Career Resurrection

From celebrated actor to convicted felon, and then right back to the top.

"You know sometimes failure brings success, and I got the proof:
I heard about a man... who got kicked out of the 5th floor window and landed way up on the roof."

This is what happens when a major star fights off the ill effects of the Hollywood Hype Machine. So they debuted hot and fizzled out. Maybe they were a victim of their own hype. Maybe they made some unfortunate role selections. Maybe they were injured or ill, or had some demons they couldn't conquer.

The bottom line is, the next big thing didn't pan out. Or the big star did something dumb and he faded out, having to take bit roles and second billing to pay the bills. Maybe they made an ill-fated switch to another medium, like going from TV to movies, or movies to music. Either way, their career has bottomed out. At worst, they can look forward to a long career as a tabloid punchline.

And then, suddenly... they're back! They landed a hot role, signed on to a Sleeper Hit, or broke back into the industry as an Ensemble Dark Horse or what have you. If they were on drugs, they've cleaned up. If they were always typecast, they show a surprising range. They've resurrected their careers.

See also Win Back the Crowd and Popularity Polynomial. Contrast Star-Derailing Role and Creator Killer.


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  • Ben Affleck and Gone Baby Gone. After Gigli and his messy break-up with Jennifer Lopez, his career had hit rock bottom. Then in 2007, he made his directorial debut with the critical and commercial success Gone Baby Gone. He followed it up with The Town in 2010, which also received critical and commercial success. He won his second Oscar as a producer in 2013 when his third movie Argo won Best Picture. He has also snagged a role as Batman/Bruce Wayne in the Man of Steel/Batman crossover Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
  • Don Ameche in Trading Places. Ameche was one of Fox's biggest romantic stars and light comedians in the late 1930s and throughout the 1940s, starring in numerous successful films such as The Story of Alexander Graham Bell and Heaven Can Wait. After 1949, however, his film career completely collapsed. He appeared in only five films over the course of the next three decades. His television appearances were more frequent but his main income came from dinner threatre. In 1983, the 75-year-old Ameche was cast in the major role as Mortimer Duke in the hit comedy Trading Places, his first film in 13 years. The film brought him back into the Hollywood mainstream after 34 years in the wilderness. He won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his next film Cocoon and worked steadily until a month before his death in 1993.
  • Drew Barrymore in Scream. After starting off as a child actress in the blockbuster E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial as well as Firestarter and Irreconcilable Differences during the 1980s, Barrymore's pre-adolescent drug and alcohol problems and her Stage Mom overshadowed her career. While she cleaned up by the early 1990s, by that time her career had been reduced to low-budget, independent movies (which most of the time, seemed to typecast her as a promiscuous, rebellious, and/or out-of-control youth) like Doppelgänger, Poison Ivy, and the remake of Gun Crazy, and small roles in major movies like Batman Forever. Her small but memorable role in 1996's Scream brought her more and more A-list friendly roles (beginning with The Wedding Singer), most often of the Romantic Comedy variety.
  • A film scoring example is Elmer Bernstein. Once a notable name for action films and dramas in the 1950s and 1960s, Bernstein had found himself reduced to scoring mostly TV shows by the 1970s (although even in the 1950s and 1960s he was happy to work in television, a medium he never considered himself above). Then John Landis, who was Bernstein's neighbor as a child, needed someone to score Animal House after the first score was rejected. He suggested Bernstein and the film's success resurrected Bernstein's career, later going on to score many successful comedies as well as thrillers and dramas (he was not only a regular composer for Landis, but for Ivan Reitman and Martin Scorsese as well) until his retirement in 2002 and eventual passing in 2004.
  • Josh Brolin in No Country for Old Men. After being considered a rising star in the 1980s following the success of The Goonies, a number of barely released films and short-lived television series derailed him. After spending several years being a Hey, It's That Guy! in films like Mimic and Hollow Man, he turned it around in 2007 by playing a few villain roles in the critically acclaimed Grindhouse and American Gangster and then playing the main character in No Country for Old Men. The role got him a lot of acclaim and, despite an Award Snub and an unfortunate turn in Jonah Hex, hasn't looked back.
  • Thomas Haden Church in Sideways. Church was best known at the time for his role as Lowell on the '90s sitcom Wings, but was out of the spotlight until Alexander Payne put him in his comedy-drama.
  • The Coen Brothers went through this twice.
  • Tom Cruise His career was going down — hindered by a public divorce, weakened by joining the Church of Happyology, and nearly killed by a huge temper tantrum on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Going down, that is, until he made a heavily disguised and hilarious turn in Tropic Thunder. It was a minor but key role, and he began to win back his crowd. Now he's a credible action star once again.
  • Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. He started off as Freddy's first victim and later gained notice on 21 Jump Street before breaking through in Edward Scissorhands. After that, his resume is a bit spotty, mixing dubious films (like Don Juan De Marco and Nick of Time) and some hidden gems (Donnie Brasco, Ed Wood and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) along with a lone blockbuster (Sleepy Hollow... like Edward, with Tim Burton). Then he turns up in Pirates, earns an Oscar nomination, signs on for the sequels and renews his partnership with Tim Burton to fantastic results in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Alice in Wonderland.
  • Vin Diesel in Fast & Furious. Diesel had undergone a similar career trajectory to Dwayne Johnson, starting the Turn of the Millennium as an Action Hero with films like The Fast and the Furious, XXX, and Pitch Black before destroying his credibility with action duds like The Chronicles of Riddick and Babylon A.D. and the critically ravaged family film The Pacifier. An attempt to establish dramatic credibility in Find Me Guilty won critical plaudits but no attention from moviegoers. Diesel reestablished his career by returning to the series that made him famous, and now looks to resurrect the Riddick films as well. Furthermore, his status as One of Us has also produced two highly acclaimed Riddick games, Escape from Butcher Bay and Assault on Dark Athena.
  • Robert Downey, Jr. in Iron Man. He played a few second-string roles before receiving high critical praise in the biopic Chaplin as Charlie Chaplin, and the sky was the limit. Then his well-documented substance abuse problems pulled him into obscurity for about 15 years. He would occasionally surface in a big-budget A-list film like U.S. Marshals with Tommy Lee Jones or Gothika with Halle Berry, but never as the first-billed star. He would invariably be seen on the cover of some tabloid and being carted back to rehab shortly thereafter. First he rehearsed a comeback with critically acclaimed roles in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and A Scanner Darkly. Then Iron Man hit, his next film (Tropic Thunder) netted him an Oscar nomination, Sherlock Holmes won him a Golden Globe, and Iron Man 2 was a box-office smash. He also got top billing in the All-Star Cast of The Avengers, once again reprising what's now his signature role, Tony Stark/Iron Man.
  • Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia. Dunst was an acclaimed child actress who managed to successfully negotiate her transition to adult roles, averting the Former Child Star trope in style with roles in The Virgin Suicides, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and the Spider-Man Trilogy films, among others. She was considered one of Hollywood's most promising young actresses before depression and rumored substance abuse led her to check herself into rehab at the age of 25, and the rest of Hollywood to write her off as yet another party girl burnout. Three years later, she won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011 for her turn as a depressed young bride-to-be in Melancholia. It's a pretty spectacular way to make a career comeback, as these things go. Even director Lars von Trier's inappropriate Nazi joke at Cannes wasn't enough to kill Dunst's momentum.
  • Morgan Freeman in Million Dollar Baby. Gaining momentum in the late 1980s to early-mid 1990s, mostly for his role as a pimp in 1987's Street Smart, he grew to become a household name for African-American cinema and was known for his award-winning performances in Glory, Driving Miss Daisy, The Shawshank Redemption, and Se7en, until he was derailed with the flops of Moll Flanders and Chain Reaction, and he would only play roles as narrators and other supporting roles, until a shed of light appeared, when he was praised for his performance in Bruce Almighty. When he won an Academy Award for his role as a former boxer in Million Dollar Baby, he once again returned to A-list status, and it seems he still is not looking back.
  • Jackie Earle Haley in Little Children and Watchmen. Known for his early role in The Bad News Bears, Haley's movie career was sidelined by a reputation as a child star. He was forced to take menial work over the years (including a stint as a limo driver) until he started directing TV commercials in Texas. He was remembered by fellow actor Sean Penn (they had co-starred in a play in the early 1980s), who landed him a role in the remake of All the King's Men. It was followed by Little Children, which was critically-acclaimed and gave Haley an Oscar nomination. And then Haley virtually became a fan icon overnight after landing the role of Rorschach in 2009's Watchmen, and he has since become the go-to actor for portraying disturbing anti-heroes and villains. He has since reinvented Freddy Krueger in the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) (and was hailed as a worthy successor to Robert Englund even by those who hated the rest of the film), co-starred with Johnny Depp in Tim Burton's adaptation of Dark Shadows, and has snagged a role in Steven Spielberg's film about Abraham Lincoln.
  • Tom Hardy in Bronson and Inception. After Star Trek: Nemesis crashed and burned at the box office, Hardy fell into a deep depression, which resulted in him losing his girlfriend and turning to alcohol. He ended up beating his depression, and subsequently decided to pull an extreme form of reinvention when he bulked up to play an unrepentant, physically-imposing gangster in Bronson, which won him critical and commercial acclaim. Two years later, he would cement his return by playing the suave con artist Eames in Christopher Nolan's Inception. Hardy is also seen as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises and the protagonist of Mad Max: Fury Road in 2015.
  • Woody Harrelson in Zombieland. Though pretty much always a sidekick or character actor, Harrelson had a solid run on Cheers for nearly a decade, and turned in a steady string of solid performances in fairly successful films (L.A. Story, Doc Hollywood, White Men Can't Jump, Indecent Proposal, Natural Born Killers) and even earned several award nominations for his turn as "Hustler" magnate Larry Flynt in The People Vs Larry Flynt. After that, he sort of vanished, turning up playing bit parts in major movies, or as a guest star on television series. (Including a memorable stint on Will and Grace.) However after his memorable turn in Zombieland as gun-totaing, redneck, Twinkee-seeking Bad Ass Tallahassee, Harrelson found himself back on the A-List, oftentimes in a first or second billed role. Since Zombieland Harrelson has played The Obi-Wan in The Hunger Games franchise, played one of the main ensemble of Now You See Me and starred alongside Matthew McConaughey in the runaway HBO hit series "True Detective", for which he received an Emmy nomination.
  • Katharine Hepburn: After winning an Oscar for 1933's Morning Glory, Kate seemed to be on the right track; her track record proved to be subsequently shoddy, aside from another Oscar nomination for Alice Adams (1935). By the late 1930s, Hepburn was labeled "box office poison", and subsequently bought out her studio contract. She turned to Broadway and starred in a successful play called The Philadelphia Story, and bought the film rights to the play so she could star in the film. A great risk that paid off, as The Philadelphia Story resurrected Hepburn's career overnight, and a Hollywood legend is born.
  • Dennis Hopper: Although it seems impossible looking back at his career over the past twenty years, there was a time when Hopper was anathema to studios and audiences. After a meteoric rise to the top in the 1960s with appearances in Rebel Without a Cause, Giant and his directorial debut Easy Rider, Hopper was on top of the world. However, he became addicted to drugs and alcohol, and had a dissolving marriage to boot. In 1971, Hopper released his second film as a director, The Last Movie, which was a complete flop with audiences and critics. Hopper would disappear into obscurity for years afterwards by hiding out in New Mexico and appearing in a number of low budget films in the 1970s. After a failed suicide attempt in the early 1980s, though, he went into rehab and subsequently started a run of critically-acclaimed performances, culminating in his career-defining role as Frank Booth in David Lynch's Blue Velvet.
  • Katharine Isabelle in American Mary. Ginger Snaps made her a "scream queen" virtually overnight, but her career never really took off outside of indie films in her native Canada and bit parts on TV shows. American Mary, however, reignited her career, and she followed it up by playing Margot Verger on Hannibal and Susanna Waite on the American version of Being Human.
  • Dwayne Johnson in Fast Five. In the late 1990s, he was one of the biggest superstars of the WWF's Attitude Era, and in the early 2000s he parlayed that into a career as an Action Hero with films like The Rundown, The Scorpion King, and Walking Tall (2004). However, later in the decade, his career was dragged down by a number of underwhelming family films (The Game Plan, Race to Witch Mountain, The Tooth Fairy) that battered his credibility. An attempt to return to action with Faster in 2010 was a disappointment. Fast Five, however, returned him to the attention of action fans, leading to major roles in films like Snitch, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and Pain and Gain.
  • Michael Keaton in Birdman. Known for his comedic roles in the 1980s, Keaton first hit it big playing the titular role in the Tim Burton Batman film. However, once he left after the sequel, his career started a downward swing that was finally destroyed by Jack Frost (1998). The 2000s saw Keaton pursuing a number of secondary roles in lesser films, though he still managed to do some good voice work for Pixar in Cars and Toy Story 3. Birdman, in which Keaton plays a washed-up actor known for a superhero role twenty years ago, earned him a Golden Globe win and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, and he seems set on being a leading man once again.
  • Harvey Keitel in Reservoir Dogs. Keitel was an up and comer in the 1970s, with his performance in Taxi Driver in particular gaining him favorable attention. He was then cast to play the role of Capt. Benjamin Willard in Apocalypse Now — and was sacked after only a week of filming, to be replaced by Martin Sheen. Although he kept quite busy for the next 15 years, appearing in small roles in many different films, it was not until Quentin Tarantino cast him as Mr. White in Reservoir Dogs that Keitel attracted much attention. Since then, he still acts just as much, but he's far more likely to be playing a leading role (or, as in Pulp Fiction, getting a scene-stealing cameo).
  • Richard Linklater made a name for himself with Dazed and Confused and Before Sunrise before spending the years of 1997-2003 making low-key indie projects that got minimal attention, the lone exception being Waking Life and a failed studio project. (The Newton Boys) All that changed when he made School of Rock, His only movie that was a box office smash that helped establish Jack Black as a major star in the process. But a So Okay, It's Average remake of The Bad News Bears and an adaptation of Fast Food Nation for which he was criticized for changing the tone of the novel to an anti-meat Author Tract grounded his career to a halt. With Me and Orson Welles being under-distributed, many critics, including this very wiki thought his career was good and done for. That is until he reunited with Jack Black for Bernie, made the final part in the Before series, Before Midnight and received an Oscar nomination in the process and with his 12-year project, Boyhood coming out to overwhelming acclaim with many calling it a modern classic, it seems he's back in good graces.
  • Matthew McConaughey was a hot young talent in The Nineties, starring in such acclaimed films as Dazed and Confused, A Time to Kill, Amistad, and Lone Star. However, he became a walking punchline over the course of the 2000s, with critics savaging his perpetual shirtlessness and poor choice of film roles and lamenting his squandered potential as a serious actor. Then in 2011, he earned big critical acclaim for his role in The Lincoln Lawyer, and went on to astonish critics everywhere over the next few years with his turns in Killer Joe, Magic Mike, Bernie, Mud, The Wolf of Wall Street, the TV series True Detective, and last but certainly not least, Dallas Buyers Club, which won him an Oscar in 2014. Even the failure of The Paperboy couldn't slow him down. His seeming overnight turnaround from rom-com pretty boy to one of the brightest stars in Hollywood (he currently has the Christopher Nolan sci-fi film Interstellar lined up) has been dubbed "The McConaissance".
  • Eddie Murphy in the remake of The Nutty Professor. Murphy was one of the biggest comedy stars of the 1980s, but as time went on, films like The Golden Child and Beverly Hills Cop II tainted his reputation with critics. In the early 1990s, they disappointed financially too (the vanity project Harlem Nights, Vampire in Brooklyn, etc.). He might have gone down as something of a relic of the '80s if not for his multiple-role performance in The Nutty Professor, which was a huge hit. Since then, the quality and financial success of his work has been wildly hit and miss, ranging from Bowfinger to The Adventures of Pluto Nash. He has a Rated G for Gangsta reputation now (due to doing many family films, most famously the Shrek franchise), but he was still an A-lister for much of the 2000s, even receiving an Oscar nomination for Dreamgirls. Unfortunately, in the late 2000s/early 2010s another string of financial and/or critical flops (Meet Dave, Norbit, A Thousand Words), combined with the end of the Shrek franchise, put him back on the scrap heap, outnumbering hits like Tower Heist.
  • Leslie Nielsen had a long career in Hollywood, playing mostly bit parts in films, TV guest shots, with the occasional leading role in a low-budget project. Before 1980, he was probably best remembered for his leading role in Forbidden Planet. After 1980, he was best known as Dr. Rumack in Airplane!, where his deadpan performance made him one of the funniest things in the film. He would go on to play similar roles in an assortment of other, mostly similar comedies, notably Frank Drebin in Police Squad! and The Naked Gun film trilogy as well the lead roles in Spy Hard and Dracula: Dead and Loving It.
  • Mickey Rooney started his acting career at just 17 months, and even in his teens continued his career as the "hyperactive, girl-crazy" Andy Hardy, often together with Judy Garland. Rooney's enlistment in World War II saw his career decline, making a few TV and film appearances after that (most notably in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World). Eventually, in 1979, the 59-year-old Rooney made a comeback with the Broadway play Sugar Babies, to rave reviews. After that, he worked regularly on both screen and stage for the next three decades. He passed away in April 2014, and his last film, Night at the Museum: Secret Of The Tomb was released that December.
  • Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler. His career started with high critical praise and success for roles in Diner, 9 1/2 Weeks and Angel Heart. However, much like Downey, his substance abuse problems (and a bizarre decision to get into boxing) would drag him down. He made a series of small, low-budget films for 20 years, until Robert Rodriguez dusted him off to play Billy in Once upon a Time in Mexico and Marv in Sin City. Rourke then had a supporting role in box office bomb Domino before being cast in a "very close to home" role as a washed up former pro wrestler in The Wrestler, which netted him an Oscar nomination and a ticket back to the A-list. Oddly enough, he stars opposite Downey in Iron Man 2.
  • David O. Russell. His first three films were relatively successful. But in 2004, he made I Heart Huckabees, which got mixed reviews, didn't make a profit, and Russell's difficult on-set behavior became more famous than the actual movie. His next project, Nailed, suffered from so much delay, that production was shut down, because the crew was not getting paid. However, in 2010, Russell made The Fighter, which received critical acclaim, was a commercial success and brought him Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Picture. His next two films followed suit.
  • Martin Scorsese After the huge disaster of his follow-up to Taxi Driver, New York, New York, Scorsese went through tough times, including a cocaine-addiction that nearly killed him. It wasn't until his friend, Robert De Niro, convinced him to get a project made for him, which was Raging Bull. Scorsese took on the job because he related to the themes of the story and, anticipated it to be his last film, gave it his all. Result? A film that is hailed as one of the best films ever made and he kept making films without looking back.
  • Peter Sellers in The Return of the Pink Panther. Already huge in his native England, he achieved international megastar status over 1963-64 with the first Pink Panther films and his work with Stanley Kubrick. Still, he was so difficult to work with on Casino Royale (1967) that he was fired midway through the shoot, and the disjointed effort to cover up his absence resulted in an over-budget mess he was blamed for. From then on, most of his films flopped. By 1974, some of them weren't even making it to theaters; he barely got by making commercials and television appearances. When he was approached to reprise his Inspector Clouseau character in 1975, he took the opportunity. Return proved so popular that he was immediately back on the A-list. With two more Panthers, Murder by Death, and especially Being There (which netted him a Best Actor nomination, his second), he remained there up until his death in 1980.
  • Sylvester Stallone in Rocky Balboa. Technically, his first resurrection was with Cliffhanger, that helped him Win Back the Crowd after two horrible comedies. But then his career choices were rather unfortunate (besides the critically acclaimed Cop Land, Demolition Man and a voice acting role in Antz). After some self-parodying in Spy Kids 3D, he decided to go back to what started his career. Rocky Balboa was a critical and commercial hit, and allowed Stallone to finally make a fourth Rambo, and follow it with the action film with a dream cast The Expendables.
  • Charlize Theron in Young Adult. After winning an Oscar for Monster, Theron had nowhere to go but up, even getting nominated again for North Country in 2005, but the same year, she starred in the critically and financially unsuccessful adaptation of Æon Flux. After that, she was relegated to starring in either unmemorable supporting roles in mainstream films or leading in small indies that no one went to. Then, she starred in the 2011 critically acclaimed Young Adult, which firmly placed her back in leading star territory and garnered her a Golden Globe nomination. Since then, she got to be a main character in 2 big films in 2012, Prometheus and Snow White & the Huntsman. 2015 would prove to have a massive start for her with heaps of critical acclaim being given to her for her performance as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road, so much so that most will say it's really her film and Max is just along for the ride. A bit further down, she'll be starring in a Seth Macfarlane film and starring/producing an adaptation of Gillian Flynn's Dark Places.
  • Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. She became an "it girl" after Pulp Fiction, only to watch her career crash and burn after Batman & Robin and The Avengers (1998). Fortunately for her, Quentin Tarantino still saw something he liked in her, and gave her the lead role in what turned out to be one of the biggest action flicks of the year.
  • John Travolta in Pulp Fiction. His career started with iconic roles in Saturday Night Fever and Grease, a respectable run on the very successful sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter and even critical acclaim with Blow Out. He spent most of the 1980s in hiding, emerging briefly in the narmish Look Who's Talking (which was a hit) and its two sequels (which weren't). However, Travolta made his comeback with the iconic Quentin Tarantino Academy Award-nominated hit and followed up with Get Shorty, cementing him as an A-list actor for the following decades.
  • Nat Wolff in The Fault in Our Stars. He had faded into obscurity after The Naked Brothers Band finished its run, but this is now getting him even more attention than his old show.
  • Mark Hamill in the one-two punch of Kingsman: The Secret Service and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Though he's been a successful and prolific voice actor since the 1990's, most people had written him off as a has-been in live-action film, since he was never quite able to shake off his reputation as Luke Skywalker. But then, just a few months after it was announced that he would be reprising his role as Luke in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, he managed to score the major supporting role of Professor Arnold in Kingsman, which turned out to be a surprise box-office hit for Winter 2015 (even holding its own against Fifty Shades of Grey, released in the same weekend).

    Live-Action TV 
  • David Caruso on CSI: Miami. He played a bunch of bit parts and minor roles before landing a lead role on NYPD Blue, becoming, as his co-star Dennis Franz said, "the hottest thing on television." He left after one season, jumping quickly to what was thought to be a fast track to a film career... which started with such gems as the mixly-reviewed Kiss of Death and the reviled Jade. He faded back into obscurity, turning up as a Hey, It's That Guy! in the Russell Crowe flick Proof of Life. Then, Jerry Bruckheimer cast him as Horatio Caine, and he was back in the limelight.
  • Bryan Cranston on Breaking Bad. Known mostly for his role as Hal in Malcolm in the Middle and his occasional appearance as Tim Whatley in Seinfeld, Cranston had been out of the limelight for several years. He was cast as lead character Walter White because maker Vince Gilligan wanted an actor who could both be charming and threatening in equal capacity. Breaking Bad not only had superb writing, in giving him a lead role, it proved he had far greater acting ability than anyone thought possible, winning him three consecutive Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actor in Drama. Breaking Bad is widely considered one of the best TV shows ever made due to its engaging storyline, mix of comedy and drama, sustained momentum, and acting, and it's likely Cranston will struggle to top it.
  • Kiefer Sutherland on 24. After The Lost Boys and the two Young Guns films, Sutherland looked to be well on his way. Then, he faded to the background, turning up occasionally (A Few Good Men, A Time to Kill) on Hollywood's radar, and doing some very well-received independent work (like Dark City). For a while, he retired from acting to become a rodeo champion. However, his Emmy-award winning turn as Jack Bauer on 24 put him back on the A-list.
  • Matthew Fox on LOST. He was part of the highly-regarded Party of Five on Fox, but that show was never a "huge" hit per se, and when it went off the air, nobody really remembered him. But then he wound up as Jack Shephard on LOST. This ignited a film career that so far included Speed Racer and We Are Marshall.
  • William Shatner on Boston Legal. For a while, it seemed he was destined to remain forever the famed Captain of the Enterprise and never leave that shadow. Then, it seems he decided to lampshade his own over-the-top persona and played not-quite against type as the Crazy Awesome attorney Denny Crane on Boston Legal. A ton of critical acclaim and couple Emmys later, his career seems to be as strong as ever, even with the slight misfire of $#*! My Dad Says.
  • Chris O Donnell on NCIS: Los Angeles after Batman & Robin almost buried it some ten plus years prior.
  • Neil Patrick Harris on How I Met Your Mother. While respect must be paid to his fairly successful stage career, he was off the national radar for the most part after the end of Doogie Howser MD. He then had a cameo as a caricature of himself (or perhaps an alternate reality version of himself where he's straight and a womanizer) in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. This landed him back on the national radar and led to him being cast in the role of Barney Stinson, whose characterization had been directly based on NPH's portrayal in Harold and Kumar. (In a nice bit of Lampshade Hanging, Kal Penn became a recurring character in later years.) He followed up by playing the title role on the well-received Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog which has made him a geek icon.
  • Georgia Taylor — best known as Toyah Battersby from Coronation Street, but now best-known for her role as Wrench Wench Ruth on Casualty.
  • Ed O'Neill on Modern Family. After the end of O'Neill's most famous role of Al Bundy on Married... with Children in 1997, he spent about the next decade in a series of short-lived dramas like a remake of Dragnet (in which O'Neill played the Jack Webb role of Joe Friday) and the HBO show John from Cincinnati. O'Neill eventually went back to the sitcom genre that made him an household name, in the form of the Emmy award winning series Modern Family.
  • Matt Leblanc on Episodes. After the massive success that was Friends, he followed it up with two seasons on the ill-fated spinoff Joey, a career move he attributes to being paid large sums of money. After a failed career as a producer, Leblanc became somewhat of a recluse and took a four year hiatus from acting. In 2011, Episodes debuted on Showtime. Playing a fictionalized version of himself, he won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Emmy.
  • Ted Danson on Damages. After the end of Cheers in 1993, Danson's star faded with him starring in a string of unsuccessful comedy films, two unpopular sitcoms (Ink and Becker — though the latter did have a healthy run) and making occasional cameos as himself on Curb Your Enthusiasm. This changed in 2007 when he was cast as Big Bad Arthur Frobisher for Damages's first season. Danson's surprisingly strong performance garnered rave reviews from critics and his first Emmy nomination in 15 years. The renewed exposure also landed him a role in the HBO comedy series Bored to Death and a part as the new lead in CSI after Laurence Fishburne's departure.
  • Michael Chiklis on The Shield. After starring on the successful series The Commish, he almost killed his career with the critically bashed sitcom Daddio, but The Shield brought him back from the brink and into the limelight.
  • Chevy Chase seems to have had a minor one of these thanks to his role as Pierce Hawthorne in the cult sitcom Community; while the show hasn't been his biggest hit ever, it's nevertheless a critical darling with an intensely devoted fanbase, and since his career was previously languishing with a series of critical and commercial cinematic flops and Direct-to-Video releases, it's a definite step up. A well-received cameo role in the film Hot Tub Time Machine probably helped as well.
  • Larry Hagman almost had his career destroyed by The Good Life and Here We Go Again, two unsuccessful sitcoms he made after NBC pulled I Dream of Jeannie. Then came Dallas, the Primetime Soap that revived his career. Then the short-lived Orleans sank his career a second time. But just before he died, Dallas brought him back — yet again.
  • Jim Caviezel on Person of Interest. His career took a dive after The Passion of the Christ, but his performance as John Reese is widely regarded as this.
  • Jack Barry: The co-creator and host of the 1950s quiz show 21. While the show proved popular, it was soon discovered to be rigged — contestants were being cast and literally fed information on which questions they were to get right and wrong. The rigging allegations hit their high point in 1958, when contestant Herbert Stempel was ordered by the producers to lose against Charles van Doren. Stempel blew the whistle on the rigging, and while his claims were initially dismissed as sour grapes, the show did fall under investigation after another producer's game show, Dotto, was proven to be rigged as well (and subsequently canceled). After the investigations, Twenty One was canceled, and the concept of a quiz-based game show was tarnished for many years to come. (The 1964 debut of Jeopardy, whose very idea was spawned from a discussion that creator Merv Griffin had with his wife over said riggings, played a big factor in making quizzers viable again.) After a few minor hosting gigs in the 60s, Barry and co-producer Dan Enright managed to come back into vogue in 1971 with The Jokers Wild, with Barry as host. The show ran for a combined 15 years, outliving Barry himself by two. The success of Joker also allowed Barry and Enright to revive one of their other, less-tarnished 1950s properties, Tic-Tac-Dough, from 1978–86.
  • Jason Bateman obtained teen-idol status in the 1980s due to his work on sitcoms such as Silver Spoons and The Hogan Family. Then he did the flop sequel Teen Wolf Too, which marked the beginning of his career decline. After The Hogan Family left the airwaves in 1991, Bateman was out of the limelight, stuck in telefilms, B-movies, and a number of short-lived sitcoms. Then he was cast as the Straight Man on Arrested Development. The show drew poor ratings, but garnered critical acclaim, and Bateman's performance garnered him much accolades. He's kept a rather high profile ever since.
  • Though Emily Osment's career hadn't necessarily fallen in the years since Hannah Montana left the air in 2011, her film and television projects since then have been in voice acting, work in low-profile independent films (or online productions like Cleaners for the Crackle network) or dramatic roles in TV movies (like the mixed-reviewed Cyberbully), most of the roles in Playing Against Type mode. She had also spent time attending college in 2011-2012, and left her recording label Wind-Up Records around the same time. Her ABC Family sitcom, Young & Hungry proved to be a considerable smash (and People's Choice nominee), and it has been picked up for a second season.

  • Alice Cooper defined shock rock and bizarre stage acts in the first half of the 1970s. But alcoholism, coupled with his signature style going out of fashion, resulted in a Dork Age for the rest of the decade, which lasted right through to the early 1980s. He kicked the booze habit and made his comeback with 1986's Constrictor, followed by the wildly successful Trash. Since then he's diversified his interests, and continues to record music.
  • Binary Finary was best known for the trance anthem "1998", but they split up due to irreconciliable differences between members. However, Matt Laws and Stuart Matheson revived the act in 2006 with the download-only album The Lost Tracks, a compilation of songs written during their eight-year sabbatical.
  • Mariah Carey: Considered to be one of the biggest pop singers of the 90's, Carey suffered a nervous breakdown in 2001, coupled with a disastrous turn in the box office flop Glitter and a series of bizarre media appearances (that culminated in an appearance on MTV's Total Request Live where she served ice cream to the audience, followed by a bout of hospitalization for "dehydration"). She was dropped from her record label, and attempted a comeback in 2002, but she didn't have success until the release of 2005's The Emancipation of Mimi and her role in the critically acclaimed film Precious in 2009.
  • James Brown: Although he had achieved reasonable success in the 1960s and '70s, Brown's career was more or less stalled by the end of the decade. He was a huge star in the black community, but nowhere near as big in the white community. His appearance — all five minutes of it — in The Blues Brothers brought him to the attention of a white audience and won him many new white fans, revitalizing his career. In the '80s, he played to larger and more racially-mixed crowds than he ever had before; by the end of '90s he was pop music royalty.
  • Britney Spears: One of the biggest pop stars in the world between 1999 and 2004, her career flew off the rails from 2004 to 2008 in one of the defining examples of a Creator Breakdown. Highlights include: a 55-hour Vegas marriage to a childhood friend, her turbulent relationship with Kevin Federline, getting her head shaved, cancelled Original Doll album, delivering a critically-thrashed performance at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards (which spawned the "LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE!" meme from Chris Crocker), and finally, the court putting her into conservatorship of her father. However, the release of the album Circus in late 2008, combined with a reduced profile in the tabloids, has turned her career and reputation around, giving her some of her first hit singles since her days as a Teen Idol. And two hits from her album Femme Fatale prove that Circus wasn't just a fluke.
  • Bob Dylan: Was very popular in The Sixties and maintained this until the mid-Seventies, but by the end of the decade he had basically lost his fans (what little he had) with his Christian albums. Saved, released in 1980, is often considered to be Dylan's worst album (other than Dylan). Because of the backlash against him, had a rather low profile in The Eighties and in the early Nineties. Then came an album called Time Out Of Mind, which was released to glowing reviews and won the Grammy for Album of the Year, restoring his place in the league of rock gods. All of his studio albums since Time out of Mind have not just reached, but debuted in the top ten of the Billboard album charts.
  • Aerosmith: In 1979, on the peak of their drug use and in the middle of recording a record, guitarist Joe Perry left the band. The following two albums were disappointing musically and commercially (the second one in particular, as the other original guitarist left too). Then came a label change, along with Putting the Band Back Together. While Done with Mirrors did not make much impact, 1987's Permanent Vacation and a team up with popular rap group Run-D.M.C. on a remake of their old song "Walk This Way" brought them back to the spotlight, and the follow-up Pump is widely considered one of their best albums.
  • Rick Astley: While massively popular pop act in the 1980s, Astley got sick of Executive Meddling and left his record label. He then did a dramatic shift and doing soul in the early 1990s (which he stated is the kind of music he always wanted to make in the beginning). Despite scoring another hit with 1991's "Cry for Help", Astley's career stalled shortly thereafter and he retired from the music industry in 1993. Fast forward to 2007, when his signature song "Never Gonna Give You Up" reached the internet as the Rickroll and quickly hit critical mass, exploding even beyond the scope of the internet, Rick Astley started to get back in gear. He then reached a level of popularity not seen since his peak in the late 1980s, and released his first single in many years, making him probably the first musician to have his career solely resurrected by the power of the internet. His appearance at the 2008 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade didn't hurt either.
  • Caramell: Was all but forgotten until the Caramelldansen Vid meme in 2008, 7 years after the album and song were originally released. They subsequently recorded English, German, and Japanese versions of the song, in addition to making an official music video based on the animation. In 2011 they renamed themselves the Caramellagirls and released a new single titled "Boogie Bam Dance", their first all-new material in nearly ten years.
  • LL Cool J: After being rejected by the rap community as a sellout for Bigger and Deffer and Walkin' With a Panther, he enlisted Marley Marl as producer and came back in a big way with Mama Said Knock You Out, even if the famous title track's opening line is actually "Don't call it a comeback! I've been here for years!". He also included the song "Cheesy Rat Blues", which hilariously mocked his career derailment and how people didn't like him anymore.
  • Meat Loaf: After the enormous success of Bat Out of Hell, Meat Loaf lost his voice and then fell out with songwriter Jim Steinman, which stymied the success of his second album. Going through drug addiction, bankruptcy and a string of moderately to poorly received albums, he reunited with Steinman in 1993 to record Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell, an album frequently credited as facilitating one of the greatest comebacks in popular music history.
  • Nas: After releasing a debut album (Illmatic) that is widely regarded as one of the greatest rap albums of all time, but didn't sell very well initially, Nas changed his style to appeal to a wider audience and sell more copies (partly due to Executive Meddling). His next album, It Was Written, was less "Nasty Nas the street poet" and more "Nas Escobar the drug dealer", and the two afterward — I Am... and Nastradamus - were more poppy and radio-friendly. It's universally agreed that Nastradamus is his worst album, and many accused Nas of selling out — most notably Jay-Z, who dissed him for going from "Nasty Nas to Esco-Trash" on his song Takeover. Nas responded to this criticism with Stillmatic, an album in which he both returned to his Illmatic roots and defended his status as one of rap's greatest emcees. Critics loved it, as did listeners, and Nas' following albums have all met similar success.
  • Eminem: After releasing three of the decade's biggest albums (The Slim Shady LP, The Marshall Mathers LP and The Eminem Show), Eminem had a major downfall - a near-fatal addiction to prescription drugs, the murder of his best friend Proof, and an album (Encore) that is widely called out as his worst. His "first" comeback was supposed to be 2009's Relapse, but he still had issues he was working out, and the album received a mixed reception. But what was originally going to be a sequel to Relapse turned into the aptly-named Recovery, in which Eminem toned down or outright cut out a lot of aspects that had dragged his previous albums down (weird accents, skits, bathroom humor), actually apologized for his last two albums, and delivered some top-notch rapping. The general consciousness was that it was a great return to the days of The Marshall Mathers LP and The Eminem Show, and that Eminem was back.
  • Elton John has had several comebacks:
    • He was perhaps the hottest star of The Seventies, with a streak of hit albums, singles and tours, dominant radio airplay and a constant high profile in the media bordering on Teen Idol status, partially due to goofy costumes and silly glasses. A Rolling Stone magazine article in 1976 outed him, reducing his fanbase in Middle America, and his longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin took a prolonged hiatus from working with him. A string of middling albums, a reduced public profile, a change of labels and poor sales followed. With some Executive Meddling, Elton hired Taupin full-time, reunited his classic-era backing band and produced a high-quality album, Too Low For Zero, in 1983, combining his classic melodicism and Eighties production techniques/synthesizers. Hit singles and videos for "I'm Still Standing" and "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" got major airplay on early MTV, and Elton was a star again.
    • One further Career Resurrection occured when Elton became sober in 1990, toned down his costumes/glasses, went from Camp Gay to Straight Gay with a hair weave and Versace suits. This was motivated by a highly public feud over false allegations made against him by The Sun which Elton eventually won, forcing the tabloid to apologise. He released records like The One and Made In England, which were relative improvements over his mid-to-late 1980's albums. He also gained a new audience by writing songs for The Lion King, and sent up his more diva-like tendencies with the reality Tv movie ''Tantrums And Tiaras. "Candle In The Wind 1997", though written in tragic circumstances with Princess Diana's death, was one of the best selling singles of all time, increasing his profile (though it would lead to inevitable Hype Backlash).
    • Another Elton comeback occured in 2001. He changed to a more stripped down, organic sound in albums like Songs From The West Coast and Peachtree Road, reminiscent of his classic period, and he has success in Las Vegas with The Red Piano. The Union, a duets album with Leon Russell released in 2011, got Elton his strongest sales since 1976's Blue Moves, and his best reviews since that time.
      • The video for "I Want Love", the single from the Songs From His West Coast album that heralded Elton's third comeback period, interestingly enough featured a newly sober Robert Downey, Jr. lip-syncing to Elton's recording. The performance was acclaimed and helped both Elton's career and Robert's.
  • While Pink Floyd has always been popular, they weren't heard from much for a majority of the 80's following their insanely expensive 1981 tour supporting The Wall and the release of their polarizing 1983 album The Final Cut, considered by many to be a Roger Waters album all but in name. Waters left shortly after and Gilmour told him that they would continue, leading to Water's infamous lawsuit trying to stop Gilmour from continuing making music under the "Pink Floyd" name. The lawsuit was settled in time for the release of their 1987 album A Momentary Lapse Of Reason. The album, while receiving mixed reviews from fans and critics for its weaker lyrics, horribly dated 80's production, and the fact it was not a concept album, was a huge commercial success and the band scored a big radio and MTV hit with the song "Learning to Fly", exposing the band to a new generation of fans in the process. The tour supporting the album was only supposed to be a quick 11-week tour, but it ended up lasting for over 2 years, becoming the highest grossing tour of the 1980's by any musical act. Their next album, 1994's The Division Bell, sounding more like a true Floyd album compared to the previous one (which was essentially a David Gilmour solo album all but in name) was also a big hit and supported by high grossing stadium tour as well. The album also marked the reinstatement of keyboardist Richard Wright as a full band member (compared to his session work on the album before) after Waters fired him in 1979. Ironically, it was their last studio album for 20 years and the last to feature Wright before his death in 2008.
    • Roger Waters was done with Pink Floyd by 1983 and released the introspective, moody solo album The Pros And Cons Of Hitchhiking a year later. A Pros And Cons tour, with help from Eric Clapton as guest guitarist (he had played on the album) was scarcely attended, and the reunited lineup of Pink Floyd featuring guitarist David Gilmour, drummer Nick Mason and returning keyboardist Richard Wright became successful in the late 1980's and mid-1990's. Waters considered the band a "spent force", felt the band should call it a day, right before the lawsuit. With Gilmour's Floyd inactive since 1995, Waters returned to touring in 1998, expertly performing Pink Floyd and solo works to strong audiences. Subsequent solo tours with Waters and his band performing The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall further raised his popularity, and a a much more relaxed attitude towards fans, the media and his Floyd bandmates erased his Insufferable Genius Control Freak stigma in the press. His renewed friendships and occasional musical and personal reunions with Gilmour, Mason and Wright over the years also helped his image.
  • The Beach Boys have gone through this at least four times. They were one of the biggest bands of the 60's, coming about as close to surpassing The Beatles in popularity that a band could at the time. But after their groundbreaking 1967 album Smile was never released, coupled with Brian Wilson's notorious reclusion and drug abuse, they faded into obscurity, continuing to make music but failing to penetrate the charts as they once had. But then in 1974, they released a greatest hits album, Endless Summer, which went triple platinum and made the band a hot item again, leading to sold-out concerts for many years after that. But as time went on, and as string of terrible/bizarre albums was released, and their beloved drummer Dennis Wilson drowned, this success faded as the group went into the 80s. However, they found themselves becoming suddenly successful again when they released their 1988 hit "Kokomo", from the Cocktail soundtrack, which gave the group a #1 record for the first time in decades. The band's third noteworthy spurt of popularity came with the 1993 release of the Good Vibrations: 30 Years of The Beach Boys box set, which yielded their most successful tour in 13 years. Their last came in 2012, when the group's first new album in twenty years, That's Why God Made the Radio, met with critical acclaim, as did the ensuing 50th anniversary tour.
  • Brian Wilson himself went through a similar cycle. In the 60s, he was on top of the world as a singer, songwriter, and producer, but as his mental state fractured and his dream project Smile failed to be, he spent the latter half the decade holed up in his room, while the rest of the band produced albums. But then in the 70s, as the band was becoming popular again, he was called back into the studio to produce albums in order to complement the band's new touring success, as well as being called back onto stage, with a big "Brian Is Back" campaign. Unfortunately, this mostly produced mediocre material, worsening his mental state. Then in the late 80s, his manipulative therapist/life coach Eugene Landy tried to invoke this trope with a string of Brian Wilson solo albums, but these failed to attract much attention. It wasn't until the late 90s/early 2000s that Brian's career really resurrected itself, first with an acclaimed live tour of Pet Sounds, and then with a move that nobody saw coming: a completed, re-recorded version of Smile, that, for the longest time, was the highest-rated album on Metacritic. He's been fairly well with himself ever since.
  • Tina Turner with her 1984 Private Dancer album.
  • Johnny Cash, unlikely as it may now seem, once battled a number of personal and professional problems that led to his career floundering in the 80's. Having established himself as "The Man In Black" with several hit albums, live performances at prisons and work in film and television, Cash relapsed back into addiction in 1983, which kept him from performing and writing music for several years. Coupled with Columbia Records ending its 28-year association with Cash in 1986 (and an unsuccessful run with Mercury Records into the very early 90's), it seemed as though Cash's career was over. However, he reignited his career by teaming up with producer Rick Rubin and releasing the American Recordings series of albums (which included covers of popular songs and collaborations with other popular artists) beginning in 1994, which led to critical and commercial acclaim, and popularity with audiences who weren't traditionally interested in country music. Cash would go on to win a Grammy Award in 1994 and release several more albums - even after his death, the 2006 release of American V: A Hundred Highways reached the #1 spot on the Billboard Top 100.
  • Scooter, somehow managed to get a UK Number 1 album in 2008 with Jumping All Over The World, despite not having anything released in the UK since about 2003. This can be largely attributed to their successful Clubland appearances. Unfortunately, this proved to be a fluke, and their next album Under The Radar Over The Top flopped in the UK, making it unlikely future material will be released there.
  • Robyn attained a few hit singles as a teen pop singer in the late 90's, then fell off the radar for about nine years, before returning with "With Every Heartbeat" in 2007. She now does old-school synthpop, in contrast with her former style.
  • Sash!, famous for the 1997 dancefloor filler "Encore une Fois" among others, took a 10 year hiatus between their S4 Sash! and Life is a Beach albums.
  • Sonique was originally a member of the acid house group S-Express in the late 80's/early 90's, but retreated to the shadows for almost a decade, after which she returned with the solo hit "It Feels So Good" in 2000.
  • Stacey Q, an 80's One-Hit Wonder mostly known only for "Two of Hearts", has resurfaced on the Hydra Productions label with the album Color Me Cinnamon and the single "Trip". Between then and now, she had a little-known rock album titled Boomerang in 1997.
  • The UK dance pop group Steps infamously split up due to personal differences in 2001, but reunited a decade later.
  • Toby Keith has had two of these:
    • After a bit of a decline in the late 90s, he reached his nadir in 1998 when "If a Man Answers" became his first single not to hit Top 40. After getting frustrated with Creative Differences at Mercury Records, who had rejected several tracks he had submitted to them, he moved to DreamWorks Records. His first DreamWorks single, "When Love Fades", flopped too. But, at his insistence it was pulled for "How Do You Like Me Now?!", a song that Mercury had previously rejected. After a slow start, "How Do You Like Me Now?!" became his biggest hit, and the top country song of 2000. This song led to his hottest streak of album sales and single success, which carried on for the most part until DreamWorks Records closed in 2005.
    • His momentum once again went on a slow decline once he founded his own label (Show Dog, which later merged with Universal South to become Show Dog-Universal), with more and more singles failing to reach Top 10. However, Keith had a brief resurgence and his biggest crossover ever in 2011-2012 with the viral hit "Red Solo Cup". The song was originally just an album cut for which he made a music video, but after said video caught fire, the song was shipped as a single, ultimately becoming a crossover smash and his best-selling single. Although he hasn't had another big hit since, he has maintained profitability through several business ventures, such as the restaurant chain Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill and his own line of mezcal.
  • The Monkees project was instantly successful—tellingly, the first single, "Last Train to Clarksville", started climbing the charts before the TV series went on the air—and the "4 insane boys" soon found themselves second only to The Beatles in popularity. Still, musical director Don Kirshner rarely let them play on their records (or write their own songs)—which was kept secret until the frustrated band revealed it to the media, losing some credibility in the process. The hits continued for a while, even after the Monkees gave up their TV series after its second season. However, the group's 1968 film Head, a surreal, deliberately plotless Deconstruction of the band's journey through the Show Business meat grinder, was a flop (although it's become a Cult Classic). Eventually, their record sales dropped, and Peter Tork left, followed by Michael Nesmith. In 1969, Saturday morning reruns of the TV series got good ratings, which led to Mickey Dolenz and Davy Jones doing Changes, a return to the bubblegum pop of the early albums. However, the songs on Changes were not as catchy or distinctive as the ones on the band's early albums. Changes didn't chart, and that was the end of the Monkees. The four ex-members went on with their lives—until 1986. In 1986, MTV began celebrating the Monkees' 20th anniversary by rerunning their TV series. The reruns got great ratings, and suddenly the Monkees were a viable proposition again. The band had a top 20 hit with a new single ("That Was Then, This Is Now", which featured only Dolenz and Tork), started playing reunion concerts, and recorded a new album, Pool It (which featured Dolenz, Tork, and Jones). Then, for the band's 30th anniversary in 1996, Nesmith returned for the album Justus, the only Monkees album that had no outside writers. musicians, or producers. They then went their separate ways until 2011, when Dolenz, Tork, and Jones had a hugely successful 45th anniversary concert tour. After Jones died in 2012, Nesmith joined the other surviving Monkees for tours in 2012 and 2013.
  • Van Halen was considered one of the biggest bands of The Eighties with a huge multi-platinum debut, a string of successful follow-ups including the spectacular 1984. Lead guitarist Edward Van Halen was one of the seminal players of that decade's shred movement. Van Halen then replaced lead singer David Lee Roth after a bitter and public divorce and brought in former Montrose vocalist Sammy Hagar and managed to catapult to an ever greater height of stardom with four #1 albums:5150, OU812, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge and Balance in spite of several fans claiming to hate "Van Hagar". Then the grunge movement of the '90s kicked in, another messy and public divorce with a lead singer saw Hagar leave the band in 1996. They tried to regroup with III with former Extreme front man Gary Cherone which flopped. From there Eddie's personal life went to Hell; he divorced from longtime spouse Valerie Bertinelli, was in and out of rehab for drinking and drug problems and had a bout with cancer. The band released a compilation album which kept their name relevant and charted at #3 in 2004, but the band further suffered with the departure of founding bassist Michael Anthony, who joined Hagar's touring band. The band also did not show up for its induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007 (Hagar and Anthony were the only members who showed up and played a few Van Halen songs with guest artists). Eddie emerged from rehab in early 2010 alcohol and cancer free and rumors surfaced that the band, now with Eddie's son Wolfgang on bass, was writing with founding singer David Lee Roth. In February 2012, the band released A Different Kind of Truth, their first studio album in 14 years. The album shot up to #2 on the charts, received rave reviews and embarked on a successful tour in support of the album.
  • Former Mis-Teeq member Alesha Dixon's solo career was a flop until she won Strictly Come Dancing.
  • Yes was one of the most successful Progressive Rock groups of The Seventies. By the end of the decade, the failure of the controversial, patchy Tormato, a seismic line-up shift incorporating The Buggles for the followup album, Drama, and prog-rock going out of fashion in general, led to a decline in popularity and the breakup of the band in 1981. 1983 saw a new lineup co-led by South African guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Trevor Rabin and original singer Jon Anderson, as well as a groundbreaking, state-of-the-art prog-pop style for the multi-platinum 90125, and the #1 hit "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" (aided by an eye-catching music video directed by famed graphic artist Storm Thorgerson) revitalize the band in The Eighties.
  • Train. They had hits in the late 1990s with "Meet Virginia", "Drops of Jupiter", and "Calling All Angels", but were pretty quiet after that, and in a few years, they were only remembered for "Drops of Jupiter". The massive crossover "Hey, Soul Sister" in 2009 finally got Train back on track. Their 2012 album was a hit as well.
  • Charlie Wilson. He was the lead singer of The Gap Band, which was at its peak in the late 70s-early 80s, recording such R&B classics as "Outstanding" and "Oops Upside Your Head". However, by the late 80s he was heavily involved in alcohol and cocaine. He hit his lowest point in 1993, when he was living on the streets of Los Angeles. He ended up going to rehab, but found that many record labels wouldn't give him a chance after he got out. R. Kelly and Snoop Dogg worked with him and by 2005 he released his first solo single, "Charlie, Last Name Wilson". He has been nominated for 4 Grammys since his comeback and is hailed by many as one of the best Contemporary R&B singers.
  • Roger Hodgson was a founding member of the progressive rock band Supertramp, penning many of the band's most enduring hits, including "The Logical Song", "Dreamer", "Give A Little Bit", "School" and "Take The Long Way Home". His keening tenor voice was a trademark of the group's sound, along with his songs exploring spirituality and man's search for identity. He left the band in 1983 to start a family and get away from the trappings of fame. Hodgson started a solo career in 1984 with the Supertramp-like In The Eye Of The Storm, followed by the more Synth Pop-oriented Hai Hai in 1987. An accident later in 1987 where Hodgson fell out of a hammock, injuring both his wrists, led to his doctors believing Roger would not be able to play music again. After years of spiritual and physical therapy, Hodgson returned to the spotlight with a live album, Rites Of Passage, in 1996. A studio album in 2000, Open The Door, returned Hodgson to his prog roots, winning critical, but limited financial success. (The album was only distributed overseas). After occasional live performances through the next decade, a divorce, and a spiritual rebirth, Hodgson took to the road by 2006, performing self-financed intimate shows accompanied only by Canadian saxophonist/keyboardist Aaron MacDonald An acclaimed live DVD, Take The Long Way Home, was released the same year. He had performed at the Concert For Diana in 2007, performed with Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band, has a strong online presence, and has appeared on Canadian Idol with ex-Styx singer Dennis DeYoung.
  • George Harrison found it hard to sustain a solo career by the early 1980s, after having started the previous decade by releasing the best-selling triple-length All Things Must Pass and organizing the Concert For Bangla Desh in 1972. A tour of America marked by laryngitis and audiences puzzled by the appearance of Ravi Shankar as opening act did not help matters, nor his increased piousness in Eastern religion. A brief comeback occured with his 1981 ode to John Lennon, "All Those Years Ago" (featuring Paul McCartney, his wife Linda, and Ringo Starr), but he semi-retired by 1982 to produce films and race cars; he decided he did not relate to the sounds of the '80's or to pressures on the industry for more commercial music. A meeting with Electric Light Orchestra leader Jeff Lynne led Harrison to produce a new album, Cloud Nine, that combined Harrison's more traditionalist roots with light amounts of modern production values, and backing by the likes of Ringo Starr, Elton John and Eric Clapton. He became a superstar again, helped by the #1 single "Got My Mind Set On You" (an obscure, Covered Up '50's rockabilly number written by Rudy Clark) and a tongue-in-cheek video. Harrison stayed a star until his death in 2001, forming The Traveling Wilburys with Lynne, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison, and briefly reunited with The Beatles in 1995.
  • Kelly Clarkson. Hot off the heals of her 2004 album "Breakaway", which went on to become one of the defining pop albums of the 2000's, she released the more abrasive and far less commercial "My December" in 2007. The album alienated a significant portion of her fan base (especially her older fans), and thus, Clarkson was written off by many as a has-been. Her follow-up "All I Ever Wanted" was mostly a return to the lighter pop of "Breakaway", and although sales for that album still fell short of the 1 million mark in the U.S, it re-established herself as a main force in the pop music world. Her comeback was solidified through her 2011 album "Stronger", which was both a critical and commercial success, spawning several hugely successful singles and fully bringing her career back on track.
  • Judy Garland was a Former Child Star under contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the star of The Wizard of Oz and a successful headlining star of movie musicals like Easter Parade, Meet Me in St. Louis and For Me And My Gal, and a succession of films co-starring Mickey Rooney (including the successful Andy Hardy series). She had also branched into an equally successful singing career at the same time. However, erratic behavior caused by addictions to alcohol and prescription pills (begun when Garland was filming Oz when the studio recommended she take diet pills to lose weight) and mental illness, and multiple suicide attempts led to her being fired by MGM by 1950 and labeled a has been. She slowly returned to the spotlight via stage performances and a role in the Warner Bros. 1951 remake of A Star Is Born followed, with the help of her second husband/manager Sid Luft, leading to the famous 1961 Judy At Carnegie Hall concerts, captured on a best-selling, Grammy Award-winning two-record set album. A short-lived TV variety show followed, and Judy had a new wave of popularity in the early 1960s.
  • Elvis Presley began as the "King of Rock and Roll" in The Fifties, sustaining his success in The Sixties after a stint in the Army with hit singles and movies. However, the declining quality of the formulaic rock musicals kept Elvis from being seen as a serious actor, and the soundtracks were increasingly hokey and detached from his early rock spirit. Elvis bounced back via his 1968 comeback special, Elvis, showing Presley as lean, mean and back in touch with his rock sound via the impromptu proto-"Unplugged" concert section. A concert film in 1972, Aloha From Hawaii, cemented his popularity. Though his health declined spectacularly in the mid-1970s, he continued to have hit singles and albums, a residency in Las Vegas, and attract concert crowds for the rest of his life.
  • Ozzy Osbourne has experienced several over the course of his career. He helped pioneer heavy metal music as the frontmant of Black Sabbath, but years of drug abuse, financial fumbles and creative strife led to him being kicked out of the band in 1979. After this he hit rock bottom, moved into a hotel room and went on a massive drug binge. The daughter of Sabbath's manager, Sharon Arden, took pity on him and helped him assemble a solo career which rocketed him to stardom. Eventually it all started to come down again, this time due to Moral Guardians, rampant drug abuse and more of a glam sound and image. He recovered by hiring guitarist Zakk Wylde, revamping his sound and taming his behaviour, culminating in the release of his only Top 40 single, "Mama, I'm Coming Home." He briefly retired and when he returned to music in the mid-90s the scene had changed. He was viewed as a dinosaur who didn't fit with modern crowds and styles, so much so that Lollapalooza turned him down. He responded by founding Ozzfest, his own heavy metal festival. This comeback peaked with a highly successful reunion with Sabbath.
    • When Black Sabbath fired Ozzy in 1979 they were at rock bottom, with poor album sales and a lack of focus. When Ronnie James Dio joined the group as Ozzy's replacement they gained new life through the 1980s. Things petered out by the mid-90s but they came full circle by rejoining with Ozzy for a massively successful reunion. And when that started dying down they joined back with Dio for another huge success, bringing new exposure to the often neglected post-Ozzy era. And when Dio died they reunited with Ozzy once more and finally recorded the long awaited reunion album, bringing things full circle... again.
  • Demi Lovato was one of the top stars of the Disney Channel, thanks to lead roles in the Camp Rock series of movies and her own kidcom Sonny With A Chance. She was also a successful Idol Singer. Although her history as a childhood bullying victim was well known, she had secretly fallen into bulimia, self-harm and fits of "self-medication" during the height of her stardom, which led to an infamous meltdown in which she began having vocal problems on her 2010 Camp Rock tour, then physically attacked a personal assistant in her dressing room after the assistant confronted her about her demons. Family and friends intervened, and she went into rehab (where she was diagnosed as bipolar and given medication) to get better (she spent New Year's Eve in the rehab center, much to her sadness). Rehabilitated a year later, she left her sitcom and completed her Unbroken album, releasing singles such as the empowerment anthem "Skyscraper" and catchy dancefloor hit "Give Your Heart a Break", arguably the biggest hit of her career. An inspirational documentary for MTV, "Stay Strong", documented her downfall and recovery. She later joined the judges' panel of The X Factor US, and completed and released a new album for May 2013: the self-titled Demi.
  • Daft Punk were one of the most popular bands in the world during the later 1990s. Hits such as "Around the World" and "One More Time" were huge hits everywhere they charted — except in the United States —, and their albums Homework and Discovery earned them loads of praise, even though in the latter case it took a while for it to accumulate. Their third album, Human After All, didn't do very well, meeting a critical and fan backlash for being Darker and Edgier and more simplistic than Discovery, and it absolutely bombed in the US. Then, in 2010, they made a comeback when they recorded the soundtrack to TRON: Legacy. It proved to be their first top 40 album in the country. Then, in 2013, they released their first album in eight years, Random Access Memories, and it topped the charts everywhere, including the United States, and even held on top of the charts for its second week. Its lead single became their biggest hit ever, and has finally brought Daft Punk not only to the Hot 100's top 40, but to #2. And the group winning the Record and Album of the Year Grammys.
  • John Anderson, a Country Music singer, had a decent string of hits in the first half of The Eighties, including the #1 hits "Wild and Blue", "Swingin'" (which was also a pop crossover), and "Black Sheep". But after that, his momentum began slipping: his next two albums only one Top 10 hit ("She Sure Got Away with My Heart") between them, one single ("You Can't Keep a Good Memory Down") flopped so badly that it was never put on an album, and while "Honky Tonk Crowd" briefly returned him to the Top 10 in 1986, his next singles underperformed so badly that he left Warner Bros. Records. He spent the rest of The Eighties largely below the top 40, with almost nothing to show for his next three albums (two for MCA Nashville and one for Capitol Records), and reached his nadir in 1990 when his second Capitol single "Tryin' to Make a Livin' on the Road" didn't even chart. Finally, in 1991, he signed with the newly-established BNA Records, and while "Who Got Our Love" only made it to #67, "Straight Tequila Night" went on to become his first chart-topper in nine years. The album containing that song, Seminole Wind, became his best-selling, with three more Top 10 hits to boot (including the title track, one of his Signature Songs), and followup Solid Ground was also successful off the #1 hit "Money in the Bank" before his momentum dropped off again by 1995.
  • Fleetwood Mac:
    • The group became one of the biggest bands in the world with the album Rumours in 1977 and dominated the charts for the next decade. In 1987, guitarist Lindsey Buckingham left, and the band pursued a bland adult contemporary sound, to a massive drop-off in sales. Then Stevie Nicks left in the early '90s. The classic lineup did reunite for the inauguration of Bill Clinton (who had used "Don't Stop" as a campaign song) in 1993. The band went through even more lineup changes and commercial failure until the Rumours-era lineup finally came together for The Dance in 1997, putting the band back on top of the charts and filling arenas. Fleetwood Mac continues to mount successful tours to this day.
    • The Dance was also a comeback for Stevie Nicks as a performer, after the failure of her Street Angel album and ridicule for her Klonopin-induced weight gain. She vowed never to go on stage again unless she lost weight. She did, and The Dance also restored her to rock royalty. She's been a successful solo performer since then while still a member of Fleetwood Mac.
    • The band's reinvention as a Californian pop-rock band after the departure of Peter Green might qualify, but most Americans weren't familiar with the blues-based version of Fleetwood Mac.
  • Pharrell Williams, as one-half of the Neptunes, was one of the defining producers of the early 2000s, scoring number one hits with Britney Spears and Snoop Dogg and grabbing critical acclaim for his work with Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z. Come 2006 and the lack of success generated by his solo album In My Mind, his profile diminished; the most notable work he did for a while was the soundtrack for Despicable Me, and mostly worked as a producer-for-hire. Then 2013 happened. He collaborated with Daft Punk for their critical and commercial darling Random Access Memories, and scored the two hottest songs of the summer: "Get Lucky" with Daft Punk and Nile Rodgers, and the controversial "Blurred Lines" with Robin Thicke and T.I. Then he pulled out another international hit with "Happy", which also scored an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. His work co-producing Miley Cyrus' New Sound Album Bangerz gained him more exposure and acclaim. He had a very impressive year.
  • Miley Cyrus first appeared in a role in her father Billy Ray Cyrus' series Doc before landing the title role of Hannah Montana. Despite some controversies which strained her image as an all-American, clean-cut teen idol, she was one of the biggest stars in pop, both in her Hannah persona and under her own name. She adopted a more adult image in 2010 with her album Can't Be Tamed, which suffered slower sales. Her films LOL and So Undercover tanked, causing her to retire from acting, and this was followed by yet another scandal in which she sniffed a bong of salvia on a New Orleans street in a leaked video. After a low profile year, she departed Disney-based Hollywood Records for RCA, had a blonde-dyed pixie haircut, and broke up with longtime boyfriend Liam Hemsworth, her co-star in the film The Last Song after a yearlong engagement. She released the New Sound Album Bangerz in 2013, a more adult album with hip-hop influences and Explicit Lyrics. She promoted the album with a notorious performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards (teddy bear costume, dancing in lingerie, twerking on Robin Thicke, tongue sticking out). Interest skyrocketed with the "new Miley", and Bangerz became a best-seller.
  • Eric Clapton was one of the most influential guitarists of The Sixties, as a member of The Yardbirds, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Blind Faith, Cream, and Derek And The Dominos. His self-titled debut was released in 1970 to success and critical acclaim, but a massive heroin habit put Clapton into hiding for a few years. An intervention by his friend Pete Townshend led to the all-star, well-recieved Rainbow Concert, and after rehabilitation, Clapton released the very successful and critically acclaimed comeback album 461 Ocean Boulevard, scoring a #1 hit with a cover of Bob Marley's "I Shot The Sheriff" from Marley's album Burnin'.
    • Clapton, after a period of middling, laid-back, country-flavored solo albums in the late 1970's and early 1990's, had another comeback with Behind The Sun in 1984, an album of adult contemporary, modern pop-rock co-produced by Phil Collins. An appearance at Live Aid, followed by 1986's best-selling August and the acclaimed 1988 boxed set retrospective Crossroads, along with high-energy tours, brought Clapton back and made an MTV star out of the veteran.
    • A newly sober Eric recieved another comeback after channeling his grief over his son Conor's tragic death through the acoustic ballad, "Tears In Heaven", first released in studio form for the movie Rush, then performed on MTV Unplugged, a well-recieved, #1 soundtrack album to his performance on the series, in 1993.
  • U2 was one of the biggest rock acts of the 1980s with plenty of chart-topping hits. But they eventually endured a Dork Age in the 1990s with their album Pop and another album they didn't even release under the U2 name. A few years later, though, they came back in a huge way with 2000's All That You Can't Leave Behind, whose leadoff single "Beautiful Day" got them the most airplay they'd had in years, and re-cemented their role as rock royalty.
  • Blake Shelton: For many years, Shelton had an inconsistent track record, and often struggled to get more than one big hit off an album, with his debut smash "Austin" (five-week stay at #1 on the country charts, #18 on the pop charts) casting a huge shadow. After neither of the singles from his fourth album Pure BS performed well, the album was re-released with a cover of Michael Buble's "Home" that went all the way to #1. Although the next album, Startin' Fires, produced another #1 in "She Wouldn't Be Gone", the next single fizzled out and the album sold terribly. So he decided that he would start releasing EPs; while these themselves didn't light up the sales charts, the three singles from his two EPs ("Hillbilly Bone" [a duet with Trace Adkins], "All About Tonight", and "Who Are You When I'm Not Looking") all went to #1 within the course of a year. This provided him with enough momentum for him to return to full albums, with the next three in the cycle (Red River Blue, Based on a True Story..., and Bringing Back the Sunshine) all becoming smashes and maintining his still-uninterrupted streak of #1 hits on the country charts (from "Hillbilly Bone" to "Lonely Tonight" in 2015, he hit #1 fourteen times in a row, one of the longest streaks achieved by any country artist ever). Even better, he managed to outpeak "Austin" twice on the pop charts, with "Honey Bee" and "Boys 'Round Here", which are also tied with "God Gave Me You" as his best-selling digital singles.
  • Hilary Duff was perhaps the most popular teen superstar of the first half of The Oughties, thanks to the Disney Channel kidcom Lizzie McGuire, a successful singing career, and roles in movies like the Cheaper by the Dozen series, The Perfect Man and Raise Your Voice. As she opted for darker roles in independent such as According To Greta and What Goes Up, box office sales declined and reviews were mixed at best. After taking a break from the industry (aside from appearances in Gossip Girl and the ABC Family movie, Beauty And The Briefcase) and winding down her pop career in 2008, she married hockey player Mike Comrie (they've since separated, but are still close), had a baby, Luca Cruz Comrie, and she slowly began to pick up her career. She's since, as of 2014, had a comeback single with "Chasing The Sun" and a role in her first TV series since Lizzie, Younger.
  • The Bellamy Brothers, a country-pop duo from Florida, made it big in 1976 with their smash hit "Let Your Love Flow". The song was a #1 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the AC charts, with enough crossover airplay on country radio to reach #21. It also reached #1 or Top 10 in several other countries. For the next three years, the Bellamys struggled to get another hit, and seemed relegated to One-Hit Wonder-dom. Then in 1979, the Bellamys got their first chart-topper at country radio with "If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me", which was also a multi-national crossover. While they never had any more crossover success, "Beautiful Body" was the start of a very fruitful string of country hits that lasted through 1990, amassing ten #1 hits and several more Top 10s.
  • Steve Wariner. The country hit maker had a fairly consistent streak from 1981 to 1993, but he hit a dry spell after that. However, a few artists ended up recording songs that he wrote, most notably Clint Black ("Nothin' but the Taillights"), Garth Brooks ("Longneck Bottle"), and Bryan White ("One Small Miracle"). He also got a duet vocal on One-Hit Wonder Anita Cochran's late-1997 hit "What If I Said", and some stations even played these four songs in dedicated blocks. Their success led to him signing with Capitol Records in 1997, and he had two more hit albums (Burnin' the Roadhouse Down and Two Teardrops), plus a Top 5 guest spot on Black's 2000 hit "Been There" before the hits dried out again.
  • Eagles. Having disbanded in 1980, the band had a notable reunion in 1994. One of the catalysts was the 1993 album Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles, which had various Country Music artists covering Eagles songs. In particular, Travis Tritt asked for the original lineup to make a cameo in his video for "Take It Easy". In 1994, the Eagles reunited for the Hell Freezes Over tour, also made into a highly successful live album which even produced a #1 hit in "Love Will Keep Us Alive". They had a second resurgence in 2007 with the double album Long Road Out of Eden, whose lead single "How Long" won them their first Grammy since 1979.
  • Cat Stevens did this three times:
    • Mona Bone Jakon. After a lukewarm career in his teens he figuratively and literally started Growing the Beard.
    • Izitso. The moderate success of Numbers (#13) following the successes of his previous five albums almost became a Creator Killer for him, but Izitso peaked at #7 on the Hot 200.
    • An Other Cup. This was his first album since 1978's Back to Earth and marked his return to popular music as Yusuf Islam.
  • Richard Wagner pretty much had his career nearly destroyed by the Revolutions of 1848, by which time he had completed the opera Lohengrin. Tristan und Isolde brought him back to the world of op- uh, the music-drama.
  • Giuseppe Verdi with Otello. Following the success of Aida, the aging Verdi spent a good fifteen years in virtual retirement, only writing two major works, a string quartet and a requiem upon the death of the Milanese poet Alessandro Manzoni, and revising an earlier opera, Simon Boccanegra, in that time frame. But it was Otello that truly brought him back.
  • Brooks & Dunn were the Country Music duo of The Nineties, with a fantastic run from 1991-1999: their first four singles all went to #1, all of their albums to date had been certified multi-platinum, and they dominated every duo award from the Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association. But then in 1999, they released Tight Rope, widely considered their weakest album; it only barely certified gold, had only one semi-hit, and was overall considered their Parvum Opus. B & D had sunk so low that in 2000, the CMA awarded Duo of the Year to Montgomery Gentry, who were still on their first album and hadn't yet had anything peak higher than #5. Much later on, Kix Brooks would reveal that he and Ronnie Dunn were very close to splitting up over the album's failure. But in 2001, a record exec suggested that they record "Ain't Nothing 'bout You". The song, released that year, was a six-week #1 smash, their biggest crossover hit, and the biggest country hit of the year. Fans and critics felt that the duo had come back stronger than ever with its corresponding album, Steers & Stripes, and the new-found success revitalized them enough to stay together for another 10 years before retiring in 2011.
  • Wiz Khalifa was the hottest new rapper of 2011, whose song "Black & Yellow" became a very rare #1 hit in a time where rap songs didn't gain enough crossover appeal to hit #1 (unless they were mixed with EDM, pop, or R&B). He continued to remain relevant through hit collaborations with the likes of Snoop Dogg ("Young, Wild, and Free") and Maroon 5 ("Payphone"). But by 2015 his hype died down as he was being overshadowed by the likes of Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole. His second and third albums didn't sell nearly as well as his first, and he proved unable to score another major hit. He had a massive turnaround with his song "See You Again," recorded for the movie Furious 7 in memory of its star Paul Walker. It shot to #1 just two weeks after the movie came out, dethroning Bruno Mars' Mark Ronson's seemingly immovable megahit "Uptown Funk!" off the top spot after 14 weeks, and re-established himself as a hip-hop megastar.
  • Rush: In 1996, they released Test For Echo, widely considered by fans to be their worst album. In 1997, drummer/lyricist Neil Peart's teenage daughter died in a car accident, then in 98, his wife died of cancer. For a few years, it seemed as if Rush was done, until they got back together to record their 2002 album, the amazing Vapor Trails.
  • Dusty Springfield: Is considered one of the icons of "blue-eyed soul" with her landmark album, Dusty in Memphis and was huge during the 1960s. However, due to personal troubles stemming from anxiety, alcoholism, and tabloids prying into her personal life (including her bisexuality), she had a career slump throughout the 1970s and 1980s until Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys asked her to collaborate with them on "What Have I Done to Deserve This?". The song was a hit and revived her career and reputation in the general public's eye until her death in 1999.
  • The Kinks, led by brothers Ray and Dave Davies, were an influential British Invasion band in the mid-1960s, and arguably the inventors of hard rock and Brit-Pop. Unfortunately, the band's in-fighting led to a five year ban from American stages, and, isolated from much of American culture, they subsequently channeled their energies to writing concept albums with very British themes. They started a comeback in 1970 with hits like "Lola" note , "Apeman" and "Celluloid Heroes", but a series of very English, music-hall and pantomime-influenced rock opera/stage musicals such as Soap Opera and the two-act Preservation series alienated audiences and were slow sellers. They bounced back after signing with Arista Records, on the condition that the Kinks would produce no concept albums or rock musicals. The late-1970's albums Sleepwalker, Misfits and Low Budget combined their hard-rock roots with New Wave Music and Arena Rock elements, catchy songs and polished productions, and became critically acclaimed and strong sellers, and they continued their success in The Eighties with hits like "Destroyer" and "Come Dancing". Interestingly enough, a live version of Lola from 1980 became one of their biggest hits of the time.

  • Josh Hamilton was one of the most highly touted prospects in the history of baseball when he was drafted first overall by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. But after sustaining injuries in a 2001 car accident, he turned to alcohol and drugs to ease the pain, leading to him become hopelessly addicted to them. As a result of his substance abuse and further injuries, he was banned and out of baseball in 2004, 2005 and most of 2006. Then, amazingly, he found religion, cleaned himself up, went to Cincinnati and then Texas, and has now gone on to be one of the game's best players, including an amazing home run derby performance in 2008.
  • Kurt Warner was a top-five quarterback in the early 2000s for the St. Louis Rams, heading up the "Greatest Show on Turf". Around the middle of the decade, a few bad games - along with the performance of Marc Bulger - led to his going to the New York Giants, where he played for a few games and was quickly supplanted by Eli Manning. After that, he went to Arizona, where up-and-down play meant he was sharing the starting job with Matt Leinart until 2008, when he shook off the cobwebs, returned to greatness, and led the Arizona Cardinals all the way to the Super Bowl (their first ever). He retired after another playoff season, his legacy cemented.
  • Michael Vick was the first overall pick in 2001 NFL Draft for the Atlanta Falcons. He was never known as a top 10 quarterback - mediocre accuracy contributed to that - but he was solid enough for Atlanta. However, a brash personality was just the start of his problems. Vick was infamously busted for dogfighting in 2007 and spent 21 months in prison, with all of his fans (and sponsors) deserting him. After his release, he signed on with the Philadelphia Eagles, largely sitting on the bench for his first year there. After Donovan McNabb got traded, he got the starting job and never looked back, having the best statistical year of his career. In 2011, he was signed to a $40 million contract, resigned with Nike and carried a humble demeanor - if that's not a resurrection, nothing is.
  • Marv Albert is arguably, the greatest NBA announcer ever (perhaps the closest rival to that throne is the late, great Los Angeles Lakers announcer Chick Hearn). Not only was he the long time voice of not only the New York Knicks but also the New York Rangers hockey team and a top announcer for NBC Sports during the 1980s and 1990s. However, it all crashed down in 1997 when Albert was caught up in a sex scandal involving him allegedly sodomizing a woman (and biting her back) in a motel. After finishing calling the 1997 NBA Finals for NBC, Albert was fired by the network. Albert slowly but surely worked his way back, first with Turner Sports on their NBA broadcasts (as well as the Wimbledon tennis tournament) and with NBC. Finally, in 2000-01, Albert returned to the top spot as NBC's lead NBA announcer, replacing Bob Costas, who had the job the previous three seasons. He held that post until NBC lost the NBA TV rights to ABC/ESPN after the 2001-02 season. Shortly thereafter, Albert became lead play-by-play man for TNT's NBA broadcasts and CBS Radio's Monday Night Football broadcasts.
  • Landon Donovan became a worldwide name with a sterling performance for the USA at the 2002 World Cup, earning a Young Player of the Year award and attracting European interest. Then came the failed stints at German clubs, the whining about homesickness that earned him the nickname Landycakes, his lackluster play in the '06 Cup, and the eventual humiliation of losing his captain's armband at LA Galaxy to then-frenemy David Beckham. That turned around in 08/09: he became the country's all-time highest goal scorer, Galaxy's new manager restored him as team captain, and (with a newfound maturity he credited to his divorce) he played a vital part in taking the USA to the finals of the Confederations Cup. A highly successful loan to English team Everton and a career-high performance at the 2010 World Cup followed. Even the most cynical American soccer fans will now admit he's one of the country's all time best players.
  • Brazilian footballer Ronaldo did it twice. At the age of 17, he was a successful striker enough to be called for the victorious 1994 FIFA World Cup squad (though he didn't play any games). Then in 1998 he suffered a convulsion before the World Cup final that caused him and the rest of Brazil's team to play bad enough to lose 3-0. Knee problems kept him out of the field for the most part of 1999-2001. Still, national team coach Felipão believed in Ronaldo enough to bring him to the 2002 World Cup, where he was both champion and top scorer (including the 2 goals in the final). Between 2005 and 2008, his career again stalled, with injuries, weight gain and a conturbed personal life (such as an infamous case involving transvestites). Then he returned to Brazil, where he became an idol in Corinthians.
  • Rick Ankiel (formerly of the St. Louis Cardinals) was a promising pitcher early in his career. However, after a while he fell into a huge slump, and was sent down to the minors. After a few years of bouncing back and forth between the majors and the minors and showing no signs of returning to his former promise, he was allowed a second chance as an outfielder. After training, he came back up to the majors and became a solid addition to the St. Louis outfield, making several outstanding plays- ironically aided by his pitcher's arm allowing him to make some incredibly accurate plays from quite long distances. Ankiel was later traded, and is still considered a good outfielder, if not really a star.
  • R.A. Dickey, a pitcher for the Rangers in the early- to mid-naughties and had pitching skills and stats that, at their zenith, were mediocre. Then he decided to try the knuckleball, the joke pitch of baseball, and wound up bouncing around the minors, with occasional stints in the majors for several years. In 2010, he signed a minor league deal with the New York Mets who called him up in mid-May and was one of the few things that season for Mets fans to cheer about: his joke pitch had become a lethal joke pitch. Two years later, he won the Cy Young Award, and in 2013, the Toronto Blue Jays made him their ace.
  • Steve Stricker was one of the many solid but not spectacular golfers that became prominent in the mid-1990s, right around Tiger Woods' rise to stardom. Stricker would have three wins by the end of 2001, but by then his career hit a heavy slump with no apparent way out. Fortunes changed in the 2006 US Open when he led at the halfway mark and treaded his way through one of the most difficult Opens in history en route to a tie for sixth. This would begin a steady rise back to a form as good as, if not better, than the one he had in the 90s, first culminating in a win at the 2007 Barclays tournament, the PGA Tour's first playoffs event under the inception of the FedEx Cup. Since then, he's picked up eight more wins and is a constant contender for the Cup, even in 2013 when he's dialed his schedule down to focus more on his family.
  • Teemu Selänne caught the NHL by storm when he scored 76 goals for the Winnipeg Jets in his rookie season in 1992-93. Dubbed "The Finnish Flash", Selänne would electrify crowds for years- first in Winnipeg and then in Anaheim and San Jose- before his flashy play caught up to him requiring multiple knee surgeries. After performing poorly as a member of the Colorado Avalanche in 2003-04- where he was at times not even used during games- it was thought that his career was finished, his knee injuries catching up to him like they did with Pavel Bure, a similarly flashy player who crashed out of the league at roughly the same time. However, in 2005-06- using the lockout cancelled 2004-05 season to recover- Selänne signed again with the Ducks, where he again regained his status as a star scorer (and became a more complete player), a role he continued to have for several more seasons. He will retire at the end of the 2013–14 season, but it will be under his terms.
  • Bryan Berard was the first overall draft pick in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, becoming a highly regarded young defenceman for the New York Islanders. His career would blossom after being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but on March 11, 2000, he was struck in the eye by Ottawa's Marian Hossa after Hossa's stick caught Berard in the follow-through for a shot on goal. Berard was blinded in the eye, and it was thought his career was finished. After a year of numerous surgeries, though, Berard would eventually restore his vision to NHL standards, allowing him to revive his NHL career. Though he never became the superstar he was predicted to become, Berard still wound up having a solid career with Chicago, both teams in New York, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Vityaz Chekov in Russia before retiring in 2009.
  • LeBron James for better or worse, LeBron has seen a massive turn around in his career after taking his talents to South Beach in 2010. James had a massive hype machine, being dubbed The Chosen One before even being drafted into the NBA. In 2003 he joined the Cleveland Caveliers, turning the team from low tier, to a guaranteed presence in the playoffs. Despite James' gifts, they could never make it out of the playoffs. Their single final appearance saw them getting swept in four games. This caused many to call into question whether James was actually worth the hype. His move to Miami has saw 4 consecutive Final Appearances, with LeBron and the Heat winning 2 championships and the League & Finals MVP in a row. Then before the 2014-2015 season he went back home to Cleveland.
  • Alex Smith, the former first overall draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers, was written off as a draft bust for a while, but in 2011 he Took a Level in Badass, getting just one away from his career high touchdowns and reducing his interceptions from 10 to 5, setting personal bests in rushing and taking the team to the playoffs. He was set to have a repeat performance the following year until an injury gave the job to Colin Kaepernick, but rebounded the next year after signing with the Kansas City Chiefs, setting career bests in yards and touchdowns
  • Brian Vickers, the former record holdernote  for youngest NASCAR national series champion (set in the second tier Xfinity Series, then known as the Busch Series, in 2003), has needed two of these just to stay active in the top tier Sprint Cup Series. His first derailment came when Hendrick Motorsports advanced him from their Xfinity program into the #25 entry on the Cup side, with the expectation that he would be able to improve the performance of the team from its long-time midpack stature to being on par with the team's other three entires (which all posted top ten points runs the year before). Vickers, however, put up results more in line with the previous several years of mediocrity in the #25, with his only win at Hendrick, in October 2006 at Talladega igniting a firestorm of controversy after he wrecked both Dale Earnhardt, Jr., the sport's most popular driver, and his own teammate Jimmie Johnson, which seemingly ended Johnson's already sputtering chances of winning a title.note  In 2007, he landed with start up Red Bull Racing, and frequently struggled just to get the cars in the field. But when he could get into the field, he became a fairly reliable top ten finisher, and by 2009 he and Red Bull had their program strong enough for Vickers to win at Michigan and get them into the Chase field. However, things came unraveled again when Vickers was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the legs), pulmonary embolisms (clots from the DVT that had migrated to the lungs) and a hole in his heart in May 2010, which took him out of the car for the rest of the year. Red Bull underwent almost a complete regression without Vickers behind the wheel, such that when he returned in 2011, he was running severely limited equipment, at which point he began taking out his rage at his cars on his competitors and basically blacklisted himself from any competitive openings when Red Bull imploded at the end of the year.note  His second resurrection began when he got a part-time deal with a suddenly ascendant Michael Waltrip Racing in 2012, and posted five top tens (and three top fives) in eight starts. He got a slightly expanded deal the next year and won his third career race at New Hampshire that July, which eventually got him a two year full-time deal with MWR. However, MWR began to derail shortly after a cheating scandal (in which Vickers was marginally involved) led to the loss of major sponsor NAPA and a shutdown of one of the three teams, the #56, which was driven by Martin Truex, Jr.; Vickers' contract was for the #55 car, whose sponsor Aaron's stuck with the team. However, the loss of both revenue and real-world data from that third team has severely impacted MWR's ability to remain competitive, and Vickers has been unable to transcend this decline,note  which means he may require another resurrection once his contract with the team ends after 2015.

     Professional Wrestling 
  • Hulk Hogan. THE biggest wrestling star of the 1980s, Hogan's career stalled in the mid '90s after jumping to WCW while still retaining the gimmick he'd held for a decade. Seen as old hat. boring and having gotten involved with a group of poor angles and feuds, Hogan's popularity was at an all time low when the decision was finally made to turn him Heel by being a founding member of the nWo faction. The move sparked interest in wrestling that it hadn't seen since the turn of the decade. Hogan once more became one of the biggest names in wrestling as a leader of the nWo.
  • Eddie Guerrero was a popular star in WCW and then-WWF, until drug abuse caused him to lose his job and his family. After finding religion, getting clean, and reclaiming his wife and kids, a rehired and rejuvenated Eddie reached new heights in the WWE as a world champion and fan favorite before his passing in 2005. His entertaining performances and real-life story, finding salvation in his life before his death, has made him one of the most beloved figures in wrestling history.
  • Mark Henry was long looked as a financial bust for the WWE, often injured and lethargic in the ring while his long-term contract was an albatross for the company. In 2011, with the company's roster getting thin, they gave Henry another shot as a monster heel. A motivated Henry, backed with great booking as an unstoppable force and the best ring and mic work of his career, won the world title and SmackDown's ratings went up during his reign. Although injury derailed his title run, the fact that Henry was a popular centerpiece of the company for half a year was an accomplishment few saw coming.
  • Samoa Joe was,at one point, considered to be one of the best wrestlers in North America and pretty much put Ring of Honor on the map with his classic trilogy of matches with CM Punk as well as having epic encounters with the likes of Kenta Kobashi, Bryan Danielson and Austin Aries. He then moved to TNA and had a 18 month long winning streak that cemented him as one of the top stars in the company and his match with Kurt Angle led to TNA's highest PPV buy rate at that time(25,000). However, after that it all seemed to slowly fall apart for Joe as a disappointing World Title run, poor angles and a dose of Badass Decay had completly destroyed Joe's aura. It didn't help when TNA retooled Joe into a Ax-Crazy Wild Samoan, which seemed to provoke more laughter than fear. Eventually TNA stopped trying and Joe's matches, save a great triple threat match with AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels, took a nosedive. Once Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff joined TNA Joe floundered between the mid to low card and was pretty much irrelevant in TNA for a year and a half. Until he formed a tag team with fellow struggling wrestler Magnus and eventually they became tag team champions, which made Joe relevant again in the eyes of fans. After the team broke up Joe's matches took a notable increase in quality resulting in show stealing matches against old rivals Austin Aries and Kurt Angle. He hasn't reached his 2005-2006 peak, but Joe is quickly climbing back up the TNA ladder again.
  • The Undertaker was one of the biggest stars in the WWF during the 1990s. However, after his transformation into a biker, his career went pretty much nowhere. Then, in 2004, he revived the "Deadman" gimmick for the first time since 1999. After that, his feuds became main-event storylines, he won the Royal Rumble and three world titles, and his streak at WrestleMania has been built up as a big deal.
  • CM Punk was the hottest heel in the WWE for a period of time in 2009, but after he lost his World Heavyweight Championship to the Undertaker, he found himself in mid-card angles involving the Straight Edge Society, where he was constantly beaten by Rey Mysterio and The Big Show. After he took over the New Nexus in 2011, he got put in a boring, one-sided feud with Randy Orton. As his WWE contract was about to expire, he was going to have one last feud with John Cena. Then, on June 27th, 2011, CM Punk sat down on the Raw stage and cut an epic worked shoot promo attacking WWE, Vince McMahon, and John Cena. This led to a classic match at Money in the Bank where he won his first WWE Championship and left the company with the title. When he came back a week later, he proved himself to be the successor to John Cena's throne as the face of WWE. While he was never able to get that far, he was still one of the company's most popular superstars until his sudden departure in January 2014.

  • Oscar Hammerstein II revived his weakening career in musical theatre with Oklahoma!. In the previous years, Richard Rodgers had been one of Broadway's most successful composers in a partnership with Lorenz Hart that he was reluctant to discontinue (though it ended soon after with Hart's death), whereas none of Hammerstein's pre-Oklahoma! musical plays had succeeded in New York or London since Music in the Air in the early 1930s, while he drifted in and out of Hollywood and wrote the occasional hit song (such as "The Last Time I Saw Paris," which won an Academy Award that he disowned because he hadn't originally written the song for a movie).
  • Stephen Sondheim recovered from a definite lull in his career with Company. In the years since his previous Broadway musical, Anyone Can Whistle, had finished its one-week run, Sondheim had returned to writing lyrics for other composers, including Richard Rodgers (with whom he split over Creative Differences) and his Gypsy partner Jule Styne, and also wrote songs by himself for teleplays that occasionally got produced.

    Video Games 
  • Back in the late '80s, Squaresoft was on its way out after a string of flops, so they decided to go out with a bang, one Final Fantasy. It wasn't the "final" fantasy.
  • Ed Boon of Mortal Kombat fame. While other fighting series have made a successful leap to 3D, Mortal Kombat had "hit and miss" luck there, and during the 2000s it was massively overshadowed by other fighting games. Then in 2009 Warner Bros. promptly picked up the studio that produces the series (now known as NetherRealm Studios), following Midway's bankruptcy. The end result: a complete Continuity Reboot in 2.5D. Mortal Kombat 9 was not only a critical and commercial smash, but also earned a spot as one of the featured tournament titles at the Evo Championship Series, a first for a Mortal Kombat title.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's is this for Scott Cawthon. Before that, he mostly made cheap app games. However, his last one (Chipper and Sons Co.) was heavily criticized for making the animal cast look like a bunch of creepy animatronics. This led Scott into a deep depression, and almost made him give up making games...until, in his words, "something just snapped in me, and I thought to myself- I bet I can make something a lot scarier than that..". Needless to say, it worked.

    Fictional Examples 
  • Troy McClure in The Simpsons undergoes one in the episode "A Fish Called Selma"; his career was ruined by rumors about his fish fetish, so he starts dating Marge's sister Selma for publicity reasons, and gets a starring role in the stage musical adaptation of Planet of the Apes. Following his divorce, he gets offered the funny sidekick role in the next McBain movie, but turns it down in favor of his pet project The Contrabulous Fabtraption of Professor Horatio Hufnagel.
  • The Artist. George Valentin, a fictional Silent Movie star, sees his career in ruins after the advent of sound cinema. In the end, after many trials and tribulation, he returns to acting once again.
  • Max Bialystock in The Musical version of The Producers. He starts all versions of the story as a Jaded Washout whose acclaim and success are far behind him, with seducing little old ladies as backers as his only means of staying afloat. In the original film, his Springtime for Hitler scheme lands him in jail (but with plans to try again), but the musical adaptation (and the musical's own film adaptation) expand on this by having him and his partners pardoned, and restarting his Broadway career successfully with a string of hits (with the titles implying they duplicate Springtime's So Bad, It's Good formula, albeit intentionally).
  • Parodied with Tugg Speedman in Tropic Thunder. An aging action star with little real acting talent whose signature Scorcher series is suffering from Sequelitis (the series is currently on the sixth movie, Scorcher VI: Global Meltdown, which, changed the concept of the Earth being turned into a giant fireball in the previous movies, to a frozen wasteland because the previous films had exhausted the previously mentioned concept). He put another nail in the coffin when he took the lead in a miserable Award Bait failure called Simple Jack. But the whole nonsense and resulting film surrounding the disastrous filming of the book Tropic Thunder ends up turning into a completely different movie, for which Speedman wins the Best Actor Oscar and gets his career back on track.
  • An episode of Drake & Josh had the boys befriending a washed-up magician called "The Great Doheney". He becomes famous again after Megan give him an idea for his attempted comeback show: to fake his death and "come back to life" at his funeral.
  • The titular character of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. After success during the 80's, Burt's signature magic act runs stale after he becomes complacent and doesn't update it. After being displaced by a Darker and Edgier rival he is subsequently fired from his cushy Vegas show and has to invent a new trick to land a prestigious gig at a flashy new mega hotel. After rediscovering his passion and relearning the art of magic from his Childhood Hero, he rekindles his partnership with his best friend and designs a new trick to win the gig.
  • Vincent Chase (of Entourage) in The Great Gatsby. Aquaman had previously had the biggest opening day film in history (in the show's fictional universe), surpassing the real-world record set by Spider-Man, but his follow-up personal passion project Medellin was a critical, financial and popular failure. Despite its thirty million dollar budget and the legendary lengths the production crew went to to produce the film (including negotiations with the government and the drug cartels of Columbia to get the location and accuracy) the film ended up being released Direct-to-DVD after it was laughed out of the Cannes Film Festival. The subsequent disaster of Smokejumpers, which saw his role continuously shrunk by the director and with the entire production eventually shut down by the studio, seemed to officially signal the end of his career and he actually left Hollywood to recuperate in Queens, New York. However, Martin Scorsese called and gave Chase the title role in his adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic after he saw some of the dailies from Smokejumpers.
  • In Shirobako, the Show Within a Show Exodus! is this for both the production company Musashino Animation and the director Seiichi Kinoshita, after their disastrous Jiggle Jiggle Paradise seven years ago.
  • Subverted in The Wrestler (ironically, see Mickey Rourke under Film). Randy tries to relive his Glory Days, but ultimately his age and the half-healed injuries of his wrestling past catch up with him.
  • In a heavy dosage of Reality Subtext, Riggan Thomson in Birdman. As mentioned with Michael Keaton under Film, Riggan played a superhero twenty years ago and faded from the public eye after he stopped playing him. He attempts a comeback by writing, directing, and starring in a play based on Raymond Carver's "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" and, with some near Fatal Method Acting, manages to succeed with great critical acclaim.