Breakup Breakout

Quagmire: What was Simon without Garfunkel?
Peter: Wildly successful?

When partnerships break up, the various members of the former group don't always follow the same career path. A Breakup Breakout occurs when one or more members of a dissolved group achieve noteworthy success while other members of the group languish. This can cause all sorts of awkwardness, jealousy and resentment amongst the former colleagues.

It is very common after TV shows end for one cast member to go on to continued success while the others fade into obscurity. See also The Band Minus the Face, Breakout Character, More Popular Spin-off, and Ensemble Dark Horse. Contrast with The Pete Best, who is remembered, when they are remembered at all, for leaving (or being ejected from) such a partnership, which then goes on to achieve noteworthy success without them. Also contrast with Solo Side Project, which is where a band member works on solo projects without actually leaving the band (or before a break-up).


Examples

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    Advertising 
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal once featured three chefs on the box named Wendell, Bob and Quello (their names were written on their hats), but without any personality besides Wendell being the lead chef. At some point, Wendell was given an actual personality and started playing a much bigger role in ads for the cereal while Bob and Quello disappeared.
  • Cookie Crisp's capers of the Cookie Crook vs. Officer Crumb (the Cookie Cop) changed a bit when the Crook got a dog, Chip. After 1997, the former two were nowhere to be found, and Chip was the de facto mascot of the brand, howling the name whenever he wanted some (and eventually he'd be changed from a dog to a wolf...)

    Anime and Manga 
  • A rare but inverted example would be CLAMP. During its early days in 1987 where they were initially a doujinshi circle, there were eleven members. When they became professional manga artists with their original debut manga RG Veda, the group was reduced to seven members. It's only in 1993 where three members left which leaves the four women (Nanase Ohkawa, Satsuki Igarashi, Mokona and Tsubaki Nekoi) as the only members of the group. As time passed, these four women are recognized and regarded as the true members of CLAMP in the anime and manga industry after the success of their works such as Cardcaptor Sakura among others. Tamayo Akiyama, a former member of CLAMP who is Ohkawa's childhood friend, was able to publish her works but never reached the same level of success as of her former group and the rest of the former members faded into obscurity.

    Comic Books 
  • Rather common in superhero teams:
    • Watchmen - Dr. Manhattan and the Comedian are government employees with a public presence, and Ozymandias is a billionaire industrialist, while the other former Crimebusters are unemployed, eager to reconnect with their old identities, and, in the case of Rorschach, a vigilante.
    • There's the X-Men, and then there's Wolverine. This is an inversion as Wolverine started off as a solo character in the Incredible Hulk and most of the major lifting into making him a more fleshed out character happened in the X books; without that he may have very well ended up on the scrapheap. Even with the X-Men he was initially at risk of such a fate, as it was decided that he and Thunderbird were too similar in personality and one would be killed off in their second issue as a team. Wolverine was saved from the chopping block because his powers were deemed more interesting and he wasn't an ethnic stereotype.
    • Spider-Man in the last issue of Amazing Fantasy. To the extent he more or less saved the company.
  • Part of Sidekick Graduations Stick: The sidekick becomes their own hero. At least in theory. Batman's original Robin may be an in-universe example as more people trust Nightwing than they do Batman.
  • Regarding the Ultimate Fantastic Four, the Human Torch. Since the team's breakup in the Ultimatum event, Johnny's the only one to have a regular presence in the Ultimate Universe; first as a supporting character in Ultimate Spider-Man and then in Ultimate X-Men.

    Comedy 
  • George Carlin and Jack Burns started out as a pretty raunchy duo, but Carlin went onto superstardom after their breakup and Burns only went to mere stardom.
  • The Japanese comedy duo Honjamaka originally started as a troupe of about 10 or 11 comedians, but they only became famous after everybody left except the current two members (Ishizuka Hidehiko and Megumi Toshiaki). On top of that, they both have strong individual careers.
  • Rob Riggle and Rob Huebel was a Kansas City-based comedy duo who tried out for Saturday Night Live. Riggle got picked and despite leaving after one season, has had a strong acting career since then. Meanwhile, Heubel only seems to appear in the occasional short-lived sitcom.
    • It happened again to Heubel several years later when he got his biggest break to date as a member of the comedy troupe Human Giant featuring himself, Paul Scheer and Aziz Ansari. The show was critically acclaimed and all three got decent popularity as equals, but the show went on hiatus in 2008. Since then Scheer and Heubel have done well for themselves, but Ansari's popularity exploded after appearing in the film Funny People, the success of his comedy records and his role on Parks and Recreation.
  • Many view his Adam Carolla's comedic partner (and radio buddy from KROQ in LA) Jimmy Kimmel as this, as he's gone on to much bigger things than Adam. However, Adam is quite proud of his best friend's success, often remarking he got there with talent and hard work, and he's quite content doing his own thing.
  • The Mary Whitehouse Experience featured four young comedians in a show that later transferred to TV. It was really two double acts. David Baddiel and Rob Newman later became the first stand-up comics to sell out tours in massive stadium venues seating ten thousand or more - effectively the first superstar comedians. Their TMWE colleagues Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis went onto moderate fame (Hugh Dennis is these days a well-thought-of comic TV actor and panel game regular), but neither gained the same dizzying heights as Baddiel or Newman.

    Computers 
  • Averted with Steve Jobs and Apple. Jobs left Apple in '85 after a power struggle, bought Pixar, and founded his own computer company. Apple, on the other hand, went on to have success with the Macintosh, but started floundering. But just as it was about to slip into this trope, Apple bought Steve Jobs' computer company. Jobs was then reinstated as CEO, and Apple made its comeback.
    • Played straight, however, between Steve Jobs and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Wozniak has his reputation as a jovial geek icon and oodles of Apple stock to fall back on, but he had nothing to do with the company's late 90's resurgence.

    Film 
  • Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were considered this for a while. Used to be that the two of them appeared together in everything - then, each going solo, Matt Damon got the Ocean's Eleven and Bourne series. Affleck landed lead roles in a number of major films, but his career never reached quite the height of Damon's. However, he went a different route by directing the critically acclaimed movies Gone Baby Gone, The Town, and Argo. And then Affleck went in completely the opposite directly by playing Batman in the far from critically acclaimed Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
  • This gets spoofed in Music and Lyrics, with Hugh Grant's character being the Andrew Ridgeley of the Wham!-like band.
  • An interesting case for the main ladies of Mean Girls. After the movie, Lindsay Lohan looked like she was poised for superstardom...but things did not turn out that way and her film roles since have not been able to achieve the same success. The other ladies however did well for themselves. Lacey Chabert has been in consistent employment with voice acting and TV-movies, and Rachel McAdams and Amanda Seyfried have become two of the most successful actresses of the decade. Fame-wise, Lohan is still far ahead of any of the others, so Chabert ultimately loses in the end. "And none for Gretchen Wieners, bye!" indeed...
  • The 1928 film Our Dancing Daughters (and its two successive entries, Our Modern Maidens and Our Blushing Brides, which formed a loose trilogy) paired Anita Page, an actress with an impressive pedigree and a burgeoning career, with an up-and-coming actress who MGM had taken a liking to. The end result was that Page got upstaged by her co-star (who used the role as a launching pad to greater fame), MGM canned her three years later (despite starring in the first film with sound to win an Academy Award for Best Picture), and she more or less disappeared from acting altogether until the early 90's, whereas her co-star, Joan Crawford, went on to become a superstar.
  • Ted Healy decided to split from his back-up comedy players. Healy faded into obscurity. Not so for The Three Stooges.
  • The original Star Wars series is a slightly bitty example, with established names Alec Guinness and Peter Cushing on the opening cast, largely because the backers expected it, and James Earl Jones as a voice actor. But the rest of the cast were all inexpensive unknowns. Harrison Ford alone got a leg-up to further major leading roles, most notably as Indiana Jones, and achieved big box-office fame. Everyone else had to contend with typecasting deadends and Adam Westing, or make do with largely unaffected careers (although Mark Hamill eventually launched a highly successful voice acting career most famously voicing The Joker), or, in the case of Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), return to civilian life as a hospital porter. Peter Griffin lampshaded Ford's success in the A New Hope parody. "I'm Han Solo, captain of the Millennium Falcon and the only actor whose career isn't destroyed by this movie."
  • Out from the Harry Potter trio, Emma Watson seems to be only one who got higher success than the two after working with Sofia Coppola, Darren Aronofsky among others. Daniel Radcliffe has a pretty good career in theater and is working in independent films. And Rupert Grint didn't get much success after the franchise ended and several of his movies got panned by critics though like Radcliffe, he ventured to theater instead.
  • So far, Zac Efron is the only High School Musical cast member to achieve mainstream success with films like 17 Again and Neighbors. Vanessa Hudgens has done moderately well with a career in singing and Broadway and Ashley Tisdale made a mark on TV, while everyone else has faded into obscurity.
  • Among the Twilight cast, Anna Kendrick is the most successful among the supporting cast thanks to starring several films like Up in the Air and the Pitch Perfect movies while Lee Pace got The Hobbit trilogy and Guardians of the Galaxy, Bryce Dallas Howard have Jurassic World movies and the rest are struggling on TV roles. Among the main trio, Robert Pattinson still make several movies for some time while Kristen Stewart continues getting her indie cred back but Taylor Lautner doesn't do much these days.
  • The Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies had three (not counting Rachael Harris and Steve Zahn, who were well-established at the time). Chloe Moretz, who played the original character Angie in the first film, later shot to superstardom a month after its release with her critically acclaimed turn as Hit-Girl in the R-rated superhero comedy Kick-Ass and since then has become one of the decade's most popular young actresses. Meanwhile, Peyton R. List and Karan Brar, who played Holly Hills and Chirag Gupta, respectively, were both cast onto the Disney Channel sitcom Jessie, where they played two children of a celebrity power couple, and reprised their roles on its camp-themed sequel series Bunk'd. Devon Bostick (Rodrick) has a considerably lower profile, but he's doing well enough on The 100, whereas Zachary Gordon and Robert Capron all but vanished from the spotlight.

    Live-Action TV 
  • After Boy Meets World ended in 2000, Will Friedle had a huge success in numerous voice roles. Namely Terry McGinnis in Batman Beyond, Ron Stoppable of Kim Possible, Deadpool in Ultimate Spider-Man, and finally, Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy. Other than reprising their roles on Girl Meets World, the only other actors to do anything notable were Kristanna Loken and Lee Norris.
  • When The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air went off the air the show's star Will Smith moved on to have a really successful Hollywood career. Some of his fellow cast members on the other hand haven't done much or have done anything as successful as Smith has done, with Alfonso Ribiero in particular still tied to his character of Carlton Banks.
  • After Malcolm in the Middle ended, Bryan Cranston went on to star as Walter White in Breaking Bad, a role that he won four Emmy awards for, three of them consecutively, and is now arguably even more famous for Breaking Bad than Malcolm in the Middle. The rest of the cast has faded into obscurity.
    • Frankie Muniz invoked this on himself by doing the Agent Cody Banks movies for tens of millions of dollars, then retiring from acting to drive race cars for fun.
  • The only member of the Saved by the Bell that got regular work after the show ended was Tiffani-Amber Thiessen. However, Mark-Paul Gosselaar eventually gained traction as an actor during the 2000s, earning starring roles in NYPD Blue and Franklin & Bash. Mario Lopez has been the host of several shows, including America's Best Dance Crew, was a contestant in the third season of Dancing with the Stars, and has made guest appearances in other programs as well.
    • Another although: The first SBTB actor to get a major acting role was Elizabeth Berkeley. Of course, that acting role was in Showgirls...
    • Dustin Diamond and Lark Voorhies never had any high profile roles since SBTB. Dennis Haskins is still making a living off of his Mr. Belding character.
    • The New Class sadly hasn't produced any real breakup breakout: Bianca Lawson got regular work on a number of hit TV shows, but nothing major. Sarah Lancaster's only other claim to fame is Chuck. Natalia Cigliuti, Lindsey McKeon, and Ashley Tesoro got major roles on soap operas. Other than than, nothing.
  • Averted with Seinfeld, as three of the show's main cast members struggled to find successful roles after the show ended in 1998 (Jerry Seinfeld himself never seemed that bothered, and is the only one who's avoided series television), a phenomenon which became known as the "Seinfeld curse".
    • Julia Louis-Dreyfus can be considered Seinfeld's breakout, as she eventually went on to star in The New Adventures of Old Christine and Veep. However, it took her almost a decade to finally find a successful post-Seinfeld role. Michael Richards is nowadays the only one still completely in the show's shadow.
  • Married... with Children averted this for the main four family members.
    • Christina Applegate remained in the spotlight immediately after the show ended with regular lead movie roles and TV shows like Samantha Who? and Up All Night.
    • Ed O'Neill eventually experienced a Career Resurrection thanks to his role in Modern Family.
    • Katey Segal alternated between TV movies, guest TV spots and voice acting before achieving her breakout with Futurama, then a lead role in the live action comedy 8 Simple Rules and a lead role in the drama Sons of Anarchy.
    • While David Faustino had the least amount of success, that success was still a variety of roles, guest spots and voice acting, far more than many people get after leaving a successful show. He eventually got a high-profile role in The Legend of Korra.
  • After That '70s Show Ashton Kutcher was the breakout cast member, but Mila Kunis experienced a Career Resurrection with her role in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, (she was already well known for her work in Family Guy) and has since gone onto a level of fame and success that has arguably eclipsed Kutcher's. Topher Grace and Laura Prepon did eventually find their way back into the spotlight, but not at Kutcher or Kunis' level (at least, not until Prepon landed Orange Is the New Black...).
  • Full House had John Stamos as the adult breakout, as he is the only cast member who has gotten regular work since the show ended.
  • Cheers had three breakouts - Ted Danson, Woody Harrelson, and Kelsey Grammer.
    • The Cheers spin-off Frasier also had two breakouts - Grammer and Jane Leeves.
    • John Ratzenberger is well-known for his work as a voice actor in Pixar films.
    • Though not to the extent of Harrelson or Grammer, David Hyde Pierce has kept up a respectable career in theater, eventually earning a Tony for his work in Curtains.
    • Kirstie Alley had a few memorable movie roles for herself. Unfortunately, her career never took off after "Cheers" ended.
  • Averted with Everybody Loves Raymond, in which all the main adult stars (Ray Romano, Brad Garrett, Patricia Heaton and Doris Roberts) would generally have continued success after the show ended. The only exception is Peter Boyle, who died shortly after the show ended. But even then, he was already an established actor going into the show.
  • Raymond's sister show The King of Queens had two breakouts — Kevin James and Patton Oswalt.
  • Ricky Gervais (and, more recently, Martin Freeman) in The Office (UK).
    • Over on The Office (US), Steve Carell's level of fame and success so strongly eclipsed that of the rest of the cast that he was established as the show's breakout; this prompted him to leave the show in 2011 to focus on his film career. Many argue that Carell's departure turned the show into a Franchise Zombie. Ed Helms is probably its best known star besides Carell.
      • Though John Krasinski has made several attempts to transition into film, with some success (at the least, he's had the chance to work with actors like Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Matt Damon, along with directors like Sam Mendes and Gus Van Sant).
      • Mindy Kaling managed to stay in the spotlight with The Mindy Project. James Spader also, although he was well-established going into The Office.
      • Ellie Kemper is in the middle of a huge comeback with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
  • Jennifer Aniston has been far more successful than her Friends co-stars since the show ended. Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow and Matthew Perry have managed to stay in the spotlight as well.
    • Kudrow seems to be on and off with her success, starring in the HBO show The Comeback for one season before it was cancelled (despite critical acclaim that led to Kudrow receiving an Emmy nomination), and then creating and starring in the successful Web Therapy on Showtime.
    • Matt LeBlanc had trouble getting a successful career going, as the Friends spin-off Joey was cancelled after two seasons. After this, he took some time off from acting and appears to be in the middle of a small Career Resurrection with his starring role in Episodes (which has earned him his first ever Golden Globe win).
    • David Schwimmer, though far from a public figure, has tried to focus his efforts more into directing, helming Run, Fat Boy, Run! and Trust, to respectable reviews.
  • While Family Ties launched Michael J. Fox's career, everyone else on the show faded into obscurity after it ended.
  • Alyssa Milano in Who's the Boss?. Tony Danza is the only other notable member of the cast, but he was already an established star.
  • John Travolta was the biggest name to come out of Welcome Back, Kotter by far, as his co-stars have long since faded into obscurity.
  • Even The Muppets have an example of this: The short-lived Muppets Tonight introduced the comedy team of Pepe (a prawn) and Seymour (an elephant). Pepe has since gone on to appear in many later Muppet projects, while Seymour vanished without a trace.
    • An earlier example, Miss Piggy; she gained fame quickly, even though she was originally meant to be a minor character next to Rowlf alongside Janice in the Veterinarian's Hospital sketches. While the latter two eventually made a comeback, it is still surprising to learn Piggy was never thought of as a major character in the beginning.
  • A common theme for Nickelodeon series with young cast members:
    • Are You Afraid of the Dark? was rebooted in the late 90's, and brought back most of the Midnight Society members from the original series. However, one of the "new" society members was played by a little-known actress named Elisha Cuthbert, who shot to stardom two years later after being cast in 24. The rest of the group never achieved the same level of stardom as she did (although a couple of the cast members were able to make a serviceable career out of bit parts and supporting character roles).
    • Of the teen cast members who starred on the 90's series Hey Dude!, only Christine Taylor (who played Melody) and David Lascher (who played Ted McGriff) had anything close to successful careers. Taylor is arguably more well-known because of her marriage to Ben Stiller and her steady stream of work over the years, while Lascher disappeared during the 2000's after starring in supporting roles in a handful of teen series (Blossom, Sabrina the Teenage Witch). The rest of the Hey Dude cast, whether by choice or limitations, never acted again in any professional capacity.
    • Space Cases. Of the main cast, only Jewel Staite (who played Catalina in the first season) (via her roles in Firefly and Stargate Atlantis), Rebecca Herbst (who played Suzee in season 2 and later played Elizabeth Webber on General Hospital) went on to become greater stars after the show finished. Walter Jones (of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers fame) was relegated to bit parts and one-off appearances in various series, and the rest of the cast never bothered to do much after the series ended.
    • Kenan & Kel. Since the end of the show, Kenan has gone on to join Saturday Night Live and has been a few moderately successful films. Kel hasn't done so much.
    • From the cast of Salute Your Shorts only Blake Sennett (credited as "Blake Soper") and Christine Cavanaugh had any major notoriety after the show ended. Sennett became a musician and was the co-lead vocalist and guitarist for the indie rock band Rilo Kiley. Cavanaugh became a well known voice actor, performing the voices of lead characters for Rugrats and Dexter's Laboratory, among others.
    • Danny Cooksey already had a bit of shine on him from Diff'rent Strokes and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. He's done quite well for himself as well, with voice acting roles on Tiny Toon Adventures, The Little Mermaid, Xiaolin Showdown, The Ren & Stimpy Show, Hey Arnold!, Static Shock, G.I. Joe: Renegades, and Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness. Not bad, Budnick, not bad.
    • Victorious during its run was one of Nick's most popular live action shows. After it ended in 2013, Ariana Grande embarked on a massively successful music career as pop star, churning out numerous iconic hits in a short time and scoring platinum albums, and has never looked back since. Her meteoric rise has completely eclipsed the show itself, easily becoming the most successful star ever produced by Nick, while the rest of cast (Leon Thomas III, Matt Bennett, Elizabeth Gillies, Avan Jogia, Daniella Monet, and, most ironically, the title star Victoria Justice, who the show was meant to be a vehicle for) have long since faded into obscurity.
    • Avan Jogia is also proving to be something of a breakout star, getting a starring role in the ABC drama Twisted not long after Victorious was cancelled (although Twisted itself was cancelled fairly after one season).
  • In Living Color! was an incredibly successful FOX series that launched the careers of several African-American celebrities (including the Wayans brothers, Tommy Davidson, Jamie Foxx and David Alan Grier) who went on to decent (if spotty) careers in film and television. Yet, the two most successful cast members who emerged from the series were a nerdy white guy with a knack for impressions and a Hispanic backup dancer who left after the third season. Jamie Foxx is probably the most successful of the African-American cast members, having won an Oscar for Ray. The Wayans brothers (Shawn and Marlon, in particular) are the only other cast members to have made an impact since the show ended.
  • Degrassi, for all its controversial storylines and Long Runner status, is more well-known for being a launchpad for one Aubrey Graham, who would become rap superstar Drake, than anything else. The only other cast member to make any impact was Shenae Grimes, who landed on The CW's reboot of Beverly Hills 90210 after her time on Degrassi ended.
    • With the success of The Vampire Diaries, we can also add Nina Dobrev, who is second only to Drake in fame nowadays.
    • The producers of Degrassi tried to invoke this trope for Cassie Steele (Manny Santos) by giving her what amounted as the female lead in The LA Complex. "Tried" being the operative word.
  • Zany UK Saturday morning children’s show Tiswas had five regular presenters on the team: Chris Tarrant, Lenny Henry, Sally James, Bob Carolgees (with Spit the Dog) and John Gorman. The first two effectively launched their TV careers from this, and ascended to the ranks of televisual royalty. The rest, while they stayed in TV, didn’t do nearly so well.
  • After two years on How to Marry a Millionaire, three of the cast members faded into obscurity, but Barbara Eden ultimately gained TV stardom on I Dream of Jeannie.
    • After Jeannie, Eden and co-star Bill Daily had moderate success in TV, while Larry Hagman became an 80's pop culture icon playing J.R. Ewing in Dallas and pretty much defined the Love to Hate trope during that era.
  • Get Smart pretty much got nobody off the ground except for Don Adams, even though he was typecast as Max, and Bernie Koppell, who later appeared on The Love Boat in the late 70's. (Edward Platt, who had been a film star earlier, died a few years after the show left the air.)
  • Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato first met on the set of Barney & Friends, and have had much more success as Disney-pop stars. Kyla Pratt, Madison Pettis, and Trevor Morgan also had successful acting careers, but are mostly forgotten today...although Madison Pettis is starting to come back into the spotlight. Everyone else completely faded into obscurity.
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt from 3rd Rock from the Sun. A teenager when he started the sitcom, Gordon-Levitt has gone on to become one of the more well-known and acclaimed stars of his generation, earning many positive reviews for his work in (500) Days of Summer, 50/50, and Looper, while also working with several high-profile directors, like Christopher Nolan (for Inception and The Dark Knight Rises) and Steven Spielberg (for Lincoln).
    • John Lithgow has had continued success following the show's finale, earning immense critical acclaim (and an Emmy) for his work in Dexter. Though it's hard to work Lithgow into this at all, as he was already an Oscar-nominated actor before doing the show.
  • The barely-remembered YTV comedy-drama Breaker High featured a group of students onboard a cruise ship who get into all sorts of wacky hijinks. Of the cast members who appeared on the series, only Ryan Gosling (who played the wannabe ladies' man/nerd) went on to megastardom, via his decision to appear in more serious, independent films. Tyler Labine and Rachel Wilson built serviceable careers as supporting actors, and Richard Ian Cox (who played the activities counselor) went into voice acting, but the rest of the cast never did much of note.
  • In the WKRP franchise:
    • Of the cast members who starred in WKRP in Cincinnati, Tim Reid (Venus) has had the most consistent and stable career out of the cast, via his supporting roles in Simon & Simon, Sister Sister and That '70s Show. While Loni Anderson achieved the most fame of her castmates, it didn't translate into any real success and most of her post-WKRP projects bombed. Most of the other cast members never achieved the same level of stardom, although Gordon Jump (Arthur Carlson) achieved some minor fame via his role as the "Maytag Man" in their commercials until his death in 2003.
    • Howard Hesseman, who played Dr Johnny Fever, had a lengthy run as the teacher on Head of the Class.
    • In The New WKRP in Cincinnati, Mykelti Williamson (Donovan) had plenty of memorable roles after leaving the show, in projects like Forrest Gump, 24 and Justified. His co-stars (Tawny Kitaen and French Stewart) had comparatively little success besides Stewart's role in the aforementioned 3rd Rock from the Sun.
  • Although the featured actors in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and spinoff series The Suite Life On Deck were. of course, twin stars Dylan and Cole Sprouse (both of whom moved on to college after the latter series ended), its breakout stars were, arguably, Ashley Tisdale and her SLOD Suspiciously Similar Substitute, Debby Ryan. Brenda Song, who already had experience in acting prior to Suite Life went on to play a role in dads and a Playing Against Type role in The Social Network.
  • The Bill Engvall Show ran on CBS for two years, but was never a very popular show and quickly faded into obscurity after its cancellation. However, one of its cast members, Jennifer Lawrence, shot to superstardom with films such as The Hunger Games and American Hustle and hasn't looked back since, whereas everyone else from the show, including Engvall himself, haven't gone anywhere since. Today, the show is remembered pretty much only for being the launching pad for Lawrence's career.
  • The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Shailene Woodley shot to superstardom with Divergent whereas everyone else from the show have done nothing else of note (not counting, of course, Molly Ringwald, although she is best remembered for the Brat Pack films from the '80s rather than post-Secret Life output.)
  • Of the stars of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the only real post-series success stories have been David Boreanaz (Bones), Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother), and Seth Green (Robot Chicken, Family Guy). While most of the rest of the cast has at least been able to get regular work, it should be noted that Nicholas Brendon's career has effectively stalled to the point that he admitted his inability to find regular work has driven him into alcoholism.
  • The stars of Bosom Buddies were Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari. In the first episode, Peter's character talks about how Tom's character is the driving force of the team, and that he'd be nothing without him. Decades later, Tom Hanks is Tom Hanks, and Peter Scolari does bit parts and voice work, occasionally.
  • All in the Family: Rob Reiner was easily the big breakout, not so much for his acting as for his immensely successful directing career. The rest of the cast weren't so lucky.
  • Arrested Development had three major breakouts: Jason Bateman and Michael Cera both went on to have hugely successful Hollywood careers, while the one-two punch of The LEGO Movie and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) proved to launch Will Arnett's career as a Hollywood leading man in 2014.
    • Not that the rest of the cast have done horribly, though:
      • David Cross became known for his work in the Alvin and the Chipmunks and Kung Fu Panda franchises (and was already famous for Mr. Show beforehand).
      • Jessica Walter remains relevant though her role on Archer.
      • Tony Hale stars on HBO's Veep, a role which he won two Emmys for.
      • Jeffrey Tambor stars on the hit Amazon series Transparent and won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for his performance (of course, he was already known from The Larry Sanders Show at the time of Arrested Development's launch.)
      • Portia de Rossi hasn't really had another hit since Arrested Development, but she was already established thanks to her role on Ally McBeal and continues to stay in the spotlight thanks to her role as Ellen DeGeneres's wife even without any major acting roles.
      • This leaves Alia Shawkat, a.k.a. Maeby, as the Jannetty of the Arrested Development cast. She has had little to no commercial success outside of her role on the show, though has found some critical acclaim on the indie film circuit.
  • My So-Called Life had two Breakup Breakouts: Claire Danes and Jared Leto. The rest of the cast faded into obscurity after the show was over.
  • Lost: Evangeline Lilly and Ian Somerhalder kept the highest profile after the show ended. Maggie Grace and Daniel Dae Kim too, to a lesser extent.
  • Out of all the actors to play Power Rangers, only Amy Jo Johnson, Johnny Yong Bosch, Rose McIver and Eka Darville have had continued success afterwards.
  • How I Met Your Mother: Neil Patrick Harris was already known for starring in Doogie Howser, M.D., but HIMYM enhanced his star enough for Harris to host award shows, his memorable role in Gone Girl, his theater career, and just having a high profile in general. Aside from him, Cobie Smulders is the highest profile among the cast thanks to her role as SHIELD agent Maria Hill in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Jason Segel's career is composed of several romantic comedies while Alyson Hannigan still get roles in the future. Josh Radnor is the only one who went low after the show ended and focused more on directing and theater.
  • When the revival for Gilmore Girls was announced, most of the main cast and many of the supporting characters from the series were returning for four new movies on Netflix. The only actor definitely not returning was Edward Harriman who had died in early 2015 and also, it seemed for a while, Melissa McCarthy who played "Sookie St. James". Since the original series ended McCarthy had a Star-Making Role in Film/Bridesmaids, becoming a sought after comedic film actress and part of Bridesmaids director Paul Feig's Production Posse with The Heat, Spy and Ghostbusters (2016). In the press it was reported that Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino assumed that McCarthy was now too busy to appear in the new movies, while McCarthy claimed she hadn't been asked. Finally in April 2016 McCarthy announced on the Ellen Degeneres show that they worked out a deal and she will be returning as "Sookie".
  • Nickelodeon's 2012 sitcom Marvin Marvin was a massive failure, getting trashed by critics and fans alike and ending the career of Lucas Cruikshank, and was run off the air in only half a year. The only actor from the show whose career survived was Jacob Bertrand, who played Marvin's younger brother Henry. A year after Marvin ended, Bertrand landed the title role on a single-camera Disney XD show called Kirby Buckets, about a young cartoonist who is able to see his characters come to life. Although it received not-so-great reviews, it was much better received than Marvin and got a second season. The only other notable actor from the show is Casey Sander, who plays Bernadette's father on The Big Bang Theory, but he already had that role prior to Marvin.
  • Among the The Tudors cast, Henry Cavill and Natalie Dormer are the most successful due to the former playing Superman for the DC Extended Universe and the latter being in Game of Thrones and the last two The Hunger Games movies while the rest are still regulated to TV roles.
  • On Community, Donald Glover (Troy) could be considered this. Glover left the show in season 5 to focus on his music and a solo television project, which became the FX show Atlanta. The show premiered to critical acclaim and was on many "Best on 2016" lists. Additionally, he has appeared in several movies and was cast as young Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars Han Solo movies.

    Music 
  • Generation X had a few years of notoriety in the early days of Punk Rock. Vocalist Billy Idol, on the other hand.....
  • Ricky Martin and Menudo.
  • Averted by Billy Corgan and The Smashing Pumpkins. At this point, Corgan is the only original member left.
  • Sting and The Police.
    Milton: Now, let me make you an offer. You tell me everything you know, and I'll make sure you get a new identity and start your life over, while the other two get put away and never heard of again.
  • hide and Pata. In the mid 1980s, hide was the guitarist of Yokosuka Saber Tiger and about to retire to a career of hairdresser work. Pata led his own band, Judy. A little band called X Japan needed a couple of guitarists, owing to their session guitarists having left. The rest can be considered Visual Kei history.
    • And hide was the breakout star of X Japan itself. Everyone else aside from Sugizo, who already had a solo career before he joined, and Yoshiki Hayashi who developed one slowly, failed to establish a truly successful solo career. (It took Yoshiki himself over 10 years to do so, and his solo work is still nowhere near as successful in Japan itself as hide's was). Most members of X Japan haven't had solo success at all:
      • Hiroshi Morie played in projects that never gained wide notice.
      • Taiji Sawada gained brief wide notice but then imploded almost as quickly, only to gain appreciation after he died.
      • Tomoaki Ishizuka worked with hide but have struggled to make a solo name for himself aside from X Japan and hide solo, and a lot of people are still very mixed about Ra:IN.
      • Toshimitsu Deyama did a few interesting solo works, then created 10 years of pure Old Shame before starting a solo career inextricably entwined with Yoshiki's own solo work.
  • Averted by Crosby Stills & Nash after Neil Young left. All four of them did this with their previous groups to varying extents (Stills and Young with Buffalo Springfield, Crosby with The Byrds, Nash with The Hollies). Played straight as a quartet, though. Young had a highly influential solo career, whereas Stills is known mostly for one song ("Love the One You're With"), while Crosby and Nash's solo work is all but forgotten.
  • Justin Timberlake and *NSYNC. After he split from the group, Timberlake went on a decade-plus long rise that hasn't shown any signs of slowing down, with him parlaying his fame into notable guest spots on various shows, investments in tech startups, movies and platinum-selling albums. While his bandmates have obviously not met the same amount of success, they've done fairly well for themselves in other areas, just not in music.
    • Lance Bass is arguably the second most famous member, as he got involved with the Russian space program, then came out and became very involved within the community, and has a modest second career for himself as a media personality.
    • JC Chasez had a modest solo career and some minor success with America's Best Dance Crew before focusing mainly on production work and as a features singer.
    • Joey Fatone went on to have a fairly successful career in television presenting and theater while Chris Kirkpatrick pretty much retired from public life, returning to normal life with the occasional behind the scenes work or hosting gig.
  • Inverted in the case of Rage Against the Machine; Zack de la Rocha left and had one minor single with his project One Day as a Lion, while the rest of the band got together with Chris Cornell and formed Audioslave, which proved almost as popular as their previous gig. Played perfectly straight with Chris Cornell and Soundgarden, however.
    • Played straight with Audioslave, as Chris Cornell's solo career and return to Soundgarden was much more successful than Tom Morello's next side project, Street Sweeper Social Club.
  • The Chad Mitchell Trio had only one real breakout star, but it was not any of the original members of the group. Record execs felt the 'folk trio' fad was passing, and urged Chad Mitchell to leave the trio and perform solo. Chad Mitchell recorded a few solo albums, but has never had any mainstream success. The guy who replaced him in the Mitchell Trio, on the other hand, was John Denver. Yes, THE John Denver. He went on to become a breakout star while the others in the trio more or less retired.
  • George Michael and Wham!, to the point that Andrew Ridgeley is to music what Marty Jannetty is to wrestling. In Andrew's defense, he was tired of the industry and preferred a quiet and comfortable life in Cornwall. He and George Michael remained friends until Michael's death in 2016.
  • Between 1984 and 1990, Country Music duo The Judds (lead singer Wynonna Judd and her mother, Naomi) had several big hits, but they disbanded due to Naomi contracting hepatitis. Wynonna went solo in 1991 and had a very successful solo career of her own. Unlike The Judds, which were strictly country, Wynonna scored several pop, AC, and dance crossover hits.
  • Curious double example: In the early 1990s, there was a band in Kentucky known as Early Tymz. Its members included brothers John Michael Montgomery and Eddie Montgomery, as well as Troy Gentry. Although Early Tymz was well known in the state, they were all but unknown outside it. John Michael left and began a solo career, having many huge hits between 1992 and 2000. Eddie and Troy founded the duo Montgomery Gentry, which has also racked up a respectable number of hits from 1999 to the present.
  • 1980s trio S-K-O (Schuyler, Knoblock, and Overstreet) lost Paul Overstreet after their first album, which included the #1 hit "Baby's got a New Baby" (1986), and became S-K-B when Craig Bickhardt replaced him. Overstreet went on to become a semi-successful solo artist, with nearly twice as many Top 10 hits as S-K-O did (including the #1 "Daddy's Come Around" and a guest spot with Paul Davis on Tanya Tucker's 1987 chart-topper "I Won't Take Less Than Your Love", which he also wrote). After his career fizzled out, Overstreet returned to songwriting, but occasionally dabbled in Christian music as well.
    • This went the other way with the other members: Fred Knoblock previously had a #1 AC hit with "Why Not Me" and two Top 10 country hits, while both Thom Schuyler and Craig Bickhardt had several songwriting credits both before and after S-K-O/S-K-B's short life.
  • Robbie Williams did this to Take That! when he left but after their reunion, the band have eclipsed Robbie again. Though of course, Take That had already split shortly before Robbie's debut single came out (he himself had of course been sacked from the band some time before), so they weren't likely to be putting up much competition(!) Of course, Robbie's successful solo career does stand in sharp contrast to the failure of the remaining members' post-split (pre-reunion) solo efforts.
  • Vince Gill became incredibly popular in the late 1980s through mid 90s, long after he left the country-rock group Pure Prairie League. (That's him singing lead on their hit "Let Me Love You Tonight".)
  • In the same vein, Kenny Rogers left The First Edition behind to become a successful country/adult contemporary singer. Mickey Jones, meanwhile, became a successful actor.
  • The girl group Choice had a song "Key to My Heart" which appeared on the soundtrack for Kazaam. When it broke up, Sharon Flanagan went nowhere, Chrissy Conway had fair success with Christian rock group Zoegirl, and the third girl? Alecia Moore is now known as P!nk.
  • Wild Orchid had a couple albums, and was reasonably successful. Stacy Ferguson left them to become Fergie and join The Black Eyed Peas. The rest? Some voicework and songwriting, at best.
  • When Sonny and Cher split, Cher went on to have a great career in music and film. Sonny went into politics. He died in a skiing accident in 1998, after leading the charge that led to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
  • Michael Jackson. He started as a member of The Jackson 5 and later became the King of Pop. Jermaine also had some success in the '70s and '80s, but obviously nowhere near that of his brother.
  • Michael Nesmith had (some) commercial and (lots of) critical success after The Monkees broke up.
  • Dave Grohl, who after Nirvana broke up formed Foo Fighters, which has not had nearly the same cultural impact, but has lasted much longer and is still one of the most popular bands around. Krist Novoselic faded from the music scene and became a politician. Of course, Kurt Cobain is still by far the most famous member of the band.
  • After Kyuss broke up, Josh Homme founded Queens of the Stone Age and had far more commercial success than Kyuss ever did.
  • Subverted by both parties in the case of Dave Mustaine. He was kicked out of his old band, founded Megadeth, and Megadeth became one of the most successful bands of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal. His old band? Metallica, a.k.a. the most successful band of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal.
  • In a rather tragic example, when the shred metal guitar duo Cacophony broke up their two members went onto two very different career paths. Marty Friedman would go on to join Megadeth for a few years as a guitarist before going solo, moving to Japan and becoming a major figure in the Japanese music world. Jason Becker, on the other hand, would be diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease and is now unable to speak or play guitar. He still composes however and communicates with his eyes.
  • After the Amboy Dukes broke up, their guitarist Ted Nugent started a much more successful solo career.
  • After progressive rock band Hawkwind kicked out Ian Kilmister, their bass player, he started up his own band which is far better known. Yup, that's Lemmy from Motörhead.
    • To add insult to injury, the band name - and iconic title track - are taken from a song Lemmy originally wrote for Hawkwind. This is believed to be a Take That! at Hawkwind's notoriously autocratic leader Dave Brock and his wife Kris Tait note .
  • Possibly inverted with Kylie Minogue and Nick Cave's collaboration, "Where The Wild Roses Grow", which helped give Minogue the artistic credibility she lacked, and Cave the mainstream success that had eluded him.
  • A band called Y Kant Tori Read emerged in 1988, then broke up after being unsuccessful. The lead singer, Tori Amos, now enjoys her success as an alternative singer-songwriter.
    • Their drummer, Matt Sorum, went on to success playing with Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver.
  • Til Tuesday was an 80s One-Hit Wonder band from the Boston area, breaking up after their final album got good reviews but sold poorly. The lead singer, Aimee Mann, became an Oscar-nominated singer-songwriter, while her bandmates fell off the radar.
  • Destiny's Child propelled Beyoncé to global stardom. Her bandmates have since carved out much lower-key but still fairly respectable solo careers (Kelly Rowland being the most successful) but will never come as close to Beyoncé.
  • Björk went from being one of the lead singers of The Sugarcubes (which helped put Iceland on the music map) to having a more successful and arguably better solo career. You probably haven't heard from the other lead singer, Einar Örn, lately if you're not from Iceland.
  • Alternative hip-hop group Leaders Of The New School effectively broke up on a live broadcast of Yo! MTV Raps!, when it became clear that the young-dreadlocked member Busta Rhymes grabbed the most attention out of the three, to the chagrin of the other two. As we know, Busta Rhymes went on to have a very successful solo career where he's practically the Wolverine of hip-hop. Very few would know who the other two members are, much less what they're up to.
  • There was once a band called Alice Cooper. When the band broke up, lead singer Vincent Furnier took the name for himself and went on to have a successful solo career, whereas the rest of the members pretty much faded into obscurity.
  • Averted by The Beatles: all four had solo hits after the breakup. None came close to the overall popularity of the band as a whole, though. While Paul McCartney was the most successful solo Beatle, John Lennon's solo career is the most influential.
    • Wings did become popular enough in its own right for a while that many fans from The '70s were reportedly unaware that Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings.
  • After White Zombie broke up, Rob Zombie replaced all the band members except the drummer and renamed the band after himself. None of the other members of the band ever did anything else of note. He then did it again when the Rob Zombie (band) guitarist and drummer, Riggs and Tempesta, split to form Scum of the Earth, which did not reach nearly the commercial success that Rob Zombie, either the man or the band, did. On the other hand, Tempesta did go on to join The Cult, so he's doing pretty damn well himself. Riggs, however, has not been as lucky.
  • Possibly averted with the original members of the Rob Zombie band. Riggs (guitarist) and Tempesta (drummer) left to form Scum of the Earth in 2003, which did not meet with much commercial success. Blasko (bassist), however, became the bassist for Ozzy Osbourne after leaving Rob Zombie in 2005. And Tempesta would later leave Scum of the Earth and become the drummer for The Cult. As for Riggs, he's still with Scum of the Earth as of 2016, and he is The Face Of The Band there, but he still got the short end of the stick compared to Blasko, Tempesta and Rob himself.
  • Tina and Ike Turner. At the time of the latter's death he was performing at small casinos. Of course, Ike brought a lot of that on himself, having gone from a rock legend responsible for one of the earliest rock & roll songs ever recorded ("Rocket 88") to becoming synonymous with spousal abuse.
  • After Eurythmics broke up, Annie Lennox started a very successful solo career, while Dave Stewart was limited to producing.
  • Happened a lot with former members of King Crimson. Ian McDonald (Foreigner), Boz Burrell (Bad Company), John Wetton (Asia), and Greg Lake (Emerson, Lake & Palmer) are probably the most famous.
  • MuteMath isn't exactly a household name, but they're enjoying a comfortable level of success. 3/4 of the band consists of former members of Earthsuit, which never made it big. Meanwhile, former Earthsuit co-frontman Adam LaClave has started no less four "solo projects" since then (along with other former members), and sadly, none of them have really worked out yet.
  • The Pozo-Seco Singers were a Texas country-folk trio with a couple of minor hits in the 1960's. After they broke up, group member Don Williams embarked on a solo career. "The Gentle Giant" would notch over 50 hits on the Country Music charts, with 17 of them hitting #1.
  • To some extent this happened with Portland indie rock band Heatmiser - bassist Sam Coombs formed the fairly popular and still active duo Quasi, and guitarist/vocalist Neil Gust had the less well-known band No. 2, but the major breakout was the solo career of Elliott Smith.
  • Most people don't even know there was a third member of the Insane Clown Posse. This is because after leaving the group, John Kickjazz left the music scene entirely and returned to quiet civilian anonymity.
  • The Yardbirds, which helped launch the careers of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, the latter of which formed Led Zeppelin from the ashes from the group. Lead singer Keith Relf is mostly famous for his electrocution death in 1976.
  • After Cream's breakup, former producer Felix Pappalardi hooked up with blues guitarist Leslie West to form Mountain.
    • Clapton himself counts. At the time Cream was together, Jack Bruce was probably the best known member. Nowadays, however, Bruce is best known as "that guy who was in Cream", while Clapton is a household name.
  • Ever heard of the Wilde Flowers? Well, they were the founding band of the Canterbury Scene. Those who jumped ship before it broke up founded Soft Machine, and the rest founded Caravan. Soft Machine itself had Daevid Allen as a founder member (he left after the first single to found Gong) and was later home to Karl "Adiemus" Jenkins.
    • Soft Machine vocalist/guitarist Kevin Ayers left after the band's first album and went on to found a whole series of self-named bands. The breakup of the first one these, Kevin Ayers and the Whole World, freed their young bass player and occasional guitarist Mike Oldfield to begin the pioneering experiment in multi-instrumentalism that would become Tubular Bells.
    • Another Soft Machine alumnus, Robert Wyatt, has gone on to a respected solo career.
  • Dance House Children was a sorta-techno band in the early 90s, consisting of brothers Ronnie and Jason Martin. After two albums, Jason Martin left to start the shoegazing/indie rock band Starflyer 59, while Ronnie Martin retooled DHC into a synthpop project named Joy Electric. Neither group has achieved much mainstream popularity, but Starflyer 59 and Joy Electric are both better known and more respected than Dance House Children was.
  • In the early 1980s, there was a New Wave band in New York called the Breakfast Club. Its drummer, for a while, was a young woman from Michigan named Madonna Ciccone. She left (recommending her boyfriend and later producer, Stephen Bray, as her replacement) for bigger and better things. The band had one hit single "Right on Track" in 1987, and then broke up the next year. While two of the members of that later lineup, Randy Jackson and E. Doctor Smith, later distinguished themselves, the others have not.
  • After country music band Boy Howdy broke up in the mid-1990s, Lead Bassist Jeffrey Steele tried a solo career that never panned out. However, he quickly made up for that as an in-demand songwriter for other people, including lots of cuts for Rascal Flatts.
  • Inverted by the alt-country bands Giant Sand and Calexico. Joey Burns and John Convertino started Calexico as a side project while they were still playing in Giant Sand's rhythm section. Howe Gelb (Giant Sand's frontman) kicked Burns and Convertino out only after Calexico became more famous than his band.
  • Britpop group Theaudience had a handful of minor UK hits in the late 90's but broke up after only one album. After the split, the band's singer, Sophie Ellis Bextor, launched an extremely successful solo career.
  • The British synthpop group D:Ream had a handful of hits in the early 90's, including a #1 single in the United Kingdom with "Things Can Only Get Better" in 1994. After the band's split, their live keyboardist Brian Cox became well known as a physicist, professor and presenter of several popular BBC programmes on astronomy, to the point where being a member (albeit a somewhat peripheral one) of a band that had a #1 single is now a footnote in his biography.
  • After the Go-Go's broke up in 1985, all of the former members were able to make careers writing and performing music, but none with anything like the mainstream success and name recognition of vocalist Belinda Carlisle. Jane Wiedlin did have a top 10 hit in 1988, though.
  • Victoria "Little Boots" Hesketh was formerly the keyboardist and singer of the short-lived synthpop group Dead Disco.
  • Two members - singer Paul Heaton and drummer Dave Hemmingway - of 80's British indie pop group The Housemartins went on to become The Beautiful South. Another, bassist Norman Cook, went through a lot of bands and acts before eventually settling on being Fatboy Slim. note 
  • King Charles didn't achieve international notoriety until his band Adventure Playground broke up.
  • Sonny Moore used to be the lead singer of the metalcore band From First to Last. He appeared on their first two albums and left after having surgery on his vocal chords. Today, he's world famous as dubstep's biggest star, Skrillex.
  • Before becoming a film soundtrack composer, Graeme Revell was the frontman of the industrial band SPK.
  • The Flower Pot Men, not to be confused with the Britpop group of the same name, was a short-lived 80's industrial duo consisting of Adam Peters and Ben Watkins, the latter of which later started Juno Reactor.
  • In 1996 and 1997, there was a country music duo called Thrasher Shiver, composed of Neil Thrasher and Kelly Shiver, who recorded one unsuccessful album. After they got dropped, Thrasher became famous as a songwriter, with several cuts by Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts, and Diamond Rio.
  • Soft rock duo England Dan & John Ford Coley recorded from 1972 to 1980, achieving their biggest success with "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight". After they split up, England Dan (now going by his real name, Dan Seals) had a couple minor pop hits, but struck it big as a Country Music singer-songwriter in the 1980s, with eleven #1 hits and five other Top 10 hits on the country charts between 1983 and 1990. Although his hits stopped, he continued to record until his 2009 death. Coley had one other short-lived group and a few acting roles.
  • John Rich zig-zags this trope like crazy. After he was fired from country band Lonestar in 1998, they went on to bigger and better things (most notably their massive crossover hit "Amazed" a year later). Rich attempted a solo career on the same label, but his album was never released. However, he got a couple songwriting gigs with his friend "Big" Kenny Alphin, with whom he signed to Warner Bros. in 2004 as Big & Rich. Although Big & Rich only had modest success, Rich also gained prolificacy as a songwriter and producer apart from his work in Big & Rich.
  • When alt-rockers Eve's Plum broke up in 1998, lead singer Coleen Fitzpatrick re-invented herself as pop singer Vitamin C and had a handful of hit singles between 1999 and 2000.
  • After country duo Foster & Lloyd broke up in 1990 over Creative Differences, Radney Foster had a moderately successful solo debut album in 1992 with the Top 10 hits "Just Call Me Lonesome" and "Nobody Wins". He had no more hits after it, but has maintained a small following ever since, mainly in alternative country. He has also written several songs for others, including Sara Evans' #1 hit "A Real Fine Place to Start". Bill Lloyd, meanwhile, did a little bit of production.
  • After the Eagles disbanded in 1980, drummer Don Henley had a rather fruitful solo career. So did Glenn Frey to a lesser extent.
    • Joe Walsh zig-zags this trope, breaking out of rock trio The James Gang as a solo artist, joining Eagles in 1975, then becoming successful as a solo artist again in 1980. His biggest solo hit, "Life's Been Good", came out in 1979, while Walsh was still an Eagle.
  • In the late 2000s, there was a country group called KingBilly, which got some exposure on CMT and GAC but never really broke through. Their mandolinist, Charlie Worsham, had a successful solo debut album in 2013 with the Top 20 hit "Could It Be".
  • Tenacious D's track 'The Ballad of Hollywood Jack and the Rage Kage' parodies this, with the Rage Kage languishing in obscurity while Hollywood Jack gets famous and stars in movies (not entirely unlike the dynamic that was in place while the band themselves were on hiatus between albums). It culminates in the Rage Kage losing his mind in a jealous fury.
  • Girl group KRUSH had a hit song on the Mo' Money soundtrack before disbanding. Christy Williams and Angie Smith faded into obscurity, while Ashley Jackson starting using her given name Karan, dropped her last name, and booked a role as the Yellow Ranger on Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.
  • Subverted with Darius Rucker, lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish. While his country music career is fairly successful, he also remains semi-active in his band. Played straight in that his bandmates have had no success since their peak in the mid-90's.
  • Jesse Mc Cartney was originally the youngest of a five-member Boy Band called Dream Street who went nowhere. After his singing career faded away, he dipped into voice acting.
  • Blake Babies was an Alternative Rock trio from the late 80's and early 90's. They were still rather obscure when they broke up in 1993. Two of the members formed another band which didn't last long. The third member was Juliana Hatfield.
  • After leaving the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed had a solo career that easily eclipsed his former band's in terms of commercial success, if not in historical importance.
    • On a similar note, John Cale, after being fired from the group in 1968, went to carve his own niche as a solo artist, session musician and producer.
  • In the 1980s, there was a country music band from Muscle Shoals, Alabama called The Shooters. After they broke up in 1990, lead vocalist Walt Aldridge went on to become a songwriter and producer, while bassist Gary Baker became a collaborator of country-pop songwriter Frank J. Myers, scoring big hits with John Michael Montgomery's "I Swear" (later Covered Up by R&B group All-4-One) and Lonestar's "I'm Already There", among others. Baker and Myers also did one album as a short-lived duo.
  • Another obscure mid-80s country band, The Wrays, charted four singles but never put out a full album. After they broke up, group member Bubba Wray (real name: Floyd Elliot Wray) decided to take on a solo career as Collin Raye. Between 1991 and 2000, he had 21 top ten hits for Epic Records, of which four went to #1.
  • There was a short-lived Country Music duo in the 50s called the Davis Sisters, composed of Betty Jack and Skeeter Davis. They were actually using stage names, and not actually sisters. After Betty Jack died in a car crash around the release of their only hit, "I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know", Skeeter briefly toured with Georgia Davis, who was Betty Jack's sister. When that didn't work out, Skeeter went on to have a long string of albums and singles from 1957 to 1980, and continued to tour until her 2004 death.
  • After the rock group Hey Monday went on hiatus in 2011, lead singer Cassadee Pope competed on The Voice and won the 2012 season. She had a Top 10 hit on the country music charts in late 2013-early 2014 with "Wasting All These Tears".
  • Bauhaus, the Goth Rock band but with no major hits to its name, splintered into Peter Murphy and Love and Rockets, each with their own chart-topping singles.
  • Nick Cave left The Birthday Party and is much better known and more commercially successful than his first band, with The Bad Seeds or otherwise.
  • Ozzy Osbourne after being fired from Black Sabbath in 1979. While Sabbath struggled to stay commercially relevant in the 1980s, especially after a brief stint with Ronnie James Dio at the mike, Ozzy managed to score himself a successful solo career.
  • After an obscure 1990s country band called Pearl River broke up, some of their members became the backing band for Bryan White, a young singer who had previously sold T-shirts for the band. White frequently collaborated with ex-Pearl River guitarist Derek George, and both of them made guest appearances on Steve Wariner's 1996 album No More Mr. Nice Guy. When White stopped having hits, George worked as a songwriter, briefly joined another band called Williams Riley, then became a producer for Randy Houser and Joe Nichols in The New '10s.
  • The obscure EBM band Bigod 20 only lasted six years, releasing two albums, but Andreas "Talla 2XLC" Tomalla went on to be one of the world's top trance producers.
  • An obscure 1980s country music band called Bandana produced two examples: lead singer Lonnie Wilson became a session drummer and songwriter, while guitarist Tim Menzies had some songwriting successes. Drummer Ray Johnston's son, Jaren, became a popular songwriter and the lead singer of The Cadillac Three in The New '10s.
  • There was a 1970's South African band named Rabbitt which achieved some minor local success. The guitarist, Trevor Rabin, went on to become a member of Yes at their commercial height and writing the majority of their best-selling album 90125. The other members of Rabbitt are mostly forgotten except as a footnote in Rabin's career.
  • Upon the breakup of the trance group Ian van Dahl, singer Annemie Coenen continued working with Peter Luts under the name AnnaGrace.
  • Buffalo, NY had a few local high school-aged thrash metal acts that probably weren't ever going to go anywhere. Said acts (Beyond Death, Leviathan, and Tirant Sin) all eventually broke up, though some of their former members went on to form a promising new band that wound up making it far bigger than they had ever dreamed of. That band's name? Cannibal Corpse. Additionally, Darrin Pfeiffer from Beyond Death went on to strike it similarly big with the pop-punk act Goldfinger.
  • Van Morrison's career took off after he left his original band Them. The band had a respectable number of hits with Morrison as lead singer and songwriter; after he left they struggled for a few years and split up.
  • In the fictional history of Garth Brooks' alter ego Chris Gaines, Chris started off in a band called Crush that scored its only hit "My Love Tells Me So". When one of its band members died in an airplane crash, Chris went solo with his debut album Straight Jacket and became a bigger success up until the release of his 1999 Greatest Hits album which would precede The Lamb.
  • The British rock band Flaming Youth only released one album before they broke up, and most of the members remain relatively obscure...except for the group's drummer, Phil Collins, who soon afterwards became the drummer for Genesis, and eventually started a very prolific solo career.
    • Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett joined the band in a similar way, when the previous band he was in, Quiet World, broke up. As for the other members of Quiet World, John Hackett (Steve's brother) is mostly noted for playing on Steve's solo records and in his backing band, the Heather brothers (John, Lea, and Neil) have moved on to writing musicals, Phil Henderson has become a composer, and everyone else has fallen into obscurity.
  • Bluesology is a largely forgotten blues band from the 60's, and almost all of its members are largely forgotten. Organist Reggie Dwight, however, is well known largely because we know him now as Elton John.
  • Keith Urban's first American recordings were as lead singer/guitarist of a three-piece band called The Ranch. They recorded one album which remained obscure until Urban's solo career was established.
  • Sacred Mother Tongue was a British melodic metalcore act that was critically well-liked but never went anywhere and eventually broke up because of that. While Andy James had released several solo albums during their active run, it wasn't until after they broke up that he really started to become a known figure in the guitar world.
  • Tompall and the Glaser Brothers (Tompall, Jim, and Chuck Glaser) went both ways with this. Originally backing vocalists for Marty Robbins, they released singles between 1966 and 1973, with Jim concurrently charting solo singles for most of that timespan. After they broke up, all three were solo artists in varying capacity between 1974-80, and Tompall had a hit independently of the group with "Put Another Log on the Fire (Male Chauvinist National Anthem)". The brothers reunited from 1980-82, scoring their biggest hit with "Lovin' Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)" before breaking up again. After the breakup, Jim went solo a second time from 1982-86, getting a #1 hit in 1984 with "You're Gettin' to Me Again".
  • In the mid-2000s there was a little-known southern hip hop duo called Playaz Circle, which became a One-Hit Wonder in 2007 with "Duffle Bag Boy" solely due to it featuring Lil Wayne. After the failure of their second album in 2009, they called it quits. One half of the duo went solo, and had much more success. That member? Tity Boi, better known today as 2 Chainz.
  • Blue Angel were a New York Rockabilly/retro R & B group who released one major label album; They had limited commercial success and were subsequently dropped from the label, leading to their breakup. Not long after, their singer, Cyndi Lauper, was discovered singing in a bar and started a very successful solo career. She would later re-record some songs that were originally Blue Angel material, including ones the band themselves never got to officially release. And in 1987, the band reformed without Lauper under the name Boppin' The Blues (before breaking up again) - during that period, she once put in a surprise guest appearance at one of their shows, singing two cover songs with the band.
  • The short-lived all-female country music band Wild Rose had one with fiddler Wanda Vick, who became a prominent session musician after the band broke up.
  • Short-lived Russian country band Bering Strait produced Ilya Toshinsky, a prominent session musician as well.
  • In 1981, following two very successful albums, half the original line-up of The Specials broke away to form Fun Boy Three. While neither camp was quite as popular as the original band had been, The Fun Boy Three were a lot more successful without the rest of The Specials than the remainder of The Specials were without the Fun Boy Three.
  • The '60s rock band The Hassles recorded two low-key albums before disbanding. The bassist co-founded Ram Jam (best known for "Black Betty"). The drummer and keyboardist experimented in metal before going their separate ways, and that keyboardist had a pretty good solo career. His name? Billy Joel.
  • After The Jonas Brothers broke up in 2013 due to being dropped by the Disney Channel and increasing levels of cultural irrelevance thanks to One Direction and Justin Bieber, two of its members formed careers of their own to commercial (though not quite to the level of the band at their prime) and critical (much moreso than the band) success:
    • Nick Jonas developed a mature Contemporary R&B sound far removed from his original band and scored a pair of hits with "Jealous" and "Chains" off his debut Self-Titled Album. Additionally, he garnered significant acclaim as an actor with lead roles in Kingdom and Scream Queens (2015).
    • Joe Jonas founded DNCE, a band with an upbeat funky disco sound, and their debut single "Cake By the Ocean" was a huge hit. Unfortunately, they've yet to score a notable follow-up.
    • As for Kevin, he had a (very) brief stint on the reality TV circuit with Celebrity Apprentice and Married to Jonas but never returned to the music biz and faded into complete obscurity.
  • White Eskimo was a short lived garage band that would have been almost completely unknown had it not been for the fact that their lead singer's name was Harry Styles. Styles auditioned for The X Factor in 2010 and was put into an English-Irish boy band called One Direction. They would go on to be far and away the most globally successful boy band to ever come out of either country, and one of the biggest ever, period, selling over 65 million records worldwide, including unprecedented domination in the United States, (almost) wiping out rest of the scene and came incredibly close to ending Justin Bieber's career.
  • Issues was formed by Tyler Carter and Michael Bohn after they were fired from Woe, Is Me. What happens afterwards? WIM releases one critically panned album that flopped before disbanding permanently, while Issues quickly becomes one of the most popular Metalcore bands in the United States, with a Top 10 debut album (extremely impressive for a metal band) and a devoted following, bigger than what WIM ever had.
  • Motograter was a virtually unknown Nu Metal band that never had a Top 200 album, and ultimately broke up in 2006. Afterwards, frontman Ivan Moody joined Five Finger Death Punch, who in the '10s became one of the most popular metal bands in the world.
  • In the early '90s, Sexart was a completely unknown Alternative Metal band that ended almost as quickly as it started. They were never heard of again, or at least they never would've been heard of had frontman Jonathan Davis not started a new band. That band? Korn. Also known as the original Nu Metal band, and with over 40 million records sold, any mention of Sexart is solely in relation to Korn.
  • Inverted with Asking Alexandria. Despite being British, they're one of the most popular metalcore bands in the United States. Danny Worsnop, was definitely the band's public face, but combined with his drug issues and him growing disaffected with metalcore, he eventually left them to form the Hard Rock band We Are Harlot. Although they had a top 10 rock radio hit with "Dancing on Nails", which post-Worsnop Asking Alexandria have yet to achieve, We Are Harlot remains obscure to the public, known mostly for being Danny's new band, whereas Asking Alexandria is still going on strong with new vocalist Denis Stoff, and has shown no signs of slowing down since.
  • David Byrne has had a successful solo career and become a public intellectual after the breakup of Talking Heads, while the other members have kept a lower profile.
  • In The '80s, the now-defunct Opryland USA theme park had a house band called the Tennessee River Boys. One of their founding members was Ty Herndon, left early in the group's history, and had a handful of country hits between 1995-99. Meanwhile, the band's membership changed several times until they became Diamond Rio, one of the biggest country bands of The '90s.
  • When Loggins and Messina split in 1976, its two namesakes went on polar opposite career paths. Messina was generally forgotten about, while Loggins went on to be one of the big names of the 80's. Contributing classic tunes to films like Footloose and Top Gun.
  • An obscure Christian rock band called White Heart produced several famous Country Music names. Dann Huff left to become a session musician and record producer His replacement, Gordon Kennedy (son of country record producer Jerry Kennedy), also left to become a producer/songwriter. Chris McHugh became a session drummer, while other members such as Tommy Sims have also had songwriting credits.

    Sports 
  • Inverted with Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, the Oakland A's "Bash Brothers". Canseco had a relatively decent career; McGwire broke the single-season home run record in 1998 that was held by Roger Maris. Nowadays, their impact on baseball can be measured for what they did after their playing days. Canseco's book Juiced opened the floodgates on steroid questions, which of course put McGwire in the crosshairs. As of 2016, the steroid issue has to date kept both men out of the Baseball Hall of Fame (Canseco dropped off the Hall ballot after his first appearance, and McGwire failed to gain anywhere close to the needed support in the maximum of 10 appearances).
  • Played perfectly straight with twin brothers Jose and Ozzie Canseco.
  • Played straight with Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla during their Pirates days. Bonds became the single-season and career home run record holder even under questionable circumstances; Bonilla went floundering around teams looking for work. However, Bonilla does have a World Series ring (with the 1997 Marlins), while Bonds does not.
  • Speaking of the Marlins, Wayne Huizenga broke up nearly the entire 1997 World Series team.
  • Played straight with Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers. While Favre (as expected) entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016, his prima donna attitude after leaving the Packers made him look worse in the end. And the Packers have already won a Super Bowl with his replacement, Aaron Rodgers.
  • The stars of the St. Louis Rams "Greatest Show On Turf": Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Az-Zahir Hakim and Ricky Proehl. Faulk and Warner are now in the Football Hall of Fame. Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt are maybes. Proehl, although not as well-known as the other four, played in four Super Bowls and won two. Hakim did very little after leaving the Rams.
  • When Joe Montana left the San Francisco 49ers for the Kansas City Chiefs, whether he or the 49ers became the breakup breakout could be viewed either way. On one hand, Montana's Chiefs beat the 49ers every time the two teams played. On the other hand, Montana never got the Chiefs all the way to the Superbowl, and Young's 49ers won the Super Bowl in 1994.
  • Inverted with the 1990's Chicago Bulls: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman. Michael Jordan is Michael Jordan, of course. When Michael retired from the Bulls for the last time, Pippen jumped teams. Dennis Rodman joined them for the second half of the Bulls title run, having already been on the Pistons championship teams. All three men got into the Hall of Fame regardless.
  • Averted with Karl Malone and John Stockton: the Utah Jazz were relevant almost single-handedly because of them.
  • Averted with Steve Young and Jerry Rice, although Rice had the longer career and played for three different teams.
  • The city of Cleveland and its original football team, which moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens, with their two Super Bowl championships. Cleveland, meanwhile, has only been to the playoffs once with their new team (given under the...less than upright circumstances of the move). Even worse...the last coach of the old Cleveland Browns? Some guy named Bill Belichick. Who had, for awhile, a pretty good assistant coach named Nick Saban.
  • Four young women in Mixed Martial Arts formed a stable of sorts called the Four Horsewomen, after the pro wrestling stable the Four Horsemen. Of the four of them, Ronda Rousey nearly single-handedly mainstreamed women's MMA and built up an impressive streak of very fast wins. Shayna Baszler is a very distant second - she's respected as an innovative submissionist, but never had a good enough standup to really succeed in MMA, but has recently achieved success outside of MMA in Professional Wrestling, especially in Japan. As for the other two, Jessamyn Duke was known for being pretty and turning out to have a glass jaw that stopped her career in her tracks, and Marina Shafr is known only for being the fourth woman in the Four Horsewomen.

    Toyline 
  • In the G.I. Joe toyline, the Cobra ninjas Slice and Dice were introduced in 1992 to offset Storm Shadow's Heel–Face Turn from the Cobras to the Joes. The Slice figure had five reissues since the original, while Dice never got anything beyond his original release. It helps that Slice actually resembles a ninja.

    Video Games 
  • Even though twin brothers Yun and Yang debuted together in Street Fighter III: New Generation, Yun had more appearances as a player character thanks to his inclusion in Capcom vs. SNK 2, the portable ports of Street Fighter Alpha 3 and Capcom Fighting Jam, with Yang being reduced to an assist character. Yang would make a proper return as a player character in Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition.
  • Founding members of id Software, John Romero and John Carmack, are an interesting case. On one hand, John Romero is far more well-known than Carmack. However, since Romero's split from id, compare his work to Carmack's.
    • id is ultimately a subversion. While Romero is more infamous, Carmack earned respect in the industry for his pioneering work on game engines, of which several games were made using his work as a base. The general gaming public may not know much about Carmack, but in the end he was the more successful, if humbly so, of the two.
  • Appears to be happening with the Wii U and 3DS instalments of Super Smash Bros., with the Pokémon Trainer's Pokémon - Charizard has been announced separately from Squirtle and Ivysaur as its own character. Squirtle and Ivysaur, if they return at all, will have to do so as DLC and not launch characters.

    Webcomics 
  • MegaTokyo started out as a collaboration between Fred Gallagher and Rodney Caston for the first two volumes. Rodney Caston left before the most successful years of the comic (though there is some controversy as to how amicable the split ended up being).
    • As with Carmack/Romero situation, it can also be considered a subversion - Fred Gallagher's take on MegaTokyo eventually became one of the biggest Snark Baits in the medium, while Rodney Caston found a modest-yet-respected position in video game development, getting to work on Second Life and League of Legends.

    Web Original 
  • As chronicled in The Accidental Billionaires and The Social Network, twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss approached Mark Zuckerberg to help them create a new social network called ConnectU. Their partnership lasted for three months, and ended acrimoniously when Zuckerberg went behind their backs and started his own social network. That network, Facebook, is the largest social website in the world, while ConnectU maintained a comparatively-miniscule user base before going inactive.
  • Wikipedia was started to incubate content for Nupedia, which Wales and Sanger et al considered their real project. Within months there were 600+ Wikipedia articles, whereas almost a year after the more formal Nupedia was started only two articles had been accepted as final. Wikipedia is currently among the ten most visited sites on the entire Internet; Nupedia was shut down in 2003.

     Western Animation 
  • The Venture Bros. has something like this in-universe, as the other members of the original Team Venture never achieved the same level of success as Jonas Venture and have mostly fallen on hard times.
  • The musical incidents of this are parodied in an episode of South Park, in which Stan and Kyle are a Guitar Hero duo that break up when Stan gets a sponsor, leaving Kyle playing in bowling alleys.


Alternative Title(s): The Jannetty

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BreakUpBreakOut