Something bad has happened to our character. Really bad. It's shaken his faith in himself and in everything else. He may have hit the bottle. He's letting his enemies walk all over him as he rolls around in self-pity and despair, like Achilles in His Tent.
No matter how long it lasts, it won't stick. Sooner or later, our hero is going to shake off his funk and become the man he used to be. After that, we will never mention his low times again (except as a motivator). This is sometimes triggered by some sudden threat he must rise up to face, but when it's done well, it's really more the result of a long healing process finally reaching critical mass. Therefore, the sudden threat is generally used in tandem with a 10-Minute Retirement, whereas He's Back more properly describes the end of a character arc, but the distinction can be blurry, such as in cases in which the Ten Minute version falls across a season break. He's Back is not usually the result of a Whoopi Epiphany Speech, but is often the result of "Get Ahold Of Yourself Man"
Works best if the tragedy was on-screen, but sometimes this is relegated to his backstory. Also, emotional impact is maximized if the character in question is The Woobie.
Often timed to coincide with a Rousing Speech. It could also be punctuated with a "World of Cardboard" Speech just for good measure.
Should be the climax of a long-term character arc, but a lightweight version happens at the end of, eg., a 10-Minute Retirement. He may have been down, and maybe you counted him out, but now he's back, and it's about time.
Note that villains are perfectly capable of doing this as well. In fact, for any good Arch-Enemy, the cue to do so will be the discovery that the hero himself is back — enough moping around, your one and only Worthy Opponent has returned!
The distinguishing mark between 10-Minute Retirement and Passing the Torch. The 'good' ending of We Used to Be Friends.
Not to be confused with a character who has returned from being Put on a Bus; in that case, you want The Bus Came Back. This character was never actually "gone", just out of commission until this moment.
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Anime and Manga
An excellent example of this comes from Dragon Ball Z, when Goku comes back after his first death. First Nimbus scoops Gohan up right out of the blue. Then everyone turns around to see Goku looking all Bad Ass as he's standing a few feet away.
Cell has a villainous example when he's back as Super Perfect Cell after having been blown to bits by his own Taking You with Me technique; Once he's done regenerating, a wind kicks up out of nowhere, blowing sand up and obscurring vision, then lightning starts circling around said obscurring sand, and finally a pointed index finger extends from the sandstorm, firing a ki-attack which nearly One Hit Kills one of the heroes. The kicker is Cell's nonchalant quote afterwards.
*evil chuckle* "My aim is as good as ever!" *smug laughter* "It's so good to be back!"
After Lelouch lost a critical battle and was rejected by his sister Nunnally early in the second season of Code Geass, he abandoned his troops and fell into a deep depression, even resorting to drug use. Later, when the Black Knights' submarine has been surrounded by Britannian Navy vessels and they have all but given up hope, Lelouch shows up with a handheld radio and some marine charts and singlehandedly leads them to victory against the entire Britannian fleet. Oh yeah, he's back.
Earlier, when he gets his memories back at the beginning of R2, you watch as his Geass comes back into his eye and he repeats the first scene where he got it. He even makes a gloating, over-the-top speech.
Judai's return to Duel Academia in Season 2 of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX after recovering from the side-effects of a failed mind control spell.
Shinji of Neon Genesis Evangelion has at least three such moments. Asuka also has a major one in End of Evangelion. (And if you expect them to subvert the trope, you're right - she's back, but it still isn't enough; rather than actually win, Asuka merely goes down fighting impossible odds.)
Trinity Blood: Abel's self-esteem drops dramatically after he fails to save a colleague (who had just revealed that she was in love with him) from being crushed by rocks in a cathedral collapsed by the bad guys. It gets so bad he completely slides into apathy, convinced that he isn't capable of saving anyone, up to the point when he attempts to quit AX. He shakes it off sharply when he learns that Caterina is now in danger and rushes off to save her.
It's even better in the novels. After failing to save Noelle, Abel disappears for a while, only to reappear in Rome trying to stop the bad guy on his own. After basically quitting AX and rejecting two of his friends, he's confronted by Caterina. The two share a rather touching scene together, during which Caterina reminds him that, when they first met, he said he wanted to save humanity, and that in that struggle, he's not alone (meaning, among others, her). Abel gets his He's Back scene immediately after that.
Actually, this is an inversion, as while Sasuke may figuratively 'come back', he literally LEAVES the team to do so, and the first scene of him afterwards was not him coming back to his team, but his team finding him; so it's less like He's Back, and more like 'We found him'.
Rock Lee in Naruto, after spending an annoying amount of time in the hospital while supporting characters tell him he will never fight again, undergoes dangerous experimental surgery. Pretty much immediately upon recovery he rushes out to save Naruto from Kimimaro, The Dragon of Orochimaru's Sound Five. He does better than the main character, and for a time is able to hold him off and even take the upper hand.
The Ninja World War arc has seen tons and tons of these, with plenty of dead characters brought back suddenly as zombies (both characters that had been seen previously and even a few who were only known by reputation). Cue mass Oh Crap reactions when these zombie-ninjas arrive on the various battlefields.
Simoun: Neviril, after mourning Amuria's death for approximately six million episodes.
Rurouni Kenshin: Kenshin recovers from his Heroic BSOD when Tsubame pleads with him to save Yahiko. He races off to do that while an old man (later revealed to be his father-in-law) mentions that a cry for help, not for vengeance, is what spurs him on. He finally arrives and performs the Kuzu-Ryusen to save Yahiko. The good guys arrive, and all see that Kenshin has made his dramatic entrance, with the last bit of dialogue emphasizing who came back:
Eiji Date from Hajime No Ippo spent years outside the ring after horribly losing to the World Champion, suffering several injuries and seeing his Ill Girl wife suffer a Convenient Miscarriage. After his spouse tells him to try it again one last time, he returns to the boxing rings most amazingly.
Shishioh Gai in GaoGaiGar FINAL.After being forced to fight and destroy (clones of, though nobody knew at the time) Mamoru and Galeon, being left to fight alone thanks to the rest of GGG being taken out of commission via chemical warfare, finding Cain (the creator of Galeon and the G-Stones) in league with the enemy, losing to Palparepa, Gaofighgar's destruction, and being forcibly mind-controlled by the Sol Masters to fight his own allies in a replicant Gaofighgar, he had a pretty reasonable Heroic B So D. Good thing he snapped out of it just in time to become the one force capable of stopping them: The God of Destruction, Genesic GaoGaiGar!
The Gutsy Geoid Guard get one in Episode 34, snapping back from their apparent annihilation by Pasder and the first three Primevals and showing up just in the nick of time to curbstomp ZX-04.
Vash from Trigun at least twice he hangs it up, only to come back with basically "I don't have time for this Emo idiocy! I have to save the world!
Tenma in Monster; the series is long enough to provide several instances, but the most moving instance happens at the very end, when, after a long battle of Idealism vs. Cynicism, he decides to stick to his original principles and save the life of the man who had put him through living hell.
In season 2 of Darker than Black, Hei is introduced in bad shape, drinking heavily, and acting like a jerkass. He starts to mellow a bit from roughly episode 3 onward, but what seems to mark him as being "back" is regaining his Big Eater habits in episode 8 which he had abandoned during his funk, and sticking to his promise to stop drinking.
And immediately after that he actually gets around to shaving, cuts his hair, and digs out an Iconic Item stash to replace the stuff he lost. He's definitely back now.
Negi in Mahou Sensei Negima!. During the Eva story arc he runs away, convinced Asuna and the other girls are in danger because of his presence. Meeting up with Kaede changes his mind.
Negi plays with this trope a lot, three times in the festival arc getting freed from the prison, and waking up during the final battle, and after Yue's Bright Slap (although this one is told out of order so its hard to tell he was lost before the ((Hes Back)) moment) and many times so far in the current arc after getting stabbed though the chest by fate, during the fight with Rakan, the current chapters have one coming if things continue
It happened, and it was suitably epic for all the build up to it.
Again, one for Ichigo: Our hero has had a very bad day. His friends and little sisters have been Mind Raped into believing the arc's Big Bad is an old friend/relative/lover and loyally defend him when Ichigo tries to attack him. The way the Smug Snake's powers work is he inserts himself into their past, so there's no snapping them out of it. Ichigo's constantly been outpaced, outplayed, and outmaneuvered. And now the real Big Bad has revealed himself: Ginjo, the guy who's supposedly been on Ichigo's side all along and was the one guy left on Ichigo's side. Ichigo hits the Despair Event Horizon when Ginjo steals his Fullbring powers and leaves him to rot. When Ichigo staggers to his feet and demands his powers back with tears in his eyes, Ginjo mocks him, then Ichigo is stabbed through the heart from behind. He looks back and sees his father and Urahara standing there. You can see on his face Ichigo has given up completely, thinking his father and Urahara have been Mind Raped too, asking if that was how it was gonna be, when his father points out it wasn't him that stabbed Ichigo.It was Rukia. Think back to how Ichigo first got his powers at the very beginning. Yeah. Cue Giant Explosion of Power and Oh Crap looks on the part of Ginjo and Tsukishima. Ichigo's back in new Shinigami robes, Zangetsu's on his shoulder, and he looks pissed.
A villainous version by Envy in Fullmetal Alchemist. After he's reduced to his true powerless form, May brings him to the underground of Amestris, where they encounter Mannequin Soldiers, mindless humanoid creatures powered by human souls. Envy slips out of his jar and right into the mouth of one of them, who proceeds to swallow him whole. Envy then takes over the creature (while yelling "I'M BACK!"), has it start devouring and assimilating the others, until he has enough energy to morph into his One-Winged Angel form, which then transforms into his default human form. At this point, he lets out a maniacal Evil Laugh and screams "I'M ALIVE AGAIN!!"
Lan Fan's epic return, complete with a new, bladed Automail arm, which she uses in her best impression of a human Cuisinart on Gluttony.
Heck the entire "Reunion at Sabaody" arc might as well be titled "He's Back: The Story Arc" He being the entire Straw Hat Crew.
Pokémon: Ash's Grovyle's evolution into Sceptile coincides with a Heroic BSOD after being rejected by his love interest, losing his ability to use his attacks. After seeing Ash put himself in mortal peril just to save Sceptile two episodes later, Sceptile regains all his attacks, and uses them to save Ash.
In Heartcatch Precure Yuri suffers from a massive Heroic BSOD due to her partner dying, losing her fight against Cure Dark and losing her powers. She easily rebuffs Tsubomi and Erika's attempts to get her to help them and rejects Potpourri's request to be the third Precure. It isn't until the Great Heart Tree allows her to reunite with her partner's spirit and she asks the tree to restore her powers that she comes back and aids the rest of the Precures in style.
In Soul Eater, Black Star is having trouble coping with his recent losses and not being able to master Shadow Star and the Uncanny Sword mode, so he and Tsubaki decide to take a leave from school for a bit. Chapters later, during the DWMA's attack on Arachnaphobia at Baba Yaga's Castle, Black Star and Tsubaki arrive on the scene and are told to wait for their cue to head into the battlefield. Instead of waiting, Black Star chooses to enter in a fashion more suited to his style: tearing through the woods at extreme speeds while yelling at the top of his voice, ready to destroy anything in his way.
In episode 84 of Fairy Tail, a heart-to-heart talk with Happy's parents allows Happy and Charle to regain their confidence and their ability to fly.
Batman: A little premature, Robin. I won't really be back until I've retaken Gotham...and that battle starts now!
The character doesn't even have to be remotely heroic for this trope to occur. An interesting case of a hero's return causing a villain's return occurs in any number of the times the Batman has "died", causing the Joker to go temporarily sane or catatonic. Which always reverses itself upon Batman having his own He's Back moment.
Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, had the "Demon in a Bottle" story arc where he developed and then suppressed his alcoholism. Years later in the Obadiah Stane Saga, he had a major relapse in which his alcoholism increased more and more, leading to him dumping the suit and handing it over to Jim Rhodes and Obadiah Stane taking over his company. Eventually he sobered up, manned the hell up, then suited up, proceeded to take back his company, and then face off against Stane in his Iron Monger battlesuit, intending to kill him, but Stane commits suicide so that Tony will be robbed of any "real" victory.
Judge Dredd went through this kind of character arc throughout the events leading up to "Necropolis" and the aftermath of those events.
After the events of Identity Crisis the Elongated Man became "Un-Elongated" and began to verge closer and closer to despair and insanity. In 52 he gets involved in the Cult of Connor and seems to step over the edge of insanity, he begins to perpetually carry a flask and lets his personal hygiene fade away, but in the climax of his personal story he reveals that he knew Felix Faust had been manipulating him the whole time and had actually been manipulating him. For the first time in weeks Ralph Dibny is clean shaven and wearing a neat suit and tie and reveals that everything has gone according to hisplan.
Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour gives us the page picture: After Ramona leaves Scott is an absolute wreck and withdraws from everyone and pretty much gives up on life... but after Gideon shows up in town Scott takes a wilderness sabbatical to visit Kim who reveals that Scott's been a real bastard in his relationships. As if that wasn't enough Scott encounters his evil clone Negascott, who turns out to be the negative memories of his past. After merging with him Scott's better than ever and ready to finish what he started and... well see the page picture.
Daredevil: Born Again has this when the Kingpin, knowing that Matt Murdock, whose life he completely ruined, sends the Super Soldier lunatic, Nuke, to attack Hell's Kitchen. As the maniac is laying waste to the slum, he is struck with a billy club as it ricochets back to Daredevil. There, back in costume after so long and framed by the flames, Matt ready to show the monster that there will be the devil to pay for all the harm he caused that night!
Superman abandons humanity for ten years in Kingdom Come because he feels that society has become morally degraded beyond repair. When he finally makes a comeback, the first thing he does is rescue a cablecar full of civilians from warring gangs of vigilantes. The narrator puts the scene best:
And suddenly, there was a wind. No, not a wind. A blur of motion, bending the steel of their weapons and changing the very course of the mighty river below. Even before the bystanders freed themselves from the cablecar, they knew. We all did. We knew...and remembered.
The Joker, after a year-long absence has returned in Death Of The Family, to the horror of Gotham. His first act is an assault on the GCPD resulting in the murder of 19 officers.
Cobra Commander has a pretty big one in the MarvelGI Joe series, in issue 98. He'd been shot in the back, buried in a shallow grave and Left for Dead while Fred VII, the man who shot him, masqueraded as Cobra Commander. Fortunately for the real Commander, it was standard Crimson Guard policy to have Siegies spy on each other, and Fred VIII rescued him and got him to a Cobra doctor - another Fred - in time. Then, the Commander simply bided his time until he was ready to come back to Cobra Island and clean house.
Princess Sally Acorn gets her moment in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog issue # 178. As Sally, Bunnie and Antoine are reminiscing of the past, Antoine mentioning his old cowardly ways and Bunnie's reassurance makes Sally remember her old times as leader of the Freedom Fighters. Tired of her angst and moping, Sally asks if Bunnie remembers her old dream of being the royal hairdresser. A few pages later, Sally leads both the Freedom Fighters and the Chaotix in chasing off Dr. Eggman and his Egg Beater robot, finally throwing herself out of Chickification and back into Action Girl status.
Captain America does this following his death and in style: leading both the Registration and Renegade Avengers against the Red Skull, barking orders out as if nothing went wrong, then, finally, showing the rest of America that, yes, he's back.
In Issue #30 of Superior Spider-Man, Doc Ock comes to realize that his arrogance has always been his downfall and that the reason why Peter was such a hero was because he had the same intelligence, but because it came at such a high price he continued to sabotage himself so he wouldn't fall for it. He decides that Peter is the true Superior Spider-Man, restores Pete's memories and destroys his own, asking Peter to rescue Anna Maria from the Goblin King. Peter's response? He grabs his old red and blues, ditches Ock's costume and declares "My turn."
At the start of the Doctor Who Magazine comic "The Blood of Azrael", the Doctor is sulking over having lost the TARDIS in the previous story, and refuses to engage with the problem, even though Clara is doing her best to help. Halfway through part two, they end up at a hospital where the Doctor gets roused enough to stop an alien child getting inappropriate treatment. The child gives him a hug and says "You're a good doctor", and the next panel has him bounding towards Clara, talking nineteen-to-the-dozen about their next move.
First, Rainbow Dash breaks free of the Insanity and Nihilus' mind control in order to save Pinkie Pie from falling to her death. In the process, she performs a Sonic Rainboom that restores her fur and mane to their normal color (which had previously been turned black and white, respectively, by Nihilus' spell).
Then, Twilight Sparkle — who had previously had her mind split and been reduced to an unstable Actual Pacifist by the trauma of being turned into Nihilus — is tortured by Titan, which causes her personalities to reintegrate. She pulls a My Name Is Inigo Montoya and proceeds to annihilate Titan's forces, personally leading the charge in the Final Battle.
Then, Princess Celestia, who spent most of the story Brought Down to Normal and being tortured by Terra, has her power restored by the Elements of Harmony. She chases Terra back to Canterlot and joins in the final duel with Titan.
During the second Battle of Ponyville, all of the Mane Six get a variant of this, as they manage to reignite the neutralized Elements of Harmony and even the playing ground with Terra.
Rainbow Dash's comes a bit later. Unlike the others, after she's freed from Discord's control, she's suffered so much emotional and mental suffering, she's left suicidal, going into a Deep Sleep to repair her damaged soul. She finally wakes up and flies towards Discord's palace to help the others arriving just in time to pull a Big Damn Heroes and save the heroes from Odyne!Cruelty's Mega Stare, ultimately reigniting her Element of Loyalty so the group can defeat her.
In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic / Transformers Prime crossover Friendship Is Magic: Prime: Act II, Discord comes to Earth, Discords nearly everybody, and takes over. Megatron, one of the only sane individuals left, attempts to form an Enemy Mine with Optimus Prime to stop him, but Optimus has been Discorded and doesn't care anymore. Megatron angrily gives him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech and tries to stop Discord on his own. Megatron's words, along with Miko's sketchbook, which details all their past adventures, help remind Optimus of his reason to fight. He shakes off the brainwashing and returns to the battle.
Optimus Prime: Discord! I have seen through your ruse, and will tolerate your treachery and deceit no more!
Trixie: You need to be taught some manners, you impudent hussy! Nopony, and I mean NOPONY, disrespects the GREAT and POWERFUL Trixie! Sonata: This is exactly why she shouldn't be prosecuting...
Film - Animated
Cats Don't Dance: After Darla's manipulations get all the animals fired from Mammoth Studios, Danny gives up completely and decides to just get on the bus back to Kokomo. However, after listening to the bus driver's negative comments on how animals would never reach the top and seeing all of the other animals suffering on the streets, he quickly regains his confidence and gets off the bus, triumphantly declaring, "See you in the movies!"
Madagascar: Europe's Most Wanted: Vitaly the tiger has been in a deep depression ever since he was badly burned during his ring-jumping act, bringing down the morale of the whole circus with him. After a pep talk from Alex and with the help of nonflamable hair conditioner, he makes his big comeback and helps make the circus successful again.
In Wake Up Ron Burgundy, the DTV movie made up of deleted scenes from Anchorman, Brick Tamland snaps out of his idiocy to bark out a series of Vietnam-style attack orders, prompting Ron to remark, "Looks like the Captain's back!"
Back to the FuturePart II uses a fairly innocuous "we're back" conversation (from one of the least stressful time travels in the movie) in the trailer to announce the return of the movie series itself.
In Blazing Saddles, Jim was the fastest gun in the West, but the stress of having every gunslinger coming for him (culminating in getting shot in the hinder by a little kid) left him with shattered confidence, a shaky hand, and a drinking problem. When he comes back better than ever, he sits tall in his saddle and confidently shoots the guns out of everybody's hands, so fast that you never see his gun leave its holster.
At the end of Men In Black, Tommy Lee Jonesretires and wipes his memory. Early in the sequel, he returns, and the first two things he does are shoot an alien in the head (a Running Gag since that particular alien can grow it back) and say "I'm back."
From the film adaptation of Scott Pilgrim. After his band sells out and he dies at the hands of Gideon Graves (though he sort of deserved it), he mans up, uses the 1-up he received during the twins battle, and marches back in for take two: smashing the bouncer, snapping Ramona out of her trance, and tag teaming with Knives to bring Gideon down.
This is pretty much the whole point of Superman Returns. The part of the soundtrack when he steps onto the plane to make sure everyone is alright, after five years of absence, is even titled "He's Back".
In Thor, the eponymous god has spent the bulk of the movie depowered by Odin to learn a lesson. He proves he learned that lesson when he lets the Destroyer kill him to save his friends. At that moment, Mjolnir flies to his hand, breaking the sound barrier in the process, and by the time the dust clears he's back in action and a Curb-Stomp Battle ensues.
In the sequel, Thor: The Dark World, Loki sacrifices himself to help Thor stop Malekith. But after Thor confronts Odin and renounces his claim to the throne, Odin turns out to be a satisfied Loki in disguise.
"Remember the time Bobby Boucher showed up at halftime and the Mud Dogs won the Bourbon Bowl, do ya?"
In Who Framed Roger Rabbit Eddie Valiant has this moment when he decides to finally put the past behind him and go back into Toontown to look for Jessica (who he believes has just killed R.K. Maroon). When he takes out his own toon-style revolver and the toon bullets ask him where he's been, he simply responds, "Drunk". (And to drive this home, he's about to drink from a bottle, but then changes his mind, throws it in the air, and uses the gun to shoot it.)
The Wolverine: Magneto, with his power, and Xavier alive again. In the stinger.
"Right ... helmet ... sword ... badge ... Now ..."
A Song of Ice and Fire has TyrionLannister. He reaches his lowest point when he's being auctioned off as an amusement at a slave market after a truly terrible Trauma Conga Line. By the next time we see him he's worked himself into a position of power with one of the most powerful mercenary groups on the continent. There is no specific moment when he revives himself, but there is no doubt that the series' Ensemble Dark Horse extraordinaire is back on track.
Another example is Davos Seaworth, who has been completely broken by the disaster at the Battle of Blackwater, but once he drags himself back he is as loyal and resourceful as he's ever been.
Stannis himself following his defeat on the Blackwater seems to have been knocked out of the game. His appearance at the Wall proves there's life in him yet.
Cersei could be a villainous example. The Humiliation Conga at the hands of the High Septon seems to have broken her, but the last chapter we get from her perspective ends with a return of her old confidence.
Varys disappeared for quite a long time and apparently fled, but his one reappearance at the end of ADWD proves in truly spectacular fashion that he is still a force to be feared.
Theon Greyjoy gets horribly tortured until he forgets who he really is and thinks he's just a servant named Reek. He eventually manages to regain his identity. One day, he prays, and in response hears a voice whisper his real name, cheering him up greatly and he casts aside the Reek identity permanently.
In Destiny's Way Admiral Ackbar comes out of retirement to effectively run the Republic Navy, in a reference to the Churchill example below, the Fleet sends out the message "Ackbar is back", the cheering goes on for more than an hour.
Q: Au contraire Mon Capitaine! HE'S BACK! *cue mariachi band*
There's also the first season episode "The Neutral Zone", the first time that the Romulans appear in this series. An investigation into several destroyed outposts leads to a confrontation with a Romulan ship, the first time the Federation has encountered them in many years. Very little is actually accomplished, but the Romulan captain makes an ominous statement before leaving: "We're back."
This happens to Reese in one episode of Malcolm in the Middle. Malcolm decks him with a single punch after finally being pushed too far, causing him to behave submissively for much of the episode. At last, however, Reese intervenes when an old woman attempts to bully Malcolm and Dewey.
Malcolm: All right, Reese is back!
Reese: Do you want to take your teeth out before we start this, grandma?
The very first episode, deciding to resume slaying after it had gotten her kicked out of her previous school.
Then again in "Prophecy Girl" (season 1 finale) when she heads out to fight the Master after initially being terrified by the prophecy that the fight will kill her.
At the beginning of season 3 ("Anne") a brief trip to hell reminds her of her purpose, and she returns to Sunnydale. This after getting kicked out of her house and killing her boyfriend in the season 2 finale, at the start of the episode she is hiding out in LA waiting tables.
"Beer Bad" near the beginning of Season four shows Buffy finding her power again after four episodes of being put way off-balance by College.
When Spike discovers he can hurt demons, he promptly cuts loose and beats the shit out of one.
Spike: That's right! I'm back, and I'm a BLOODY ANIMAL! YEAH!!
"Primeval" at the end of season four has Buffy (plus a few other people) destroying the season's big bad after several losing battles that had pretty well convinced her she couldn't win against it.
The beginning of the season 5 finale, "The Gift" has Buffy stepping up to the plate and deciding to go out fighting after spending most of the previous episode catatonic, mentally reliving over and over the moment she gave up on defeating Glory.
Subverted in Bargaining, Part II when a traumatised Buffy starts kicking demon ass, causing her friends who are worried that she Came Back Wrong to think the old Buffy has returned. Instead she's just acting on instinct — Buffy runs away leaving her friends alone with the demon leader and tries to commit suicide.
Subverted in Season 6 in general; it takes most of the season for Buffy to recover from her depression over having been wrenched back into the real world.
After spending most of the second half of Season 7 in denial about all the people she was going to lose going up against the First, "Touched" has her deposed as leader of the potentials and kicked out of her own house by her sister, until Spike pulls her together and she decides she's going to take the Scythe from Caleb.
Spike also has one in "Get it Done" when he puts on Nikki's leather duster again for the first time after his re-ensoulment and heads out to kill the demon.
And, Tommy Oliver in the first and second seasons when he left the team. The way he played up his last days both times was pretty depressing, leading one to assume he might have stumbled into a heroic ditch...
Jack Bauer has undergone several such occurrences during 24's run, including the murder of his wife, a heroin addiction, and spending two years in a Chinese gulag.
24 pulled off one of the best Hes Back moments in the first episode of season 2 when Jack Bauer overcomes his grief following the events of season 1 and sets about saving the world again. Epitomized in the scene where a disheveled Bauer gets a shave and a haircut and once again looks like the official Bad Ass he is.
Third Watch had several of these: after Sully's battle with alcoholism in Season 4, and after Faith and Bosco got shot in Seasons 5 and 6 respectively and had to take a few months off work.
Angel in "Epiphany" and again in "You're Welcome", though the second one doesn't become clear until some episodes later.
Wesley slowly returned to the Fang Gang after he had his throat cut. There isn't a particular moment, though. He's back all the way by the beginning of season 5.
Oddly, Sports Night attempted to do this with Casey in the very first episode. Unfortunately, this causes new viewers to think Casey is just a Jerk Ass until the very end of the episode.
Garibaldi at the beginning of season 2 of Babylon 5. He gets shot in the back and left to die by his own second-in-command, in process foiling his chance to save the President from assassination, spends several episodes in a coma, is only brought out by use of a wacky alien healing device, and then is in his room contemplating suicide because he thinks of himself as a failure. Then he overhears a crisis, figures out where the bad guys have stashed Ivanova, brazens his way into the room, and proceeds to kick ass. Yup, he's back.
Captain Sheridan does this during the beginning of season 4 after turning up during a major attempt to break up the coalition the Babylon 5 crew had created and run from a war against two major races. In addition to this, he was actually dead at the time.
Oz. Tim McManus' return as Unit Manager of Em City (after having being fired after a series of personal and professional humiliations) is actually announced by him saying "I'm baaaaak!"
At the end of season one in The WireOmar leaves for New York while running from the Barksdale clan. In episode three of season two he comes back. And embarks on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
He does this again in Season 5 against Marlo.
Having spent more than half of the first Doctor Who Christmas special in bed feeling ill, the Doctor is revived by a cup of tea and emerges from the TARDIS, in his pajamas, to save the Earth.
Later, in the two-parter "Human Nature"/"The Family Blood", the Doctor is turned into a human, with a false life created around him, and no knowledge (save odd dreams) of who he was. Most of "The Family of Blood" involves trying to persuade him to return to being the Time Lord he was. And when he does, he's angry.
Perhaps most gratuitously, this occurs in "Last of the Time Lords" however, when the Doctor has been aged almost to death, and is a shriveled, imp like creature kept by the Master in a birdcage. He doesn't just return to being the Doctor at the end of the story, he turns into a floating, incandescent, godlike being.
The TARDIS and Donna get one in "Journey's End" when the metacrisis Doctor lands it inside the Crucible.
In "Vincent and the Doctor", Vincent van Gogh gets one after a scene where he's suffering from an episode of depression. Next scene? Back in effect, Badass Longcoat and sweet hat in place, clearly ready to... paint some monsters.
The Doctor gets another in "The Big Bang" after he gets brought back into existence by Amy.
In "A Good Man Goes to War", Rory gets one returning to his "Last Centurion" persona, attacking the Cyberman fleet asking where his kidnapped wife is.
Again in "Let's Kill Hitler"; the Doctor is poisoned, Amy and Rory are stuck inside a robot which is about to execute River, and the pain of his organs shutting down one by one is too much for him to try to help. Luckily a holograph of young Amelia Pond inspires him enough to change into a top hat, coat and tails and walking cane, along with a Heroic Second Wind.
"The Snowmen": The Doctor goes into a Heroic BSOD after losing Amy and Rory, and even stops wearing is trademark bowties. He gradually regains his senses, and it's when he realises he's wearing a bowtie again he snaps out of it:
A team one for Stargate SG-1 occurs after their off-screen split at the end of season eight. They're finally reunited early in season nine, with Lt. Col. Cam Mitchell replacing Jack O'Neill, and the sort-of addition of Vala Mal Doran.
Mitchell: Looks like the band's back together.
Carter: Yeah. What's with the extra backup singer?
Let's not forget Daniel's return from ascension at the beginning of season 7. Granted, he doesn't know he's back at first, but still.
Also subverted in this scene, where former minister Cliff Lawton wants to stage a political comeback.
Cliff: To put it simply, I'm back!
Jamie: Oh fuck off, Cliff!
During season 2 of Leverage, this happens with Sophie. After wondering who she really is due to her life as a grifter, she leaves for the second half of the season only to reemerge in the second season finale to save the team after Nate gets them in over their heads.
After not being seen since Series 2 of Red Dwarf back in 1988, with the character (post-Hattie Hayridge) lost and presumed destroyed, Norman Lovett's version of Holly returned at the very end of Series 7 in 1997, in preparation for a full-time return in Series 8 (1999). In fact, one of Holly's first lines upon his return is, "He's back. Kicking bottom or what?"
Spartacus: Blood and Sand: After episode 6, Spartacus is utterly depressed over the death of his wife Sura, so he gives up on trying to escape gladiatorial slavery and plunges into his role as Champion of Capua. After his best friend Varro dies in episode 10, he gets even worse. In episode 11, he has a Fever Dream Episode that lets him see that his master caused Sura's death so he would never want to leave. He recovers from his fever stronger than ever, and when his master asks if he's all right, he replies, "Yes, Dominus. I am myself again." As he remembers who he really is, and begins to sow the seeds for the Gladiator Revolt.
The revival of Dallas has JR coming out of semi-comatose state when his son tells him Bobby is selling off the family ranch.
The end of the fifth season has a moment where, after spending the last several episodes in a Heroic BSOD, Dean's ultimately hit an absolute low and is ready to let the angel Michael take over his body. However, thanks the support of both Sam and Bobby, Dean is snap back to his usual self and the reveal that he's back comes via one of his trademark smirks, just before he kills the Smug Snake head angel trying to make him go through the deal.
Damon: So, why don't we talk about this? (shows dagger)
(a couple minutes later)
Elijah: So, Niklaus, what'd I miss?
At the end of season one of Homeland, Carrie is convinced that she was wrong about Brody all along; she has also had a manic-depressive episode that has convinced her that she is insane, and in need of electric shock therapy, and she has been fired by the CIA. At the beginning of season two, she seems to be recovering mentally, and then gets asked by the CIA to go back into the field to deal with a source she had recruited years earlier. She does excellent work, and thinks that this might be her way back in; when she is then humiliatingly dismissed with a pat on the head, she is so depressed she attempts suicide. Then, just when she is at her lowest, Saul shows up with ironclad, smoking-gun proof that she was right all along.
Carrie: I was right?
Saul: You were right.
Carrie: I was right.
When the Jonathan Creek episode "The Case of the Savant's Thumb" opens Jonathan has spent the three years since we last saw him getting married to a woman who doesn't hold with all this conjuring and crimesolving stuff and working as a middle-manager in her father's company. When she gets called to America shortly after a particularly baffling Locked Room Mystery takes place, he says goodbye to her, walks to the wardrobe, shoves all his nice suits out of the way, and pulls out the duffel coat.
A Villain Protagonist version at the end of "Granite State", the penultimate episode of Breaking Bad. After being rejected by his family and knocking on death's door from the cancer, Walter White calls the police to the bar that he's in to let them track the phone so he can turn himself in. As he orders one final drink, he sees his former friends and co-founders of the company he left, Gray Matter, disowning his contributions to the business, causing him to fill with rage. As the Breaking Bad theme kicks in, the police show up and storm the bar looking for him, with only a half-drunk glass and tip left behind. Heisenberg has returned.
Arrow has a couple of examples focusing on Oliver Queen. In Season One, he encounters his Evil Counterpart, the Dark Archer (secretly Malcolm Merlyn), and suffers a brutal beatdown; he escapes alive, but the next episode shows him struggling to regain his confidence and focus. Eventually, his confidant John Diggle gives him a much-needed pep talk about drawing strength from his loved ones, and he recovers in time to don his costume and stop Villain of the Week Firefly. In Season Two, having failed to stop Malcolm from destroying the Glades and watched his best friend Tommy die in front of him, Oliver retreats to the island of Lian Yu, where Diggle and Felicity Smoak have to convince him to come back and save his family's company. Through reconnecting with his mother and sister while confronting his guilt over Tommy viewing him as a murderer, Oliver adopts a new Thou Shalt Not Kill approach, ultimately making a Big Damn Heroes return as Green Arrow to save his sister from four murderous copycats.
Frasier: A worrying variation in Donny, who hits a bad depression after he's jilted by Daphne, and desperately serves her a lawsuit. Frasier manages to talk him out of the latter, which he didn't seem all that committed to... but when he finds out that Frasier was complicit, Donny "the Piranha" Douglas is back on the kind of top, ruthless form as when he was first introduced as Niles' divorce attorney.
Smallville: While he first world-jumps in "Luthor," (E-2) Lionel's triumphant "return from the dead" hits this trope full-force in "Beacon," where he shows up, usurps control of LuthorCorp from E-1 Tess, and takes control of Lex's teenage clone Alexander. He utterly decimates any attempts from Tess to fight him in his first episode, basically reducing her to tears and almost winning out in the fight for Alexander during the episode. He was definitely back with a vengeance.
Cat Stevens Yusuf Islam's release of Roadsinger on 5th May 2009.
He released An Other Cup, his first album in 28 years, in 2006, but Roadsinger is much better and often considered his true return.
After Lupe Fiasco's third album LASERS failed to live up to expectations, many fans felt he had lost his edge and finally given in to Executive Meddling, but with the release of American Terrorist III, and his new mixtape Friend of the People: I Fight Evil, he's solidified his He's Back status.
Alice Cooper's album Constrictor, his first in three years and his first good one in even longer, was considered a comeback album and the subsequent tour was Alice's true return to his gory, violent, shocking and downright nasty roots. Whats the name of one of the singles? "He's Back (The Man Behind the Mask)". Some fans weren't satisfied with the new hair metal sound though and to them the true "He's Back" moment came with 1994's The Last Temptation.
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones have a song called He's Back.
While X Japan's reunion was somewhat of a He's Back for the entire band (or at least for drummer and bandleader Yoshiki Hayashi) in 2007, the band's true He's Back came in 2010 with the announcement of vocalist Toshi's exit from Home Of Heart., bringing back both of the original founders of the band working together as they once did, and the 2010 return of original bassist Taiji Sawada (although his playing only one song led to some Internet Counterattack). The only thing preventing this from being a complete example of this trope is Author Existence Failure for both hide and Taiji.
Vashti Bunyan and Levon Helm (of The Band) were among the singer-songwriters (along with the aforementioned Cat Stevens) to release a comeback album in the 2000s. Both albums were critically acclaimed.
In 2004, David Bowie was forced to cut his Reality Tour short due to heart problems that required emergency surgery. His appearances on stage, screen, and records grew fewer and fewer, ceasing after 2008. The world came to accept that he was a quietly and happily retired Reclusive Artist. On January 8, 2013 (his 66th birthday), he announced he was releasing his first album in nearly ten years (The Next Day) in March, and its first single and video were released to the public. The news made entertainment headlines worldwide, in part because absolutely no one in the media or his fanbase saw it coming. (On top of this, the album received good-to-great reviews and topped the sales charts in many countries once it arrived; it was his first album to reach number one in his native U.K. since 1993.)
After a seven-year wait, upon which he pursued an acclaimed acting career, former **NSYNC lead singer Justin Timberlake would return in 2013 with a new single, "Suit And Tie", a follow-up album called The 20/20 Experience, and an well-received appearance performing his new single at the 2013 Grammys.
Appears on the faux newspaper headline in the clip for for Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi": "SHE'S BACK!"
Van Halen had one in the form of A Different Kind of Truth, the album that heralded the return of David Lee Roth into the fold.
No mention of Neil Peart? After suffering the loss of his daughter, then his wife less than a year later, he drove 50,000 miles on his motorcycle through North and Central America. His bandmates Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson thought he was done with music, and therefore would be the end of Rush. However, Neil resettled in California, met his new wife, and got back in the game. Rush's 2002 comeback album Vapor Trails was an exercise in catharsis for Neil, his lyrics a form of expression regarding his pain. The opening track, "One Little Victory", starts heavy on the drums, proclaiming to the world that Neil Peart is, indeed, back.
As far as actual songs that embody this trope, there's the Thin Lizzy classic "The Boys Are Back in Town."
Embodying the trope as well as a band's reunion is the opener of Soundgarden's comeback album, "Been Away Too Long".
Mythology And Religion
Odysseus was away at war for many years. During that time his palace had filled up with suitors trying to gain the attention of his wife. On his return he disguised himself as an ancient beggar and sneaked back in, then whipped off the disguise, revealing himself even bigger and stronger than ever.
For even more awesome, he and his son were armed to the teeth, and they had stolen all of the suitors' weapons beforehand. Oh yeah, and Athena, the goddess of battle, was on Odysseus' side. Needless to say, the suitors shat bricks. And then he killed all of them.
In Bloom County, Steve Dallas was turned by aliens from a drinking, smoking, chauvinist womanizer into a caring, sensitive, "enlightened" man... but it seems it went too far, as his attempt not to offend, hurt, or impinge on anyone resulted in some people he cared for (okay, the women whom he enjoyed mutually exploitative relationships with) losing interest. Eventually, after the Last Straw Dumping, he ended up sitting naked on top of a fire hydrant in a near-foetal ball. Shortly afterwards, he asked Milo to "fetch them" ("them" apparently being his Cool Shades), who tried to talk him out of it - leading Steve to repeat the request more forcefully ("Steve - they don't deserve this..." "Yes they DO. Now GET THEM!")... When he transformed, Milo screamed, in terror and warning, "He's BACK!" in a tone more suited to a horror sequel trailer. To which Steve replies: "He's BAD."
To make it official, That Other Wiki has confirmed that he has signed a multi-year contract with the WWE. Ladies and Gentlemen, it's official: THE ROCK HAS COME BACK! HOME!
Shawn Michaels has had a few but perhaps the greatest was after his one-off return (after four years of being laid up with a broken back) to fight Triple H at SummerSlam (supposed to be a one-time comeback), he's mangled so badly as to be confined to a wheelchair. But after giving an uncharacteristically stoic promo, warning the "Don't hunt... what you can't kill." To prove his point, he started to struggle to stand up out of his wheelchair, trying and failing a few times. Then, he shrugs, easily stands up, kicks over the chair, and starts dancing. A few weeks later, in his first match in about six months (and second in the last four years), he beat Kane, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, Chris Jericho, and, in the big finish, Triple H himself in the first ever Elimination Chamber.
After having been missing from TNA for almost a year, The Monster Abyss returns during the Darkest Hour of the Aces & Eights angle. By the end of the night he managed to layout the entire stable singlehandedly, becoming the Hope Bringer for TNA.
Months later, as the Main Event Mafia is down a man against the Aces & Eights in a match where whoever gets pinned is ousted from the company, "My Evil Ways" starts playing and AJ Styles walks out...at which point the music cuts out, 2 familiar drum beats hit, and 4 words that hadn't been heard in a year hit the speakers: "GET READY TO FLY!" The Phenomenal One has returned.
Veteran wrestlers returning to their older gimmicks/personas (Kane regaining his mask, The Undertaker once again becoming the "Dead Man Walking", etc.) are generally met with a huge pop.
Lightning, the main protagonist of theXIIItrilogy, was frozen in crystal to live through the time crash at the end of XIII-2, and slept for 500 years, when she finally returns from her imprisonment to help save the world in the last game.
It also happened in the original game, after Tifa helps snap him out of his Heroic BSOD.
In Final Fantasy VI, Terra finds herself unable to fight after the party gets separated in the World of Ruin. However, when Humbaba threatens the group of orphans that she cares for, and cuts down her friends who try to help, Terra snaps into her Esper form and stays in it for the entire fight. Asskicking ensues.
Miles Edgeworth in the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney games. At the end of the first game, he gets framed for murder, accused and linked to forgery of evidence, and nearly loses his freedom before Phoenix saves him, and decides the most mature reaction to this in the second game would be to bugger off to Europe, leaving what appears to be a suicide note. He returns during the last case of the second game, having found the true meaning of a prosecutor and gotten some snazzy new theme music in the process.
An even better example is the DLC case, Turnabout Reclaimed, which shows Phoenix's first trial after getting back his attorney's badge. He not only proves his client innocent, he proves that NOBODY was guilty. He held the Judge's verdict just to prove that the witness on stand was innocent as well.
Will in Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. He breaks down after his mentor, Brenner, gets killed by what's implied to be a nuke. He gets over it just in time to save his men from the pursuing enemy and strike back, determinted to carry on.
The Light Side ending as well, but in a more subtle fashion. Instead of being the galaxy-conquering variety of Badass, you're the galaxy-saving variety that you were before the Mandalorian Wars and zero guidance got you Drunk on the Dark Side.
The scene in the sequel where Kreia's coaching helps the Jedi Exile regain her confidence and powers. Beautifully rendered here, here, andhere.
Metroid Zero Mission: Getting shot down and losing your Power Suit? Running and hiding from just about everything? A Chozo Trial boss fight later, and The Hunter, who strikes fear into the hearts of the Space Pirate legions, is reborn, more powerful than ever. With dozens of Space Pirates now waiting between you and where you need to be, the Theme Music Power-Up starts playing and the Space Pirates get to experience what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a Roaring Rampage of Revenge by Samus Aran.
In Tokimeki Memorial 2, this trope is an integral part of resident Broken Bird Kaori Yae's storyline. After a 2-years long Heroic BSOD due to a traumatic event that occured before the game's proper, she manages to overcome her past and turn back to the Genki Girl she was, thanks to her relationship with the protagonist. The change in her attitude and appearance after she takes her resolve is dramatic: she enters the Volley-Ball Club and fully involves herself in; her body language sprites change from unhappily talking-over-her-shoulder or holding-her-arm-and-looking-at-the-floor poses, to looking straight at you with a beautiful and cheerful smile; her clothes' fashion at dates become colorful, elaborate and varied; she regulary comes to you to invite you for dates; and her somber theme tune is replaced with a peppier variation of it.
Two instances in the Mass Effect trilogy, first when Shepard wakes up on an operating table and proceeds to slaughter his/her way through a facility full of robots bent on killing him/her while grossly underarmed at the start of the second game, second when Shepard gets exonerated and reinstated as an emergency measure at the beginning of the third game.
Kingdom Hearts II: Upon arriving at Beast's CastleSora, Donald, and Goofy are surprised to learn that their old buddy The Beast has a much larger stick up his ass than usual, as shown when he swats away both The Heartless and the heroes to make sure his precious rose is safe, then leaves without a word. After multiple attempts to get him to stop obsessing about the rose that Xaldin stole and the fact that he believes himself to be a monster now, you finally get the Badass you had in the first game back after Sora reminds him of how it was before Belle showed up.
Beast: I know one thing... This castle belongs to me. Xaldin will never be welcome here.
Also, Riku when he turns back into his normal self. If anything, he becomes twice the badass he used to be.
Resident Evil 6: Chris Redfield suffers a Heroic BSOD after Ada Wong's Doppelgänger Carla Radames kills most of his squad in Eastern Europe, leading him to become an amnesiacdrunk for the next six months until the BSAA find him and convince him to come back. When he finally regains his memories, he becomes obsessed with getting revenge on Carla, which leads to the deaths of even more of his men, and finally snaps out of it and returns to his old self after a meeting with Leon Kennedy.
In MS Saga: A New Dawn, the main character's best friend, Fritz, realizes he's The Load and feels that he isn't worthwhile anymore and, thus, disappears before a big battle, claiming he'll return when he's stronger. He lives up to that promise after the battle leaves the hero without his friends when he arrives to save the day, much more confident and armed with the FA-78-1 Full Armor Gundam.
Brawl in the Family's 2009 "AMushroom KingdomCarol" (here) has Bowser defeat Mario by seemingly leaving the Mushroom Kingdom forever and then sending Bowser Jr. to lead an assault years later when Mario was too old and out of practice to fight. Mario degraded to a sour Scrooge of a hermit over the next number of years as a result of his humiliating defeat. But after the visitation of three ghosts that ultimately reminded him just who he was, he donned his old hat and jumping shoes and went back to Bowser's castle with a vengence... and an army of Yoshis.
The Oracle from Dragon Mango. Initially she looks like a confused seer and Harmless Villain, but as soon as she learns the one bit of information she lacked, she figures everything out instantly, gets her Vision back in full force, and promptly orchestrates a Thanatos Gambit.
Aradia from Homestuck. Prior to the events of the story, she was quite friendly and happy... until she was killed and came back as a ghost. She spends most of the series (aside from act 5 part 1) sitting around moping about how the trolls are doomed to die and that there's no way they can stop the demon that's rampaging through their session, and only contacts Rose to flip out at her to try and keep her from going through with Doc Scratch's plans. Then Derse blew up, awakening Aradia's dreamself, allowing her to rise to the god tiers and timestop Bec Noir. She's back to her old self again now.
Rose was one of the smartest and most confident characters among the kids. By the meteor intermission she's been manipulated by Scratch and the Horror Terrors to make their session worse and lost her Mom to Jack. She's less confident in herself and deals with it by drinking to alleviate her nervousness and to pass the boring 3 years. The result has dulled her once sharp wit, and left her a wreck, nearly failing at her relationship and failing to auspisitice between Gamzee and Terezi. She pulls herself back together after an argument with Kanaya, and when the battle flares up on LOFAF she pulls a wand (the first time doing so since Jack killed her) and once again tries to auspistice, showing the confidence in her actions she used to have.
Belkar of The Order of the Stick, after spending hundreds of strips hampered by the "Mark of Justice" that prevented him from fighting effectively (not to mention killing), and dozens reduced to an ill, delirious puking wreck, proceeded to reclaim his title as "Sexy Shoeless God of War" as soon as he was finally free of the curse by savagely beating a group of a dozen rogues out to kill him in what amounts to a Foe-Tossing Charge, leaving 11 dead (though one of them was taken out by his cat, and two were killed by the Cleric who uncured him) and making out with the hot female bard among them (who does not mind this in the slightest). His final kill is an Offhand Backhand double dagger throw made while he was making out with said bard. He then leaves to go look for more things to kill, while drinking moonshine.
Bun-Bun has one of these in Sluggy Freelance after a head injury left him acting like a normal rabbit. The instant he regains his memories, he holds a family of telemarketers hostage over a piranha tank and re-declares his revenge on Santa Claus. That's the bunny we love.
The Gamers Alliance has a villainous version when Ronove regains his memories of being a higher demon during the Battle of Vanna. As soon as he's back in the game, he shows everyone why he was once called the Walking Death by defeating the seemingly invincible demon Dreadlord with ease.
In the Halo 3 Machinima Deus ex Machina, Deus resolves to give up crime-fighting when things don't work out at all for him. He is forced back into his usual routine when a huge threat rears its ugly head. Though this "He's back" turns very tragic...
A villainous variation occurs with Survival of the Fittest character Julie Mikan. After killing a fellow classmate she goes into a Heroic BSOD, before somewhat reforming. However, a couple of days later, Julie finally breaks down due to the heat and sleep deprivation, signifying a return for her villainous self.
The Nostalgia Critic gets another, bigger one in To Boldly Flee, where after wallowing in guilt, self-pity, and doubt for most of the movie, he finally makes amends with Ma-Ti and rises to save the lives of all his friends at the cost of his own human existence.
Spoony Gets one in his Skullduggery review by announcing "Oh and I'm back"
Makes-Things got skewered by a huge macrovirus trying to infect him, but recovered by still-unknown means.
After his Heel-Face Turn in Ducktalez 3, Vegeta loafs around Scrooge's mansion and acts like a nuisance. Near the end of 7, Scrooge snaps at him, which causes Vegeta to have a Heroic BSOD. After a revelation from Huey, Vegeta shows up and helps Scrooge beat the Beagle Boys.
Leonardo spends half of the 4th season of the 2003 Ninja Turtles cartoon in a funk after a huge near-miss with the Shredder. His increasingly maniacal training schedule, surly attitude, and short temper culminates in Splinter kicking him out to train with Hamato Yoshi's old master in Japan. Once he gets over his self-blame, Leo is able to return home... to find the lair in ruins. But the turtle in blue is back. He has little trouble finding and gathering the scattered Turtles and Splinter. He even confronts the new leader of the Foot one-on-one while running errands for his battered comrades, and delivers a clear message of "don't bother my family again or else."
Leo gets an earlier instance of this halfway through the first season, when the process of reforging his swords, with Raphael's encouragement, helps him regain his spirit after being defeated and badly beaten by the Shredder and his minions. When he comes out at the end of the episode to announce that they're taking the fight back to the Shredder, it's a very clear declaration that He's Back.
Optimus Primal of Transformers: Beast Wars quickly returns to Epic Battle Boredom after a brief bout of being dead. To be fair, the situation the Maximals were in was a result of Rhinox's attempts to resurrect Optimus in the first place, so it's slightly less cheap than it seems at first glance. Cheap or not, though, it's a nicely satisfying big slagging hero moment.
And he gets to be a metal gorilla which flies on a flying surfboard.
His return is marked by him blowing a hole through the wall of their base for no reason other than to be awesome.
He also gets another one earlier, after being released from an alien probe that he'd been trapped in.
Of course, there's also "The Return Of Optimus Prime" from G1. After the heartbreaking death in the movie... he came back. And wiped the Hate Plague from existence. Because he's Optimus. Slagging. Prime.
If you think that's something, Transformers Prime one-uped it in "Orion Pax Part 3". In the season finale, Optimus lost his memories and reverted to his pre-Prime state after using the power of the Matrix to save the Earth. When his memories are restored, it's shown when he Bare Handed Blade Blocks Megatron, complete with this one liner:
Optimus: "Megatron, be gone!"
Then it one upped the one up in the fourth episode of season three where Optimus, after being badly hurt due to the Decepticons destroying the Autobots' base, gets a Came Back Strong with a new, bigger body and pulls a Big Damn Heroes moment to save the others and help them bring down Megatron's fortress.
Mr. Incredible from The Incredibles fits the trope very well. And, by extension, Elastigirl and Frozone.
When Danny Phantom is powerless and being attacked by thousands of ghosts, his ghostly abilities get shot back into action, resulting in this;
Danny: Well, there's good news and bad news. The good news? My powers are back. The bad news? My powers are BACK!
Happens again in Magical Mystery Cure, when Twilight has to lead her friends to help each other rediscover who they really are.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983): In "The Problem With Power" Skeletor devises a plan to make He-Man think he's killed a villager resulting in such a giant Heroic BSOD that He-Man throws away his sword and quits being He-Man forever resulting in the good guys being left with no alternative but to send Teela on a suicide mission to try and save the day. Orko finds out about the plot and manages to enlighten Prince Adam just in time for He-Man to make a Big Damn Heroescome-back to save both the day and Teela.
An excellent moment occurs in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "I Am the Night." Already wondering if his crusade is doing any good at all, Batman snaps when Commissioner Jim Gordon is wounded after he's late helping Gotham Police during a bust, due the the Dark Knight visiting the site of his parent's death as it happens to be the anniversary. He's so broken by this, he considers hanging up the mantle of the bat even when Dick Grayson comes by to give him some moral support. Later on, word gets out that the man who put Gordon in the hospital is now looking to finish what he started. Dick attempts to rally Bruce to the scene, but he is unresponsive, and in the end Dick heads out as Robin to guard Gordon himself. And then just when Robin's getting ready to leave the the Bat Cave, he's stopped by Bruce, decked out once again in his Batman costume.
Batman: No, Dick. This is my hunt.
An interesting inversion comes in the middle of the 15th season of South Park. Stan turns ten, and suddenly begins to view everything around him in a much more ... erm ... crappy light. At the end of the two-episode long arc, he's back ... but only with a bit of help.
In "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back," an episode of Futurama, there were two examples. Bender's personality chip was removed by Morgan Proctor and hidden in the Augean files of the Central Bureaucracy, leaving Bender unable to say anything other than "I am Bender; please insert girder" in an emotionless monotone. It was explained that, in order to find it in time would require an atomic powered sorting machine, at which point Hermes calls out from the balcony "You rang?", his confidence having been restored. Then, when Bender's personality is successfully restored, he declares "I am Bender, baby! Please insert liquor!"
Robert Downey, Jr. fell into drug and alcohol abuse and dropped off of Hollywood's radar for the most part during the late 90's. Then came 2008 and Iron Man.
3rd of September, 1939. Britain declares war on Germany, and the Royal Navy receives a message: "Winston is back."
Michael Jordan retired from basketball in 1993 after the murder of his father. After a couple of unproductive seasons playing minor league baseball (and saving the LooneyTunes from aliens), he announced his return to the NBA in 1995 with two simple words: "I'm back."
General Douglas Mac Arthur on returning to the Philippines in 1944, fulfilling a vow he made 2 years earlier to do so.
World-renown Pinball designer Steve Ritchie stopped designing pinballs in 1995, due to Williams Electronics leaving the industry and the decline of arcade gaming in general. When he returned eight years later with Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, the advertisements simply said, in big, bold letters, HE'S BACK!note With the byline, "Steve Ritchie, designer of many of the greatest pinball machines of all time, brings you a new pinball for the 21st Century."