Tattoos are forever – unless you want to go through the painful and expensive process of removing them, or covering them up with something else entirely. One of the cardinal rules of getting a tattoo is not to get something with your SO’s name.
What if things go south? You’re stuck with a permanent reminder of a past relationship and having someone else’s name inked on your body is definitely a mood-killer when you’re dating someone else.
Of course, we all make mistakes, and this is another instance of when celebrities are just like us! Many of them have bought tattoos to commemorate a fiancé(e), husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend. Even when they’ve been together for almost 20 years, if things don’t work out, that tattoo has got to go!
Fortunately, we have photographic proof of their past mistakes! These 20 celebrities are here to show you that even they make mistakes, and covering up or removing something that had a negative impact on you is always a good thing.
After all, love might not last forever, but tattoos definitely do.
20 Adrienne Bailon’s Televised “Rob” Removal
Way back when, once upon a time, actress and Cheetah Girl Adrienne Bailon was in a relationship with Rob Kardashian. Turns out, this was the first of a series of messy breakups for him, but it left Adrienne with actual scars!
Tattooed right on her rear end, Adrienne got inked with Rob’s full name, with a swirly mess of black all around it. The NY Daily News reports that she said it's "not my favourite tattoo and that's the one I definitely want to get removed."
Naturally, as most tattooed relationships go, the pair split, and Adrienne tried not once, not twice, but THREE times before she was able to have the tattoo successfully removed! Of course, the final removal was televised, proving she at least learned something from her relationship with Rob!
19 Angelina Jolie’s “Billy Bob”
Angelina Jolie already had the dragon inked on her bicep, but once she got involved with actor Billy Bob Thornton after they met on the set of the movie Pushing Tin, she decided to add his name above it. Look, there whole relationship was a mess, from carrying matching vials of blood around their necks to gratuitous red carpet make-out sessions.
Female First reports Angelina admitting her mistake, saying, "I'll never be stupid enough to have a man's name tattooed on me again."
18 Khloe Kardashian Got His Initials
After knowing each other for only a month, Khloe Kardashian wed NBA player Lamar Odom, and that relationship was quickly chronicled on Keeping Up With the Kardashians and their own show, Khloe & Lamar.
Since they rushed into the relationship so quickly, of course they got matching tattoos, too!
The pair got each other's initials inked on their hands but Khloe, after finalizing the divorce in 2016, quietly removed her ex from her skin. Lamar, on the other hand (literally), did not. (Khloe also removed an ill-conceived “Daddy” tattoo on her lower back, which she got when she was 16.)
17 Denise Richards’s “Charlie”
Her relationship with actor Charlie Sheen was a volatile one, especially towards the end, but there was a time when actress Denise Richards loved the troubled star enough to get his name permanently inked on her ankle.
Or, not so permanently, as it were.
Rather than go through the painful process of laser removal, Denise chose to cover up the cursive name with a drawing of a fairy, the name hidden in the wings.
Famous tattoo artist Kat von D did it for her, Business Insider reports. The feeling was mutual: Charlie ended up replacing Denise’s name on his body with his catchphrase, “Winning”.
16 Eva Longoria’s Number
A relationship that fails due to infidelity is one of the most humiliating experiences a person can endure, but that shame and humiliation increase when you have to deal with the fact that you not only have one tattoo dedicated to your lying ex, but three!
This was the case for Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria, who had ex-husband Tony Parker’s jersey number “nine” on the back of her neck, their wedding date in Roman numerals on her wrist, and his initials in an "undisclosed location," Business Insider reports. She had all three removed.
15 Heidi Klum’s Swirly “Seal”
For all of her fashion expertise, you’d think model Heidi Klum would’ve had a nicer tattoo, considering it was in such a visible place - on her arm! Back when Heidi was married to singer Seal, she got his name inked on her body, along with four stars to represent her four children (three of whom she had with the singer).
The couple were married for seven years before separating, which might seem long enough to get a tattoo commemorating the relationship, but not so fast! They divorced officially in 2014 and Heidi swiftly began removing her ex’s name from her body. Fortunately, she’s kept the four stars representing her kids, which we thought was the cutest part anyway.
14 Blac Chyna Replaced “Future”
It’s difficult to remember when Blac Chyna wasn’t involved in the Kardashian circle, but the girl definitely has trouble when it comes to relationships! Before Rob Kardashian, Chyna was involved with Kylie Jenner’s ex Tyga, with whom she shares a son, King. Then came Future, a rapper who was later linked to singer Ciara, and he had enough of an impact for Chyna to get his name inked on the side of her hand (she had “King” tattooed on the other).
Of course, things didn’t last, and Chyna got Future’s name removed and replaced with that of her daughter with Rob, “Dream,” as TMZ reports.
13 Nick Cannon’s Gigantic “Mariah”
If you’re going to get a massive tattoo, it’s probably not a good idea for it to be the name of your partner, just in case things go south and you’re left with a giant, expensive mistake. Too bad Nick Cannon didn’t get the memo!
Before the split was even official, Nick stepped out showing off a gigantic crucifix and dove tattoo that covered up the letters “MARIAH” which had been on his back. Two could play at that game, though! Mariah previously had a butterfly on her lower back with his full name as the body. After their split, the name was covered up.
12 Amber Rose’s Portrait
Going one step further than inking a partner’s name on your body definitely has to be getting their entire face! Amber Rose isn’t a newcomer to the tattoo world, but we still question her judgment that she thought it was a good idea to get ex Wiz Khalifa’s visage tattooed on her arm, despite the fact that the two were only married for 14 months!
A year after the divorce was finalized, Amber covered the tattoo with something a lot cooler and way more memorable: a portrait of Slash, the famed guitarist from the band Guns N' Roses, as Business Insider reports! As far as cover-up art goes, this one was pretty amazing!
11 Iggy Azalea’s X-ed Out “A$AP”
Rapper Iggy Azalea took a two-pronged approach when she had to deal with some unwanted ink. Prior to splitting up with rapper A$AP Rocky in 2012, Iggy had “LIVE”, “LOVE”, “A$AP” inked on her fingers (the title of the rapper’s breakthrough mixtape). When they broke up, she decided simpler was better, and simply had a giant “X” tattooed over A$AP’s name, as MTV reports.
However, love came calling again, and simply x-ing out her ex wasn’t good enough when she became engaged to NBA player Nick Young, so she began removing the tattoos altogether. Alas, this wasn’t to be either, as a video was released of Nick bragging about cheating on Iggy, and the two soon split.
10 Jhené Aiko’s Mini Big Sean
Another portrait (and not the last on this list), this was one of the most recent on our list! After about a year of dating, singer Jhené Aiko revealed a tattoo of then-boyfriend (and Ariana Grande's ex), rapper Big Sean in October 2017.
A year later, the image of the rapper was nowhere to be seen, covered up in a gigantic celestial tattoo of stars, planets, and galaxies.
Although Jhené had said that there was no beef between the couple, as Complex reports, the couple unfollowed each other on Instagram and Jhené’s new music points to a breakup, so we’re calling this one.
9 Johnny Depp’s Knuckle Tat
Johnny Depp appears twice on this list, and both times he’s gotten inked with a lady love’s moniker, well, he's had to use interesting ways of altering them after things went downhill.
First up, we have ex-wife Amber Heard. Johnny got his knuckles tatted with her nickname, “Slim”, which added to his ever-growing collection of ink. However, amid a contentious breakup, threats and rumours, he later had the “L” and “I” altered just enough so that the new knuckle phrase was “Scum,” Business Insider reports.
8 Kaley Cuoco’s Roman Numerals
Another case of Roman numerals being removed or replaced after a tough divorce, we have the back of Big Bang Theory actress Kaley Cuoco.
Kaley got the numerals for the date of her wedding to former tennis pro Ryan Sweeting, but the couple split up 21 months later, and so she was forced to either get rid of it altogether or cover it up.
As Allure reports, Kaley chose the latter, posting on her Instagram, “Note to self – do not mark your body with any future wedding dates.” She chose an intricate drawing of a moth to camouflage the ink, for the most relatable reason ever: “It was big enough to cover the numbers.”
7 Russell Brand’s Sanskrit Quote
Matching couple tattoos might sound cute in theory and all, but if you break up and one chooses to get it removed, what happens to the tattoo on the other person?
That was the case for comedian Russell Brand, whose wedding to pop star Katy Perry was marked by the matching ink of a phrase in Sanskrit, meaning “go with the flow,”
as The Huffington Post reports. The choice of language was special for the couple, who were married in India. However, after 14 months together, they split – via a New Year’s Eve text from Russell to Katy, as Us magazine reports – and the comedian decided to remove the tattoo just a few months later in 2012. Katy still has hers.
6 Zayn’s Perrie Portrait
It’s hard to imagine a time when Zayn Malick and Gigi Hadid weren’t together, sharing loved-up photos on their Instagram accounts, but there was a time when Zayn was involved with another beautiful blonde: Perrie Edwards, of the British girl band Little Mix.
In 2013, the former One Direction stud got a drawing of his then-girlfriend inked on his bicep, but a year after they broke up, the tattoo appeared to be totally covered up. As Mirror reports, in a Snapchat posted by Gigi, Zayn’s arm was visible. But the tattoo had disappeared under a darker imager of something else! Zayn hasn’t yet learned his lesson about keeping relationships and tattoos separate, however: he has Gigi’s eyes inked on his chest!
5 Melanie Griffith’s Broken Heart
An almost-20-year marriage seems like a safe enough bet to get permanently inked with your husband’s name, right? Yeah, tell that to Melanie Griffith!
Despite being with actor Antonio Banderas since 1996, the actress decided to remove her very visible heart tattoo that featured her husband’s name on her arm. Before the ink was completely removed, she made a pretty bold statement by walking the red carpet with his name erased with makeup, the heart still visible, as Us reports. Another time, she covered Antonio’s name with her own, as confirmed by E! News. Finally, the whole thing was removed, name, heart and all.
4 Johnny Depp’s Unfinished Business
The second time we find Johnny Depp on this list, this tattoo fail may be the most memorable. While on the set of the movie Edward Scissorhands, Johnny and actress Winona Ryder met and fell in love. Five months later, the actor got a tattoo reading “Winona Forever” on his upper right arm.
Alas, by 1993, the pair had split, and so Johnny got creative when it came to covering up the failed romance: he removed three letters, so that the ink now reads “Wino Forever”! Hey, considering the dude is rumoured to spend $30k a month on wine, as The Telegraph reports, we think it suits him!
3 Pete Davidson’s Cartoon Cazzie
Pete Davidson has a lot of tattoos, few of them good, many of them bad decisions. Case in point: this doodled cartoon drawing of ex-girlfriend Cazzie David. Pete has been open about his struggles with borderline personality disorder (BPD), which is known to affect impulse control, so we can understand some of his decisions, but this tattoo is just not a good one.
Prior to his very public relationship with Ariana Grande, Pete decided to say goodbye to his relationship with Cazzie for good, removing her sketched visage from his arm and replacing it with a dense black forest instead.
2 Ariana Grande’s Ex Replacement
When last we counted, Ariana Grande had six tattoos in honour of her now-ex, Pete Davidson: a cloud on her middle finger, the word “reborn” on her thumb, the abbreviation “H2GKMO” on her hand, the word “always” on her ribcage, the name “Pete” on her ring finger and the numbers “8418” on her foot, in tribute to Pete’s father, a firefighter who died in 9/11.
While she’s been slowly working through removing or covering up all of them, as Mirror reports, the last one is noteworthy because it was covered by a tribute to another ex: the late Mac Miller. The name “Myron” covers the numbers, and is the name of the dog the former couple shared.
1 Pete Davidson’s Bunny Ears
Pete Davidson has a whopping 10 spots on his body that he inked in honour of his ex-fiancée, Ariana Grande! One of the most recognizable is the tiny bunny ears behind his own ear, which is a shout-out to Ariana’s famous “Dangerous Woman” look.
Since the split, however, Pete has covered up the ink with a large black heart – and a lowercase letter “a.”
No word on whether or not it’s still representative of Ariana, or if he’ll slowly work on covering up the rest of his impulsive tattoos he got as a tribute to her, but this cover-up is at least less obvious?
References: NY Daily News, Female First, Business Insider, TMZ, MTV, Allure