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Starting A New Life
What happens after You Can't Go Home Again? For whatever reason, a character has been forced to leave behind their old life, and can't return. Rather than trying to get their old life back, some characters may choose to start a new life, possibly even with a new name.

How much they share about their old life depends on the character, and the circumstances in which they left home. If their new companions are not aware of who they used to be, this may serve as a Mysterious Past. Either way, no one from their old home knows what happened to them.

In order to be this trope, the character must intend their new identity to be permanent, or at least long-term, although how successful that is varies.

While the character must have originally left home unwillingly, a character who has truly begun a new life may choose to stay even when given the opportunity to return. Of course, if they're the hero, this isn't as likely to work.

May involve Faking the Dead. Witness Protection is a government-funded version of this. A Retired Outlaw or The Atoner may do this to avoid past associations. Compare I Just Want to Be Normal and Heroic Fatigue. May overlap with Going Native.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Very common in One Piece, especially among minor villains, who often get side stories showing what they've done with their lives after the heroes defeated them. For example:
    • After the Straw Hats force King Wapol from power, he starts a toy company and becomes quite succesful.
    • Captain Kuro faked his death and had intended to start a new life as Kaya's servant, but eventually grew tired of being a servant and tried to reclaim his riches.
    • Retired Outlaw Silvers Rayleigh has also done this, and is now living a quiet life running a cafe.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Dr. Marcoh has begun a new life as a small-town doctor. And after Yoki, originally a corrupt government official, was brought down from power by the Elric brothers, he eventually became, of all things, a circus clown.
  • Kaze no Stigma: Kazuma, after being banished following his failure in the successor tournament to one day lead the Kannagi Clan, decides to leave Japan all together, cut all ties to his family, and settle in China under his new legal name of Kazuma Yagami. However, things did not improve for him in the long run...
  • After the events of YuYu Hakusho, Minoru Kamiya changed his face and name to evade law enforcement agencies due to his involvement with the Sensui Seven. He founds a clinic to help heal others, which was a result of realizing that the group lost their fight against Yusuke and his comrades, which contributed somewhat to his Heel Realization.

    Comic Books 
  • The third Runaways series opens with the team trying to establish a new home for themselves, having been driven out of the Hostel by Iron Man towards the end of the previous series.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In You Only Live Once (1937), Eddie Taylor, an ex-mobster, tries to go straight after being released from prison in order to leave it all behind and settle down with his fiancee peacefully. Then, he finds that nobody will hire him because of his criminal record. He knocks out his old boss and never looks back.
  • In Star Wars Episode III Revenge Of The Sith, Obi-Wan leaves the greater galaxy to live on Tatooine as an outcast, and to keep close to Luke. A New Hope shows that he changed his name as well, going as Ben.

    Literature 
  • In the original The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Gringoire is forced to go into hiding from angry sponsors after his play bombs, and joins the Gypsies as a street performer.
  • In the first Venus Prime book, Sparta spends something like two years setting up a new life for herself as "Ellen Troy" after escaping from a mental hospital.
  • In Island in the Sea of Time, Swindapa leaves Alba (what we would call England) behind, it having been taken over by the Iraiina, and heads to Nantucket, where she becomes Marian Alston's assistant (and later, her lover.) She's later able to return to her people, but she's changed quite a bit by that point.
  • In Going Postal, Moist Von Lipwig is forced to start over after supposedly being executed for his crimes. He's not entirely on his own, because Lord Vetinari has decided to make him the new Postmaster, which means that he's starting out with a job and a small apartment, but it's still an adjustment for him, because he's not used to making an honest living and has to get over his instinct for cheating other people.
  • Paul Atreides in Dune changing from a pampered aristocrat into a messianic tribal warlord.
  • In Technic History, after the breakdown of the Poleorsotechnic League's heroic age, David Falkayn gives up his life as an Intrepid Merchant and sets himself up as a Founder of the Kingdom for a new joint human and alien state.
  • In the Belisarius Series, the Byzantine noblewoman Irene becomes queen of a newly founded kingdom after marrying a Kushan soldier and Going Native.

     Live Action TV 
  • The premise of In Plain Sight is that the people entering Witness Protection have to leave their old lives behind and make a new life for themselves under a new identity. Some embrace the opportunity and thrive but others cannot adjust and try to reach back to their old life thus causing serious problems for the US Marshals tasked with protecting them.
  • On Black Sails, Flint used to be a British naval officer who had to flee Britain after a disastrous scandal. He and his lover fled to the Caribbean where he became a pirate and rose to be the captain of the pirate ship Walrus. Flint has embraced his new life and has plans to make New Providence Island into an independent nation. His lover has not fared so well and she is quite willing to support a plot that would help her regain even a small part of her past life.
  • The CSI: Crime Scene Investigation franchise has several stories of people "reinventing" themselves after bad things happen to them, but as a specific example, on CSI: NY one Sympathetic Murderer master chef (having lost everything to a Frivolous Lawsuit on the West Coast and a subsequent divorce) managed to climb back with an assumed name and make a restaurant on New York.... only for the same woman that made the Frivolous Lawsuit and her lawyer (both of which have become rich by continuously pulling off this kind of scam), to walk into the restaurant on opening night with full intent to do it again. His murder via suffocating the woman with a live octopus is seen by the investigators as a Pay Evil unto Evil afterwards, but they still arrest him.
  • The Tam siblings in Firefly after they flee from their rich home because of government persecution.
  • This is the driving trope of Lilyhammer. American gangster is moved to Norway to start a new life in witness protection program.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Call of Cthulhu supplement Shadows of Yog-Sothoth, adventure "The Coven of Cannich". In the Back Story, a man named Marcus Arturus is forced through a magical Gate to a forest in "another world" (actually another location on Earth). The other end of the Gate is destroyed, so he can't return. He befriends the people who live in the forest and starts a new life with them, joining their clan and marrying the daughter of one of them.

    Video Games 
  • If you spare Prof. Mordin's apprentice Maelon in Mass Effect 2 after taking away or destroying his lifetime work on a Genophage cure, he is left utterly devastated and even asks his former teacher on what he should do with his life next. Mordin offhandedly suggests that he goes to Omega and opens a charity clinic (which is what Mordin himself did before you recruited him)—and in Mass Effect 3, Maelon will write to you, revealing that he did just that and that running a clinic for the poor let him be more at peace with his earlier actions.
  • In Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, Cipher's Wingman Pixy is shot down in the final battle of the eponymous war (by Cipher himself), and, after recuperating under care by some Belkan villagers, decides to start a new life, reevaluating his views on nations and borders and never taking into the sky again—that's where the journalist who interviews him in the Framing Story finds him.
  • In the ending of Mega Man Battle Network 5, Dr. Regal undergoes this, going from a baddie to Lan's dad's partner at Scilab courtesy of Regal's father, Lord Wily, who uses his Soulnet that his son misused to give him Laser-Guided Amnesia.
  • Mitsurugi of the Soul Series is forced to retire and become a farmer after 4 because the conflict between the two legendary swords has stopped for seventeen years. Of course, in 5, he throws it all right back the moment Algol returns.
  • In Freelancer, prior to the story events Trent had gotten himself a nice ship and a cargo that was going to make him rich. Then Freeport 7 was destroyed with his ship aboard, and he winds up on planet Manhattan without even enough money to get a ticket home, hoping desperately that someone there has a use for a shipless Freelancer.
  • In Legacy of Kain, several characters have this going:
    • The guardians of the Pillars of Nosgoth are various people who essentially had to give up their old lives to guard the Pillars, as they're a Cosmic Keystone, and destroying them meant destroying the world itself. A curse later corrupts the Pillars and causes the world to slowly decay, and Kain is not only expected to become a guardian, but perform a Heroic Sacrifice to restore them. In the canon ending, he refuses.
    • Several characters, including Kain himself, were transformed into vampires—thus ending their human lives. As the Last of His Kind, Kain later decides to create new vampires, siring his lieutenants, including the Deuteragonist, Raziel.
    • Kain later on betrays Raziel and throws him into a huge pit of water (which burns like acid for vampires). Raziel spends thousands of years falling through the water and burning away, until he finally reaches the bottom as a mutilated Spectre, whereupon the Elder God gives him a new lease on life as the Soul Reaver.
  • Raven's backstory in Elsword: He once was a commoner that became a Self-Made Man by leading the Crow Mercenaries, until one of his aristocrat best friend betrayed him and ordered him and his group to be exterminated. As he was Left for Dead, a Nasod (a race of robots) found him and offered him a chance to live and servitude as its exchange. He was then healed and given a robotic arm for his missing left, that gives him periodical insanity and urges to hurt people. For a long time after that he's used as the Nasod's human weapon and leads a new group called the Black Crows, until our heroes beat him into submission and free him from his mind control.device. He's thoroughly regretful for what he have done while under the influence and grateful for the heroes.to free him, so he joined them to atone for his sins.

    Western Animation 
  • Prince Iroh and Prince Zuko in Avatar: The Last Airbender, exiled by the Fire Nation, flee to the Earth Kingdom and open up a tea shop, posing as Earth Kingdom refugees.
  • In the fifth season of Archer, ISIS gets raided by the FBI. The core team manages to escape jail, but all they have going for them is Cheryl's huge house and a large pile of cocaine.
  • In a episode of The Simpsons the Simpsons are kicked out of Springfield, find a community of people living "off the grid" and join them.
  • In the Sponge Bob Square Pants episode "No Free Rides", Mrs. Puff feels guilty for passing SpongeBob and giving him a boating license before he was ready. She mentions that she has to move to another town and live under an assumed name to start fresh. Then she says "No. Not again."
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