22 Most Controversial Celebrities of the Decade

controversial celebrities

If there’s one thing celebrities are good at, it’s controversy and scandal. They make headlines for all the wrong reasons; sex tapes, famous feuds, heartache and run-ins with the law.

For some, the limelight fades and people move onto the next big story, but for others, problematic headlines rule their image, stay a stigma, and end up being victims of ‘cancel culture’. 

To remind you of just a few celebrity dramas from the last decade, we’ve rounded up a list of the most controversial celebrities and how they’ve broken the internet… 

1. Kim Kardashian

kim kardashian controversial celeb
kimkardashian | Instagram

This Kardashian rose to fame when her sex tape with ex-boyfriend Ray J leaked, marking the first of Kim’s many controversies. Since then, she’s lived many fashion faux pas and a 72-day-marriage to Kris Humphries, before falling for Kanye West – and then divorcing him in 2020. 

Her life has been far from plain sailing since then – Kim has engaged in public feuds with Drake and Taylor Swift; she’s broken the internet with nude photos, started a law degree and she’s continued to stun us with daring and revealing looks.

2. Rihanna

rihanna controversial celeb
badgalriri | Instagram

Often referred to as the ‘good girl, gone bad’, RiRi sparked headlines when she started molding into a much more provocative star. But it was Rihanna’s relationship with her first love Chris Brown which marked the beginning of a never-ending scandal for the Barbados-born singer. 

Since the relationship went sour in 2009 with the brutal attack, Rihanna has been the topic of conversation. From giving Chris Brown a second chance, not being afraid to show off her birthday suit and being open about her drug habits, Rihanna hasn’t been shy to cause controversy in pop culture.  

3. Miley Cyrus

miley cyrus controversial celeb
mileycyrus | Instagram

Miley Cyrus has definitely put her Disney days behind her. From tongue-wagging VMA twerking to smoking marijuana on stage, the pop princess has definitely raised a few eyebrows. And let’s not forget her naked appearance whilst swinging on a wrecking ball or her public feud with Nicki Minaj!

Other than these shocking Miley moments, the star has also suffered through a public divorce following a eight-month marriage with Liam Hemsworth and has openly spoken about dating girls, too.   

4. Lady Gaga

lady gaga controversial celeb
ladygaga | Instagram

Lady Gaga doesn’t even need to open her mouth to cause a stir; her outfits alone spark backlash and interest (remember her meat dress and when she hatched out of an egg?!). That said, what really rocked the boat is when she covered herself with fake blood on stage during a 2009 VMA performance and engaged in a vomit performance with a model in 2014.

But the singer-turned-actress has moved on from controversial Gaga days, stunning us once again with an award-winning performance in A Star is Born and House of Gucci, giving us much more reason to love her.

5. Kanye West

kanye west controversial celeb
pandio_ | Instagram

Ye isn’t shy of showing his real self to fans; from public outbursts about slavery and Nazis to Twitter rants about Pete Davidson and even running for presidency, Kanye West had his fair share of controversies.

Having been diagnosed with bipolar disease and later blaming sleep deprivation, Yeezy may have found a new release by forming his own spiritual Sunday church. But as of late, the rapper went on more embarrassing rampages which ended in a divorce from Kim Kardashian, being dropped by Adidas, Gap and Balenciaga, and even being removed from social media.

Kanye has been feuding with the likes of Wiz Khalifa and Pete Davidson and even awkwardly revealed that his (ex) wife wanted to abort their first child, whilst also calling his mother-in-law “Kris-Jong-Un”.

6. Justin Bieber 

justin bieber controversial celeb
justinbieber | Instagram

Finding fame at such a young age took its toll on Justin Bieber. Growing up in the limelight, it was hard for him to make a single mistake without the press knowing about it. This explains why he’s had his fair share of run-ins with the paps, including an incident where he hit one with his car.

Bieber’s other controversies include famously egging his neighbor’s house, reportedly spitting on fans as well as getting arrested for drunk driving. For a few years now, though, the Changes singer has become a changed man and steers clear of any public disputes. 

7. Taylor Swift

taylor swift controversial celeb
taylorswift | Instagram

Taylor Swift has weathered quite a few storms, from her on-going feud with Katy Perry over John Mayer, writing breakup songs about her exes to her bust-up with Nicki Minaj about award nominations.

But these aren’t the only celebs to argue with Taylor; after Kanye ambushed her VMA Award acceptance speech, he and Taylor have publicly feuded. But the pair seemed to put the bad blood behind them until Kanye was accused of releasing lyrics in his track Famous that weren’t approved by Taylor.

The damsel in distress was called out for her ‘mistakes’ when Kim said she was faking this one. Turns out, according to Elle, Taylor was actually telling the truth! 

14 Biggest Taylor Swift Scandals

8. Kylie Jenner

kylie jenner controversial celeb
kyliejenner | Instagram

Kylie Jenner is one of the most popular celebs, almost earning more than the rest of the Kardashian tribe. Yet, her rise to fame and title of the ‘World’s Youngest Self-Made Billionaire’ has received much backlash. Many argue that she wouldn’t have built her beauty empire without the help of her family, while others applaud the young socialite’s success.

Other headline stories include getting lip injections at the mere age of 17, undergoing a massive beauty makeover and keeping her entire pregnancy under wraps for an entire nine months; stunning the world with a release of a very cute tribute highlighting her journey into motherhood. 

9. Chris Brown

chris brown controversial celeb
chrisbrownofficial | Instagram

If you’ve followed Breezy from day one, you’ll remember his physical altercation with his then-girlfriend, Rihanna; a turning point in both their lives and careers. Since this famous scandal, Chris Brown has been dubbed a ‘bad boy’, getting into countless legal trouble, doing community service, getting kicked out of rehab and doing jail time.

The talented star thought his bad boy image was behind him until he was accused of rape in Paris in January 2019. After being held in custody, the problematic celeb was found not guilty and took to Instagram to shed light on the horrific situation. Despite the bad press about Chris Brown’s controversies, he continues to release hit after hit.

10. Cardi B

cardi b controversial celeb
cardiallaccess | Instagram

Since the moment loud-mouthed Cardi B landed onto the music scene with Bodak Yellow, she’s maintained a constant public appearance. While some relevancy is from new tracks, many headlines have been about her wild outfits, online rants, rocky relationships and feisty feuds.

But it was the infamous fight with Nicki Minaj at the Harper’s Bazaar ICONS party that went down in history! Cardi launched at Minaj, accusing her of speaking badly of her daughter, Kulture. After being pulled away, Cardi was then spotted with a massive bump on her head – probably due to the shoe falling back on her face! Let’s not forget the most recent outrage and shock surrounding her sexual track WAP which has been deemed inappropriate by many.

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11. Nicki Minaj

nicki minaj controversial celeb
nickiminaj | Instagram

Being the biggest female star in the rap game comes with a bunch of controversial stories. From performing an exorcism on her alter-ego Roman on-stage, to claiming she’s going to marry Drake on Twitter and dissing countless celebs on her iconic lyrics (Lil Kim and DJ Khaled), shocking seems to be the norm for Nicki.

In recent times, the Queen of Rap took to Twitter to accuse Travis Scott of sabotaging her first week of sales, but that beef was soon forgotten when Nicki almost had a shoe thrown her way by Cardi B, triggering a whole new celebrity feud among the rappers. 

12. Britney Spears

britney spears controversial celeb
britneyspears | Instagram

From miming allegations to racy outfits and failed relationships, this pop princess faced the usual celebrity controversy throughout her early career. But in the late noughties, Britney went from being America’s sweetheart to the most troubled celeb overnight. Her breakdown was a hot topic in 2007 when she was captured shaving her entire head, attacking paparazzi and going for multiple stints in rehab.

Despite her major success, Britney has had less than a stable career in the public eye. Her most recent controversy involves the Framing Britney documentary which covered the singer’s traumatic life in the spotlight and the ongoing conservatorship battle with her father.

13. Michael Jackson 

mj controversial celeb
michaeljackson | Instagram

MJ has been at the center of controversy since his rise to stardom. His journey to becoming the King of Pop has been under scrutiny for changing his features and skin color and substance abuse, but it was child abuse allegations that rocked the idolized artist.

Since accusations of sexual assault in 1993, Michael had a difficult time in the limelight. He put his music on the back burner and tried to live a peaceful life out of the public eye. The controversy didn’t just end at his death, however, in 2019, a documentary was released detailing Michael’s abuse allegations. The truth behind these claims have been disputed though, as it was released years later when the King of Pop was unable to defend himself.

14. R. Kelly

r kelly controversial
rkelly | Instagram

Following a similar story to Michael Jackson is soul-singer R. Kelly. It all began at the prime of his career when he reportedly married singer Aaliyah when she was just 15 years-old. Following her death, this criminal celeb was accused of numerous relationships with underage women and in 2002, he was arrested for child pornography.

In 2018, more and more women opened up about their experience with R. Kelly in a six-hour long documentary, which then led to charges being pressed against the singer. Kelly turned himself into police the same day and was jailed with bail set at $1m.

By 2021, Kelly was found guilty on nine counts including racketeering, sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, bribery, sex trafficking, and a violation of the Mann Act. He was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment. Despite his major success, it’s safe to say R Kelly has been “cancelled”.

15. Ariana Grande 

ariana grande Braided Pony 
arianagrande | Instagram

Pop darling Ariana Grande has had a whirlwind of a career. After a break up from long-term beau, Mac Miller, Ari found new love with comedian, Pete Davidson and got engaged. Sadly Mac’s passing touched home, ending the marriage-to-be. She then had a shot-gun wedding to Dalton Gomez in 2021, but were already headed for divorce in 2023.

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Not only did she lose her ex-boyfriend to drugs, but Ariana had to face one of the biggest tragedies in pop culture – the loss of 22 people during the bomb attack at her Manchester concert in 2017.

To recover from the heartache, Ari invested herself in her music, created her best ever albums (Thank U, Next & Sweetener) in the space of a year, and continued reigning as one of the world’s biggest pop stars. 

16. Blac Chyna

blac chyna controversial
blacchyna | Instagram

When Chyna stepped foot into the Kardashian family, we all smelled trouble (as she already shared a child with Kylie’s ex-boyfriend, Tyga). After giving birth to Rob Kardashian’s baby, Chyna got involved in a public and nasty break-up which resulted in an on-going lawsuit against the Kardashian clan over accusations of “assault, battery, domestic violence, defamation, and interference with economic relations.”

But the drama didn’t end there. In 2019, Chyna was victim of a leaked sex tape and she was also involved in a brawl over her child, where she used a pram as a weapon

17. Drake 

drake controversial
champagnepapi | Instagram

This rapper has been involved in a number of controversies, from getting caught up in the RiRi love-triangle which ended in a physical fight with Chris Brown to being friend-zoned by Nicki Minaj. Drake has also engaged in other public feuds with fellow rappers including Kanye West, Pusha T, Tyga and Meek Mill, among many others.

After keeping schtum about the situation, it later came about that Drake had a secret son with a former adult video star Sophie Brussaux. This pretty much blew up the internet as Pusha T was the one to initially claim that Drake was hiding a secret child in his 2018 diss track, The Story Of Adidon

18. Tristan Thompson 

tristan thompson controversial
realtristan13 | Instagram

Tristan Thompson certainly wasn’t a popular celeb before meddling with the Kardashian gang! After a cheating scandal arose days before his baby mama, Khloe Kardashian gave birth, the world came crashing down for them both.

And just when they thought they could put the drama behind them, the love-rat cheated on Khloe again with a close family friend, Jordyn Woods, causing the family to cut ties with Jordyn forever.

14 Victims of the “Kardashian Curse” 

Fast-forward two years later and Khloe decided to forgive Tristan and attempt to rebuild their family again, but it wasn’t long before cheating rumors surrounded the basketball player again. 

19. Lindsay Lohan 

lindsay lohan controversial

Not a day went by in the mid-2000s without a Lindsay Lohan story circling worldwide. After rising to fame at such a young age, Lindsay lost her way and found comfort in a very wild lifestyle. Caught with drug possession on numerous occasions and arrested for drunk driving and theft, Lindsay was sentenced to serve 30 days in jail.

After her release, she spent time in Europe finding herself and made a comeback with an array of clubs on the Greek Islands and her very own show on E! Entertainment. We have a feeling those controversial moments are far behind Lindsay, now!

20. Azealia Banks

Azealia Banks controversial
azealiabanksforever | Instagram

If there’s one thing Azealia Banks is best known for, it’s her neverending list of feuds with other musicians. This list includes Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, Rita Ora, Iggy Azalea, Zayn Malik, Rihanna, Lil Kim and even Beyonce, among many others.

From lyric theft to fashion critique and pure nastiness, it seems like Azealia uses the power of insult and cyber-bullying to stay relevant. Things have been pretty quiet on her end for a while now, but, it’s only a matter of time before another Twitter rant erupts, right?

21. Johnny Depp

johnny depp celeb
johnnydepp | Instagram

This high-profile actor has always made headlines in Hollywood, whether it be for his drug and alcohol abuse or his many celebrity relationships. Johnny Depp has become the talk of the town in the last decade, however, for his notorious court trial against his ex-wife, Amber Heard.

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The Pirates of the Caribbean icon and Aquaman actress were under the spotlight in 2022 when their scandalous trial went public. Depp sued Heard following an op-ed she wrote on domestic abuse in The Washington Post, where she accused the actor of abusing her throughout their two-year marriage. Finally, it was proven that her claims were untrue and she was liable for defamation.

22. Amber Heard 

amber heard celeb
amberheard | Instagram

We wouldn’t really know much about this actress if it weren’t for her infamous relationship with Johnny Depp. But in the last 10 years, there has been nothing but scandal after scandal revolving around Amber Heard’s name.

The Pineapple Express star famously accused Depp of sexual and physical abuse throughout their two-year marriage. After being taken to court for writing an op-ed about him in The Washington Post, she countersued Depp, claiming that he inflicted “rampant physical violence and abuse” on her.

Many have accused Heard of lying, which has put her roles in future movie projects (like Aquaman 2) at risk of removal. Finally, the jury reached a verdict, deciding that Heard was liable for defamation.

While these aren’t the only stars to cause a stir, they are the ones that have caused quite a dispute in the last decade. 

Which of these controversial celebrities shocked you the most? Let us know your thoughts by dropping a comment in the section below. 



Tale Teller
Joanna Zambas

Joanna Zambas

Joanna has a history in the fashion world; having studied lifestyle and fashion journalism at BA and MA level, she then proceeded to work in the hustle and bustle of fashion PR. These days you can find her working in the marketing sphere, content writing and religiously following the ins and outs of the entertainment world. She’s obsessed with celebrity style and the Kardashians – but who isn’t?!

2 Responses

  1. I’m surprised they neglected to mention the very likely fact that Amber Heard was abusing Johnny Depp, rather than the opposite way around. All of the injuries he sustained from her hitting him and throwing stuff on him. And then there’s the hilariously nasty story about her pooping on his bed.

  2. Taylor’s information needs to be updated. As of March 2021, it had been shown in a FULL video online that Kim and Kanye doctored the footage and lied.

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