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Breakup Break Out
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 Darkhorse. 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.

Examples

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    Advertising 
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal once featured three chefs on the box without much of an identity. At some point, two of the chefs (apocryphally named Bob and Quello) were removed and the third was given an official name (Wendell) and started playing a much bigger role in ads for the cereal.

     Comic Books 
  • Rather common in superhero teams:
    • Watchmen - Dr. Manhattan and the Comedian are government employees with a public presence, 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 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.
    • 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 now 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.

    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 Oceans 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.
  • This gets spoofed in the movie 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 she's been struggling for roles ever since. 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. Still, Lohan is much more famous than anyone else, so Chabert is probably the least successful of the four main stars.
  • 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), or, in the case of Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), return to civilian life as a hospital porter.
  • 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 and is set to work with Guillermo del Toro. 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 his recent film, CBGB which also co-starred Alan Rickman, got panned by critics.

     Live Action TV 
  • 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.
  • 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 adult 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.
  • 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".
  • 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.
    • 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 two breakouts - Ted Danson and Kelsey Grammer.
    • The Cheers spin-off Frasier also had two breakouts - Grammer and Jane Leeves.
    • Woody Harrelson has stared in many successful films since Cheers ended while Danson and Grammer have had moderate success on TV.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Jennifer Aniston has been far more successful than her Friends co-stars since the show ended. Courteney Cox and Matthew Perry have managed to stay in the spotlight as well.
    • Lisa 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).
    • Schwimmer, though far from a public figure, has tried to focus his efforts more into directing, helming Run Fatboy 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 Whos The Boss. Tony Danza is the only other notable member of the cast, but he was already an established star.
  • 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. 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.
    • iCarly and its sister show Victorious have their own examples. With both shows cancelled, they created a Spin-Off for Jennette McCurdy and Ariana Grande (who was already a bigger celebrity than Victoria Justice herself) to reprise their characters, Sam & Cat. Jerry Trainor also got his own show (Noah Munck's pilot for a Gibby spinoff didn't sell). Even with Miranda Cosgrove going to college her star power should be enough to give her a long career in film and TV if she wants it (plus she has some established success in voice acting), which means that it's likely going to be Nathan Kress who ends up as the least successful of the iCarly cast.
      • Ariana is a particularly notable example. Aside from the fact that she got her own spin-off, she has a massively successful music career and is arguably the biggest Nick star in more than a decade.
    • 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.
  • 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 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, 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, Alyson Hannigan, and Seth Green. 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.

    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 CD's. Lance Bass became known for being gay, wanting to participate in a space program, and being a radio host. JC Chasez's solo career went nowhere before he settled on production work. Joey Fatone went on to have a modest television presenting career while Chris seems to have relegated to reality program appearances.
  • 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 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.
  • Between 1984 and 1990, mother-daughter Country Music duo The Judds had several big hits, but they disbanded due to mother 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 single "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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 otherhand 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 Lemmy Kilmister, their bass player, he started up his own band which is far better known. That band? Motörhead.
  • 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.
  • Destinys 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 Beyonce.
  • 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 Seventies 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.
    • Averted with the Rob Zombie band bassist Blasko, who after leaving Zombie's band became the bassist for Ozzy Osbourne.
  • 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.
    • And Robert Fripp.
  • Both averted and proven with successful glam-rock group T.Rex; Marc Bolan remained the most popular face of the band, but a former keyboardist for the band had quite a bit of success when he decided to launch his own solo career. His name? Elton John.
  • 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.
  • From First to Last was a metalcore band led by Sonny Moore. 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, Radney Foster had a moderately successful solo debut album. 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".
  • 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 zigzags 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 one-fifth of a Boy Band called Dream Street who went nowhere.
  • 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 Tens.
  • 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.
  • The 1980s country music band Bandana produced a few minor breakouts: lead singer Lonnie Wilson became one of the most prominent drummers in Nashville in The Nineties, and guitarist Tim Menzies changed his name to Tim Mensy, becoming a popular songwriter after a failed attempt at a solo career. Drummer Ray Johnston's son, Jaren, became a popular songwriter and the lead singer of The Cadillac Three in The New Tens.
  • 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 (and arguable Magnum Opus) album 90125. The other members of Rabbitt are mostly forgotten except as a footnote in Rabin's career.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In the case of a valet becoming the breakup breakout to the wrestler(s) she managed, that is Smurfette Breakout.
  • The Rockers are one of the most infamous examples of this in professional wrestling. Shawn Michaels is one of the biggest stars of all time. Marty Jannetty hasn't been relevant in years, and what he's most famous for is being the man that the left behind half of any broken up tag team is compared to. His name is currently used in a redirect to this article. In Jannetty's defense, relegating him to irrelevancy while pushing Michaels wasn't the original plan. At the time The Rockers broke up, Michaels and Jannetty were considered equals in ability and charisma, and the WWF expected to get two singles stars out of the breakup. However, a couple of badly timed injuries hamstrung Jannetty's biggest pushes and his partying lifestyle ended up getting the better of him.
  • In '95, Jannetty teamed with Leif Cassidy to form the New Rockers. The team wasn't successful and Jannetty ended up being released after losing a WWF Championship match to his former partner Shawn Michaels. Cassidy was sent to ECW after the breakup and was repackaged as Al Snow. He became a main eventer in ECW and was a moderately successful mid-carder during the Attitude Era, while the high point of Jannetty's post-WWF career was losing a PPV match for the WCW Cruiserweight Title against Chris Jericho.
  • During their NWA and AWA days, Terry Bollea and Ed Leslie were a tag team of kayfabe brothers, known alternately as Terry & Ed Boulder, and Hulk & Dizzy Hogan. Bollea, of course, became Hulk Hogan. Ed Leslie became best known as either Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake, or "that guy with no talent who only has a job because he's friends with Hogan".
  • The Blade Runners were a tag team between 1985 and 1986, a pair of former bodybuilders trying to break into wrestling named Steve Borden, and Jim Hellwig, who you may know as Sting and Ultimate Warrior. Sting became one of the biggest stars of WCW and one of the main draws in The Nineties and early noughties, and is still a big draw today, Warrior was a success in The Nineties, but is now best known for a series of crossover episodes between Atop the Fourth Wall and The Spoony Experiment. Still, neither one can be picked over the other as the bigger star.
    • Before the Blade Runners, Sting and Warrior (or "Flash" and "Justice", as they were then known) came into wrestling as part of a five-man group of bodybuilders-turned-wrestlers known as Power Team USA. The other three members ("Commando" Mark Miller, "Glory" Garland Donoho, and "Fury" Ed Brock) went on to do absolutely nothing.
  • The Hart Foundation - OK, this team had Bret Hart, who went on to become a multiple-time world champion and hall of famer, and... Who? Exactly.
  • Edge & Christian - Edge has had three times the amount of World titles Christian has, and in a bigger company at that. Although Christian has held more independent titles and is a Grand Slam Champion, the one accomplishment that Edge never managed. However, they've both gone on to far, far more success than their original leader in the days of the Brood, Gangrel.
    • Speaking of Edge and Christian, during their indy days they were part of a stable called THUG Life which also contained Rhino Richards, Joe E. Legend, Bloody Bill Skullion and Zakk Wyld. Rhino (without the "Richards") had a successful career and held the ECW World Title although he didn't come close to the success that E&C did. On the other hand, Legend only had a short stint in WWF as Just Joe, and Skullion and Wyld never did anything important enough to warrant having a wikipedia article.
  • The Hardy Boyz - Jeff Hardy was WWE Champion while Matt had the ECW Championship which is relatively meaningless in comparison.
    • Earlier in the decade it looked like Matt was the one who would become the breakout star, as he started the immensely popular Version One character while Jeff got fired. But then the Matt / Edge / Lita debacle happened and Matt's career got completely derailed, and Jeff redeemed himself. Long enough to win a World Title at least.
    • History would repeat itself when the two would both move on to TNA. Both would let their personal demons get the best of them, but Matt Hardy would go on to get himself blacklisted from the company by faking a suicide while Jeff Hardy got a second chance and managed to redeem himself and become a mainstay in the main event scene.
    • As of early 2014, Matt has been getting himself back on track, and rumoured to be looking to get back into the wrestling scene.
  • Inverted with The Radicalz: Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, and Perry Saturn. Yes, the first two went on to become major stars. Guerrero died. Benoit killed his entire family and himself. Malenko retired in the early 2000's and is still respected for a wrestler of his build and skill. Saturn disappeared, was homeless for quite awhile, and is just now granting public interviews.
  • "Stunning" Steve Austin and Brian Pillman of the Hollywood Blondes. Austin became six time WWE champion and the only man to win the Royal Rumble thrice. To be fair, the main reason for this was Pillman's untimely death at age 35. At the time, both Pillman and Austin were both very over high mid-carders (Austin being only a few months into developing the foul-mouthed, beer-swilling, anti-hero we know him as today). In fact, Pillman's death came at the beginning stages of a feud between the two.
  • The Thrillseekers: Chris Jericho and Lance Storm. Not a total example. For one thing, they teamed very early in their careers and the team broke up before either of them became famous. Also, Lance Storm became quite a star - he briefly held every undercard title in WCW at the same time and he's still very respected within the business. However, Jericho would become a multiple time WWE World Champion, and acquire fame outside of wrestling as the lead singer of his band Fozzy.
  • America's Most Wanted - One would go on to form an even greater tag team known as BEER! MONEY! The other was Chris Harris, who went on to become IWC phenomenon Braden Walker, who is only remembered for looking stupid during his insanely brief one-month run in WWECW.
    • In fact, Beer Money (James Storm and Bobby Roode) is possibly the most Breakup Breakout team in pro wrestling. Both of its members were Breakup Breakout characters themselves (Storm from AMW, Roode from Team Canada), and when they split, it did the impossible by launching both into the main event (although Roode perhaps more than Storm, making it fit this trope more).
  • D-Generation X - Not a total example as Shawn Michaels was already a big star when the group started, but of the other members of the group only Triple H discovered any real long term success. Road Dogg and Billy Gunn both got stale and couldn't get over either as singles wrestlers or with other tag team partners, Chyna had one of the most notorious falls from grace in wrestling history, and X-Pac became the Trope Namer for X-Pac Heat.
    • Billy Gunn did alright with Chuck Palumbo as Billy & Chuck but the team relied on their pseudo-homosexual partnership gimmick, which after it ended didn't take them very far. But, yeah, nothing's going to stack up to his run with Jesse James as the New Age Outlaws.
  • During the last days of WCW, AJ Styles was half of a tag team with a guy named Air Paris. Styles is a multi-time champion in TNA, whereas Paris hasn't had so much as a stint in any of the "big six" (WWE, TNA, ROH, CZW, PWG, Chikara).
  • The Steiner Brothers: Scott Steiner (HUH?) became a WCW Champion in 2000 (HUH?) and worked in the WWE (HUH?) and in TNA (HUH?), while Rick (HUH?) is currently (HUH?) in a local school board (HUH?).
    • "I'M HUNGRY!"
    • Ironically, before the split, the Steiner Brothers were generally thought of as "Rick Steiner and his less-interesting brother". Then Scotty put on 100 pounds of muscle, bleached his hair, reinvented himself as a Kavorka Man with "freaks" in every city, and started giving insane promos (likely fueled by the stuff that gave him that 100 pounds of muscle). Rick, on the other hand, floundered about in the upper midcard and then turned heel. Although he was a pretty good face, as a heel he was a complete heat vacuum.
  • Harlem Heat: Booker T becomes a six-time, six-time, six-time, six-time, six-time, six-time World Heavyweight Champion, and who knows what Stevie Ray is doing currently. (Working for Booker at his wrestling school, actually).
  • The British Bulldogs broke up when Dynamite Kid had to retire due to chronic back injuries and a falling out with his tag partner Davey Boy Smith. Smith renamed himself to The British Bulldog and had a fairly long run as an upper midcarder in WWF.
  • The Second City Saints: CM Punk is a six-time World Champion and one of the top faces of WWE, Colt Cabana (aka Scotty Goldman) got released from WWE after a brief run as a jobber. Oh, and did you know there's a third Second City Saint named Ace Steel?
    • Though Colt did eventually become a two-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, so there's that.
    • Punk was also this to the heel stable The New Breed in 2007 — which he, admittedly, joined for all of two weeks. By that point everyone knew that Punk was the only one of them that had any future in the company as a wrestler. Matt Striker was the only one who lasted a notable length of time, and he did so as a TV personality, having not wrestled in years by the time he was released in 2013. Elijah Burke has had reasonable success in TNA as the pope, and is easily the second-most successful member of the group.
  • The Fabulous Freebirds were actually notorious for their refusal to break up - if a promoter tried to split the team up all of them would leave the promotion. However, Michael Hayes and Terry Gordy both had notable careers outside the Freebirds. Buddy Roberts did next to nothing outside the tag team. And when the team finally did break up for good, it was with Hayes and Gordy turning face on Roberts. Hayes and Gordy went on to mixed success elsewhere, and Roberts retired.
    • Buddy Roberts was the oldest member and already well-established in the wrestling world as 1/2 of the original Hollywood Blonds (not the Steve Austin/Brian Pillman team) long before he joined the Freebirds. He was brought in because Michael Hayes was considered a great talker but a poor wrestler.
  • MNM: Johnny Nitro became John Morrison, won the ECW Title, joined another successful tag team, and was an upper-midcarder on WWE SmackDown! being primed for the big time. Joey Mercury... had a few spots for ROH, and later joined the Straight Edge Society. Even their valet Melina did better than Mercury, wining the Women's Title on a couple of occasions. Whether or not she was bigger than Morrison...that's a topic for debate.
    • Subverted with Morrison's tag team with The Mizeveryone figured Miz would be lost in the midcard on Raw after the tandem broke up while Morrison moved on to bigger and better things on SmackDown. However, The Miz became the breakout star of the two, winning the WWE Championship in 2010. Morrison eventually left the company.
  • WCW had Three Count, a boy band stable consisting of Evan Karagias, Shannon Moore, and Shane Helms. Of the three, Helms has had a moderately successful WWE career as The Hurricane and as Gregory Helms, Moore was mostly a jobber in WWE but had some tag team success in TNA, and Karaigas hasn't done anything. Although, Helms' status of Breakup Breakout came during his WCW days, when he started using the Vertebreaker as his finisher and was given an elaborate entrance and custom theme song.
  • This has happened with Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder as the latter was established as a hot new heel on ECW with his memorable catchphrase and theme music, while the former completely disappeared from WWE television and returned to FCW. Hawkins would later return as part of a very unmemorable tag team with Vance Archer which would later break up with Hawkins going nowhere on Superstars while Archer got released. However, it was during that short period of time that it would look like Hawkins might have a shot at surpassing his partner as ECW went off the air and was replaced by NXT, leaving Ryder stuck on Superstars as well. However, Ryder would become an underground hit when he debuted his Web Original series, Z! True Long Island Story. With a huge following on the IWC, Ryder would eventually turn face and get featured on both RAW and Smackdown as a result (Ryder defeated Dolph Ziggler at the 2011 WWE TLC PPV for the United States Championship), all while Curt Hawkins will occasionally make cameos on the show if he's lucky.
  • Even if he had moderate success, Billy Gunn hit superstardom in comparison to what happened to Bart Gunn from The Smoking Gunns. Bart Gunn won the (real fighting) Brawl For All tournament, then lost to Butterbean in 30 seconds and was immediately fired - he hasn't worked in the USA since. Billy also outlived Road Dogg in the WWE even if they later reunited in TNA.
    • Bart Gunn actually did fairly well for himself, but in Japan. Since Bart knocked out Dr. Death Steve Williams in the Brawl For All and Williams was a very big name in Japan, he gained instant credibility, and he received decent pushes in both AJPW and NJPW.
  • In a "rivals" version of this, Rey Mysterio Jr and Psicosis. They debuted together, feuded all through Mexico, Japan, ECW, WCW... then 2001ish WCW released all their Luchadors except for Mysterio (and Juventud Guererra). Mysterio later got scooped up by WWE and eventually became a World Champion. Psicosis, on the other hand, got a short WWE run and nothing to show for it. When they met in a Royal Rumble, Mysterio just kinda backhanded Psicosis out of the ring. Mysterio's still a major superstar. Psicosis isn't as big in his native Mexico as Mysterio is in the US.
  • The Rock started out as part of The Nation of Domination alongside Faarooq, D-Lo Brown, The Godfather, and Mark Henry. Rocky of course first became arguably the most popular wrestler of all time, and then made it into Hollywood. The Godfather never really did much, and D-Lo Brown was a successful upper midcarder during the Attitude Era, but never broke into the main event and his star faded around 2003 or so. Mark Henry won the World Title in 2011, putting him in a clear second place.
  • The World's Greatest Tag Team: Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin. After the team split up Shelton got three consecutive victories over Triple H, became a three time Intercontinental champion, a former United States Champion and was the highlight of the Money in the Bank match at every Wrestlemania (he, tied with Kane, appeared in more MITB matches than any other superstar). Charlie Haas was primary used as a jobber-to-the-stars and occasionally part of an unsuccessful make-shift tag team. He was even released and re-hired a couple times before being released for good in 2010. A strange subversion here in that the WGTT as a tag team actually has more drawing power than either Haas or Benjamin separately. When they reunited in Ring Of Honor, the Fandom Rejoiced.
  • Not to say that Chuck Palumbo has had an extraordinarily successful career, but he's had a better one than that of his tag partner in The Perfect Event, Shawn Stasiak. Palumbo had a good run as WWE Tag Team Champion with Billy Gunn, was later part of the WWE incarnation of the Full Blooded Italians, and was part of the Voodoo Murders stable in AJPW. Stasiak got to play a gimmick where he was deliberately clumsy, and now works as a chiropractor.
  • Dragon Gate had a stable called the Royal Brothers, with Anthony W. Mori, Henry III Suguwara, and Phillip J. Fukamasa. Fukamasa barely lasted an entire year, leaving Mori and Suguwara a tag team. Then Suguwara turned heel on Mori (and started using his real name Takuya Suguwara). Mori won their feud fairly heavily, and Suguwara was fired for unrelated reasons, leaving Mori as the breakup breakout. But since then, Suguwara re-invented himself on the Japanese indy scene while Mori slid down the rankings to jobber-to-the-stars. Suguwara returned to Dragon Gate after a half a decade absence, and is now somewhere between upper midcarder and main eventer, and leading the Real Hazard stable. A rare case of the breakup breakout situation reversing itself.
  • The British Invasion: Brutus Magnus, Doug Williams, and Rob Terry. Terry, the Butt Monkey of the stable, went on to become TNA Global champion and thus far the longest reigning champion in the belt's history. Doug Williams is a two-time X-Division champion and one of the top guys of the division. Magnus has been taken off television following his PPV loss to Terry.
    • However, Magnus has become a prominent midcarder after teaming with Samoa Joe and winning the Tag Team titles. Terry has been working mainly as Robbie E's bouncer and Douglass Williams hasn't been on TV in a while.
    • Magnus is now the TNA World Heavyweight champion, something that neither Terry nor Williams have accomplished yet.
  • WWE had the Spirit Squad, a five man stable consisting of male cheerleaders Kenny, Johnny, Mitch, Nicky, and Mikey. Out of the five only Nicky is still employed in the WWE and has been repackaged as Dolph Ziggler, enjoying singles success and eventually becoming a Triple Crown champion. Ironically, the whole Spirit Squad gimmick was used to put over Kenny. That worked to his disadvantage, as he forever became associated with the gimmick. Even years after the breakup, Kenny Dykstra was still the butt of Spirit Squad chants and jokes.
  • Averted with The Acolytes/APA, as Ron Simmons (AKA Faarooq) was already a former WCW Champion prior to the team's creation. However, after the APA's second breakup in 2004, Bradshaw reinvented himself as the Corrupt Corporate Executive John Bradshaw Layfield, when he held the WWE title for almost a year.
  • Played straight with Legacy, though not in the way people expected. Ted DiBiase was initially planned to be breakout with him turning face against Randy Orton and he had starred in the Direct-to-Video sequel to The Marine. The plans got derailed when Orton's popularity caused him to be booked as a face against DiBiase and Rhodes. After Wrestlemania, Ted was given his father's gimmick and failed to get over even with Virgil and later Maryse by his side. Meanwhile, Cody Rhodes was drafted to Smackdown and became "Dashing". Cody's been a mainstay of the show, winning the WWE tag team championship for the fourth time with Drew McIntyre, being in World title contention, getting another gimmick overhaul, and winning a Wrestlemania match against Rey Mysterio. Rhodes won the Intercontinental Championship on an episode of SmackDown on August 12, 2011 and has become one of the top heels in the WWE.
  • The American Males: Marcus Bagwell would turn on his tag team partner Scotty Riggs to join the New World Order. The newly rechristened Buff Bagwell would become a capable hand in the nWo and would enjoy a run in the upper-midcard upon the group's dissolution until WCW was bought out by WWE. Scotty Riggs would join The Flock as a job guy for Raven and toil in obscurity upon that group's dissolution. After Riggs jumped from WCW to ECW, Riggs was put in an angle with Rob Van Dam and it looked like he might avert this, but the match between Riggs and RVD was underwhelming, and ECW folded not too long afterwards.
  • Inverted with Lay Cool. Michelle McCool was already a big player in the women's division when the team formed but Layla was mostly just there as another heel diva. She started out as Michelle's sidekick but was eventually promoted to an equal. When they split it was played straight since Layla retired Michelle and became the top face on Smackdown, until an injury took her out. Layla got hurt (torn ACL and MCL) the same night she retired Michelle. Sitting out for a year recovering killed her momentum and even though she was made Divas Champion when she came back, she was never as over as she was with Michelle.
  • Another example that includes Layla - Extreme Expose. The dance trio on ECW included her and Kelly Kelly who was arguably the most popular diva on the roster. The other girl, Brooke Adams, got released just after they split. She's in TNA now though so maybe she'll subvert the trope.
  • In 2004, the tag team "Los Guerreros" was broken up after Chavo Guerrero Jr attacked his uncle Eddie. Their feud culminated at the Royal Rumble, with Eddie winning. About a month later, both of them became successful at No Way Out, with Chavo winning the Cruiserweight Championship and Eddie winning the WWE Championship. Chavo never quite became as successful as his uncle in the long run (Eddie was already more popular anyway), but was nevertheless a good wrestler.
  • Averted with the Funk brothers, Terry and Dory Jr. While Terry is more well-known than Dory Jr. for his inability to stay out of the ring and his hardcore matches, both were equally successful singles stars in their primes.
  • One odd example that's not born from either a tag team or a rivalry. In 1989 a midcarder for New Japan Pro Wrestling named Keiichi Yamada was reinvented, giving him a gimmick based on a Go Nagai anime that was getting ready to air. Today, Jushin Thunder Liger is one of the most celebrated, accomplished and innovative wrestlers in history while the anime series his gimmick is based on, Jushin Liger, is practically a footnote known more for spawning his gimmick than anything else.
  • Despite showing equal charisma as singles stars, when Team 3D broke up, Brother Ray became Bully Ray and one of the top heels of the company whereas Brother Devon languished in the midcard, only getting a very brief push as TV Champion (the push coming a month after he won the title and being forgotten about after two months). When their contracts expired in August 2012, Ray stayed and Devon left, both with good reason: Ray was in the Bound For Glory tournament for the World Title, and Devon's Television Championship was getting no television time.
    • He came back. He's stlll nowhere near Ray's level, now that the latter is TNA World Champion.
  • GLOW had the tag team of Hollywood and Vine. After GLOW closed, Vine did nothing of note. Hollywood stayed in the wrestling business in various capacities, and is very easy to find on the Internet to this day, although most of her work is in pretaped and often NSFW matches.
    • T&A was made up of Tina Ferrari and Ashley Cartier. Tina spent years in various women's promotions before arriving in WWE in 1999 as Ivory and would go on to become a 3x WWE Women's Champion. Ashley never accomplished much beyond her and Tina's run with the GLOW Tag Team Titles.
    • Of Thunderbolt and Lightning, Lightning showed up more as a singles wrestler and continued and continued to show up in post Glow promotions such as the short lived LPWA, sometimes as Cheryl Rusa.
  • When Men on a Mission broke up, Mabel became King of the Ring, and then had midcard runs in WWE as Viscera and Big Daddy V. Mo on the other hand never did anything of note again - he wasn't even kept around long enough to feud with and lose to Mabel.
  • Claudio Castagnoli started out in the European indy scene as part of a trio called Swiss Money Holding with Ares and Marc Roudin. Obviously, Claudio is the breakout - he got a WWE job as Antonio Cesaro. Ares, however, is a breakout compared to Roudin. Ares is currently a fairly successful indie wrestler in the states, and Roudin stayed in Europe and retired some time in the mid-2000s.
    • Same thing with the Kings of Wrestling. Cesaro actually made it to WWE TV and is getting a big push, Chris Hero (Kassius Ohno) was with NXT for about a year before being released.
      • The jury is currently way out on the Real Americans' split. Cesaro went from a megapush and aborted face turn to getting stuck in the Paul Heyman heat vacuum, while Jack Swagger just started his first-ever face run with a white-hot segment.
  • Club 7 was a tag team in New Japan Pro Wrestling formed by Giant Silva and Giant Singh who acted as Masahiro Chono's bodyguards. After the team's break up, the two took separate ways: Giant Singh went to became WWE's uber-hyped giant, The Great Khali, while Giant Silva (a former WWF wrestler himself) joined to HUSTLE and tried his hand in Mixed Martial Arts before fading into the darkness. Although Silva is considered the better wrestler of the team (or, at least, is not as bad as Khali is), he unofficially retired in 2011 and only a few remember him, while Khali still enjoying his WWE fame.
  • The Nexus. This was a fairly large stable and provides plenty of examples, so here goes:
    • Daniel Bryan, the first to be kicked out of the group, is the only one to win a world championship and in less than four years became the most over wrestler in the entire company, even beating out John Cena. Now, he's arguably the most over wrestler since Stone Cold and the Rock.
    • Skip Sheffield, who was kicked out after breaking his leg (causing him to be out for well over a year), was repackaged as the uber-monster Ryback, putting him in a clear second place. Ultimately his success was short-lived, and by 2014 he's only on TV as a tag team jobber with Curtis Axel.
    • In third place (and pushing for second, given what happened to Ryback) is latecomer Husky Harris, who was repackaged as Bray Wyatt and got a huge push, though in 2014 he racked up a nasty PPV losing streak that hurt his momentum and credibility pretty badly.
    • The only other members to have any real success were Wade Barrett, the former leader, and ironically the one the stable was suppose to propel to superstardom, and Michael McGillicutty, who joined the group months into its existence and eventually became Paul Heyman protege Curtis Axel. See Ryback's section above on where Curtis Axel ended up, though. The rest are either released or jobbers, the most prominent being Heath Slater, who formed the heel stable 3MB, composed primarily of jobbers.
    • CM Punk doesn't count, as while he ascended superstardom after dissolving what was last of the Nexus, he was already well-established beforehand by being a three-time world champion at the time, and although Bryan may surpass him one day (he already has in overness), he remains the group's most successful member. Neither does John Cena, for that matter. Although he's far more successful than any other Nexus member, he was much more established than Punk was and had been a superstar for years.
  • Brian Kendrick was briefly the breakout of London And Kendrick; he hung around for about a year after the team split, and got a decent singles push as The Brian Kendrick. Paul London, meanwhile, was released just a few months after the team was broken up.

    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 2011, the steroid issue has to date kept both men out of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
  • 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 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 is undoubtedly a Football Hall of Fame candidate, his primadonna 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 is now in the Football Hall of Fame. Warner is likely shoe-in once he's eligible. 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 Superbowl 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.

    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, though time will tell if the other two are still playable, however, due to the confirmation of four Pokémon so far and the expected return of Jigglypuff, it's looking very unlikely that Squirtle and Ivysaur return.

    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).

    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, 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.


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