If it ain't broke, don't fix it!But, on the other hand, if something is busted up and you already have to fix it, why settle for making it as good as new, when you can make it Better Than New? This trope has been around for ages, takes many forms and can be applied to many classes of objects (or people).
— T. Bert Lance, Jimmy Carter's Director of the Office of Management and Budget
- Applied to the Hero:
- During the Final Battle with the Hero Killer Multiversal Conqueror or Omnicidal Maniac, The Hero is dealt a death blow. As Big Bad gloats over his Worthy Opponent's corpse, our hero comes back strong, Better than new, taking a level in badass often with new powers he didn't have before.
- Occasionally, The Hero doesn't have to die of his wounds, but instead suffers a Heroic R.R.O.D., often due to from overusing a Dangerous Forbidden Technique or Super Mode (especially after claiming "I Can Still Fight!!" when he can barely stand), a serious life-threatening injury, poison or an exotic disease, from which coma or bed rest he emerges some time later rejuvenated and often better than new (for example, throwing around those dangerous forbidden techniques like they were candy with no ill effect).
- In a few cases, The Hero may be made better than new by way of external medical or technological intervention involving Applied Phlebotinum, Artificial Limbs or an all-out Emergency Transformation. Such ministrations may lead to our hero becoming a Super Soldier or just a louder more badass fighter.
- Applied to the Villain: This trope is morality-neutral and can be applied to Big Bad just as easily.
- Sometimes the Evil Overlord has been given a good whack that seemed impossible to survive but it turns out he's Not Quite Dead. In a few instances, external forces decide they can rebuild him and he shows up again later better than new, often with a cybernetic red right hand.
- Taken to an extreme common in anime and video games, once the hero administers his ass kicking, beating Big Bad to within an inch of his life, Big Bad may reveal a more powerful form (AKA, One-Winged Angel), sprouting extra mouths, heads, limbs or Spikes of Villainy and taking a level in badass, despite having been critically injured moments before.
- In video games, Big Bad may simply decide to Turn Red, becoming the Greater-Scope Villain, getting their own diabolical Level Up Fill Up and new abilities.
- Applied to Weapons: In some cases, the Infinity–1 Sword just isn't up to the task of defeating Big Bad. Perhaps Big Bad even somehow manages to break our hero's Loyal Phlebotinum. Never fear, our hero need only take it to the local Ultimate Blacksmith who will reforge the broken blade into a bright shiny new Infinity+1 Sword, often better than new with upgraded power or new abilities sufficient to administer a proper beating to Big Bad.
- Applied to Inanimate Objects or Places:
- TV shows like Pimp My Ride and its competitor Overhaulin' take viewers' beatup Alleged Cars and make them better than new Cool Cars, though they usually end up being Awesome, but Impractical (e.g. with LCD screens in the mud flaps).
- Alternately, Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares applies the same principle to failing, insolvent restaurants, making them over into high-class fine dining establishments that are far better than new.
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Anime and Manga
- This is a trope used repeatedly throughout the run of Dragon Ball Z, mostly in regards to Saiyans. When they are severely injured, they become stronger once they've fully recovered, which is the primary reason why Goku and Vegeta become as obscenely powerful as they do (the other half of it being Training from Hell).
- Cell surviving his own self-destruction and returning stronger than ever is a textbook example, as he gains an enhanced version of his perfect form; the same one that Gohan had beaten out of him just prior.
- YuYu Hakusho — Yusuke appears to be dead, however he eventually wakes up better than new as his demonic half awakens.
- In Durarara!!, Shizuo Heiwajima's noticed that he seems to be prone to this: not only was he never crippled by his constant, severe childhood injuries like other people would be, but he'd always come out of them stronger than he was before.
- A Growing Affection has a couple after the Rescue Naruto arc.
- Shino loses his leg to the Three-Tails. It is replaced with a special colony of Aburame beetles that work just as well as his original leg and can be used like his other insects if he needs to. And that is before he teaches them to carry back-up weapons and perform an extending kick.
- Thanks to the Akatsuki's attempt to remove the Nine-Tails, the Fox ends up merging with Naruto instead. The result? Naruto is now has the abilities of his four tails cloak all the time, without the drawbacks.
- In the Worm fanfic, Intrepid, Bryce triggered as a result of his sister's death and his parents being useless, becoming a Tinker who specializes in this. Everything he builds is better than before, scaling until he runs out of resources.
Film - Live Action
- Inspector Gadget — John Brown is an average Joe security guard at Bradford Labs until Sanford Scolex raids the lab, resulting in a confrontation that leaves Brown with a broken body. Brown is re-built into a better than new, if bumbling, cyborg detective: Inspector Gadget. Gadget has all sorts of technology and comedic gadgets built into his rebuilt body.
- Kung Fu Hustle — The Hero gets fully healed (and becomes much more powerful than before) because being beaten so bad by the Big Bad turned out to awaken his Chi.
- The Matrix — After he gets killed by Agent Smith, Neo becomes The One and gets much more powerful than before because of being beaten by Big Bad which was prophesied earlier, in passing, by The Oracle when she remarked "...it looks like you're waiting for something ... your next life, maybe".
- The repaired and upgraded Gipsy Danger in Pacific Rim. This trope's exact name is also the title of a song in the soundtrack.
- RoboCop (1987) — After officer Alex Murphy is pronounced dead, OCP takes his remains and effectively resurrects him using cybernetic / robotic technology into the Nigh Invulnerable cyborg police officer RoboCop. Not only do they "fix" him, they make him about 1000% better. Granted, he ostensibly loses his memory in the process, but that eventually wears off.
- In Max Barry's Machine Man, the protagonist Dr. Charles Neumann does this to himself. After accidentally amputating his leg, he designs a robotic prosthesis that he considers superior in every important regard. Things do not go entirely to plan.
- In The Emperor's Soul, this practice is considered a vital part of a forger's arsenal. When you must leave a copy of something behind you, make the copy better than the original, so that there's less reason for the mark to reject it out of hand. Shai demonstrates it thrice during the story: the first time with her desk (making it a better version of itself), the second time with the rest of her room (slowly redecorating and remodeling her cell until it's nicer than the emperor's quarters), and the third time with the titular soul itself.
- In the BattleTech novel Measure of a Hero, the main character's Penetrator battlemech had been nearly destroyed in combat prior to the start of the story, but he'd been allowed to rebuild it with Clan weaponry, giving it a huge boost to its damage and range and making it much deadlier than it was originally (and the Penetrator is considered a very good mech).
- The Bionic Woman — Jaime's chute fails on a parachuting date with The Six Million Dollar Man and she suffers catastrophic injuries. He convinces his boss to authorize bionic replacement surgery to restore Jaime's destroyed legs, right arm and right ear.
- Kitchen Nightmares — Applies a similar principle to Pimp My Ride when trying to resurrect failing, insolvent restaurants, making them over into high-class fine dining establishments that are far better than new. Sadly, the effects are sometimes transitory or the businesses are in such bad shape that they go out of business anyway.
- Pimp My Ride — Xzibit and the crew at West Coast Customs take in viewers' Alleged Cars and turn them into better than new Cool Cars, even though they often end up being Awesome, but Impractical. In similar fashion, Overhaulin' takes a similar approach, except that the mark is unaware their beater is being overhauled until they're reunited with their car during some contrived comedic setup.
- Power Rangers — In several seasons, the existing Zords were So Last Season, and so got defeated and/or blown up by The Man Behind the Man and were then rebuilt into more powerful better than new versions.
- The Six Million Dollar Man — Seriously injured in a test flight, former astronaut Austin is given bionic replacements for his legs, his right arm, and one eye, leaving him with superhuman speed and strength and telescopic vision. He can run more than 60 MPH, jump several stories, see objects from miles away and in the dark, and lift impossible weights (the latter without the addition of a bionic spine).
- At the beginning of Kamen Rider Black RX, the new Big Bad breaks Black's Kingstone, his Transformation Trinket and the source of his power, and throws him into space, causing him to come crashing to Earth like a meteor. However, as Kamen Rider Black is the 'Child Of the Sun', being exposed directly to the sun repairs his broken Kingstone and revives him as the far more powerful Black RX.
- Downplayed in Flash Element 2. If the self-healing critters are permitted to heal all the way, they end up with exactly one hit point more than the "maximum" they started with.
- In Girl Genius, the Heterodynes' famous constructs Punch and Judy were torn apart by Von Pinn early in the series. Gilgamesh Wulfenbach not only repaired them, he improved them. Punch for one gained the ability to talk (quite eloquently too). What's even more amazing is that the two gained the ability to have children — they are now the proud parents of a rambunctious little girl.
- The villain shatters Roy's sword the first time they meet in The Order of the Stick, in order to demonstrate that even with a temporary undead-killing enchantment on it the fight is still hopeless for Roy. This naturally leads to a Side Quest where Roy obtains a piece of star metal to reforge the broken blade into a proper undead-killing weapon (complete with green flame effect whenever it activates).