Television actors were once looked down upon as second-rate by the movie industry, but with the emergence of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, tv shows are now proving more popular than movies. After all, most films released today are either Superhero flicks or bad romcoms as studio bosses are unwilling to take a chance on more innovative filmmaking, but with streaming companies like Netflix taking bold chances on fresh and exciting new scripts, tv actors are attaining a similar level of fame to movie stars.
However, all tv shows- even the best ones- eventually come to an end, and while they may have experienced global success, the ephemeral nature of tv means a new hit show is always round the corner, ready to take the spotlight away from one successful cast and onto another. We've seen this time and time again with hit shows like Gossip Girl, How I Met Your Mother, Sex and the City and Desperate Housewives. Sure, the stars are set for life financially, but making the transition into movies isn't easy while replicating their success with another hit tv show is also unlikely.
Thus, the tv stars you vicariously lived your life through are now nothing more than has-been actors, relegated to the underbelly of Hollywood's merciless conveyor belt. It's a sad but all-too-real reality that keeps Hollywood moving, so here, we are going to pay our respects to 12 hit tv actors who can no longer find work.
1. Hillary Duff
Hillary Duff could do it all. She could sing, act, buss a few dance moves, all while looking every inch the superstar, and in 2001, she became a global star to teens and children when she landed the leading role in Disney’s Lizzie McGuire series. This gave her a big enough platform to convince movies studios to hire her in a series of teenage blockbuster roles in films such as Agent Cody Banks (2003) with Frankie Muniz, Cheaper By The Dozen (2003) and Cheaper By The Dozen 2 (2005).
Duff also won roles alongside One Tree Hill star Chad Michael Murray in A Cinderella Story (2004) and with Heather Locklear in The Perfect Man (2005).
However, after a string of personal problems Duff settled down and had a child, though she recently made a low-key return to the spotlight in a show called Younger airing on TV Land.
2. Adrien Grenier
Based loosely on producer Mark Wahlberg's experiences as an up-and-coming actor in Hollywood, the HBO series Entourage was undoubtedly a tour de force in escapist porn and was perhaps summarized best by a British journalist, who compared the 'teenage fantasy' to the male equivalent of Sex in the City, another long-running HBO show.
Chronicling the lives of fictional movie star Vincent Chase (centre), played cooly by Adrien Grenier, the series followed him, his not-so-famous half-brother and close cohort of friends as they lived out the male fantasy. That being said, Entourage certainly pandered to a braggadocious male utopia, but with excellent writing and countless A-list cameos, it was well received by both critics and viewers during the show's 8-season run, but the movie tanked and was criticized for being misogynistic and outdated.
Grenier's career subsequently followed a similar fate, and while his only movie credit in the Entourage era was playing Anne Hathaway's boyfriend in The Devil Wears Prada, Grenier's post-Entourage career sunk so low he was forced to appear in a B-movie alongside fellow has-been thespians Nicholas Cage and John Cusack in the 2017 straight-to-DVD flick, Arsenal.
3. Katherine Heigl
While Katherine Heigl never quit Grey's Anatomy, her candid views on the writing suggested she wanted to be shown the door. After all, when an actor receives an Emmy nomination, their typical response is one of gratitude, but Grey's Anatomy star Katherine Heigl made the unusual decision to withdraw her Emmy nomination in 2008 because the writing wasn't up to scratch.
In her very own words, she stated, "I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination." Unsuprinslgly, the insulted writers gave her character skin cancer, and Dr. Stevens was no more.
Heigl has struggled to find any meaningful work since her departure from the hospital drama, though after the cancellation of her last show ( ABC's Doubt) she has since been offered a leading role in the faltering tv series, Suits.
4. Marcia Cross
Marcia Cross (second right) had been working in tv for more than 20 years before being cast in her award-winning role as Marcia Cross in Desperate Housewives. She was Bree Van de Kamp in the ABC hit show Desperate Housewives; an 8-season bemouth that spawned multiple awards and million-dollar pay packets for her and fellow actresses Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria, and Felicity Huffman.
One of the most engrossing and compelling characters, Marcia's career never quite lived up to the global success of Desperate Housewives, but she has landed a recurring role in the ABC action-thriller, Quantico.
5. Matthew Fox
Matthew Fox (pictured next to best-selling author James Patterson) declared in an interview with TV Guide back in 2010 that he would not be doing anymore tv work after appearing in a total of 255 episodes thanks to his two hit shows, Five (Fox) and Lost (ABC).
A major tv celebrity in the noughties, Fox shifted gears and went onto star in London's West End theatre scene and many films including Speed Racer, Alex Cross, Vantage Point, and We Are Marshall. However, his last film role was in 2015. Sadly for Fox, it appears he might have to go back to doing tv if he wants to reignite a career.
6. Michael C. Hall
Showtime's Dexter was one of the most original and thrilling tv shows, and it rightly enjoyed an 8-season-run. Fronting the show was the namesake's protagonist, Dexter, a laconic, socially awkward forensic scientist who also happens to be a serial killer. However, his one redeeming feature was the kind of people he kills, all of whom are vile criminals. This vigilantism had viewers enthralled and just a few shows in, you find yourself supporting Dexter's horrific, but many would argue, morally just- murders.
Sadly for Hall, his gifts as an actor haven't been utilized as much as he would have hoped post-Dexter, and despite starring alongside Harry Potter megastar Daniel Radcliff in the 2013 indie movie Kill Your Darlings, his career hasn't really taken off the way many might have predicted.
7. Chad Michael Murray
Tween girls went wild for Chad Michael Murray every time he appeared on screen in the hit teen series, One Tree Hill. Set in North Carolina, the 9-series-show followed a group of high schoolers facing a variety of issues, from college applications and parental arguments to romantic liaisons and brushes with the law.
While Chad Michael Murray departed the show before the end of its run, he did land roles in many films, including A Cinderella Story alongside Hillary Duff in 2004. Now just a pretty face, Murray's acting career seems to be coming to an end, with his last role coming in the awful tv movie, The Beach House.
8. Sarah Michelle Gellar
Sarah Michelle Gellar was one of Hollywood's most successful tv actresses in the 90s and early 00s. She also starred in nine films that did well enough at the box office to keep the Gellar train alive, the most famous of which was the cult classic Cruel Intentions (1999). She also appeared in I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), Scooby Doo (2002), and The Grudge (2004). Of course, the show that made her name was the wildly successful series Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
The WB show lasted seven seasons and spawned Emmy and Golden Globes nominations. Since 2004's The Grudge, however, Gellar has struggled to see the same success- both at the box office and on tv. Her shows since Buffy haven't lasted more than one season, while her last movie role was a tv movie adaptation of Cruel Intentions.
9. Jason Lee
After a career as a pro skater, Jason Lee (centre) turned his attention to acting, and it soon paid off. His first significant role was the guardian/father figure of Alvin, Simon, and Theodore. , David Seville, in the film Alvin and The Chipmunks. To most, however, he is Earl Hickey in the show My Name Is Earl. Earl is a reformed criminal and do-gooder intent on using karma to write his past wrongs. The show aired for four seasons and made Jason Lee a household name in America and other parts of the world.
The show co-starred Ethan Suplee, his ditzy brother, and Jaime Pressly, Earl’s ex-wife. The show came to an unplanned end after season 4 following the network's decision not to renew the show. The show was subsequently cancelled as no other network picked it up afterwards.
Before his breakout role, Lee was no stranger to the silver screen. He starred in the Cameron Crowe movie Almost Famous (2000) and various Kevin Smith movies but now the best Lee's agent can find him is voice work on the kids show We Bare Bears.
10. Zac Braff
Everyone watched Scrubs when they were teens. It was the go-to programme you put on first thing in the morning before school, and with Zac Braff's brilliant, comic, and sometimes pathos-heavy acting, it was hard to turn your head away from the screen. While a lighthearted show, the series also had its drama, and it was this unusual combination that made the show a hit, especially thanks to the bromance between Braff's character J.D. and co-star John Michael Dorian's character, Turk.
Before Scrubs, Braff wrote, directed and starred in the 2004 indie hit, Garden State, another well-received piece of art. However, subsequent endeavours in Hollywood haven't proved as successful for the multi-talented actor, with his last notable role coming on the ABC show Alex, Inc., cancelled after just one season.
11. Paul Wesley
The smoulderingly handsome vampire (left) was voted Teen Choice Male Breakout Star due to his steamy role alongside co-stars Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev. The trio were probably tv's hottest cast, but after the show finally came to an end last year, Wesley has struggled to find another show to prolong his fame, though he has recently landed a gig on a pilot series called Fabled so it will be interesting to see if Wesley can escape the plight of many has-beens and continue his success on the small screen.
12. Charlie Sheen
Despite Charlie Sheen earning a mammoth $2m an episode at the peak of the Two and a Half Men's success, Sheen regularly insulted the series creator Chuck Lorre in interviews which may have been the motivating factor behind his dismissal.
What followed was a short-lived stint on Anger Managment before its cancellation in 2014, and four years on, Sheen's career looks all but over. On the plus side, as well as his brave decision to admit to the world he was HIV positive, his mental health appears to be under more control, and we can only wish him the best going forward.