Eminem was arrested when, on June 3, 2000, during an altercation at a car audio store in Royal Oak, Michigan, with Douglas Dail, the ICP manager, he pulled out an unloaded gun and kept it pointed at the ground. The following day, in Warren, Michigan, he allegedly saw his then wife, Kim, kiss the bouncer John Guerrera in the parking lot of the Hot Rock Café and assaulted him with his gun. He was given two years probation for both the episodes. The skit The Kiss on The Eminem Show is based around the latter incident.
In the summer of 2001, Eminem was given probation on weapons charges that stemmed with an argument from an employee working for Insane Clown Posse, giving him a fine around $2,000 as well as several hours of community service. His band-mate Proof from D12 stated that Mathers "sobered up" in 2002. However, he did turn to Zolpidem sleeping pills for relief of sleeping troubles and eventually went to rehab to recover from the addiction.
Mathers' third major album, The Eminem Show, was released in summer 2002 and proved to be another hit for the rapper reaching number one on the charts and selling well over 1 million copies in its first week of release. It featured the single "Without Me", an apparent sequel to "The Real Slim Shady", in which he makes derogatory comments about boy bands, Limp Bizkit, Moby, and Lynne Cheney, among others. The album reflected on the impact of his rise to fame, his relationship with his wife and daughter, and his status in the hip-hop community. He also addresses the charges he faced over assaulting a bouncer he saw kissing his wife in 2000. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of All Music Guide felt that while there was clear anger present on several tracks, this album was considerably less inflammatory than The Marshall Mathers LP. However, L. Brent Bozell III, who previously criticized The Marshall Mathers LP for perceived misogynistic lyrics in the album, noted The Eminem Show for its extensive use of obscene language, giving Eminem a nickname of "Eminef" for the bowdlerization of motherfucker, an obscenity prevalent in the album.
In 2003, "Weird Al" Yankovic was denied permission to make a video for "Couch Potato", his parody of Eminem's "Lose Yourself". "Last year, Eminem forced me to halt production on the video for my 'Lose Yourself' parody because he somehow thought that it would be harmful to his image or career." For the Poodle Hat Al TV special, Yankovic raised the question of artistic expression in a false interview with Eminem. As Yankovic has always done for his Al TV specials, he edited the footage of a previous Eminem interview and inserted himself asking questions to give the impression of hypocrisy on the matter of an artist's right to free speech.
On December 8, 2003, the United States Secret Service admitted it was "looking into" allegations that Mathers had threatened the President of the United States after the unreleased song "We As Americans" leaked onto the Web. The lyrics in question: "Fuck money / I don't rap for dead presidents / I'd rather see the president dead / It's never been said, but I set precedents...". The song in question, titled "We As Americans", was being recorded possibly for Encore but wound up on a bonus CD accompanying the album instead.
The year 2004 saw the release of Mathers' fourth major album, Encore. The album was another chart-topper for the rapper, driven by the single "Just Lose It", notable for being disrespectful towards Michael Jackson. On October 12, 2004, a week after the release of "Just Lose It", Eminem's first single off Encore, Michael Jackson called into the Los Angeles-based Steve Harvey radio show to report his displeasure with the video, which parodies Jackson's child molestation trial, plastic surgery, and an incident in which Jackson's hair caught on fire while filming a Pepsi commercial in 1984. The lyrics to "Just Lose It" also refer to Jackson's legal troubles, however he does state in his song "...and that's not a stab at Michael/Thats just a metaphor/I'm just psycho...". Many of Jackson's supporters and friends spoke out about the video, including Stevie Wonder, who called the video "kicking a man while he's down" and "bullshit" and Steve Harvey who declared, "Eminem has lost his ghetto pass. We want the pass back."
Black Entertainment Television was the first channel to stop airing the video. MTV, however, announced it would continue airing the video, and "Just Lose It" became the #1 requested video on Total Request Live for the week ending October 22. The Source, through its CEO Raymond "Benzino" Scott, wanted not only the video to be pulled, but the song off the album, and a public apology to Jackson from Mathers.
Despite the comedic theme of the lead single, Encore also had its fair share of serious subject matter, including the anti-war track "Mosh". On October 25, 2004, a week before the 2004 U.S. Presidential election, Eminem released the video for "Mosh" on the Internet. The song featured a very strong anti-Bush message, with lyrics such as "fuck Bush" and "this weapon of mass destruction that we call our president." The video features Mathers gathering up an army of people (including rapper Lloyd Banks) presented as victims of the Bush administration and leading them to the White House. However, once the army breaks in, it is revealed that they are there to simply register to vote, and the video ends with the words "VOTE Tuesday November 2" on the screen. After Bush won the election, the video's ending was changed to Eminem and the protesters invading while Bush was giving a speech.
In 2005, some industry insiders speculated that Mathers was considering ending his rapping career after six years and several multi-platinum albums. Speculation began in early 2005 about a double-disc album to be released late that year, rumoured to be titled The Funeral. The album manifested itself under the name Curtain Call: The Hits, and was released on December 6, 2005 under Aftermath Entertainment. In July 2005, the Detroit Free Press broke news of a potential final bow for Mathers as a solo performer, quoting members of his inside circle who said that he will begin to fully embrace the role of producer and label executive. On December 6, 2005, the day Curtain Call: The Hits was released, Mathers denied that he was retiring on Detroit-based WKQI's "Mojo in the Mornin'" radio show, but implied that he would at least be taking a break as an artist, saying "I'm at a point in my life right now where I feel like I don't know where my career is going… This is the reason that we called it 'Curtain Call,' because this could be the final thing. We don't know."
That year, Eminem was a subject of criticism in Bernard Goldberg's book 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America, being ranked at #58. Goldberg cited a 2001 column by Bob Herbert of New York Times claiming, "In Eminem's world, all women are whores and he is eager to rape and murder them." The Eminem song "No One's Iller" was also used by Goldberg as an example of misogyny in his music.