Here are the Most Extreme Examples of Good Celebrities Gone Bad

While celebrities are given the luxury to change their look, sound, and behavior throughout their career, they are also subject to the scrutiny they will inevitably receive for their transformations. In a testament to the somewhat sadistic nature of our modern media culture, there appears to be few people who don’t enjoy watching these celebrities shift through their different phases, favoring the all too familiar plot of the “fall and comeback”. We shake our heads at the TV screen, scrutinizing their actions, all the while knowing that being famous is probably the worst. At least when we screw up, the only people whose opinions weigh in are our parents… but for these people, it’s the world.

Okay, that’s enough of the sympathetic introduction. Let’s get to the good stuff. Let’s all admit it, we love watching these stars stumble through their chaotic lives, shifting through phases like a middle-schooler who just joined the goth clique. So behold, a chronological breakdown of the most extreme transformations in celebrity personas.

Justin Bieber

The Teen Star Era (2008-2011)

Discovered in a YouTube video singing Chris Brown’s With You in 2008, Bieber became a near overnight sensation at the tender age of 14. It was clear that the young Canadian had star potential, so Usher jumped to sign him. In 2009, with the release of One Time and Baby, we knew we had a teenage heartthrob on our hands. This was only further confirmed when he started dating Selena Gomez in 2010 (which seemed weird at the time, because he looked like a literal child next to her, but still). This phase culminated with his movie Never Say Never becoming one of the highest-grossing concert movies and successfully turned non-Beliebers into full-fledged fans.

The ‘Mature’ Era (2011-2013)

With a slight drop in his vocal pitch, Bieber kicked off his cute-to-sexy transformation with the release of Boyfriend in 2012. This is when his ginormous audience of teen girls went mad for him. Admittedly, I was in there with them (the Biebs was my desktop background for the larger part of 2012, I’m afraid to report).

The Fall (2013-2015)

It all started with emerging photos of Bieber smoking marijuana at a party in Newport Beach, which was really not that bad. But boy, if only we’d known what was to come. 2013 was not a banner year for the Biebs… here’s how it went down: first he lunged at a photographer in London, then he had his pet monkey seized in Munich for not having the right papers, then he wrote in the guestbook at the Anne Frank House that he hoped she would have been a “Belieber”, then he was seen leaving a brothel with a woman in Rio de Janeiro, then the police raided his home and found marijuana, and finally he was arrested for a DUI and drag racing. Whoa. Did you get all that? Now let’s see how he recovered from all that.

The Comeback (2015-2016)

Bieber’s recovery from all of the controversy started with a Comedy Central Roast in 2015, which was honestly a rather impressive display of maturity (and also entertaining as hell, because we all loved watching him get absolutely destroyed on stage). For the rest of the year, Bieber released banger after banger, ranging from Where Are U Now to What Do You Mean?, and returned to the VMA’s after 5 years with a great performance followed by a tearful apology for his actions. Oh man, he’s good.

The ‘Back On Top’ Era (present)

Today, the Biebs is back and honestly better than ever. With “Despacito” and “I’m The One” making an absolute killing, it seems safe to say that he’s not going anywhere soon.

Amanda Bynes

The Child Star Era (1996- 2002)

Everyone loved young Amanda Bynes. The child star swept into our hearts with her own show, The Amanda Show, that I remember thinking was the funniest thing I had ever seen (I mean dancing lobsters? That’s comedic gold).

The Quiet, Yet Successful, Era (2002-2010)

The 00’s brought a significant amount of exposure and success to Bynes, who got a main role on What I Like About You and went on to make some timeless classics like She’s The Man, Hairspray, and Easy A.

The Beginning of The Fall (2010 – 2012)

This is when things started to get weird. In 2010 she tweeted, “I don’t like acting anymore, so I’ve stopped doing it”, sending her fans into a wave of confusion as to where the dramatics came from. After falling out of the public eye for two years, Bynes reemerged in 2012 with new purple hair and a series of car-related incidents that kicked off with a DUI (although Bynes claimed that the story was false, citing that she’s “allergic to alcohol”). She even tweeted her case to then President Obama, and it was amazing:

The Depths of the Fall (2012- 2016)

It started with Bynes locking herself into dressing rooms and bathrooms for hours on end on multiple occasions. Then she began tweeting bizarre things like the infamous “I want Drake to murder my vagina” and “@rihanna Chris Brown beat you because you’re not pretty enough”. She began sporting a series of colorful wigs, got her cheeks pierced, and was arrested in New York for throwing a bong out the window (which she claimed was a “vase”). Finally, Bynes was placed on an involuntary psychiatric hold after starting a fire in a stranger’s driveway. This was the first of two times Bynes would be involuntarily sent to a treatment facility.

The Comeback Era? (2016-present)

Reemerging in 2016, Bynes is out of rehab and has started taking classes at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. In an interview in 2017, she announced that she is doing well and plans to return to acting after her long hiatus. You can watch the video yourself and decide whether or not you think the star will truly return to her high-profile acting career.

Miley Cyrus

The Hannah Montana Era (2006-2010)

Ah, the good old Hannah Montana days. So fun, so safe, so free of the drugs and twerking that was to come. Being cast in Hannah Montana largely because she was Billy Ray Cyrus’ daughter, Miley swiftly stole the show and became a Disney sensation. But as we all know, Disney can break a star just as easily as they can make a star, and the innocence had to end at some point. We caught a glimpse of a more mature Miley toward the end of her Disney career in 2009, with her “Party in the U.S.A.” video debuting a slightly more sexy look (the bra that poked out of her shirt was practically more talked about that year than the financial crash).

Liam Hemsworth Era (2010-2013)

With the release of their movie, The Last Song, in 2010, rumors of Liam and Miley dating instantly appeared. The stars eventually confirmed that they were together, eventually becoming engaged in 2012. Everything seemed too good to be true… which it was. We’re all familiar with the storm that is 2013, which ended the couple’s love affair in a very public way. Cyrus began to spread her wings, and clearly needed a little time to herself to learn from the big changes that were to come. Personally, I think it all began with her famous 2012 haircut:

Bangerz Era (2013)

Oh, man. This phase in Miley’s life was a roller coaster for all of us. It all began with the release of “Wrecking Ball” in 2013, an ode to her breakup with Hemsworth. Ditching her cute country ways for a new pop sound, Miley shocked us all in her white underwear as she swung on a wrecking ball and licked a sledge hammer. It was weird, but it was also kind of awesome. Things got even more insane at her infamous 2013 VMA performance with Robin Thicke, in which she twerked on the then 36-year-old and stuck her tongue out for what had to have been a really uncomfortable amount of time. This performance upset a lot of people, but most got over it when her album, Bangerz, turned out to be full of, well, bangers.

Dead Petz Era (2015-2016) 

After conquering the pop world, Miley’s next phase was quite psychedelic. Her 5th album, Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, was not as successful as her previous music. She did not promote the album, instead choosing to announce on the day it was released that audiences could listen to it for free. Perhaps because of the lack of promotion, what was more talked about during this phase was Miley’s entirely insane Instagram persona, which featured many Photoshopped pictures of her doing absurd things.

Malibu Era (present)

While we will never forget the endless amounts of nudity and weed we saw come from Miley in recent years, it appears the singer has turned a new leaf (yet again). Reuniting with ex-fiance Hemsworth, ditching her outlandish style for something more soft, and releasing a folksy single from her upcoming album, “Malibu”, Miley has shocked audiences yet again. We will enjoy this phase while it lasts, which is hopefully not forever, because nobody does drastic change quite like Miley. 

Britney Spears

The Child Star Phase (1993-1994) 

Britney Spears, as we all know, was one of many who got their start on The Mickey Mouse Club. A breeding ground for future stars. This is where Spears met Justin Timberlake, and the two would later rock the world with denim ensembles never before seen by human eyes.

The Golden Years (1998-2003)

Starting with the Hail Zone Mall Tour, which was literally a tour of mall food courts, Spears slowly but surely put her name on the map, and eventually N’Sync invited her on their tour in 1998. After that, Spears proceeded to release classic after classic, ranging from “Baby One More Time” to “Oops! I Did It Again”. She officially began dating JT, and slowly transitioned from a more cutesy look to a full blown sex symbol, starting with her kiss with Madonna at the 2003 VMA’s.

The Beginning of the Downfall (2004-2007)

The controversy surrounding Spears that would later culminate in 2007, began with her surprised Las Vegas wedding with childhood friend Jason Alexander in 2004. Like many of its kind, the marriage was annulled within three days. Not long after, Spears was married yet again, this time the young brim-hat wearing rapper, Kevin Federline. The pair had two sons and starred in their own reality show, Britney & Kevin: Chaotic, which Entertainment Weekly called “career suicide by video cam”. Filing for divorce from Federline in 2006, it was clear that Britney was heading toward a downward spiral.

The Depths of the Downfall (2007-2009)

After struggling with the recent divorce from Federline, Spears checked into a rehab facility in Antigua one night. Checking out within 24 hours, the following day became the day Spears would rue for the remainder of her career. With her newly shaved head, Britney when on an umbrella-armed paparazzi attack. Following the incident, Spears checked into rehab for one month, lost physical custody of her sons to Federline, was charged with a hit and run, and (somehow) released her fifth album, Blackout. In 2008, Spears lost visitation rights of her sons after cops found illicit drugs in her home, was put on an involuntary psychiatric hold, and (also somehow?) released her sixth album, Circus. It should really be noted that both Blackout and Circus had some hits on them, how she managed to release such good music during such a tumultuous time in her life is beyond me.

The Comeback (2010 – present)

Today, it seems as though Britney has got it all figured out again. She’s been out of rehab for 7 years, has released multiple albums, and joined the X Factor as the highest-paid judge on a singing competition in TV history. She also still looks 1,000x better than the rest of us.

These celebrity transformations harvest more than just a quick haircut or change in clothing: they reflect the deeper existential questions that these stars are asking themselves as they grow and learn, just like the rest of us. The only difference is that we don’t have paparazzi following us and documenting every stupid thing we do, and for that, we are extremely grateful.

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