You don’t remember that madness? If not, count yourself among the lucky ones. And if you blocked it out, we don’t blame you. Almost exactly four years ago, Sheen’s very public implosion was all anyone — at least on the Internet — could talk about for a solid month. Every day brought a new surprise and truly unfortunate consequences.
As “Two and a Half Men” officially comes to an end on Thursday night after 12 seasons, it’s worth remembering that the comedy has weathered a lot of storms. But there’s never been anything quite like Sheen’s apocalyptic behavior. Whether or not Sheen actually makes a much-rumored cameo on the finale tonight, let’s take a few moments to recall one of the weirdest times in TV history, which resulted in the country’s most popular sitcom being temporarily shut down — and also gave the American public some inexplicably popular catchphrases.
2010: For some context, this year was the beginning of the end. On Christmas Day 2009, Sheen was arrested in Aspen on domestic violence charges against his then-wife, Brooke Mueller. In February, he went to rehab. In August, he pleaded guilty to the domestic violence charge and was sentenced to more rehab. That fall was nonstop tabloid story chaos: Sheen trashed a room at the Plaza Hotel, reportedly under the influence of drugs; he was hospitalized; partied in Las Vegas; got sued by a porn star and then sued her back for extortion.
Jan. 11: Reports emerge that CBS and production company Warner Bros. want “Two and a Half Men” to go on hiatus so Sheen (who is making about $2 million per episode) can go to rehab.
Jan. 25, 2011: At the 2011 Television Critics Association press tour, CBS entertainment chief Nina Tassler addresses Sheen’s behavior and admits, “We have a high level of concern – how could we not?” But she insists the status of the show, currently bringing in tons of money with its 15 million viewers a week, is fine: “On a personal level, we’re concerned – on a professional level, he does his job and he does it well and the show’s a hit, and that’s all I have to say.”
Jan. 28: After Sheen is hospitalized again, he announces he’s going to rehab, and will complete the program in his own house (which he calls the “Sober Valley Lodge”). “Two and a Half Men” is put on hiatus, with 16 out of 24 episodes filmed for the eighth season.
Feb. 2011: Sheen kills time in rehab by calling in to syndicated radio shows to do interviews.
Feb. 14: The last filmed Season 8 episode of “Two and a Half Men” airs.
Feb. 24: Sheen gives his most infamous radio interview to syndicated host Alex Jones, where he bashed “Two and a Half Men” creator Chuck Lorre: “Check it, Alex: I embarrassed him in front of his children and the world by healing at a pace that this un-evolved mind cannot process.” He also called Alcoholics Anonymous a “bootleg cult,” saying: “The only thing I’m addicted to right now is winning.”
Later on Feb. 24: CBS scraps production on “Two and a Half Men” for the season. “Based on the totality of Charlie Sheen’s statements, conduct and condition, CBS and Warner Bros. Television have decided to discontinue production of ‘Two and a Half Men’ for the remainder of the season,” the network says in a statement.
Feb. 25: Sheen sends a letter to TMZ, raging about the show being shut down: “I gracefully ignored this folly for 177 shows … I fire back once and this contaminated little maggot can’t handle my power and can’t handle the truth. I wish him nothing but pain in his silly travels especially if they wind up in my octagon.”
Feb. 28: The avalanche of interviews begins, and he continues to attack the show. “I am on a drug. It’s called ‘Charlie Sheen. It’s not available because if you try it once, you will die. Your face will melt off, and your children will weep over your exploded body,” he tells “Good Morning America.”
Feb. 28: Sheen’s publicist resigns.
March 1: Chuck Lorre responds via a vanity card at the end of his other CBS sitcom, “Mike & Molly.” It’s vague and existential. (“In other words, I am aware, ergo I am alone.”)
March 1: Sheen gives an interview to “20/20” about “the goddesses,” the two women (one a former porn star) who lived with him in his Los Angeles home. “We win so radically in our underwear before our first cup of coffee, it’s scary. People say it’s lonely at the top, but I sure like the view,” he said.
March 1: Police come to Sheen’s home and take his and Brooke Mueller’s toddler twin sons, Max and Bob, after Mueller files a restraining order. People magazine asks if he’s going to try to get his kids back. Sheen replies back via text: “Born ready. Winning.”
March 2: Sheen talks to the “Today” show about his custody problems, saying he’ll do anything he can to get his sons back.
March 3: The rambling interviews continue nonstop. Sheen says he has “tiger blood,” “Adonis DNA” and confesses, ‘I’m tired of pretending I’m not a total bitchin’ rock star from Mars.’” And of course, he grants America a new catchphrase: “Winning!”
March 7: After even more interviews, with Sheen calling “Two and a Half Men” a “pukefest,” CBS and Warner Bros. have enough and officially fire him from the show. “Your client has been engaged in dangerously self destructive conduct and appears to be very ill,” the network says in a letter to Sheen’s attorney. Among his transgressions: “felony offenses involving moral turpitude (including but not limited to furnishing of cocaine to others as part of the self-destructive lifestyle he has described publicly).”
March 8: Sheen starts his short-lived web show, “Sheen’s Korner” which he nicknames “Torpedoes of Truth Part 2.” He shares his thoughts on a variety of topics, including his favorite “secret elixir.”
March 10: Sheen sues Warner Bros. and Lorre for $100 million. “Warner Bros. capitulated to Lorre’s egotistical desire to punish Mr. Sheen and to stop work on the Series for the rest of the season, and used its powerful public relations machine to create a myth to justify their conduct by wrongfully blaming Mr. Sheen,” the suit says.
July: Sheen lands a deal with FX to star in a TV show based on he movie “Anger Management,” which the network picks up for 100 episodes. It runs until December 2014, proving that Hollywood is a mystical creature where anyone (seriously, anyone) can be given a second chance.
Sept. 20: About 30 million people tune into the “Two and a Half Men” Season 9 finale to see how Sheen’s exit as Charlie Harper is addressed. Turns out, Charlie fell in front of a train in Paris and met a violent end.