David Arquette’s continuing public therapy about his crumbling—and once idealized—marriage to Courteney Cox. Charlie Sheen’s not-surprising divorce from Brooke Mueller after his Plaza Hotel foibles. Reality divas Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag burning their divorce papers on an idyllic Malibu beach last month. Stars are indeed just like us—they fight, squabble, kiss and make up—but on an epic scale that leads to some spectacular media train wrecks.
So The Daily Beast decided to statistically determine which celebrity couples have proven the most publicly dysfunctional over the past decade. The Daily Beast culled the past 10 years of celebrity news. We picked out a few categories that, across the board, indicate potential relationship dysfunction: drug or alcohol abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse, having an affair, having affairs with prostitutes, filing restraining orders, filing lawsuits, getting a divorce or separating, or other illegal activity. We also took into account whether the couple had children, to determine the impact, if any, outside the immediate relationship. Each category was weighted by severity, with physical abuse weighted highest, followed by drug or alcohol abuse, verbal abuse and affairs with prostitutes weighted equally, followed by affairs and restraining orders, also weighted equally. The other categories were taken into account, but were unweighted.
Courteney and David? Please—they don’t even crack the top 20.
#20, Sean Penn and Robin Wright Breakups: 3 Reported affairs: 1 Restraining orders: 0 Lawsuits: 0 Children: 2 Sean Penn slowly shed his bad-boy image throughout the 1990s, and his marriage following a long courtship to actress Robin Wright in 1996 solidified his toned-down attitude. Despite having two children together and a period of apparent calm for roughly a decade, the couple grew apart in the late 2000s—fueled in part by rampant rumors of an affair between Penn and Natalie Portman—and finally split for good this past summer.
#19, Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag Breakups: 2 Reported affairs: 0 Restraining orders: 0 Lawsuits: 0 Children: 0 The Hills stars have had a good portion of their relationship televised, which makes for ample evidence of dysfunction. The couple was surreptitiously married in 2008, reneged on a divorce announcement in September, and reportedly have a friendly relationship with Mary Jane. Oh, and while they were "split," Pratt was shopping around a sex tape. Montag and Pratt reconciled last month and burned their divorce papers in front of a gaggle of photographers.
#18, Levi Johnston and Bristol Palin Breakups: 2 Reported affairs: 0 Restraining orders: 0 Lawsuits: 1 Children: 1 She of the Grizzly Bear momma and he of the Playgirl spread, Bristol and Levi got together way back in his freshman year of high school. America's favorite young Republicans had a child together in December 2008, and while Bristol has kept a relatively low profile ( Dancing with the Stars gig aside), things got weird for Levi after the couple split in 2009. He dove headfirst into the media vortex, giving nationally televised interviews criticizing the Palins and posing in Playgirl. Bristol and Levi announced they were back together in July 2010, but by August they were kaput again after Levi told Bristol there was a chance he'd fathered another child with another teenager.
#17, Eminem and Kim Mathers Breakups: 2 Reported affairs: 0 Restraining orders: 1 Lawsuits: 1 Children: 1 The relationship between Marshall and Kim is perhaps best described in song. To wit, from Eminem's "Kim": "Sit down, bitch, I'll beat the shit out of you." As far as anyone can tell, Em's artistic threats of physical violence never materialized, but that didn't stop the tabloid fodder. Things got so bad public relations-wise that Kim attempted suicide in 2000 and sued Eminem for $10 million. They were remarried in January 2006, but three months later Eminem re-ended the relationship.
#16, Chris Brown and Rihanna Breakups: 1 Reported affairs: 0 Restraining orders: 1 Lawsuits: 0 Children: 0 These two had it all before they were even old enough to drink—multimillion-dollar recording contracts, sports cars, media adoration, and worldwide fame. Then, an argument in Chris Brown's Lamborghini before the 2009 Grammy Awards erupted into a vicious beating—disturbing pictures of the aftermath of Rihanna's broken face were plastered across Internet gossip sites. Brown's image was forever altered, but Rihanna has bounced back. "I needed that wake-up call in my life. That was the only way I would have gotten out of that relationship," she said in the December issue of Marie Claire magazine.
#15, Jon & Kate Gosselin Breakups: 1 Reported affairs: 1 Restraining orders: 0 Lawsuits: 0 Children: 8 Ah, how the tides have turned. Jon and Kate met at a company picnic in 1997 and married in 1999, eventually giving birth to eight kids. Their lives were documented on the TLC reality series Jon & Kate Plus 8, with Jon playing the role of the doting, loving father, and Kate the bossy control freak. Allegations swirled that Jon was having an affair in March 2009, when he was caught sneaking out at night with Deanna Hummel, a third-grade teacher. The couple filed for divorce on June 22, 2009, with Kate keeping the family home and primary custody of all eight kids. Following their split, the two have embarked on contrasting career paths. Jon fell in love with club nightlife—and Ed Hardy clothing—dated a string of questionable younger women, and is reportedly going broke, while Kate appeared on Dancing with the Stars and is the star of her own TLC reality show, Kate Plus 8.
#14, Larry King and Shawn Southwick Breakups: 1 Reported affairs: 2 Restraining orders: 0 Lawsuits: 0 Children: 2 The suspendered, septuagenarian host of CNN's Larry King Live has tied the knot a whopping eight times to seven different women. His most recent nuptials were on Sept, 5, 1997, when he married former singer and Playboy bunny Shawn Southwick. Shawn and Larry had two children—Chance and Cannon— but things got dicey in 2007, when the couple had a very public screaming match outside a Beverly Hills eatery, and Southwick eventually checked into rehab for an eating disorder, with sources citing Larry's controlling attitude as the cause. On April 14, 2010, both King and Southwick filed for divorce, with Southwick accusing King of having an affair with her younger sister, Shannon Engemann, and King alleging that Southwick had an affair in 2008 with their son's baseball coach. The two lovebirds reconciled in May.
#13, Sandra Bullock and Jesse James Breakups: 1 Reported affairs: 5 Restraining orders: 0 Lawsuits: 0 Children: 1 Bullock arranged for her 10-year-old godson to meet James as a Christmas gift, and the two hit it off. The leading lady married the motorcycle builder on July 16, 2005. Things seemed peachy for the couple, who formed a united front battling James's ex, porn star Janine Lindemulder, in a custody battle over James's daughter in late 2009, emerging victorious. However, just over a week after Bullock won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance in The Blind Side, Bullock pulled out of her European promotional tour of the film when Michelle "Bombshell" McGee, a tattoo model-stripper-former white supremacist, came forward alleging that she and James had an 11-month affair while Bullock was on location filming The Blind Side. James eventually checked into rehab for drugs, alcohol, and sex addiction, while Bullock went through with her and James's previous plans to adopt a baby boy, Louis, from New Orleans. Bullock filed for divorce in April 2010, and it came to light that James had as many as five mistresses.
#12, David Gest & Liza Minnelli Breakups: 1 Affairs: 0 Restraining orders: 0 Lawsuits: 1 Children: 0 This was one kooky couple. The Oscar-winning actress and the plastic surgery-loving concert promoter were married in an over-the-top ceremony on March 16, 2002—with Elizabeth Taylor serving as maid of honor and none other than the late Michael Jackson carrying the bride's train. However, the two parted ways less than a year and a half later, in July 2003. And then things got strange. In October 2003 Gest, known for gag-inducing acts of PDA with Minnelli, filed a $10 million lawsuit against her, alleging that the Cabaret star beat him so badly during alcoholic rages that she caused permanent nerve damage. Minnelli then countersued, claiming Gest stole up to $2 million from her while they were together. They ultimately settled with each other and agreed to a no-fault divorce on Jan. 18, 2007.
#11, Howard K. Stern and Anna Nicole Smith Breakups: 0 Affairs: 3 Restraining orders: 0 Lawsuits: 3 Children: 1 Theirs was a union marred by tragedy. Stern first crossed paths with Smith when his law firm handled her modeling contracts in the early 1990s, and again when Smith fought with the sons of her late husband, J. Howard Marshall, over the octogenarian's fortune. Stern soon left his law firm to become Smith's agent of sorts, co-starring with her on The Anna Nicole Show. The two eventually became romantically involved, and when Smith had a daughter, Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern, on Sept. 7, 2006, the birth certificate recorded the father as Howard K. Stern. The couple exchanged vows in a non-legally binding ceremony on a boat near Nassau a few weeks later. After Anna Nicole Smith died from a drug overdose on Feb. 8, 2007, Stern was initially granted custody of Dannielynn, until it was revealed following a long paternity case that photographer Larry Birkhead was the biological father. Oh, and it got worse. Stern, along with doctors Sandeep Kapoor and Khristine Eroshevich, were charged with prescribing and administering drugs to Smith. Stern and Eroshevich were both found guilty of the charges on Oct. 28, 2010, according to CNN, with each facing up to three years in prison.
To find out who else made the cut for most dysfunctional star couples, visit The Daily Beast.