Vindicated by History

"Some are born posthumously."
Friedrich Nietzsche, The Antichrist

Most works that are well-received remain so, long after they get released, eventually being acclaimed as classics. However, some works that are well-received at their debut will fade into the mists of time as the public moves on to the newest thing, doomed to obscurity.

Then there are these.

A few exceptional (or lucky) works with unexceptional debuts will be re-discovered and re-analyzed and become critical darlings after about twenty years, as well as timeless classics in the eyes of the public, usually when their authors/producers are no longer around to bask in their belated fame. Unconventional and gloomily-themed works that star little-known actors are the most prone to this.

Inevitably causes most critics to rush to hail them as classics that were grossly misunderstood in their time, but now can be worshiped as the masterpieces they truly are. Often-times people in general forget that they were bombs to begin with. Parodies and Hype Backlash inevitably follow in their footsteps.

This is mostly a film/literature phenomenon: TV mostly avoids this, as how great or awful a series is tends to become clear during its longer run (or at least a few years later on DVD).

Of course, there are historical events that were controversial at the time, but later are felt to have been the right decision.

The Real Life counterpart of It Will Never Catch On. It can also lead to Follow the Leader, Hype Aversion, Hype Backlash. A Sub-Trope is Vindicated by Cable and Vindicated by Reruns; also arguably, as already mentioned, Better on DVD. Often these works were the victim of an Award Snub.

Compare Germans Love David Hasselhoff, where a different country does this instead of time, and Cult Classic, where something gains popularity but not on a widespread/mainstream scale (although the two tropes sometimes overlap). See also Popularity Polynomial. Additionally, see Dead Artists Are Better for cases where the belated popularity occurs because the artist is no longer around to bask in it. When this happens to a single character, it's Rescued from the Scrappy Heap. Contrast Deader Than Disco (something that goes from insanely popular to a popular target of mockery), And You Thought It Would Fail (a work that's expected to be a flop instead becomes a smash hit). Compare Acclaimed Flop, when the work is a critical success but a commercial failure when it comes out. See also "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny, where a work was beloved in its heyday, but is seen as boring or stale by history, though usually with the appreciation that the work was revolutionary at the time.

Beware the risk of Overly Narrow Superlatives or Gushing About Shows You Like, though. Practically anything could seem vindicated by history if the reference pool is small enough.


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  • The original World Trade Center in New York City was incredibly controversial when it was first began construction in the late '60s. The aesthetic of the boxy Twin Towers was compared to filing cabinets and "the boxes that the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building came in", its massive amount of office space was seen as merely compounding the problem of office vacancies that the city was facing, and its 'superblock' was criticized for bulldozing most of the still-bustling Radio Row neighborhood, disrupting traffic in Lower Manhattan, and limiting access to the waterfront. By the time it was completed in 1973, it was regarded as a potent symbol of The Big Rotten Apple, a landmark to the city's downward spiral more than anything, and many New Yorkers probably would've welcomed its destruction by terrorists. By the time it experienced just that on September 11, 2001, it had come to be recognized as a true landmark in the proper sense of the term, such that one of the most popular proposals to replace it was to just rebuild them as they were, albeit with modern construction techniques.
  • The Eiffel Tower in Paris, built for the Exposition Universelle in 1889, was similarly hated when it was first built, especially among the city's art community, who regarded it as an eyesore and a symbol of industrial modernity thrust into the heart of a city synonymous with artistry and romanticism. Guy de Maupassant frequently ate lunch at the Eiffel Tower's restaurant, specifically because it was the only place in the city where he couldn't see it, and he and forty-six other Parisian artists and writers attached their names to a "Protest against the Tower of Monsieur Eiffel". Others, however, embraced it as a symbol of avant-garde modernity, and its Mundane Utility as a broadcast tower saved it from the wrecking ball in 1909 when Gustave Eiffel's lease expired. Nowadays? It is arguably the symbol of Paris, such that we even have a trope named after it.

  • This happens periodically in (painting) art especially between the Renaissance and the 20th century. A rising new art movement is at first derided, and as it becomes accepted the preceding movement turns into the target instead. A couple of centuries later, the art world and scholarship see them both having merits.
  • Pieter Bruegel the Elder was merely dismissed as a light weight during his life time. He painted so many peasant scenes that people looked down upon his art, solely because of the subject matter. Only centuries later has his work been added to the pantheon of history's greatest painters.
  • El Greco was seen as an incompetent painter during his lifetime. Only in the 20th century did the modern art movement embrace his work as a visionary and personal style.
  • Caravaggio was obscure to infamous until the 1920s. It did not help that he painted the equivalent of Doujinshi. His normal works were considered so blasphemous that some tried to kill him. Nowadays, his Calling of St Matthew is practically the Trope Codifier of Baroque painting.
  • Piero Della Francesca was fairly obscure until the 1920s as well. He is now considered one of the greatest quattrocento artists.
  • Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the few truly relevant Renaissance female painters, was for a long while looked down and seen as dependant of the fame of her father. Then the Feminist Movement came by. What's that you say, a Renaissance woman painter that focuses on pictures on women and whose masterpiece depicts the biblical Judithnote  violently decapitating King Holofornes a.k.a. in a position of strength? There's also speculation that King Holofornes was painted in the image of Agostino Tassi, a man that had raped her and who had failed to be punished by the courts due to the values of the day.
  • The Impressionists (Claude Monet, Pierre-August Renoir, Edouard Manet, etc.) were ridiculed at first (at their first joint exposition, the public came en masse to mock their work; the name of the movement was even originally coined by a sarcastic Caustic Critic), even though they were more successful later on. Today, well let's say that many of the world's most expensive paintings are from them...
  • Vincent van Gogh is a popular example of this, although in the months before his death he was getting serious notice.
  • The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, painted by John Singer Sargent, was originaly disliked by critics for being too big, having too much empty space in it, and having the subjects scattered about randomly. Now it is considered one of Sargent's better works, and is used in a couple of plays, poems, and mystery novels.
    • Also, Portrait of Madame X, when originally exhibited, caused a great deal of scandal in the art circle. Sargent was forced to leave Paris as a result. The painting would become one of his and the era's most iconic pieces.
  • For most of M. C. Escher's life, he was looked down upon by "serious" artists (as were all artists who specialized in lithography). He is now a fixture of art history textbooks (as well as poster shops) and your math teacher's walls.

    Comic Books 
  • X-Men wasn't a particularly strong seller in the 1960s, and in the early 1970s, the title was languishing in reprints... until someone at Marvel noticed that sales were going up, and decided to revamp the series. The revamped title became Marvel's biggest seller.
  • Jack Kirby's New Gods titles sold poorly (though there is some controversy about just how good or bad the sales figures were at the time, and how much of that was due to a line-wide price hike and format change). Since then, Kirby's work on New Gods, Mister Miracle and The Forever People have become widely-acclaimed as among his very best, with characters who have been used again and again, in multiple media (e.g., Super Friends, Justice League, and Smallville). After all, just try and think of The DCU without one of its biggest, baddest bads, Darkseid.
  • Gotham Central sold poorly during its monthly releases (Possibly due to it being a Batman book that rarely featured Batman). Though it has now found popularity being sold in hardcover and trade paperback.
  • Back in the early 1960's, Stan Lee at Marvel Comics wanted to do a story about a superhero that went directly against the grain of everything that had been done before. The hero would be young enough to qualify as a teenage sidekick, would lose more often than he won, face problems that all teenagers face, get no respect, and oh, by the way, his powers would be those of a...spider. His publisher replied that no one would buy it, people like to see the heroes win, no one would want to read a comic that had some kid struggling with school and friends, and people didn't like spiders. Lee replied well, we have a comic with weird, off-beat stories that we are getting ready to cancel anyway, so can I put my little story in the last issue just to get it out of my system? The publisher was agreed, the character was featured in the last issue of Amazing Fantasy (issue number 15, in case you're wondering). A few months later, it was noticed that sales for that issue went completely through the roof. Marvel realized that maybe that little story had something to do with it, and the rest is comics history in what we know to this day as Spider-Man.
  • Carl Barks who worked anonymously during his active years for Disney. Though his comics were always lucrative, he only received recognition after retiring. Comic book fans noticed that certain Donald Duck comics were better than others, so they tracked him down and discovered who had made all those masterful comic books over the years. Luckily, Barks would live long enough to see this recognition during his lifetime.
  • Some major crossovers, universally panned at first, have gone on to garner popularity. In particular, Maximum Carnage and The Clone Saga have been reappraised as good despite being initially being panned. Part of this is due to the stories working slightly better when read all at once in a trade collectible, rather than one at a time over a period of months/years (many of these were written before Writing for the Trade became a thing).
  • Similarly, both Countdown to Final Crisis and Civil War were given huge boosts while Sinestro Corps War and World War Hulk were largely treated as filler events. However, both Sinestro Corps and World War Hulk are now considered to be classics, whereas as Countdown and Civil War are seen as two of the worst big events of the 00s.
  • At the same time the Civil War series was running and had all of the Marvel publicity machine behind it, a small Crisis Crossover event called Annihilation was being published that was largely ignored by Marvel and by readers. The event also led to short-lived books for Nova and the Guardians of the Galaxy, which were both cancelled due to low sales and finished out via The Thanos Imperative. While readers may have ignored these books at the time, the fact that the post-Annihilation Guardians of the Galaxy run was such a huge influence on the mega hit movie has since led to many people discovering the series for the first time.
  • Final Crisis was incredibly hard to follow back when it was released, due to the series' "channel flipping" method of storytelling, the Schedule Slip that affected the essential tie-in Superman Beyond 3D, and significant Executive Meddling (particularly in regards to Countdown to Final Crisis). Now that the series has been collected properly and the readership has had time to properly digest it's contents, it's much more well regarded, with a number of readers considering it a modern classic.
  • Black Panther:
    • Christopher Priest's run didn't sell well at the time, but today, it's regarded as one of the best Marvel books of the 90's. Many fans even argue that Priest has earned My Real Daddy status over the character at this point, and his depiction is often considered to be the definitive take on Black Panther.
    • Likewise, while it didn't sell very well at the time, Don McGregor's Jungle Action run ended up having a major impact on the character. It was the first series to actually do serious World Building for Wakanda and flesh out T'Challa a supporting cast, and it also introduced Erik Killmonger, who would later become one of his most prominent foes. It was also one of the first mainstream comics to have a self-contained, multi-issue arc, with some critics calling the "Panther's Rage" storyline Marvel's first graphic novel.
  • De Kiekeboes was considered a mere curiosity in its early run and you had to be a hardcore comic book fan to have even heard about it. After J. Hoste NV (the publisher of the comic book series) crashed the series got owned by De Standaard. They originally did not really have a lot of enthousiasm for selling the comic and for a long time it was one of their least selling properties (often it would be the very final story in MEGA, their comic book compilation). Its sales however continued rising and rising to the point that nowadays it may as well outrival Suske en Wiske in terms of popularity.
  • Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Jack Kirby, William Moulton Marston, and Stan Lee amongst others are names known in the Comics industry and even by a surprising amount of non-readers. Nowadays, they are given proper dues for the characters they helped bring to life (even if harsh battles are still fought over in terms of rights and royalties). One particular name however has taken a much longer time to get the recognition it deserves: Bill Finger the co-creator of, and an early writer for Batman - and the one who many would argue gave the Dark Knight more of his iconic features than his much more famous and outspoken partner, Bob Kane. Starting in 2016, DC Comics would finally give Bill Finger his much overdue credit by having his name appear next to Bob Kane's in any new Batman-related media going forward from that time.

  • Bettie Page. Almost completely forgotten by the 1980s, she has emerged as the Fifties pinup queen, as well as a highly memetic mascot for the neo-rockabilly culture currently popular in Southern California.
  • The freakish photos of '50s/'60s cult photographer Diane Arbus have gained a reasonably wide following only in the past decade or so.
  • Vivian Maier lived in obscurity unknown and unpublished, pursuing a photography as her hobby. Now she is considered a major street photographer of 20th century.

  • The South Park pinball machine initially got a lot of complaints, both because of its offensive content and because of its layout and rules, so much so that SEGA, the company that made it, quit the pinball business. Due to changing attitudes, with the controversy over the show dying down, the South Park pinball machine now brings in good money when out in public (even where lots of kids are present), is one of the more sought-after South Park items for collectors, and is genuinely liked by pinball fans who get its numerous Shout Outs and thus why the machine plays the way it does. (It's a different story altogether for those who dislike or are indifferent to the show, however.)
  • High Roller Casino came out a year after the well-liked Star Wars Episode I and fell into obscurity as victim of a Tough Act to Follow. Whereas Star Wars: Episode I used a monitor, was full of voice clips, displayed live-action footage made just for the machine, and a rather complicated set of rules, High Roller Casino used an old-fashioned dot-matrix display, the rules were seen as overly simplistic, and the miniature slot machine was unimpressive. On top of that, High Roller Casino was released in 2001, right at the nadir of modern pinball's popularity, so despite its lower price, few people were interested in putting it up for public display and thus few people had even heard of it. High Roller Casino machines were then used in competitions in 2013, where it gained new popularity now that the machine can stand on its own merits (as well as pinball players learning the machine exists) and that its rules are not so much simplistic as they are uncluttered. Much demand now exists for High Roller Casino to be included in the compilation video game The Pinball Arcade, and it was indeed added in 2014. Meanwhile, Star Wars: Episode I fell out of favor due to its monotonous gameplay and corny acting (the movie's bad reputation didn't help either), and it would be near impossible to find a pinball fan nowadays who prefers Star Wars: Episode I over High Roller Casino.
  • The Twilight Zone is so well-liked among pinball fans that it may be hard to believe that it was not that popular when it was new. It currently ranks at or near the top of lists on various pinball sites. The result of Pat Lawlor getting carte blanche privileges after the success of The Addams Family, the machine is crammed full of things and has among the most complicated sets of rules to have ever been in a pinball game, even compared to today's digital pinball. It was this complicatedness, and ruthless difficulty, that scared passers-by away from playing more than a few games before swearing it off. In addition, because it had so many parts, it broke down easily and frequently, the game designed in such a way that if even one thing is slightly below maximum capacity, the game was rendered barely playable. The Twilight Zone only started getting respect when large amounts of them started entering private use. As the player can play it as much as he or she wishes, the complicated rules go from intimidating to a source of tremendous Replay Value, and if it ever breaks, the owner is always on hand to act upon it.
  • Iron Man was a rather rapid case of this. Released in 2009, this was Stern Pinball's opposite of High Roller Casino: coming off a series of mediocre releases like NBA and 24, people did not think too highly of the straightforward playfield layout of Iron Man, which made operators and home buyers alike hesitant to buy Iron Man. It didn't help that the build quality was so poor that the screws would come loose in as little as six months. However, eventually, people modded their Iron Man machines for increased sturdiness and found that its rules complemented its play-field very well, and the game eventually became popular enough for Stern to issue a re-release in 2014.
  • Safe Cracker was a highly gimmicky machine: It was shorter than usual, with smaller flippers. It had a timer-based system in which once time ran out, draining the ball instantly ended your game. But most importantly, it had a token system in which you could either collect them (with 25 of them in all) or put them back into the machine to play a bonus mode called "Assault on the Vault." All of this came together for a disastrous release, with the unconventional size throwing people off, the timer-based system meaning newcomers would get hosed, and it turned out people preferred to collect tokens, and with Williams Electronics issuing only one run of the tokens due to low sales of the machine itself, the machines quickly ran out of tokens and whatever appeal Safe Cracker had was lost. Things changed many years later though, when, like with The Twilight Zone, Safe Cracker machines entered home use. With them set to play for free, there was little loss on games that end quickly, and with these owners dedicating themselves to learning its rules and how to maximize the time bonuses (as well as discovering there were ways to restore time even after it's reached 0), as well as having access to tokens so they could play "Assault on the Vault," the games found themselves a lot more respect. It is still a ravenous and unforgiving quarter-eater though, and because of the tokens system, it is very rare to find a Safe Cracker for public play.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Edge and Lita: In 2005, word got out about the two having an affair, cheating on Edge's second wife and Matt Hardy respectively. This and Hardy's reaction which got him fired over it caused a lot of fan backlash towards both of them at the time, which WWE decided to make into an angle (first involving Lita's storyline husband Kane, then rehiring Matt) to take advantage of the situation. This especially lingered on with Lita to the point it played a hand in her decision to retire toward the end of 2006, receiving a less-than-admirable sendoff from the company on the way out. In the years since then, Edge has entered a Screw the Rules, I Have Sickeningly Sweethearts storyline with Vickie Guerrero for about a year or so which worked to the point that if Lita had returned to take Edge back it would've been a Heel–Face Turn less than two years later. Hardy has increasingly gone Jumping Off the Slippery Slope as a career-midcarder, and began excusing his brother and friends' every mistake while taking four years to clearly define that his legit heat with Edge was over. Edge has become a modern day legend through great feuds and matches with the likes of The Undertaker, John Cena, CM Punk, Jeff Hardy, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Batista, Randy Orton, so on and so forth, still being the generally all-around awesome guy backstage (seriously, even Cena has the rare dirt sheet article or shoot interview saying he's treated someone like crap. Edge? NOTHING outside the love triangle scandal. In fact, Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder still praise him on Twitter a fair deal for helping them in their formative WWE years, and Hawkins has had a subtle nod to Edge's "Easy Bein' Sleazy" shirt as the logo on his ring jacket). The WWE Women's/Divas Division has plummeted into 2/3-minute snooze-fests on Raw and SmackDown, and took such disrespect at WrestleMania XXV that Lita and Trish Stratus refused to be among the returnees for that night's show because they saw it coming.
    • Edge is a first ballot Hall of Famer living a mostly quiet life and loving every minute. Lita has people begging for her return after just showing up at Axxess and later joined the HOF herself in 2014. Matt Hardy is widely derided as an egotistical Hollywood Pudgy Attention Whore, who has been arrested on drunk driving charges multiple times in 2011, got fired from TNA after the first of said DUIs (and not just for the DUI, as Angle and Christopher Daniels can attest to), and faked a suicide note after said firing, just to get more attention. "The Reason You Suck" Speech Edge gave Hardy in 2005 in response to his return promo would never have been listed for long without a counterpoint back then even if this wiki had been as huge as it is now, but now it's taken (along with Lita's statement in one Byte This! interview that something had to be wrong for her to go to another man) as a prophetic deconstruction of everything about Matt, at least prior to him getting his life back together.
  • Matt Hardy: After years of being viewed as the lesser Hardy Boy compared to his main eventer brother Jeff Hardy and getting the worst fallout from the Edge and Lita situation, Matt has reinvigorated his brand with the So Bad, It's Good gimmick of Broken Matt, sprouting catch phrases like "DELETE, DELETE, DELETE!" and "OBSOLETE" as well as giving Jeff the moniker of "Brother Nero" in a terrible unidentifiable accent. The Hardy Boyz even got a monster pop at WrestleMania 33. He also has a new loving wife and children as well. So in essence, everyone involved in the Matt, Edge, and Lita scandal somehow came better off than before.
  • After the Brawl For All, it seemed that "Dr. Death" Steve Williams had faded into obscurity, never living down the moment when he got knocked out by Bart Gunn. Until he got cancer, rebuilt his friendship with Jim Ross that fell apart after Doc's WWF run and became Dr. Life. As a result, Steve Williams is still considered one of the toughest wrestlers that ever walked despite The Brawl For All.
  • John "Bradshaw" Layfield. When Bradshaw shifted into his wealthy tycoon gimmick in 2004, the backlash was fast and furious for numerous reasons, not the least of which was that Bradshaw had rarely been seen as a future main eventer up until that time. As JBL, however, while fans still agreed he was never the greatest in the ring, he did reveal a knack for getting under the skin of fans just by being a gleefully hammy, Politically Incorrect Villain - in fact, he quickly became one of the best promos in the business. He cemented this reputation during his stint as a color commentator with Michael Cole, with the bonus of an encyclopedic knowledge of old school wrestling. Now that he's retired, fans who previously decried him for being unworthy of his push now miss him for his memorable (if sometimes off-color) promo work.
    • His return to commentary since Jerry Lawler's heart attack has only further cemented this trope, at least until he became just another Vince mouthpiece with the passage of time.
  • Kayfabe-wise: Many of the casual fans probably wince whenever they think about CM Punk's SES run after his feud with Chris Jericho, which kind of justifies why Punk was so hardcore about it. Subverted with those who watch ROH, where Punk talked more freely about his family's past.
  • Even those who HATE the Invasion storyline agree that its ending at Survivor Series 2001 was the closest thing to a epic Grand Finale (even more so than WrestleMania) that the WWE has ever put out on pay-per-view.
  • Doink the Clown's initial heel run originally drew little more than shrugs from hardcore wrestling fans. An evil wrestling clown was bound to be another failure in the world of Wrestling Doesn't Pay. But once Matt Borne left the WWF and his personal life flew off the rails, Doink was turned face and made into a comic relief character, and the company got saturated with more embarrassing gimmicks, smarks looked back at Borne's work in a more positive light. The consensus on heel Doink is that Borne took a gimmick that sounded stupid on paper and actually made it work, making him one of the New Generation era's greatest unsung heroes.
  • What did fans think of Drew McIntyre in 2010? He's a boring, two-dimensional wrestler who is being pushed too fast and protected by Vince and the gang (the irony being that was actually his gimmick but it just came off too strong). What do fans think of him today? He's a solid, if not spectacular, talent who had a lot of potential in WWE, and he could have had a much brighter career had they not suddenly dropped the ball with him.
  • The Anonymous RAW general manager. People quickly got sick and tired of him and wanted the angle to be killed off as quickly as possible. Let's just say when his identity finally was revealed, fans were not happy.
  • Mark Henry's 2006-2008 heel work has been viewed in a noticeably more positive light after his 2011 "Hall of Pain" heel run.
  • Gorilla Monsoon was considered a terrible commentator back in the day, winning a whopping six Worst Television Announcer awards by the Wrestling Observer newsletter. Nowadays, he's practically a Sacred Cow.
  • The Hulk Hogan vs. André the Giant match at WrestleMania III was panned by critics in 1987, but all of that criticism has since been obscured by its historical importance in wrestling history and for its enormous box-office draw. The quality of the match itself, however, is still fair game.
  • Goldust was named the worst gimmick of 1995 by Wrestling Observer, but is today looked back upon as one of the greatest gimmicks of all time.
  • Samoa Joe. Turning Point 2007. Scott Hall no-showed the event and Joe, given a live mic to announce his replacement in the match, used the oppurtunity to shoot on his frustration of how "superstars" are starting to flood into the promotion and take away the spotlight from the homegrown talent. At the time he was denounced as a whiner. Today, fans who look back on it see it as one of the forewarnings of the major problems TNA had later on, which would reach its zenith at the start of the Hogan-Bischoff era, where everyone got shoved down the card to make room for their buddies and ex-WWE and WCW wrestlers. Joe is now seen in a much more sympathetic light, especially as his TNA career slowed down to midcard hell.
  • John Cena:
    • The wrestler spent years vilified by the smarks and hardcore fans for his stale, kiddy-pandering "Superman" gimmick. However, when Cena began to transition into a part-timer role and do other things, Roman Reigns effectively got booked into his place with the same character. It didn't fit him. Reigns' push as the new face of the company has gone so terribly that many began to look at Cena and his push to the top more objectively. Cena was called up as part of the famous OVW class of 2002 (Lesnar, Orton, Batista, and Cena), and out of all his class, he's the one who had the least amount of help from the company. Orton and Batista joined Evolution with Triple H and Ric Flair, while Lesnar got Paul Heyman and was hotshotted to the main event in his first year. Cena was left on his own, floundered, and if it hadn't been for Stephanie McMahon hearing him rap, might have gotten fired. Then he developed the "Doctor of Thuganomics" gimmick and spent time as a midcard heel, who became more and more popular to the point they had no choice but to turn him face and push him to the moon, especially after Lesnar left and Orton's initial face push didn't pan out well. Case in point, Cena got over organically — it was his booking after he won his first world title that ruined him for many fans, and even then it was a testament to his talent as a performer that he managed to make such a terrible gimmick bearable and watchable for 8 years. When Reigns, with his manufactured push (he was the well-protected "hot tag" guy in The Shield, to build up his popularity) and much more inferior mic skills, got booked in his place as the chosen new face of the company, the fans shunned him to the point that they began to pine for Cena, and realized that Cena was a much more talented performer than they ever gave him credit for.
    • When Cena lost the WWE Championship to Brock Lesnar at Summerslam 2014, many hoped he would then go away for good because they didn't want to see him win the world title for a 16th time, tying Ric Flair's record. All of the aforementioned with Reigns happened after that, so when Cena DID win the title again at the 2017 Royal Rumble (in a match vs AJ Styles that many felt stole the show that night), many fans gave him cheers and respect for it.
  • Michael Cole's heel commentator run from 2010 to 2012 was widely despised by many wrestling fans, who believed he was merely serving as a mouthpiece for Vince's unpopular opinions, and many felt his obnoxious personality and ubiquitous presence brought down the quality of the product. Nowadays, Cole's heel run is seen in a much more positive light, who felt that his outlandish persona was hilarious, appreciated his more penetrating approach at criticism of faces than previous heel commentators, and believed that he really knew how to rile up any fan who heard him speak. His positive reception over handling Jerry Lawler's heart attack in September 2012 and Lawler starting to be seen as an out-of-touch and corny color commentator afterwards certainly helped improve his reputation. That being said, you still won't find many people defending his creepy Miz obsession or his feud with Lawler in 2011; even the moments in the feud that Lawler had the upper hand that the fans were initially ecstatic about are nowadays seen being as no less embarrassing as the rest of it.
  • It's hard to believe that Mr. Fuji was an eleven-time winner of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter's "Worst Manager" award given he's today universally regarded as one of the greatest heel managers of all time.
  • Michelle McCool was popular during her heyday but had a massive smark hatedom who accused her of being pushed just because she was dating, and later married to, The Undertaker. The hate has mostly died off since her departure, and her matches are remembered more fondly. She is less inclined to be thought of as a Creator's Pet once stories came out that she suffered the same Chickification as her fellow Divas - having to refilm matches, being told off for spots that looked too good etc.
  • Nikki Bella was the more popular of the Bella Twins for years, but like McCool above she gained a massive smark hatedom when it became known that she was dating John Cena. Things only got worse during her second reign as Diva's Champion, when she surpassed AJ Lee as the longest reigning Divas champ despite being injured and rarely defended the belt at all during the second half of her reign. By the end of 2015, she had taken time off to have neck surgery and by the time she returned nearly a year later, her in-ring work had improved significantly, she stayed away from the now Women's championship and helped put newcomer Carmella over, winning back respect from the fans and that she wasn't totally undeserving of her Diva's title push. Brie has been vindicated also, but not to the degree of her sister.


    Theme Parks 
  • Universal's Islands of Adventure was initially a borderline-disaster upon opening in 1999, attracting less than half of its projected guest attendance. The failure of the park ended up putting the entire resort over a billion dollars in debt for more than a decade. It was the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2010 that caused the park to finally become profitable and more recognized among tourists, as well as finally dragging the resort out of debt.

    Visual Novels 
  • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney followed similar game mechanics to the previous Ace Attorney games (cross examinations in the courtroom, investigations in various areas, etc.), but it starred Apollo Justice as the main character while Phoenix Wright, the main character from the last three games, was punted off as a hobo that had his license to practice law revoked due to forged evidence. People and critics alike panned the game just because Apollo and the rest of the cast replaced Phoenix Wright and his crew. However, years later, people gave the game another chance and have seen just how deep the background of Apollo and his sidekick Trucy go, and Apollo makes a comeback as a playable character in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies.
  • Saya no Uta originally sold very poorly and since it's a messy Deconstruction of concepts like Cute Monster Girl and Magical Girlfriend, it got fairly bad reactions as well. When people warmed up to this Monster Sob Story, it started to sell and has sold consistently ever since. Nitroplus CEO Takaki Kosaka stated it has become one of the best-selling Visual Novels in the company's history.
  • Dangan Ronpa became one. The game has always been loved by the fans, but all admitted that Super Dangan Ronpa 2 was an Even Better Sequel. However, in later years, with the latest two installments of the franchise ended up becoming Contested Sequels (DRV3 has its own Broken Base page) and several events of the sequel being rendered pointless or outright Retconned by Dangan Ronpa 3 while various of the survivors of the original game Took a Level in Badass, several fans have taken a new appreciation for the original game. Among other things, the fact that the first game didn't have the Strictly Formula of the latter games and the best villain, specially compared to the later ones, all of whom were considered Replacement Scrappy for Junko Enoshima, made the game be treasured even more when these two matter became issues for the fans by New Dangan Ronpa V3.

    Web Original 
  • Certain countdown artists were not all that popular during the time they came, mostly because others were stealing the spotlights, but due to the fact that they survived the transition from text-based to vocal some of their older content suddenly got more views.
    • joshscorcher for one. His older videos were not watched all that much during the time of their release, but due to his bursting popularity with his vocal countdowns they subsequently got more views.
    • Animalguy001 (now Fawful's Minion) is also one of those people. He went unnoticed by the countdown community, until he started releasing his first vocal countdowns.
  • NC17Productions was once one of the most hated video game reviewers on the internet (to the point that everyone riffed on him). As however time passed though he dumped his old review series, made better reviews, tried out new stuff (such as Let's plays) and he nowadays has a strong cult following.

    Western Animation 
  • Bob's Burgers: Back when it first aired, the show gained many detractors, largely due to its animation style and being yet another dysfunctional/idiosyncratic family show cut from the same cloth as The Simpsons and Family Guy. But after Growing the Beard in its second season, which included becoming a more lighthearted comedy and focusing on the heartwarming interactions between the Belchers, therefore stepping out of what was expected of an adult animated sitcom, the show has become widely considered the best animated FOX sitcom since The Simpsons (or at least Futurama).
  • The Hanna-Barbera television animation studio had been up and running since 1957, and had been enjoying at least middling success due to the popularity of its earliest shows, most notably Huckleberry Hound. But it was the early '60s success of The Flintstones established a rock-solid TV empire for them, in which they could throw together whatever they wanted and not worry about the ratings. Two such shows came out of this early freedom, The Jetsons and Top Cat, neither of which lasted more than one season during their initial runs. Hanna-Barbera subsequently built stable franchises out of these underrated works over the course of a few decades, to the point where their status as mainstream classics became undisputed.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures was overlooked in favor of other WB cartoons such as Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, and Freakazoid! back in its time, but nowadays, it has become extremely popular, being considered by many fans to be the true successor to Looney Tunes.
  • Batman Beyond has always been given good reviews, but never the amount of acclaim that Batman: The Animated Series has. However, as it went, fans began to love it more, and more, as it's now considered one of the best in the DCAU.
  • Transformers Beast Machines was not well received for a wide variety of reasons. Nowadays, fans that have since matured are more positive about their opinions, and others regard it more favorably than the Unicron Trilogy.
    • Bob Budiansky, the writer of much of the Marvel Comics series, was widely derided in the early online fandom for his liking of childish or absurd stories (Ratbat leading the Decepticons, evil car washes, wrestling leagues) and Simon Furman was seen as My Real Daddy for comic fans. At a certain point, however, people realized just how important he'd been to the early history of the franchise - writing all the profiles and coming up with almost every character name for the first three or four years - and started to notice that his comic run still had its share of decent or unique stories (even today). While Furman is still considered the better writer of the two, Budiansky is less remembered as "that guy with the stupid plots" and more remembered as "that guy without whom Transformers would not exist." Fans have also become more aware (and understanding) of the fact that Budiansky, far more than Furman, suffered from a high amount of Executive Meddling, forcing him to push out new characters at a near-impossible rate, instead of giving them time to develop.
    • The third season of Generation One. It was once the most derided season in the fandom, but since coming out on DVD and being made widely available alongside the rest of the series, many fans have taken another look at it, and now many episodes of the season are regarded as some of the series' best. Check any top ten list of G1 episodes and season three episodes will make up almost half of the list, at least.
  • Invader Zim lasted 1 1/2 seasons on Nickelodeon, unable to maintain high ratings, and it was just too expensive to keep making. In the following years it has become a Nicktoon favorite, ranking alongside Spongebob Squarepants, The Fairly Oddparents, Danny Phantom, Hey Arnold!, Rugrats, Ren and Stimpy, Rocko's Modern Life and the Avatar franchise as the most popular. Zim is now used in Nicktoon games and merch even though his show hasn't been on in years.
  • Futurama: Although never as big a hit as The Simpsons, Futurama always had a relatively big audience, but failed to become a Cash Cow Franchise. Most people expected a similar Simpsons-style show, but all they got was a satirical science fiction series that wasn't as recognizable as a nuclear family set in modern times. Eventually the show was even cancelled, but thanks to high DVD sales, high ratings from reruns on [adult swim], and fans sharing files on the Internet, it eventually became a popular cult show and was revived on Comedy Central. The following seasons proved highly popular.
  • Family Guy: The first 2 runs of Family Guy proved fairly unpopular, despite being given a time slot during prime time. It was cancelled after the second season but fan demand was enough to give it a third season. It was shuffled around to worse and worse time slots, until it was finally cancelled for the second time and for good (back then, at least) after the third season ended. Its impact earned it Immunity To Criticism and DVD sales were large enough to have the series revived, however, and the show went on to become one of the highest rated shows on Fox during its run.
    • Season 4 (the first series when the show came back from cancellation) of Family Guy wasn't met much with praise when it began airing. Many fans were hating on it to the point of someone working on the show stepping in and defending that said season. But now, the fourth season is considered to be the golden age. For some people who tuned in the show since its return, it's considered to be hands down the best season. For people who have loved the show prior to its return, it's considered consistent compared to the other uncancelled seasons.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants
    • You won't find as many SpongeBob fans who hate Seasons 4 and 5 as back in the day (they're still seen as inferior to Season 1-3, but not by a whole lot), some even going as far as to include Season 4 as part of the show's Golden Age. However, that's probably because Seasons 6-8 don't fare much better.
  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog had a large hatedom back in the day from SatAM fans, and those who thought it was just bad in general. In the mid-2000s, with the rise of the YouTube Poop and several memes stemming from the show, it is now regarded as a classic due to its silly humor, So Bad, It's Good nature, Deranged Animation, and the crazy antics of Robotnik and his minions Scratch and Grounder. Scratch and Grounder themselves were even the inspiration for henchman robots that Eggman would use in further incarnations or games in the franchise, such as Orbot and Cubot, and Decoe and Bocoe.
  • Rugrats: The Dil and Kimi episodes, when they were on, were the most hated of the cartoon's run on the Internet alongside Klasky-Csupo's other cartoons at the time, due to flanderizing the baby talk, and many people thought that it was over-saturating the network. But in later years, those seasons are as held in high regard as the seasons before those. It's gotten to the point of where people have hardly noticed the changes (minus additional characters) that happened throughout the show's run and think that the show has been consistent in quality.
  • ChalkZone: While the premiere episode gained the highest ratings for a Nicktoon premiere at the time (March 2002) and was well liked among its target audience, older Nickelodeon fans detested it for various reasons: Mainly being too "safe", "tame", or "cute" compared to other Nick shows at the time (such as SpongeBob) and some Misblamed the show for replacing Invader Zim (when in reality, ChalkZone was delayed for two years), though it was more of an extremely Broken Base as it also had many defenders. Nickelodeon itself even overlooked the show in favor of its other Nicktoons. After the show ended, it started to gain a cult following and now many Nickelodeon fans regard it as being one of the best Nicktoons of the 2000s decade.
  • American Dad! was initially seen as a shallow knock-off of Family Guy with hamfisted attempts at political humor. The show gradually stepped out of the former's shadow, grew its beard and became more character-driven, with a change in its style of humor to surreal, Denser and Wackier antics (in an example of Tropes Are Not Bad). Some have argued that the show not only has better writing than Family Guy, but that it's also Seth Macfarlane's best.
  • The Simpsons during the Scully era (seasons 9-12) was often criticized due to the Denser and Wackier tone and zany plot twist when it was airing. But now, some people are defending the era and even consider season 9 (and a lesser extent, season 10) part of the classic era...but only because the episodes helmed by Al Jean aren't any better than what Mike Scully did.
  • Most of Cartoon Network's original programming from 2004 through 2009 (Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, Camp Lazlo, Class of 3000, Chowder, The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack) were all initially brushed aside as mediocre or bad by many. They've since gained more popularity for being among the best and most fondly remembered shows during the height of CN's Dork Age.
    • Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi got a lot of hate during its run, had very few fans or defenders, and viewer ratings were quite low compared to other shows airing on the network back then. But after being Screwed by the Network, the general consensus started to change, and, while it isn't as popular or as beloved as other Cartoon Network shows, it has gained a pretty sizable fanbase and following.
    • Class Of 3000 also received mixed reviews and opinions during its run, and soon got the axe for having low viewer ratings. Today, it's considered one of the better shows that Cartoon Network introduced during its Dork Age.
    • The Marvelous Misadventures Of Flapjack stands out in particular as some of the storyboard artists for the show have gone on to make smash-hit shows.
    • In a similar vein, network president Stuart Snyder, the one responsible for the first Dork Age by cancelling more liked originals for rather petty reasons, killing the first version of Toonami, and trying to force reality shows onto Cartoon Network. There was much rejoicing when Snyder left, even on This Very Wiki. Come 2017, Snyder is seen in a less negative light, however, being known for not being afraid to push the boundaries compared to other kids' networks, and despite removing most Anime from the schedule, was a big supporter of western action cartoons, along with DC Nation, as well as having helped support the development of beloved hits Adventure Time, Regular Show, The Amazing World of Gumball, Steven Universe, and (though he had left before it aired) Over the Garden Wall, especially in light of the second Dork Age (which goes in detail here) that Cartoon Network re-entered with Christina Miller's reign. Though the Dork Age still happened and people still hate it, his tenure has gone from being viewed as "the worst years Cartoon Network ever had" to "It started off bad, but he managed to salvage it."
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show: The Games episodes were once one of the most reviled cartoons in the history of animation, and it's low ratings and critical backlash, following John Kricfalusi's firingnote  had lead to the show's demise in 1995. After the failure of Adult Party Cartoon, and further stories about what happened behind the scenes at Spumco (From Billy West, Bob Camp and many other colleagues of Kricfalusi's, and a book documenting the events of the show's history, released in 2013 entitled "Sick Little Monkeys: The Unauthorized Ren and Stimpy Story"), the Games episodes nowadays are seen as either not as good as the first two seasons, but good in their own right, or better than the Spumco episodes that had preceded it (It's very telling that Bob Camp is usually the one out of the two creators of Ren and Stimpy, that is asked to attend conventions on a frequent basis). Either way, most people agree that the Games episodes fare better than Adult Party Cartoon did.
  • Sanjay and Craig started off disliked like many of the other post-2009 Nicktoons on Nickelodeon. Not unlike Bob's Burgers however, its second season saw an improvement. The gross-out humor was dialed back, while the focus on the characters and story-telling over cheap laughs increased. This did wonders for the show, and before long it had gained a noticeable fanbase and was considered one of Nickelodeon's saving graces alongside Harvey Beaks. In the end, there were sighs of disappointment rather than sighs of relief when it was cancelled, which is more than could be said for some of its fellow Nicktoons such as Breadwinners.
  • The first solo Batman cartoon outside of the DCAU since 1992, The Batman, was loathed when it was on air, with many fans and even some critics deriding it as "unwatchable" and a "22-minute toy commercial."note  These days, it's looked back on fairly positively, with many people (including former critics) acknowledging that it's actually a pretty good show and arguing that it handles certain things way better than even BTAS ever did (the action being one big example as TAS action scenes haven't aged well.).
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold had very vocal critics for similar reasons, but is now looked back on as a fun, campy romp, with many former critics admitting that they wound up liking the show after giving it a second chance and that it isn't the cheap, kid-centric program they initially thought it was.