10 of the Most Controversial 'Dr. Phil' Moments Before Ending Its 21-Season Run

dr phil most controversial moments
Source: Dr. Phil/YouTube

Apr. 23 2024, Published 6:00 a.m. ET

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Dr. Phil McGraw Interviewed Shelley Duvall

dr phil mcgraw interviewed shelley duvall
Source: MEGA

Dr. Phil McGraw said he did not regret the controversial interview with Shelley Duvall.

Dr. Phil McGraw received backlash when he interviewed Shelley Duvall on Dr. Phil in 2016.

At the time, the 3 Women actress made several claims during her appearance, including Robin Williams still living as a shapeshifter and an alleged whirring disc inside her. Duvall's participation was reportedly a plea for help amid her mental distress.

"I don't regret what I did," McGraw said on Who's Talking to Chris Wallace. "I regret that it was promoted in a way that people thought was unbecoming."

"There are parts of that story that I haven't talked about and won't talk about in specific, but I can say generally that we worked with her family [and] with her for over a year off camera, after the fact, providing her opportunities for inpatient and outpatient psychiatric care. I can't tell you the extent we went through," he continued.

Meanwhile, Duvall sat down for an extensive interview with The Hollywood Reporter in 2021 during which she revealed she found what kind of person McGraw was the hard way.

"My mother didn't like him, either. A lot of people, like Dan (Gilroy), said, 'You shouldn't have done that, Shelley,'" she disclosed.

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Did JonBenét Ramsey's Brother Kill Her?

did jonbenet ramseys brother kill her
Source: Dr. Phil/YouTube

The young beauty queen was killed in December 1996.

Burke Ramsey, the brother of the slain child beauty queen JonBenét Ramsey, raised questions when he appeared in an interview on Dr. Phil and smiled a lot while recalling the shocking incident. Burke was considered a suspect in the murder case.

"I have no intention to speak out … in the future," Burke said after his appearance.

A Teenager Named Hayley Said Eminem Was Her Father

a teenager named hayley said eminem was her father
Source: Dr. Phil/YouTube

The woman also made claims about being pregnant with Jesus.

A teenager named Haley dropped by Dr. Phil to share her claims: she was nine months pregnant with Jesus and that Eminem was her father. She showed photos of a man who reportedly looked like the rap god, but her sister said the guy was only a family member.

"That's not you, that's his daughter. That's a different human being," McGraw explained. "Well, he might have another daughter he doesn't know about."

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Former Guests Claimed 'Dr. Phil' Staff Members Enabled Their Addictions

former guests claimed dr phil staff members enabled their addictions
Source: Dr. Phil/YouTube

'Dr. Phil' denied the claims.

In 2017, several Dr. Phil guests came forward with accusations that the show enabled their drug or alcohol abuse problems.

One of them was Survivor winner Todd Herzog, who reportedly found a bottle of vodka in his dressing room. He drank it before a staff member gave him Xanax to "calm his nerves."

A spokesperson for the show issued a statement to People to dismiss the allegations.

"It tears families apart and certainly creates levels of complexities when we produce these important shows," part of the statement read. "None of this will deter the Dr. Phil show from it's commitment to continue to educate and inform the public about the worsening epidemic of addiction."

Dr. Phil's director of professional affairs, Martin Greenberg, said the guests' claims were "absolutely, unequivocally untrue."

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Dr. Phil Visited Britney Spears at a Hospital

dr phil visited britney spears at a hospital
Source: MEGA

Dr. Phil McGraw decided not to air the episode due to extreme backlash.

In January 2008, Britney Spears was on a psychiatric hold at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center when McGraw showed up "at the request of her concerned family."

The public accused the host of exploiting the "Toxic" singer's situation to boost his self-promotion.

As a result, he ended up canceling the scheduled release of the episode.

Dr. Phil McGraw
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'Dr. Phil' Got Lambasted Over a 2013 Tweet

dr phil lambasted over a  tweet
Source: Dr. Phil/YouTube

#DrPhilQuestions trended on Twitter, now X, after the question was posted.

McGraw found himself in hot water when the official social media page of his show tweeted, "If a girl is drunk, is it OK to have s-- with her? Reply yes or no to @drphil #teensaccused."

After the public condemned the host and the program, a representative explained in a BuzzFeed question about the post, "This tweet was intended to evoke discussion leading into a very serious show topic. It was not intended to be taken lightly. It's based upon a recent news story, hence the #teensaccused label."

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Pastor Thom Miller Revealed His Polygamy Practice

pastor thom miller revealed his polygamy practice
Source: Dr. Phil/YouTube

The pastor married Reba a few years later.

Dr. Phil viewers were left shocked when a former Mafia enforcer-turned-pastor Thom Miller appeared in a 2015 episode of the show to speak about his polygamous relationship with his two wives. His story left the public troubled as one of the women was then-19-year-old Reba, who was also pregnant with his child.

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'Dr. Phil' Show Promoted a Toxic Workplace Environment

dr phil show promoted a toxic work environment
Source: Dr. Phil/YouTube

Oprah Winfrey created 'Dr. Phil.'

In 2022, a report divulged the alleged toxic workplace environment on Dr. Phil's set.

Seven employees accused the production of encouraging them to manipulate guests, telling Buzzfeed News about the shocking instructions they needed to do. One former employee revealed they were tasked to prevent a guest from taking her prescribed medication.

"She did take the medication because no one got there in time and I remember thinking, 'My God, I don't want to be the one to tell them or dissuade them from that.' And that's all for the sake of TV. Obviously this girl should be on her medication and that's what we're trying to get her help for, but for the sake of TV they wanted her to look off the rails," the ex-staff detailed.

McGraw's personal attorney Patrick Morris dismissed the claims in a statement to Variety, calling the report "a clickbait story."

He shared, "BuzzFeed was offered dozens of current and former staff members to talk to but when BuzzFeed started hearing the truth, which ruined their salacious narrative, they declined. Dr. Phil focuses on content for the program and doesn't get involved in staff relations, but the staff at the program in no way uses ethnic origin such as described."

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for ViacomCBS also told the media outlet that "creating safe and inclusive working environments is a top priority" for the show.

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Nick Gordon Appeared on the Show After Bobbi Kristina Brown's Death

nick gordon appeared on the show after bobbi kristina browns death
Source: Dr. Phil/YouTube

Bobbi Kristina Brown's autopsy revealed she died from a combination of drowning and drug intoxication.

Whitney Houston's daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, died on July 26, 2015, months after she was found face down in a bathtub in her Georgia home.

While Brown was in a coma, her then-partner Nick Gordon appeared disheveled on the show.

"That was the whole purpose of going in, to talk to him about how he feels and what he thinks is going on and all of the history about this whole situation. What I'm telling you is, I get there, he is not capable of giving an interview. He is out of control," McGraw told the audience.

Three years after Brown's death, Gordon was found liable for her death. He died in Seminole County on January 1, 2020, following a heroin overdose.

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'Dr. Phil' Show's Ending Was Expected to Happen

dr phil shows ending was expected to happen
Source: Dr. Phil/YouTube

'Dr. Phil' debuted in 2002.

In January, Variety confirmed McGraw's decision to end his show after 21 seasons. Experts and critics spoke to The Daily Beast after the announcement, saying the ending was "expected" and "long overdue."

"What really irked me was the exploitation of these stories and the exploitation of people who were in a crisis state to peddle sponsors' products," Ryan Hampton said.

The addiction activist continued, "It was well known that if you want to up your admission rates at your treatment facility in Malibu, or sell your virtual reality treatment program that's rooted in zero science, then you just need to do a sponsorship with Dr. Phil's show. From my community, it's good riddance."

Meanwhile, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse assistant professor Taylor Cole Miller tweeted about his past experience on the show and its "manipulative, unethical, and representative of bad television production practices."

Psychiatrist Dr. Jeffrey Sugar added it was a good thing that McGraw would no longer be broadcasting.


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