Actors whose careers were ruined by great TV shows

To us regular people, landing a gig on an immensely popular television series might seem like the best work ever for an actor. Years and years of steady salary plus celebrity status? What could go wrong? But in the worst cases, the role can become synonymous with the actor to the point that the fat lady sings at the end of the show and the end of the actor's career at the same time. These actors hit it so big with these TV shows that their careers still haven't fully recovered.

Kelsey Grammer

Though Dr. Frasier Crane is one of the most beloved television characters of all time, since Frasier went off the air in 2004, Kelsey Grammer's career has basically been in the gutter. It was no small feat when Frasier, who first appeared on Cheers, became such a beloved character that he got his own spinoff series. Frasier succeeded largely because of the performance of Grammer and his supporting cast. So what exactly happened? Maybe the downfall was due to Grammer's scandalous personal life—the actor has struggled with substance abuse and has even weathered a sex tape scandal. Ending his marriage to his third wife, Camille, a cast member of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills over the telephone and getting stewardess Kayte Walsh pregnant before his divorce to Camille was finalized probably didn't help, either.

Sarah Michelle Gellar

If you have to go down in history as being remembered for one role and one role only, there's really nothing better than being remembered as the kickass Buffy Summers, the Slayer, the Chosen One. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was undoubtedly one of the best and most influential television series to ever grace the small screen, and fans have stuck by the series for 20 years now. Though Sarah Michelle Gellar–or SMG, as true fans like to call her–had a number of hits during the Buffy years (1999-2003), like I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) and Cruel Intentions (1999), the years post-Buffy haven't been exactly kind to Gellar, at least in a cinematic sense. In 2002 she married Freddie Prinze Jr., and the two '90s sweethearts now have two children. In 2015, SMG launched Foodstirs, a monthly subscription service offering baking boxes. And in February 2017, she published her first cookbook.

David Schwimmer

Friends fans delighted in the return of David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian in the critically acclaimed FX series The People vs. O.J. Simpson. Since his ten years as Ross Geller on Friends, Schwimmer's career had basically slowed to a halt. It's a typical case of a great television role ruining an actor's chances for success in other arenas. Schwimmer himself even acknowledges the damage Friends did to his career. In August 2016, he told The Hollywood Reporter his newfound fame made him want to crawl under a rock, not pursue more work. "The effect of celebrity … made me want to hide under a baseball cap and not be seen. I realized that after a while I was no longer watching people; I was trying to hide. I was trying to figure out: How do I be an actor in this new world, in this new situation? How do I do my job? That was tricky." And as if that weren't bad enough, Schwimmer's enormous celebrity nearly destroyed his personal life, too."It was pretty jarring and it messed with my relationship to other people in a way that took years, I think, for me to adjust to and become comfortable with."

Sarah Jessica Parker

Despite the fact that Sarah Jessica Parker said after Sex and the City wrapped in 2004 that she would never do a television series again, she popped up recently on HBO's Divorce, which has received mixed reviews since its premiere in 2016. While SJP had quite the career before Sex and the City, beginning as a theater actor on Broadway, and starring in such films as L.A. Story, Honeymoon in Vegas, Ed Wood, Mars Attacks!, and Hocus Pocus, it feels a little like SJP will always be remembered as C-C-C-C-Carrie Bradshaw since the end of Sex and the City. And there's really nothing wrong with that—Sex and the City is a great show. Just please don't make any more Sex and the City movies, please!

Peter Falk

Actor Peter Falk was a beloved actor on both the small and big screens—fans cite his appearance playing himself in Wim Wenders' The Wings of Desire and his part as the lovable Grandpa in The Princess Bride as two of his most beloved movie roles. But Falk is best remembered as everyone's favorite TV detective, Columbo. The critically acclaimed series ran from 1968 to 2003 and dominated Falk's entire career. That run solidified him as Columbo for not one but two generations of viewers. Hey, career death by Columbo doesn't seem so bad.

Jason Alexander

From the cast of Seinfeld, there's Jerry, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Michael Richards. We all know what happened to Michael Richards, though there's certainly an argument that his career was over post-Seinfeld before the scandal, and Louis-Dreyfus has gone on to star in another great show, Veep. Jerry is still Jerry-ing right along. That leaves Jason Alexander, a fantastic comedic actor whose career just took a nose-dive after Seinfeld wrapped in 1998. So what has Alexander been up to since Seinfeld? Well, apparently he's been playing a lot of poker, including in televised tournaments where he donates his winnings to charity.

The supporting cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation

Though Shakespearean-trained actor Patrick Stewart has gone on to many more major roles in his long and prolific career after playing Captain Jean-Luc Picard, the rest of the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast was not so lucky, despite the series long run (1984-97) and immense popularity. Jonathan Frakes (Commander William T. Riker), LeVar Burton (Lt. Commander Geordi LaForge), and Brent Spiner (Data) have all failed to embark on major careers post TNG, which speaks more to the iconic characters they played than their talents as actors. The Star Trek fanbase is a die-hard, dedicated enterprise. Let's hope the celebrity has been enough to sustain these three over the years.

Jon Hamm

Mad Men's Jon Hamm is so Don Draper that really the only parts he's had since seem to be poking fun at that fact by casting him as a sweet goofball—like Tina Fey did in 30 Rock or in his brief cameo in Bridesmaids. But the sad fact remains that since Mad Men wrapped in 2015, Jon Hamm's career has been mostly dormant … or just flying under the radar. It's only been two years, so we still hold out hope that Hamm will be able to find a role that's different enough from Don Draper but with the same emotional gravitas to prove his skills as an actor. So far–unless you count corny tax-preparation commercials–no dice.

Roseanne Barr

Comedienne Roseanne Barr will undoubtedly go down in history for the creation of the character Roseanne and the beloved sitcom that ran for nine seasons. While working on the show, Barr won both an Emmy and Golden Globe for Best Actress. But since the final episode aired in 1997, Roseanne has weathered the strange world of always being "Roseanne." Though she had a talk show that lasted two years, Barr has since pursued other interests, including politics. In 2012, she announced her candidacy for president, running as a Green Party candidate. She was defeated by Jill Stein.

Lauren Ambrose

Lauren Ambrose: What happened? We miss you. Ambrose is best remembered for her turn as Claire on HBO's Six Feet Under, one of the most relatable and beloved characters of the series. Before that, you may have seen Ambrose trapped in a bathroom with Seth Green in 1998's Can't Hardly Wait. But after Six Feet Under wrapped in 2005, Ambrose hasn't gotten many shots in big-name productions, aside from a supporting role in The X-Files reboot. We'd love to see her again!