The Tyson Zone

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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    Some celebrities allow their reputation to become so bizarre that any story about them is believable. These celebrities have entered The Tyson Zone.


    The term was created by commentator Bill Simmons in honor of heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson. Examples of Tysonic behavior include offering a zoo handler money to box a gorilla, threatening to eat an opponent's children, biting said opponent in the ring, saying you're ready to "fight Jesus", or blowing $300 million on hookers, cocaine and an enormous collection of pigeons.[1] And yes, Tyson did all of these things and more.

    Ideally, the nuttiness should be sustained for years. Continual craziness, ideally manifesting in a number of different forms, is required for someone to truly enter the Zone.

    The subject must be famous. Being crazy in your house is one thing; being crazy on national television is a whole different story.

    Related Tropes:

    • All Men Are Perverts: the easiest way for a man to enter the Zone is with a bizarre/violent sex life. If nothing is known, salacious rumors will do.
    • Ax Crazy: Some of the best occupants of the Tyson Zone are shining examples of this trope.
    • Controversy-Proof Image: when a celebrity has built such a "bad dude" or "rebellious" image that any accusation of misconduct gets ignored or even helps their career instead of destroying it. Usually, but not necessarily, a pre-requisite to enter in the Zone.
    • Memetic Molester: Or any other "Memetic Mutation" trope, but this one seems to fit the most.
    • Old Shame: The public tends to remember bad things a celebrity does far longer than good things.
    • Poe's Law: Same principle. A celebrity who enters the Tyson Zone for religious fundamentalism would be a straight example of both tropes.
    • Weirdness Magnet: Not all who enter the Tyson Zone are crazy in their own right. Sometimes, the strange things just follow them.

    Compare Overshadowed by Controversy, which usually follows this trope.

    Examples of The Tyson Zone include:

    Bill Simmons' List

    The inaugural class named by Bill Simmons consisted of the following celebrities:


    • Mel Gibson has steadily become this, for all the most unflattering imaginable reasons.
    • After Charlie Sheen's much publicized 2011 cocaine binge, Bill Simmons himself suggested that it may be time for Sheen to become the new Trope Namer. Though he put a hilarious condition (4th question there) for Sheen to take Tyson's title—with the observation "Let's hope I didn't just challenge him".
      • They even met in this old clip from HBO. Hilarious in Hindsight?
      • Jossed after Tyson's performance at Comedy Central's roast of Sheen. Charlie came off as collected and lucid, whereas Tyson was giggling like an axe murderer and at one point heckled himself. Your winner and still zone champion, "Iron" Mike Tyson.
    • Victoria Jackson (of Saturday Night Live fame) has become one these in the past few years by getting involved in the Birther movement and complaining about Glee (a kiss between two male characters in particular) on television while waving a Bible around. Her Wikipedia picture also features her in a really bizarre outfit that cannot be explained.
    • Robert Downey, Jr. came close to entering, but then turned his life around thanks to, of all people, Mel Gibson. He's since called for the same opportunity to be extended to Mel.
    • Think for a moment: is there a role you wouldn't believe Nicolas Cage would take? Think for a moment more: is there something you wouldn't believe Nicolas Cage would waste his money on? The man bankrupted himself buying things like swords and a private island.
    • During the late 1990s and early 2000s Bill Murray acquired a body of Urban Legends in which he would reportedly show up doing something completely unexpected -- like taking over as the bartender at a random couple's wedding or working the register at a convenience store -- almost always ending with Murray winking at the witness or otherwise acknowledging he's who he is, and saying "No one will ever believe you." (This reached a point where a website was set up to collect these stories.) With the proliferation of smartphones starting in the early 2010s, though, several such incidents were caught on camera, finally moving them out of the realm of urban legend and firmly into The Tyson Zone.
    • Klaus Kinski: As his daughter Pola wrote in her autobiographical book Kindermund, he had raped her since she was five years old. And she was not fond about all the fans gushing to her what kind of a "genius" he supposedly was. Hell, years before that, Kinski had written in his autobiography about Parental Incest.
      • For a minor example, the sentences in the letters he wrote to her contained up to sixteen exclamation marks. So it's safe to say that Kinski was at least three times above the "wears his underpants on his head" standard for insanity.


    • Mike Tyson, the Trope Namer.
      • This trope is invoked in The Hangover Part II, where he asks to see the photos of the Wolf Pack's wild night by saying "I'm Mike Tyson. Nothing surprises me." And he still reacts to the pictures with a Mother F-Bomb.
    • Manny Ramirez.
    • Ben Roethlisberger. It's not that you'll believe any story about things he did, but that you'll believe any story about things that happened to him.
    • Ron Artest/Metta World Peace.[2] And the name change isn't the most infamous thing about him. Remember he started a brawl on a basketball court with a fan several rows back in the stands.
    • Brian Wilson from the San Francisco Giants cultivates this image, probably/hopefully for humor's sake.
    • The University of Miami (Florida) football team, especially after the Nevin Shapiro illicit benefits allegations. But the craziness stretches back decades...
      • 1980s: Luther Campbell of 2 Live Crew runs a rewards program to pay players for touchdowns and other on-field achievements.
      • 1987: At a pregame steak dinner for the Fiesta Bowl, Penn State shows up in suits. Miami shows up in full combat fatigues.
      • 1991: The team's taunting of the Texas Longhorns in the Cotton Bowl Classic (most notably Randal Hill's touchdown celebration) is so flagrant that the NCAA creates the "Miami Rule" to punish it. This, on top of receiving sixteen penalties over 202 yards, a bowl and school record.
      • 1992: A bench clearing brawl with San Diego State includes Dwayne Johnson (yes, The Rock) chasing the mascot into the stands.
      • 2001: Against Boston College, a Miami defensive lineman records an interception, only for his teammate Ed Reed to run up behind him and steal the ball to take it in for the winning touchdown. (On a side note, 2001 Miami is considered by some to be the greatest college football team of all-time.)
      • 2002: Najeh Davenport breaks into a woman's dorm room and is caught pooping in her laundry basket.
      • 2006: Kellen Winslow is confronted by reporters for intentionally injuring an opposing player and has an epic freakout on camera, where he declares "I'm a fucking soldier!"
      • 2011: Convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro is caught for having lavished strippers, prostitutes, alcohol and money on UM recruits for nearly 10 years.


    • Werner Herzog. From hauling a steamship up a mountain to getting shot on camera he's known as much for his weirdness as his films.
      • He would be even better known for this if he weren't completely overshadowed by his favorite actor Klaus Kinski. People's opinions are divided about if he was just completely insane or played being insane all the time for the publicity. He was probably pretty much in the middle of the two.


    • Any of the original members of Motley Crue.
    • Michael Jackson. In The Eighties, he encouraged this image by creating fake eccentricities—sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber, trying to buy the Elephant Man's remains—knowing it would garner lots of publicity in the tabloids. What truly makes him zone-worthy is that we know he actually did the following things:
      • Owned a pet chimp named Bubbles, for whom he would have custom suits tailored, since he frequently took the animal to public appearances. This was just one of many exotic pets he owned over the years, to the point that a Saturday Morning Cartoon and toy line based on them were being developed in The Eighties.
      • Created the Neverland Ranch mansion/zoo/amusement park complex to live in.
      • Got set on fire due to a freak accident on the set of a Pepsi commercial, leading him to become dependent on painkillers for the rest of his life.
      • Had giant statues of himself built and trucked around the world (including down the River Thames) to promote 1995's HIStory.
      • Had tons of plastic surgery, although he denied most of it (it's generally agreed though that the narrowing of his face was due to weight loss caused by anorexia and lupus; the changes to his lips and chin and his multiple rhinoplasties are real). A related issue was how he chose to handle his vitiligo, which started destroying the pigmentation of his skin in The Eighties: after the disease progressed to a point where he couldn't easily cover it up with brown makeup, he bleached the visible areas of his skin to an alarming whiteness.
      • Dangled his then-infant son over a hotel balcony in Berlin so fans below could see him—although "Blanket" was largely covered by a real blanket when he did so, so what was the point?
      • Never let his kids go out in public with him without masks or veils. His concern that the kids could be targets for kidnapping or worse was valid—but those masks and veils attracted a lot of attention anyway. (The masks disappeared after his death.)
      • Claimed that Tommy Mottola, head of Sony Music, was a racist who had deliberately sabotaged the release of 2001's Invincible because Jackson was black (said sabotage, if true, had more to do with Jackson choosing to part ways with Sony before the album hit shelves). A notorious quote: "He's a mean [sp.], he's a racist, and he's very, very, very devilish."
      • Admitted that he had sleepovers with child friends, letting them use his bed and even sharing it with them in some cases. The 2003 interview containing this revelation came almost a decade after he had settled out of court with the family of a boy who accused him of molesting him. By the end of '03, a second investigation into child molestation allegations resulted in an arrest and trial (he was found not guilty), which led to him...
      • Appearing for his trial visibly confused, several hours late, in pajama bottoms on one occasion. In hindsight this was a clear indication of his problems with drugs, in particular using anesthetics as sleeping pills, which ultimately killed him.
    • Kanye West is known for having such a large ego that a false rumor stating he had claimed the title of "King of Pop" after Jackson's death was disbelieved by almost no one.
    • Lady Gaga, although it's mostly due to her intentionally being as ridiculous as possible. Some think she's doing it to satirize an increasingly crazy entertainment/tabloid industry that is obsessed with this. Others... just think she's crazy. Still others point out that she could easily be both.
    • Ozzy Osbourne. The self-proclaimed Prince of Darkness. About half of this image was self-cultivated, rather like Michael Jackson (except for the image of sheer craziness rather than bizarre mystique) and the rest is due to bad decisions resulting from drug and alcohol binges.
    • Yoshiki Hayashi, hide, Taiji Sawada... hell, all of the members of X Japan.
    • Gackt.
    • The late Ol' Dirty Bastard.
    • Keith Moon. Alice Cooper himself once said "40% of what you've heard about me, or Iggy or or Ozzy is probably true. Everything you've ever heard about Keith Moon is true. And you've only heard a tenth of it."
    • In 2007, Keith Richards made headlines when he was quoted as having snorted his father's ashes with cocaine. No one had any trouble believing this was true.


    • Christian Weston Chandler, creator of Sonichu. Among other bizarre things, this person...
      • Entered a Parappa the Rapper promotional contest to win a female friend's affection, lost, and made a video of himself shooting a photo of the contest winner
      • Drew crude pornographic artwork of himself and said female friend, which drove her off
      • Attempted to solicit sex from girls at his college by standing around holding signs, which actually got him in trouble with the college staff and law enforcement
      • Ran into numerous altercations with online trolls from 4chan and Encyclopedia Dramatica, to the point there is a wiki and a forum still tracking his antics
      • Posted a video of himself humping a blow-up doll while yelling the pseudonym of a suspected troll posing as a prospective girlfriend
      • Drew the mock trial and brutal executions of a group of people responsible for a parody of Sonichu
      • Got banned from a local game store for racism and yelling at children
      • Got arrested (along with his mother) for allegedly trying to run over the owner of the aforementioned store with their car before being sentenced to community service
      • Began identifying himself as a lesbian woman after being introduced to the controversial webseries Feminist Frequency, at which point he began taking hormonal supplements, grew out his hair, attempted to grow a vagina through hypnosis, and got his taint pierced and called the piercing an "unclit"; the piercing later got infected and had to be removed
      • Protested Sonic's redesign in the Sonic Boom series by vandalizing copies of Rise of Lyric at GameStop and macing an employee on his way out, for which he got arrested again
      • Posted photographs of his taint online when the piercing re-opened and became infected, thinking he finally grew a vagina
      • Repeatedly made Facebook posts calling for the killing of various members of the United States government
    • Muammar Gaddafi, a country's former ruler.
    • The late Seattle restaurateur Ivar Haglund was notorious for his Crazy Awesome stunts. Buying the local TV station to give yourself an excuse to sing Norwegian folk songs for an hour a week? Sending the City Building department a protest in metered rhyme? Taking a baby seal in a pram to meet Santa? Running for office and getting elected as a joke? Underwater billboards?! Yeah. The local newspapers never knew what he was going to pull.
    • Older Than Radio example: Marie Antoinette. She was viewed as a symbol of the decadent monarchy and nobility that was running France into the ground, with the final straw being the Affair of the Diamond Necklace, in which a prominent courtier was tricked by a con artist into buying the priceless trinket under the impression he was doing her a discreet favour. There was no proof of her involvement, and most historians feel that she had nothing to do with it, but her reputation was so bad that nobody doubted it. She and the monarchy lost what little credibility they still had with the French people, and The French Revolution broke out a few years later.
    • Stage Moms and pageant parents in general. One infamous example is that of Kerry Campbell, who allegedly gave her eight-year-old daughter Botox injections, then defended this practice (claiming it was never too early get your child cosmetic surgery to "get rid of the lines") and claimed that other pageant moms practiced this as well. The fact that the whole story turned out to be fake did nothing to dispel it.
    • The entire state of Florida, so much that we even have a trope about it.

    Fictional examples

    • The Stig from Top Gear is often hyped this way in-show. This does include his other relatives.
    • Mad Scientists in Girl Genius are on the far end of the zone. As in, when they do something out of line, people only ask whether it's completely out of it. While discussing how the Heterodyne pretender must be trying to shut down their sentient and extremely dangerous ancestral castle:

    Vole: De pipple of Mechanicsburg vould not ekcept dot as proof dot she iz a Heterodyne.
    Gil: No, neither would my father.
    Vole: ...not unless she danced nekked through de ruins vile trying to shoot down de moon... turned all de tourists into monsters - and den built a very dangerous fountain out of sausages.
    Gil: Well... yes, that goes without saying.


    1. The man loves the birds. Even before boxing.
    2. Seriously. It's kind of hilarious, actually, since announcers started saying things like "World Peace for 3" first with all kinds of subtle jokes, and then seriously after all the jokes got old...which is itself kinda funny.