Love Island's Most Controversial Moments

The following article includes mentions of suicide and mental health struggles.

It's "Love Island," baby! This reality show centered around love, drama, and bikinis is one of Britain's most famous exports. The United States has even joined in on the fun with their own spinoff, as well as the original U.K. version being quite popular on Hulu. With over eight successful seasons, the show has become quite a staple in the world of reality dating shows. 

For viewers, that means constant entertainment, but for contestants, it means the stakes have never been higher. With millions watching across the world, one wrong move can destroy your reputation overnight, and for many residents of "Love Island," stepping out of the villa was a brutal wake-up call. Many found their social media pages filled with hateful comments, which made it difficult to go back to their normal lives. 

Being a villain on a show centered around love leaves little room for redemption, but who knew a summer of love could bring this much drama? Like any good reality show, however, "Love Island" has had its fair share of controversial moments. The following are the biggest of them all.

Faye Winter's argument with Teddy Soares caused outrage

The trailer for the first-ever "Movie Night" on "Love Island" promised carnage, and boy, did it deliver. During the episode, Islanders were gathered around a screen that played clips from their time at Casa Amor. One clip in particular featured Teddy Soares confessing a sexual attraction to another girl, which understandably caused Faye Winter, with whom he was coupled, to take as the ultimate betrayal. This revelation was followed by an 8-minute brutal argument that consisted of tears, insults, and allegations. 

As she screamed at the top of her lungs at Soares, fans at home were left uncomfortable and believed the producers should've intervened. Viewers even filed a record-breaking 25,000 formal complaints to Ofcom over Winter's behavior. The organization later cleared her of any wrongdoing, but the damage to her reputation was already done. Since leaving the show, Winter has been open about how harmful the experience has been on her mental health. 

On the "Girls Know Nothing" podcast, Winter emotionally revealed how brutal the comments on her social media pages were. "When you get told enough that your life isn't worth it and you shouldn't be here, that takes its toll. And I was in such a dark place. I've only recently been able to talk about it, because actually, I am still here."

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Maura Higgins stood up to Tom Walker

When Maura Higgins entered the "Love Island" villa in Season 5, it was clear she was there to make a splash. The outspoken Irish model didn't shy away from speaking her mind or owning her sexuality. When she coupled up with Tom Walker, things seemed to be going well ... until they weren't. When the couple was selected to spend the night in The Hideaway (a private, romantic bedroom), things didn't go as planned. Higgins overheard Walker bragging to the other men about what he expected to happen. "It'll be interesting to see if she's all mouth or not," Walker joked to the group of guys. 

Higgins quickly confronted him about the comment and refused to go into The Hideaway with him. "I'm not going to let anyone talk about me like I'm a piece of garbage," she told the other ladies. "He's trying to be a lad out there in front of all the boys. I don't want a lad, I want a gentleman." 

Watching Walker try to awkwardly side-step out of this conflict as the fierce Higgins refused to back down will go down in "Love Island" history.

Anna Vakili's reaction to Jordan Hames' betrayal

Season 5 of "Love Island" was filled with plenty of dramatic moments, but none will compare to Anna Vakili confronting Jordan Hames. After asking Vakili to be his girlfriend two days earlier, Hames then pulled India Reynolds for a chat to confess his feelings for her ... right in front of his girlfriend. Vakili and her girl squad then stormed over to him to confront him for being a liar, a cheater, and a game player. Hames denied any wrongdoing and even claimed Vakili was just being negative. 

"Jordan's gaslighting has me so riled that I want to go into the villa and confront Jordan myself," one fan tweeted. The bizarre move by Hames just days after making Vakili his girlfriend made some viewers question if he was prompted by producers to cause drama. 

A "Love Island" spokesperson denied the claims and told The Sun, "The opinions they have and the relationships formed are completely within the control of the Islanders ­themselves." Vakili's heartbroken reaction prompted fans to induct Hames into the group they dubbed "Destiny's Chaldish."

Amber Gill's emotional rollercoaster with Michael Griffiths

If you thought Sammi Sweetheart and Ronnie Ortiz-Magro's relationship from "The Jersey Shore" was hard to watch, you clearly weren't tuned in to Season 5 of "Love Island" with Amber Gill and Michael Griffiths. Their love story kicked off with stubborn Gill letting her walls down and allowing Griffiths to sweep her off her feet. They had a few bumps in the road, but nothing could prepare Gill (and viewers!) for being blindsided by Griffiths when he decided to recouple with another girl from Casa Amor. 

He delivered a brutal speech that tore Gill to pieces. He even claimed he was never himself while in a couple with her and that he grew tired of her attitude and immaturity. Despite the humiliation, Gill handled the betrayal well, which only seemed to anger him more. In their first conversation after the explosive recoupling, Griffiths didn't apologize for the humiliating speech or truly explain his actions; instead, he accused Gill of raising her voice and became angry that her friends were upset with him. 

Viewers at home recognized his behavior as manipulative and gaslighting. Throughout the season, Griffiths repeatedly targeted Gill with insults and claimed he was over her, only to then wait until she was with another guy to confess he still had feelings for her. What a headache.

Zara Holland lost her crown

After a scene showed her having sex, Zara Holland was stripped of her 2016 Miss Great Britain crown, as the organization stated they could no longer promote Holland as a good role model. "We wholly understand that everyone makes mistakes, but Zara, as an ambassador for Miss Great Britain, simply did not uphold the responsibility expected of the title," the official statement read. 

Holland was told the news off-camera and a source told The Sun that she reacted well. She announced to the villa she had lost her title and mentioned being ashamed of letting her family down. Shortly after, Holland announced she was leaving to be with her mother, who had fallen ill. Since leaving the show, Holland has been open about how "Love Island" has destroyed her life and has called for it to be canceled, after two former cast members died by suicide. 

"That show screwed me up," she told the Daily Mail. "I blame it for everything. ... There have already been two suicides in three series." Caroline Flack, the former host of "Love Island," supported Holland's call for the show's cancelation, before she herself, died by suicide in 2020. In a 2017 interview with BUILD Series LDN, Flack said she felt protective over contestants like Holland. "They ... took her title away without telling her. ... She was in that house all on her own and I think someone needed to be her voice. ... I thought that was very unfair."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

The male contestants were called out for bullying

During Season 8 of "Love Island," Luca Bish and Dami Hope's behavior did not sit well with viewers. Many felt the two repeatedly signaled out Tasha Ghouri, who is deaf. After an explosive game of "Suck or Blow," Ghouri was labeled a game player and accused of riding her boyfriend's coattails. Andrew La Page stuck up for his girlfriend and asked the two boys to leave her alone. 

During a game of "Snog, Marry, Pie" Ghouri was once again targeted. Hope and Bish hit her with pies and more unnecessary insults. After the game, she broke down in tears and told the other people in the villa that the insults cut deep. "When they are going deep in and personal attack on me, it's a completely [different] story," she tearfully said (via The Mirror). Her feelings were quickly disregarded, however, with many of the Islanders claiming she took the game too seriously. 

Viewers were not happy about the men facing no consequences for repeatedly making a contestant cry. "#LoveIsland is all about mental health but are actively allowing Luca and Dami to bully Tasha? I really feel the show is actually getting borderline disgusting and worrying," one viewer tweeted. The non-profit organization, Women's Aid, released a statement condemning the behavior and spoke with "Love Island" producers about the men's behavior. The treatment of Ghouri sparked over 1,500 Ofcom complaints.

The real reason Sherif Lanre was removed from the show

During Season 5, "Love Island" viewers were confused when one cast member seemingly disappeared. Just a little over a week into the show, Sherif Lanre was removed from the villa by producers. At the time, sources told The Sun Lanre was asked to leave: "After breaking the villa rules Sherif had conversations with the producers and it was mutually agreed that he would leave the Love Island villa." 

Without any specific details on the rules he broke, viewers began to speculate on the cause. Months later, the real reason about his removal was revealed. In an interview with The Sun, Lanre confessed that, while play fighting with Molly-Mae Hague, he accidentally kicked her in the groin. "I did kick Molly-Mae in the groin area but it was an accident and she 100 percent was not injured afterwards," he revealed. 

Lanre claimed the two joked about the incident, with him even referring to it as a "c**t punt." The following day, Lanre said he was dragged out of bed by producers and told he had broken the rules of conduct and had to leave. "I was sent home without the chance to pack my bags or say goodbye to the other contestants. I was treated like a criminal over a simple mistake," he explained. Lanre believed the producers' treatment of him consisted of unconscious racism and sexism. He's also been outspoken about producers attempting to make his life extremely difficult.

Jacques O'Neill's disturbing behavior

During his time on the show, Jacques O'Neill raised a lot of eyebrows. While coupled up with Paige Thorne, the often rude and belittling way he spoke to her made viewers uncomfortable. In an attempt to minimize the backlash, his family explained that his disrespectful behavior was due to his ADHD. After cheating on Thorne in Casa Amor, their romance soon began to fizzle and he struggled to win her back. Soon after, O'Neill left the villa, citing struggles with his mental health. "Doing Love Island was the worst decision of my life," he later told The Sun. "I was feeling so mentally drained, I just wanted to go home and get myself right." 

His behavior with Thorne wasn't the only thing to cause controversy. Former contestant Remi Lambert accused O'Neill and Luca Bish of bullying him inside the villa and continuing the behavior online. "Jacques said bad things about my appearance and the way I speak, whilst Luca was encouraging it. After about 3 strikes from Jacques I told him I won't be speaking to him anymore in the villa. Later on he tried apologising to me but like 10 minutes after he started with the snide comments again," Lambert wrote in a since-deleted Instagram caption

After Lambert's post, O'Neill released an apology on his Instagram Story that didn't directly mention Lambert, but he directed it to anyone he's hurt and promised to continue to work on himself (via HuffPost UK).

Adam Collard made a shocking return

Adam Collard first made his "Love Island" appearance on Season 4. His lying, gaslighting, and serial dating ways would soon become infamous. As he continued to chat up girls, dumping them, and making them cry, his misogynistic behavior caused charities like Women's Aid to release statements condemning his behavior and warning others of men similar to him. 

"On the latest series of Love Island, there are clear warning signs in Adam's behaviour. In a relationship, a partner questioning your memory of events, trivialising your thoughts or feelings, and turning things around to blame you can be part of pattern of gaslighting and emotional abuse," the statement read. With controversy like this, it was surprising that "Love Island" producers brought Collard back for Season 8, marking the first time a contestant has returned. 

Women's Aid once again issued a warning, hoping the show's producers would have learned from Collard's past behavior that went unchecked. Rosie Williams, who was brutally dumped by him in Season 4, sent a warning to Paige Thorne, who Collard had his eyes on in the villa. "I actually spoke to whoever is running Paige's social media accounts and said, 'I hope my Welsh sister doesn't do it. Tell her to stay away,'" Williams told The Sun. Ultimately, Collard's appearance on Season 8 showed a more tame and mature version of him, which allowed him to receive a redemption arc.

Yewande Biala called out Lucie Donlan for racism

"Love Island" drama isn't just on the screen, it kicks off on social media, too. Two years after Season 5 aired, behind the scenes drama erupted between Lucie Donlan and Yewande Biala that spilled out onto social media. It started when Donlan responded to an Instagram comment from a fan. "How do you feel about [Yewande] saying you're a horrible person?" they asked. "She's always bullied me, I'm not bothered about her opinion ... makes her look bad. Not sure where she said that though!" Donlan replied (via the Daily Mail). 

Biala took to Twitter to clapback. "You refused to call me by my name because it was too 'hard to pronounce' now you wanna say I bullied you!! Bullied," she tweeted, alongside an angry emoji. Biala's claims were backed up by fellow contestant Amber Rose Gill, who revealed in a tweet that Donlan even asked to call Biala "Y" instead of her full name. 

In a follow-up tweet, Biala went on to describe Donlan's refusal to say her name properly as a microaggression. "It's important to recognize that asking for a nickname can feel invalidating, it makes me feel like an inconvenience," she wrote. Donlan didn't apologize for her actions, but did ask everyone to move on from the situation.

Rachel Finni responded to bullying

In Season 7, Rachel Finni entered a villa that was filled with controversy. Fans on social media made it known that they weren't happy with a cast that lacked diversity. Finni, who was the first Black bombshell and one of only three Black people on the show, had only two guys to select from to immediately couple up with. When the guy she did choose quickly moved on to a new bombshell, Finni was left feeling defeated. "I'm just being realistic ... I think I literally was a placeholder," she tearfully said in a confessional

In a villa lacking diversity, Finni found it difficult to build a connection with anyone and was dumped after only nine days. Once the show wrapped, the mistreatment of her by the men from the show continued. On an Instagram live, the men from her season name-dropped her and made shady comments about her not being a true "bombshell." 

Finni responded to the insults on her Instagram Story and slammed them for constantly disrespecting her. She even expressed regret going on the show, writing (via The Tab), "Today is the first day I've had a feeling of regret when it comes to appearing on the show. Despite everything that happened till now, I still saw the experience as a blessing." The cast members involved in the Instagram live each issued an apology, but Finni believes they were not genuine.

Producers were called out for not taking mental health seriously

After two formers contestants and the former host of "Love Island" died by suicide, viewers began to question if producers were doing enough to address mental health. In an environment where contestants aren't allowed phones or contact with the outside world, it's clear the situation could be stressful for some. Contestants have even opened up about how difficult life after the villa can be.

"You go through anxiety. It can be pretty stressful. And then you go back to your own home, and there's no one really to talk to about what you've been through," former contestant Paul Knops told The Ringer. "It all comes down to dealing with stuff on your own, and not everyone's great at that." Former contestant Coco Lodge revealed her father even called "Love Island" producers when he saw how she was represented on the show and knew that would adversely affect her mental health. 

Former contestant Niall Aslam, who was open about being autistic, told The Independent that "Love Island" producers didn't provide the care he needed in the villa, which led to him having a "psychotic episode." After his stint on the show, he revealed he fell into a depression. Aslam has slammed the team on "Love Island" for not doing enough. In 2019, the producers announced key changes to the after care they will provide contestants on future seasons.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Malia Arkian was kicked off the show

When the voiceover on "Love Island" says "A new bombshell is entering the villa," it's a sign that trouble is about to start. Islanders in a couple immediately begin to panic, and, as the tensions rise, people begin to feel territorial and even give the bombshell the cold shoulder. One bombshell whose time on the show was cut short was Malia Arkian. 

Arkian entered the villa in Season 2, but was quickly removed. As a bombshell, she was able to pick a boy to go on a date with, and she selected Scott Thomas. Kady McDermott, who was coupled up with Thomas, was not pleased. When Arkian entered the villa, things took a turn when McDermott spilled wine on her leg and claimed it was an accident. The two shouted at each other and things turned physical. McDermott alleged she was punched in the face, resulting in a nosebleed, though that was never shown. Arkian has said she regrets her brief time on the show and claimed it ruined her reputation. 

In an interview with Closer, she described the brutal treatment she received after leaving the villa. "Coming home to the UK was horrible — I was trolled relentlessly, and people threw drinks at me on nights out," she revealed. "After one hour of being on TV, I got a reputation as an aggressive and violent person — which just isn't me at all. I was depressed and didn't want to leave the house."

Maura Higgins tried to kiss Tommy Fury

Maura Higgins had plenty of entertaining moments on Season 5 of "Love Island," but there was one moment that fans believed went too far. In a scene with Tommy Fury, (who was coupled up with Molly-Mae Hague) Higgins made her move on him and repeatedly attempted to give him a kiss goodnight. In the clip, Fury dodged her kisses and told her to kiss him on the cheek instead. 

The episode stirred up controversy and more than 700 viewers filed complaints about her actions to Ofcom and described it as sexual harassment. Ofcom dismissed the complaints and a spokesperson said, "While we recognize that many viewers disapproved of a contestant's behavior in this episode, we took into account the context in which it occurred, including the nature of Maura and Tommy's relationship, before and after," per The Independent. 

Since leaving the villa, Higgins has never addressed this controversy, but remains close friends with Fury and Hague.

Producers played with Dani Dyer's emotions

One of the highlights of "Love Island" is Casa Amor. Casa Amor is described as the ultimate test for relationships on the show. Couples are separated for a few days and sent to a different villa. While there, they meet new bombshells of the opposite sex to test their chemistry with. 

For couples, it's already stressful, but it's even worse when the producers are orchestrating more drama. In Season 4, producers dropped a bomb for the ladies in Casa Amor, secretly giving them video clips of what their significant others were doing. While at Casa Amor, Dani Dyer received word that Jack Fincham's ex-girlfriend was with him. The edited short clip misled her to believe that he was romantically pursuing things her, when in fact, he spent his time at Casa Amor expressing his love for Dyer

Clearly overwhelmed and devastated, Dyer broke down in tears. Viewers at home felt like that the producers were being cruel for playing mind games with her. "There's enough drama going on as to not break someone like this. It was unnecessarily cruel and most people seem to be very angry at it, rightfully so," one fan tweeted. Viewers took it a step further and filed 2,600 complaints with Ofcom — though it did not result in an investigation.