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Breakup Breakout

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Quagmire: What was Simon without Garfunkel?
Peter: Wildly successful?

When partnerships break up, the various members of the former group don't always follow the same career path. A Breakup Breakout occurs when one or more members of a dissolved group achieve noteworthy success while other members of the group languish. This can cause all sorts of awkwardness, jealousy and resentment amongst the former colleagues.

It is very common after TV shows end for one cast member to go on to continued success while the others fade into obscurity. See also The Band Minus the Face, Breakout Character, More Popular Spin-Off, and Ensemble Dark Horse. Contrast with The Pete Best, who is remembered, when they are remembered at all, for leaving (or being ejected from) such a partnership, which then goes on to achieve noteworthy success without them. Also contrast with Solo Side Project, which is where a band member works on solo projects without actually leaving the band (or before a break-up).

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  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal once featured three chefs on the box named Wendell, Bob and Quello (their names were written on their hats), but without any personality besides Wendell being the lead chef. At some point, Wendell was given an actual personality and started playing a much bigger role in ads for the cereal while Bob and Quello disappeared.
  • Cookie Crisp's capers of the Cookie Crook vs. Officer Crumb (the Cookie Cop) changed a bit when the Crook got a dog, Chip. After 1997, the former two were nowhere to be found, and Chip was the de facto mascot of the brand, howling the name whenever he wanted some (and eventually he'd be changed from a dog to a wolf...)

    Anime & Manga 
  • A rare but inverted example would be CLAMP. During its early days in 1987 where they were initially a doujinshi circle, there were eleven members. When they became professional manga artists with their original debut manga RG Veda, the group was reduced to seven members. It's only in 1993 where three members left which leaves the four women (Nanase Ohkawa, Satsuki Igarashi, Mokona and Tsubaki Nekoi) as the only members of the group. As time passed, these four women are recognized and regarded as the true members of CLAMP in the anime and manga industry after the success of their works such as Cardcaptor Sakura among others. Tamayo Akiyama, a former member of CLAMP who is Ohkawa's childhood friend, was able to publish her works but never reached the same level of success as her former group and the rest of the former members faded into obscurity.
  • While most of the Robotech cast had success afterwards, even Rebecca Forstadt, they didn't make a dent outside of anime... except for Cam Clarke.

    Comic Books 
  • Part of Sidekick Graduations Stick: The sidekick becomes their own hero. At least in theory. Batman's original Robin may be an in-universe example as more people trust Nightwing than they do Batman.
  • While the Justice Society of America is usually pushed out of the limelight in favor of their successors, the Justice League of America, there have been a few members who have managed to maintain their popularity:
    • Doctor Fate continues to be the Archmage of the DC Universe, even in continuities where the JSA does not exist or not as a member of it. This is because few in the Justice League (or even Justice League Dark, which is supposed to be the Supernatural Team of the DC Universe, of which he is oddly enough not a main member) can match his magical expertise. Even underneath the Cool Helmet, the original Doctor Fate Kent Nelson frequently averts the More Popular Replacement (in spite of having several replacements over the years) as he is the iteration that most adaptations use (such as in Justice League, Smallville, Injustice 2, Justice Society: World War II, and Black Adam), even if he does not stick around for long in-universe due to ending up as a Sacrificial Lion.
    • Similarly to the aforementioned Doctor Fate, The Spectre continues to stick around not only due to his prominence in the magical side of the DC Universe, but because he acts as an arbiter of God's judgement and as such functions as one of the Big Goods in the DC Universe. As with Doctor Fate, in some adaptations he has no ties to the JSA regardless of whether or not they exist in-universe.
    • The original Flash Jay Garrick is more popular than some of his compatriots such as Alan Scott or Al Pratt, who have all been replaced by more popular Legacy Characters on the Justice League. This continued popularity can be evinced by his appearances in Young Justice (as the only member of the JSA still active in the present and even going so far as to join the JLA, something neither Scott or Pratt has done), Earth 2, both Injustice games as a skin for the Flash (Earth-2 in the first game, classic in the second), the Arrowverse, and Justice Society: World War II, often alongside his successor Barry Allen.
    • The original Infinity, Inc. are a mostly-forgotten set of Legacy Characters to the JSA...with the exception of Atom-Smasher, who would not only go on to join the main JSA but is the one who appears the most outside of comics such as Justice League, Injustice: Gods Among Us, and Black Adam.
  • Nova: Nova (2007) features a bit where his old teammates, the New Warriors, joke about this, pointing out that he ended up being far more powerful, successful, and noteworthy than anyone else on the team. (It certainly didn't hurt that the New Warriors were pretty much wiped out shortly after he quit). Even outside of the comic, Nova is still the most prominent member of that group, having appeared in media more often such as in Annihilation and Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. The fact that he is also the Alternate Company Equivalent to Green Lantern as Marvel's resident human Space Police further increases his visibility.
  • Spider-Man in Amazing Fantasy #15. To the extent that he more or less saved the company.
  • Regarding the Ultimate Fantastic Four, the Human Torch. Since the team's breakup in the Ultimatum event, Johnny's the only one to have a regular presence in the Ultimate Universe; first as a supporting character in Ultimate Spider-Man and then in Ultimate X-Men.
  • Watchmen - Dr. Manhattan and the Comedian are government employees with a public presence, and Ozymandias is a billionaire industrialist, while the other former Crimebusters are unemployed, eager to reconnect with their old identities, and, in the case of Rorschach, a vigilante.
  • There's the X-Men, and then there's Wolverine. This is an inversion as Wolverine started off as a solo character in The Incredible Hulk and most of the major lifting into making him a more fleshed out character happened in the X books; without that he may have very well ended up on the scrapheap. Even with the X-Men he was initially at risk of such a fate, as it was decided that he and Thunderbird were too similar in personality and one would be killed off in their second issue as a team. Wolverine was saved from the chopping block because his powers were deemed more interesting and he wasn't an ethnic stereotype.

  • George Carlin and Jack Burns started out as a pretty raunchy duo, but Carlin went onto superstardom after their breakup and Burns only went to mere stardom, and in fact was most successful as part of another comedy team, with Avery Schreiber.
  • The Japanese comedy duo Honjamaka originally started as a troupe of about 10 or 11 comedians, but they only became famous after everybody left except the current two members (Ishizuka Hidehiko and Megumi Toshiaki). On top of that, they both have strong individual careers.
  • Rob Riggle and Rob Huebel was a Kansas City-based comedy duo who tried out for Saturday Night Live. Riggle got picked and despite leaving after one season, has had a strong acting career since then. Meanwhile, Huebel has mostly just taken secondary sitcom roles; probably his most visible role has been as A.J., the fairly bland Romantic Runner-Up to Michael Scott for Holly Flax's affections on The Office.
    • It happened again to Huebel several years later when he got his biggest break to date as a member of the comedy troupe Human Giant featuring himself, Paul Scheer and Aziz Ansari. Their MTV sketch series was critically acclaimed and all three got decent popularity as equals until the show ended in 2008. Since then Huebel has pursued a lower key career as a comedic actor, while Scheer went on to co-host the popular podcast How Did This Get Made?, and Ansari's popularity exploded after appearing in the film Funny People, the success of his comedy records and his role on Parks and Recreation.
  • Many view Adam Carolla's comedic partner (and radio buddy from KROQ in LA) Jimmy Kimmel as this, as he's gone on to much bigger things than Adam. However, Adam is quite proud of his best friend's success, often remarking he got there with talent and hard work, and he's quite content doing his own thing (which has also been quite a success, just in a less visual medium).
  • The Mary Whitehouse Experience featured four young comedians in a show that later transferred to TV. It was really two double acts. David Baddiel and Rob Newman later became the first stand-up comics to sell out tours in massive stadium venues seating ten thousand or more - effectively the first superstar comedians. Their TMWE colleagues Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis went onto moderate fame (Hugh Dennis is these days a well-thought-of comic TV actor and panel game regular), but neither gained the same dizzying heights as Baddiel or Newman. In a further example, Newman and Baddiel themselves split in the late 90s. Baddiel went on to even greater fame with a new double act partner, Frank Skinner, while Newman - to quote The Other Wiki - "largely disappeared from public life, reappearing with solo work marked by a clear social conscience and anti-establishment views". He's no longer the mainstream of comedy, nor does it seem he wants to be.
  • While all six members of Monty Python have had successful solo careers, those of both John Cleese and Eric Idle were the two that truly stand out. (Though in the UK Michael Palin probably comes next after Cleese due to his popular series of travelogues). Terry Gilliam has had a successful directing career post-Python.
  • After Spanish comedy duo Cruz y Raya split up in 2007, Juan Muñoz all but disappeared from the spotlight while his partner José Mota embarked in a far more succesful solo career, directing and starring in multiple hit Sketch Comedy shows.
  • Ace Trucking Company was a comedy troupe who gained a bit of a following in The '70s, mainly through TV variety show appearances, before breaking up once its members became busy with other acting gigs. Several of the individual members would become somewhat familiar faces: George Memmoli had some memorable parts in TV shows and movies, most substantially in Phantom of the Paradise. Patti Deutsch became a regular on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In and a frequent Match Game panelist. Bill Saluga created the infamous character Raymond J. Johnson Jr ("you can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay..."). However, Fred Willard became a prolific, much-loved comedic actor and outshone the other Ace members.
  • The comedy team of Lorne Michaels and Hart Pomerantz became well-known in Canada with their TV show The Hart and Lorne Terrific Hour, specializing in routines in the Carl Reiner/Mel Brooks mold, with Michaels as the straight man and Pomerantz playing oddball characters (most notably "the Canadian beaver", dissing other animals and patriotic figures). Eventually Michaels turned his focus to production, went to America, and created Saturday Night Live. Pomerantz, who had a day job as a lawyer and was only moonlighting in comedy, stayed in Canada and focused on his legal career, with some occasional TV gigs on the side.
  • Key & Peele. While their show won many awards, unlike Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele won an Oscar for Get Out (2017) on his own and continues to write and direct high profile projects.
  • After the Marx Brothers retired their family act, Groucho struck out on his own with a long and successful career as a writer and television personality. In the '50s and '60s, he was arguably better-known for hosting You Bet Your Life than for his movie work.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In Grady Hendrix's horror novel We Sold Our Souls, the public at large thinks this is the case with protagonist Kris's former metal band Durt Wurk and the villain Terry, the former front man who went on to a meteoric solo career. In reality, Terry ruined the band's prospects by getting them kicked off a lucrative gig with his terrible behavior, then went behind their backs with a sleazy manager to rebrand as nu-metal Koffin, and foisted exploitative contracts on them that just so happened to sign over everyone's souls in exchange for fame and fortune in addition to paying terribly and stealing their copyright. When they called him on being a jerk, he tricked them into signing anyway, then took the deal alone and used his new wealth to hire shady lawyers and force them out of music. Oh, and he's hopelessly derivative and overall a terrible musician without Kris around.
  • The novel Liverpool Fantasy by Larry Kirwan explores an Alternate History where The Beatles broke up almost immediately after being signed, with John storming out and taking George and Ringo with him. Paul remained with the label and became highly successful as a solo artist, while his former bandmates went on to lead unremarkable lives in Liverpool.

    Live-Action TV 
  • After Boy Meets World ended in 2000, Will Friedle had a huge success in numerous voice roles. Namely Terry McGinnis in Batman Beyond, Ron Stoppable of Kim Possible, Deadpool in Ultimate Spider-Man, and finally, Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy. Other than reprising their roles on Girl Meets World, the only other actors to do anything notable were Kristanna Loken and Lee Norris.
  • An interesting case with Jason Bateman from The Hogan Family. During the shows run he snagged a lead role in Teen Wolf 2 but disappeared of the map after The Hogan Family was canceled with this film not helping matters. By the 2000s, however, he had a steady career being cast in supporting roles in comedies (as well as dramas) alongside a starring role in the sitcom Arrested Development paving the way for leading roles in films by the 2010s thus cementing Jason Bateman further as the breakout star of The Hogan Family while the rest of the cast fell into obscurity.
  • After Malcolm in the Middle ended, Bryan Cranston went on to star as Walter White in Breaking Bad, a role that he won four Emmy awards for, three of them consecutively, and is now arguably even more famous for Breaking Bad than Malcolm in the Middle. The rest of the cast has faded into obscurity. Frankie Muniz invoked this on himself by doing the Agent Cody Banks movies for tens of millions of dollars, then retiring from acting to drive race cars for fun.
  • The only member of the Saved by the Bell that got regular work after the show ended was Tiffani Thiessen. However, Mark-Paul Gosselaar eventually gained traction as an actor during the 2000s, earning starring roles in NYPD Blue and Franklin & Bash. Mario Lopez has been the host of several shows, including America's Best Dance Crew, was a contestant in the third season of Dancing with the Stars, and has made guest appearances in other programs as well.
  • Averted with Seinfeld, as three of the show's main cast members struggled to find successful roles after the show ended in 1998 (Jerry Seinfeld himself never seemed that bothered, and is the only one who's avoided series television, although he did have a successful web series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee), a phenomenon which became known as the "Seinfeld curse". Julia Louis-Dreyfus can be considered Seinfeld's breakout, as she eventually went on to star in The New Adventures of Old Christine and Veep. However, it took her almost a decade to finally find a successful post-Seinfeld role. Michael Richards is nowadays the only one still completely in the show's shadow.
  • Married... with Children averted this for the main four family members.
  • After That '70s Show Ashton Kutcher was the breakout cast member, but Mila Kunis experienced a Career Resurrection with her role in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, (she was already well known for her work in Family Guy) and has since gone onto a level of fame and success that has arguably eclipsed Kutcher's. Topher Grace and Laura Prepon did eventually find their way back into the spotlight, but not at Kutcher or Kunis' level (at least, not until Prepon landed Orange Is the New Black...).
  • Full House had John Stamos as the adult breakout, as he is the only cast member who has gotten regular work since the show ended.
  • Cheers had three breakouts - Ted Danson, Woody Harrelson, and Kelsey Grammer.
    • The Cheers spin-off Frasier also had two breakouts - Grammer and Jane Leeves.
    • John Ratzenberger is well-known for his work as a voice actor in Pixar films.
    • Though not to the extent of Harrelson or Grammer, David Hyde Pierce has kept up a respectable career in theater, eventually earning a Tony for his work in Curtains.
    • Kirstie Alley had a few memorable movie roles for herself. Save for a three year stint in Veronica's Closet on NBC in the late-90's, her career really reached the same nights after "Cheers" ended.
  • Averted with Everybody Loves Raymond, in which all the main adult stars (Ray Romano, Brad Garrett, Patricia Heaton and Doris Roberts) would generally have continued success after the show ended. The only exception is Peter Boyle, who died shortly after the show ended. But even then, he was already an established actor going into the show.
  • Raymond's sister show The King of Queens had two breakouts — Kevin James and Patton Oswalt.
  • Ricky Gervais (and, later on, Martin Freeman) in The Office (UK).
  • Jennifer Aniston has been far more successful than her Friends co-stars since the show ended. Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow and Matthew Perry have managed to stay in the spotlight as well.
    • Kudrow seems to be on and off with her success, starring in the HBO show The Comeback for one season before it was cancelled (despite critical acclaim that led to Kudrow receiving an Emmy nomination), and then creating and starring in the successful Web Therapy on Showtime.
    • Matt LeBlanc had trouble getting a successful career going, as the Friends spin-off Joey was cancelled after two seasons. After this, he took some time off from acting and appears to be in the middle of a small Career Resurrection with his starring role in Episodes (which has earned him his first ever Golden Globe win).
    • David Schwimmer, though far from a public figure, has tried to focus his efforts more into directing, helming Run Fatboy Run and Trust, to respectable reviews.
  • While Family Ties launched Michael J. Fox's career, everyone else on the show were not as successful as he was. Outside of Family Ties, Michael Gross is probably better-known for playing Burt Gummer in the Tremors franchise but otherwise hasn't done anything high-profile since.
  • Blake Lively is by far the most successful among the main cast of Gossip Girl, followed by Penn Badgley who bagged the lead role in the very successful You and Chace Crawford who plays The Deep in The Boys. Ironically the actors who played the most popular characters of the show, Leighton Meester (Blair) and Ed Westwick (Chuck) didn't do any notable work since the show ended and seems to have found the least mainstream success.
  • Alyssa Milano in Who's the Boss?. Tony Danza is the only other notable member of the cast, but he was already an established star.
  • John Travolta was the biggest name to come out of Welcome Back, Kotter by far, as his co-stars have long since faded into obscurity.
  • Even The Muppets have an example of this: The short-lived Muppets Tonight introduced the comedy team of Pepe (a prawn) and Seymour (an elephant). Pepe has since gone on to appear in many later Muppet projects, while Seymour vanished without a trace. An earlier example, Miss Piggy; she gained fame quickly, even though she was originally meant to be a minor character next to Rowlf alongside Janice in the Veterinarian's Hospital sketches. While the latter two eventually made a comeback, it is still surprising to learn Piggy was never thought of as a major character in the beginning.
  • A common theme for Nickelodeon series with young cast members:
    • Are You Afraid of the Dark? was rebooted in the late 90s, and brought back most of the Midnight Society members from the original series. However, one of the "new" society members was played by a little-known actress named Elisha Cuthbert, who shot to stardom two years later after being cast in 24. The rest of the group never achieved the same level of stardom as she did (although a couple of the cast members were able to make a serviceable career out of bit parts and supporting character roles).
    • Of the teen cast members who starred on the 90s series Hey Dude!, only Christine Taylor (who played Melody) and David Lascher (who played Ted McGriff) had anything close to successful careers. Taylor is arguably more well-known because of her marriage to Ben Stiller and her steady stream of work over the years, while Lascher disappeared during the 2000s after starring in supporting roles in a handful of teen series (Blossom, Sabrina the Teenage Witch). The rest of the Hey Dude cast, whether by choice or limitations, never acted again in any professional capacity.
    • Space Cases. Of the main cast, only Jewel Staite (who played Catalina in the first season) (via her roles in Firefly and Stargate Atlantis), Rebecca Herbst (who played Suzee in season 2 and later played Elizabeth Webber on General Hospital) went on to become greater stars after the show finished. Walter Jones (of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers fame) was relegated to bit parts and one-off appearances in various series, and the rest of the cast never bothered to do much after the series ended.
    • Kenan & Kel. Since the end of the show, Kenan has gone on to join Saturday Night Live and has been a few moderately successful films. Kel mostly did guest spots before rekindling his working relationship with Nickelodeon. Now the two have come full circle and work together as executive producers on the revival of All That.
    • After the end of Drake & Josh, Drake Bell blew up in recognition, landing roles such as Timmy Turner in The Fairly OddParents! films and Spider-Man in Ultimate Spider-Man (2012), alongside branching out into music, whereas Josh Peck faded into relative obscurity. Peck would eventually get the last laugh though, as in 2021 Bell found himself in serious legal trouble regarding child endangerment, eventually being sentenced to two years probation and 200 hours of community service, putting the brakes on his career for the foreseeable future.
    • From the cast of Salute Your Shorts only Blake Sennett (credited as "Blake Soper") and Christine Cavanaugh had any major notoriety after the show ended. Sennett became a musician and was the co-lead vocalist and guitarist for the indie rock band Rilo Kiley. Cavanaugh became a well known voice actor, performing the voices of lead characters for Rugrats and Dexter's Laboratory, among others.
    • Danny Cooksey already had a bit of shine on him from Diff'rent Strokes and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. He's done quite well for himself as well, with voice acting roles on Tiny Toon Adventures, The Little Mermaid, Xiaolin Showdown, The Ren & Stimpy Show, Hey Arnold!, Static Shock, G.I. Joe: Renegades, and Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness. Not bad, Budnick, not bad.
    • Victorious during its run was one of Nick's most popular live action shows. After it ended in 2013, Ariana Grande embarked on a massively successful music career as pop star, churning out numerous iconic hits in a short time and scoring platinum albums, and has never looked back since. Her meteoric rise has completely eclipsed the show itself, easily becoming the most successful star ever produced by Nick, while the rest of cast (Leon Thomas III, Matt Bennett, Elizabeth Gillies, Avan Jogia, Daniella Monet, and, most ironically, the title star Victoria Justice, who the show was meant to be a vehicle for) have long since faded into obscurity.
    • Avan Jogia is also proving to be something of a breakout star, getting a starring role in the ABC drama Twisted (2013) not long after Victorious was cancelled (although Twisted itself was cancelled fairly after one season).
    • Victoria Justice herself became this from Zoey 101. None of the other stars, even series star Jamie Lynn Spears, have come close to her success, unless you count Erin Sanders because of Big Time Rush.
  • In Living Color! was an incredibly successful FOX series that launched the careers of several celebrities including Keenen Ivory Wayans, Damon Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Tommy Davidson, David Alan Grier, Kim Coles, and Larry Wilmore who went on to decent careers in film and television. Overall though, the most successful cast members who emerged from the series were Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx (as of 2023, the only cast member to win an Academy Award), and Jennifer Lopez.
  • Degrassi: The Next Generation, the fourth entry of the long-running Canadian teen drama franchise, starred one Aubrey Graham, who would go on to become music superstar Drake, and later Shenae Grimes, who would land on The CW's reboot of Beverly Hills, 90210.
    • With the success of The Vampire Diaries, we can also add Nina Dobrev, who is second only to Drake in fame nowadays.
    • The producers of The Next Generation attempted to invoke this for Cassie Steele (Manny Santos) by giving her what amounted as the female lead in The L.A. Complex. "Tried" being the operative word.
  • Zany UK Saturday morning children’s show Tiswas had five regular presenters on the team: Chris Tarrant, Lenny Henry, Sally James, Bob Carolgees (with Spit the Dog) and John Gorman. The first two effectively launched their TV careers from this, and ascended to the ranks of televisual royalty. The rest, while they stayed in TV, didn’t do nearly so well.
    • In its fifth series, Tiswas also had a Scottish circus entertainer by the name of Sylvester McCoy appear doing surreal comic interludes. He would go on to achieving lasting fame as the seventh Doctor Who.
  • After two years on How to Marry a Millionaire, three of the cast members faded into obscurity, but Barbara Eden ultimately gained TV stardom on I Dream of Jeannie.
    • After Jeannie, Eden and co-star Bill Daily had moderate success in TV, while Larry Hagman became an 80s pop culture icon playing J.R. Ewing in Dallas and pretty much defined the Love to Hate trope during that era.
  • Get Smart pretty much got nobody off the ground except for Don Adams, even though he was typecast as Max, and Bernie Koppell, who later appeared on The Love Boat in the late 70s. (Edward Platt, who had been a film star earlier, died a few years after the show left the air.)
  • Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato first met on the set of Barney & Friends, became best friends ever since, and have had much more success as Disney-pop stars. Debby Ryan and Madison Pettit have also found their fair share of success with the Disney Channel machine, though not to the same extent. Everyone else completely faded into obscurity, as they mostly hired local kids from the Dallas-Fort Worth area who never pursued long-term acting careers.
    • Kyla Pratt and Trevor Morgan, both of whom starred in The Movie, have went on to have reasonably successful acting careers afterwards, with Pratt starring in the popular Disney Channel cartoon The Proud Family and Dr. Dolittle and Morgan appearing in such hits as The Sixth Sense and Jurassic Park III. Unlike the kids from the show, the two were professional child actors. However, the other child star in the movie, Diana Rice, was never heard from again afterwards.
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt from 3rd Rock from the Sun. A teenager when he started the sitcom, Gordon-Levitt has gone on to become one of the more well-known and acclaimed stars of his generation, earning many positive reviews for his work in (500) Days of Summer, 50/50 (2011), and Looper, while also working with several high-profile directors, like Christopher Nolan (for Inception and The Dark Knight Rises) and Steven Spielberg (for Lincoln).
    • John Lithgow has had continued success following the show's finale, earning immense critical acclaim (and an Emmy) for his work in Dexter. Though it's hard to work Lithgow into this at all, as he was already an Oscar-nominated actor before doing the show.
  • The barely-remembered YTV comedy-drama Breaker High featured a group of students onboard a cruise ship who get into all sorts of wacky hijinks. Of the cast members who appeared on the series, only Ryan Gosling (who played the wannabe ladies' man/nerd) went on to megastardom, via his decision to appear in more serious, independent films. Tyler Labine and Rachel Wilson built serviceable careers as supporting actors, and Richard Ian Cox (who played the activities counselor) went into voice acting, but the rest of the cast never did much of note.
  • In the WKRP franchise:
    • Of the cast members who starred in WKRP in Cincinnati, Tim Reid (Venus) has had the most consistent and stable career out of the cast, via his supporting roles in Simon & Simon, Sister Sister and That '70s Show. While Loni Anderson achieved the most fame of her castmates, it didn't translate into any real success and most of her post-WKRP projects bombed. Most of the other cast members never achieved the same level of stardom, although Gordon Jump (Arthur Carlson) achieved some minor fame via his role as the "Maytag Man" in their commercials until his death in 2003.
    • Howard Hesseman, who played Dr Johnny Fever, had a lengthy run as the teacher on Head of the Class.
    • In The New WKRP in Cincinnati, Mykelti Williamson (Donovan) had plenty of memorable roles after leaving the show, in projects like Forrest Gump, 24 and Justified. His co-stars (Tawny Kitaen and French Stewart) had comparatively little success besides Stewart's role in the aforementioned 3rd Rock from the Sun.
  • Although the featured actors in The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and spinoff series The Suite Life On Deck were. of course, twin stars Dylan and Cole Sprouse (both of whom moved on to college after the latter series ended), its breakout stars were, arguably, Ashley Tisdale and her SLOD Suspiciously Similar Substitute, Debby Ryan. Brenda Song, who already had experience in acting prior to Suite Life went on to play a role in dads and a Playing Against Type role in The Social Network.
  • The Bill Engvall Show ran on CBS for two years, but was never a very popular show and quickly faded into obscurity after its cancellation. However, one of its cast members, Jennifer Lawrence, shot to superstardom with films such as The Hunger Games and American Hustle and hasn't looked back since, whereas everyone else from the show, including Engvall himself, haven't gone anywhere since. Today, the show is remembered pretty much only for being the launching pad for Lawrence's career.
  • The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Shailene Woodley shot to superstardom with Divergent whereas everyone else from the show have done nothing else of note (not counting, of course, Molly Ringwald, although she is best remembered for the Brat Pack films from the '80s rather than post-Secret Life output.)
  • Of the stars of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the only real post-series success stories have been David Boreanaz (Bones), Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother), and Seth Green (Robot Chicken, Family Guy). While most of the rest of the cast has at least been able to get regular work, it should be noted that Nicholas Brendon's career has effectively stalled to the point that he admitted his inability to find regular work has driven him into alcoholism. Anthony Head also didn't do too bad for himself, playing the lead in Repo! The Genetic Opera and gaining recognition due to numerous appearances on British television and radio. He had been a musical actor before this, but was generally overshadowed by his brother Murray, who appeared on the original concept albums for Jesus Christ Superstar and Chess respectively.
  • The stars of Bosom Buddies were Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari. In the first episode, Peter's character talks about how Tom's character is the driving force of the team, and that he'd be nothing without him. Decades later, Tom Hanks is Tom Hanks, and Peter Scolari may not have matched the success of his former co-star, but he did appear in 142 episodes of Newhart over seven years. He passed away in 2021.
  • All in the Family: Rob Reiner was easily the big breakout, not so much for his acting as for his immensely successful directing career. The rest of the cast weren't so lucky. Carroll O'Connor managed to slightly break out with his role on the long-running TV adaptation of In the Heat of the Night.
  • Arrested Development had three major breakouts: Jason Bateman and Michael Cera both went on to have hugely successful Hollywood careers, while the one-two punch of The LEGO Movie and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) proved to launch Will Arnett's career as a Hollywood leading man in 2014.
    • Not that the rest of the cast have done horribly, though:
      • David Cross became known for his work in the Alvin and the Chipmunks and Kung Fu Panda franchises (and was already famous for Mr. Show beforehand).
      • Jessica Walter remained relevant though her role on Archer.
      • Tony Hale starred on HBO's Veep, a role which he won two Emmys for.
      • Jeffrey Tambor starred on the hit Amazon series Transparent and won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for his performance. (Of course, he was already known from The Larry Sanders Show at the time of Arrested Development's launch.)
      • Portia de Rossi hasn't really had another hit since Arrested Development, but she was already established thanks to her role on Ally McBeal and continues to stay in the spotlight thanks to her role as Ellen DeGeneres' wife even without any major acting roles.
      • This leaves Alia Shawkat, a.k.a. Maeby, as the Jannetty of the Arrested Development cast. She has had little to no commercial success outside of her role on the show, though has found some critical acclaim on the indie film circuit.
  • My So-Called Life had two Breakup Breakouts: Claire Danes and Jared Leto. The rest of the cast faded into obscurity after the show was over.
  • Lost: Evangeline Lilly, Ian Somerhalder kept the highest profile after the show ended, followed by Michael Emerson. Maggie Grace and Daniel Dae Kim too, to a lesser extent.
  • Out of all the actors to play Power Rangers, only Amy Jo Johnson, Johnny Yong Bosch, Cerina Vincent, Emma Lahana, Brandon Jay McLaren, Ana Hutchinson, Archie Kao, Rose McIver and Eka Darville have had continued success afterwards (if you count villains, then there's also Adelaide Kane).
  • How I Met Your Mother: Neil Patrick Harris was already known for starring in Doogie Howser, M.D., but HIMYM enhanced his star enough for Harris to host award shows, his memorable role in Gone Girl, his theater career, and just having a high profile in general. Aside from him, Cobie Smulders is the highest profile among the cast thanks to her role as SHIELD agent Maria Hill in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Jason Segel's career is composed of several romantic comedies and ventured into serious roles such as the independent drama film, The End of the Tour while Cristin Milioti received praise for her roles in Fargo Season 2 and Black Mirror: U.S.S. Callister. Josh Radnor went under the radar after the show ended and focused more on directing and theater while Alyson Hannigan became the host of Penn & Teller: Fool Us.
  • Gilmore Girls: Melissa McCarthy is one of the few cast members who got a successful career thanks for her role in Bridesmaids and continues her success in several comedy films and her short stint in Saturday Night Live. The other cast members have had varying levels of success. Alexis Bledel tried to find success until her role in The Handmaid's Tale where she won an Emmy while Milo Ventimiglia found success in Heroes until the show got hit with Seasonal Rot and in This Is Us, where he earned his first Emmy nomination. Lauren Graham and Matt Czuchry are well known for their main roles in Parenthood and The Good Wife respectively, while Jared Padalecki hit sky high with Supernatural. Liza Weil has How to Get Away with Murder and Sean Gunn is known for as Kraglin in the Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). movies. The rest of the main cast members don't have success after show ended and the revival was not enough to boost their careers.
  • Nickelodeon's 2012 sitcom Marvin Marvin was a massive failure, getting trashed by critics and fans alike and ending the career of Lucas Cruikshank, and was run off the air in only half a year. The only actor from the show whose career survived was Jacob Bertrand, who played Marvin's younger brother Henry. A year after Marvin ended, Bertrand landed the title role on a single-camera Disney XD show called Kirby Buckets, about a young cartoonist who is able to see his characters come to life. Although it was far from a smash hit, it was much better received than Marvin and got two more seasons. Following this, Bertrand's career reached new heights when he was cast as Eli "Hawk" Moskowitz in the smash hit The Karate Kid Sequel Series Cobra Kai. The only other notable actor from the show is Casey Sander, who plays Bernadette's father on The Big Bang Theory, but he already had that role prior to Marvin.
    • As for Kirby Buckets, while Bertrand was the most successful of the shows' lead actors, two of the others have found success afterwards: MeKai Curtis voices one of the main characters on fellow Disney Channel show Milo Murphy's Law, and Tiffany Espensen also stayed in the Disney family with a minor role in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Cade Sutton, for his credit, appeared on an episode of The Lion Guard alongside the other male leads from the show about half a year after Buckets ended, but hasn't done much otherwise (and Tiffany Espensen would appear on that show later on in a recurring role). Olivia Stuck, on the other hand, fell almost completely off the radar after the show ended (and never got to appear on The Lion Guard).
  • Among the cast of The Tudors, Henry Cavill and Natalie Dormer have become the most successful due to the former playing Superman for the DC Extended Universe and Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher and the latter being in Game of Thrones and the last two The Hunger Games movies while the rest are still relegated to TV roles.
  • On Community, Donald Glover (Troy) could be considered this. Glover left the show in season 5 to focus on his music and a solo television project, which became the FX show Atlanta. The show premiered to critical acclaim and was on many "Best on 2016" lists. Additionally, he has appeared in several movies and was cast as young Lando Calrissian in Solo. The Russo Brothers, who directed and produced for the show, are technically the most successful of the cast and crew, having went on to direct some of the highest-grossing movies of all time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  • Out of the cast of Shake it Up, Zendaya seems to have been the break-out star. She got her own Disney Channel show after the show ended, was a cast member on Dancing with the Stars, and even got cast in Spider-Man: Homecoming. She also has released music, and was featured in Beyoncé's short film for her album Lemonade.
  • Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place has Ryan Reynolds as the big breakout star, having had turns as two different movie blockbuster superheroes, Green Lantern (2011) and Deadpool. Nathan Fillion recurred on the show, then booked Firefly and Castle; Traylor Howard had modest success, most notably on Monk, and Richard Ruccolo...faded back into obscurity.
  • Drive (2007) didn't last long, but the cast members went on to other projects with varying degrees of success. Some did other television shows (Nathan Fillion on Castle, Kristin Lehman on The Killing and Motive, Taryn Manning on Orange Is the New Black) Others did movies (Melanie Lynskey in Up in the Air). But by far, the most successful is Emma Stone. (Yes, that one.)
  • Newer Cardi B fans might not realize she got her start as a cast member on the Reality Show Love & Hip Hop: New York. A lot of the cast are either artists past their prime or upstarts trying to get in the business; Cardi is the only person to get any further than being a Memetic Mutation so far.
  • Discounting Laurence Fishburne who is already a star on his own right prior to joining the show, the CSI main actors who managed to continue their success after the show ended are George Eads, who starred in the 2016 remake of MacGyver, and Ted Danson, who received critical acclaim in Fargo Season 2 and starred in The Good Place. Of course, Danson is already known for his role in Cheers.
    • On the Miami side, only Adam Rodriguez who joined the main cast in Criminal Minds and Khandi Alexander who received critical acclaim for her recurring role in Scandal and Bessie were able to continue success after the show ended.
    • The New York side seemed to fair better with Melina Kanakaredes, Hill Harper, Vanessa Ferlito and Sela Ward striving their continued success. Gary Sinise is already famous for his Oscar-nominated performance in Forrest Gump so he's still moving forward.
  • Out of the four main protagonists of Charmed, Shannen Doherty doesn't have much luck after leaving the show due to her bad behavior on set. Holly Marie Combs has done better, starring in Pretty Little Liars. Alyssa Milano and Rose McGowan haven't done much in the world of acting since, but have found more success as political activists in the Trump era. After the Harvey Weinstein abuse scandal broke, McGowan was one of the first of his victims to come forward and was the most prominent of the bunch in the aftermath, while Milano wrote the tweet that got the #MeToo movement off the ground. On the supporting casts, Kaley Cuoco is better known for her role as Penny in The Big Bang Theory and Julian McMahon has Nip/Tuck, Fantastic Four (2005), Runaways (2017) where he played as the Big Bad in the latter two and currently 'FBI: Most Wanted. The rest don't seem to get much work these days.
  • The first season of The Facts of Life had four girls in addition to Blair, Tootie, and Natalie. They were replaced by Nancy McKeon in season two. Three of the girls (Julie Anne Haddock, Julie Piekarski, and Janice Schachter) practically retired from acting after leaving the series, although they did return for a reunion episode in 1986. The fourth, Molly Ringwald, was apparently too busy with her rather successful film career to attend.
  • Teen Wolf: Dylan O'Brien. While the rest of the cast have had steady work they've mainly been limited to smaller TV parts with Tyler Posey voicing Tony Torretto in Fast & Furious: Spy Racers and Tyler Hoechlin playing Superman in the Arrowverse shows Supergirl and Superman & Lois, however O'Brien emerged as a rising star in film, headlining the The Maze Runner Series and American Assassin, and landing roles in a range of high-profile projects including Deepwater Horizon and The Internship.
  • This trope, thy name is Miami Vice and most notably regarding the two leads. Crockett's actor, Don Johnson, has had a wildly successful career in both movies and television, starring in roles such as Tin Cup, Django Unchained, Nash Bridges and Knives Out. Tubbs' actor, Philip Michael Thomas, on the other hand, in best known for said role with his only other career footnotes are providing the voice for Lance Vance, coining the "EGOT" phrase (despite never so much as being nominated for any of these awards) and endorsing a psychic hotline.
  • Whitney, a short-lived sitcom that was canned after two seasons, had its Breakup Breakout in Rhea Seehorn, who landed a much-acclaimed but continuously-snubbed role in Better Call Saul playing fan-favorite character Kim Wexler. Whitney Cummings, while not exactly a household name, went on to have a moderately successful career doing stand-up, co-creating 2 Broke Girls, writing the Roseanne revival, and starting a podcast. Chris d'Elia did stand-up comedy and had supporting roles in some popular television shows, though sexual harrassment allegations has put his career on ice. The rest of the cast has fallen into obscurity.
  • Bizaardvark, was, for a long time, best known for being the show that brought rise to highly controversial Internet personality Jake Paul (and, by extension, his equally controversial older brother Logan). However, this changed in 2021, thanks to the rapid rise of Olivia Rodrigo into one of the biggest music stars in the world (largely helped by the exposure she got from her next major role on High School Musical: The Musical: The Series).
  • After The Likely Lads ended (both times), James Bolam went on to appear in series including Only When I Laugh, New Tricks, and Grandpa in My Pocket, while Rodney Bewes was restricted to minor roles and the stage. Due to the well-known Hostility on the Set between Bolam and Bewes, Bewes would claim multiple times that Bolam was blocking repeats of Likely Lads because he didn't need the extra royalties and Bewes did. (It wasn't true - both series were often repeated.)

  • Inverted with Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, the Oakland A's "Bash Brothers". Canseco had a relatively decent career; McGwire broke the single-season home run record in 1998 that was held by Roger Maris. Nowadays, their impact on baseball can be measured for what they did after their playing days. Canseco's book Juiced opened the floodgates on steroid questions, which of course put McGwire in the crosshairs. As of 2016, the steroid issue has to date kept both men out of the Baseball Hall of Fame (Canseco dropped off the Hall ballot after his first appearance, and McGwire failed to gain anywhere close to the needed support in the maximum of 10 appearances).
  • Played perfectly straight with twin brothers Jose and Ozzie Canseco.
  • Played straight with Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla during their Pirates days. Bonds became the single-season and career home run record holder even under questionable circumstances; Bonilla went floundering around teams looking for work. However, Bonilla does have a World Series ring (with the 1997 Marlins), while Bonds does not.
  • Speaking of the Marlins, Wayne Huizenga broke up nearly the entire 1997 World Series team.
  • Played straight with Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers. Favre (as expected) entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016. And the Packers have already won a Super Bowl with his replacement, Aaron Rodgers.
  • The stars of the St. Louis Rams "Greatest Show On Turf": Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Az-Zahir Hakim and Ricky Proehl. Faulk and Warner are now in the Football Hall of Fame. Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt are maybes. Proehl, although not as well-known as the other four, played in four Super Bowls and won two. Hakim did very little after leaving the Rams.
  • When Joe Montana left the San Francisco 49ers for the Kansas City Chiefs, whether he or the 49ers became the breakup breakout could be viewed either way. On one hand, Montana's Chiefs beat the 49ers every time the two teams played. On the other hand, Montana never got the Chiefs all the way to the Superbowl, and Young's 49ers won the Super Bowl in 1994.
  • Inverted with the 1990s Chicago Bulls: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman. Michael Jordan is Michael Jordan, of course. When Michael retired from the Bulls for the last time, Pippen jumped teams. Dennis Rodman joined them for the second half of the Bulls title run, having already been on the Pistons championship teams. All three men got into the Hall of Fame regardless.
  • Averted with Karl Malone and John Stockton: the Utah Jazz were relevant almost single-handedly because of them.
  • Averted with Steve Young and Jerry Rice, although Rice had the longer career and played for three different teams.
  • The city of Cleveland and its original football team, which moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens, with their two Super Bowl championships. Cleveland, meanwhile, only made the playoffs once in the first two decades of their new team's run (given under the...less than upright circumstances of the move), and only started to really come into their own in 2020, their 22nd season since the rebuild. Even worse...the last coach of the old Cleveland Browns? Some guy named Bill Belichick. Who had, for awhile, a pretty good assistant coach named Nick Saban.
  • Four young women in Mixed Martial Arts formed a stable of sorts called the Four Horsewomen, after the pro wrestling stable The Four Horsemen. Of the four of them, Ronda Rousey nearly single-handedly mainstreamed women's MMA and built up an impressive streak of very fast wins. Shayna Baszler is a very distant second - she's respected as an innovative submissionist, but never had a good enough standup to really succeed in MMA. Baszler has achieved success outside of MMA in catch as catch can circles that eventually translated into professional wrestling, becoming associated with Ring of Honor Tag Team reDRagon, a SHIMMER Trio, winning quite a few belts on the US independent circuit (PREMIER, AIW, QPro) and Australia (NHPW), as well as making enough splash in World Wonder Ring STARDOM to win DDT's infamous Ironman Heavymetalweight belt. As for the other two, Jessamyn Duke was known for being pretty and turning out to have a glass jaw that stopped her career in her tracks, and Marina Shafir is known only for being the fourth woman in the Four Horsewomen.
    • Their professional wrestling careers followed a remarkably similar path. Baszler got an early start and built up a good reputation with hardcore fans before joining WWE and dominating the NXT Women's division. Then Rousey signed with WWE, skipped developmental and skyrocketed to superstardom (a nearly year-long reign as Women's Champion plus being in the first women's match to main event Wrestlemania), before burning out (when the fans started preferring Becky Lynch to her, she took it so personally she lost interest in wrestling). Meanwhile Duke and Shafir never got beyond WWE developmental, and while Duke seemed to have some potential it never really manifested, all the while Shafir was just kind of there. While they were both cut during the early 2021 COVID cuts, Shafir would eventually return to wrestling, joining AEW in late 2021.
  • The Oklahoma City Thunder featured three up and coming stars in Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden from 2009 to 2012, where they ended up making the NBA Finals and losing to the LeBron James-led Miami Heat, upon which Harden was traded a few months later to the Houston Rockets. All three ended up winning an MVP (Durant in 2014, Westbrook in 2017 after Durant had left for the Golden State Warriors, and Harden in 2018) but Durant has had the most postseason success, winning two championships with the Warriors while Westbrook and Harden have yet to win a title. Even more intriguing, however is the fact that Harden ended up teaming up again with the other two on two separate occasions, with Westbrook joining him on the Houston Rockets for the 2019-20 season and Harden joining Durant on the Brooklyn Nets in 2021 before being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers halfway through the next season.

  • In the G.I. Joe toyline, the Cobra ninjas Slice and Dice were introduced in 1992 to offset Storm Shadow's Heel–Face Turn from the Cobras to the Joes. The Slice figure had six reissues since the original, while Dice has only had one. It helps that Slice actually resembles a ninja. Ironically, Dice's mold was used to make a different character named Red Ninja who, like Slash, had six reissues.
  • Transformers is fond of the Cast Herd method of introducing new characters, which can result in this when one member of a particular team or subgroup has a writer taking a shine to them.
    • Swindle is far more famous than any other member of the Combaticons, being one of the few cases of a member of a combiner team who has been introduced as a solo operator in multiple continuities such as Animated and Earthspark. His characterization as an arms dealer and black-market expert gives him a fairly sturdy niche.
    • Despite Scourge and Cyclonus being introduced as partners in The Transformers: The Movie, Cyclonus has been far more prolific in most material, getting multiple new toys and a number of focus appearances, as well as being a major player in IDW's comics. This is due largely to his Noble Demon and Noble Top Enforcer traits being much more appealing to work with, while Scourge is just kind of a jerk. The fact that other iterations of Scourge frequently do not adhere to the original and are essentially the name being given to completely different characters as a means for Hasbro to maintain the trademark (his Cybertron incarnation was a Proud Warrior Race Guy who turned into a three-headed dragon, while his RID 2001 and film incarnations turned into long-nosed trucks, the former being an Evil Knockoff to Optimus Prime) does not help his case.
    • While the Pretenders were not that popular among the original G1 cast, Bludgeon has continued to maintain quite the popularity among the fandom, in part because Simon Furman made him a prominent Decepticon in the later half of the Marvel comic and also due to his admittedly cool design (a robotic skeletal samurai). As such, he has made frequent appearances in different toylines, comics, and eventually an animated appearance in Transformers: Cyberverse. Almost all of his toys since have skipped the inner robot and are based on his Pretender shell (albeit with his tank alt mode). To a lesser extent, the Japanese-only Autobot Pretender Metalhawk has held some semblance of popularity compared to his fellow Pretenders, in part because he was the initial leader in Masterforce. He has made several appearances in comics as well as a few toys in the Prime Wars Trilogy.
    • Speaking of Pretenders, Thunderwing was essentially the Arc Villain for a swathe of the later Marvel comics, has received multiple new toys, ended up instrumental to the plot of early IDW (being depicted as a world-wrecking monster), and ended up being the final boss of the Transformers: Prime videogame. No other member of his subgroup, the Mega and Ultra Pretenders (Pretenders with transforming shells), has received anywhere near as much focus; the next most notable is probably Crossblades, who featured in a few bits of Collector's Club fiction and had a brief appearance in the Marvel comics where he died.
      • It seemingly transferred over to his retool Black Shadow, who has made far more appearances and even received a couple new toys, while his partner and fellow Crossformer Blue Bacchus hasn't gotten significant acknowledgement since Transformers Victory. This is mainly a result of him having been something of a Memetic Badass as a result of wonky translation in the early fandom.
    • While the Japanese-only G1 characters are usually not very well known among the fandom at large, Overlord, Star Saber, and Lio Convoy are perhaps the most prominent of these characters among the fandom, the latter two being the first and second Japanese-only characters respectively to receive Masterpiece figures. Overlord is infamous for being a recurring Hero Killer Knight of Cerebus in IDW's first G1 continuity, especially as the Big Bad of Last Stand of the Wreckers. Star Saber is popular for being a badass Super Robot, Master Swordsman, and One-Man Army, to the point that his name was given to a recurring Cool Sword in the franchise which is basically the Cybertronian Excalibur. He also became the first Japanese-only G1 character to receive a Masterpiece figure for the Thrilling 30 line and the second Transformers project on HasLab (the first project being for the Greater-Scope Villain Unicron) for the Legacy line. Lastly, Lio Convoy has played a prominent role in many later Beast Wars fiction such as IDW's comics and Beast Wars: Uprising and would receive multiple figures in both Japanese and American toylines. Like the aforementioned Star Saber would become the second Japanese-only G1 character to receive a Masterpiece figure.
    • Generation 2 is usually viewed as an Audience-Alienating Era among the fandom, but Dreadwing and Ironfist/Fisitron (both of whom technically debuted in G1 depending on one's interpretation), have become Ensemble Dark Horses. The former is infamous for his So Bad, It's Good rap theme and his Noble Demon portrayal on Prime, while the latter entered the limelight through his portrayal in Last Stand of the Wreckers and would make the jump to both the Animated and Aligned continuities.
    • Out of all the characters who debuted in IDW's G1 continuity, Drift and Tarn are perhaps the most well remembered. The former has made the jump to multiple continuities, such as the live action films, RID 2015, and Cyberverse with all the merchandise that entails. Meanwhile, the latter is popular for similar reasons to the aforementioned Overlord, and not only has received more merchandise than most comic-only characters barring Drift, but also made the jump to Cyberverse as the Big Bad of its Finale Movie.
    • While Beast Machines is one of the most contested entries in the franchise due to its controversial storyline and redesigns, the hulking female Vehicon/Decepticon commander Strika has proven popular enough to show up in several other continuities, such as Animated and Cyberverse. Oddly enough, she has not gotten any major toys for general retail since, but her fellow Vehicon Tankor did get a toy in the Thrilling 30 line.
    • Nearly every character from Transformers: Robots in Disguise is forgotten except Sky-Byte, the show's main Goldfish Poop Gang character—he's gotten multiple new incarnations in multiple media, and far more toys than he ever had from the show itself. To a much lesser extent, its aforementioned iteration of Scourge is the only "evil Optimus Prime" character to have gotten new toys of his own.
    • The Armada iteration of Starscream is usually viewed as the standout character of the show due to his tragic character arc as a Noble Demon which many have compared to Dinobot's, to the point that he received new figure in the Milestone Celebration Thrilling 30 and Legacy lines. The only other Armada characters to make that jump since the line's conclusion are Hot Shot (the line's substitute for Bumblebee), Tidal Wave, and its iterations of Optimus and Megatron.
    • Bulkhead and Lockdown from Transformers: Animated are perhaps the most popular characters to come out of that show, having made the jump to multiple continuities since. Lockdown showed up in Cyberverse, Bulkhead showed up in the Aligned continuity, and both showed up in the live action films (though Bulkhead became a Composite Character with Hound, which received a roundabout homage in the 2022 Legacy line with Prime Bulkhead turning into a truck similar to AOE Hound's alt mode) and became Canon Immigrants to G1 via the IDW comics. To a lesser extent, Lugnut and Slipstream have also made recurring appearances in other continuities, with Slipstream in particular becoming the go-to female Seeker.

    Video Games 
  • Even though twin brothers Yun and Yang debuted together in Street Fighter III: New Generation, Yun had more appearances as a player character thanks to his inclusion in Capcom vs. SNK 2, the portable ports of Street Fighter Alpha 3 and Capcom Fighting Jam, with Yang being reduced to an assist character. Yang would make a proper return as a player character in Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition.
  • Founding members of id Software, John Romero and John Carmack, are an interesting case after they split up. While Romero is more infamous, Carmack earned respect in the industry for his pioneering work on game engines, of which several games were made using his work as a base. The general gaming public may not know much about Carmack, but in the end he was the more successful, if humbly so, of the two.
  • THE iDOLM@STER: Dearly Stars starred a trio of idols starting up work at 876 Productions. They formally became their own unit (also titled "Dearly Stars") in ONE FOR ALL. When Ryo Akizuki left the group for 315 Productions in THE iDOLM@STER: SideM, his influence magnified: He's the reason Saki Mizushima decided to perform as a crossdressing idol, and his unit-mates in F-LAGS were inspired to get into the business through his actions. As a solo idol and a member of F-LAGS, he's become widely successful. His old groupmates Ai Hidaka and Eri Mizutani, on the other hand, haven't gotten much work other than a crossover event with THE iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls and the occasional cameo in Ryo's cards. This might even be an exaggerated version of the trope, studio-wise; after Ryo left, 876 Productions and the talent under it has largely been ignored.

  • MegaTokyo started out as a collaboration between Fred Gallagher and Rodney Caston for the first two volumes. Rodney Caston left before the most successful years of the comic (though there is some controversy as to how amicable the split ended up being). As with Carmack/Romero situation, it can also be considered a subversion - Fred Gallagher's take on MegaTokyo eventually became highly infamous in the medium, while Rodney Caston found a modest-yet-respected position in video game development, getting to work on Second Life and League of Legends.

    Web Original 
  • As chronicled in The Accidental Billionaires and The Social Network, twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss approached Mark Zuckerberg to help them create a new social network called ConnectU. Their partnership lasted for three months, and ended acrimoniously when Zuckerberg went behind their backs and started his own social network. That network, Facebook, is the largest social website in the world, while ConnectU maintained a comparatively-miniscule user base before going inactive.
  • Wikipedia was started to incubate content for Nupedia, which Wales and Sanger et al considered their real project. Within months there were 600+ Wikipedia articles, whereas almost a year after the more formal Nupedia was started only two articles had been accepted as final. Wikipedia is currently among the ten most visited sites on the entire Internet; Nupedia was shut down in 2003.
  • When the Let's Play group Two Best Friends Play broke up in 2018 and Matt, Pat, Woolie, and Liam all went their separate ways, Matt would ultimately find the most success of the four, with his "What Happened?" video series routinely getting hundreds of thousands of views per video and him having the most subscribers of the four's YouTube channels. While Pat, Woolie, and Liam have attained some success on their own, none of them have reached the same level of views or subscribers as Matt.

    Western Animation 
  • The Venture Bros. has something like this in-universe, as the other members of the original Team Venture never achieved the same level of success as Jonas Venture and have mostly fallen on hard times.
  • The musical incidents of this are parodied in the South Park episode "Guitar Queer-O", in which Stan and Kyle are a Guitar Hero duo that break up when Stan gets a sponsor, leaving Kyle playing in bowling alleys.

    Real Life 
  • Averted with Steve Jobs and Apple. Jobs left Apple in '85 after a power struggle, bought Pixar, and founded his own computer company. Apple, on the other hand, went on to have success with the Macintosh, but started floundering. But just as it was about to slip into this trope, Apple bought Steve Jobs' computer company. Jobs was then reinstated as CEO, and Apple made its comeback. Played straight, however, between Steve Jobs and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Wozniak has his reputation as a jovial geek icon and oodles of Apple stock to fall back on, but he had nothing to do with the company's late '90s resurgence.

Alternative Title(s): The Jannetty