Reality television stars are a strange breed of famous. On the one hand, they’re constantly splashed across the tabloids and they sometimes get a fair chunk of money for appearing on their show, or for winning their season of whatever show they’re on. People know their name. However, they never quite reach the level of fame that red carpet A-Listers have – unless, of course, they manage to take their 15 minutes of reality fame and transform that into a larger career.
While some former reality television stars have gone on to have successful careers in the entertainment industry or their chosen field, there’s an equal majority who were destroyed by the fleeting fame. Some got addicted to being in the spotlight and did increasingly crazy things to get a little attention. For others, their fame meant that cameras and paparazzi captured less than favorable things they did or said.
There’s no doubt about it –catfights, screaming matches, and highly offensive statements send television audiences buzzing. We love drama. There are some stars that we love to hate, but others? We just hate, because they cross the line of ‘reality villain’ to ‘just plain awful person.’
Here are 15 reality television stars that were crushed by fame.
15 Teresa Giudice
There are a few members of the Real Housewives reality franchise that have gone on to have successful careers, but for a large majority of them, catfights are their bread and butter – they know that the more drama they instigate, the more likely producers are to keep them on the show. After all, it makes for good television. Teresa Giudice, from The Real Housewives of New Jersey, definitely understood this. In her first season on the show, she became infamous for an incident where she literally rage-flipped a dinner table over. As the seasons went on, she appeared to be increasingly desperate to stay in the spotlight, no matter the cost. Her not-so-happy ending? A stint in prison for bankruptcy, mail and wire fraud.
14 Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino
Most of the Jersey Shore cast had loud, larger than life personalities. They fist-pumped, partied all night, and got into loud yelling fights. However, at the end of the day, stars like Pauly D and Snooki emerged relatively unscathed – they went on to have happy post-show lives. This isn’t the case with The Sitch. Sorrentino got increasingly irritating as the seasons went on, as he began to think he was a huge hot shot. His over-confidence soon turned to aggressive arrogance, and he seemed determined to make his castmates miserable, most notably the pint sized meatball Snooki. The Sitch did everything he could to break up Snooki and her then-boyfriend, now father of her children, Jionni. Now, while she’s often in the tabloids for positive reasons, he’s faded into obscurity post-show.
13 Heidi Montag
Once upon a time, Heidi Montag was a cute, average girl from Colorado who moved to the big city of Los Angeles to pursue her dreams. She was besties with Lauren Conrad and appeared on Laguna Beach before becoming one of the stars on The Hills. While LC, a native California girl, eventually matured and went on to great success running a lifestyle-based website, Montag couldn’t quite take the fame. She became determined to get the biggest piece of the fame pie, regardless of what behavior was necessary to get it – drama, fighting, lying, anything. After The Hills, she also appeared on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, Famous Food, and Celebrity Big Brother. When her appearances on television weren’t enough to keep her on the front page, she decided to alter her appearance itself, going under the knife for an astounding ten plastic surgery procedures in one day.
12 Farrah Abraham
Teen moms can go on to have normal family lives and raise children with great values who turn out to be successes. However, that doesn’t exactly make thrilling television – moms who can’t keep it together and are always screwing up does, and that’s exactly the type of teen moms who get on MTV’s infamous reality television series. Farrah Abraham got thrust into the spotlight on Teen Mom and quickly became addicted to the fame. After getting plastic surgery to stay in the spotlight, she took things even further by going on to star in an adult video with adult film star James Deen. The title? Backdoor Teen Mom. Abraham tried to play coy, saying it was a private movie that got leaked, but her co-star was clear that it was definitely planned.
11 Amber Portwood
Farrah Abraham definitely hasn’t been the best role model for her daughter, but at least she can say she’s never yet been to prison – something that fellow Teen Mom star Amber Portwood can’t. Many of the moms on the reality series have partners that aren’t exactly going to win father of the year, but Portwood’s relationship with partner Gary basically set a new standard for toxic teen parents. They were constantly fighting, even in front of their daughter. She hit a whole new low when it was announced that Portwood was facing prison time. Her five year prison sentence was soon front page tabloid news. After serving a little over a year of that sentence, Amber was released for good behavior. One can only hope the time away from her toxic relationship and hidden away from the public eye gave her a chance to reflect on her decisions.
10 Spencer Pratt
When your partner is self-made Barbie Heidi Montag, and people still wonder who the more annoying and obnoxious one in the relationship is, you know you’ve hit a low. Spencer Pratt has weaseled his way onto an astonishing amount of reality shows, considering he seems to have done nothing with his life to merit that kind of fame. He first hit small screens on The Prince of Malibu and gained even more notoriety as Heidi’s drama-creating other half on The Hills. Not content, he went on to also star on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, Celebrity Big Brother, and Marriage Boot Camp. From relationships drama to financial troubles, Pratt seems willing to do anything to earn a spot on the tabloids’ radar. Pssst, Spencer – they say all press is good press, but this kind of behavior isn’t exactly what they meant.
9 Courtney Robertson
There have been so many contestants on The Bachelor that even the most dedicated fan probably doesn’t know most of them a year or two after their season has concluded. Sure, we know the girls who made it to the finale – but number twenty two? Not exactly super memorable. When you manage to stand out from the pack, it’s either because you rose above the drama and just completely charmed audiences, or because you were insane. In Robertson’s case, it’s definitely the latter. Robertson was on bachelor Ben Flajnik’s season, and though she was possibly the most hated female contestant in the show’s entire series (both by the girls in the house and by audiences watching), she got her man and her proposal. However, they only made it a few months after the finale, and never took that walk down the aisle. Robertson eventually tried to extend her 15 minutes of fame by penning a book, entitled I Didn’t Come Here to Make Friends: Confessions of a Reality Show Villain.
8 Jonathan Baker
Reality series The Amazing Race has had a lot of diverse, interesting contestants. The people who audition for the show generally want a shot at the money, sure, but they also want a chance to see the world and form great memories. They tend to be a slightly different demographic than many other shows. However, the occasional scum still sneaks in – and Baker is proof of that. He appeared on the sixth season and has since been remembered as the guy who was awful to his then-wife, Victoria Fuller. He constantly yelled at her, blamed every mistake on her, and even handled her roughly physically at some point. His behavior alarmed both audiences at home and others on cast, and he even got warnings from others on show, including host Phil himself. Thankfully the duo eventually split, but Baker will always be one of the most hated cast members in the history of that show.
7 Danielle Staub
The New Jersey housewives are some of the most dramatic in the Housewives franchise, and Danielle Staub is probably one of the most notoriously hated. She absolutely thrives off drama and did anything she could to stir up the pot, regardless of what the consequences were. She was also a pretty shoddy mother to her teen daughters, often making sure she came first, not her children – an attitude that very few mothers take. She’s desperately tried to regain some of her former fame after leaving the show, but everyone was glad to get her off their screens.
6 Johnny Fairplay
In the game of Survivor, manipulation and shrewd game play is both valued and rewarded. The audience absolutely loves a cast member who outwits his or her fellow players, doing double-deals and executing ruthless blindsides. However, John Dalton – who nicknamed himself ‘Johnny Fairplay’ – took things to another level. In a move that’s since become infamous in reality television history, he lied about his grandmother dying in order to get a bit of extra screen time and some sympathy. Everyone found out once the show aired, as he laughed it off in his solo interviews, but honestly – who on earth does that?
5 Courtney Stodden
Even if you don’t know Courtney Stodden by name, you likely know her as that weird blonde with the huge implants who married a guy several decades her senior. She got her first taste of fame when, at the age of 16, she married 51 year old actor Doug Hutchison. She’s posed in next to nothing so many times that the public has grown positively bored, and even snagged a spot for her and her hubby on Couples Therapy. She’s done absolutely nothing to merit any level of fame, and people are quickly growing very tired of her.
4 Jenelle Evans
Another Teen Mom gone bad – surprise, surprise. Evans battled her demons with drugs and was often not exactly an ideal parent to her child. However, she earned her spot as one of the most hated due to one particularly stupid, selfish decisions. Back in 2012, Jenelle is offered two options after some drug drama – a quick 16 day period behind bars, or a year of probation and drug tests. Sure, the latter is more work, but it’d allow her to stay with her child. She was leaning towards the former option, merely because she might miss an important Ke$ha concert. Priorities not exactly in check, girl. She’s since been in and out of jail and in trouble for everything from domestic alliance to drug issues.
3 Colton Cumbie
Cumbie introduced himself to Survivor: One World audiences as a homosexual man from the conservative South. However, he soon became a huge pile of contradictions. Despite saying he had been treated poorly due to his sexuality growing up, he almost immediately shared beliefs that were extremely racist and just plain hateful. Even when prodded and asked to defend his appalling statements, he just dug himself deeper by saying worse things. The Survivor powers to be rewarded his despicable behavior by inviting him back for another season. Sure, drama makes for good television, but really? That kind of behavior should be discouraged, not encouraged by giving the offensive individual another shot at a huge pot of money.
2 Josh Duggar
If he had been a normal guy, Josh Duggar’s serious offenses may have gone unnoticed to anyone but his immediate friends, family, and law enforcement professionals. Since he was part of the infamous Duggar clan on 19 Kids and Counting, however, his crimes were quickly front page tabloid news. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Duggar has gotten into a lot of hot water for sexually abusing five young children when he was between 14 and 15 years old, including his own sisters. He had to resign from various positions and TLC canceled the show due to all the controversy.
1 Ryan De Nino
Chances are, no one will remember Ryan De Nino’s name a year from now, but he’s currently fresh in people’s minds as the season finale for Married at First Sight, the reality show that Ryan was on, just recently aired. De Nino managed to get through all the screening tests and get paired with a poor, unsuspecting woman. Things didn’t just go bad – they went really bad. De Nino allegedly threatened her life, and threatened various members of her family. The show had to assign her a security detail to make sure that the threats didn’t escalate to a fatal physical encounter. De Nino immediately secured his spot as one of the most hated reality show stars of all time.