10 Career-ending Affairs

While Tiger Woods continues to play professional golf, his career as an endorsement icon was significantly crippled by his cheating scandal. ┬ęStephen Dunn/Getty Images

The public consequences of bad romantic decisions are usually in direct relation to the public nature of the people involved. For a really juicy scandal, it's essential that the players have an authoritative or figurehead role in our culture, whether historically or in the current day. Actors on children's shows, politicians at the top of the food chain, monarchs and the heads of dynasties (whether they be Egyptian or Hollywood royalty) are held to a higher standard than the everyman, whose mistakes are simply tawdry.

What's interesting about the career-ending public affair is the way we seize upon it. The people society elevates are held to a higher standard, and have much further to fall. In many cases, and increasingly, the popular imagination doesn't even bother to hide the schadenfreude -- pleasure in another's misfortune -- we take from these events, because there is a hidden disappointment we feel when these things are revealed: "If these people are just human, what we were doing worshipping them?" And in the case of politicians, an even more paranoid disappointment: "Who's driving this bus, anyway?"

In this article, we'll explore 10 blockbuster scandals -- from history, politics, entertainment and the literary world -- and see what made each of them so sensational and destructive.