A brief primer on Dr Disrespect and the mystery behind his Twitch ban

(Image credit: Dr Disrespect)

With nearly 4.5 million followers, Dr Disrespect is—or was—one of the biggest streamers on Twitch. Even if you didn't follow him, you've probably heard about the speculation around his mysterious Twitch ban, the reason for which we still don't know. If you're wondering how we got here, here's the short version.

The Dr Disrespect character emerged almost fully-formed on YouTube in 2010, with his trademark shades, 'stache, and contemptuous macho attitude. But back then—before the man became the mustache—he was better known as Guy Beahm, soon to be a community manager at Call of Duty studio Sledgehammer Games.

"Guy is a perfect fit for the studio," Sledgehammer's then-CEO Glen Schofield said when Beahm was hired (opens in new tab) a little over a year after that first video went up. "He's a hardcore Call of Duty gamer with a background in marketing management, and is the mind behind the online personality, Dr Disrespect. It's important to know we hired Guy for his knowledge, skills and passion for games. We did not hire Dr Disrespect."

A year after being hired at Sledgehammer, Beahm announced via his "real" Twitter account that he'd been promoted to a design role (opens in new tab) at Sledgehammer, where he worked on Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. (He's also credited on Modern Warfare 3 (opens in new tab), but its release predates his design role promotion.) A large gap in his YouTube history reflects his focus on game development over videos.

In September 2015, Beahm announced that he had left Sledgehammer and was preparing "to explore a new level of creativity in a whole new chapter." That's when he fully inhabited the role of Dr Disrespect, now as a Twitch streamer. 

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In 2017, ESPN (opens in new tab) described Dr Disrespect as "a WWE character in the competitive gaming world" (he actually had a bizarre, G-Fuel-fueled "confrontation (opens in new tab)" with The Undertaker earlier this year), and that outsize personality quickly made him one of Twitch's most popular streamers. For his increasingly elaborate stream productions and in-character antics as an egotistical, deluded (but legitimately good) pro gamer, most specializing in the Battle Royale genre, he was voted Trending Gamer (opens in new tab) of the year at the 2017 Game Awards.

But he soon had problems too. In late 2017, Beahm took a hiatus from streaming after admitting to cheating on his wife (opens in new tab) at TwitchCon. His comeback just a couple of months later set a peak concurrent viewer record (opens in new tab) on Twitch, but was followed almost immediately by criticism of his use of a racist "hybrid language (opens in new tab)"—gibberish that he describes in this video (opens in new tab) as "Chinese, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, and Japanese, all blended into one." 

Later that year, he ended a livestream abruptly after someone shot at his house (opens in new tab) with a BB gun, breaking a window—the second time in two days that someone had shot at his house. No one was hurt.

Dr Disrespect's most notorious incident happened in 2019, when he and his crew livestreamed from a public washroom at E3. That ill-conceived stunt got his E3 pass revoked and earned him a two-week suspension (opens in new tab) from Twitch. 

In an apology (opens in new tab) published shortly after his return, Beahm said that he and his on-site team "were sort of 'all-in' with the Doc livestream experience and capturing the E3 event through the character." Their total commitment to the character, he says, made them "a little blind to what's OK and what's not OK."

There was no apparent lasting damage, because less than a year later, in March 2020, Beahm announced that he'd signed a new exclusive streaming deal with Twitch (opens in new tab). The terms of the contract weren't revealed, but he told The Verge that the amount involved was "life-changing (opens in new tab)."

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When he was banned from Twitch last week, Dr Disrespect was still one of the site's most popular streamers. Naturally, people want to know what convinced Twitch to give one of its biggest stars the boot, especially after everything it's let slide so far.

Without saying specifically what Beahm did to get the ban, Twitch implied that he has violated its Terms of Service or Community Guidelines in some way. Beahm himself hasn't commented on the ban except to tweet cryptically—and a few days after the news initially broke—that he hasn't been provided with a "specific reason" for the suspension. He also expressed gratitude for his fans' support "during this difficult time."

One possibility is that Beahm's past behavior, including a recent foray into COVID-19 and 5G conspiracy theory territory, has caught up to him. Twitch recently committed itself to updating and more aggressively enforcing its rules (opens in new tab): A couple of days prior to Beahm's suspension, it imposed bans against popular streamers including BlessRNG, iamsp00n, WarwitchTV, and Wolv21, and today it levied a temporary suspension against the official Twitch channel of US president Donald Trump for violating its rules against hateful conduct.

We don't know if Beahm is part of that wave of increased scrutiny and action, or if his ban is the result of something completely unrelated. Whether Beahm will continue streaming on another platform remains unknown right now. Unless Twitch, Beahm, or someone else familiar with the situation speaks out, we won't know for sure what caused the ban. Meanwhile, the lack of concrete information has led to rumors, conspiracy theories, and hoaxes, all of which should be taken with a grain of salt for now.

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.