WARNING: Foul language below!
Celebrity in-fighting used to be reserved for behind closed doors, and if things ever leaked to the public, it couldn’t be proven definitively outside of a publicist confirmation or video footage. My, how things have changed.
Nowadays, all it takes is an ill-advised 140-character tweet or an open letter posted to Facebook to start up a celebrity feud, and 2016 served up some major online brawls. From Kanye West to Chrissy Teigen to Justin Bieber, the biggest celebs took each other on in highly publicized battles.
Here’s a closer look at nine of the biggest celebrity feuds of the year.
1. Piers Morgan vs. Beyoncé/Kim Kardashian/Chrissy Teigen
Former CNN host Piers Morgan has had his fair share of online battles this year, taking on Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian and Chrissy Teigen (among others) in three separate feuds. While the subject matter of the arguments differed, Morgan approached things in his typical triggering fashion.
In April, Morgan took on Beyoncé after she released her controversial Lemonade video, saying he likes her as a person but doesn’t agree with her militaristic bent. He claimed at the time that she’s “unnecessarily playing the race card,” and “using grieving mothers to [sell] records and further fill her already massively enriched purse.”
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) April 26, 2016
As usual, Beyoncé didn’t reply (she usually doesn’t participate in public arguments), so the issue dropped quickly.
Morgan’s feud with Kim Kardashian followed a similar path after she posted a topless photo of herself (along with Emily Ratajkowski), and Morgan tweeted that “feminism as it was intended is dead.”
If women genuinely think this photo advocates women's rights & equality, then feminism as it was intended is dead. pic.twitter.com/8Anm7yPYfI
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) March 31, 2016
Kim/Emily aren't posting these photos to 'empower' women in the cause of feminism.
They're doing it to make money. pic.twitter.com/Ao330GHAb3
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) March 31, 2016
I know the old man's $50 million in debt, Kim – but this is absurd.
Want me to buy you some clothes? https://t.co/hEA9osB2QF
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) March 7, 2016
Unlike Beyoncé, Kardashian replied, as did Ratajkowski:
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) March 8, 2016
@piersmorgan thanks, but I don't need clothes as much as you need press.
— Emily Ratajkowski (@emrata) July 7, 2016
It’s safe to say Ratajkowski had the last word here.
Morgan also faced off against Chrissy Teigen this year; the duo got into multiple Twitter arguments, but none as angry as the Muhammad Ali feud. Morgan started the ball rolling with his tweet about the late boxer.
Muhammad Ali said far more inflammatory/racist things about white people than Donald Trump ever has about Muslims. #fact
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) June 5, 2016
Teigen and her husband, musician John Legend, went on the attack.
@johnlegend from what? trolling isn't a job (I've tried)
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) June 5, 2016
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) June 6, 2016
Things turned very ugly.
My 4 kids all just looked at me and said: 'Daddy, who's Chrissy Teigen?' https://t.co/vCCEDh6lzq
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) June 6, 2016
Hi, Piers. I know you're reading this. You unequivocal douche.
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) June 6, 2016
Hi Chrissy. No I'm not, you ludicrous swimwear accessory. https://t.co/3gfelyEyzC
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) June 6, 2016
With no love lost, the two eventually just let it go, though it wasn’t the last argument they had on Twitter in 2016. And just two weeks ago, Morgan went after Madonna for twerking on Carpool Karaoke, insinuating she was too old to perform the dance move.
2. Taylor Swift vs. Kanye West and Kim Kardashian
Kanye West is another multiple-feud offender, but one of his biggest ones this year was with pop-country superstar Taylor Swift. The tension between these two celebs is palpable, and it feels like every couple months something new pops up.
In February, West debuted new song Famous, and its lyrics included the now-infamous lines “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that bitch famous.”
West claimed that he sought Swift’s approval before the song’s release, saying “I called Taylor and had a hour-long convo with her about the line and she thought it was funny and gave her blessings.”
Swift’s people immediately denied this in a statement, saying instead that West asked her to promote the song.
“Kanye did not call for approval, but to ask Taylor to release his single Famous on her Twitter account. She declined and cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message. Taylor was never made aware of the actual lyric.”
Four days later at the Grammys, Swift picked up her Album of the Year trophy for 1989, and dug deep on West. Ouch.
Months later, West’s wife Kardashian weighed in, agreeing with her husband that Swift was notified of the lyrics. Fed up, Swift posted to Instagram, hoping to clear up the whole mess.
While it shut down the feud in the moment, even now people are still solidly Team Taylor or Team Kanye.
3. Kesha vs. Dr. Luke
This feud is a serious one. Music producer Dr. Luke and performer Kesha have been at war since she accused him earlier this year of drugging, sexually abusing and emotionally tormenting her. She was signed to his record label and claimed she was a “slave,” being barred from working with any other producers while undergoing the abuse. The hashtag #FreeKesha popped up on multiple occasions this year as the singer tried to free herself from her Sony contract.
She filed two lawsuits against Dr. Luke, one in Los Angeles and New York City, to get out of her contract. (Kesha had previously sued Dr. Luke in 2014 for sexual assault and battery, but he filed a countersuit and called her allegations “defamatory.”)
I didn’t rape Kesha and I have never had sex with her. Kesha and I were friends for many years and she was like my little sister.
— Dr. Luke Doctor Luke (@TheDoctorLuke) February 22, 2016
After weeks of back-and-forth and accusations being denied, Kesha ultimately dropped her Los Angeles case — she said so she could focus on her New York City case — and as of this writing it is still with Sony Music. Dr. Luke has sued the singer for defamation, and that case is still pending.
4. Justin Bieber vs. his fans
Justin Bieber has grown up a lot in 2016, but that may not necessarily be a good thing for his young teenage fans. When Bieber was in his early teens, he loved the limelight and the screams. Now, as an adult, the novelty has worn off, and the Canadian pop star has become known for his concert outbursts. On multiple occasions this year, Beliebers were chastized for screaming and not listening to him while he talked onstage. He even told off some of his fans.
Many stops on Bieber’s Purpose Tour were marred by the singer’s temperamental rants. In Birmingham, England in October, he took a moment to plead with his fans to hold back their screams.
Shortly afterwards, at a show in Manchester, England, Bieber dropped his mic and stormed off stage after a fan wouldn’t stop screaming.
Some fans were not having it, and the Twitterverse became a literal sea of deflated Beliebers.
Based on Bieber’s record-breaking success this year with Purpose, it doesn’t sound like many of his fans took his words to heart.
5. Justin Bieber vs. Selena Gomez
This one gets a bit awkward, and again doesn’t end well for Bieber’s fans (or for fans of #Jelena). Yes, former couple Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez, pictured here in 2010, got into a war of words on Instagram that ultimately led to Bieber deleting his account.
The story goes: Bieber posted five photos of himself and his reported new girlfriend, 17-year-old Sofia Richie, while they were scantily clad on vacation. Almost instantly, Beliebers were flooding his photos with negative comments about Richie and positive things about Gomez.
Bieber warned fans, saying, “I’m gonna make my Instagram private if you guys don’t stop the hate this is getting out of hand. If you guys are really fans you wouldn’t be so mean to people that I like.”
Then, what many sources say was Gomez herself (and she has never denied it), replied to Bieber’s message.
“If you can’t handle the hate, stop posting pictures of your girlfriend lol—it should be special between you two only. Don’t be mad at your fans. They love you and supported you before anyone ever did.”
Of course, Bieber retorted, ending with a flourish and deleting his account.
“It’s funny to see people that used me for attention and still try to point the finger this way. Sad. All love. I’m not one for anyone receiving hate. Hope you all can be kind to my friends and each other. And yes, I love my Beliebers.”
The fallout was major and lasting from this feud, as Bieber’s account remains deleted.
6. Amber Rose vs. Kanye West
This messy and raunchy feud from earlier this year was definitely one of the most scintillating to come from Tinseltown. Former flames Amber Rose and Kanye West got into a heated Twitter battle after West (once again) publicly brought up her “stripper” past.
In a now-deleted tweet, West posted that rapper Wiz Khalifa (Rose’s husband) was bound to her until their 2-year-old son, Sebastian, reaches adulthood. “4th you let a stripper trap you,” West tweeted. “5th I know you mad every time you look at your child that this girl got you for 18 years. 6th don’t ever come out the side of your neck at me.”
Rose quickly replied, upping the ante significantly.
“Awww @kanyewest are u mad I’m not around to play in ur a**hole anymore? #FingersInTheBootyAssBitch,” she tweeted. “Lol @kanyewest Now u wanna delete ur tweets cuz Muva has arrived? #TwitterFingers #UrGettingBodiedByAStripperN***a.”
After that, much hysteric speculation followed on what Rose’s tweet meant, but nothing ever came of it. Eventually West and Khalifa apologized to one another; Rose and West have never reconciled.
7. Kelly Ripa vs. ABC and Michael Strahan
Kelly Ripa was shocked when her longtime co-host, Michael Strahan, announced in May he was leaving his post at Live! to co-anchor Good Morning America. She claimed she wasn’t told by the network or Strahan about his decision with enough advance notice.
She says she was only told about Strahan’s September 2016 start at GMA less than an hour before the news about his promotion leaked to press, and she abruptly took a week off of Live! following his announcement to deal with what she felt was a slight. (At the time, her representatives said it was a “previously scheduled vacation.”)
READ MORE: Kelly Ripa won’t rule out Billy Bush, Kardashians for Live! co-host
Ripa received a personal apology from top executives at Disney and ABC after the incident, who said they “expressed regret for the way Kelly was told the news.”
“I needed a few days to gather my thoughts,” she said, explaining her absence. “After 26 years with this company, I earned the right.”
Ripa said the mishap was important because it opened up a conversation with ABC about mutual respect. Despite it all, she has had time to digest the situation and holds no hard feelings against the show, Strahan, or the executives.
“I’m not dealing with monsters,” she said. “I don’t think of anybody as a monster or out to get me. But sometimes stability and dependability can be misinterpreted as passive. Like, ‘Oh, we don’t have to worry about her, she’s fine. She’s fine.’ And I am fine, but I need assurances that we’re all going to be fine.”
Ripa continues to co-host Live!, but hasn’t named Strahan’s permanent successor yet.
8. Amber Heard vs. Johnny Depp
Accusations came fast and furious during this year’s messy divorce between actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. Heard said Depp regularly abused her, both physically and mentally, and filed for divorce to save herself.
For almost two months, the couple bitterly tried to take the other down in the court of public opinion.
Several photos emerged showing Heard with a bruised face; there were also allegations Depp cut off part of his finger during an altercation with the actress. Heard even released a video, allegedly showing Depp in a drunken rage.
Heard promised that she would donate money she received in the divorce settlement to two charities: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to prevent violence against women and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. The couple settled for $7 million, and Depp was never found guilty of any abuse charge.
Most recently, Heard has emerged in the media again, claiming that Depp never gave her the $6.8 million as ordered by the court. (Less the sum to be paid to charity, which has been paid in full.) She filed a lawsuit in late-December.
9. The Rock vs. Vin Diesel
But wait, you’re thinking… isn’t Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson always a sweet, wonderful guy? This is a fair question, but when it comes to his movies, Johnson is dead serious. While many people thought the exchange between Johnson and fellow actor Vin Diesel was all jokes, it turns out there really was something to it. The Rock said in a November interview, “I was very clear with what I said. I’ve been in the game a long time.”
In August, Johnson shared a cryptic Instagram post, slamming several of his male Fast 8 costars as unprofessional “candy asses.”
The pair reportedly had a secret meeting to discuss the on-set strife, whatever it may have been.
Later, Diesel matched Johnson’s vagueness with his own Instagram post about the matter.
Johnson later clarified his Instagram post, saying that creative differences on-set can be beneficial in the long run.
“You guys reading this know how much I believe in the idea of team effort,” he wrote. “That means respecting every person, their time and their value when they step onto my set or partner with our production company. And like with any team, that’s a family, there’s gonna be conflict. Family is gonna have differences of opinion and fundamental core beliefs. To me, conflict can be a good thing, when it’s followed by great resolution. I was raised on healthy conflict and welcome it. And like any family, we get better from it.”
All seemed to be well between the two musclebound leading men when Diesel praised Johnson’s performance in the Furious series.
After all this discord, one can hardly predict what’s to come in 2017…
With files from The Associated Press, Sarah Kelsey and Katie Scott