has become renowned for her controversial political views, as opposed to her acting career. In 2012, for instance, she launched a scathing attack on feminist activist Sandra Fluke, who advocated that birth control should be covered by medical insurance. Per The Daily Beast, Heaton suggested that if Fluke wanted subsidized birth control, she would also want taxpayers to fund her "Starbucks, movie theater tickets" and "KFC." She later apologized on Twitter, but suffice to say, Heaton's career has been on a steady decline since.

Roseanne has lost her seat at the table

The original "Roseanne" series was groundbreaking. Rather than depicting comfortable middle class families, it showed the real lived experiences of many working class people struggling to make ends meet. As the sitcom's star and co-creator, Roseanne Barr also covered many other sensitive issues, such as abortion and gay marriage, as noted by The Atlantic.

Back in 2018, things were going well for the comedian, whose eponymous sitcom had been rebooted to rave reviews. The bubble burst, however, after Barr decided to post a "racist tweet," supposedly while on the tranquilizer Ambien, per NPR. Needless to say, the reboot was axed, though later rebranded as "The Connors." Symbolically, the character was killed off in the latter series. As The Daily Beast points out, Barr's "politics have taken a sharp turn right" since the '90s, with her embracing the MAGA cap and propagating QAnon conspiracies. Once upon a time, however, her beliefs were quite different. Famously, she was even a passionate supporter of the Occupy Wall Street protesters in 2011, per The Guardian.

In an interview with The Washington Post, the star refused to accept responsibility for her descent to the Z-list and instead blamed co-star Sara Gilbert's Twitter condemnation of her comments. "She destroyed the show and my life with that tweet," Barr said. "She will never get enough until she consumes my liver with a fine Chianti." After all of that, we imagine there might not be many more roles for Roseanne on the horizon.

If you or a loved one has experienced a hate crime, contact the VictimConnect Hotline by phone at 1-855-4-VICTIM or by chat for more information or assistance in locating services to help. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

Michael Richards can't revive his '90s glory

As Cosmo Kramer on "Seinfeld," Michael Richards embodied the sole empath in a group of thoroughly self-serving characters. With his eccentric tics and grand schemes that never quite came to fruition, Kramer was a much-loved character. But life doesn't always imitate art. Kramer may have had a propensity to fall down, but that was nothing compared to the comedian's downfall.

In 2006, a disastrous stand-up routine at the Laugh Factory culminated in Richards performing a foul-mouthed "racist tirade," per TMZ. The comic was subsequently canceled before cancel culture was even a thing. During his rant, an audience member pointed out that Richards is "a reject" and that's why he "never had no shows, never had no movies — 'Seinfeld,' that's it" to which Richards jokingly copped to being a "wash-up," per video footage published by the outlet. 

With the encouragement of Jerry Seinfeld, he appeared on "The Late Show with David Letterman" to apologize for his expletive-ridden rant. "I'm deeply, deeply sorry," he said. "... I'm not a racist. That's what's so insane about this." Regardless, Richards soon found himself relegated to Z-list jail, though there have been attempts to revive his career, including an appearance in Season 7 of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," wherein he parodied his apparent racist persona. Still, Hollywood seemingly doesn't want him anymore, and Cosmo may have faded into the cosmos.

Stacey Dash's Hollywood dreams were ... dashed

In the '90s, Stacey Dash portrayed Dionne Davenport — Cher Horowitz's BFF in "Clueless" and the sitcom spinoff — with zeal and perfect Valley Girl diction. Now, she uses her fame as a platform to voice her right-wing views. There's just one problem: she's no longer famous.

After a slew of minor roles, Dash embarked on a career as a Fox News pundit, though she was suspended in 2015 for making what the network termed "completely inappropriate and unacceptable" comments about Barack Obama, per CNN. Later, she tried to rekindle her Hollywood dreams. Per The Hollywood Reporter, attempts to secure funding for controversial anti-abortion film "Roe v. Wade" were initially troubled in 2018. Two years later, the film was finally released to scathing reviews. Dash's career prospects probably weren't helped by the fact that, as The New York Times points out, the film attacks liberal Hollywood as supposedly being part of "a mercenary anti-Catholic conspiracy."

As Dash struggles to reclaim her stardom, she's butting heads with stars who are actually still famous. Writing for Patheos, she launched a scathing attack on Leonardo DiCaprio and questioned the legitimacy of climate science. "He reminds me of Chicken Little, the bird who ran around the neighborhood and disturbed everyone 'with her foolish alarm,'" she said of the "Revenant" star. Although she apologized for her various offensive remarks in a 2021 interview with the Daily Mail, her hopes of a career revival are ... dashed.

Kirstie Alley's various failed ventures

Kirstie Alley is best remembered as the glam but hopeless-in-love girlboss Rebecca Howe on "Cheers." Though she appeared to be in control, Rebecca turned out to be messy, making poor choices in both her professional and personal life (her goal was to marry Donald Trump). Alas, Alley's life ended up paralleling Rebecca's, as she struggled to maintain steady work as an actor. 

She has attempted to revive her career with numerous ill-fated forays into sitcoms and reality TV (lest we forget "Kirstie Alley's Big Life”), but the '80s darling simply isn't famous anymore. Incidentally, she landed an eponymous sitcom in 2013, which featured similarly lapsed sitcom star Michael Richards. That show was also canceled after one season, per Deadline. Her downfall probably wasn't helped by Alley's frequent public feuds, either. In 2013, the devout Scientologist slammed former Scientologist and erstwhile "Cheers" co-star Leah Remini as a "bigot" for criticizing the controversial religion. 

Moreover, she got into hot water over her insensitive comments on Twitter regarding the death of renowned scientist Stephen Hawking, for which she wrote, "You had a good go at it ... thanks for your input," per Page SixSnopes called the tweet "too absurd to be true, and yet ..." The good news is that Alley's former co-star, Kelsey Grammer, is currently in the midst of rebooting "Frasier." The bad news is Alley allegedly turned down guest spots on the original series due to Scientology's opposition to psychiatry, according to Ranker.

Joey Lawrence is struggling for work

Back in the '90s, Joey Lawrence was one of the hottest stars of the sitcom world thanks to "Blossom." As Joey Russo, he was equal parts teen heartthrob and budding himbo, and responsible for the catchphrase "Whoa!"

Since then, Lawrence has found himself in the direct-to-video aisle, though reality TV has also been his staple for the past two decades. In 2006, he came third in Season 3 of "Dancing With the Stars," though he declined to appear in the show's all-star spinoff, per People. In 2010, there was hopes of him reviving his sitcom career when he was cast alongside fellow faded sitcom star Melissa Joan Hart in "Melissa & Joey." Despite mixed reviews, it impressively (and impossibly) ran for four seasons

Even Peter Griffin was onto Lawrence's downward spiral. In an episode of "Family Guy," he asked an animated version of the star, "What would you think if I told you that Blossom would completely drop out of show business to get a PhD in neuroscience and then come back and make $15 million a year, while you would work steadily for 20 years, lose all your hair and go bankrupt?" Whoa! While we're unsure what Lawrence did to rouse such animosity from the "Family Guy" writers, there is some truth to their invective. In 2018, The Blast reported that Lawrence had filed for bankruptcy, with the actor claiming that he had a mere "$60 dollars in cash and $8,000 in the bank."

Can a tell-all revive Matthew Perry's career?

Along with his five "Friends" co-stars, Matthew Perry became a household name in the '90s and early 2000s. While Jennifer Aniston was able to become America's sweetheart, making the difficult transition from TV to the big screen, the actor struggled to adapt to life after Central Perk.

All of his post-"Friends" sitcoms have been flops. His 2006 dramedy "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" received generally positive reviews, but audiences were disinterested, and it was canceled after one season, per The Guardian. Conversely, his attempts to reboot "The Odd Couple" in 2015 had the opposite issue: it received negative reviews, but run for three seasons before being axed. The main problem, it seemed, is that the man we associate with Chandler Bing is more finicky Felix Unger than grouchy Oscar Madison. The Boston Herald even argued that "Matthew Perry ... might just be the weakest Oscar of any version." Could he be any less Oscar?

Throughout the years, Perry has sadly also struggled with substance use. In an effort to help others, he opened an addiction treatment center, per The Hollywood Reporter. "I've had a lot of ups and downs ... but the best thing about me is that if an alcoholic comes up to me and says, 'Will you help me stop drinking?' I will say, 'Yes. I know how to do that,'" he told the outlet. Having completed his memoir in early 2022, perhaps Perry can finally breathe new life into his faltering career.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Zach Braff is more famous for his love life

Zach Braff was unforgettable as nice guy, fresh-faced medic J.D. on the 2000s sitcom "Scrubs." Although the show was known for its offbeat, zany brand of humor, Braff also exhibited his serious acting chops (to critical acclaim) during some of the series' more harrowing plotlines (Season 8's "My Last Words" being particularly devastating). 

In addition to the popular sitcom, Braff wrote, directed, and starred in indie gem "Garden State" in 2004. Undoubtedly, this was the peak of Braff's career. Although he has had smaller roles in numerous other films and TV shows, nothing has quite compared to his 2000s splendor. In fact, he pretty much hasn't acted in a major production since 2018. As The Washington Post highlights, the actor should have found himself in the Hollywood big leagues after "Garden State," but it never happened. This, Braff told the outlet, "humbled" his ego. "I know I haven't been able to make a movie in 10 years, but I've tried. They just all fell apart," he added.

This decline in fame hasn't stopped his name from being plastered all over gossip sites, however. Having dated British star Florence Pugh, who is 21 years his junior, since 2019, Braff is now sadly best known for his love life as opposed to his acting career. In an interview with The Times, Pugh name-dropped her beau several times, defending Braff against online trolls and keeping him relevant despite his fading stardom.