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Career-Ending Injury

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Even in victory, he was still de-feeted.

"I used to be an adventurer like you. Then I took an arrow in the knee."

A Career-Ending Injury is a sudden and unexpected injury or illness that causes disability to a person and forces them to give up their ambitions and dreams.

Usually, this trope involves an athlete getting an injury, but the career can be anything that requires physical and/or mental ability. Likewise, what causes the disability can be something other than an injury (for example, a disease) — the important point is that it prevents the character from achieving their goals by causing a disability.

A variation is where a previously known condition or illness worsens unexpectedly to a point where the character is no longer fit for his/her career. With a character known for being injury-prone or just too stubborn to know when to quit, this injury may represent the writing on the wall.

Sometimes the injury is part of the backstory, but if it happens during the course of the main story, expect Angst.


Very much Truth in Television. In circles such as the police or the military, this is sometimes sardonically called "earning a desk job". With sports where knee collisions are a regular occurrence, the injury might be so bad that standing up (after it healed) without a cane is impossible.

The injury may have started as a Game-Breaking Injury. Compare White-Dwarf Starlet and I Coulda Been a Contender!, common results of this trope, Dream-Crushing Handicap, where the character is disabled to start with instead of becoming so during their career, and Crippling the Competition, where this trope is invoked. If the character overcomes the injury, either temporarily or permanently, then they're Back in the Saddle. If the injury isn't just career-ending but life-ending, then it's an example of Fatal Method Acting. May result in the character taking on a Post-Injury Desk Job.


Conversely, the Deaf Composer doesn't let a little thing like being physically unable to practice their career stop them from doing it.

This is sometimes set up as a twist or a reveal, so beware of spoilers.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In The Animatrix short "World Record", a sprint runner almost exits the Matrix during the record-breaking sprint but is pulled back inside, where his mind decides he has run past his body capacities and breaks said body. He is left in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. But because he knows the truth, with enough effort he can push himself past those limitations. It's left ambiguous how much he can really do.
  • In Banana Fish, Eiji was a talented pole vaulter until he suffered an ankle injury.
  • In Battle Angel Alita, Alita's motorball trainer used to be a racer but had to retire after overuse of reflex-boosting drugs damaged his nervous system. Subverted for Jasugun who knows his brain is dying from being tampered with too much but chooses to die on the track as a champion.
  • Berserk:
    • Guts' foster father has to retire as an active mercenary after a messy leg injury.
    • Averted for Guts himself — one would think that losing a hand would end the career of a fighter who specialises in two-handed weapons, but he is stubborn enough to learn to handle the sword using a prosthetic hand. (A magnet in the hand helps him maintain the grip.)
  • Gerd in Blassreiter was a racing champion who got half-paralyzed. And then ditched by his girlfriend. And then agreed to try "experimental healing".
  • In Captain Tsubasa, this is the reason why Roberto Hongo left soccer. During one of his best matches, he was accidentally elbowed to the head and near his eyes; the brain and optical never damage he sustained severely limited his eyesight, so he had to retire from soccer. He was this close to crossing the Despair Event Horizon and be Driven to Suicide, but Tsubasa and his family helped him through and, in a few years, he built a new and very successful career as a soccer coach.
  • Case Closed:
    • In the second Non-Serial Movie Detective Conan Film 02: The Fourteeth Target, the murderer is revealed to be Kohei Sawaki, a sommelier whose taste buds were destroyed in an accident, taking revenge on the people who in one way or another, ended his career.
    • Similarly, in the fourth Non-Serial Movie Detective Conan Film 04: Captured In Her Eyes, the culprit is Kyosuke Kazato, a surgeon who had the tendons of his right hand intentionally severed by a jealous colleague during a surgery. He switched to become a therapist, but later killed the one who ruined his career... and others who either were involved or found out... and then Ran became his target since she witnessed what was supposed to be his last kill.
    • In the canon case "Kobayashi-sensei's Love", the culprit turns out to be a former baseball prodigy who got two of these. His abusive sponsor started to demand that he paid her the money she invested in his career, and when she crossed the line and tried to force him to sign a life insurance so she'd kill him and then cash on it, he stabbed her to death Additionally, said culprit attempted to use what was left of his baseball skills to try killing the woman who had witnessed his kill... the aforementioned Kobayashi-sensei.
    • Subverted in a filler case: an actor and former acrobat was supposed to have one, but somehow the pain went away some time ago. This allowed him to re-start using his acrobatic skills... to become a thief and later a killer, including a rather spectacular Super Window Jump to escape from the police when he's Out-Gambitted by them.
    • In a manga case, a former basketball player was accidentally elbowed in the eye by a teammate and, as a result, he cannot play any longer. It wasn't an accident: a jealous teammate asked the culprit to do it so he could get in the titular line-up. When the injury definitely took the first player out of the sport, the culprit started blackmailing the jealous guy about it... and ended up dead for it.
    • In one case, the Jerkass father of a rich girl not only forbids his daughter from marrying her pianist boyfriend but stomps on the pianist's hand and breaks it, deliberately ruining the boyfriend's career. The poor piano man commits suicide and the Broken Bird daughter runs away; the father winds up the story's murder victim at the hands of the boyfriend's father.
  • Shuu in Castle Town Dandelion. Back in his childhood, he wanted to be a soccer player — a dream forever denied to him after he broke his right leg trying to save Akane from Kanade's crumbling castle 12 years ago. He's not exactly a cripple, but in the anime, he apparently can't run for any distance and has to rely on his Royalty Superpower, Transporter.
  • Chiyuki, the amnesiac protagonist, from Death Parade was a young professional ice-skater, however, a knee injury left her unable to skate anymore. This caused her to fall into a depression that ended in her Driven to Suicide.
  • In Detective School Q, an Elegant Classical Musician lost her fingers to frostbite when she was caught in a cruel trap coming from her fellow classmates. (They all trained under the same violin teacher and former classical music star.) With her career in tatters, the woman died of suicide out of despair — and her boyfriend killed the others, both as revenge and to make sure that their master's prized Stradivarius violin would not go to the ones who caused his beloved's death.
  • Dragon Ball Z: When Nappa goes after Gohan and Krillin, Goku uses the Kaio-ken to intercept him, striking him in the back and breaking his spine, leaving him paralyzed. Being no longer able to fight, he is killed shortly thereafter by Vegeta.
  • Dragon Ball Super: Renso was forced to retire from being a Captain of Planet Sadal's Defense Squad when he injured his leg.
  • Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte: Endo used to be on the baseball team, but an injury to his shoulder put an end to any dreams of going pro (which were unlikely to begin with, seeing that he was "barely average" in his own words). Shortly after, he met Kobayashi who encouraged him to join the broadcasting club, suggesting that maybe he could become a sports commentator instead.
  • Future GPX Cyber Formula:
    • Almost happens to Hayato and Randoll in the ZERO arc when they suffered serious injuries in a crash at the British GP. They got better and they return to racing (although Randoll takes longer to come back than Hayato).
    • In Bootsvorz's backstory, a nasty crash at a test drive resulted in losing his left eye and arm, but he returned to racing after gaining a new arm and eye.
    • During the German GP, racer Johji Ohtomo crashed, suffering serious injuries. Prior to the crash, Johji and Hayato's Super Asruada had a minor collision, leading Hayato to believe Johji's crash was a result of that incident. In reality, Johji turned off his car's computer because he was overwhelmed by the large amounts of data fed into it, hoping instead to race on his instincts. He crashed soon afterwards.
    • A racer named John Cleab has his racing career ended in a car accident, but it happened outside the race track. And to make it worse, he didn’t disclose his accident to the press because he was worried about a young girl’s future. (He crashed trying to avoid her as she ran into the street playing with her ball.)
  • In the original Gaiking series, the main hero Sanshiro Tsuwabuki was a baseball star until his hands were injured, forcing him out of the game. It turns out his wounds came from a murder attempt by the enemy forces, who were taking out all the prospective candidates to be Gaiking's pilot one by one; as the Sole Survivor of the group, he got lucky enough to be recruited by Gaiking's creator.
  • In Getter Robo Go, Hayato Jin received a number of near-fatal injuries fighting Dr. Lando. He survived, but his wounds were so severe that he can no longer safely pilot a Getter Robo.
  • Gintama: Sakamoto was once a swordsman as skillful as his comrades in the Joui War but has switched to guns in the present. That's because he was busy carrying an injured enemy to safety during the war when somebody —who turns out to be eventual antagonist Batou — attacked him from behind and cut right through his dominant hand, leaving it unfit to ever wield a sword again.
  • Glass Mask has this as Chigusa Tsukikage's background, plus a flashback to it is the starting point of the OAV'. Twenty-odd years ago, Tsukikage was performing her prized Crimson Goddess play but a stage spotlight snapped and fell on her midway through it. It resulted in badly burning/injuring half of her face, to the point that she stopped stage-acting and switched to teaching; it also kickstarted her obsession to find the perfect actress to give her the Crimson Goddess role, which was specifically written for her by her long-lost lover Ichiren Osaki.
  • When the manga H2 begins, baseball players Hiro & Noda both believe they've suffered such injuries. Hiro to his arm, Noda to his back. They soon discover, though, that their supposedly great doctor was unlicensed and they are, in fact, perfectly healthy.
  • Hajime no Ippo
    • Nekota was forced to give up boxing after an illegal punch from his opponent resulted in permanent mid-brain damage and punch-drunk syndrome, although he experienced the symptoms of the latter before the fight (it was from a fight with his friendly rival Kamogawa).
    • Kamogawa himself ended up going through this as well, after subjecting himself to Training from Hell that went far beyond his physical capabilities.
    • Happens more than once in the case of fighters with "glass jaws", like Miyata's father, Nekota and Kamogawa's friend Dankichi Hama, and Ryuuichi Hayami. It's also a potential problem for Miyata, who's implied to have inherited his father's "glass jaw".
  • HuGtto! Pretty Cure:
    • Homare used to be an up-and-coming figure skater with a lot of potential, but a failed jump resulted in an injury that ended her career. Her injury has since healed, but she's still traumatized by it and has distanced herself from anything to do with figure skating. After becoming Cure Étoile, she returns to skating and eventually gets a gold medal in her comeback performance.
    • Henri's leg condition is foreshadowed to end his career as an ice skater. Ultimately Zig-Zagged when his leg is broken due to an unrelated car accident. Then he gets a Disability-Negating Superpower and performs one final skating performance. However the superpower doesn't last and he is seen in a wheelchair after that.
  • Magical Doremi:
    • Doremi and Poppu's mother Haruka was a prospective piano player, but got a severe hand injury and had to give it up.
    • Onpu's mother Miho once was a promising Idol Singer in training but during an audition, she took a severe Staircase Tumble and the wounds she sustained forced her to retire. This is why she's a borderline Stage Mom to Onpu: her kid is naturally talented and likes the spotlight, but in practice, Miho is reliving her tragically lost dreams through her.
  • Eva from Magnetic Rose was an opera star who lost her voice at the peak of her career. This left her a Broken Bird and ultimately a White-Dwarf Starlet.
  • Megalo Box:
    • Subverted by Aragaki: His ring name is "Stayin' Alive" because he was able to return to boxing despite having lost his legs after having them replaced by prosthetics. Double subverted as it's revealed actively boxing is too demanding on his legs and he has to retire before he's left permanently unable to move: His match with Joe was The Last Dance for him and he retires afterwards.
    • Yuri is shown after the Time Skip to be wheelchair-bound and retired as a result of his final match.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • The First-Episode Twist is that All Might suffered a major injury fighting a certain villain in the past, leaving him severely weakened. He chooses the main character, Izuku, as the recipient of his Bequeathed Power, though he remains active in order to help train him. He's finally forced to retire after another fight with All For One leaves him unable to use his powers for more than a few seconds at a time.
    • Also happens to Iida's brother Tensei, who's left paralyzed from the waist down after an encounter with Stain the Hero Killer. It's noted that many other Pro Heroes suffered the same fate.
    • Almost happens to Izuku: being unused to One For All's full power, attempting to use 100% of his quirk causes serious injuries to his limbs. On one occasion when fighting Muscular, he uses 100% power on one of his already broken arms. He is warned that if he continues to use his power so recklessly, he could potentially completely lose the use of his arms, thus forcing Izuku to rethink his fighting style.
    • Another hero plays with the trope: after Ragdoll of the Wild Wild Pussycats team got her Quirk stolen, her career as an active hero went up in smoke. However, when the team made their return, Ragdoll became a Mission Control a la Oracle, still helping her teammates as much as she can.
    • Multiple heroes suffer these kind of injuries during the Paranormal Liberation Front War. One of the most important was Aizawa, who lost both an eye to Shigaraki and a leg voluntarily. This kept the character out of the remaining fights for the series.
  • Naruto: Near the end of the series, Might Guy retires as a ninja after he becomes wheelchair-bound.
  • Shinobu in Princess Army suffers from this after receiving a spinal injury that prevented him from practicing judo.
  • In Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, one of the competitors is a famous British football player who fears that his recent injury will become one of these, which is why he's after the secret to eternal life.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Sayaka's childhood friend Kyosuke is a violin prodigy, until a hand injury rendered him unable to play. His intense depression (up to an Interrupted Suicide in the portable game) prompts Sayaka's contract to heal him.
  • Rideback: Rin gives up being a ballerina due to physical (and mental) injuries caused by a fall.
  • Rurouni Kenshin, being a series about sword-fighting, has several examples, as well as aversions:
    • Discussed with Yuutaro, the second student of the revived Kamiya Kasshin School, who ends up in the way of one of Raijuta's air-slicing attacks that severs the tendons in his sword-arm. While Kaoru and Yahiko mourn the loss of their promising junior, Yuutaro himself declares that if he can't use his right hand anymore, he'll use his left instead...and his rich dad is willing to send him to doctors in Germany to try and repair his right arm anyway. A brief glance at the dojo's wall in the Distant Finale shows Yuutaro listed as a junior instructor.
    • The Meiji government tried to invoke this on Makoto Shishio, Kenshin's successor as Manslayer because they feared his ambition. They jumped him at night, knocked him out, and burned him alive. That certainly ended his old career. Unfortunately for the government, it just made Shishio angry…
    • At the beginning of the "Jinchuu" arc, a flashback shows that near the end of the civil war, Kenshin fought a massive samurai working for the Shogunate and cut off his sword hand. When the samurai demanded Kenshin kill him because of this, Kenshin refused. The samurai did not take the mercy well, and carried a grudge for years.
    • In the finale, Kenshin's career as a swordsman is brought to an end because his fragile build couldn't keep up with the demands of his sword style, resulting in irreparable damage to his muscle tissue. He's just fine with this, however, since he's brought closure to his past and wishes to settle down with Kaoru.
    • Anime-only example: In the first episode, Gohei Hiruma was a former student at the Kamiya Kasshin dojo who harassed and was overly violent towards the other students. In retaliation, Kaoru's father shattered Gohei's right thumb, specifically mentioning this trope as the reason. It doesn't take, as Gohei learns to fight left-handed – which is what clues Kenshin into having Kaoru check her father's old records. During their fight, Kenshin shatters the knuckles on Gohei's left hand, ensuring that he can never hold a sword again.
  • Before he became Yakumo the 8th, Bon of Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu had an injury that caused him to limp and use a cane from a young age. His mother, a Geisha, handed him over to Yakumo the 7th, a rakugo master, as a result of this injury since said injury caused him to be unable to dance. However, since Geisha are exclusively women, Bon would have had to look for a different career anyway.
  • Tiger & Bunny: Superpowers in this series are like muscles; practice using them and you gain stronger powers, but overtax them and they'll burn themselves out faster, or even permanently break.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, losing a limb in battle is pretty much the end of an Investigator's career. It's mentioned that the veterans' old commander, Iba, was forced to retire after losing his arm in battle with the Owl. A decade later, Kuroiwa suffers the same fate. However, the sequel reveals that this was averted by Juuzou — though he lost his right leg in the final battle, he's still going strong thanks to a fancy prosthetic leg.
  • ViVid Strike!: It's mentioned in passing that Jill's career as a competitive fighter ended because of an unspecified injury she suffered in training.
  • Itsuki from Yuki Yuna is a Hero wanted to become a singer however halfway through the series she becomes mute. Subverted eventually, as she is cured in the final episode.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Gordon of Gotham: Detective Soong faces possible mandatory retirement when he loses a kidney after Taking the Bullet for Bullock.
  • Ballistic of Cyberforce was the ace pitcher of her state champion high school baseball team (yes, playing with and against boys). She was likely bound for the big leagues until an abusive boyfriend left her with a paralyzed throwing arm.
  • Doctor Strange: Stephen Strange was a gifted surgeon who lost the dexterity in his hands in a car accident. His quest for a cure eventually led him to the Ancient One, who taught him the mystic arts.
  • One Elseworlds story called Flashpoint (Not to be confused with the Crisis Crossover of the same name) centers around The Flash taking the bullet for JFK, an act that causes him to be paralyzed from the neck down. This, of course, ends his career as the Scarlet Speedster.
  • Subverted with Pizzazz from Jem and the Holograms (IDW). She is the lead singer of a metal band. In one issue she gets into a car accident, which breaks her larynx. She's left out of work for several issues and the band gets up temporarily replacing her. Ultimately, however, Pizazz recovers. Their replacement, Blaze, ends up permanently joining the band.
  • In Justice Society of America, Citizen Steel had hoped to become a professional football player but suffered a severe leg injury that caused his leg to be amputated below the knee. Eventually, comic-book stuff enabled him to grow a new, unbreakable leg (and nearly unbreakable body), although it still doesn't help him go back to playing football since he's now too heavy to run.
  • Batgirl: Barbara Gordon was shot by the Joker and paralyzed in The Killing Joke. Her paralysis ended her career as Batgirl until her solo series Batgirl (2011), 23 years later.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW): "Tempest's Tale (Issues 67 and 68)" expands on Tempest's backstory from the 2017 movie which introduced her. It has her set to go to Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns with her childhood friends before losing her horn to an Ursa Minor (and thus being rendered unable to cast spells normally).note 
  • In NFL SuperPro, Phil Grayfield dreamed of becoming a professional football player before wrecking his knee in an accident.
  • The Order (2007): Several of the Order's members lost their previous careers to injuries.
    • "Calamity" James Wa was a track and baseball star throughout high school and into his college years, due to his phenomenal running speed. He was even on the cover of Sports Illustrated, referred to as "the boy most likely to succeed." Not long after, he lost his legs in a car accident.
    • Milo Fields was a former soldier who was shot through the spine after becoming an anti-war protester.
    • Dennis Michael Murray was a warrant officer who was critically wounded and paralyzed during the incident that led to Tony Stark becoming Iron Man.
  • Punisher Noir: Mobster Dutch Schultz punishes his underlings for their failures by chopping off one of their fingers. One of these is eventually relegated to serving drinks since he no longer has trigger fingers, and when it's pointed out missing fingers also make him less than skillful at pouring, Schultz just shoots him.
  • Robin (1993): Johnny Warren flips out yelling that he's ruined and can't continue his work anymore when his refusal to listen to Robin's warning about what he just did to Johnny's gun causes him to blow his own hand up. Since his work is torturing and killing people Robin's not too upset, and unfortunately, Johnny doesn't stay out of work for long since he gains superpowers soon after.
  • Roy Of The Rovers: The titular character was forced to end his playing career after a helicopter crash that cost him his left foot.
  • Silverblade: In 1939, Vincent Vermillion was a 10-year-old child extra on the set of The Silver Blade who dreamed of being the next Fred Astaire. He agreed to stunt double for child star Bobby Milestone to earn extra money for dance lessons. However, the safety net snapped and he plunged 40 ft into a 2 ft deep moat, shattering his pelvis and breaking both his legs. As a result, he could never dance again.
  • Spider-Man: Curt Connors was a battlefield surgeon with the US Army before losing his right arm to an explosion, which led to him becoming a scientist trying to regenerate his arm and eventually turning into the Lizard.
  • Über: Maria "Katyusha" Andreevna was a fearsome Soviet sniper until she lost her right hand in action and for a time, lamented that she was completely done. When she was augmented into a Halo Battleship, she regrew her hand as a side effect, even though she didn't need it to be a sniper anymore.

    Comic Strips 
  • Downplayed in Safe Havens: after multiple injuries to it over the years, the ligaments of Dave's left knee completely snapped during his final college game (while scoring the championship-winning point, no less). While he was still able to play basketball, that knee injury basically killed any chance he had of playing in the NBA, thanks to the demanding schedule being too strenuous on his knee. He eventually made a career playing for an Italian basketball team (with a much less demanding schedule), leading them to several championships and winning gold in the 2016 Summer Olympics on Team USA's men's basketball team.
  • The Far Side: One cartoon features the caption: "Unbeknownst to most historians, Einstein started down the road of professional basketball before an ankle injury diverted him to science."
  • Striker: Nick Jarvis was forced to end his career when a shark bit his leg. He just barely avoided amputation.

    Fan Works 
  • Rainbow Dash in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Asylum wanted to be a Wonderbolt, like in the main canon, however, a childhood brain injury left her a weak flier. Her career ended before it even began.
  • In the Frozen (2013) fanfic Becoming Free, Freya ends up Taking the Bullet for Elsa, which causes her to have to quit her job working with horses. In order to keep her around, Elsa ends up making Freya into her personal guard.
  • Bluefur's Choice: Lionheart retired very early due to a shoulder injury he received in battle.
  • After Octavia develops arthritis in her hooves in Claro de Luna, she's forced to switch from being a cellist to being a composer.
  • Subverted in Endings. Itsuki wanted to be a singer prior to becoming mute. She still ends up making music thanks to programs such as Vocaloid.
  • In Equestria Girls: Dinosapien, Maia Search's gymnastics career ended when she broke her leg. Although it healed, she still walks with a limp, so she becomes a camp counselor instead.
  • In EVA Sessions: Someplace Vast and Dry, Misato is critically wounded while serving in a JSSDF anti-Other and peacekeeping operation in Indonesia, and because she now requires artificial organs to live, she is no longer fit for front-line duty. Gendo arranges for her to instead transfer to NERV as Operations Director, her canonical role in the original series.
  • Double-subverted with Cinderpelt in The Fire Has Burnt Out. She's capable of being a warrior even with her twisted leg, but she chooses the path of a medicine cat due to bonding with Yellowfang.
  • In Henceforward, Ruby is stabbed by Blake. She survives but is unable to achieve her dreams of becoming a Huntress due to trauma from the injury.
  • Jack O'Lantern: At 14, Sarada is blinded on a mission. She couldn't be a ninja anymore so she was forced to live as a civilian. She ends up getting a job as an evening DJ for a radio station.
  • Lightning Dust gets one in chapter 3 of A Kingdom Divided, after she gets shot by an AA gun and goes through a life-saving Meatgrinder Surgery in a field hospital.
  • The Legend of Genji: Lin Beifong stubbornly held off on retiring from the Republic City police force for as long as she could, but was eventually left with no choice after receiving a bad injury during a case that left her wheelchair bound.
  • Tornface from Little Fires received his re-name after he fell out of a tree and tore half of his face. Eventually, the injury came back to haunt him when he began going blind early. He had to retire from being a warrior because of his blindness.
  • Logtail (formerly Logfur) from Moonlit Path: Disloyal Hearts was forced to retire to the elder's den early after his tail was run over by a car.
  • In the Crossover Ship Fanvid Our Tapes Mio from K-On! gets hit by a bus. The injury leaves her wheelchair-bound. After seeing that she's been replaced in her band, Mio breaks down and is Driven to Suicide, however, her boyfriend (Oreki from Hyouka) saves her. The credits show her picking up the guitar again, meaning it might not be the end of her career.
  • In the My Hero Academia fanfic Peace's Apprentice, Shinsou gets his throat burned by a villain during the USJ attack, leaving him unable to speak and functionally Quirkless (as speaking is necessary to use his Quirk Brainwashing). He then drops out of the Hero course.
  • In Prophecy of the end, near the end Laurel is stabbed through the stomach and put in a coma. When wakes up from it, she's in a wheelchair and laments that it'll be months before she even starts physical therapy, and if she can ever walk again at all, she'll never fully recover. Meaning she'll never be the Black Canary again.
  • A key incident in Project Riribirth is when Riri Williams is so badly injured by a powerful villain that she has to give up being a superhero.
  • Invoked in Risk It All by Ren's Soul-Crushing Strike skill, a punch with explosive force that bypasses attempts to guard against it. Its name is apparently derived from how it crushed the dreams of many a martial artist by ruining them. When going out as a vigilante, this attack leaves multiple members of the mob crippled for life, something that makes Ren uncomfortable.
  • In The Silence Ends, Tyria Sark is offered the first officer slot on the USS Warsaw after her predecessor Commander Azevedo received a medical discharge due to a traumatic brain injury. He apparently recommended her to his captain during a lucid moment.
  • In The Scars That Make You Whole, the Magic Barrier Particles that Laxus absorbed during the battle with Tartarus are becoming this, which leads him to join to Blue Pegasus (which acts as both a wizard guild and a host club) after Fairy Tail's disbandment so he can change career without too many questions.
  • In With Pearl and Ruby Glowing, some characters receive injuries that put an end to their careers, which are usually a direct result of being assaulted.
    • Korra was an athlete, but God's Will First assaulted her for being in a relationship with Asami and broke her spine, resulting in paralysis from the waist down.
    • Danny was framed for raping Darla and this caused him to get raped in prison so many times that he became injured and can't dance anymore. Surgery is an option, but he can't afford it, and even if he could, it might not work.
    • Louis and Odette both received injuries that ended their ballet careers in different ways. Louis was gang-raped and he worsened the damage by going on stage anyway, and Odette injured her leg in a fire.
    • Hercules was raped by Hades, who is his uncle here. He took up wrestling and found that getting pinned down reminded him of his abuse, so he started taking steroids to keep winning. Hercules eventually took too much and suffered a heart attack bad enough that he can't wrestle anymore.
    • Mercury practised capoeira alone at home and wanted to compete, but he tried to use his skills to fight back against his abusive father, who smashed his legs and refused to get him medical help. Both his legs eventually had to be amputated due to gangrene.
    • Inverted in the case of Crushed Ice Chilla; he was originally inspired to become an ice dancer because he saw ice dancing on TV in the hospital where he had his feet amputated. He got good prosthetics and has now been selected for the Olympics.
  • Downplayed and double subverted in You Were My Best Friend. Bloom bumps her head on a recently-bought baby piano while performing her usual dancing routine at Madame Morgana's studio. The accident knocks her out for a whole day but it's not really threatening to her ability to dance. However, her overprotective dad freaks out and forbids Bloom from ever dancing again, effectively ending her career.

    Films — Animation 
  • Cars: Lightning McQueen discovers that Doc Hudson was actually the Fabulous Hudson Hornet, a legendary racecar. Doc ultimately explains that the only reason he "quit" racing was that he suffered a major crash during a race. By the time he could race again, the racing industry merely brushed him off without a second thought.
    [Lightning has just seen Doc's driving and follows him back to his shop]
    Lightning McQueen: Doc, hold it! Seriously, your driving's incredible!
    Doc Hudson: Wonderful. Now go away.
    Lightning McQueen: Hey, I mean it. You've still got it!
    Doc Hudson: I'm askin' ya to leave!
    Lightning McQueen: Come on. I'm a racecar, you're... well, a much older racecar, but under the hood, you and I are the same!
    Doc Hudson: We are NOT the same! Understand? Now, get out!
    Lightning McQueen: How could a car like you quit at the top of your game?
    Doc Hudson: [shocked] You think I quit? [Doc turns on the light to reveal an old framed newspaper of him in a wreck]
    Lightning McQueen: Right... Your big wreck in '54.
    Doc Hudson: They quit on me. When I finally got put together, I went back expecting a big welcome. You know what they said? "You're history." Moved right on to the next rookie standing in line. There was a lot left in me. I never got a chance to show 'em. I keep that to remind me never to go back. I just never expected that that world would... would find me here.
    Lightning McQueen: Hey, Doc, I'm not them!
    Doc Hudson: Oh, yeah?
    Lightning McQueen: No, I'm not!
    Doc Hudson: When was the last time you cared about somethin' except yourself, hot rod? You name me one time and I will take it all back. [Lightning looks defeated] Uhuh. Didn't think so. These are good folk around here, who care about one another. I don't want 'em depending on someone they can't count on.
    Lightning McQueen: Oh, like you? You've been here for how long, and your friends don't even know who you are? Who's caring about only himself?
    Doc Hudson: [angrily] Just finish that road and get outta here! [drives off]
  • McQueen himself would end up in a similar crash in Cars 3, forcing him out of the sport for some time. While he does seek to make a comeback, he ultimately decides on Passing the Torch and becomes a coach for the next generation of racers.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Air Up There: Jimmy Dolan (Kevin Bacon) blew out his knee, costing him a pro career. He becomes a college coach, instead. He still wears his championship ring from 1981 everywhere.
  • Danny Glover's Jaded Washout character in Angels in the Outfield had his career cut short because the villainous sportscaster character deliberately slid into home with his spikes up when they were playing each other years before.
  • The unnamed lead character in the 2018 Canadian short film Attainment (which contains no dialogue) is so obsessed with becoming the best competitive figure skater in the world that he over-trains to the point where he suffers from a complete mental and physical breakdown. His dream is thus shattered and it becomes unattainable.
  • In the initial timeline of Back to the Future Part II, a car accident ends Marty's rock career before it even took off the ground.
  • Joe's knee injury in Bend It Like Beckham, which was caused by his father pushing him too hard.
  • In Bet Your Life, Sonny was an up-and-coming footballer until he suffered a knee injury that destroyed his career.
  • Marvelous Mervo from Blood Harvest was a trapeze artist until he became brain-damaged in an accident.
  • In Bloody Reunion, Dal-Bong used to be the most athletic boy in school. After he came last in a relay, Ms. Park slapped him and made him spend a day doing squats, which later caused him to permanently injure his knee when playing soccer the next day.
  • Body Bags: In "Eye", Brent is a baseball relief hitter who loses his right eye in a car accident. With no depth perception, he can no longer bat at a professional level. He agrees to the experimental eye transplant surgery in an attempt to save his career.
  • In Diggstown, Caine finds out that the once-great boxer Charles Macom Diggs (for whom the titular town is named), was poisoned by Gillon when Diggs refused to throw a fight. The poison and the resulting injuries from the fight paralyze Diggs for life. He manages to move his hand slightly during Roy's climactic fight, giving Roy the strength to continue.
  • The titular character of Doctor Strange (2016) crashed his car at the beginning of the film, leading to nerve damage that caused his hands to shake uncontrollably. Strange was a neurosurgeon before the crash, meaning it was impossible for him to continue working without putting every single one of his patients at enormous risk. It is pointed out that he could still have a long and fulfilling career as a doctor and would be an invaluable resource as a consultant for other neurosurgeons. However, for Strange, medicine holds no interest if he cannot be a surgeon so he wrecks his life looking for a cure for his condition.
  • In A Dog's Purpose, Ethan has to end his football career after his leg is broken.
  • Dr. Terror's House of Horrors: In the "Disembodied Hand" segment, Eric Landor is run over by critic Franklyn Marsh. His injuries result in the amputation of his right hand, destroying his career as an artist. Falling into a deep despair, Landor is eventually Driven to Suicide.
  • In Firestorm (1998), Wynt has his legs badly broken when a trailer flips on him during a Heroic Fire Rescue. The breaks mean he can no longer parachute jump, which forces him to retire as a smokejumper.
  • In Forrest Gump, Lieutenant Dan has to leave the army after losing his legs in Vietnam. He had an ancestor die in "every single American war" and believed the same was supposed to happen to him, so being left alive but unable to fight turns him into an alcoholic mess for a long time. He gets better by the end of the movie, complete with prostethic legs.
  • In Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, Baron Frankenstein has suffered burns to his hands which render him incapable of performing delicate surgery. When a talented young surgeon (and fan of the Baron's work) is committed to asylum alongside him, Frankenstein recruits him as a protege and uses him as a proxy set of hands for surgery.
  • Gattaca: the guy whose DNA the protagonist is using used to be an athlete until an undisclosed incident confined him to a wheelchair. The incident was that he was bred (DNA-wise) as a champion athlete and only achieved a silver medal in the Olympics. He tried to commit suicide and only succeeded in paralyzing himself.
  • Sebastian in The Greatest Show on Earth ends his career as a trapeze artist from performing a dangerous trick.
  • In The Hand, cartoonist Jon Lansdale loses his right hand in a freak car accident. Although all he wants to do is draw, his doctor tells him the prosthetic will never have the fine control to allow him to do that.
  • In The Hands of Orlac, concert pianist Paul Orlac's hands are irreparably damaged in a train wreck. This leads to him receiving a hand transplant from an executed murderer, and to him gradually coming to believe that he possesses Evil Hands.
  • In Happy Gilmore, "Chubbs" Peterson was a pro league golfer before a crocodile bit his hand off.
  • In Henry & Verlin, Mabel was a prostitute until she lost her leg, after which most of her clients lost interest in her.
  • Johnny Be Good: When high school football star Johnny is visiting colleges, he meets a middle-aged gas station employee whose football career was destroyed by a leg injury.
  • The Judge: Hank's older brother Glen used to play baseball before a car crash ended his career.
  • Jimmy Dugan in A League of Their Own has his record-setting baseball career cut short when he wrecks his knee. The bitterness is sharpened by the fact that the injury wasn't even in-game, but rather happened when he was falling down drunk and set fire to his own hotel room, hurting himself in the escape:
    Jimmy: I gave away five years at the end of my career to drinking. Five years. There isn't anything I wouldn't give to get back any one day of it.
  • Logan Lucky: Jim Logan was a high school football star on his way to a pro career when he blew his knee out during the biggest game of his senior year: another example of the so-called 'Logan Curse'. At the start of the film, he is working as a bobcat driver for a mining company.
  • In The Man Who Could Cheat Death, surgeon Professor Weiss has suffered a stroke that paralyzes his right hand. The infirmity means that he cannot perform the operation that Bonnet requires, and he attempts to press Dr. Gerard into operating instead.
  • In Max (2002), the titular art dealer was an artist until he lost his right arm in the Third Battle of Ypres during World War I.
  • The sequel to The Mighty Ducks has Gordon Bombay take a knee injury during a minor-league game, ending his NHL career before it begins. Later in the movie, during a pickup game of three-bar, Wolf "The Dentist" Stansson hits him in the same knee.
  • Million Dollar Baby has a very heart-wrenching one of these near the end of the movie. A nasty cheap shot from behind results in Maggie's neck being broken when she lands on a corner stool, resulting in her being paralyzed from the neck down. As boxing was her passion and her life and she will never be able to fight again, Maggie wants to die, and her mentor ultimately makes the decision to give her an assisted suicide.
  • In Molly's Game, Molly's promising career as an Olympic-level skier is cut short when a freak accident on the mount renders her unable to ever compete again.
  • Red Sparrow: Dominika is let go from the Bolshoi Ballet after breaking her leg on stage, and turns to her uncle in the SVR to keep the state paying for her apartment and her mother's medical care. Her uncle also informs her that the danseur she was paired with in the performance caused the injury deliberately because he's sleeping with Dominika's understudy; Dominika breaks into the ballet during practice, catches them together in the ladies' shower, and beats them both senseless with her cane.
  • In Red Tails, Deacon is badly burned in a crash, and is sent home. Junior is half-blinded and should have been grounded, but talks Lightning into putting him back on flying status. He gets shot down soon afterward.
  • Remember the Titans has the automobile accident that ends the football career of star linebacker Gerry Bertier.
  • Walter Cochran in The Replacements (2000). As he explains to Shane, he played one game in the pros, blew out his knee, and then he was done. Now he's a man of God and wants nothing more than to score a touchdown before retiring for good.
  • Lily Stevens in Road House was training to be an opera singer, but her voice gave out and she lost most of the power in it. She now sings in a low, almost whisper-like way.
  • Discussed and subverted in Rocky II. Rocky having his eye cut in the previous film has caused problems for his vision in his right eye, which his trainer Mickey points out makes him unable to defend from that side. Despite this, he still manages to work around it in training and give Apollo Creed a run for his money.
  • The Rookie (2002) (which is Based on a True Story) is about a baseball player trying to come back after a supposed one of these. He made it to the major leagues... then suffered the same injury again, over ten years after the initial injury.
  • See For Me: Sophie's career as a professional skier ends when an illness takes her eyesight.
  • The Scavengers: As a slave, Polie was a heavyweight boxing champion until his lung was punctured by a broken rib. After that, he was transferred to the far more brutal life of a field slave.
  • In Seven Murders for Scotland Yard, Pedro's career as an acrobat came to an end when he injured his knee in a bad fall off the net.
  • At the beginning of Shaolin Soccer, the man who will become the coach to our heroes is a jerkass soccer superstar until the teammate he's been lording it over hires people to cripple the star.
  • Slashers: Devon sustained a concussion during his military service that meant he could never box again. This is what drives him to enter the Slashers programme.
  • Howard Payne in Speed used to be on the SWAT's bomb squad and he was forced to retire when an explosion injured him, resulting in the loss of one of his fingers. Howard's compensation was just a tiny pension and a cheap gold watch, which pissed him off royally since he felt he deserved a lot more for his service. This motivates him to become a terrorist and kicks off the plot of the film where he holds people hostage with his bombs and demands millions of dollars in exchange for their safety.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), Casey Jones mentions at one point that he played a sport (presumably Ice Hockey) professionally, but his career lasted less than a year before he got injured.
  • In Tiger House, Kelly's promising career as a gymnast is ended when her boyfriend Mark accidentally shoots her in the leg with a crossbow.
  • Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie: Rocky breaks his back while practicing for a martial arts tournament, forcing him to pick Justin as his replacement on the team.
  • Bobby Hollerman from Tyson's Run used to be a star college quarterback and Heisman Trophy hopeful, until his shoulder and knee were injured in a game. Now he coaches high schoolers.
  • In Unbreakable, the titular character had an injury in college that made it impossible for him to continue playing football, which he brings up to refute the claims that he is somehow invulnerable to harm or has superpowers. As the movie goes on he remembers that he actually faked the injury, since he knew that college athletes often burnout or can't make it in the pros and he wanted an excuse to get out anyway since his burgeoning romantic interest (and future wife) was studying to be a nurse and put off by the violence of his sport. He told the lie so often that he had forgotten the truth himself.
  • Varsity Blues had its main plot kick off with one of these, with the star Quarterback suffering a knee injury in this form. It's later revealed that he'd sustained a lot of knee injuries, but Coach Klimer had talked him out of getting it treated by a doctor and instead gave him shots of painkillers so he could continue playing.
  • We Too Together: Rob's childhood martial arts teacher used to be a professional fighter until someone broke his legs. At first he was in despair, but he eventually grew to love teaching.

  • Mystery writer Dick Francis, a real-life example of this trope (see the "Real Life" folder), did a couple of stories with Sid Halley, a former jockey who became a detective after a horse crushed his hand in a fall.
  • Apprentice Adept: Stile is a skilled jockey until his knees are shot with lasers during a race. The damage doesn't cripple him, but it restricts his range of movement and prevents him from riding competitively. This is a dual-purpose trap for his enemies, as he'll either be deported if he loses employment while corrective surgery leaves him open to assassination.
  • The Color of Distance: Late in Through Alien Eyes, Ukatonen takes a horrible blow to the head. Even when he's healed, the centuries of skill he's gained in healing and transformation are badly damaged and he can no longer control and soothe those he's linking with, or keep them out.
  • In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Daisy is forced to retire as a ballet dancer after a hit by a cab breaks her leg.
  • A Dog's Purpose:
    • Ethan had to retire from his promising football career after an injury caused by jumping out of his bedroom window during a fire.
    • Ellie was a search-and-rescue dog. During one rescue, she got acid on her nose which killed her sense of smell. She couldn't smell more than a few feet in front of her and thus she was retired.
    • Jakob was Ellie's first handler. He retired after he was hit with a gunshot during a rescue.
  • Dragonriders of Pern:
    • Subverted by Menolly, who injures her hand cleaning fish, and her own mother deliberately stitches her palm up wrong, crippling her hand so she can barely perform routine household tasks (making her even more despised), let alone play any instrument. Her voice and ability to compose are unharmed, however, and after being taken to the Harperhall, she goes through a great deal of physical therapy to help recover from her injury. She eventually reaches the rank of Master in her Craft.
    • Played straight in The Skies of Pern when F'lessan and bronze Golanth are badly injured by wildcats, which puts an end to their life of fighting Thread, but they find new meaning in studying astronomy and helping the other dragons and riders discover a new purpose in protecting the skies from other interstellar debris.
  • The Dresden Files: Michael Carpenter, Knight of the Cross, is terribly injured in the climax of Small Favor, spends a couple of years recovering, and ends up crippled, forcing him to stop fighting evil. Interestingly, this is viewed as the best ending of his career, as Knights that dedicated usually retire in coffins, while Michael can spend the rest of his life with his loving family who won't now be worried for him every time he goes on a mission.
  • The Essex Serpent: Luke Garrett is a talented doctor and surgeon (one-in-a-generation talented), with dreams and big plans for heart surgeries. He's attacked by a guy who previously stabbed his patient, and his hand gets injured. He will never be able to operate again. He actually manages to work in medicine; he's the brain behind many new treatments and surgeries while his close friend George Spencer operates.
  • The First Law: Less a single injury and more a collection of them, Sand dan Glokta, colonel of the King's Own, victor of the Contest, and renowned swordsman, saw a harsh end to his military career when he was captured during a heroic charge against the Gurkish. After two years of constant torture, he was released in a prisoner exchange but reduced to a broken cripple. He joined the Inquisition soon after that.
  • In The Flight Engineer trilogy Commander Peter Raeder, a fighter pilot, had to be retrained as an engineering duty officer (chief fighter mechanic, specifically) after losing a hand in battle. Later in the series, an improved prosthesis gives him the dexterity to fly Speeds again and he's cleared to fly in emergencies.
  • The Four Horsemen Universe: The Winged Hussars have a Tortantula-Flatar pair, Oort and Jeejee, among their Space Marines. Jeejee explains to Hussars Commander Alexis Cromwell that Oort lost part of a leg on a contract. It's not crippling (they have eight of them) but no Tortantula merc unit will hire a maimed one (probably because Tortantulas are Explosive Breeders and there's, therefore, no market pressure). Jeejee ran across her on a station afterward and kept her from getting into the wrong prize-fighting ring; they joined the Hussars later.
  • Narrowly averted in Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen! As pitcher VJ Capello describes in a letter to Vivy, he suffered from a soldier labrum tear while he was in the lower leagues, ruining his fastball. For some time he thought his baseball career was over, until he took up the knuckleball, allowing him to become a famous pitcher anyway.
  • In Harmonic Feedback, Naomi's dad used to work in construction until he fell and injured his back. With no way of getting another job, he took to drinking and started neglecting his kids.
  • Hover Car Racer: Scott Syracuse, Jason's mentor at the International Race School, used to be a champion racer until his neurotransmitters got busted in a crash. Brain damage is the only kind of injury that can't be cured by modern medicine.
  • Into the Drowning Deep: Ray's career as a world-class MMA fighter was cut short by an injury that destroyed both his knees and his savings were exhausted by top-of-the-line reconstructive surgery. Fortunately for him, when he went looking for other work, he ended up speaking to Theo, who had been a sailor until he suffered a major spinal injury and was sympathetic to Ray's situation.
  • Jesse Stone was drafted by the Dodgers and sent to their AAA team (one step below Major League), but hurt his shoulder during a play, and went to work for the police instead, as his strength in the game was throwing. Even when just playing in the local softball game, it still aches years later, and he can tell he has nowhere near the velocity he used to have.
  • John Putnam Thatcher: In Right on the Money, Doug Ecker was raised as the heir to his father's business for twenty-five years before two heart attacks forced him to take early retirement.
  • Johnny Tremain: The title character burns his hand early in the story, meaning he can't be a silversmith.
  • Early on in The Man Who Brought the Dodgers Back to Brooklyn, Daniel "Squat" Malone is poised for a promising career with the LA Dodgers' farm team in Montreal in 1958 and is predicted to become the aging Roy Campanella's replacement as catcher. That comes to an end one icy evening in Ann Arbor, Michigan, while visiting his best friend Bobby Hanes in college; while playing catch with Bobby in the street, a car hits Squat and mangles his legs, requiring one to be amputated, and effectively ends his life as a baseball player.
  • On the Spectrum: Ballerina Catherine Malcolm falls down during a performance. It isn't a heavy fall, but Catherine has osteoporosis due to orthorexia, and her hip breaks. She will never perform again. The accident causes both her and her daughter Clara to realize how serious their eating disorder is, and how much they both need to change.
  • In Run with the Wind, the skilled runner Haiji is still suffering a knee injury that he got in high school (implied to have been caused by intense training and improper maintenance). The injury is frequently in the way of his activities with the Kansei University track team, who are working hard in hopes of running at the prestigious Hakone Ekiden. The team successfully qualifies and Haiji is able to run there thanks to painkillers and sheer will—however, the physical strains are too much for his leg, and after completing his race at Hakone he's no longer able to run. In the epilogue he's noted to have a slight limp on his injured leg, suggesting not even walking normally is something he can do anymore.
  • In the Sherlock Holmes story A Study in Scarlet, Watson has returned to England after having been shot in Afghanistan. This sets him up to meet the world's only consulting detective... and the rest is history.
  • Social Queue: Zoe's dad was in a heavy-machinery accident five years ago, leaving her mom, a nurse, as the sole breadwinner. For a long time, her dad was depressed about not being able to contribute, complete with a Beard of Sorrow, but his mental health improved once he got into cooking.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Bran gets pushed out of a window and is paralyzed from the waist down, destroying any possibility of his ever being a knight which was his dream and a very suitable calling for a younger son of a feudal lord.
    • Willas Tyrell, the heir to Highgarden, was a promising knight until his leg got crushed in a tournament.
    • Jaime Lannister, also known as the best swordsman in Westeros loses his sword-hand, and so far has made little progress at learning to fight left-handed.
  • In Still Alice, Alice has to retire early from her job as a linguistics professor because she develops early-onset Alzheimer's Disease.
  • In Sweet Diamond Dust's short story, “The Strange Death of Captain Candelario”, Pedro's athletic aspirations end when the Missionaries, the local police force, raid Villa Cañona (the slum where he lives) and beat him so roughly he is left with a limp. Irónica, he ends up joining them.
  • In Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez, Diana was a former opera singer who developed vocal cord nodules at the height of her career, forcing her to quit singing. This causes her to become a Stage Mom to her daughter, the protagonist, who is a violin prodigy.
  • Walker's Crossing: Lon Walker can't be a cowboy anymore because he hurt his leg when a horse bucked him off.
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga Miles Vorkosigan's career as a covert agent for the Barrayaran Empire is (seemingly temporarily) de-railed in Mirror Dance by a (temporary) case of death, courtesy of "a well-aimed needle grenade" to the chest. But in the next book of the series, Memory, it turns out that the complications of that needle grenade really did kill off Miles' cover identity, the dashing space mercenary Admiral Naismith: Miles is (forcibly) medically retired, and his life goes in a new and different direction for the rest of the saga.
  • Happens several times in Warrior Cats. For the most part, the cat is already considerably old when it happens:
    • Stonepelt retires early due to a shoulder injury that didn't heal properly.
    • Longtail retires early when he goes blind from infected scratched eyes he received while rabbit hunting.
    • The most notable example in the series, though, is Cinderpelt, whose hind leg was permanently damaged when she was hit by a car when she was only an apprentice. She dreamed of being a warrior but decided to serve her Clan as a medicine cat after it became clear her leg would never heal. She is later reincarnated and is able to become a warrior as Cinderheart.
    • Briarlight, whose spine was broken when a tree fell on her just before she was about to receive her warrior name. Though she survived, her paralyzed hindlegs made her unable to fight or even move around much, so she just helped out around the camp, especially in the medicine cat's den.
    • Subverted with Brightheart. She was mauled by a dog, leaving her missing one eye. Others try to get her to retire. Brightheart, however, ends up becoming a warrior despite her partial blindness.
    • Petalfall had to retire from being a deputy due to epilepsy.
    • Lilywhisker was forced to retire to the elder's den after a tunnel collapse broke her spine and left her unable to use her back legs.
    • Halftail retired early because he couldn't keep balance after most of his tail was lost to a badger.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the World War 2 series The Attackers, one of the female pilots is shot down but manages to crash land her plane. However, in addition to a bullet wound to the shoulder, she also suffers a nasty head injury. The doctors tell her that the brain injury will make her incapable of flying in combat again. She is reassigned to a flight school as an instructor but subverts this trope by tricking another doctor into giving her a clean bill of health and is sent back to her squadron where she continues to fly combat missions. However, in the last episode of the series, this trope is double subverted when the injury catches up to her, she blacks out in the cockpit and is killed.
  • In The Big Leap, Monica shattered her kneecap during rehearsals for Swan Lake, and has been taking steroids in order to continue dancing on point. Eventually it does give out, but she finds that she's able to continue dancing in a small capacity.
  • In Blind Justice, the protagonist is a police officer who is blinded due to an injury he sustains in the line of duty. This would normally end his career but he manages to subvert the trope by suing the police department to get his job back.
  • Bones:
    • There was an episode where the Victim of the Week is a professional motorcycle racer, one of the suspects is a paraplegic former racer whom the victim had "accidentally" caused to crash in a previous race.
    • Booth talks in another episode about wanting to play pro football before hurting his shoulder and opting for the military instead.
  • Cheers established this as the reason Sam left baseball... with a twist.
    Diane: So, why aren't you playing anymore?
    Sam: I developed an elbow problem.
    Diane: An elbow problem?
    Sam: Yeah. Bent it too much.
    [mimes drinking from a bottle]
  • A plot point of Danny Messer's backstory in CSI: NY. He was an aspiring baseball player, but an arm injury forced him to quit (a storyline that was incidentally drawn from the actor's real-life background).
  • Cobra Kai: The climax of Season 2, a bloodbath between Rival Dojos in the halls of West Valley High, sees Robby kicking Miguel over the top balcony and sending him onto the staircase two floors down. Season 3 sees Miguel having to learn how to walk and how to throw punches and kicks again.
  • Lily Flagler from the Decoy episode "High Swing" was a trapeze artist until she fell and broke her back. Her husband quit working as an acrobat to take care of her and started mugging people to feed her opioid addiction.
  • Degrassi
    • Katie injures her knee right before a university soccer tryout and despite being a star player, has to drop her dreams of being an athlete.
    • Jimmy Brooks was shot in the lower back and paralyzed in a school shooting, forcing him to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life and ending any chances of a basketball career. One Degrassi mini showed that had Jimmy never been shot, he would have received a scholarship for playing basketball.
  • An arc in Elementary revolves around Sherlock attempting to avert this. After being diagnosed with Post-concussion syndrome, his health starts taking a turn for the worse. He worries that he'll lose his ability to be a detective, which would subsequently leave him losing his reason for sobriety. The rest of the arc deals with his health issues and his attempts to avoid his illness becoming this trope.
  • The short-lived sitcom Encore! Encore! starred Nathan Lane as an opera singer who retires to the family winery after a throat injury ruins his singing voice.
  • An episode of the revived Fantasy Island had a former high school nerd express his desire to trade places with a football jock from his school, hoping for a glorious career in pro football and ending up with a popular girl. Mr. Roarke obliges. He then does a Time Skip to a high school reunion, where the guys find out that his new life didn't turn out this way. During one of his first games, he receives an injury that permanently ends his career. He does end up with the girl, but they live in a trailer. He works at a department store and, apparently had trouble performing in bed. In the end, he opts to go back to his life, and he then makes it his personal mission to send the jock to college.
  • Kiira in Flesh and Bone is forced to end her ballet career because of a stress fracture to the ankle.
  • One episode of Forever (2014) has Henry trying to determine who kidnapped a prima ballerina and cut off her foot ending her career. He ultimately determines that she arranged for herself to be kidnapped and mutilated, having learned that she had a disease that would have forced her to retire in a year or two anyway; by ending her career this way, she avoids the ignominy of fading out as her condition gets worse and gets to establish a tragic reputation as the prima ballerina who never got the chance to shine.
  • Frasier's dad Martin's bullet to the hip ended his police career.
  • In the pilot for Friday Night Lights Jason is paralyzed in an injury ending his planned career as a football player.
  • In Hawaii Five-0, Kono was on track to a professional surfing career before she injured her knee and had to switch to police work.
  • Joe Dawson in Highlander was a high school football star who got drafted to Vietnam and had his legs blown off.
  • JAG:
    • The series is centered on a Naval Aviator named Harmon Rabb, Jr. He was a carrier fighter pilot, following in his father's footsteps until he crashed his plane in a night landing on an aircraft carrier due to an undiagnosed vision problem. In order to stay in the Navy, he went to law school and became a judge advocate (military lawyer).
    • In Rabb's case, this gets subverted by the beginning of Season 5, where surgery to correct his problem allowed him to resume a career as a fighter pilot. However, he leaves once again for the judge advocate branch because he is going to continually get passed over for squadron command by other aviators who've had longer uninterrupted careers.
    • Also at the end of season 7, Bud Roberts steps on a landmine in Afghanistan and has to struggle throughout the next two seasons to remain in the Navy.
  • In Lodge 49, Dud's hopes of becoming a professional surfer came to a screeching halt after a snake bit him on the foot. The wound never healed properly, and now he can't surf anymore.
  • It happens a few times on M*A*S*H:
    • In one episode, a football player has to have his leg amputated. Feeling angry and bitter about it, he contemplates suicide, thinking that playing football was the only thing that he was any good at. But as he and Radar reminisce about a tough game he played, he remembers the importance of not giving up, so he leaves with the resolve to at least try.
    • In another episode, a concert pianist loses dexterity in his hand. Unlike the football player, he doesn't hold it against his doctor but is still left with a lot of self-loathing and the belief that his gift of music is gone. Major Winchester helps him through it by giving him some sheet music for the left hand only. The man claims that he can't make a career out of those pieces and Winchester is aware of it, but he does this act to show him that, regardless of his physical ability, he still has his gift and encourages him to find other ways to share it with the world. "You and the piano will always be as one."
    • In another episode, an army helicopter pilot is revealed to have diabetes. He kept it a secret for this long by scrounging his own insulin and watching what he consumes. He doesn't want to lose his career as an army pilot, but since it's inevitable when his disease is exposed, he accepts this graciously by the end of the episode and, from what he says, appears at least willing to accept a desk job.
  • In Miami Vice, Crockett played football in college but had to stop after fracturing his knee.
  • Hank from the Midnight Caller episode "Twelve Gauge" used to work in construction. After becoming paralyzed from the waist down in an accident, he feels he has nothing left to live for.
  • In the Mission: Impossible two-parter "The Contender", Barney impersonates an up-and-coming boxer who had to give up fighting after being sent to Vietnam and wrecking his hands rescuing a man from a burning plane, claiming that he had recovered from said injury and was ready to return to boxing. At the end of the second episode, Barney wins the championship and then switches places with the man he impersonated, who tells the press that he suffered another major injury to his hands during the match and would have to retire again.
  • Monk was able to manage his OCD until his wife's death caused a breakdown that made the condition much worse. This ends his career as a police officer.
  • Murdoch Mysteries: In "Hot Wheels of Thunder", prior to the roller races, a Crippling the Competition assault on Miss Palmer ends her skating career.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • In "Abduction", Ray was the star running back of the Eden Park High School football team until he injured his knee, bringing his football career to a swift end.
    • In "Lion's Den", Peter Shotwell was one of the stars of the hugely successful Lewisborough High School wrestling team from 1976 to 1979 but he tore up his left knee, ending his chances of a professional career.
  • Subverted on Raines. Charlie is Raines' former partner on the police force whose career ended when he was hit in a shootout. Afterward, he discusses the cases Raines works and his tendency to converse with hallucinations of the murder victims. At the end of the first episode, it's revealed that Charlie actually died in the shootout and is now another of Raines' hallucinations.
  • The Ranch: Colt hasn't quite given up on football, but three concussions, a bad shoulder, and possibly a bad knee have killed his shot at the NFL.
  • Scream Queens (2015)'s second season has Dr. Brock Holt, who was a brilliant surgeon until he lost a hand in a horrifying garbage disposal accident. After the world's first successful hand transplant, he's back to performing surgery, but reduced to working at the serial-killer-stalked C.U.R.E. Institute (formerly Our Lady of Perpetual Suffering Hospital).
  • On SEAL Team this is a highly likely possibility for all the SEAL characters. They perform extremely dangerous missions and put their bodies through extreme stress.
    • Danny had to retire after barely surviving a bomb blast and is still in a lot of pain.
    • Ray injured his shoulder and lied about going to see a doctor because it could get him pulled from a mission and cost him his combat hazard pay. When someone dies because of the lie, Ray is horribly guilt-ridden but fears that if he comes clean, it will end his career in the Navy.
    • Jason sustains a nasty hit on the head which has him disoriented and hallucinating. He lies about the symptoms to his doctor because he does not want to be taken off the team. When he returns home, the injury flares up again and he has a nasty episode in a restaurant that puts his future as team leader and SEAL in question.
    • A major storyline in late season 2 involves Clay surviving an IED blast but suffering severe shrapnel wounds that leave him with nerve damage in his right leg. He initially shuts down and refuses to even talk to his very worried team after doctors tell him his career may be over. At season's end, it's still up in the air whether Clay will ever be able to return to being a SEAL.
  • John Watson has been invalided home from Afghanistan due to his shoulder injury in Sherlock. His return to England and subsequent need for a flatshare kicks off his first meeting with Sherlock and the rest of the series.
  • Space: Above and Beyond has Lieutenant Colonel T.C. McQueen, who was an elite fighter pilot before he suffered a debilitating head injury in combat. He has enough experience to warrant making him a squadron commander, acting in the role of Mission Control for his young pilots.
  • In Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Agron gets captured by the Romans and crucified. He survives and is rescued, but the damage to his arms prevents him from gripping a sword ever again. He manages to participate in the final battle by having blades strapped to his arm and shield, but he retires from being a warrior afterward.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: The episode "The Menagerie" (largely conceived as a way to use the footage from the unaired original pilot) begins with Spock learning that his former Captain, Christopher Pike, has been severely injured by a radiation leak. While no one could bring themselves to formally revoke his commission, he's clearly not capable of actually performing his duties (or doing much of anything else, for that matter).
  • St. Elsewhere: In "Brand New Bag", Warren Coolidge mentions that his chances of playing basketball in the NBA ended when he hurt his knee. He subsequently dropped out of Carver High School, which he attended in The White Shadow, and became an orderly.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Extra Innings", Ed Hamner was a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers until he severely injured his left knee during a game, giving him a permanent limp.
  • Blues singer Lester Grimes in Vinyl. Mob thugs beat him up and permanently damaged his windpipe, depriving him of his powerful and iconic singing voice.
  • White Collar's Peter Burke was a professional baseball player when he tore his rotator cuff. The injury healed just fine and he was able to play baseball again, though a doctor advised him he could re-injure. Rather than risk losing both his baseball career and the possibility of joining the FBI, Peter opted to quit baseball and simply join the FBI.
  • Tony Micelli of Who's the Boss? was a professional baseball player before a shoulder injury.
  • In The Right Stuff this is a constant fear of the astronauts.
    • Alan Shepard has an undiagnosed condition inner ear condition that causes him to temporarily lose balance and hearing. It should disqualify him from the astronaut program and probably from flying at all. However, it is intermittent and he is able to hide it from NASA till after his historic mission as the first American in space.
    • Chris Kraft badly burned his hand as a child. When he applied for flight training, the damage was deemed too extensive and he was rejected.
    • Subverted with Deke Slayton who lost a ring finger in a farm accident as a child. That finger is deemed non-essential for a pilot and he was accepted for pilot training. He was later diagnosed with heart arrhythmia but it was not deemed serious to ground him. It was then double-subverted when NASA changes its mind and grounds him due to the arrhythmia after all.note 
    • John Glenn is about to be retired from test flying because he is getting too old and his reflexes are not as good as they used to be.
  • Ultra Series:
    • Ultraseven: At the end of the series, Seven's many injuries sustained during all his fights leave him hurt enough that he has to leave Earth lest he dies, leaving his friends and life he made in his human form behind.
    • Ultraman Leo: Seven returns in the first episode to confront Alien Magma and the Giras Brothers, but the trio overwhelm him and break his leg, forcing Leo to rescue him. His leg remains injured even when he takes human form, and the damage sustained through both that and the beatdown given to him by the villains leave him unable to do much fighting, instead becoming a supporting mentor to Leo.
    • Heisei Ultraseven: Ran further with it, showing that Seven was out of commission while recovering on Earth after failing to leave the planet, within the series it took more than 20 years for him to recover.

  • "Knee Reconstruction" by Greg Champion (to the tune of "Eve of Destruction" by Barry McGuire) is about a footballer who injures his knee, is forced to sit on the sidelines for a year while undergoing reconstructive surgery, and then returns, only to injure his knee again.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Such real-life injuries happen often in Professional Wrestling: "Stone Cold" Steve Austinnote , Ted DiBiase, Hayabusa, and Yoshihiro Takayama are just some, and then there are the injuries that weren't only career-ending, but life-ending.
  • An infamous plane crash in 1975 killed its pilot, a man named Joseph Farkas, and also ended the careers of professional wrestlers Johnny Valentine and Bob Bruggers. Future legend Ric Flair was also badly injured in the crash but was able to continue his career after fixing his broken back. Bruggers could have made a comeback but decided to simply retire instead. "Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods was injured as well but made a comeback, and actually returned to the ring two weeks after the crash despite being in horrible pain, just to dispel the rumors that he had been on the plane, as he was a Face and Flair, Valentine and Bruggers were heels, and it would have hurt kayfabe for them to have travelled together.
  • Daniel Bryan was forced to retire from the ring in February 2016 due to concussion issues. However, he would be medically cleared to compete in 2018.
  • Corey Graves' in-ring career was cut short due to concussions. By no means, however, was he done with wrestling, as he would later make his debut at NXT Takeover: R-Evolution as a ringside commentator.
  • Mick Foley whose major injuries and surgeries over the span of his career have effectively retired him from active competition.
  • William Regal has had accumulated injuries and has had major surgeries and eventually had to retire from the ring.
  • Paige had to retire from in-ring competition at only 25 because of neck injuries. That, on top of the wear and tear of wrestling as young as 13.
  • Bret Hart suffered a concussion so severe that any significant blow to the head would give him another concussion. Two years after he retired due to this injury, he suffered a stroke as a consequence of that injury. The cumulative damage from all of these cranial ailments means he cannot safely lift weights or board airplanes, let alone perform in a professional wrestling ring.
  • Darren "Droz" Drozdov was rendered quadriplegic in 1999 after an incident during a recording of WWE SmackDown, where D'Lo Brown botched a powerbomb and accidentally broke his neck (it's been widely agreed to have been a tragic accident out of D'Lo's control, and Droz holds no animosity towards him for the incident). Droz would later become a writer and columnist and has since regained some control of his upper body and arms.

    Religion and Mythology 
  • The Bible lists several types of injuries that disqualify kohenim (Jewish priests) from performing the sacrificial service. Some are temporary, though, and even those under the ban can eat the holy sacrifices.
  • Subverted in Celtic Mythology. Nuada loses his hand in battle against the Fomorians, and since the law says that the king has to be "perfect," he's replaced with Eochu Bres. After Eochu Bres spends seven years letting his Fomorian relatives rule the country, Nuada takes the throne again. Depending on the version, he either a.) used a silver prosthetic, earning him the name "Argetlam" ("silver hand"), or b.) used said silver hand during the seven years Eochu Bres ruled, then got a normal hand thanks to the healing god Miach.

  • Doubt Academy: White uses the threat of this as its second motive. Monobear tells the students that unless a murder occurs within a week, he'll randomly select one of the students and cripple them in a way that'll ruin their SHSL Talent.
  • In The Dao of the Awakened, Hua Yin's Cultivation talent Awakens after his hands are deliberately broken, preventing him from taking on the administration job he's been preparing for his entire life. In an ironic twist, that heals his hands, but as a Cultivator, he is banned from administration work anyway. Later, he learns a rival of his is responsible. His family arranges a long Humiliation Conga for the guy as revenge, ending up with his hands being broken the same way. He is Driven to Suicide as a result.
    Tabletop Games 
  • Played for Laughs (and then played seriously) in Sentinels of the Multiverse. It's established in the backstory that Ambuscade was a former high-profile actor who left his career after suffering an injury to his face. The release of the Villains of the Multiverse set finally showed his face, revealing... it was a tiny scratch on his cheek. Ambuscade is such an egomaniac that a nearly invisible scar made him quit acting. Played seriously in the fight against OblivAeon, where he sacrifices himself to save his friends from the exploding Borr the Unstable. He survives, but is left with hideous scars across most of his body, permanently destroying any hopes he may have had of returning to the screen.
  • Traveller: During character creation, you may suffer a crippling injury in the line of duty, and have the option to undergo a risky medical procedure (which may restore you completely, or kill you - and yes, this is still during character creation). Refusing gives you some stat penalties and forces you to muster out immediately, as you're no longer deemed fit to serve. (You can still be an adventurer.)
  • Warhammer 40,000: Thanks to the prevalence of crude biomechanical limbs, many soldiers can continue serving the Imperium even with lost limbs.
    • However, it's heavily implied that some such soldiers are lobotomized and given cybernetics to function as servitors.
    • Space Marines too heavily wounded even for cybernetics or the Apothecary's skill can be interred in a Dreadnought, a Mini-Mecha that functions as a life-support system and heavy weapons platform at the cot of putting the Marine into centuries-long sleep between battles. Interestingly, Traitor Marines do this as well... except they see it as punishment: Chaos Dreadnoughts have their legs and weapons removed during battles, but they don't get to sleep between battles and are instead chained to a wall, left in total sensory deprivation all the while. Nearly all of them are eventually driven violently insane in the process. That's before constant exposure to the malevolent energies of the Warp inevitably and painfully mutate them into Helbrutes: near-mindless demonic cyborg monsters physically merged with their dreadnoughts that exist in perpetual agony-driven rage. It's little wonder why Chaos Marines consider death preferable to internment.

    Video Games 
  • In Battleborn, El Dragón's arms being ripped off were speculated to be going to be one according to his audio lore challenge. Due to the CWF's prohibition on cybernetically-augmented organics in competition, he was forced into retirement against his will immediately after his match with ISIC, while his injuries were still fresh and being interviewed by a reporter indifferent to the actual seriousness of the matter instead of being treated. Fortunately, though, he was able to eventually squeeze back to the top.
  • In Blue Reflection, Hinako was a promising ballet dancer, but she got into a car accident that injured her knee badly enough that she cannot perform jumps well anymore. When Yuzu and Lime want Hinako to become a Reflector, she only agrees once they tell her that a wish of hers will be fulfilled in return.
  • There's a chance in Crusader Kings II that a character leading troops into battle may suffer a particularly bad blow to the head that renders them incapable, meaning they'll need a regent if they happen to be the ruler. Either way, they'll be of no use whatsoever for the rest of their (often mercifully short) days.
  • Dead Island: The back story for Logan, an ex-football star, involves an injury that was career-ending in more ways than one. He was in a street-racing accident that not only badly injured his leg, but caused a massive scandal.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, all guards share a pool of random sentences, which any of them can say. One of those is the page quote, making it sound like this is the backstory for every single guard. An alternate line spoken by a Stormcloak soldier is that he took a sword to the chest which forced an end to his adventuring career. Parodied in the Dragonborn DLC, where a Khajiit NPC will mention he also used to be an adventurer...until he found a ball of yarn.
  • One of the possible responses from the mess officer on board the Brotherhood of Steel airship Prydwen in Fallout 4 is that he used to be a field scribe until a Deathclaw broke his femur. Averted with Proctor Ingram, who lost her legs, but continues to serve as chief engineer with the assistance of a modified power armor frame.
  • This happens to anyone in later Fire Emblem games that "dies" but is too critical to the plot to be removed (and doesn't cause a Game Over when defeated, as happens to the main characters.) Everyone else is subject to Permadeath.
  • Jagged Alliance 2 has an Alumni page on the AIM (Association of International Mercenaries) website, where among the retired, KIA, and dishonorably discharged, there are also those who suffered injury or had failing health.
  • Coach in Left 4 Dead 2 used to be a pro in football and was well on his way in joining the big leagues. He suffered a knee injury that forced him to retire from the sport and became a high school health education teacher instead. Even with the injury, the Zombie Apocalypse doesn't slow him down from kicking some zombie ass.
  • In Mass Effect 3, Thane Krios's terminal illness known as Kepral's Syndrome finally reaches a point where Thane can no longer reliably perform his job as an assassin. However, this doesn't stop him from intervening to save the salarian Councilor when Kai Leng and Cerberus attack, though the disease does slow him down to the point that Kai Leng is able to mortally wound him.
  • In Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops this is given as the backstory for Lieutenant Cunningham of FOX, a CIA-sponsored black ops organization, as he used to be a soldier during Vietnam but suffered an injury to his leg that required it to be amputated thus ending his career. During the story, he expresses resentment towards the CIA for giving him a desk job after his injury when he used to be a distinguished warrior. A common theme in the overall story of the Metal Gear games is that soldiers are mistreated by their governments, Cunningham being downsized is viewed as another example of this ideal.
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain: Kaz is mutilated after an ambush from the Skull unit, ending his career as a soldier; even if he accepted cybernetic limbs after the events of the game, cybernetic eyes wouldn't be developed until after his death.
  • In Mordheim: City of the Damned, much like the Mordheim tabletop game, troops can suffer permanent debilitating injuries and it's usually best to retire your gravely-injured fighters and replace them with "intact" raw recruits unless they're highly experienced or you're just really attached to them. Having a grizzled old Handicapped Badass Sister Superior with a peg leg, gouged eye, mutilated hand, and a permanently crazed look on her face from that skull fracture, beating Skaven to death with a giant flail is certainly cool, but her multiple wounds will affect her combat performance considerably, plus she won't be able to climb walls.
  • From the Persona series:
    • Anna Yoshizaka of Persona 2 was a star track athlete before being injured in a hit and run. She's depressed as a result, and in Innocent Sin, makes a wish to Joker to heal her legs. She subsequently joins the Masked Circle as an executive.
    • Persona 3's Kazuchi Miyamoto is a sports team member who is seriously risking losing the ability to walk in order to train and win a competition so that he can convince his nephew, who was crippled in an accident, to undergo rehab. Eventually, he quits the team to recuperate.
    • Ryuji Sakamoto, one of the party members from Persona 5, has this as his backstory. He was forced to quit the track team after an Evil Teacher subjected him to Training from Hell, goaded him into attacking him, and broke one of his legs so that the track team could receive less funding than the volleyball team; while he can still walk and run it's not on the same level as he used to. This is one of the reasons he becomes a party member - to get revenge on the teacher.
  • In Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield, in addition to deaths being final like in previous games, characters who are Incapacitated are also permanently out of action.
  • RealityMinds: In Episode 0, a soldier, later revealed to be Silvana's father Deak, gets his eye slashed out by a monster. As a result, he has retired from combat and taken up a clerical position.
  • This is revealed as the back story reason for why Jack Krauser faked his death and defected to Wesker's side in Resident Evil The Dark Side Chronicles. Krauser used to be a special ops soldier who worked alongside Leon but during the course of the mission, a viral entity crippled his arm. Krauser eventually sought out Wesker, who provided a way to heal his arm; out of gratitude, Krauser turned to serve Wesker as his special agent and even got a shapeshifting arm blade/shield out of the deal.
  • In RimWorld, characters can survive a headshot, but if they take damage to the brain, that usually spells the end of their time as a useful member of the colony, as brain damage both severely affects their ability to do anything and is impossible to heal. Only Luciferium can get them back in order, and even then due to lethal addiction issues and limited availability they'll be Living on Borrowed Time.
  • K, the Mikado bartender in Shin Megami Tensei IV, was a Samurai himself until he lost his hand battling demons. He has a scissor-like replacement which doesn't appear to harm his bartending any.
  • After befriending George in Stardew Valley he eventually admits he lost the use of his legs in a mining accident and has been living on disability pay, and out of a wheelchair, since then. He's also bitter about his age, but insists that he'd be a Cool Old Guy if not for the accident.
  • Shotglass, the bartender from the first Wing Commander game, used to be a pilot before he got shot up so bad he couldn't fly. Serving drinks is his way of continuing to do his bit.

    Visual Novels 
    • One of the major reasons for the rift between Tomoya and his father is the fact that after an argument between them turned physical, Tomoya suffered an injury that leaves him unable to lift his right arm higher than his shoulder. This left him unable to play basketball effectively, one of his greatest hobbies. Tomoya's father appears to be deeply remorseful about this, but has no clue how to try to approach his son afterward.
    • Kappei is introduced as a guy that loves running. Though he isn't on an actual team, running brings him the greatest enjoyment out of life. Late in his route, however, he learns that he has cancer in his leg and it has to be amputated. This leaves him in a deep depression, bad enough that he looks to be contemplating suicide, and trying to find a way to snap him out of it forms the crux of the route's climax.
  • Averted with the protagonist of Double Homework. Someone playing for the first time might initially conclude that this is what happened to him after the incident on Barbarossa. Instead, 12 other people died.
  • In his route of In Your Arms Tonight, promising ceramics artist Soji Higayashima has his right hand severely injured in a car accident. The damage is bad enough to impair the mobility of his hand, making him unable to continue in his art. His epilogue suggests that with physical therapy he will recover enough to resume his work.
  • Though he didn't make a career out of it, the protagonist of Missing Stars used to love being active and hiking. However, an accident left him unable to use one of his legs. There's no physical problem with it. Erik's post-traumatic stress causes psychosomatic numbness and pain in his leg. He transferred to a boarding school for teens with mental illnesses in order to improve his mental health.

  • The protagonist of Can't See Can't Hear But Love is a webtoon artist who is forced to quit after he becomes blind due to exertion.
  • Part of why Cookie is Hated by All in Furry Fight Chronicles is that she indirectly caused Freydar, the most popular Combagal at the time, to suffer an injury that ended her career during a match because she overworked her, which was caused by Freydar having a painkiller addiction that led to her injury.
  • This is part of the background detail explanation for the reappearance of Dillon's Old Friend Ray in Sticky Dilly Buns; he was pursuing a career in hockey (presumably ice hockey, given that this is set in Canada), but he's now suffered a knee injury and decided to switch to acting.
  • In Weak Hero, Kenny tries to leave the Manwol Gang so that he can protect his brother and also focus entirely on soccer. Though he expects that they won't let him off easy, he doesn't expect them to permanently cripple his leg, ruining his dream of being a soccer player. This incident is what sets his brother down the path of revenge.

    Web Original 
  • ACTUALLY HAPPENED: In My Mom Entered My Room Without Knocking. Sorry, Mom..., the gymnast falls off a roof and hurts her spine. She's forced to quit gymnastics and turns to curling instead.
  • RWBY: Maria Calavera was a famously skilled Huntress in her youth, but retired after losing both her eyes in a fight. The thing is, it wasn't the loss of her eyes itself that made her retire (Remnant has pretty advanced cybernetics), but the emotional trauma she went through, especially fear that someone would realize she was a Silver Eyed warrior again, and finish the job this time. In her old age, she considers herself a coward and failure for giving up on the Huntress life instead of fulfilling her responsibilities.
  • In Worm, the Director of the local PRT, Piggot, used to be a field agent before she lost her kidneys in a particularly nasty Charlie Foxtrot of an operation.
  • The plot of "no expectation of returns" from you could make a life is about an NHL player trying to help his best friend cope after a wrist injury ends his hockey career.

    Western Animation 
  • Bruce from Batman Beyond gives up crime-fighting due to a heart condition. On its own, it probably wouldn't mean much, but the circumstances caused him to point a gun at someone.
  • This trope is used in The Fairly OddParents The Bronze Kneecap explains that tripping over the Crimson Chin's titular facial feature was what caused him to injure his knee and ended his career. He subsequently smelts all of his bronze trophies and makes them into his villain costume. Timmy views this as a major overreaction and the Bronze Kneecap responds that the Crimson Chin never even said he was sorry.
    • It should also be noted that Timmy unwittingly did the same thing to Mr. Bickles during the episode and manages to evade such extreme repercussions by apologizing and effectively Talking the Monster to Death. (Although Timmy didn't actually injure Mr. Bickles. He just put on a better magic act and consequently drove him out of business.) It's hard to feel sorry for him given that he's basically a spoof of the Wide-Eyed Idealist who has a new "Dream" every single solitary episode. The fact that Timmy ruined one out of countless and merely by being better at it makes Mr. Bickles seem like a stupid selfish baby.
    • This trope is played with for yet another episode. In this one, Timmy cannot sing his part for Mr. Bickles' play because he needs his tonsils taken out. That doesn't stop him from trying to sing anyway. Unfortunately, Mr. Bickles doesn't take it well when Timmy fails due to his aching throat, causing him to drop to his knees and whine about his so-called dream being ruined. This time someone else's career is "ended" by someone else's illness.
  • In Hercules: The Animated Series Achilles survived that arrow to the heel but became a washed-up has-been hero afterward.
  • Kick Buttowski's mother Honey Splash ended her career as a speedboat stuntster because she tore her tendencious ligamental flexor. Kick encourages her to try again years later, but the injury flares up at a plot-appropriate moment.
  • Littlest Pet Shop (2012): In "Lotsa Luck" Mrs. Twombly ended her career in "kung-fu quilting" when she pulled a tendon in her foot after winning a tournament.
  • Ōban Star-Racers: Rick Thunderbolt, the original Earth team pilot, is seriously injured in his first race, leaving him with a nervous system that freezes up at inopportune moments. After some episodes moping about it, he eventually agrees to help train Molly as his replacement.
  • This plays a major role in Eda's backstory in The Owl House. Her father used to be the greatest palisman carver on the Boiling Isles, but one night during a family party she slashed out one of his eyes and mangled one of his hands bad enough to cause nerve damage when he accidentally triggered her owl beast curse with a party popper. She felt so guilt-ridden over this that she ran away from home soon afterwards and did everything she could to avoid seeing him for the next 30 years.
  • Played for Laughs in the Pinky and the Brain episode "Brain's Song" where a movie created by the Brain (meant to be so much of a tearjerker that everyone would be too inconsolable to stop Brain from taking over the world after watching it) depicts Brain as an optimistic young man whose dreams of becoming an all-star football player are crushed when he suffers from "career-ending stomach cramps" in the middle of the big game and can never play football again. Brain's plan nearly succeeds, but Brain suffering from the aftershocks of the rickety make-shift football field his movie was filmed on as he tries to announce his plans to the weeping masses just causes everyone in the world to just start laughing at him instead.
  • Played for Laughs in the VeggieTales story "Sumo of the Opera", where Mikey used to be in wrestling until he injured his knee. He's a grape.

    Real Life 
  • American Football:
    • In one of the most well-known examples from the NFL, Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann was forced to retire after a Monday Night Football game in 1985. On a failed attempt to trick the New York Giants' defense, Theismann was sacked by all-pro linebacker Lawrence Taylor. As Taylor forced Theismann to the ground, his knee came down on Theisman's leg and snapped the tibia and fibula. While this incident helped cement Taylor's fearsome reputation, Taylor himself was clearly horrified and immediately leaped up and called for medical assistance for Theismann as soon as the play ended. Sadly, some fans mistook his frantic motions for help as Taylor celebrating the crippling hit and thought him a dirty player for a while.
    • History would repeat itself when quarterback Alex Smith suffered the same injury as Theismann after a sack by Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt. In an eery coincidence, it happened 33 years to the date of Theismann's injury. With Theismann himself in attendance, no less. Smith returned to the team as a starter two years and multiple surgeries later, even picking up the Comeback Player of the Year award, but lasting pain forced him to retire for good at the end of the season.
    • For most of the history of American Football, rotator cuff injuries to the throwing arm have been a death sentence for quarterbacks. Probably the most tragic case was Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Greg Cook, who after a rookie season in 1969 that left many excited about his NFL future, tore his rotator cuff and was out of football with only that rookie season under his belt.
    • Chicago Bears player Gale Sayers had to retire after injuring first one knee (the one depicted in the film Brian's Song) and then the other, both injuries requiring surgery and extensive rehab. He worked with a group that raises funds for injured players and their families until his death in 2020.
    • Green Bay Packers receiver Sterling Sharpe played for years with an undiagnosed condition affecting the vertebrae in his neck, making him more susceptible to neck injuries. By the time the condition was discovered at the end of the 1994 season, he had already had two significant neck-related incidents in two consecutive games and was told by doctors that he would have to undergo major cervical spine surgery to stabilize his neck or he would be at risk for complications later in life (whether or not he continued to play professional sports). Sharpe initially did not rule out the possibility of resuming his career following the surgery and lengthy recovery, but ultimately retired without ever playing another game.
    • Over a decade later, Packers safety Nick Collins, coming off a huge 2010 season, suffered a herniated disc in an early 2011 game when a routine tackle went horribly wrong and had to have the same kind of surgery as Sharpe. Collins didn't officially announce his retirement until 2014, but he stopped training for a comeback in 2012 after a doctor told him it would be extremely inadvisable for him to play again.
    • There might have been three Manning Brothers in the NFL in the 21st century if eldest son Cooper, who was an all-state wide receiver during his high school days in Mississippi and was considered a hot prospect recruit for Ole Miss, hadn't been diagnosed with a spinal condition that ended his playing days.
    • Detroit Lions guard Mike Utley saw his career end suddenly when an on-field injury to his cervical vertebrae resulted in paralysis. He was immediately left a quadriplegic, though he regained nearly full use of his arms.note 
    • New England Patriots wide receiver Darryl Stingley's football career ended immediately after a devastating hit from Oakland Raiders safety Jack Tatum broke his upper spine in a preseason game. He was left a quadriplegic and died several years later from heart problems related to his paralysis.
    • One of few players to have a significant professional career in two sports, Los Angeles Raiders running back Bo Jackson, suffered a sudden career-ending football injury when he dislocated a hip (with subsequent hip bone fracturing and bone tissue death in the joint) after being tackled on-field. He never played football again, and his baseball career ceased a few years later.
    • Hall of Fame Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin retired suddenly after being tackled hard by Philadelphia Eagles safety Tim Hauck. Irvin suffered a non-life-threatening spinal cord injury on the play.
    • Los Angeles Raiders running back Napoleon McCallum suffered a gruesome leg injury in a 1994 game against the San Francisco 49ers. He completely hyperextended his left knee to almost a 90-degree angle, tore three ligaments, tore the calf and hamstring muscles from the bone, and suffered nerve damage. He recovered, but his career was over as he was never going to be medically cleared to play football again.
    • Pretty much the same thing happened to Marcus Lattimore, a superstar running back for the University of South Carolina. He showed tremendous promise as a freshman in 2010, with reports indicating that he would have been a first-round pick had he been eligible for the 2011 draft. Unfortunately, he tore an ACL in the middle of the 2011 season, followed by an injury similar to that of McCallum in 2012. While he declared for the 2013 draft and was picked in the fourth round, he never played a snap professionally.
    • Heartwarmingly averted a few years later by UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton, who led the Knights to their breakout 2017 season that set the stage for their upcoming move to the Big 12 Conference. The next season, the Knights were unbeaten going into their regular-season finale against archrival South Florida. UCF won, but lost Milton to an injury pretty much identical to that of McCallum and Lattimore (the Knights lost their ensuing bowl game). Milton had to undergo emergency surgery to save the leg and nearly lost it a second time. After nearly three years of rehab, and a transfer to Florida State, Milton saw the field again. While he decided not to risk trying a pro playing career, simply playing again was remarkable.
    • Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier had his spine destabilized in a 2017 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He would never play another down again and announced his retirement three years later. Many fans consider it a miracle that he is able to walk again.
  • Basketball:
    • New York Liberty star Kym Hampton had to retire from the WNBA after injuring her knee.
    • Boban Janković, a Serbian basketball star who played in the Greek league in the early 1990s, was permanently paralyzed after he damaged his spinal cord by headbutting the basket post in response to the referee calling an offensive foul on him with 8 minutes to go in a playoff match. He used a wheelchair for the final 13 years of his life and died of a heart attack at the age of 42.
    • Magic Johnson was forced into premature retirement in 1991 after discovering that he had HIV/AIDS. He briefly returned in 1996 but eventually decided to retire for good. As of 2022, he is very much alive, and may very well break the world record for the longest lifespan after being diagnosed with AIDS, if he continues to manage.
  • Baseball:
    • New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig had to retire from baseball due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (which became known in North America as Lou Gehrig's disease).
    • Sandy Koufax of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, arguably the most dominating pitcher in MLB since the "Dead Ball Era," was forced to retire at age 30 after developing arthritis in his pitching arm.
    • Roy Campanella spent ten seasons as a catcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers but never got to play in Los Angeles. In the offseason of the team's move, he was paralyzed when his rented 1957 Chevrolet sedan hit a patch of ice, skidded into a telephone pole, and overturned. His neck was broken, the fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae in his back were fractured and his spinal cord was compressed. While he was paralyzed from the shoulders down at first (and ended up needing a wheelchair for the rest of his life), extensive physical therapy eventually allowed him to regain the use of his arms and hands.
    • Houston Astros pitcher J.R. Richard's major league career came to an abrupt end after suffering a stroke at age 30. He made a few short-lived attempts to restart his career in the minors afterwards but was unsuccessful.
    • Dave Dravecky, a pitcher for the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants, developed a cancerous tumor in his pitching arm at age 32; he first had surgery to remove the growth and then underwent a year's rehabilitation. His comeback attempt lasted all of two games, when the humerus bone in his pitching arm suddenly snapped in mid-pitch, ending his career for good. Cancer returned to his pitching arm later that year, forcing its amputation.
    • Several players had their careers ruined after getting hit in the head while up to bat. A few examples resulted in their immediate retirement.
      • Hall of Fame catcher Mickey Cochrane's career with the Detroit Tigers ended immediately after he was severely beaned by pitcher Bump Hadley. Cochrane was knocked unconscious and hospitalized in a coma for ten days afterward.
      • Kirby Puckett, Hall of Fame center fielder for the Minnesota Twins, had his playing career end after being hit in the face by a pitch from Dennis Martínez and subsequently developing glaucoma. He never played again.
    • Cleveland Indiansnote  ace pitcher Herb Score was hit in the face by a line drive, and forced to retire. He went on to a long career as the team's radio announcer.
  • Motorsports:
    • Alessandro "Alex" Zanardi, former Formula One and Indy Car racing driver, lost both of his legs in a horrific crash that nearly killed him. He made the best of it and started two new careers. He proved competitive in his first in touring car racing, using a car fitted with hand controls. His second post-injury career as a Paralympic athlete in handcycling was even more successful than either of his auto racing careers. He won three medals, two of them gold, in the 2012 London Paralympics, and did the same in Rio in 2016.
      • However, in a sad postscript, Zanardi suffered another career-ending injury in 2020 during a race when he lost control of his handbike and crashed into an oncoming truck, suffering facial and brain injuries. He was unable to speak for more than six months after the crash and remained hospitalized for nearly a year after that.
    • Didier Pironi was leading the 1982 Formula One World Championship when he crashed into Alain Prost during qualifying for the German Grand Prix and suffered leg injuries severe enough to end his racing career. He ultimately lost the championship to Keke Rosberg by five points.
    • In the second race of the Indy Car doubleheader at Houston in 2013, Takuma Sato got loose and slid into Dario Franchitti's car, sending him twirling into the catch fence. Franchitti suffered a broken back and ankle in the crash, as well as a concussion so severe that he later stated he doesn't remember anything from two weeks before the crash to three weeks after. On the advice of his doctors, he retired from racing a month later. note 
    • Racing driver Tetsuya Ota was forced to quit racing due to losing function in his right arm and leg after a fiery accident in 1998, where his Ferrari spun out and hit an already spun-out Porsche, creating a fantastic fireball and sending him rolling across the track. The first one on scene was another racer with a fire extinguisher to put out his flaming car. Safety marshals arrived over ten seconds later to extract him and take him to a waiting track van (not an ambulance) to go to the medical center. For reference, he spent 90 seconds from impact in his flaming car, long enough that his visor melted and caused facial scarring when he was laid on his back that required plastic surgery to repair.
    • By the end of the 2010 Formula One season, Robert Kubica was widely regarded as a rising star and had a contract in place to drive for Ferrari in 2012. Then, in February 2011, he was involved in a rally crash in which the guardrail penetrated the bodywork and nearly severed his arm. The damage left his arm permanently atrophied and, while he was able to resume his rallying career, it was generally agreed that his F1 career was over. He did manage to make it back into the sport in 2019, but it was clear that he wasn't the same driver anymore, and his comeback lasted only one very disappointing season.
    • NASCAR:
      • Ernie Irvan ended up Double Subverting this with his near-fatal crash at Michigan in 1994.note  While he did get back into the car by 1996, and even won in 1997 at the same track that almost killed him, the simple fact of the matter was that he just wasn't a championship-level driver after the wreck (he had been in the midst of challenging Dale Earnhardt for the 1994 title before the injury), and several more head injuries after his comeback drove him to retire in 1999.
      • Bobby Allison's near-fatal wreck at Pocono in 1988 was a more immediate instance of this, since, as soon as he recovered enough to set up a press conference, he announced his retirement from NASCAR. The fact that he was 50 years old probably helped with that decision.
      • Jerry Nadeau suffered a traumatic brain injury after striking the turn three wall head-on with a hung throttle at Richmond in 2003. Due in part to the lack of understanding about Nadeau's injury at the time, he ended up with permanent brain damage from the resulting swelling, and given that another head injury would likely kill him, he's certain not to be cleared to race ever again.
      • Dale Earnhardt Jr. was sidelined for the back half of the 2016 season due to lingering concussion-like symptoms from earlier crashes. He had previously been sidelined for two races in the fall of 2012 after taking a concussion in a last-lap crash at Talladega. Although he came back for the 2017 season, he chose to retire from Cup racing at the end of that season for the sake of his health, though continues to be a contributor to the sport as the team owner of JR Motorsports and as a lap-by-lap commentator for NBC.
      • Sterling Marlin suffered a terrible crash at Kansas in 2002, which resulted in him missing the rest of the season because he suffered a cracked vertebra in his neck. Although he returned to continue racing, he wasn't the same driver as he was before the injury.
      • The elder Dale Earnhardt's career was never the same after his infamous crash at Talladega in the 1996 DieHard 500, in which suffered a broken collarbone, sternum, and shoulder blade. Before the crash, he was sitting 2nd in points and was in prime position to get his 8th championship. In 1997, he went winless and had to be relieved at the Southern 500 due to having double vision and blacking out, finishing 5th in the season standings. In 1998, he won the Daytona 500, but his decline continued as he became seen as a "restrictor plate track" driver and finished 8th in the standings. In 1999, he won 3 times, sweeping Talladega and picking up a controversial win at Bristol, and improved to 7th in the standings. In 2000, he had a resurgence after getting offseason surgery to correct a lingering injury from the said 1996 crash. He won the fall Talladega race and the spring Atlanta race, but still struggled at intermediate tracks. He finished a distant 2nd in points to Bobby Labonte in his last full season. Then he was killed in a crash on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.
  • Cycling:
    • Colombian cyclist Mauricio Soler crashed on the 6th stage of the 2011 Tour de Suisse. At the time, he was in second and had won the second stage, as well as generally looking to be at the top of his form. He crashed going downhill at 80 km/h, and suffered a fractured skull, cerebral edema, other fractures, and hematomas, to the point where he had to be put in a medically induced coma. Over a year later, he announced that he wouldn't try to return to the sport.
    • Kristina Vogel had a serious cycling accident in June 2018, rendering her paraplegic. This is especially tragic since she was a world-class cyclist that had won several cycling races in her career, including the Olympic Games.
  • Figure skating:
    • Skaters in general are very susceptible to this trope, both because they're participating in a sport that involves moving at a fast speed on a sheet of ice using razor-thin blades, not to mention jumping and spinning very fast in the air, and painful falls when things go wrong. Men's singles skaters are considered old in their late twenties, and ladies' skaters can be forced to retire from injury even sooner. Some coaches' beliefs that athletes must be overworked to reach their full potential does not help matters, either.
    • Evgeni Plushenko developed a back/spinal problem, aggravated by his work on quadruple Lutzes and Salchows. It would eventually get bad enough that he had to withdraw after the short program warmup for the 2014 Olympics and retire completely from the sport afterwards.
    • Averted repeatedly with Yuzuru Hanyu. He suffered a horrific crash into Yan Han during the free skate warmup to the 2014 Cup of China and had to go into surgery for the extensive injuries sustained, as well as the aftereffects. It was thought the crash would be his career-ending injury, but as of 2020, he remains the top-ranked men's singles skater in the world at full health. The recurring injury to his right ankle (forcing him to withdraw from competition in 2017 and 2021) was believed to be this as well, but he has recovered from it multiple times, despite having to accept his 2018 Rostelecom Cup gold on crutches and skating at the 2018 Olympics and 2021 Japanese Championship on painkillers for said ankle. He remains on track for his goal to land the quadruple axel, a move previously considered physically impossible.
  • Gymnastics:
    • Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, best known for competing in the 2008 Beijing games, had to retire from gymnastics for good just before the 2012 London games due to a knee injury.
    • Elena Mukhina was left paralysed from the neck down in 1980 while practising the extremely difficult and hazardous Thomas salto, which led to the move being banned for women in competition. As of the 2017-2020 quad, rollout skills (except for a simple dive/hecht roll), including the Thomas salto, have been banned for both men and women.
    • Julissa Gomez was paralysed from the neck down in 1988 after smashing head-first into a vaulting horse. A further non-sporting accident in a hospital killed her a short time later. This incident led to major reforms in vaulting in general.
    • Sang Lan was paralysed from the chest down in 1998 after a simple warm-up move went freakishly wrong because she was distracted by a coach.
    • Little Alexandra Huci of Romania was a shining star on the Romanian junior squad when she suffered a brain bleed due to a congenital defect and lapsed into a coma in 2001. She passed away five days later.
    • Sabina Cojocar was an up-and-coming star for Romania in the early 2000s but was forced to retire a year before the 2004 Olympics due to a hereditary liver condition that made it too difficult for her to train and condition to the extent necessary for elite gymnastics.
    • Kerri Strug's famous vault during the 1996 Summer Olympics would end up becoming her last-ever gymnastics performance, with the ankle injury she sustained forcing her to retire shortly thereafter.
    • In a variation, 2012 Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney sustained numerous separate injuries over the course of several years; she might have overcome any one of them individually, but the cumulative nature of them, as well as the fact that her coaches pressured her to keep training through them, would ultimately prove too much for her body to handle. Maroney, who had at one time professed a desire to be on the 2016 Olympic team, retired in early 2016.
  • Hockey:
    • Toronto Maple Leafs winger Ace Bailey's NHL career came to an abrupt end during the December 13, 1933, Leafs-Bruins game when Eddie Shore, aiming for Red Horner, checked him to the ice and fractured his skull.
    • In one of the most infamous cases of Unnecessary Roughness in NHL history, Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore's career was cut short in 2004 when he was sucker-punched from behind by Vancouver Canucks forward Todd Bertuzzi during a game, knocking him unconscious. Bertuzzi then fell on top of Moore, driving him face-first into the ice, and two of Bertuzzi's teammates piled on. All of this broke three vertebrae in Moore's neck (though, fortunately, he was not paralyzed as a result), left him with a serious concussion, and caused him to suffer several other injuries during the fight that broke out when his teammates rushed to his defense. Despite attempts to stage a comeback the following year, he continued to suffer concussion-like symptoms and was never medically cleared to play again.
    • In 1995, hockey player Travis Roy crashed head-first into the boards and severed his spine, becoming a quadriplegic, just 11 seconds into his first shift as a member of the Boston University hockey team, his boyhood dream.
  • Other competitions:
    • Bill McLaren was on the verge of playing his first game for Scotland's national rugby union team when he contracted a near-fatal case of TB and was forced to give up playing. He went on to become a renowned commentator, earning him the nickname of "the voice of rugby".
    • It was strictly speaking a hobby rather than his career, but Henry VIII of England was very fond of the sport of jousting until a serious accident in the lists stopped him at the age of 44. This was very significant because he seemed likely to die for a while, the shock may have caused his then-pregnant wife to miscarry, and modern historians theorize that he may have suffered brain damage that turned him from a tough but sane and competent king into a dangerous tyrant.
    • Maureen Connolly, one of the greatest women's tennis players of the 1950s, had her career end suddenly when her right leg was crushed in a horse-riding accident at age 19.
    • Dick Francis was a prominent jockey in National Hunt horse racing in the post-WWII era, even winning one British season riding title. However, after a 1957 racing injury, his employer, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, urged him to retire for his long-term health. He agreed with the Queen Mum and started an even more successful second career as an author of crime fiction.
    • Competitors in mind sports suffer career-ending injuries too. Chess grandmaster Milko Bobotsov was a world-class player until he suffered a near-fatal stroke in 1972 after a tournament. He survived but was never the same again.
  • Athletes who became famous as performers:
    • Matt Smith originally wanted to be a professional association footballer and was a rising star as the striker and captain of English Premier League side Leicester City's youth team. However, a back injury put an end to his early career. Considering he's now a world-famous actor and the Eleventh Doctor (and got to show off his still impressive football skills in the latter), we're going to go out on a limb and presume he's not too bitter about it.
    • Dean Cain's college football career was ended by a shoulder injury.
    • Michael Landon was a javelin thrower at USC before he tore his shoulder ligaments.
    • Country Music singer Jake Owen originally wanted to be a professional golfer, but a serious accident while wakeboarding resulted in reconstructive surgery that left him unable to continue.
    • Latin pop legend Julio Iglesias was a goalkeeper for Real Madrid Castilla, the reserve team of the legendary Spanish football club until injuries suffered in an auto accident left him unable to walk for two years. While he was hospitalized, a nurse gave him a guitar to keep his hands occupied, and he discovered a gift for music.
    • Country star Chad Brownlee was a first-round NHL draft pick until he messed up his knee in a game.
    • Rammstein vocalist Till Lindemann had been a competitive swimmer in his youth and even qualified for participating in the 1980 Olympics. A stomach injury (and a falling out with the coaches) had put the brakes on that. It's entirely possible that if his swimming career hadn't been cut short, Rammstein may not have formed at all.
    • A lot of dancers tend to become actors or similar performers later on due to accidents. Summer Glau, for instance, got her start as an actress after a broken toe forced her to put her career as a ballerina on hold.
    • Costas Mandylor was a professional soccer player for both Australia and Greece, but stress fractures to his shins eventually forced him to give up the sport.
  • Gordon Ramsay was originally tipped for a professional football career with top-ranking Scottish side Glasgow Rangers, but a succession of serious leg and knee injuries in his late teens forced him to give up this dream. He turned instead to professional cooking.
  • Acting and performing:
    • Actor Christopher Reeve, best known for his role as Superman in the 1978 film series, was forced to quit acting in 1995 when a cervical spinal injury from a horse-riding accident paralyzed him. However, he would return a few times, in an updated version of Rear Window, and a guest-starring role on Smallville.
    • Dudley Moore's final years saw him slowly succumb to progressive supranuclear palsy, which ended his dual careers as an actor and pianist — he lost a role in The Mirror Has Two Faces due to losing the ability to remember lines (as this happened before the fatal diagnosis; he was regarded as merely unprofessional at best), and the illness slowly robbed him of the dexterity he needed to play piano.
    • Roy Horn, of the stage magician duo Siegfried and Roy, got infamously mauled by a white tiger during a show on October 3, 2003. Their show, until then one of the most successful in Las Vegas history, came to an immediate halt, and the incident was one of the contributing factors (along with protests by animal rights groups and the success of Cirque du Soleil) in ending the use of exotic animals in magic acts.
    • Illusionist Wayne Dobson was a big star in the UK in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He's still very active as a devisor of magic tricks and is well-known and respected in the industry, but hasn't been in the public eye since mobility issues caused by multiple sclerosis led him to step back from performing in the mid-1990s.
    • Akira Kamiya is one of the biggest names of Japanese voice acting in the 1980s to 1990s, best known for Kenshiro, Ryo Saeba, and many, many Hot-Blooded Super Robot Genre protagonists that required him to yell a lot of attack names (chief amongst them is Ryouma Nagare). Not to mention, he tended to reprise the last ones if they reappeared in Super Robot Wars, recording even more yellings. Eventually, his lungs gave out and he has stated that he would no longer be able to make such kind of voice acting anymore, so he either tutors the latter generation of voice actors or does roles that don't require him to yell a lot (for example, the aforementioned Ryo Saeba). This is also why Super Robot Wars slowly phased out the usage of series that starred Kamiya in concern for his lung health.
    • Chris Ayres suffered from end-stage COPD in 2017 which left him hospitalized and necessitated surgery. In the years following, he would take on fewer voice acting roles, with his most famous role, Frieza, being passed on to his understudy Daman Mills (save for Dragon Ball Super: Broly, for which he would reprise his role one final time while being ready to leave the recording booth immediately should a lung transplant be made available). He passed away in late 2021 and will be dearly missed.
    • Tom Kane is a well-known name among the Western animation fans, famous for his near pitch-perfect impersonations of Ian McKellen as Gandalf and Magneto, not to mention his roles as Yoda in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and HIM in The Powerpuff Girls. However, his career was drastically cut short after Kane had a stroke affecting his speech functions. While he recovered, in September 2021 his daughter posted on his Facebook page that he chose to retire early due to long-term apraxia (difficulty in being able to smoothly transition syllables) as a result of the stroke.
    • The '50s Mr. Fanservice Steve Reeves, best known for the 1958 Hercules film, saw the beginning of the end of his career thanks to an on-set injury while shooting the 1959 Sergio Leone Sword and Sandal film The Last Days of Pompeii. Reeves dislocated his shoulder while doing a chariot stunt and re-injured it while shooting an underwater scene, and with each subsequent film, the chronic pain caused by the injury made it increasingly difficult for him to do his own stunts. He made his last movie, the Spaghetti Western A Long Ride from Hell, in 1968 (after a four-year hiatus) and then retired from film, spending the rest of his life as a horse breeder and a natural bodybuilder.
    • Two things are generally held to have killed Rose McGowan's career. The first was the infamous studio mogul Harvey Weinstein having her blacklisted from his productions after she attempted to go public about him raping her. The second, and the one that ensured that her Career Resurrection from Charmed and Grindhouse would be stillborn, was a car accident in 2007 that left her face badly mangled, forcing her to get substantial reconstructive surgery that didn't quite fix all the damage. Since McGowan had been known as a sex symbol before then, an accident like that was especially damaging for her career, and she's mostly been in little-seen indie films since.
    • Most of Bruce Willis' infamous Money, Dear Boy roles from the mid-2010s onward were revealed upon his retirement in 2022 to be the result of a diagnosis of aphasia, a cognitive disorder that makes it difficult to comprehend written or spoken words. Knowing that he wouldn't be able to keep working for much longer as his condition got worse, especially with him having fallen off the A-list since his '90s heyday, he began taking well-paying Advertised Extra roles in Direct to Video films in order to ensure that he'd be able to comfortably retire.
  • Music:
    • Immortal guitarist and lyricist Demonaz Doom Occulta was forced to abandon the former role because of severe tendinitis in his arms, though he is still considered an active member by the band. Demonaz eventually was able to return to playing guitar with the band and took over lead vocals from Abbath after his departure.
    • Former Suffocation guitarist Doug Cerrito will almost certainly never be involved in music again due to crippling arthritis.
    • In 2008, Deftones bassist Chi Cheng was seriously injured in a car accident and died five years later while in a coma.
    • Unearth drummer Nick Pierce narrowly subverted this after sustaining a back injury sometime after joining the band. He left the injury, a slipped disc, only partially treated for several years, and the disc began to calcify and push up against his spine, eventually piercing it and causing it to leak fluid. This led to his leg atrophying to the point that it was beginning to noticeably wither, which eventually forced him to pull off the band's 2016 Fury Tour after playing with excruciating back and leg pain for the first three and a half weeks of the tour. Back surgery to more fully correct the injury wasn't initially as effective as hoped, and he spent the rest of the year on the sidelines working to recover while the band toured with a fill-in.note  He was ultimately able to recover and rejoined the band for a mini-tour at the beginning of 2017.
    • Megadeth broke up from 2002-04 because of Dave Mustaine's subversion due to nerve damage (caused by him falling asleep with his left arm draped over a chair back). Mustaine also became a born-again Christian during his recovery.
    • Ultimately subverted by Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath. On his last day of work in a sheet metal shop, he accidentally cut off the tips of the middle and ring fingers on his right hand. He thought his music career was over until his supervisor played him a record by jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, who only had two fingers on his fret hand. This inspired Tony to continue in music. He made prosthetic tips for the two fingers he lost, then down-tuned his guitar a full step to make it easier to bend the strings. This gave Black Sabbath their signature sound.
    • Subverted by Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen. Despite losing his left arm in a car accident, the band developed a one-armed drumkit for Allen.
    • Shred guitarist Jason Becker was put out of commission due to Lou Gehrig's disease. He can still compose music using a computer, though, so the trope is ultimately subverted.
    • Drake Bell injured his wrist in a way that he supposedly could never play guitar again. It later turned out that he could still play.
    • Blues rock legend Dr. John started out as a guitarist and only switched to the piano (with which he became famous) after he was shot in the hand during a bar fight, suffering a permanent loss of movement in one finger that left it too stiff to play guitar but capable of pressing a key.
    • After suffering a brain aneurysm in 1995, R.E.M. drummer Bill Berry left the group in 1997 and became a farmer, but has occasionally returned to one-off performances, like R.E.M.'s 2007 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
    • AC/DC:
      • Lead singer Brian Johnson retired from touring in 2016, with the official reason for his departure being hearing problems that made it unsafe for him to continue performing with the band. Johnson himself, however, claims that his hearing problems were not caused by performing, but from neglecting to wear ear protection during a car race, and that the other members of the band blew his injuries out of proportion to justify forcing him out.
      • Co-founder Malcolm Young was forced to retire when he was diagnosed with early-onset dementia. He died sometime later.
    • Jeff Becerra, frontman of Possessed, was shot and left paralyzed in a botched robbery in 1989. Ultimately subverted in that while he can no longer play the bass, he still performs lead vocals.
    • Ex-Morning Musume member Aika Mitsui had to graduate from the group earlier than she wanted, due to a particularly bad foot injury. After spending a few years in New Zealand to study English, she now mainly works under Hello! Project as a reporter and middleman for overseas promotion.
    • Averted by Marc Almond. In 2004, he was involved in a motorbike crash that nearly left him dead and might easily have ended his singing career. However, within a few years, he had recovered sufficiently to start singing again.
    • Indie rockers The Long Blondes disbanded in 2008 after guitarist and lyricist Dorian Cox suffered a stroke. While he survived, Cox was unable to play guitar for several years and the band decided not to continue without him.
    • Quincy Jones was forced to quit playing the trumpet after suffering an aneurysm. The doctors had to implant a steel plate which they feared could come loose if he were to play again. He has since turned to producing music.
    • Cellist Jacqueline du Pré was forced to retire from performing in 1973 at the age of 28 due to multiple sclerosis. The disease would eventually claim her life 14 years later.
    • Two members of The Dillinger Escape Plan suffered career-ending injuries. Bassist Adam Doll was paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident, while guitarist Brian Benoit suffered nerve damage in his hand.
    • Subverted by guitarist Les Paul, who shattered his right arm and elbow in a car accident, and while doctors were able to save the arm, the elbow could not be repaired, which would normally mark the end of one's instrument-playing days since the arm would have to be set in a fixed position. However, Paul's music was so important to him that rather than give it up, he had the doctors permanently set his arm to the angle he needed it to be at to play the guitar.
    • Subverted by Judas Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton. In February 2018, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, leading the band to hire Andy Sneap to take his place in live shows.
    • Narrowly averted by Yngwie Malmsteen after he managed to crash his car into a tree. Resulting in him spending almost a week in a coma and doctors believing that he would lose all feeling in his right arm. While the latter fortunately didn't end up happening, the experience combined with his mother dying from cancer around the same time almost made him give up on music. And his following album (Odyssey) had a much more somber tone than his prior works.
  • Dance:
    • Soloist Kathryn Morgan of the New York City Ballet was five years into a very promising career (she was on the fast track to becoming a principal ballerina with the company) when she was hit by Hashimoto's thyroiditis, which unfortunately put an end to her time with the company. She has since made a name for herself as a YouTube dance guru, and after seven years away, subverted the trope when she joined the incredibly well-respected Miami City Ballet as a soloist in 2019.
    • Just barely averted by world-famous ballerina Alicia Alonso, whose struggle with a detached retina and subsequent blindness nearly ended her career. After a third and final surgery, she was put on complete bed rest for a full year. She went on to become one of the greatest prima ballerinas in history.
      Alonso: I danced in my mind. Blind, motionless, flat on my back, I taught myself to dance Giselle.
  • Art:
    • Manga author Daisuke Ashihara succumbed to a form of juvenile arthritis that rendered it incredibly painful for him to draw, such that his series, World Trigger, had to be put on indefinite hiatus in November 2016. This overlaps with a subverted but also downplayed example of Dream-Crushing Handicap, as he had this arthritis from the moment he started his career, and it did hurt for him to draw right from the start, but it didn't become debilitating until later. In late October 2018, he managed to avert this trope, with him recovering enough to continue drawing World Trigger, and with the series moving to a monthly magazine so as not to stress his bones so much.
  • Military:
    • Saint Ignatius of Loyola became a major reformer of the Catholic Church after a cannonball injury to the leg forced him to give up battle.
    • Subverted with General Lefebvre. He was severely wounded in the arm while fighting the Austrians in 1798, which left him unable to exercise command, and he began a career as a Senator instead; indeed, when Napoleon created his eighteen original Marshals in 1804, he was one of the four generals who received the baton as a reward for past service to the Republic and was not meant to see the battlefields again. However, it turned out that the wound was not as crippling as was initially thought, and Lefebvre went on to fight in most campaigns of the Empire, including the invasion of Russia.
    • Played straight in a sense by the infamous turncoat Benedict Arnold. The knee injury sustained at the Battle of Saratoga caused him to be given the military governorship of Philadelphia to recuperate. It was during this time that all the initial charges of using his position to profit were made against him, causing him to seek out the British. He would serve as a general in the British Army, but for all intents and purposes, this was the end of his career in the American Continental Army.
    • Aaron Burr had to resign his commission and leave the Continental Army after a heat stroke during the Battle of Monmouth severe enough to leave him comatose for several days. It became apparent after he woke up that he wasn't going to be in any shape to do much of anything, let alone fight. He did eventually end up mostly recovering, and even rejoining the war effort (unofficially), but his health was permanently damaged and he showed symptoms of brain damage for the rest of his life.
  • Politics:
    • Representative Gabrielle "Gabby" Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in the head by a crazed gunman while meeting with her constituents on January 8, 2011. Miraculously she survived, but the extensive recovery and her impaired cognitive and motor skills killed her once-promising political career, and she resigned from her post one year later. She would make a small comeback as a gun control activist, and would later help her husband Mark Kelly get elected to the Senate in 2020.
  • Defied by Chelsie Hill, an aspiring dancer who became a paraplegic after a car accident during her senior year in high school. Rather than giving up on dance, she simply moved to promoting adaptive dancing for people in wheelchairs and started an organization called the Rollettes to inspire other women who use wheelchairs to do the same.
  • Brenna Bean was a talented pole vaulter in high school and was recruited to compete in college; however, a spinal cord injury sustained in a car accident shortly after finishing high school ended this dream, since it left her completely paralyzed from the chest down.
  • Apparently, the shield fracture Eowyn suffers in The Lord of the Rings is Truth in Television for knights and other melee warriors. While her arm heals, this sort of injury would realistically put a shield maiden off the field for the rest of her life. So stop complaining about Chickification.