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- Nite Owl from Watchmen fulfills this trope when he returns to active crimefighting.
- Iron Man after he came back from being The Alcoholic and Crazy Homeless Person. It was a long process that even had him using a modified version of his very first armor, and in one instance, a makeshift costume with a few pieces of his unfinished Silver Centurion armor, earning the name "Spare-Parts Man" from Hawkeye.
- Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Returns is retired, developing alcoholism, and possibly a Death Seeker. He's been away from crime fighting for so long, the younger generation don't think he ever existed, despite the super villains being known to exist.
- Astro City has Steeljack, a former felon and super-villain who just wants to stay out of trouble and make an honest living, despite the checkered past and the troubles around him.
- Herbie in Herbie: Fully Loaded, a literal example, saved from the salvage yard, his previous racing career seemingly forgotten, his new owner less than thrilled by the vehicle circumstances have forced on her, then she gets in a race and after a few false starts while Herbie gets the kinks out of its system the car goes to show that there's plenty of life left in the silly-looking race car yet, winning the race and his owner's heart once she realizes what she has.
- Russell Casse from Independence Day, an alcoholic ex-military pilot turned cropduster and UFO crazy, had zero respect from his son and even less from his neighbors. Still managed to join in the attack on the Mothership and after a few initial miscues manages to save the President, would have shot the missile that took down the ship if the firing mechanism hadn't failed - instead sacrificed himself by flying his plane directly into the main weapon and turned the course of the war.
- John Rambo is pulled out of prison to save the day at the beginning of Rambo: First Blood Part II.
- Sam Wilson in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, aka the Falcon. When introduced, he's retired from active duty due to PTSD stemming from the horrific loss of his flying partner. But he proves himself to be A Friend in Need to Steve, and puts his wings back on for the first time when it's clear his help is needed.
- Raleigh Becket in Pacific Rim is an ex-Jaeger pilot who left the program after he lost his co-pilot and older brother Yancy in the same battle that destroyed their Jaeger. While other pilots have died in combat or been reassigned he's the only pilot to ever resign and is working on the Alaskan portion of the Anti-Kaiju wall when Petecost approaches him. His Jaeger Gypsy Danger, is a more literal case being a wrecked Humongous Mecha which is literally pulled from the scrap heap among other decommissioned Jaegers.
- Lee (played by Robert Vaughn) in The Magnificent Seven (1960): he starts as a sunsetting gunfighter, who lives hiding from his numerous enemies, fearing the bullet faster than his own which will eventually kill him. He hides even during the first confrontation with Calvera. But, during the climax, he faces his demons and saves a group of farmers, dispatching quickly a bunch of bandits and showing that he really is a hell of a gunfighter. After this, his posture and expression seem to show that he has regained the courage of his old days (and, in a twist of irony, he is then immediately killed by a random bullet).
- Jack Random of the Death Stalker universe became famous for leading a less-than-successful rebellion against the Empire, but escaped from several traps. He was eventually betrayed, captured, and tortured by the Empire. After he regained his freedom, Jack ended up a janitor working under an abusive boss on Mistworld. Then Owen came with a new chance to fight against the Empire, and the Eternal Rebel woke up.
- The main character (The Coyote) and several others in In Hero Years, I'm Dead by Michael Stackpole. It's pretty much a major theme of the book.
- Sam Vimes of the Discworld is introduced in Guards! Guards! as an alcoholic, hopeless officer of a decrepit and meaningless Night Watch. Starting with that novel, the Watch and Vimes both start to clean up their act, until Ankh-Morpork suddenly has an exemplary City Watch headed by a Sir Samuel Vimes, one of the richest and highest-ranking nobles in the city who still works the streets as a policeman, is internationally known as a man of complete integrity, is one of about two people considered so important the Assassins' Guild refuses to take commissions on him (he kept embarrassingly beating their agents anyway to the point they send assassins-in-training against him to teach the assassins humility), and once arrested two warring armies for disturbing the peace. Even so, Vimes is still basically the same cynical but Lawful Good bastard as in the beginning.
- Several companions from the Fallout series are this. Cassidy was an adventurer who developed a heart condition and became a barkeeper. His daughter was a hard-drinking caravan merchant who had her caravan destroyed. Raul was a vaquero turned mechanic. All three prove to be competent fighters when you recruit them and the latter can be inspired to go back to his vaquero ways.
- ED-E in Fallout: New Vegas is a literal example; it's a broken robot that can be restored to working condition, at which point it joins the player as a companion.