In 2017, YouTube sensation LeafyIsHere was one of the platform’s biggest stars. With over 5 million subscribers, the controversial creator was known for his “commentary” videos roasting and making fun of other creators and internet personalities. However, after a series of controversies, YouTube banned Leafy in 2020, leaving many wondering if he would ever return.
The Rise of LeafyIsHere
Leafy, whose real name is Calvin Lee Vail, first joined YouTube in 2011. For the first few years, he uploaded random gameplay videos. But in 2015, Leafy pivoted to reaction-style commentary videos, where he would provide biting criticism and insults about other internet personalities and content creators.
This pivot proved to be wildly successful for Leafy. His subscriber count skyrocketed, gaining over a million new subscribers within 8 months. His videos received millions of views, and “Leafy Roast” style commentary videos became a popular format copied by other creators. At his peak in 2016-2017, Leafy was gaining over 100,000 new subscribers a month.
So what drew so many young viewers to Leafy? His videos provided entertainment through over-the-top insults, crass humor, profanity, and targeting of “cringe” content. For a generation growing up online, Leafy’s unfiltered style resonated.
Controversies and Downfall
However, Leafy’s bullying videos backfired when he picked fights with the wrong targets. In 2016, Leafy uploaded multiple videos mocking autistic YouTube creator TommyNC2010. The harsh criticism of someone with disabilities led to widespread backlash and #LeafyIsOverParty trending on Twitter.
Leafy’s videos also led to real-world harassment for some creators, which further turned public opinion against him. But despite the growing controversies, Leafy continued thriving on YouTube.
That changed in 2020 when Leafy made videos attacking Pokimane, one of YouTube’s most popular streamers. In response to harassment from Leafy’s fans, Pokimane collaborated with other top creators to email sponsors and campaign against Leafy. On August 21, 2020, YouTube terminated Leafy’s channel for repeated violations of harassment policies.
What Has Leafy Been Doing Since the Ban?
For the first year after his YouTube ban, Leafy kept a low profile. But he reemerged in summer 2021, setting up accounts on Instagram and TikTok. Leafy’s Instagram in particular has grown exponentially, amassing over 800,000 followers.
On these new platforms, Leafy has been posting memes, photos, and short commentary videos. But he’s largely moved away from directly attacking other creators. Without using others’ content, Leafy’s videos feel derivative of the many meme compilation channels on Instagram.
Besides social media, Leafy has mentioned wanting to pursue music and fashion. But so far, he has yet to release any songs or clothing merchandise. Ultimately, Leafy’s ability to pivot successfully to new creative endeavors remains in question.
Will YouTube Unban Leafy?
Since his ban, Leafy has repeatedly tried appealing to YouTube to get his channel back. But so far, YouTube has denied all his appeals and kept the ban in place.
YouTube has shown no indications they plan to allow Leafy to return. The platform has gotten stricter about harassment since Leafy’s ban. And with over 11 million subscribers at the time of his termination, YouTube likely sees Leafy as too risky to allow back.
However, some wonder if YouTube might eventually unwind Leafy’s ban after enough time passes. Controversial YouTubers like Logan Paul have been allowed to return after temporary bans. But Logan Paul has apologized and changed his content style, while Leafy has remained defiant.
Could Leafy Succeed Again on YouTube?
If Leafy did regain access to YouTube, could he regain his past popularity? Leafy still has a dedicated fanbase that would eagerly watch his videos again. But the broader YouTube audience has largely moved on.
YouTube culture has shifted since 2017, with creators facing more pressure to be brand-friendly for sponsors. Leafy’s edgy content style feels somewhat outdated now. And if he returned to directly attacking other creators, Leafy would likely face another wave of backlash.
However, Leafy could potentially pivot to more mainsteamed comedy commentary and find YouTube success again. As an example, creator H3H3 heavily criticized LeafyIsHere before being banned himself in 2020. After returning, H3H3 rebranded to focus on comedy podcasts and essentially regained his past popularity.
Leafy’s Future YouTube Prospects
Here are some possible scenarios for LeafyIsHere’s future on YouTube:
|Scenario||Likelihood||Impact on Popularity|
|YouTube lifts the ban, and Leafy resumes old video style||Very low||Initial spike in views but long-term decline|
|YouTube lifts the ban, and Leafy shifts to milder comedy||Low||Slow build back to ~5 million subscribers|
|Leafy remains banned from YouTube indefinitely||High||Stays under 1 million followers on other platforms|
Given YouTube’s stringent policies, the most likely scenario is that Leafy remains banned from the platform. While he still has a dedicated fanbase, LeafyIsHere’s days as a major YouTube force appear to be over.
At the height of his popularity, LeafyIsHere dominated as one of YouTube’s top creators and influencers. However, his bullying videos led to major backlash, and YouTube eventually permanently banned him for repeated harassment.
In the years since his banning, Leafy has tried to rebuild a following on Instagram and TikTok but struggled without access to YouTube. While a small chance exists that YouTube reverses its decision, LeafyIsHere returning to prominence on the platform seems unlikely.
The meteoric rise and fall of Leafy acts as a cautionary tale for internet creators and personalities. While controversy and drama can attract tons of views initially, creators cross a line when their content leads to real-world harassment. In the end, Leafy’s unfiltered bullying proved unsustainable, losing him his massive platform and stardom.