The 50 Worst Things to Happen in Movie History (and 10 of them are about Star Wars)

Jeremy Fassler
15 min readSep 27, 2023
From “Burn Hollywood Burn,” music video directed by Lionel C. Martin.

On Monday, Rolling Stone published an article called “The 50 Worst Decisions in Movie History,” which left off many of the actual worst in favor of “did you know Burt Reynolds turned down this many roles?” Worse, it ranked incidents like Will Smith slapping Chris Rock and Matt Damon turning down Avatar ahead of the tragedy from the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie. After reading the piece, I felt it was necessary to make a more complete list, not just of the worst “decisions” ever made, but the worst “things” that have happened both to Hollywood and movie culture, one with a broader sweep of history than Rolling Stone provided.

Now, just a warning: some of the rankings here are haphazard and you can play musical chairs with a bit of them, though I’ve tried to make my top 10 airtight in ascending order of awfulness. I have also included catch-all categories because I think it’s unnecessary to rank certain incidents, like racially insensitive casting — they’re all equally bad (except for one guy who gets his own spot).

And for further clarification, this is not a list of 50 “decisions” per se, as they include trends and pet peeves in addition to actual decisions. It’s also not a list of 50 — I’ve chosen 40 incidents representing low points, and in a separate category, 10 that are just related to Star Wars, because A) I can’t choose just one and B) Star Wars is such a behemoth in popular culture that it encompasses just as many bad things as it does good ones.

One more heads-up: I know I didn’t include some of your least favorite things. As I like to say, all rankings are my own and all rankings are final until I change my mind. But my no. 1 is set in stone.

40. The “Matt Damon said/did something really stupid” news cycle.

39. Three words: digital fur technology.

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Jeremy Fassler

Correspondent, The Capitol Forum. Bylines: The New York Times, The Atlantic, Mother Jones, etc. Co-author of The Deadwood Bible with Matt Zoller Seitz.