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Career Resurrection

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From celebrated actor to convicted felon, and then right back to the top.

"You know sometimes failure brings success, and I got the proof:
I heard about a man... who got kicked out of the 5th floor window and landed way up on the roof."

This is what happens when a major star fights off the ill effects of the Hollywood Hype Machine. So they debuted hot and fizzled out. Maybe they were a victim of their own hype. Maybe they made some unfortunate role selections or production choices. Maybe they were injured or ill, or had some demons they couldn't conquer. Maybe she was a White-Dwarf Starlet or a Former Child Star whose career fizzled out. Perhaps they made an ill-fated switch to another medium, or genre and didn't pan out. Or the big star did something dumb and they faded out amongst the uproar.

The bottom line is, their next big thing didn't work. Their career has bottomed out. At best, they take bit roles and second billing to pay the bills. At worst, they can look forward to a long career as a tabloid punchline.

And then, suddenly...they're back! They landed a hot role, signed on to a Sleeper Hit, or broke back into the industry as an Ensemble Dark Horse or what have you. If they were on drugs or had behavior issues, they've cleaned up. If they were always typecast, they show a surprising range. If they were labeled as played out, they manage to innovate their style that refreshes their work and possibly their medium. They've resurrected their careers. And if they're really lucky, they're bigger than they have ever been!


See also Win Back the Crowd and Popularity Polynomial. Contrast Star-Derailing Role and Creator Killer.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Jessica Calvello in Girls und Panzer and Fairy Tail the Movie: Phoenix Priestess. Calvello was originally best known as Excel Excel in Excel Saga, but doing the character's voice put a ton of strain on her vocal cords (this was exacerbated by ADV ignoring her medical professional's suggestions to give her plenty of rest). She quietly moved to New York, but only could have minor roles over there, so she moved back to Texas, returning to major anime roles starting with Girls und Panzer and Fairy Tail the Movie: Phoenix Priestess, then landing high-profile roles like Kanako Miyame in Maria†Holic and Hange Zoe in Attack on Titan.
  • Daisuke Hirakawa in Diabolik Lovers, Free!, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders and Karneval. Hirakawa is also known as the Japanese dub-over voice of both Legolas and Will Turner, but he has received some heat from fans for voicing Makoto Itou. But thanks to his roles as Akari, Laito Sakamaki, Noriaki Kakyoin and Rei Ryugazaki, he became more popular with fans across the globe.
  • Yuki Suetsugu: In 2005, the shoujo/josei author was caught plagiarizing panels from other works, like Takehiko Inoue's Slam Dunk. As a result, the "offending" story Eden No Hana was pulled out of Bessatsu Comic and Suetsugu had to put her whole career on hold. Now, however? Suetsugu is back, due to the success of her story Chihayafuru.
  • Sandy Fox in Sailor Moon (Viz Media re-dub). Originally, she was best known for playing Flonne in the Disgaea franchise, as well as having a few roles in anime before the industry burst in the mid-2000s. Between then and 2015, she mostly worked on video game voiceovers (and mostly humanitarian work) and not so many anime roles. Since her casting as Chibi-Usa, starting in the second season of Sailor Moon, she has become more active again, even landing another anime role in 2015 in Aldnoah.Zero playing Eddelrittuo.
  • Lex Lang in Durarara!! and ADR Director of Yuki Yuna is a Hero: Lang's first big voice-acting role was as Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star. Around the time of the anime industry crash around the mid-2000s, his presence in anime dubs diminished with most of his voice work limited to video games, western animation, and minor roles in Bleach and Naruto (and much like his wife Sandy Fox, has done a lot of humanitarian work in addition to his music career). Around 2015, he returned to the anime voice acting scene as Egor in Durarara!! as well as making his presence as an ADR Director for Aldnoah.Zero and Yuki Yuna is a Hero.
  • CLAMP in Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card: This shojo manga team saw its popularity slowly falter due to the controversial endings of Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- and Xxxholic, sinking even further with the negative reception of 2011's Blood-C. They still continue to write new material, but none of it seems to have made as big of an impact as any of their older stuff. They even put Drug & Drop and Gate7 on hiatus to continue Tsubasa and xxxHolic, but Tsubasa World Chronicle only had two volumes released before it ended in 2016 and xxxHolic: Rei was a Tough Act to Follow due to slow pacing and sporadic release of chapters. That same year, CLAMP decided to continue Cardcaptor Sakura with a brand new Clear Card story arc, with the original staff and cast of CCS' Animated Adaptation returning to produce the anime in 2018. This has also led to CLAMP working on the manga adaptation of the J-drama HIGH&LOW, as well as the character designs for the spring 2017 anime Kabukibu! and Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection.
  • Sakura Tange hit it big in the anime industry with her role as the main heroine of the aforementioned Cardcaptor Sakura, catapulting her to voice-acting stardom (she was also the very first voice for Dead or Alive's Kasumi). In 2000, she left voice acting behind to concentrate on a music career, and when she came back in 2009, she was limited to minor roles due to being out of the industry for a long time. Eventually, she would receive the role of Fate EXTRA's Saber (Nero), bringing her to prominence once again thanks to the Fate franchise's growth in popularity with the release of Fate/Grand Order as well as the expansion of EXTRA's contents, in addition to a role in another growing franchise (Cagliostro from Granblue Fantasy).
  • Mexican voice actor Ricardo Bautista in Diabolik Lovers: Around the mid-Turn of the Millennium, Bautista had a budding career coming from his Tenor Boy voice, which helped him get roles like Hanataro Yamada from Bleach and Komatsu from Toriko. All of this was at serious risk when he had the bad luck of playing Keitaro Urashima in Love Hina, in a dub that was so poorly received it ended up killing the love for the franchise as a whole. A few years later, however, Bautista got the role of Ayato Sakamaki in the Mexican Spanish dub of Diabolik Lovers and the series actually hit it big in Mexico, making him quite more popular and giving him the chance to improve his talent, including Michelangelo in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) and Ty Rux in Dinotrux.

    Comic Books 
  • Dana Simpson had a following in the early 2000s with her webcomic Ozy and Millie, but suffered backlash due to the Author Tract nature of her later works, most notoriously Raine Dog. Things got better, however, when her latest comic, Phoebe and Her Unicorn (originally titled Heavenly Nostrils), debuted in 2012, which gained a strong following among comics readers. Since then, it gained newspaper syndication and book collections are being published by a major publisher.

    Films — Animation 
  • Ellen DeGeneres lost her credibility when her sitcom character on Ellen, and by extension herself, came out as gay in 1998, losing the show most of its sponsors and viewers, and her attempt at starting another sitcom in 2001 was pulled after half a season. Then came Finding Nemo, where her performance as Dory brought her back into the spotlight in probably the biggest way this has ever happened with a voice acting role. Riding the hype and acclaim of the role, Ellen received a talk show and a couple of stints hosting the Oscars, and she's now considered one of America's most beloved celebrities. Thirteen years later, the main draw of Finding Dory was considered to be that DeGeneres was the star.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 2015, the Razzies (the anti-Oscars) introduced a new award called the "Razzie Redeemer Award", where a past nominee or winner had transitioned into a far more critically successful movie. Ben Affleck and Razzie king Sylvester Stallone, who are both listed below, were the first two "winners". Mel Gibson won in 2017 for directing Hacksaw Ridge.
  • Ben Affleck and Gone Baby Gone. After Gigli and his messy break-up with Jennifer Lopez, his career had hit rock bottom. Then in 2007, he made his directorial debut with the critical and commercial success Gone Baby Gone. He followed it up with The Town in 2010, which also received critical and commercial success. He won his second Oscar as a producer in 2013 when his third movie Argo won Best Picture. Unfortunately, 2016 was not a good year for him. Along with the highly divisive critical reception to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (though he has received praised for his performance as Batman), and while his next film, The Accountant was a modest hit, his latest directorial venture, Live by Night, was met with mixed-to-negative reviews and became one of the biggest box office bombs of 2016. Not to mention his crumbling personal life, with his highly public divorce from Jennifer Garner, his brother, Casey Affleck, being accused of sexual assault, and Affleck struggling with alcoholism, it remains to be seen how all this will affect his career.
  • Don Ameche in Trading Places. Ameche was one of 20th Century Fox's biggest romantic stars and light comedians in the late 1930s and throughout the 1940s, starring in numerous successful films such as The Story of Alexander Graham Bell and Heaven Can Wait. After 1949, however, his film career flatlined. He appeared in only five films over the course of the next three decades. His television appearances were more frequent, and he also starred in a few Broadway musicals, but his main income came from dinner theatre. In 1983, the 75-year-old Ameche was cast in the major role as Mortimer Duke in the hit comedy Trading Places, his first film in 13 years. The film brought him back into the Hollywood mainstream after 34 years in the wilderness. He won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his next film Cocoon and worked steadily for the rest of his life.
  • Julie Andrews with The Princess Diaries. She had been an icon in the '60s and '80s for mega-hits like Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. Frustrated at such typecasting, she sought to break away from it, notably in the 1970 flop Darling Lili. Although she succeeded eventually with Victor/Victoria, a botched throat surgery left her iconic voice damaged. It wasn't until this 2001 comedy that she really returned to the public eye, also returning to her Disney roots. She now enjoyed a different Cool Old Lady image, somewhat Adam Westing her previous sweetly persona. She's also enjoyed lots of success as a Celebrity Voice Actor in the Shrek and Despicable Me franchises.
  • Drew Barrymore in Scream. After starting off as a child actress in the blockbuster E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial as well as Firestarter and Irreconcilable Differences during the 1980s, Barrymore's pre-adolescent drug and alcohol problems and her Stage Mom overshadowed her career. While she cleaned up by the early 1990s, by that time her career had been reduced to low-budget, independent movies (which most of the time, seemed to typecast her as a promiscuous, rebellious, and/or out-of-control youth) like Doppelganger, Poison Ivy, and the remake of Gun Crazy, and small roles in major movies like Batman Forever. Her small but memorable role in 1996's Scream brought her more and more A-list friendly roles (beginning with The Wedding Singer), most often of the Romantic Comedy variety.
  • Kate Beckinsale became a star in the early 2000s with Pearl Harbor, and with hits such as Van Helsing, Click, the Underworld (2003) franchise and The Aviator. She took a step back and focused on smaller independent dramas, but the failure of Whiteout became a Star-Derailing Role which was only cemented by the bombing of Total Recall (2012). However she came back to prominence with 2016's Love & Friendship, an adaptation of Jane Austen's Lady Susan - critics calling it her finest work in years. However, her resurrection was instantly negated with the critically despised flop, The Disappointments Room, and the latest Underworld film, which got scathing reviews and became the lowest grossing film in the franchise, setting her career back once again.
  • A film scoring example is Elmer Bernstein. Once a notable name for action films and dramas in the 1950s and 1960s, Bernstein had found himself reduced to scoring mostly TV shows by the 1970s (although even in the 1950s and 1960s he was happy to work in television, a medium he never considered himself above). Then John Landis, who was Bernstein's neighbor as a child, needed someone to score Animal House after the first score was rejected. He suggested Bernstein and the film's success resurrected Bernstein's career, later going on to score many successful comedies as well as thrillers and dramas (he was not only a regular composer for Landis, but for Ivan Reitman and Martin Scorsese as well) until his retirement in 2002 and eventual passing in 2004.
  • Emily Blunt in Into the Woods. After her breakout role in The Devil Wears Prada Hollywood saw her has the next best thing. Unfortunately, after making a bunch of error in film choices, the 2010 comedy flop, Gullivers Travels, being the biggest, it seemed her career was always going to be limited to small indies or supporting roles. Her critically acclaimed performance in the film adaptation of Into the Woods catapulted her back to the A-list - and she enjoyed a much higher profile afterwards, eventually being picked as the new Mary Poppins for Mary Poppins Returns, the sequel to the classic film.
  • Marlon Brando in The Godfather. Brando was a major star in the '50s with classic hits such as A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront. By the 196os, however, Brando's failed movies outweighed his successes, partly due to his temper on set, and most movie studios considered him a risk. Flash forward to 1972, when Francis Ford Coppola was adapting a novel onto the big screen, and he wanted the 47-year-old Brando to play the patriarch of a Mafia family. Paramount finally gave in after Coppola gave Brando a screen test, and The Godfather became an instant classic. Brando won an Oscar for his performance as Don Vito Corleone, and high-profile roles in Last Tango in Paris, Apocalypse Now and Superman soon followed.
  • Josh Brolin in No Country for Old Men. After being considered a rising star in the 1980s following the success of The Goonies, a number of barely released films and short-lived television series derailed him. After spending several years in obscurity in films like Mimic and Hollow Man, he turned it around in 2007 by playing a few villain roles in the critically acclaimed Grindhouse and American Gangster (getting an Oscar nomination for Milk certainly boosted his career as well) and then playing the main character in No Country for Old Men. The role got him a lot of acclaim and, despite an Award Snub and an unfortunate turn in Jonah Hex, he hasn't looked back, with important roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Deadpool 2.
  • The Coen Brothers went through this twice.
  • Jamie Lee Curtis found her career slowing down in the 2000s and announced that she was going into retirement after Christmas with the Kranks flopped. She returned properly to the public eye with a starring role in Scream Queens (2015) - which got her a Golden Globe nomination. She also returned to the franchise that made her famous with Halloween (2018) - which became the biggest commercial success of the franchise and some critics called it her best work in years.
  • Bette Davis pulled this off twice. After transitioning from Broadway to the silver screen, she became one of Hollywood's most respected leading ladies of the 1930s and 40s. But after she had a failed lawsuit against her studio, she found herself doing smaller and smaller films. Then came her famous performance as Margo Channing in All About Eve and the following Oscar nomination. After the buzz from that had died down, she went radically against type as a psychotic White-Dwarf Starlet in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? - and that ensured that she was still working steadily until her death.
  • Johnny Depp arguably underwent this twice, first in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. He started off as Freddy's first victim and later gained notice on 21 Jump Street before breaking through in Edward Scissorhands. After that, his resume is a bit spotty, mixing dubious films (like Don Juan De Marco and Nick of Time) and some hidden gems (Donnie Brasco, Ed Wood and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) along with a lone blockbuster (Sleepy Hollow... like Edward, with Tim Burton). Then he turns up in Pirates, earns an Oscar nomination, signs on for the sequels and renews his partnership with Tim Burton to fantastic results in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Alice in Wonderland (2010). However, although it was a huge hit at the box office, Alice in Wonderland (2010) being heavily criticized with many arguing that Depp had become typecast as an eccentric loner. Depp's next films, Transcendence, The Rum Diary, The Tourist and Mortdecai were outright bombs, and culminated in the massive flop The Lone Ranger. Depp's performance in Black Mass was widely hailed as a return to form and seemed to have restored his critical respectability, but his next film after that, the sequel to Alice in Wonderland known as Alice Through the Looking Glass, irreparably nuked that respectability by being another colossal flop, not helped by his simultaneous domestic violence scandal.
  • Laura Dern was a critical darling in the early 90s, appearing in such acclaimed films as Blue Velvet, Mask, Wild at Heart and Rambling Rose - as well as her prominent role in Jurassic Park. She faced some backlash in her career when she starred in Ellen's infamous "The Puppy Episode" and claims that she didn't work for a full year afterwards because of her role. She kept a low profile in the 2000s but started coming back to prominence in The New '10s. It started with an appearance in the Oscar-nominated The Master and helped by the Sleeper Hit The Fault in Our Stars (which also provided a Career Resurrection for Natt Wolf, see below). She was nominated for an Oscar for Wild and was catapulted to the star-studded miniseries Big Little Lies and got a prominent role in The Last Jedi.
  • Vin Diesel in Fast & Furious. Diesel had started the Turn of the Millennium as an Action Hero with films like The Fast and the Furious, XXX, and Pitch Black before destroying his credibility with action duds like The Chronicles of Riddick and Babylon A.D. and the critically ravaged family film The Pacifier. An attempt to establish dramatic credibility in Find Me Guilty won critical plaudits but no attention from moviegoers. Diesel reestablished his career by returning to the series that made him famous, and now looks to resurrect the Riddick films as well. Furthermore, his status as One of Us has also produced two highly acclaimed Riddick games, Escape from Butcher Bay and Assault on Dark Athena.
  • Robert Downey Jr. (pictured above) in Iron Man. He played a few second-string roles before receiving high critical praise in the biopic Chaplin as Charlie Chaplin, and the sky was the limit. Then his well-documented substance abuse problems pulled him into obscurity for about 15 years. He landed a recurring role on Ally McBeal and would occasionally surface in a big-budget A-list film like U.S. Marshals with Tommy Lee Jones or Gothika with Halle Berry, but never as the first-billed star. He would invariably be seen on the cover of some tabloid and being carted back to rehab shortly thereafter. First he rehearsed a comeback with critically acclaimed roles in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and A Scanner Darkly. Then Iron Man hit, his next film (Tropic Thunder) netted him an Oscar nomination, Sherlock Holmes (2009) won him a Golden Globe, and Iron Man 2 was a box-office smash. He also got top billing in the All-Star Cast of The Avengers, once again reprising what's now his signature role, Tony Stark/Iron Man, a character he has gone on to portray in multiple hit Marvel Cinematic Universe films.
  • Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia. Dunst was an acclaimed child actress who managed to successfully negotiate her transition to adult roles, averting the Former Child Star trope in style with roles in The Virgin Suicides, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and the Spider-Man Trilogy films, among others. She was considered one of Hollywood's most promising young actresses before depression and rumored substance abuse led her to check herself into rehab at the age of 25, and the rest of Hollywood to write her off as yet another party girl burnout. Three years later, she won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011 for her turn as a depressed young bride-to-be in Melancholia. It's a pretty spectacular way to make a career comeback, as these things go. Even director Lars von Trier's inappropriate Nazi joke at Cannes wasn't enough to kill Dunst's momentum.
  • James Fox was a prominent star of the British New Wave in the '60s with prominent roles in movies like The Servant, King Rat and Performance. However, Fox became heavily involved in drug culture, which (along with his father's death) precipitated a physical and mental breakdown. Fox left cinema for 14 years, became a born-again Christian and disavowed his earlier career. In 1984, Fox starred in David Lean's A Passage to India and experienced a major comeback, both as a leading man and popular character actor, appearing in films as diverse as The Remains of the Day, Patriot Games, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Sherlock Holmes (2009).
  • Morgan Freeman in Million Dollar Baby. Gaining momentum in the late 1980s to early-mid 1990s, mostly for his role as a pimp in 1987's Street Smart, he grew to become a household name for African-American cinema and was known for his award-winning performances in Glory, Driving Miss Daisy, The Shawshank Redemption, and Se7en, until he was derailed with the flops of Moll Flanders and Chain Reaction, and he would only play roles as narrators and other supporting roles, until a shed of light appeared, when he was praised for his performance as God in Bruce Almighty. When he won an Academy Award for his role as a former boxer in Million Dollar Baby, he once again returned to A-list status, and it seems he still is not looking back.
  • Jackie Earle Haley in Little Children and Watchmen. Known for his early role in The Bad News Bears, Haley's movie career was sidelined by a reputation as a Former Child Star. He all but retired from acting in 1993 and was forced to take menial work over the years (including a stint as a limo driver) until he started directing TV commercials in Texas. He was remembered by fellow actor Sean Penn (they had co-starred in a play in the early 1980s), who landed him a role in the remake of All the King's Men. It was followed by Little Children, which was critically-acclaimed and gave Haley an Oscar nomination. And then Haley virtually became a fan icon overnight after landing the role of Rorschach in 2009's Watchmen, and he has since become the go-to actor for portraying disturbing anti-heroes and villains. He has since reinvented Freddy Krueger in the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) (and was hailed as a worthy successor to Robert Englund even by those who hated the rest of the film). After Elm Street opened to negative reviews, Haley's time as a leading man quickly died, and he has gone back to supporting roles just like the beginning of his comeback, popping up in a handful of high-profile movies (Dark Shadows, Lincoln, Robocop 2014) and playing a corrupt sleazebag villain with a tragic backstory in the TV adaptation of Preacher.
  • Tom Hardy in Bronson and Inception. After Star Trek: Nemesis crashed and burned at the box office, Hardy fell into a deep depression, which resulted in him losing his girlfriend and turning to alcohol. He ended up beating his depression, and subsequently decided to pull an extreme form of reinvention when he bulked up to play an unrepentant, physically-imposing gangster in Bronson, which won him critical and commercial acclaim. Two years later, he would cement his return by playing the suave con artist Eames in Christopher Nolan's Inception. Hardy is also seen as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, the title character in Venom, and the protagonist of Mad Max: Fury Road in 2015. His Oscar nomination for The Revenant later in 2015 has certainly boosted his stature as well.
  • Woody Harrelson in Zombieland and The Hunger Games. Though pretty much always a sidekick or character actor, Harrelson had a solid run on Cheers for nearly a decade, and turned in a steady string of solid performances in fairly successful films (L.A. Story, Doc Hollywood, White Men Can't Jump, Indecent Proposal, Natural Born Killers) and even earned several award nominations for his turn as "Hustler" magnate Larry Flynt in The People vs. Larry Flynt. After that, he sort of vanished, turning up playing bit parts in major movies, or as a guest star on television series (including a memorable stint on Will & Grace.) However after his memorable turn in Zombieland as gun-toting, redneck, Twinkie-seeking Tallahassee, Harrelson was quickly cast as Haymitch Abernathy in The Hunger Games and found himself back on the A-List, oftentimes in a first- or second-billed role. Since Zombieland and The Hunger Games, Harrelson starred alongside Matthew McConaughey in the runaway HBO hit series True Detective, for which he received an Emmy nomination.
  • Katharine Hepburn: After winning an Oscar for 1933's Morning Glory, Kate seemed to be on the right track; her track record proved to be subsequently shoddy, aside from another Oscar nomination for Alice Adams (1935). By the late 1930s, Hepburn was labeled "box office poison", and subsequently bought out her studio contract. She turned to Broadway and starred in a successful play called The Philadelphia Story, and bought the film rights to the play so she could star in the film. A great risk that paid off, as The Philadelphia Story resurrected Hepburn's career overnight, and a Hollywood legend is born.
  • Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now: Although it seems impossible looking back at his career over the past twenty years, there was a time when Hopper was anathema to studios and audiences. After a meteoric rise to the top in the 1950s with appearances in Rebel Without a Cause and Giant as well later appearing alongside John Wayne in The Sons of Katie Elder and True Grit, and after his directorial debut Easy Rider in 1969, Hopper was on top of the world. However, he became addicted to drugs and alcohol, and had a dissolving marriage to boot. In 1971, Hopper released his second film as a director, The Last Movie, which was a complete flop with audiences and critics. Hopper would disappear into obscurity for years afterwards by hiding out in New Mexico and appearing in a number of low budget films in the 1970s, often as a "tormented maniac", an archetype that landed him a role in 1979's Apocalypse Now. After a failed "suicide" attempt in the early 1980s (it ended up being a stunt), though, he went into rehab and subsequently started a run of critically-acclaimed performances, culminating in his career-defining role as Frank Booth in David Lynch's Blue Velvet.
  • Katharine Isabelle in American Mary. Ginger Snaps made her a "scream queen" virtually overnight, but her career never really took off outside of indie films in her native Canada and bit parts on TV shows. American Mary, however, reignited her career, and she followed it up by playing Margot Verger on Hannibal and Susanna Waite on Being Human (US).
  • Michael B. Jordan in Creed. Michael B. Jordan was already doing quite well for himself until he hit the brick wall that was Fant4stic. Unlike his castmates, Jordan suddenly hit his revival so soon after with Creed, where he played the illegitimate son of the late Apollo Creed and training to follow in his footsteps by his father's former rival Rocky Balboa. This resurgence allowed him to take up the role of the villainous Erik Killmonger in Black Panther, which redeemed him for his earlier comic failure.
  • Michael Keaton in Birdman. Known for his comedic roles in the 1980s, Keaton first hit it big playing the titular role in Tim Burton's Batman (1989). However, once he left after the sequel, his career started a downward swing that was finally destroyed by Jack Frost (1998). The 2000s saw Keaton pursuing a number of secondary roles in lesser films, though he still managed to do some good voice work for Pixar in Cars and Toy Story 3. Birdman, in which Keaton plays a washed-up actor known for a superhero role twenty years ago, earned him a Golden Globe win and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, and set him on the path to become a leading man once again. His next two films, Spotlight and The Founder, opened to excellent reviews, and Keaton's performance as the Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming was acclaimed by fans and critics as one of the best villain performances in, not only the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but superhero movies in general.
  • Harvey Keitel in Reservoir Dogs. Keitel was an up and comer in the 1970s, with his performance in Taxi Driver in particular gaining him favorable attention. He was then cast to play the role of Capt. Benjamin Willard in Apocalypse Now — and was sacked after only a week of filming, to be replaced by Martin Sheen. Although he kept quite busy for the next 15 years, appearing in small roles in many different films, it was not until Quentin Tarantino cast him as Mr. White in Reservoir Dogs that Keitel attracted much attention. Since then, he still acts just as much, but he's far more likely to be playing a leading role (or, as in Pulp Fiction, getting a scene-stealing cameo).
  • Deborah Kerr became a star in her native UK with notable parts in Major Barbara, Love on the Dole and Black Narcissus - the latter of which got the attention of Hollywood. Although she got her first Oscar nomination with Edward, My Son, she soon found herself typecast as an English Rose in Costume Dramas - in what she mockingly called "poker up the arse parts". The low point for her was Young Bess, where she lost out on the lead role and got stuck with the insignificant role of Catherine Parr - which led to her nearly leaving Hollywood altogether. But her next big project was a war drama called From Here to Eternity - which saw her going against type as a depressed adulteress. It broke her out of typecasting, got her another Oscar nomination and secured her status in Hollywood until she retired in the late 60s.
  • Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful 8. Once a big name in The '90s, Leigh had fallen into obscurity since, only taking supporting parts in very low-budgeted independent films. However, since playing Daisy in The Hateful Eight (a part written for Jennifer Lawrence, who turned it down due to scheduling commitments), Leigh has received an Oscar nomination for the part and started becoming involved with high-profile projects once again, including the movies Morgan (which bombed at the box office), LBJ and Annihilation, as well as the series revival of Twin Peaks.
  • Richard Linklater had several. He first made a name for himself with Dazed and Confused and Before Sunrise before spending the years of 1997-2003 making low-key indie projects that got minimal attention, the lone exception being Waking Life and a failed studio project. (The Newton Boys) All that changed when he made School of Rock, His only movie that was a box office smash that helped establish Jack Black as a major star in the process. But a So Okay, It's Average remake of The Bad News Bears and an adaptation of Fast Food Nation for which he was criticized for changing the tone of the novel to an anti-meat Author Tract grounded his career to a halt. Critics and fans began to feel that he had lost his touch. With Me and Orson Welles being under-distributed, many critics, including this very wiki thought his career was good and done for. That is until he reunited with Jack Black for Bernie, made the final part in the Before series, Before Midnight and received an Oscar nomination in the process and with his 12-year project, Boyhood coming out to overwhelming acclaim with many calling it a modern classic, it seems he's back in good graces.
  • Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club. He was a hot young talent in The '90s, starring in such acclaimed films as Dazed and Confused, A Time to Kill, Amistad, and Lone Star. However, he became a walking punchline over the course of the 2000s, with critics savaging his perpetual shirtlessness and his poor choice of film roles and lamenting his squandered potential as a serious actor. Then in 2011, he earned big critical acclaim for his role in The Lincoln Lawyer, and went on to astonish critics everywhere over the next few years with his turns in Mud, The Wolf of Wall Street, Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, the TV series True Detective, and Dallas Buyers Club, which won him an Oscar in 2014. Even the failure of The Paperboy couldn't slow him down. His seeming overnight turnaround from rom-com pretty boy to one of the brightest stars in Hollywood, and his comeback has been dubbed "The McConaissance". Unfortunately, McConaughey has been on a downslide since 2016, with only a few bright spots: Kubo and the Two Strings (which opened to critical acclaim, but flopped) and Sing, which got decent reviews and did well at the box office, becoming his biggest hit domestically.
  • Eddie Murphy in the remake of The Nutty Professor. Murphy was one of the biggest comedy stars of the 1980s, but as time went on, films like The Golden Child and Beverly Hills Cop II tainted his reputation with critics. In the early 1990s, they disappointed financially too (the vanity project Harlem Nights, Vampire in Brooklyn, etc.). He might have gone down as something of a relic of the '80s if not for his multiple-role performance in The Nutty Professor, which was a huge hit. Since then, the quality and financial success of his work has been wildly hit and miss, ranging from Bowfinger to The Adventures of Pluto Nash. He has a Rated G for Gangsta reputation now (due to doing many family films, most famously the Shrek franchise), but he was still an A-lister for much of the 2000s, even receiving an Oscar nomination for Dreamgirls. Unfortunately, in the late 2000s/early 2010s another string of financial and/or critical flops (Meet Dave, Norbit, A Thousand Words), combined with the end of the Shrek franchise, put him back on the scrap heap, outnumbering hits like Tower Heist.
  • Leslie Nielsen in Airplane!. Nielsen had a long career in Hollywood, playing mostly bit parts in films, TV guest shots, with the occasional leading role in a low-budget project. Before 1980, he was probably best remembered for his leading role in Forbidden Planet. After 1980, he was best known as Dr. Rumack in Airplane!, where his deadpan performance made him one of the funniest things in the film. He would go on to play similar roles in an assortment of other, mostly similar comedies, notably Frank Drebin in Police Squad! and The Naked Gun film trilogy as well the lead roles in Spy Hard and Dracula: Dead and Loving It.
  • Gary Oldman in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Batman Begins. He was known throughout the 80’s and 90’s for films such as * Sid and Nancy (1986), The Fifth Element and Leon: The Professional, but by the early 2000’s roles were getting scarcer. He took the role of Sirius Black because he desperately needed the work not having done a film in over a year but this turned out for the best because he not only got to stay with the franchise for multiple films but also was sought out later to play Commissioner Gordon in The Dark Knight Trilogy resulting in the same outcome. The two combined led to his name being known amongst a new generation of fans as well as back into the limelight, including being (finally) recognized by award committees.
  • Anna Paquin in X-Men. Paquin was a fading child star by the end of the 1990s, having never reclaimed the glory she captured with her Oscar-winning turn in The Piano. Then she was cast in X-Men and she became popular as an adult superstar. She continues to remain relevant to this day through her turn on True Blood and continued work in the X-Men Film Series. note 
  • Keanu Reeves in the critically and commercially successful revenge thriller John Wick. During the 1990's and early-2000's, Reeves was established as a successful action star, playing the lead roles in Speed and The Matrix series. However, a rising criticism was his lack of acting range, which got worse when the mid and late-2000's saw him ruthlessly typecasted as The Stoic Action Hero, and his acting soon became the butt of many jokes by critics. His role as the Big Bad in Man of Tai Chi, which also served as his directorial debut, showed promise for him to finally break free of this typecasting, but he suffered a Star-Derailing Role in 47 Ronin shortly after. Initially expected to do poorly, John Wick became a Sleeper Hit, with critics and fans alike praising Reeves's performance as the titular hitman and saying that the role was a perfect fit for him. The film was successful enough to spawn a sequel, and his roles in films since John Wick, such as Knock Knock and The Neon Demon, have had him often Playing Against Type.
  • Julia Roberts in My Best Friend's Wedding. Roberts looked like a rising star with critically acclaimed roles in Mystic Pizza, Steel Magnolias and her Star-Making Role Pretty Woman. Sleeping with the Enemy was panned but did very well at the box office. Her career was derailed slightly by Dying Young and Hook, both of which were trashed by critics. Likewise she suffered Creator Breakdown as her relationship with Kiefer Sutherland fell apart - even fleeing the set of Hook to hide out in Ireland briefly. She took a two year hiatus from acting, and when she returned it was to flops like I Love Trouble, Michael Collins and Mary Reilly. However her next film My Best Friend's Wedding proved to be a return to form. All her subsequent films did good business and she ended up as the highest paid actress in the 90s. An Oscar win later came for Erin Brockovich.
  • Saoirse Ronan: After the critical and financial disasters of The Host and Lost River, many feared she would fade into obscurity and disappear from acting altogether. Two films, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Brooklyn, turned that around, with the latter landing her an Oscar nomination.
  • Mickey Rooney started his acting career at just 17 months, and even in his teens continued his career as the "hyperactive, girl-crazy" Andy Hardy, often together with Judy Garland. Rooney's enlistment in World War II saw his career decline, making a few TV and film appearances after that (most notably in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World). Eventually, in 1979, the 59-year-old Rooney made a comeback with the Broadway play Sugar Babies, to rave reviews. After that, he worked regularly on both screen and stage until his death in 2014.
  • Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler. His career started with high critical praise and success for roles in Diner, 9 1/2 Weeks and Angel Heart. However, much like Downey, his substance abuse problems (and a bizarre decision to get into boxing) would drag him down. He made a series of small, low-budget films for 20 years, until Robert Rodriguez dusted him off to play Billy in Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Marv in Sin City. Rourke then had a supporting role in box office bomb Domino before being cast in a "very close to home" role as a washed-up former pro wrestler in The Wrestler, which netted him an Oscar nomination and a part opposite Downey in Iron Man 2. However, after the failure of Immortals, he has fallen back out of stardom, now mainly appearing in Direct-to-Video films.
  • Mark Ruffalo with The Avengers (2012). He was never derailed, but had remained forever on the B-list in the 2000s. There even used to be a trope called 'Mark Ruffalo Syndrome', about an actor who is eternally stuck in secondary roles. However becoming part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe made him more famous than he ever was - and has led to him taking leading roles in films such as Begin Again, Foxcatcher, Spotlight and netting critical acclaim for The Normal Heart. He's earned two Oscar nominations since.
  • David O. Russell with The Fighter. His first three films were relatively successful. But in 2004, he made I Heart Huckabees, which got mixed reviews, didn't make a profit, and Russell's difficult on-set behavior became more famous than the actual movie. His next project, Nailed, suffered from so much delay, that production was shut down, because the crew was not getting paid. However, in 2010, Russell made The Fighter, which received critical acclaim, was a commercial success and brought him Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Picture. His next two films followed suit. However the Sony email hacks would eventually expose that Russell was back to his old tricks on the set of American Hustle, Amy Adams eventually coming out and confessing to all the abuse she suffered during filming. Not helping matters was the revelation that the film's female leads had been paid drastically lower wages than their male co-stars. His follow-up Joy got mixed reviews and quickly faded from public consciousness - so time will tell.
  • Martin Scorsese has had several:
    • Raging Bull was not a wide commercial success but on a personal and professional level was important in making Scorsese continue to commit himself to narrative film-making and also to make himself more disciplined in both his personal and professional life (such as kicking his drug habit). The Color of Money made in the middle of The '80s likewise became his first major commercial success since Taxi Driver and was important for his career which until had stalled with the first version of Last Temptation being canceled and his other movies getting mixed critical views (even if The King of Comedy is now considered a classic).
    • Cape Fear and GoodFellas more or less gave him Auteur License again and restored his commercial cache and critical reputation, allowing him to make films with bigger budgets and take on uncommercial subject matter like The Age of Innocence and Kundun and still continue to thrive.
    • His career dipped again in The Oughties with Gangs of New York and The Aviator which while profitable were not very big hits and were critically divisive. Then The Departed became a major commercial success, won critical acclaim, got him a long-delayed Oscar and since then most of his movies have been commercial successes (with Hugo and Silence being the only exception though are widely acclaimed).
  • Peter Sellers in The Return of the Pink Panther. Already huge in his native England, he achieved international megastar status over 1963-64 with the first Pink Panther films and his work with Stanley Kubrick. Still, he was so difficult to work with on Casino Royale (1967) that he was fired midway through the shoot, and the disjointed effort to cover up his absence resulted in an over-budget mess he was blamed for. From then on, most of his films flopped. By 1974, some of them weren't even making it to theaters; he barely got by making commercials and television appearances. When he was approached to reprise his Inspector Clouseau character in 1975, he took the opportunity. Return proved so popular that he was immediately back on the A-list. With two more Panthers, Murder by Death, and especially Being There (which netted him a Best Actor nomination, his second), he remained there up until his death in 1980.
  • M. Night Shyamalan: Once hailed as the next Steven Spielberg with The Sixth Sense, Shyamalan's reputation went into the gutter as he became more and more known for being a self-absorbed and pretentious filmmaker with the increasingly ridiculous uses of his Twist Ending that was one of the reasons why he was successful in the first place. Then came the quadruple bogey of Lady in the Water, The Happening, The Last Airbender, and After Earth that bombed critically and/or commercially with most of the film industry thought his career was over. There was talk of a resurrection when, with his back to the wall and $5 million of his own money invested, he made The Visit and received mixed-to-positive acclaim. However, with the release of Split, his career seems to be back in full force, as the movie not only received glowing reviews, but it also ended up making four times its budget on its opening weekend.
  • Sylvester Stallone in Rocky Balboa and Creed. Technically, his first resurrection was with Cliffhanger, that helped him Win Back the Crowd after two horrible comedies. But then his career choices were rather unfortunate (besides the critically acclaimed Cop Land, Demolition Man and a voice acting role in Antz). After some self-parodying in Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, he decided to go back to what started his career. Rocky Balboa was a critical and commercial hit, and allowed Stallone to finally make a fourth Rambo, and follow it with the action film with a dream cast The Expendables. Stallone went through another comeback with Creed, after starring in much-maligned bombs in the last few years, and garnered him critical respect he hasn't seen in a long time, including a Golden Globe win and an Oscar nomination.
  • Robert Stevenson with Old Yeller. Stevenson began his career in 1932 directing English films such as Tudor Rose and the first film adaptation of King Solomon's Mines. His work caught the attention of Gone with the Wind producer David O. Selznick, who was so impressed that he offered Stevenson a contract in 1940, which Stevenson agreed to. However his first American film Tom Brown's School Days was a flop and he spent the next five years bouncing around various Hollywood studios, his movies ranging from the Academy Award-nominated Joan of Paris to doing collaborative work on Forever and a Day. After World War II he spent the next seven years doing a run of crime dramas and film noirs, most of them for RKO and all of which were box office bombs. For most of the 1950s he was stuck doing television work and his story looked set to become a cautionary tale of European auteur directors being swayed by the allure of Hollywood during the golden age... until he was tapped by Walt Disney to direct a two-part episode of the Disneyland television show centered around the story of Johnny Tremain. Disney liked the way that the episodes turned out so much that he released them into theaters as a single film, and proceeded to sign Stevenson to direct Old Yeller. The film became Stevenson's biggest hit at the time and it led him to spend the remainder of his career at Disney, where he directed some of the studio's most famous films of the era including The Shaggy Dog, The Absent-Minded Professor, Mary Poppins (for which he received an Oscar nomination), The Love Bug and Bedknobs and Broomsticks until his retirement in 1976.
  • Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road. After winning an Oscar for Monster, Theron had nowhere to go but up, even getting nominated again for North Country in 2005, but the same year, she starred in the critically and financially unsuccessful Æon Flux. After that, she was relegated to starring in a bunch of forgettable movies. Then, she starred in the 2011 critically acclaimed Young Adult, which firmly placed her back in leading star territory and garnered her a Golden Globe nomination. Since then, she got to be a main character in 2 big films in 2012, Prometheus and Snow White and the Huntsman. 2015 would prove to have a massive start for her with heaps of critical acclaim being given to her for her performance as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road, so much so that most will say it's really her film and Max is just along for the ride and has been cited as the one of the greatest Action Girl performances along with Sigourney Weaver in Aliens or Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games. She is set to co-star in Fast And Furious Eight.
  • Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. She became an "it girl" after Pulp Fiction, only to watch her career crash and burn after Batman & Robin and The Avengers (1998). Fortunately for her, Quentin Tarantino still saw something he liked in her, and gave her the lead role in what turned out to be one of the biggest action flicks of the year. Motherhood dented her career a bit - selling an embarrassing eleven tickets on its opening night in the UK. But she still got an Emmy nomination for her role in Smash, got critical acclaim for The Slap miniseries and doesn't seem to be disappearing without a fight.
  • John Travolta in Pulp Fiction. His career started with iconic roles in Saturday Night Fever and Grease, a respectable run on the very successful sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter and even critical acclaim with Blow Out. He spent most of the 1980s in hiding, emerging briefly in the narmish Look Who's Talking (which was a hit) and its two sequels (which weren't). However, Travolta made his comeback with the iconic Quentin Tarantino Academy Award-nominated hit and followed up with Get Shorty, cementing him as an A-list actor for the following decades. Then, of course, came Battlefield Earth, a passion project based on the works of L. Ron Hubbard that was a Star-Derailing Role that left his career in ruins. After a decade of flop after flop, he's fallen into Direct-to-Video hell.
  • Mara Wilson is a curious case. A child actress in the 90s - famous for Mrs. Doubtfire, the remake of Miracle on 34th Street and her most famous role in Matilda - she retired from acting in her teens, finding it not fun anymore. In her mid-20s however she re-emerged into the public consciousness, as a contributor for Channel Awesome, and also announced her desire to start a career as a writer. With her autobiography being a critical and commercial smash hit, it's certainly a step in the right direction - and she tends to have more fans for her work these days than the films she did as a child.
  • Reese Witherspoon in Wild. Witherspoon was a critical darling with films like Freeway, Pleasantville, and Election, with film magazines praising her as "the next Meryl Streep", and became a star with Legally Blonde, and culminated with an Oscar win for her highly acclaimed turned in Walk the Line. After that, she became in a string of films that either were bombs (Rendition, Penelope), critically panned (Four Christmases), or both (This Means War!, How Do You Know), later being "honored" by Forbes and one of the "most overpaid actors" in Hollywood, 3 years in a row, due to the businesses of those films. Even modest success, like Monsters vs. Aliens and Water for Elephants, didn't do much for her. She attributes this to her divorce from ex-husband, Ryan Phillippe, and just didn't feel passionate about the job. What happened next? After garnering great reviews for her small roles in much-praised films such as Mud and the Paul Thomas Anderson-directed Inherent Vice, she started a production company that produced Gone Girl, a commercial and critical success, and starring/producing Wild, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, giving a performance that has been acclaimed as the best performance of her career and was nominated for an Oscar. She later starred in/produced the HBO miniseries adaptation of the national best-seller, Big Little Lies, also directed by Vallée, and garnered her critical acclaim once again, with critics praising her performance as even better than what she accomplished in Wild. She would later go on to win her first Primetime Emmy Award as a producer when the project won Best Limited Series in 2017 and additionally earned a nomination for Lead Actress. Unfortunately, her film career after Wild hasn’t been too good, suffering critically panned, box office flops such as Hot Pursuit (which she also produced), Home Again, and A Wrinkle in Time (2018), although she did star in Sing, which is the biggest hit of her career. However, while her film career is in doubt, with an upcoming season to Big Little Lies, a brand new show starring her and Jennifer Aniston, and an upcoming miniseries starring her and Kerry Washington, her newfound career in television will ensure she’ll be getting high profile work for years to come.
  • Nat Wolff in The Fault in Our Stars. He had faded into obscurity after The Naked Brothers Band finished its run, but a prominent role as Isaac led to him appearing in films such as Paper Towns and The Intern. He was eventually announced as the headliner of Death Note (2017).
  • A truly unique example comes from the film Amadeus. Before the film, composer Antonio Salieri and his music were mostly forgotten, but the film revived interest in his work. Wikipedia notes how many of Salieri's operas and compositions have since been produced and recorded by modern artists, and festivals and theatres have been named in his honor.

    Live-Action TV 
  • David Caruso on CSI: Miami. He played a bunch of bit parts and minor roles before landing a lead role on NYPD Blue, becoming, as co-star Dennis Franz said, "the hottest thing on television." He left after one season, jumping quickly to what was thought to be a fast track to a film career... which started with such gems as the mixed-reviewed Kiss of Death and the reviled Jade. He faded back into obscurity, except for being in the Russell Crowe flick Proof Of Life. Then, Jerry Bruckheimer cast him as Horatio Caine, and he was back in the limelight.
  • David Morrissey in The Walking Dead. As one of the UK's biggest TV stars in the early 2000s, Morrissey decided to go to Hollywood, and picked out what seemed like the perfect Star-Making Role: Basic Instinct 2. We all know how that turned out. His next role was as the male lead in The Reaping, a horror movie about the Ten Plagues in a small Southern town. That also failed. After disappearing for a few years, he appeared in a Christmas Special of Doctor Who with his friend David Tennant, which turned out extremely well. Then, a few years later, he played The Governor in The Walking Dead, a fan-favorite character. One acclaimed performance later, and Morrissey is more famous than he ever was before.
  • Rob Lowe in The West Wing. Lowe was a rising star in the '80s as a member of the Brat Pack, starring in hits like The Outsiders and St. Elmo's Fire. His career crashed down in 1989 when Lowe was caught filming a sex tape with a 16-year-old. The act was considered legal in Georgia at the time, so his charges were dismissed. Lowe then checked into rehab and became sober. In the early '90s, Lowe started to rebuild his reputation with comedic films Wayne's World and the Austin Powers series; before landing longterm TV success with The West Wing.
  • Natasha Lyonne in Orange Is the New Black. In the late 1990s, Lyonne was a rising star best known for her work in the American Pie franchise. In the 2000s, Lyonne's career bottomed out after she was arrested for various bizarre incidents, and by 2005, she was in the hospital for hepatitis C, a heart infection, and a collapsed lung. She even went through a methadone treatment for a heroin addiction and had track marks on her body. In 2008, Lyonne later sobered up and resumed her acting career, working her way back to the mainstream, landing major acclaim in 2013 with the hit Netflix series Orange is the New Black, and reuniting with her former American Pie co-star Jason Biggs (who hasn't nearly been as successful as she was in escaping Pie's shadow).
  • Kiefer Sutherland on 24. After The Lost Boys,Young Guns and Young Guns II, Sutherland looked to be well on his way. Then, he faded to the background, turning up occasionally (A Few Good Men, A Time to Kill) on Hollywood's radar, and doing some very well-received independent work (like Dark City). For a while, he retired from acting to become a rodeo champion. However, his Emmy-award winning turn as Jack Bauer on 24 put him back on the A-list.
  • William Shatner on Boston Legal. For a while, it seemed he was destined to remain forever the famed Captain of the Enterprise and never leave that shadow. Then, it seems he decided to lampshade his own over-the-top persona and played not-quite against type as the Bunny-Ears Lawyer Denny Crane on Boston Legal. A ton of critical acclaim and couple Emmys later, his career seems to be as strong as ever, even with the slight misfire of $#*! My Dad Says.
  • Neil Patrick Harris on How I Met Your Mother. While respect must be paid to his fairly successful stage career, he was off the national radar for the most part after the end of Doogie Howser, M.D.. He then had a cameo as a caricature of himself (or perhaps an alternate reality version of himself where he's straight and a womanizer) in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. This landed him back on the national radar and led to him being cast in the role of Barney Stinson, whose characterization had been directly based on NPH's portrayal in Harold and Kumar. (In a nice bit of Lampshade Hanging, Kal Penn became a recurring character in later years.) He followed up by playing the title role on the well-received Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog which has made him a geek icon.
  • Brian Williams on MSNBC — Williams was the anchor for NBC Nightly News from 2004 until 2015 when he was caught embellishing details about his personal involvement in a firefight during the Iraq War. Instead of being fired, Williams was demoted to "breaking news anchor" with no guaranteed air time. But he toughed it out and got positive reviews for helming MSNBC's 2016 election coverage. Enough for him to be given a temporary tryout for a regular 11 pm, the cable news equivalent of the Friday Night Death Slot. Contrary to expectations, however, The 11th Hour with Brian Williams drew in a regular audience for it to be picked up permanently and became such a ratings success that it beat both Fox News and CNN in its time slot for three consecutive months.
  • Georgia Taylor — once best known as Toyah Battersby from Coronation Street, but now best-known for her role as Wrench Wench Ruth on Casualty.
  • Ed O'Neill on Modern Family. After the end of O'Neill's most famous role of Al Bundy on Married... with Children in 1997, he spent about the next decade in a series of short-lived dramas like a remake of Dragnet (in which O'Neill played the Jack Webb role of Joe Friday) and the HBO show John from Cincinnati. O'Neill eventually went back to the sitcom genre that made him a household name, in the form of the Emmy-winning series Modern Family.
  • Matt LeBlanc on Episodes. After the massive success that was Friends, he followed it up with two seasons on the ill-fated spinoff Joey, a career move he attributes to being paid large sums of money. After a failed career as a producer, Leblanc became somewhat of a recluse and took a four-year hiatus from acting. In 2011, Episodes debuted on Showtime. Playing a fictionalized version of himself, he won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Emmy. His success on Top Gear has also won him a legion of new fans in the UK.
  • Ted Danson on Damages. After the end of Cheers in 1993, Danson's star faded with him starring in a string of unsuccessful comedy films, two unpopular sitcoms (Ink and Becker — though the latter did have a healthy run) and making occasional cameos as himself on Curb Your Enthusiasm. This changed in 2007 when he was cast as Big Bad Arthur Frobisher for Damages's first season. Danson's surprisingly strong performance garnered rave reviews from critics and his first Emmy nomination in 15 years. The renewed exposure also landed him a role in the HBO comedy series Bored to Death a part as the new lead in CSI after Laurence Fishburne's departure, and a leading role on The Good Place.
  • Michael Chiklis on The Shield. In fact, Chiklis has pulled this off twice. First came his starring role in the much-despised John Belushi biopic Wired, which saw his career dry up for two years and is considered by Chiklis to be an Old Shame. Then, after starring on the successful series The Commish, he almost killed his career with the critically bashed sitcom Daddio, but The Shield brought him back from the brink and into the limelight, as well as earning him an Emmy award.
  • Chevy Chase seems to have had a minor one of these thanks to his role as Pierce Hawthorne in the cult sitcom Community; while the show hasn't been his biggest hit ever, it's nevertheless a critical darling with an intensely devoted fanbase, and since his career was previously languishing with a series of critical and commercial cinematic flops and Direct-to-Video releases, it's a definite step up. A well-received cameo role in the film Hot Tub Time Machine probably helped as well.
  • Larry Hagman on Dallas. Hagman almost had his career destroyed by The Good Life and Here We Go Again, two unsuccessful sitcoms he made after NBC pulled I Dream of Jeannie. Then came Dallas, the Primetime Soap that revived his career. Then the short-lived Orleans sank his career a second time. But just before he died, Dallas brought him back — yet again.
  • Jim Caviezel on Person of Interest. He got caught up in the hype and controversy surrounding The Passion of the Christ, making it difficult for audiences to see him as anything but Jesus and his career suffered for a while (something Mel Gibson warned Caviezel would happen), but his performance as John Reese is widely regarded as this.
  • Jack Barry: The co-creator and host of the 1950s quiz show 21. While the show proved popular, it was soon discovered to be rigged — contestants were being cast and literally fed information on which questions they were to get right and wrong. The rigging allegations hit their high point in 1958 when contestant Herbert Stempel was ordered by the producers to lose against Charles van Doren. Stempel blew the whistle on the rigging, and while his claims were initially dismissed as sour grapes, the show did fall under investigation after another producer's game show, Dotto, was proven to be rigged as well (and subsequently canceled). After the investigations, Twenty One was canceled, and the concept of a quiz-based game show was tarnished for many years to come. (The 1964 debut of Jeopardy!, whose very idea was spawned from a discussion that creator Merv Griffin had with his wife over said riggings, played a big factor in making quizzers viable again.) After a few minor hosting gigs in the '60s, Barry and co-producer Dan Enright managed to come back into vogue in 1971 with The Joker's Wild, with Barry as host. The show ran for a combined 15 years, outliving Barry himself by two. The success of Joker also allowed Barry and Enright to revive one of their other, less-tarnished 1950s properties, Tic-Tac-Dough, from 1978–86.
  • Jason Bateman on Arrested Development. Bateman obtained teen-idol status in the 1980s due to his work on sitcoms such as Silver Spoons and The Hogan Family. Then he did the flop sequel Teen Wolf Too, which marked the beginning of his career decline. After The Hogan Family left the airwaves in 1991, Bateman was out of the limelight, stuck in telefilms, B-movies, and a number of short-lived sitcoms. Then he was cast as the Straight Man on Arrested Development. The show drew poor ratings but garnered critical acclaim, and Bateman's performance garnered him many accolades. He's kept a rather high profile ever since, with Development being Un-Cancelled by Netflix and starring in Frat Pack films as a supporting player before coming into his own with the Horrible Bosses films. For animated films, Bateman voiced the male lead in the hit animated movie Zootopia.
  • Billie Piper in Doctor Who is somewhat of an example. While it's a straight-up Star-Making Role when strictly referring to her acting career and as far as international stardom goes, it brought her back to the spotlight after her Teen Idol singing career winding down.
  • Christian Slater in Mr. Robot. Slater was a hot commodity in the late '80s and early '90s after Heathers came out. By the end of the decade, his popularity was waning with bombs like Hard Cash and Mindhunters. Slater's career was sealed shut after Alone in the Dark tanked, a film that also solidified the bad reputation of video game movies and turned director Uwe Boll into a worldwide laughingstock. Slater then went straight to video and none of his series (including My Own Worst Enemy) ever made it past a single season. In 2015, he starred as the title character in Mr. Robot. The series received widespread acclaim, and Slater won a Golden Globe and Critics' Choice Award for his performance and has a recurring role on Archer as a fictional version of himself.
  • Aaron Spelling was a very prolific producer who provided a good chunk of programming for the ABC network. This all came to an end in the late 1980s when the new management at ABC publicly told the press that the network would no longer be "Aaron's Broadcasting Company", effectively shutting Spelling out of the network. This downfall was short-lived, however, when a year later, the then-new FOX network started picking his shows up, starting with the hit series Beverly Hills, 90210.
  • Alyssa Milano was a child star in the '80s for Who's the Boss? and a music career in Japan. She was desperate to escape the Contractual Purity that dogs many child actresses and sought out Hotter and Sexier roles as an adult. Things didn't work out so well, and the only notable story about her in the '90s was a sex tape scandal. But things started to turn in her favour when she joined the cast of Melrose Place and was later one of the leads for Charmed. The supernatural drama about three witch sisters lasted for eight seasons and got Alyssa worldwide fame. By the time it ended, Milano was better known as Phoebe Halliwell than she ever was as Samantha Micelli. After the show ended, she marketed a successful clothing line and settled in comfortably as the hostess of Project Runway: All Stars.
  • Gene Wilder Suffered through a severe career slide in the late '80s and through the '90s until that is he took on the role of a theater director turned gumshoe in a couple of A&E television movies that met with critical and audience acclaim. He followed them up with a couple of guest spots on Will & Grace, which earned him an Emmy win, his first acting award since 1962. He then turned his attention to writing before advancing Alzheimer's disease caused him to cease working again before his death in 2016.
  • Mandy Moore saw both her film and music careers take a downturn after 2007, the former after the flop of License to Wed and the latter after her transition to folk pop, despite winning some plaudits from surprised critics (who mainly remembered her as a Teen Idol), failed to pick up much commercial traction. She spent several years doing recurring roles on TV shows, her only theatrically-released film being Tangled in 2010. In 2016, however, she scored the lead female role on This Is Us, which propelled her back into the spotlight and won her critical acclaim and a slew of new parts.

  • Alice Cooper defined shock rock and bizarre stage acts in the first half of the 1970s. But alcoholism, coupled with his signature style going out of fashion, resulting in a Dork Age for the rest of the decade, which lasted right through to the early 1980s. He kicked the booze habit and made his comeback with 1986's Constrictor, followed by the wildly successful Trash. Since then he's diversified his interests and continues to record music.
  • Binary Finary was best known for the trance anthem "1998", but they split up due to irreconcilable differences between members. However, Matt Laws and Stuart Matheson revived the act in 2006 with the download-only album The Lost Tracks, a compilation of songs written during their eight-year sabbatical.
  • Mariah Carey: Considered to be one of the biggest pop singers of the 90s, Carey suffered a nervous breakdown in 2001, coupled with a disastrous turn in the box office flop Glitter and a series of bizarre media appearances (that culminated in an appearance on MTV's Total Request Live where she served ice cream to the audience, followed by a bout of hospitalization for "dehydration"). She was dropped from her record label and attempted a comeback in 2002, but she didn't have success until the release of 2005's The Emancipation of Mimi and her role in the critically acclaimed film Precious in 2009.
  • James Brown: Although he had achieved reasonable success in the 1960s and '70s, Brown's career was more or less stalled by the end of the decade. He was a huge star in the black community, but nowhere near as big in the white community. His appearance — all five minutes of it — in The Blues Brothers brought him to the attention of a white audience and won him many new white fans, revitalizing his career. In the '80s, he played to larger and more racially-mixed crowds than he ever had before; by the end of '90s, he was pop music royalty.
  • Britney Spears: One of the biggest pop stars in the world between 1999 and 2004, her career flew off the rails from 2004 to 2008 in one of the defining examples of a Creator Breakdown. Highlights include: a 55-hour Vegas marriage to a childhood friend, her turbulent relationship with Kevin Federline, getting her head shaved, cancelled Original Doll album, delivering a critically-thrashed performance at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards (which spawned the "LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE!" meme from Chris Crocker), and finally, the court putting her into conservatorship of her father. However, the release of the album Circus in late 2008, combined with a reduced profile in the tabloids, has turned her career and reputation around, giving her some of her first hit singles since her days as a Teen Idol. And two hits from her album Femme Fatale prove that Circus wasn't just a fluke.
  • Bob Dylan: Was very popular in The '60s and maintained this until the mid-Seventies, but by the end of the decade he had basically lost his fans (what little he had) with his Christian albums. Saved, released in 1980, is often considered to be Dylan's worst album (other than Dylan). Because of the backlash against him, had a rather low profile in The '80s and in the early Nineties. Then came an album called Time Out of Mind, which was released to glowing reviews and won the Grammy for Album of the Year, restoring his place in the league of rock gods. All of his studio albums since Time out of Mind have not just reached, but debuted in the top ten of the Billboard album charts.
  • Lady Ga Ga: After "Artpop" commercially proved a far cry from the success of "The Fame" and "Born This Way", Lady Gaga was predicted to imminently fade out of the mainstream music scene. Then, the release of the much more personal "Joanne" in late-2016 brought her a fair amount of warmer reception and debuted at #1. Her profile was further restored by a widely-praised Super Bowl Halftime performance, and, with the help of said performance, scoring her biggest radio hit in years with the ballad "Million Reasons". Her career kept on rising with the critically and financially successful A Star Is Born (2018), which gave Gaga her first #1 single in years ("Shallow").
  • Aerosmith: In 1979, on the peak of their drug use and in the middle of recording a record, guitarist Joe Perry left the band. The following two albums were disappointing musically and commercially (the second one in particular, as the other original guitarist left too). They soon reunited, moving from Columbia Records to Geffen Records. While Done with Mirrors did not make much impact, 1987's Permanent Vacation and a team up with popular rap group Run–D.M.C. on a remake of their old song "Walk This Way" brought them back to the spotlight, and the follow-up Pump is widely considered one of their best albums. By 1993, Aerosmith was popular enough to get their own video games, Quest for Fame and Revolution X. It wasn't until 1998 that Aerosmith finally topped the Hot 100 with the ballad "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing", from the movie Armageddon.
  • Rick Astley: While massively popular pop act in the 1980s, Astley got sick of Executive Meddling and left his record label. He then did a dramatic shift and doing soul in the early 1990s (which he stated is the kind of music he always wanted to make in the beginning). Despite scoring another hit with 1991's "Cry for Help", Astley's career stalled shortly thereafter and he retired from the music industry in 1993. Fast forward to 2007, when his signature song "Never Gonna Give You Up" reached the internet as the Rickroll and quickly hit critical mass, exploding even beyond the scope of the internet, Rick Astley started to get back in gear. He then reached a level of popularity not seen since his peak in the late 1980s, and released his first single in many years, making him probably the first musician to have his career solely resurrected by the power of the internet. His appearance at the 2008 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade didn't hurt either. In 2016, his album 50 debuted on top of the British charts, becoming his first #1 album back home since Whenever You Need Somebody.
  • Weezer - one of the few acts to experience a resurrection solely through the power of the internet. In late-2017, a young fan created a Twitter account called @weezerafrica with the goal of convincing Weezer to cover "Africa" by Toto. After months of the campaign spreading around social media, Weezer responded, although first with a cover of "Rosanna", before releasing "Africa" days later. The "Africa" cover went on to become Weezer's biggest hit in many years, hitting the Billboard Hot 100, crossing over to pop radio, (rare achievements for a veteran rock band) and becoming their first #1 on alternative radio in the 2010s.
  • David Bowie experienced this twice in a row during his career. The first instance came after a controversial series of interviews in 1975 and 1976, when Bowie, jacked out of his mind on cocaine and Lost in Character as the Thin White Duke, advocated for a fascist Britain on live TV. Realizing just how bad his drug addiction had become, he retreated to Berlin, where he spent the rest of the decade rehabilitating and releasing three experimental albums, to a mostly mixed reception (though this "Berlin trilogy" would later go on to be Vindicated by History). After that, he managed to reclaim his footing with 1980's Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps), which essentially served as his reflection on and apology for all the mayhem that encompassed his life throughout the bulk of the previous decade. Then in 1983 came Let's Dance, which would go on to become his highest-selling album and cause his fame to skyrocket as a result of its more mainstream-oriented sound. However, this is where he fell again: having experienced a massive Newbie Boom and feeling pressured to deliver a follow-up to Let's Dance ASAP, a writer's block-addled Bowie and Iggy Pop (but mostly Iggy) hastily slapped together Tonight in 1984, which managed to sell quite decently but was widely regarded as being pretty bad. The rest of the 80's would be no better, with Bowie becoming a point of ridicule for the Ho Yay-laden Mick Jagger duet "Dancing in the Street", the incredibly campy (but later Vindicated by History) box office bomb Labyrinth, and the even more disastrous reception of 1987's Never Let Me Down, Bowie's failed attempt at returning to rock (though that album also sold pretty well). Fed up with all of this, Bowie decided to switch over to hard rock from 1988 to 1992 via the group Tin Machine, of which only three albums were released to mixed reception. However, the experience from Tin Machine and some encouraging words from bandmate Nile Rogers, who told Bowie to focus on producing songs for himself rather than for any particular audience, laid the groundwork for his 1993 house rock album Black Tie White Noise. The album was not only a commercial success, but it was a decent critical darling as well, kickstarting a major Renaissance for Bowie. From that point onwards, with his career back on track, he would devote the rest of his career exploring a variety of other genres (such as industrial rock with Outside and drum & bass with Earthling) before finally settling into art rock in the 2000s, with most of his albums continuing to earn heaps of both pounds and praise. By the time he ultimately met his end in January 2016, Bowie had finally returned to the level of acclaim that had studded his star in the early '70s.
  • Caramell: Was all but forgotten until the Caramelldansen Vid meme in 2008, 7 years after the album and song were originally released. They subsequently recorded English, German, and Japanese versions of the song, in addition to making an official music video based on the animation. In 2011 they renamed themselves the Caramellagirls and released a new single titled "Boogie Bam Dance", their first all-new material in nearly ten years.
  • LL Cool J: After being rejected by the rap community as a sellout for Bigger and Deffer and Walkin' With a Panther, he enlisted Marley Marl as producer and came back in a big way with Mama Said Knock You Out, even if the famous title track's opening line is actually "Don't call it a comeback! I've been here for years!". He also included the song "Cheesy Rat Blues", which hilariously mocked his career derailment and how people didn't like him anymore.
  • Meat Loaf: After the enormous success of Bat Out of Hell, Meat Loaf lost his voice and then fell out with songwriter Jim Steinman, which stymied the success of his second album. Going through drug addiction, bankruptcy and a string of moderately to poorly received albums, he reunited with Steinman in 1993 to record Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell, an album frequently credited as facilitating one of the greatest comebacks in popular music history.
  • Nas: After releasing a debut album (Illmatic) that is widely regarded as one of the greatest rap albums of all time, but didn't sell very well initially, Nas changed his style to appeal to a wider audience and sell more copies (partly due to Executive Meddling). His next album, It Was Written, was less "Nasty Nas the street poet" and more "Nas Escobar the drug dealer", and the two afterward — I Am... and Nastradamus - were more poppy and radio-friendly. It's universally agreed that Nastradamus is his worst album, and many accused Nas of selling out — most notably Jay-Z, who dissed him for going from "Nasty Nas to Esco-Trash" on his song Takeover. Nas responded to this criticism with Stillmatic, an album in which he both returned to his Illmatic roots and defended his status as one of rap's greatest emcees. Critics loved it, as did listeners, and Nas' following albums have all met similar success.
  • Eminem: After releasing three of the decade's biggest albums, Eminem had a major downfall - a near-fatal addiction to prescription drugs, the murder of his best friend Proof, and an album (Encore) that is widely called out as his worst. His "first" comeback was supposed to be 2009's Relapse, but he still had issues he was working out, and the album received a mixed reception. But what was originally going to be a sequel to Relapse turned into the aptly-named Recovery, in which Eminem toned down or outright cut out a lot of aspects that had dragged his previous albums down (weird accents, skits, bathroom humor), actually apologized for his last two albums, and delivered some top-notch rapping. The general consciousness was that it was a great return to the days of The Marshall Mathers LP and The Eminem Show, and that Eminem was back. After the disappointment of 2017's Revival, Eminem revived his career with 2018's Kamikaze and the non-album track "Killshot".
  • Elton John has had several comebacks:
    • He was perhaps the hottest star of The '70s, with a streak of hit albums, singles and tours, dominant radio airplay and a constant high profile in the media bordering on Teen Idol status, partially due to goofy costumes and silly glasses. A Rolling Stone magazine article in 1976 outed him, reducing his fanbase in Middle America, and his longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin took a prolonged hiatus from working with him. A string of middling albums, a reduced public profile, a change of labels and poor sales followed. With some Executive Meddling, Elton hired Taupin full-time, reunited his classic-era backing band and produced a high-quality album, Too Low For Zero, in 1983, combining his classic melodicism and Eighties production techniques/synthesizers. Hit singles and videos for "I'm Still Standing" and "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" got major airplay on early MTV, and Elton was a star again.
    • One further Career Resurrection occurred when after a couple of failed studio albums, Elton reunited with Bernie Taupin for the aptly titled Reg Strikes Back in 1988, became sober in 1990, toned down his costumes/glasses, went from Camp Gay to Straight Gay with a hair weave and Versace suits. This was motivated by a highly public feud over false allegations made against him by The Sun which Elton eventually won, forcing the tabloid to apologise. He also gained a new audience by writing songs for The Lion King, and sent up his more diva-like tendencies with the reality Tv movie ''Tantrums And Tiaras. "Candle In The Wind 1997", though written in tragic circumstances with Princess Diana's death, was one of the best selling singles of all time, increasing his profile (though it would lead to inevitable Hype Backlash).
    • Another Elton comeback occurred in 2001. He changed to a more stripped down, organic sound in albums like Songs From The West Coast and Peachtree Road, reminiscent of his classic period, and he has success in Las Vegas with The Red Piano. The Union, a duets album with Leon Russell released in 2011, got Elton his strongest sales since 1976's Blue Moves, and his best reviews since that time.
      • The video for "I Want Love", the single from the Songs From His West Coast album that heralded Elton's third comeback period, interestingly enough featured a newly sober Robert Downey Jr. lip-syncing to Elton's recording. The performance was acclaimed and helped both Elton's career and Robert's.
  • While Pink Floyd has always been popular, they weren't heard from much for a majority of the 80s following their insanely expensive 1980-81 tour supporting The Wall and the release of their polarizing 1983 album The Final Cut, considered by many to be a Roger Waters album all but in name. Waters left shortly after and Gilmour told him that they would continue, leading to Waters' infamous lawsuit trying to stop Gilmour from continuing to make music under the "Pink Floyd" name. The lawsuit was settled in time for the release of their 1987 album A Momentary Lapse of Reason. The album, while receiving mixed reviews from fans and critics for its weaker lyrics, horribly dated 80s production, and the fact it was not a concept album, was a huge commercial success and the band scored a big radio and MTV hit with the song "Learning to Fly", exposing the band to a new generation of fans in the process. The tour supporting the album was only supposed to be a quick 11-week tour, but it ended up lasting for over 2 years, becoming the highest grossing tour of the 1980s by any musical act. Their next album, 1994's The Division Bell, sounding more like a true Floyd album compared to the previous one (which was essentially a David Gilmour solo album all but in name) was also a big hit and supported by high grossing stadium tour as well. The album also marked the reinstatement of keyboardist Richard Wright as a full band member (compared to his session work on the album before) after Waters fired him in 1979. Ironically, it was their last studio album for 20 years and the last to feature Wright before his death in 2008.
    • Roger Waters was done with Pink Floyd by 1983 and released the introspective, moody solo album The Pros And Cons Of Hitchhiking a year later. A Pros And Cons tour, with help from Eric Clapton as guest guitarist (he had played on the album) was scarcely attended, and the reunited lineup of Pink Floyd featuring guitarist David Gilmour, drummer Nick Mason and returning keyboardist Richard Wright became successful in the late 1980s and mid-1990s. Waters considered the band a "spent force", felt the band should call it a day, right before the lawsuit. The commercial failure of Waters' solo albums, rows of empty seats at concerts and his feud with the rest of the band severely damaged his professional reputation while Pink Floyd mounted a massively successful comeback. But with Gilmour's Floyd inactive since 1995, Waters returned to touring in 1998, expertly performing Pink Floyd and solo works to strong audiences. Subsequent solo tours with Waters and his band performing The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall further raised his popularity, and a a much more relaxed attitude towards fans, the media and his Floyd bandmates erased his Insufferable Genius Control Freak stigma in the press. His renewed friendships and occasional musical and personal reunions with Gilmour, Mason and Wright over the years also helped his image.
  • The Beach Boys have gone through this at least four times. They were one of the biggest bands of the 60s, coming about as close to surpassing The Beatles in popularity that a band could at the time. But after their groundbreaking 1967 album Smile was never released, coupled with Brian Wilson's notorious reclusion and drug abuse, they faded into obscurity, continuing to make music but failing to penetrate the charts as they once had. But then in 1974, they released a greatest hits album, Endless Summer, which went triple platinum and made the band a hot item again, leading to sold-out concerts for many years after that. But as time went on, and as a string of terrible/bizarre albums was released, and their beloved drummer Dennis Wilson drowned, this success faded as the group went into the '80s. However, they found themselves becoming suddenly successful again when they released their 1988 hit "Kokomo", from the Cocktail soundtrack, which gave the group a #1 record for the first time in decades. The band's third noteworthy spurt of popularity came with the 1993 release of the Good Vibrations: 30 Years of The Beach Boys box set, which yielded their most successful tour in 13 years. Their last came in 2012, when the group's first new album in twenty years, That's Why God Made the Radio, met with critical acclaim, as did the ensuing 50th anniversary tour.
    • Brian Wilson himself went through a similar cycle. In the '60s, he was on top of the world as a singer, songwriter, and producer, but as his mental state fractured and his dream project Smile failed to be, he spent the latter half the decade holed up in his room, while the rest of the band produced albums. But then in the '70s, as the band was becoming popular again, he was called back into the studio to produce albums in order to complement the band's new touring success, as well as being called back onto stage, with a big "Brian Is Back" campaign. Unfortunately, this mostly produced mediocre material, worsening his mental state. Then in the late '80s, his manipulative therapist/life coach Eugene Landy tried to invoke this trope with a string of Brian Wilson solo albums, but these failed to attract much attention. It wasn't until the late '90s/early 2000s that Brian's career really resurrected itself, first with an acclaimed live tour of Pet Sounds, and then with a move that nobody saw coming: a completed, re-recorded version of Smile, that, for the longest time, was the highest-rated album on Metacritic. He's been fairly well with himself ever since.
  • Tina Turner with her 1984 Private Dancer album.
  • Johnny Cash, unlikely as it may now seem, once battled a number of personal and professional problems that led to his career floundering in the '80s. Having established himself as "The Man In Black" with several hit albums, live performances at prisons and work in film and television, Cash relapsed back into addiction in 1983, which kept him from performing and writing music for several years. Coupled with Columbia Records ending its 28-year association with Cash in 1986 (and an unsuccessful run with Mercury Records into the very early '90s), it seemed as though Cash's career was over. However, he reignited his career by teaming up with producer Rick Rubin and releasing the American Recordings series of albums (which included covers of popular songs and collaborations with other popular artists) beginning in 1994, which led to critical and commercial acclaim, and popularity with audiences who weren't traditionally interested in country music. Cash would go on to win a Grammy Award in 1994 and release several more albums - even after his death, the 2006 release of American V: A Hundred Highways reached the #1 spot on the Billboard Top 100.
  • Scooter, somehow managed to get a UK Number 1 album in 2008 with Jumping All Over The World, despite not having anything released in the UK since about 2003. This can be largely attributed to their successful Clubland appearances. Unfortunately, this proved to be a fluke, and their next album Under The Radar Over The Top flopped in the UK, making it unlikely future material will be released there.
  • Robyn attained a few hit singles as a teen pop singer in the late '90s, then fell off the radar for about nine years, before returning with "With Every Heartbeat" in 2007. She now does old-school synthpop, in contrast with her former style.
  • Sash!, famous for the 1997 dancefloor filler "Encore une Fois" among others, took a 10 year hiatus between their S4 Sash! and Life is a Beach albums.
  • Sonique was originally a member of the acid house group S-Express in the late '80s/early '90s, but retreated to the shadows for almost a decade, after which she returned with the solo hit "It Feels So Good" in 2000.
  • Stacey Q, an '80s One-Hit Wonder mostly known only for "Two of Hearts", has resurfaced on the Hydra Productions label with the album Color Me Cinnamon and the single "Trip". Between then and now, she had a little-known rock album titled Boomerang in 1997.
  • The UK dance-pop group Steps infamously split up due to personal differences in 2001, but reunited a decade later.
  • Toby Keith has had two of these:
    • After a bit of a decline in the late 90s, he reached his nadir in 1998 when "If a Man Answers" became his first single not to hit Top 40. After getting frustrated with Creative Differences at Mercury Records, who had rejected several tracks he had submitted to them, he moved to DreamWorks Records. His first DreamWorks single, "When Love Fades", flopped too. But, at his insistence it was pulled for "How Do You Like Me Now?!", a song that Mercury had previously rejected. After a slow start, "How Do You Like Me Now?!" became his biggest hit, and the top country song of 2000. This song led to his hottest streak of album sales and single success, which carried on for the most part until DreamWorks Records closed in 2005.
    • His momentum once again went on a slow decline once he founded his own label (Show Dog, which later merged with Universal South to become Show Dog-Universal), with more and more singles failing to reach Top 10. However, Keith had a brief resurgence and his biggest crossover ever in 2011-2012 with the viral hit "Red Solo Cup". The song was originally just an album cut for which he made a music video, but after said video caught fire, the song was shipped as a single, ultimately becoming a crossover smash and his best-selling digital single to date. However, this revival was short-lived, and he has all but fallen off the radar since.
  • The Monkees project was instantly successful — tellingly, the first single, "Last Train to Clarksville", started climbing the charts before the TV series went on the air — and the "4 insane boys" soon found themselves second only to The Beatles in popularity. Still, musical director Don Kirshner rarely let them play on their records (or write their own songs) — which was kept secret until the frustrated band revealed it to the media, losing some credibility in the process. The hits continued for a while, even after the Monkees gave up their TV series after its second season. However, the group's 1968 film Head, a surreal, deliberately plotless Deconstruction of the band's journey through the Show Business meat grinder, was a flop (although it's become a Cult Classic). Eventually, their record sales dropped, and Peter Tork left, followed by Michael Nesmith. In 1969, Saturday morning reruns of the TV series got good ratings, which led to Mickey Dolenz and Davy Jones doing Changes, a return to the bubblegum pop of the early albums. However, the songs on Changes were not as catchy or distinctive as the ones on the band's early albums. Changes didn't chart, and that was the end of the Monkees. The four ex-members went on with their lives—until 1986. In 1986, MTV began celebrating the Monkees' 20th anniversary by rerunning their TV series. The reruns got great ratings, and suddenly the Monkees were a viable proposition again. The band had a top 20 hit with a new single ("That Was Then, This Is Now", which featured only Dolenz and Tork), started playing reunion concerts, and recorded a new album, Pool It (which featured Dolenz, Tork, and Jones). Then, for the band's 30th anniversary in 1996, Nesmith returned for the album Justus, the only Monkees album that had no outside writers. musicians, or producers. They then went their separate ways until 2011, when Dolenz, Tork, and Jones had a hugely successful 45th anniversary concert tour. After Jones died in 2012, Nesmith joined the other surviving Monkees for tours in 2012 and 2013.
  • Van Halen was considered one of the biggest bands of The '80s with a huge multi-platinum debut, a string of successful follow-ups including the spectacular 1984. Lead guitarist Edward Van Halen was one of the seminal players of that decade's shred movement. Van Halen then replaced lead singer David Lee Roth after a bitter and public divorce and brought in former Montrose vocalist Sammy Hagar and managed to catapult to an ever greater height of stardom with four #1 albums:5150, OU812, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge and Balance in spite of several fans claiming to hate "Van Hagar". Then the grunge movement of the '90s kicked in, another messy and public divorce with a lead singer saw Hagar leave the band in 1996. They tried to regroup with III with former Extreme front man Gary Cherone which flopped. From there Eddie's personal life went to Hell; he divorced from longtime spouse Valerie Bertinelli, was in and out of rehab for drinking and drug problems and had a bout with cancer. The band released a compilation album which kept their name relevant and charted at #3 in 2004, but the band further suffered with the departure of founding bassist Michael Anthony, who joined Hagar's touring band. The band also did not show up for its induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007 (Hagar and Anthony were the only members who showed up and played a few Van Halen songs with guest artists). Eddie emerged from rehab in early 2010 alcohol and cancer free and rumors surfaced that the band, now with Eddie's son Wolfgang on bass, was writing with founding singer David Lee Roth. In February 2012, the band released A Different Kind of Truth, their first studio album in 14 years. The album shot up to #2 on the charts, received rave reviews and embarked on a successful tour in support of the album.
  • Former Mis Teeq member Alesha Dixon's solo career was a flop until she won Strictly Come Dancing.
  • Yes was one of the most successful Progressive Rock groups of The '70s. By the end of the decade, the failure of the controversial, patchy Tormato, a seismic line-up shift incorporating The Buggles for the followup album, Drama, and prog-rock going out of fashion in general, led to a drop in popularity and the breakup of the band in 1981. 1982 saw a new lineup co-led by South African guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Trevor Rabin and original singer Jon Anderson, as well as a groundbreaking, state-of-the-art prog-pop style for the multi-platinum 90125, and the #1 hit "Owner of a Lonely Heart" (aided by an eye-catching music video directed by famed graphic artist Storm Thorgerson) revitalize the band in The '80s.
  • Train. They had hits in the late 1990s with "Meet Virginia", "Drops of Jupiter", and "Calling All Angels", but were pretty quiet after that, and in a few years, they were only remembered for "Drops of Jupiter". The massive crossover "Hey, Soul Sister" in 2009 finally got Train back on track. Their 2012 album was a hit as well.
  • Charlie Wilson. He was the lead singer of The Gap Band, which was at its peak in the late '70s-early '80s, recording such R&B classics as "Outstanding", "Oops Upside Your Head", "Early In The Morning" and "You Dropped A Bomb On Me". However, by the late '80s he was heavily involved in alcohol and cocaine. He hit his lowest point in 1993, when he was living on the streets of Los Angeles. He ended up going to rehab, but found that many record labels wouldn't give him a chance after he got out. R. Kelly and Snoop Dogg worked with him and by 2005 he released his first solo single, "Charlie, Last Name Wilson". He has been nominated for 4 Grammys since his comeback and is hailed by many as one of the best Contemporary R&B singers.
  • Roger Hodgson was a founding member of the progressive rock band Supertramp, penning many of the band's most enduring hits, including "The Logical Song", "Dreamer", "Give A Little Bit", "School", "Breakfast in America", and "Take The Long Way Home". His keening tenor voice was a trademark of the group's sound, along with his songs exploring spirituality and man's search for identity. He left the band in 1983 to start a family and get away from the trappings of fame. Hodgson started a solo career in 1984 with the Supertramp-like In The Eye Of The Storm, followed by the more Synth-Pop-oriented Hai Hai in 1987. An accident later in 1987 where Hodgson fell out of a hammock, injuring both his wrists, led to his doctors believing Roger would not be able to play music again. After years of spiritual and physical therapy, Hodgson returned to the spotlight with a live album, Rites Of Passage, in 1996. A studio album in 2000, Open The Door, returned Hodgson to his prog roots, winning critical, but limited financial success. (The album was only distributed overseas). After occasional live performances through the next decade, a divorce, and a spiritual rebirth, Hodgson took to the road by 2006, performing self-financed intimate shows accompanied only by Canadian saxophonist/keyboardist Aaron MacDonald An acclaimed live DVD, Take The Long Way Home, was released the same year. He had performed at the Concert For Diana in 2007, performed with Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band, has a strong online presence, and has appeared on Canadian Idol with ex-Styx singer Dennis DeYoung.
  • George Harrison found it hard to sustain a solo career by the early 1980s, after having started the previous decade by releasing the best-selling triple-length All Things Must Pass and organizing the Concert For Bangladesh in 1972. A tour of America marked by laryngitis and audiences puzzled by the appearance of Ravi Shankar as opening act did not help matters, nor his increased piousness in Eastern religion. A brief comeback occured with his 1981 ode to John Lennon, "All Those Years Ago" (featuring Paul McCartney, his wife Linda, and Ringo Starr), but he semi-retired by 1982 to produce films and race cars; he decided he did not relate to the sounds of the 80s or to pressures on the industry for more commercial music. A meeting with Electric Light Orchestra leader Jeff Lynne led Harrison to produce a new album, Cloud Nine, that combined Harrison's more traditionalist roots with light amounts of modern production values, and backing by the likes of Ringo Starr, Elton John and Eric Clapton. He became a superstar again, helped by the #1 single "Got My Mind Set On You" (an obscure, Covered Up 50s rockabilly number written by Rudy Clark) and a tongue-in-cheek video. Harrison stayed a star until his death in 2001, forming The Traveling Wilburys with Lynne, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison, and briefly reunited with The Beatles in 1995.
  • Kelly Clarkson. Hot on the heels of her 2004 album "Breakaway", which went on to become one of the defining pop albums of the 2000s, she released the more abrasive and far less commercial "My December" in 2007. The album alienated a significant portion of her fan base (especially her older fans), and thus, Clarkson was written off by many as a has-been. Her follow-up "All I Ever Wanted" was mostly a return to the lighter pop of "Breakaway", and although sales for that album still fell short of the 1 million mark in the U.S, it re-established herself as a main force in the pop music world, with its lead single, "My Life Would Suck Without You", becoming a massive hit. Her comeback was solidified through her 2011 album "Stronger", which was both a critical and commercial success, spawning several hugely successful singles and fully bringing her career back on track.
  • Judy Garland was a Former Child Star under contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the star of The Wizard of Oz and a successful headlining star of movie musicals like Easter Parade, Meet Me in St. Louis and For Me And My Gal, and a succession of films co-starring Mickey Rooney (including the successful Andy Hardy series). She had also branched into an equally successful singing career at the same time. However, erratic behavior caused by addictions to alcohol and prescription pills (begun when Garland was filming Oz when the studio recommended she take diet pills to lose weight) and mental illness, and multiple suicide attempts led to her being fired by MGM by 1950 and labeled a has been. She slowly returned to the spotlight via stage performances and a role in the Warner Bros. 1954 remake of A Star Is Born followed, with the help of her second husband/manager Sid Luft, leading to the famous 1961 Judy At Carnegie Hall concerts, captured on a best-selling, Grammy Award-winning two-record set album. A short-lived TV variety show followed, and Judy had a new wave of popularity in the early 1960s.
  • Elvis Presley began as the "King of Rock and Roll" in The '50s, sustaining his success in The '60s after a stint in the Army with hit singles and movies. However, the declining quality of the formulaic rock musicals kept Elvis from being seen as a serious actor, and the soundtracks were increasingly hokey and detached from his early rock spirit. Elvis bounced back via his 1968 comeback special, Elvis, showing Presley as lean, mean and back in touch with his rock sound via the impromptu proto-"Unplugged" concert section. A concert film in 1972, Aloha From Hawaii, cemented his popularity. Though his health declined spectacularly in the mid-1970s, he continued to have hit singles and albums, a residency in Las Vegas, and attract concert crowds for the rest of his life.
  • Ozzy Osbourne has experienced several over the course of his career. He helped pioneer heavy metal music as the frontman of Black Sabbath, but years of drug abuse, financial fumbles and creative strife led to him being kicked out of the band in 1979. After this he hit rock bottom, moved into a hotel room and went on a massive drug binge. The daughter of Sabbath's manager, Sharon Arden, took pity on him and helped him assemble a solo career which rocketed him to stardom. Eventually it all started to come down again, this time due to Moral Guardians, rampant drug abuse and more of a glam sound and image. He recovered by hiring guitarist Zakk Wylde, revamping his sound and taming his behaviour, culminating in the release of his only Top 40 single, "Mama, I'm Coming Home." He briefly retired and when he returned to music in the mid-90s the scene had changed. He was viewed as a dinosaur who didn't fit with modern crowds and styles, so much so that Lollapalooza turned him down. He responded by founding Ozzfest, his own heavy metal festival. This comeback peaked with a highly successful reunion with Sabbath.
    • When Black Sabbath fired Ozzy in 1979 they were at rock bottom, with poor album sales and a lack of focus. When Ronnie James Dio joined the group as Ozzy's replacement they gained new life through the 1980s. Things petered out by the mid-90s but they came full circle by rejoining with Ozzy for a massively successful reunion. And when that started dying down they joined back with Dio for another huge success, bringing new exposure to the often neglected post-Ozzy era. And when Dio died they reunited with Ozzy once more and finally recorded the long-awaited reunion album, bringing things full circle... again.
  • Demi Lovato was one of the top stars of the Disney Channel, thanks to lead roles in the Camp Rock series of movies and her own kidcom Sonny with a Chance. She was also a successful Idol Singer. Although her history as a childhood bullying victim was well known, she had secretly fallen into bulimia, self-harm and fits of "self-medication" during the height of her stardom, which led to an infamous meltdown in which she began having vocal problems on her 2010 Camp Rock tour, then physically attacked a personal assistant in her dressing room after the assistant confronted her about her demons. Family and friends intervened, and she went into rehab (where she was diagnosed as bipolar and given medication) to get better (she spent New Year's Eve in the rehab center, much to her sadness). Rehabilitated a year later, she left her sitcom and completed her Unbroken album, releasing singles such as the empowerment anthem "Skyscraper" and catchy dancefloor hit "Give Your Heart a Break", arguably the biggest hit of her career. An inspirational documentary for MTV, "Stay Strong", documented her downfall and recovery. She later joined the judges' panel of The X Factor US, and completed and released a new album for May 2013: the self-titled Demi.
  • Daft Punk were one of the most popular bands in the world during the later 1990s. Hits such as "Around the World" and "One More Time" were huge hits everywhere they charted — except in the United States —, and their albums Homework and Discovery earned them loads of praise, even though in the latter case it took a while for it to accumulate. Their third album, Human After All, didn't do very well, meeting a critical and fan backlash for being Darker and Edgier and more simplistic than Discovery, and it absolutely bombed in the US. Then, in 2010, they made a comeback when they recorded the soundtrack to TRON: Legacy. It proved to be their first top 40 album in the country. Then, in 2013, they released their first album in eight years, Random Access Memories, and it topped the charts everywhere, including the United States, and even held on top of the charts for its second week. Its lead single became their biggest hit ever, and has finally brought Daft Punk not only to the Hot 100's top 40, but to #2. And the group winning the Record and Album of the Year Grammys.
  • John Anderson, a Country Music singer, had a decent string of hits in the first half of The '80s, including the #1 hits "Wild and Blue", "Swingin'" (which was also a pop crossover), and "Black Sheep". But after that, his momentum began slipping: his next two albums only one Top 10 hit ("She Sure Got Away with My Heart") between them, one single ("You Can't Keep a Good Memory Down") flopped so badly that it was never put on an album, and while "Honky Tonk Crowd" briefly returned him to the Top 10 in 1986, his next singles underperformed so badly that he left Warner Bros. Records. He spent the rest of The '80s largely below the top 40, with almost nothing to show for his next three albums (two for MCA Nashville and one for Capitol Records), and reached his nadir in 1990 when his second Capitol single "Tryin' to Make a Livin' on the Road" didn't even chart. Finally, in 1991, he signed with the newly-established BNA Records, and while "Who Got Our Love" only made it to #67, "Straight Tequila Night" went on to become his first chart-topper in nine years. The album containing that song, Seminole Wind, became his best-selling, with three more Top 10 hits to boot (including the title track, one of his Signature Songs), and followup Solid Ground was also successful off the #1 hit "Money in the Bank" before his momentum dropped off again by 1995.
  • Fleetwood Mac:
    • The group became one of the biggest bands in the world with the album Rumours in 1977 and dominated the charts for the next decade. In 1987, guitarist Lindsey Buckingham left, and the band pursued a bland adult contemporary sound, to a massive drop-off in sales. 1990's Behind the Mask only went to #18 on the Billboard charts and went gold, a far cry from the band's multi-platinum albums in the past. Then Stevie Nicks left in the early '90s. The classic lineup did reunite for the inauguration of Bill Clinton (who had used "Don't Stop" as a campaign song) in 1993. The band went through even more lineup changes and commercial failure. 1995's Time fared even worse than Behind the Mask did—it didn't even make the Billboard charts. It looked like the band was truly finished until the Rumours-era lineup finally came together for the live album The Dance in 1997, which hit the #1 spot on the Billboard charts. The subsequent tour was massively successful, filling arenas across the U.S. Fleetwood Mac continues to mount successful tours and release albums to this day.
    • The Dance was also a comeback for Stevie Nicks as a performer, after the failure of her Street Angel album and ridicule for her Klonopin-induced weight gain. She vowed never to go on stage again unless she lost weight. She did, and The Dance also restored her to rock royalty. She's been a successful solo performer since then while still a member of Fleetwood Mac.
    • The Dance wasn't the first time Fleetwood Mac managed to pull this off. In the late '60s, Fleetwood Mac was the hottest band in the British blues scene, but suffered the departure of several of its founding members: Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan in the early '70s. The band eventually reinvented itself as a Californian pop-rock band, but not after a long awkward phase. The band suffered even more setbacks in the first half of the '70s, including a bizarre incident where their former manager claimed the rights to the band's name and sent out a fake "Fleetwood Mac" on tour. Finally, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks came on the scene in 1975 and the band's Self-Titled Album turned Fleetwood Mac into one of the decade's hottest acts.
  • Pharrell Williams, as one-half of the Neptunes, was one of the defining producers of the early 2000s, scoring number one hits with Britney Spears and Snoop Dogg and grabbing critical acclaim for his work with Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z. Come 2006 and the lack of success generated by his solo album In My Mind, his profile diminished; the most notable work he did for a while was the soundtrack for Despicable Me, and mostly worked as a producer-for-hire. Then 2013 happened. He collaborated with Daft Punk for their critical and commercial darling Random Access Memories, and scored the two hottest songs of the summer: "Get Lucky" with Daft Punk and Nile Rodgers, and the controversial "Blurred Lines" with Robin Thicke and T.I. Then he pulled out another international hit with "Happy", which also scored an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. His work co-producing Miley Cyrus' New Sound Album Bangerz gained him more exposure and acclaim. He had a very impressive year.
  • Miley Cyrus first appeared in a role in her father Billy Ray Cyrus' series Doc before landing the title role of Hannah Montana. Despite some controversies which strained her image as an all-American, clean-cut teen idol, she was one of the biggest stars in pop, both in her Hannah persona and under her own name. She adopted a more adult image in 2010 with her album Can't Be Tamed, which suffered slower sales. Her films LOL and So Undercover tanked, causing her to retire from acting, and this was followed by yet another scandal in which she sniffed a bong of salvia on a New Orleans street in a leaked video. After a low profile year, she departed Disney-based Hollywood Records for RCA, had a blonde-dyed pixie haircut, and broke up with longtime boyfriend Liam Hemsworth, her co-star in the film The Last Song after a yearlong engagement. She released the New Sound Album Bangerz in 2013, a more adult album with hip-hop influences and Explicit Lyrics. She promoted the album with a notorious performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards (teddy bear costume, dancing in lingerie, twerking on Robin Thicke, tongue sticking out). Interest skyrocketed with the "new Miley", and Bangerz became a best-seller.
    • However, many fans quickly grew tired of her antics surrounding the release of Bangerz, and she then largely disappeared from the spotlight for a few years. Her 2015 album Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz was released to stream for free on SoundCloud, and received mixed reviews. But then in 2016 she took a gig as a judge on The Voice and rekindled her engagement with Hemsworth, and her 2017 single "Malibu" (about her relationship with Hemsworth) has been praised for its stripped-down production, and marks her return to the top 40.
  • Eric Clapton was one of the most influential guitarists of The '60s, as a member of The Yardbirds, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Blind Faith, Cream, and Derek and the Dominos. His self-titled debut was released in 1970 to success and critical acclaim, but a massive heroin habit put Clapton into hiding for a few years. An intervention by his friend Pete Townshend led to the all-star, well-received Rainbow Concert, and after rehabilitation, Clapton released the very successful and critically acclaimed comeback album 461 Ocean Boulevard, scoring a #1 hit with a cover of Bob Marley's "I Shot The Sheriff" from Marley's album Burnin'.
    • Clapton, after a period of middling, laid-back, country-flavored solo albums in the late 1970s and early 1990s, had another comeback with Behind The Sun in 1984, an album of adult contemporary, modern pop-rock co-produced by Phil Collins. An appearance at Live Aid, followed by 1986's best-selling August and the acclaimed 1988 boxed set retrospective Crossroads, along with high-energy tours, brought Clapton back and made an MTV star out of the veteran.
    • A newly sober Eric received another comeback after channeling his grief over his son Conor's tragic death through the acoustic ballad, "Tears In Heaven", first released in studio form for the movie Rush (1991), then performed on MTV Unplugged, a well-received, #1 soundtrack album to his performance on the series, in 1993.
  • U2 was one of the biggest rock acts of the 1980s with plenty of chart-topping hits. But they eventually endured a Dork Age in the 1990s with their album Pop and another album they didn't even release under the U2 name. A few years later, though, they came back in a huge way with 2000's All That You Can't Leave Behind, whose leadoff single "Beautiful Day" got them the most airplay they'd had in years, and re-cemented their role as rock royalty.
  • Blake Shelton: For many years, Shelton had an inconsistent track record, and often struggled to get more than one big hit off an album, with his debut smash "Austin" (five-week stay at #1 on the country charts, #18 on the pop charts) casting a huge shadow. After neither of the singles from his fourth album Pure BS performed well, the album was re-released with a cover of Michael Bublé's "Home" that went all the way to #1. Although the next album, Startin' Fires, produced another #1 in "She Wouldn't Be Gone", the next single fizzled out and the album sold terribly. So he decided that he would start releasing EPs; while these themselves didn't light up the sales charts, the three singles from his two EPs ("Hillbilly Bone" [a duet with Trace Adkins], "All About Tonight", and "Who Are You When I'm Not Looking") all went to #1 within the course of a year. This provided him with enough momentum for him to return to full albums, with the next three in the cycle (Red River Blue, Based on a True Story..., and Bringing Back the Sunshine) all becoming smashes and maintaining a massive streak of #1 hits on the country charts (from "Hillbilly Bone" to "Came Here to Forget" in 2016, he hit #1 seventeen times in a row, one of the longest streaks achieved by any country artist ever). Even better, he managed to outpeak "Austin" twice on the pop charts, with "Honey Bee" and "Boys 'Round Here", which are also tied with "God Gave Me You" as his best-selling digital singles. Also helping was his gig as a coach on The Voice (started in 2011), which exposed him to a wider and more diverse audience.
  • Hilary Duff was perhaps the most popular teen superstar of the first half of The Oughties, thanks to the Disney Channel kidcom Lizzie McGuire, a successful singing career, and roles in movies like the Cheaper by the Dozen series, The Perfect Man and Raise Your Voice. As she opted for darker roles in independent such as According to Greta and What Goes Up, box office sales declined and reviews were mixed at best. After taking a break from the industry (aside from appearances in Gossip Girl and the ABC Family movie, Beauty And The Briefcase) and winding down her pop career in 2008, she married hockey player Mike Comrie (they've since separated, but are still close), had a baby, Luca Cruz Comrie, and she slowly began to pick up her career. She's since, as of 2014, had a comeback single with "Chasing The Sun" and a role in her first TV series since Lizzie, Younger.
  • The Bellamy Brothers, a country-pop duo from Florida, made it big in 1976 with their smash hit "Let Your Love Flow". The song was a #1 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the AC charts, with enough crossover airplay on country radio to reach #21. It also reached #1 or Top 10 in several other countries. For the next three years, the Bellamys struggled to get another hit, and seemed relegated to One-Hit Wonder-dom. Then in 1979, the Bellamys got their first chart-topper at country radio with "If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me", which was also a multi-national crossover. While they never had any more crossover success, "Beautiful Body" was the start of a very fruitful string of country hits that lasted through 1990, amassing ten #1 hits and several more Top 10s.
  • Steve Wariner. The country hit maker had a fairly consistent streak from 1981 to 1993, but he hit a dry spell after that. However, a few artists ended up recording songs that he wrote, most notably Clint Black ("Nothin' but the Taillights"), Garth Brooks ("Longneck Bottle", which also featured Wariner on lead guitar and background vocals), and Bryan White ("One Small Miracle"). He also got a duet vocal on One-Hit Wonder Anita Cochran's late 1997-early 1998 hit "What If I Said", and some stations even played these four songs in dedicated blocks. Their success led to him signing with Capitol Records in 1997, and he had three more Top 10 hits off his next two albums (Burnin' the Roadhouse Down and Two Teardrops), plus a Top 5 guest spot on Black's 2000 hit "Been There" and a co-writer credit on Keith Urban's 2001 hit "Where the Blacktop Ends" before the hits dried out again.
  • Eagles. Having disbanded in 1980, the band had a notable reunion in 1994. One of the catalysts was the 1993 album Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles, which had various Country Music artists covering Eagles songs. In particular, Travis Tritt asked for the original lineup to make a cameo in his video for "Take It Easy". In 1994, the Eagles reunited for the Hell Freezes Over tour, also made into a highly successful live album which even produced a #1 hit in "Love Will Keep Us Alive". They had a second resurgence in 2007 with the double album Long Road Out of Eden, whose lead single "How Long" won them their first Grammy since 1979.
  • Cat Stevens did this three times:
    • Mona Bone Jakon. After a lukewarm career in his teens he figuratively and literally started Growing the Beard.
    • Izitso. The moderate success of Numbers (#13) following the successes of his previous five albums almost became a Creator Killer for him, but Izitso peaked at #7 on the Hot 200.
    • An Other Cup. This was his first album since 1978's Back to Earth and marked his return to popular music as Yusuf Islam.
  • Richard Wagner pretty much had his career nearly destroyed by the Revolutions of 1848, by which time he had completed the opera Lohengrin. Tristan und Isolde brought him back to the world of op- uh, the music-drama.
  • Giuseppe Verdi with Otello. Following the success of Aida, the aging Verdi spent a good fifteen years in virtual retirement, only writing two major works, a string quartet and a requiem upon the death of the Milanese poet Alessandro Manzoni, and revising an earlier opera, Simon Boccanegra, in that time frame. But it was Otello that truly brought him back.
  • Brooks & Dunn were the Country Music duo of The '90s, with a fantastic run from 1991-1999: their first four singles all went to #1, all of their albums to date had been certified multi-platinum, and they dominated every duo award from the Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association. But then in 1999, they released Tight Rope, which barely made gold, only had one hit, and was widely considered their weakest effort due to canned production and weak song choices. B & D had sunk so low that in 2000, the CMA awarded Duo of the Year to Montgomery Gentry, who were still on their first album and hadn't yet had anything peak higher than #5. Much later on, Kix Brooks would reveal that he and Ronnie Dunn were very close to splitting up over the album's failure. But in 2001, a record exec suggested that they record "Ain't Nothing 'bout You". The song, released that year, was a six-week #1 smash, their biggest crossover hit, and the biggest country hit of the year. Fans and critics felt that the duo had come back stronger than ever with its corresponding album, Steers & Stripes, and the new-found success revitalized them enough to stay together for another 10 years before retiring in 2011.
  • Wiz Khalifa was the hottest new rapper of 2011, whose song "Black & Yellow" became a very rare #1 hit in a time where rap songs didn't gain enough crossover appeal to hit #1 (unless they were mixed with EDM, pop, or R&B). He continued to remain relevant through hit collaborations with the likes of Snoop Dogg ("Young, Wild, and Free") and Maroon 5 ("Payphone"). But by 2015 his hype died down as he was being overshadowed by the likes of Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole. His second and third albums didn't sell nearly as well as his first, and he proved unable to score another major hit. That year, he recorded "See You Again," for the movie Furious 7. Khalifa had previously provided a song for the Fast 6 soundtrack, "We Own It", which was red-hot for a week after the movie came out thanks to his and 2 Chainz' fanbases buying it off iTunes, but it quickly plummeted off afterwards. Expectations for "See You Again" were the same, especially given that it was more of a pop song than his signature rap style and that his collaborator, Charlie Puth, was almost completely unknown at the time, unlike 2 Chainz. Then the film came out, and the song suddenly struck a chord with listeners. The song's message about death connected with audiences, especially considering it was recorded in memory of its star Paul Walker. After seeing the movie's emotional ending scene, audiences rushed to buy it on iTunes, and thanks to strong word-of-mouth quickly caught on with the general public. It shot to #1 just two weeks after the movie came out, dethroning Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars's seemingly immovable megahit "Uptown Funk!" off the top spot after 14 weeks on its way to its own lengthy 12-week stay on top, and re-established himself as a hip-hop megastar. The most surprising part about it is that despite Furious 7 having been an enormous blockbuster, the song turned out to be even bigger, as it became a bonafide pop cultural phenomenon; thanks to perfect mid-spring timing, Again was easily repurposed into a graduation anthem (thanks in no small part to lines like "we've come a long way from where we began"). Needless to say, Khalifa's career was back on track.
  • Rush: In 1996, they released Test For Echo, widely considered by fans to be their worst album. In 1997, drummer/lyricist Neil Peart's teenage daughter died in a car accident, then in 98, his wife died of cancer. For a few years, it seemed as if Rush was done, until they got back together to record their 2002 album, the amazing Vapor Trails.
  • Dusty Springfield: Is considered one of the icons of "blue-eyed soul" with her landmark album, Dusty in Memphis and was huge during the 1960s. However, due to personal troubles stemming from anxiety, alcoholism, and tabloids prying into her personal life (including her bisexuality), she had a career slump throughout the 1970s and 1980s until Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys asked her to collaborate with them on "What Have I Done to Deserve This?". The song was a hit and revived her career and reputation in the general public's eye until her death in 1999.
  • The Kinks, led by brothers Ray and Dave Davies, were an influential band of The British Invasion in the mid-1960s, and arguably the inventors of hard rock and Brit-Pop. Unfortunately, the band's in-fighting led to a five year ban from American stages, and, isolated from much of American culture, they subsequently channeled their energies to writing concept albums with very British themes. They started a comeback in 1970 with hits like "Lola" note , "Apeman" and "Celluloid Heroes", but a series of very English, music-hall and pantomime-influenced rock opera/stage musicals such as Soap Opera and the two-act Preservation series alienated audiences and were slow sellers. They bounced back after signing with Arista Records, on the condition that the Kinks would produce no concept albums or rock musicals. The late-1970s albums Sleepwalker, Misfits and Low Budget combined their hard-rock roots with New Wave Music and Arena Rock elements, catchy songs and polished productions, and became critically acclaimed and strong sellers, and they continued their success in The '80s with hits like "Destroyer" and "Come Dancing". Interestingly enough, a live version of Lola from 1980 became one of their biggest hits of the time.
  • Kenny Rogers had slowly been slipping since the end of The '80s, as the Popularity Polynomial of Country Music shifted back from more pop-styled country such as his, to a more traditional sound brought on by then-rising stars such as Randy Travis. After hitting #1 in 1987 with the Ronnie Milsap duet "Make No Mistake, She's Mine", he was dropped by RCA Records, and had virtually no success with his next four major-label albums all on divisions of Warner Bros. Records. He spent most of The '90s hopping around various indie labels, with such diminishing returns that he stopped charting entirely by 1991, except for a guest appearance on Wynonna Judd's 1997 Christmas release "Mary, Did You Know?" By 1999, he had settled with founding his own label, Dreamcatcher Records; his first album for his own label, She Rides Wild Horses, provided two hits in "The Greatest" and "Buy Me a Rose", the latter going to #1 and helping the album to go platinum. While his later Dreamcatcher releases were not as successful, he did manage enough momentum to once again sign with a major label (Capitol) in 2005 for Water & Bridges, which produced the semi-hit "I Can't Unlove You". He had another resurgence in 2013, when he returned to Warner for You Can't Make Old Friends, which was a commercial success despite a near-total lack of airplay.
  • Tanya Tucker was only 13 when she had her first hit single, "Delta Dawn", in 1972. She continued to have hits throughout The '70s, including six #1 hits and a Top 40 pop crossover with "Lizzie and the Rainman". But come The '80s, the pressures of stardom had hit her hard: she was drinking heavily and using cocaine, and had romantic entanglements with Glen Campbell. During the first few years of the decade, she was hopping from label to label, and having almost no success at radio, other than "Can I See You Tonight" in 1980. But after a three-year absence from the charts, she came back cleaned up and re-focused in 1986 on Capitol Records with "One Love at a Time". That song got her back on track, and in the 11 years she spent on Capitol, she scored a boatload of Top 10 hits, four more #1 hits, and four gold and two platinum albums.
  • Def Leppard have had several "comebacks" from the various personal tragedies that have defied the band.
    • After finding middling success with albums On Through The Night and High and Dry they were sought out by legendary producer Mutt Lange who "dragged them kicking and screaming" through recording Pyromania. Three songs, "Photograph", "Rock of Ages" and "Foolin'", became top 40 singles in the US. However during the band's hiatus, drummer Rick Allen lost his arm in a car crash. The band toiled, refusing to fire Allen in the interim (despite the seeming Foregone Conclusion). However Allen discovered that he could keep time with songs on the radio with his feet and designed a rig to allow him to use his left foot to keep drumming. The band then released Hysteria which might have been their last album if it didn't sell well. Though fairly successful at first, it hadn't generated the sales Def Leppard needed until they released the single "Pour Some Sugar on Me" (which would become their Signature Song), spiking record sales almost overnight, moving seven million units in under a week.
    • While recording Hysteria's follow-up, guitarist Steve Clark's addiction struggles became worse. Clarke took a six month leave of absence from the band to try and clean up, but he died from an accidental overdose on January 8, 1991. Def Leppard hired ex Dio guitarist Vivian Campbell and released Adrenalize, spawning several Top 40 singles including "Let's Get Rocked", "(Stand Up) Kick Love into Motion" and "Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad". The album went to #1 in several countries.
    • Leading into the recording of Slang guitarist Phil Collen went through a divorce, bassist Rick Savage's was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy and lost his father, Rick Allen was arrested for spousal abuse and lead singer Joe Elliott was arrested for assault. They also split from producer Mutt Lange and embarked on a completely different recording process for the forthcoming album. Slang would feature less production in favor of a more organic sound. "We'd got so sick of recording the old way. We didn't want to do it any more. We wanted the music to be more personalized and let the character of the individuals to come out," explains Rick Savage. However the album flopped in the US (but did well in Britain) failing to achieve platinum status for the first time of any Leppard album. The band reunited with Lange to record Euphoria. The lead single "Promises" re-ignited fans' faith in the band, going to #1, and the album followed suit. Since then Def Leppard has enjoyed good success for a band their age, including a successful long-term Vegas show.
  • Justin Bieber exploded onto the scene in 2009/2010 thanks to homegrown YouTube and Twitter popularity. He quickly became the most dominating Teen Idol of a generation, snagging up 5 #1 albums in only three years and rapidly growing a fanbase ("Beliebers") that would become a social media juggernaut. Unfortunately, he was near universally hated outside of his teenage girl demographic. As people continued to wish death upon his career and create career-destroying propaganda, he just got more unstoppable by the day...that was, until the spring of 2012 when a large chunk of his demographic quickly deserted him in favor of red-hot British/Irish boy band One Direction. Bieber spend most of 2012 watching his career get thrashed by 1D, and his fandom continually was cannibalized by that of the boy band's day by day. Between his sudden popularity plunge and breakup with Selena Gomez, Bieber's behavior took a turn for the worse, getting into scandal after scandal and quickly becoming a pop-culture pariah, as 1D continued to stand tall over his dying career. In 2015, Justin Bieber got his act together, and people decided to give him another chance after his song "Where Are U Now" with Skrillex and Diplo became an unexpected hit and eventually won a Grammy. That August, he released "What Do You Mean?" which debuted on top of the Hot 100, becoming the first #1 hit in his career. 1D and Bieber released their albums on November 13, 2015; with Bieber's Purpose snapping One Direction's streak of #1 albums and becoming the best-reviewed and biggest-selling album of his career. Purpose produced two more #1 singles, "Sorry" and "Love Yourself", proving that Bieber had won back the crowd and was bigger than ever, as he later debuted several more featured tracks (including "Despacito", the most played YouTube video of all time) within the Top 10. Meanwhile, One Direction has gone on an indefinite hiatus.
  • Dave Bassett was a fairly prolific songwriter who got his start writing hits for Shinedown, including their pop crossover "Second Chance." Unfortunately, the electronic-music explosion that killed mainstream rock happened shortly afterwards, and Bassett's profile vanished. Then in 2015 he wrote Rachel Platten's "Fight Song," which not only became his first crossover hit in six years, but became an even bigger hit than "Second Chance" was. He continued to strike gold a few months later with Elle King's "Ex's and Oh's". Unfortunately, the songs' success came at the expense of his popularity on rock radio. Shinedown started to use him less and avoid using his songs as singles. Pop Evil continued their association with him, although they're largely criticized for being "commercial".
  • David Guetta was easily the biggest EDM artist of the first three years of the 2010s. By 2012, Americans were getting tired of his poppy sound, and moved to more the hardcore stylings of Calvin Harris, Zedd, and Avicii. Thereafter, Guetta hit a dry spell in the U.S. although he remained popular in Europe. By 2015, Harris and Zedd were dependent on big-name guest stars and Avicii's career was cannibalized by one monster hit (and Mark Ronson had the misfortune of being hit from both sides). With an opening in the market, Guetta revamped his sound and teamed up with Nicki Minaj for "Hey Mama," the biggest hit he had in 3 years.
  • P.O.D. were one of the hottest bands in America in 2002 thanks to the smash hit album Satellite. Unfortunately, their popularity dipped as rap-rock began to die. Ten years later, they had a huge comeback with Murdered Love, which gave them their biggest hit in years with "Lost in Forever". P.O.D. were not crossing over like they used to, but at least they found a way to fit into the new environment.
  • Breaking Benjamin was one of the more popular Hard Rock bands on the 2000s, scoring major rock hits with "Breath", "The Diary of Jane", and "I Will Not Bow". Soon after 'I Will Not Bow" became their only Top-40 pop hit in 2009, lead singer Ben Burnley put the band on hiatus because of personal illnesses caused by his alcoholism. In the interim, Hollywood Records released a greatest hits album, after former band members Aaron Fink and Mark Klepaski granted the label permission to remix "Blow Me Away" without Burnley's permission. By 2013, everyone except Burnley had left the band, and it looked like Breaking Benjamin was gone for good. They reformed in 2014 after Burnley had settled and won a lawsuit against his former bandmates, allowing him to keep the band name. He then recruited four new band members, which didn't really make major news at the time. It wasn't until 2015 that Breaking Benjamin put out their first original music in six years. That single was "Failure", which was anything but its namesake. The song cracked the Hot 100, which is extremely rare for a Hard Rock song in The New '10s, and topped the Mainstream Rock charts for nine weeks. That song's success was enough for Breaking Benjamin's album Dark Before Dawn to debut at #1 on the Billboard 200 (becoming the first album by an Alternative Metal band to hit the top since Staind in 2005; beating such contemporaries as Three Days Grace, Shinedown, Seether, and Papa Roach to the top— it didn't hurt that Breaking Benjamin is a much more acclaimed band), and in fall 2015, the RIAA gave the band seven gold and/or platinum certifications. Dark Before Dawn went gold in 2017, fueled by three #1 rock hits.
  • Korn, the creators of Nu Metal, spent nearly ten years on top of the rock world. Unfortunately, people started to get tired of them as their nu-metal sound devolved into generic alternative metal. 2010's Korn III was a throwback to their roots, but it didn't click with audiences. Then came The Path of Totality, their even more polarizing dubstep album. Their big comeback came with The Paradigm Shift, which brought back their old guitarist Brian "Head" Welch, and had the dubstep elements still present but downplayed. As a result, Korn scored their first top 5 hits since 2007, including their first-ever #1 on the mainstream rock charts with "Never Never".
  • The Chainsmokers scored a massive memetic hit in 2014 with their #16 hit "#SELFIE". Through sheer novelty, the song became a viral hit, despite widely being seen as one of the most annoying EDM songs ever made. After "#SELFIE" finished its run, they promptly faded back into obscurity as a quintessential 2010s One-Hit Wonder. Well, for a little while at least. The following year, they released "Roses", featuring guest vocals from little-known singer Rozes. Over time, the kind of dirty EDM ballad grew in popularity, and then exploded in 2016. That year, "Roses" reached #6, or rather, ten spaces higher than their original hit, became the biggest EDM crossover of the year (so far), and established itself as being bigger than "#SELFIE" ever was. "Roses" proved that The Chainsmokers weren't just a one-off novelty act, rather a DJ duo set to become one of the biggest EDM stars in the industry. Their next single, "Don't Let Me Down", even cracked the Top 5! Even better, "Closer" became their first #1 single! And even more impressive than that was that "Closer"'s time at #1 was a whopping 12 weeks long!
  • Mike Posner had a massive hit in 2010 with "Cooler Than Me". His follow-ups "Please Don't Go" and "Bow Chicka Wow Wow" both cracked the Top 40 and went platinum, but were quickly forgotten. RCA Records then shelved his next two albums, and the closest he came to the top was co-writing #2 hits for Justin Bieber and Maroon Five. He faded back into obscurity and was seen by the public as a defining example of a 2010s One-Hit Wonder for his debut single. Then, in 2015, he released "I Took a Pill in Ibiza", which gained massive attention after a remix turned it into EDM and due to the self-deprecating lyrics that told a truthful story. It became his second Top 10 hit in the United States after six years and his first ever Top 5 hit in the country, rivaling "Roses" as the biggest EDM crossover of the year (before the Chainsmokers' next two songs eclipsed them), and became his first #1 hit in several countries, including the United Kingdom.
  • blink-182 was one of the biggest rock bands in the world from the late-'90s to the mid-'00s, and are credited for launching Pop Punk into the mainstream. On alternative radio, they were royalty, scoring hit-after-hit such as "Dammit", "What's My Age Again?", "All the Small Things" (which became an inescapable pop hit in 2000), "Adam's Song", "Man Overboard", and "I Miss You", among others. However, in 2005 they went on a hiatus due to both Creative Differences between Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker against Tom DeLonge, as well as their excessive touring getting in the way of spending time with their families. They reformed in 2009, and released their sixth album Neighborhoods in 2011. While it did respectably, the album and its songs quickly faded out of public consciousness largely due to their style of Pop Punk having declined in popularity, as well as more infighting between the band and Tom. This culminated with the latter leaving again. After that, many assumed they were done for good. However, that wasn't the case. Instead, they got Alkaline Trio frontman Matt Skiba to join the band as an official member in the place of Tom, and they began working on their seventh album California, released in July 2016. It was practically an overnight success. The lead single "Bored to Death" became their third #1 on alternative, and the first in over ten years. As a bonus, it was also their first ever hit on mainstream rock, peaking at #6 on that chart. The album itself debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 and went gold, a rare feat for a full-fledged rock band in the 2010s and doubly so for a pop-punk band. It also became their first chart-topper across The Pond, hitting #1 in the UK. Afterwards they embarked on an arena-sized tour with fellow pop-punk bands A Day to Remember and The All-American Rejects. With the band now fully unified, they have proven that they can still remain relevant over a decade-and-a-half after they first hit the scene, and are showing no signs of going back.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic went through one of these at the turn of The '90s. Following the failure of the UHF soundtrack, and Michael Jackson politely declining him permission to parody "Black or White" as "Snack All Night", Al was at a crossroads in his career. Then an idea presented himself when Nirvana took off with "Smells Like Teen Spirit", inspiring Al to write "Smells Like Nirvana". This song reignited his career after that downturn, earning him another Top 40 pop hit and praise from Kurt Cobain himself. Al has been mostly on track ever since, scoring his sole Top 10 single with "White & Nerdy" and first #1 album Mandatory Fun in the new millennium.
  • Randy Houser had a successful debut album in 2009 titled Anything Goes, which produced hits in its title track and "Boots On". But lead singles to what would've been his second album stalled out at the lower regions of the charts, and when that album (Call Me Cadillac) was released, it made no noise at all. It also didn't help that his label, Universal South, was undergoing a merger with Toby Keith's Show Dog label, thus spreading its resources thin and losing both him and nearly every other artist on the label in the shuffle. He left that label in favor of Broken Bow, where he quickly had his first two #1 hits in "How Country Feels" and "Runnin' Outta Moonlight", both of which sold platinum as well and earned him critical praise for blending traditional country with a modern edge. Two more Top 5 hits followed from his first Broken Bow, album also titled How Country Feels. In 2016, he had his third #1 hit with "We Went" from his second Broken Bow album, Fired Up. Despite this single meeting Follow Up Failure, he had a resurgence in critical acclaim with his 2019 album Magnolia.
  • Thrice were a critically adored band that began as a Hardcore Punk outfit before branching out into Post-Hardcore, Emo, Progressive Rock, Alternative Rock, Indie Rock, Folk, Blues, New Age, Post-Rock and just about anything else. Then, they disbanded for five years, before returning with To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere, their highest-charting album to date.
  • Big & Rich were one of the biggest Country Music success stories of 2004 when they took the genre by storm, coming from seemingly nowhere with their novelty hit "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)". At the time, they were heralded as a breath of fresh air, taking hard rock and rap influences into their music and blending them with colorful lyrics and quirky stage personae. They also championed other artists in their songwriter clique, the MuzikMafia, most notably Gretchen Wilson and Cowboy Troy. Co-founder John Rich (who was originally a member of Lonestar, and had made a failed attempt at a solo career between leaving them and founding Big & Rich with Big Kenny) co-wrote and produced for a wide variety of acts at this time, including Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, and Jason Aldean. "Save a Horse" came to be one of the defining country hits of the first decade of the 21st century. Despite their initial success, the novelty wore off fast, to the point that most of the MuzikMafia's successive output was panned as weak and forced. For quite a while, it looked like Big & Rich would be derided as a flash in the pan and a One-Hit Wonder for "Save a Horse" (even though it only got to #11 and the Black Sheep Hit ballad "Lost in This Moment" became their only #1 hit in 2007). But then came their 2014 album Gravity, released independently after their tenure with Warner Bros. Records ended. While the album hasn't exactly lit up the sales charts, it has been well-received for focusing entirely on ballads (which have always been a strong suit of theirs, a fact that many have forgotten in the wake of their novelties). It has also produced big hits in "Look at You" and "Run Away with You".
  • As detailed in the Creator Killer/Music page, "The Killer" Jerry Lee Lewis had a swift descent from rock 'n' roll superstardom to disgrace when it was confirmed he was married to his 13-year-old first cousin (once removed), Myra Gale Brown. After almost a decade and a couple lukewarm comeback attempts, Lewis became a big star again in 1968, albeit in the world of country music. He's since returned to rock 'n' roll, been the subject of a critically-acclaimed biopic in the early '90s, and still performs concerts up to this day, even in his early 80s.
  • Cher has had numerous career ups and downs and has gone through at least two resurrections. The first one came in the 1980s, when she gained notice for her acting in movies like Silkwood and Moonstruck, the latter netting her an Academy Award for Best Actress. She also scored her first Top 40 hits since 1979's "Take Me Home" late in the decade, with songs like "I Found Someone" and "If I Could Turn Back Time". Her career hit a downturn after the early 1990s, but in 1999 she achieved a second career resurrection after recording the #1 hit "Believe".
  • Nick Jonas was once a member of the hugely popular Boy Band Jonas Brothers with his brothers Joe and Kevin. They were hugely popular in the late 2000's, playing to large arenas and getting their own show on the Disney Channel. Eventually the Jonas Brothers' fanbase moved on to new teen pop idols, and the band broke up as an obscure punchline. However, Face of the Band Nick Jonas later went solo and surprised everyone with a mature solo sound, scoring a few big hits with "Jealous", "Close", and "Chains", while landing supporting roles in Scream Queens (2015), Kingdom and the sequel to Jumanji. Joe Jonas also has found success independently from the band, thanks to his band DNCE who scored a top 10 hit with "Cake by the Ocean"; although DNCE has yet to score a successful follow-up, it has at least helped him from escaping the shadow of his band. The Jonas Brothers reunited in 2019 with a surprise single "Sucker", which debuted high on the Hot 100.
  • Luis Fonsi was mostly unheard of in the non-Spanish speaking before his global smash hit "Despacito", but he was a superstar back in the Latin world, especially in his native Puerto Rico. That being said, even there it proved to be a comeback hit for him, as by that point he had not had a major hit since the late 2000s.
  • Bob Seger reached his peak in the late 1970s to early 1980s with his hit albums Night Moves (1976), Stranger in Town (1978), and Against the Wind (1980). His subsequent 80s albums The Distance (1982) and Like A Rock (1986) weren't quite as big, but still sold well and had a few hit singles, with the title track of the latter being famously used on Chevrolet commercials for quite some time. It wasn't until the 1990s that it was evident that Seger's star was fading. His voice was shot and his then-new albums The Fire Inside (1991) and It's a Mystery (1995) were poorly-received and didn't sell well. Seger stepped away from music in the late '90s to focus on his family life and didn't release another album of entirely new material until Face the Promise in 2006 (where he finally got the hang of singing with his new voice), which was #2 on the US Billboard's Top Rock Albums and had people talking about him again.
  • Teena Marie was one of the most popular R&B artists of the 1980's, reportedly becoming the most successful white act in the history of Motown and still attaining mainstream success after a Label Hop to Epic Records with hit singles like "Lovergirl" and "Ooo La La La." However, Teena parted ways with Epic as a result of Creative Differences with the label during the creation of her 1990 album Ivory. She attempted an indie comeback in 1994 by founding her own label, Sarai Records, where she released her next album Passion Play, but in an era before music distribution on the Internet was possible, she struggled to find sufficient distribution for the album, causing Passion Play to come and go without many of her fans even knowing of its existence. Although she recorded a second album independently, Black Rain, Teena decided to hold back its release and secure a major-label deal in order to prevent replicating what happened with Passion Play; she eventually scored a deal with Cash Money Records in 2002, and the first album she released on the label, 2004's La Doña, ended up becoming the highest-charting album of her three-decade career, while its lead single "Still in Love" became her first top 40 hit on the R&B charts since 1990 and her first entry on the Billboard Hot 100 since 1988, and it is now regarded as one of her most iconic songs. The final two albums she released before her death, 2006's Sapphire on Cash Money and 2009's Congo Square on Stax Records, were also met with commercial success and critical acclaim.
  • Craig David: The British R&B singer became popular in the Turn of the Millennium with hits such as "Fill Me In" and "7 Days" in addition to massively successful albums like Born to Do It and Slicker Than Your Average. While his following two albums The Story Goes... and Trust Me were moderately successful, his popularity waned in the beginning of The New '10s after the lacklustre reception of his Cover Album Signed Sealed Delivered. As a result, he focused on other projects such as collaborating with several artists and as a radio presenter. That soon changed in 2015, when he collaborated with Big Narstie for the song "When the Bassline Drops", which ultimately became his most successful single since 2007 and led to a well-received Revisiting the Roots album Following My Intuition, which marked his comeback and becoming his UK number-one album since his debut when it was released in September 2016. His single "I Know You" (featuring Bastille) from the following album The Time Is Now (which also became a successful hit) became his highest-charted hit since 2005, proving that Following My Intuition wasn't just a fluke.
  • Scotty McCreery won the 10th season of American Idol when he was only 17. While his first two albums were modest commercial sucesses, their singles didn't exactly light up the charts, with his best hits only barely making Top 20. He intended to release a third album, but when its lead single "Southern Belle" (a song that many derided as not fitting his established style, and which McCreery himself apparently didn't like) fell outside the top 40, Mercury Records dropped him. It looked for sure as if McCreery's singing career was over before he was even old enough to drink legally, and he was not heard from again for years. But in late 2017, he independently released the song "Five More Minutes", which went viral thanks to his still-active fanbase and became the first song to make the Mediabase country singles charts without being promoted by a record label. Seeing a hit in the making, the newly-established Thirty Tigers label picked the song up for official release, causing it to progress naturally to #1 on the country music charts in the first quarter of 2018, thus becoming his biggest radio hit to date. The corresponding album on Thirty Tigers was released soon afterward, to largely positive reviews. And just to prove that "Five More Minutes" was no fluke, followup single "This Is It" was a hit as well.
  • Gary Barlow: who, for the first half of the nineties, was the lead singer and songwriter of Take That, one of the biggest Boy Bands in the world (though not in America). He even managed to get some critical acclaim for his work, most notably winning three Ivor Novello awards for the songs "Pray" and "Back For Good", as well as being songwriter of the year in 1994. When Take That broke up, he was widely tipped to be the Breakup Breakout and go on to a strong solo career. Barlow did have some initial success, but then quickly got overshadowed by the success of his former bandmate Robbie Williams, who had left the band a year before the split proper, under less than amicable circumstances. Barlow's second solo album proved a disastrous flop and led to him being dropped by his record label, after which he was widely mocked and ridiculed, labelled a talentless hack both by the press and by Williams, who by his own admission, was still enormously personally bitter towards Barlow. Barlow underwent a breakdown, sinking into depression, withdrawing from public life and gaining massive amounts of weight as a result of stress eating. Barlow did eventually manage to reform a career as a behind-the-scenes songwriter and producer, but his star was very much dead. Then in 2006, a greatest hits album and TV documentary in honour of the tenth anniversary of Take That's split proved a surprising success, and shifted a lot of a public perception of Barlow, mostly by making everyone feel really bad for the poor guy. This let to the band reforming and releasing a new album, which went to number #1 on the British charts, as did its first two singles "Patience" and "Shine." It helped that Barlow had lost the weight and was now widely considered better-looking than he'd ever been in his Boy Band days. Since then, Barlow has been performing with Take That and racked up an enormous number of hits, alongside doing charity work and the like, and is frequently called a national treasurenote . He also managed to repair his relationship with Williams, who rejoined the band in 2010, before leaving again in 2014 - but on good terms this time. Barlow was even chosen to organise the concert for HM The Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012, as well as compose a commemorative song for the occasion alongside Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, for which he was given a OBE.note  In 2013, he released his first solo album in over a decade, which while getting mixed to negative reviews, was a major commercial success, going to number #2 on the British album charts. He's also won two more Ivor Norvellos.
  • British techno group Empirion, following a two-decade hiatus due to Bob Glennie succumbing to brain cancer, made an unexpected comeback in 2018 with the I Am Electronic/Red Noise EP.
  • Queen: Having been a highly successful band in The '70s, by The '80s Queen was largely seen as old and washed up and their reputation had taken a large hit for various reasonsnote . Then Live Aid happened. In 1985, among one of the largest collections of rock bands ever, Queen gave a show-stopping twenty minute performance that is widely regarded as the single greatest live performance in modern music history, with front man Freddie Mercury at numerous points unprecedentedly getting the 72,000 people in the non-Queen audience to clap and sing along in perfect unison. This shocking comeback revitalized interest in the band that has continued to this day, an interest that only became larger with Mercury's untimely death six years later (which, in combination with the "Bohemian Rhapsody" bit in Wayne's World the following year, finally restored Queen's American popularity as well).
  • Prince was probably the funk act of the 1980's. Receiving immense critical and commercial success for his role as a leading innovator in "Minneapolis sound", his fame and fortune reached heights directly comparable to that of Michael Jackson around the same time, ultimately culminating in his beloved 1987 double album Sign '☮' the Times. However, the Troubled Production of the album would sow the seeds for Prince's downfall in the following decade. Executive Meddling forced him to cut down what was supposed to be a triple album, and while it's generally agreed that this was for the better, it heavily soured relations between Prince and Warner Bros. This poorer relationship would grow even worse in the 1990's, when Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable "Love Symbol", publicly feuded with Warner Bros. over the terms of his contract, and attempted to fulfill his end of said contract as soon as possible by churning out quick & dirty album after quick & dirty album for the next several years. This led to his popularity waning very quickly, with only the most devoted of fans sticking with him for more than a decade. By the end of the decade, he was only known among mainstream audiences for the fact that press outlets had to refer to him by the cumbersome and Snark Bait-y moniker of "The Artist Formerly Known as 'Prince'". Eventually, Prince's contract with Warner Bros. finally ended in 1996, and their trademark on his given name expired in 2000, leading him to revert back to it after 7 years (said trademark is what prompted the adopting of the "Love Symbol" moniker in th efirst place); he would finally make his comeback with 2004's Musicology, which peaked at number 5 on multiple countries' album charts. With a few exceptions, his following albums would continue to be critical and commercial successes; by the time he died in 2016, it was generally agreed that Prince had managed to reclaim his footing both commercially and artistically.
  • Panic! at the Disco debuted hot with one of the defining Emo-pop hits of the 2000s, "I Write Sins Not Tragedies". The band's second album, Pretty.Odd., took their sound in a radically different and polarizing direction towards psychedelic Beatles-style rock, and members of the band steadily left due to Creative Differences until only Brendon Urie remained. While the band retained a strong core fanbase, it seemed likely that the band would remain a One-Hit Wonder in the eyes of the general public until over a decade after their debut, when the second single from the band's sixth album, "High Hopes", unexpectedly picked up traction on Top 40 radio. "High Hopes" surpassed "I Write Sins" #7 peak by climbing to #4 on the Hot 100. Urie subsequently was featured on the lead single for Taylor Swift's next album, "Me!", which reached an even higher peak, seemingly securing the band's return to mass popularity.

  • The Comeback Player of the Year Award in several professional sports lives off of this trope, with the season winner rebounding from an injury or slump from the past season.
  • Josh Hamilton was one of the most highly touted prospects in the history of baseball when he was drafted first overall by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. But after sustaining injuries in a 2001 car accident, he turned to alcohol and drugs to ease the pain, leading to him become hopelessly addicted to them. As a result of his substance abuse and further injuries, he was banned and out of baseball in 2004, 2005 and most of 2006; ESPN then named him the 35th worst draft pick of all time. Then, amazingly, he found religion, cleaned himself up, went to Cincinnati and then Texas, and has now gone on to be one of the game's best players, including an amazing home run derby performance in 2008. Unfortunately, Hamilton then had a couple of relapses in 2012 and 2015 and hasn't played since.
  • Tony Mandarich was hyped as the greatest offensive line prospect of all time going into the 1989 NFL draft. This was enough for the Green Bay Packers to draft him second that year. Unfortunately, Mandarich was widely believed to have been using steroids (when in fact he only used alcohol and painkillers in the league; Mandarich only did steroids in college), which hindered his on-field performance. He was so bad as a starter that the Packers cut ties with him after the 1991 season, Sports Illustrated called him "The NFL's Incredible Bust", and he could only watch as the other four players taken in the Top 5 of his draft class (Troy Aikman, Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, and Deion Sanders) carved out Hall of Fame careers. His drug and alcohol addiction soon spiralled out of control, and he went to rehab in 1995. As Deadspin put it best, "in a Vanilla Ice-like return from the dead", the Indianapolis Colts gave a newly sober Mandarich a second chance for the 1996 season, where he spent the next three years as a serviceable starter (even protecting Peyton Manning in his rookie season).
  • Kurt Warner was a top-five quarterback in the early 2000s for the St. Louis Rams, heading up the "Greatest Show on Turf". Around the middle of the decade, a few bad games - along with the performance of Marc Bulger - led to his going to the New York Giants, where he played for a few games and was quickly supplanted by Eli Manning. After that, he went to Arizona, where up-and-down play meant he was sharing the starting job with Matt Leinart until 2008, when he shook off the cobwebs, returned to greatness, and led the Arizona Cardinals all the way to the Super Bowl (their first ever). He retired after another playoff season with his legacy cemented and was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2017.
  • Carson Palmer won the Heisman Trophy award in 2002, which was enough for the Cincinnati Bengals to take him first in the 2003 NFL draft. After sitting out his rookie season, he made two Pro Bowls in 2005 and 2006. Around 2010-2012, Palmer was stricken with the "Heisman curse", and his production spiraled downhill, especially with the Oakland Raiders. After signing with the Arizona Cardinals, Palmer started rebuilding his momentum until 2015, when he made his first Pro Bowl in 9 years, at the late age of 36, scoring the best QB rating, and most touchdowns and yards, in his career.
  • Michael Vick was the first overall pick in 2001 NFL Draft for the Atlanta Falcons. He was never known as a top 10 quarterback - mediocre accuracy contributed to that - but he was solid enough for Atlanta. However, a brash personality was just the start of his problems. Vick was infamously busted for dogfighting in 2007 and spent 21 months in prison, with all of his fans (and sponsors) deserting him. After his release, he signed on with the Philadelphia Eagles, largely sitting on the bench for his first year there. After Donovan McNabb got traded, he got the starting job and never looked back, having the best statistical year of his career. In 2011, he was signed to a $40 million contract, resigned with Nike and carried a humble demeanor - if that's not a resurrection, nothing is.
  • Marv Albert is arguably, the greatest NBA announcer ever (perhaps the closest rival to that throne is the late, great Los Angeles Lakers announcer Chick Hearn). Not only was he the longtime voice of not only the New York Knicks but also the New York Rangers hockey team and a top announcer for NBC Sports during the 1980s and 1990s. However, it all crashed down in 1997 when Albert was caught up in a sex scandal involving him allegedly sodomizing a woman (and biting her back) in a motel. After finishing calling the 1997 NBA Finals for NBC, Albert was fired by the network. Albert slowly but surely worked his way back, first with Turner Sports on their NBA broadcasts (as well as the Wimbledon tennis tournament) and with NBC. Finally, in 2000-01, Albert returned to the top spot as NBC's lead NBA announcer, replacing Bob Costas, who had the job the previous three seasons. He held that post until NBC lost the NBA TV rights to ABC/ESPN after the 2001-02 season. Shortly thereafter, Albert became lead play-by-play man for TNT's NBA broadcasts and CBS Radio's Monday Night Football broadcasts.
  • Landon Donovan became a worldwide name with a sterling performance for the USA at the 2002 World Cup, earning a Young Player of the Year award and attracting European interest. Then came the failed stints at German clubs, the whining about homesickness that earned him the nickname Landycakes, his lackluster play in the '06 Cup, and the eventual humiliation of losing his captain's armband at LA Galaxy to then-frenemy David Beckham. That turned around in 08/09: he became the country's all-time highest goalscorer, Galaxy's new manager restored him as team captain, and (with a newfound maturity he credited to his divorce) he played a vital part in taking the USA to the finals of the Confederations Cup. A highly successful loan to English team Everton and a career-high performance at the 2010 World Cup followed. Even the most cynical American soccer fans will now admit he's one of the country's all-time best players. He eventually retired in 2014 as the second-most capped player, the best goal scorer of the national team, and an MLS legend. Donovan came back to Los Angeles for one last hurrah in 2016 as a free agent after the team's stars went down with season-ending injuries. He couldn't stay retired, coming back again in 2018 with Mexican top-flight side León.
  • Brazilian footballer Ronaldo did it twice. At the age of 17, he was a successful striker enough to be called for the victorious 1994 FIFA World Cup squad (though he didn't play any games). Then in 1998, he suffered a convulsion before the World Cup final that caused him and the rest of Brazil's team to play bad enough to lose 3-0. Knee problems kept him out of the field for the most part of 1999-2001. Still, national team coach Felipão believed in Ronaldo enough to bring him to the 2002 World Cup, where he was both champion and top scorer (including the 2 goals in the final). Between 2005 and 2008, his career again stalled, with injuries, weight gain and a conturbed personal life (such as an infamous case involving transvestites). Then he returned to Brazil, where he became an idol in Corinthians.
  • Rick Ankiel (formerly of the St. Louis Cardinals) was a promising pitcher early in his career. However, after a while, he fell into a huge slump and was sent down to the minors. After a few years of bouncing back and forth between the majors and the minors and showing no signs of returning to his former promise, he was allowed a second chance as an outfielder. After training, he came back up to the majors and became a solid addition to the St. Louis outfield, making several outstanding plays- ironically aided by his pitcher's arm allowing him to make some incredibly accurate plays from quite long distances. Ankiel was later traded and is still considered a good outfielder, if not really a star.
  • R.A. Dickey, a pitcher for the Rangers in the early- to mid-noughties and had pitching skills and stats that, at their zenith, were mediocre. Then he decided to try the knuckleball, the joke pitch of baseball, and wound up bouncing around the minors, with occasional stints in the majors for several years. In 2010, he signed a minor league deal with the New York Mets who called him up in mid-May and was one of the few things that season for Mets fans to cheer about: his joke pitch had become a lethal joke pitch. Two years later, he won the Cy Young Award, and in 2013, the Toronto Blue Jays made him their ace.
  • Steve Stricker was one of the many solid but not spectacular golfers that became prominent in the mid-1990s, right around Tiger Woods' rise to stardom. Stricker would have three wins by the end of 2001, but by then his career hit a heavy slump with no apparent way out. Fortunes changed in the 2006 US Open when he led at the halfway mark and treaded his way through one of the most difficult Opens in history en route to a tie for sixth. This would begin a steady rise back to a form as good as, if not better, than the one he had in the 90s, first culminating in a win at the 2007 Barclays tournament, the PGA Tour's first playoffs event under the inception of the FedEx Cup. Since then, he's picked up eight more wins and is a constant contender for the Cup, even in 2013 when he's dialed his schedule down to focus more on his family.
  • Teemu Selänne caught the NHL by storm when he scored 76 goals for the Winnipeg Jets in his rookie season in 1992-93. Dubbed "The Finnish Flash", Selänne would electrify crowds for years- first in Winnipeg and then in Anaheim and San Jose- before his flashy play caught up to him requiring multiple knee surgeries. After performing poorly as a member of the Colorado Avalanche in 2003-04- where he was at times not even used during games- it was thought that his career was finished, his knee injuries catching up to him as they did with Pavel Bure, a similarly flashy player who crashed out of the league at roughly the same time. However, in 2005-06- using the lockout cancelled 2004-05 season to recover- Selänne signed again with the Ducks, where he again regained his status as a star scorer (and became a more complete player), a role he continued to have for several more seasons. He retired under his terms at the end of the 2013–14 season, and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame 3 years later.
  • Bryan Berard was the first overall draft pick in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, becoming a highly regarded young defenceman for the New York Islanders. His career would blossom after being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but on March 11, 2000, he was struck in the eye by Ottawa's Marian Hossa after Hossa's stick caught Berard in the follow-through for a shot on goal. Berard was blinded in the eye, and it was thought his career was finished. After a year of numerous surgeries, though, Berard would eventually restore his vision to NHL standards, allowing him to revive his NHL career. Though he never became the superstar he was predicted to become, Berard still wound up having a solid career with Chicago, both teams in New York, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Vityaz Chekov in Russia before retiring in 2009.
  • LeBron James At separate points in his career, LeBron has seen a massive turn around in both success and popularity. James had a massive hype machine, being dubbed The Chosen One before even being drafted into the NBA. In 2003, at the young age of 18, he joined his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers, turning the team from low tier team in a city notoriously cursed with bad luck regarding sports into a guaranteed presence in the playoffs. Despite James' gifts, they could never make it out of the playoffs. Their single Finals appearance in 2007 saw them getting swept in four games, and the reemergence of the Boston Celtics from 2008-2010 made returning to the Finals an impossible task. This caused many to call into question whether James was actually worth the hype. He controversially decided to take his talents to South Beach in Miami in 2010 to create a "superteam" with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh; the results were 4 consecutive Finals Appearances and LeBron winning the championship, league MVP, and Finals MVP back-to-back in 2012-13, solidifying his place as the best single player of the early 2010s at the cost of the acclaim and love from the public that he had generally enjoyed during the early days of his career. Then before the 2014-2015 season, he stunned the world and went back home to Cleveland with the sole purpose of winning a championship for the beleaguered city. He did just that in the 2016 Finals, almost single-handedly powering his team back from a 3-1 game deficit against the dominant Golden State Warriors and winning his 3rd Finals MVP. As a result of the win, he ended Cleveland's 52-year championship drought and won, cemented his status as one of the greatest players of all time, and won back most of the respect and admiration that he had lost when he left for Miami 6 years prior. Also in 2016, baseball's Cleveland Indians made their first World Series since 1997, while the city's minor league hockey team, the Lake Erie (now Cleveland) Monsters, won the AHL title. All in all, it was a great year for Cleveland, Ohio.
  • Alex Smith, the former first overall draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers, was written off as a draft bust for a while, but in 2011 he Took a Level in Badass, getting just one away from his career high touchdowns and reducing his interceptions from 10 to 5, setting personal bests in rushing and taking the team to the playoffs. He was set to have a repeat performance the following year until an injury gave the job to Colin Kaepernick but rebounded the next year after signing with the Kansas City Chiefs, setting career bests in yards and touchdowns. As of 2017, Smith and the Chiefs are a perennial playoff team while Kaepernick, due to a combination of poor play and political controversy, found himself out of the NFL and the 49ers as a whole have fallen. In January 2018, Smith was traded to the Redskins, a team with bad luck at the QB position.
  • Brian Vickers, the former record holdernote  for youngest NASCAR national series champion (set in the second tier Xfinity Series, then known as the Busch Series, in 2003), has needed two of these just to stay active in the top tier Sprint Cup Series. His first derailment came when Hendrick Motorsports advanced him from their Xfinity program into the #25 entry on the Cup side, with the expectation that he would be able to improve the performance of the team from its long-time midpack stature to being on par with the team's other three entries (which all posted top ten points runs the year before). Vickers, however, put up results more in line with the previous several years of mediocrity in the #25, with his only win at Hendrick, in October 2006 at Talladega igniting a firestorm of controversy after he wrecked both Dale Earnhardt, Jr., the sport's most popular driver, and his own teammate Jimmie Johnson, which seemingly ended Johnson's already sputtering chances of winning a title.note  In 2007, he landed with start-up Red Bull Racing, and frequently struggled just to get the cars in the field. But when he could get into the field, he became a fairly reliable top ten finisher, and by 2009 he and Red Bull had their program strong enough for Vickers to win at Michigan and get them into the Chase field. However, things came unraveled again when Vickers was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the legs), pulmonary embolisms (clots from the DVT that had migrated to the lungs) and a hole in his heart in May 2010, which took him out of the car for the rest of the year. Red Bull underwent almost a complete regression without Vickers behind the wheel, such that when he returned in 2011, he was running severely limited equipment, at which point he began taking out his rage at his cars on his competitors and basically blacklisted himself from any competitive openings when Red Bull imploded at the end of the year.note  His second resurrection began when he got a part-time deal with a suddenly ascendant Michael Waltrip Racing in 2012, and posted five top tens (and three top fives) in eight starts. He got a slightly expanded deal the next year and won his third career race at New Hampshire that July, which eventually got him a two year full-time deal with MWR. However, MWR began to derail shortly after a cheating scandal (in which Vickers was marginally involved) led to the loss of major sponsor NAPA and a shutdown of one of the three teams, the #56, which was driven by Martin Truex, Jr.; Vickers' contract was for the #55 car, whose sponsor Aaron's stuck with the team. However, the loss of both revenue and real-world data from that third team has severely impacted MWR's ability to remain competitive, and Vickers has been unable to transcend this decline,note  which means he may require another resurrection once his contract with the team ends after 2015.
  • Ron Harper is an unusual example of Career Resurrection. Playing for the Los Angeles Clippers in the early '90s, Harper was a consistent 20-point scorer and a solid defender. But he was very injury-prone and unhappy in what was then the NBA's equivalent of a jail sentence. Upon joining the Chicago Bulls for the 1994-95 season, Harper's scoring numbers and minutes took a huge tumble, but he had finally found happiness as an NBA player, staying healthy, finding a niche as the consummate defensive-oriented role player, and playing a key role in the Bulls' second three-peat. Harper later ended his career with two more championships with the Lakers. In all, he proved that sometimes, less is more when it comes to statistics.
  • Similar to Harper's example in terms of "less is more," Bob McAdoo debuted in the NBA with a bang as a top rookie for the Buffalo Braves, a.k.a. the future LA Clippers, in 1973. He followed that up with three straight seasons as the NBA's scoring leader, consistently norming over 30 points per game. And while he still mostly averaged at least 25 points per game in the seasons that immediately followed, he bounced from team to team and developed a reputation as a malcontent by the time The '80s rolled around. The then-mighty Los Angeles Lakers took a chance on him in the 1981-82 season, surrendering a lowly second-round draft pick to acquire the former scoring champ from the New Jersey Nets. Though he started only one game for the Lakers and never averaged more than 15 ppg, he became their "sixth man", providing quality minutes as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's backup at center and Kurt Rambis' backup at power forward. As for his rep as a malcontent, he proved to be a solid citizen and a locker room leader, not minding his reduced role at all.
  • Once considered a potential heir apparent to John Elway, Tommy Maddox was a first-round pick of the Denver Broncos in 1992 who had fizzled out in Denver, the Los Angeles (later St. Louis) Rams, and the New York Giants and was out of the NFL by 1996. Leave it to Vince McMahon's XFL to make Maddox into the league's sole MVP, and fuel his NFL comeback in 2001. He had two solid, if unspectacular seasons as the Pittsburgh Steelers' starting quarterback in 2002 (good enough for him to win the Comeback Player of the Year award) and 2003, before backing up new Steelers franchise QB Ben Roethlisberger in 2004 and 2005.
  • Tommy John's Career Resurrection in Major League Baseball was such a success that they named a surgical procedure after him. He was in the middle of one of his best pro seasons in 1974 when he suffered permanent damage to his ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing arm. This would have normally been a career-ending injury, but thanks to the surgery that would soon bear his name, he made a successful return to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1976 and played in three straight All-Star Games from 1978 to 1980. Even more remarkable, he ended up pitching in the majors until 1989, when he was already 46 years old!
  • Once one of the top young pitchers in the majors, Dennis Eckersley was a washed-up drunk by end of the 1986 MLB season, and apart from an appearance in the 1982 All-Star Game, he was mediocre from 1980 to 1986. But after successfully getting treatment for his alcoholism, "Eck" joined the Oakland Athletics in 1987, and was switched from starting pitcher to reliever. All he did was become one of the top closers in the majors all the way to the late '90s, winning both the American League Cy Young and MVP awards in 1992 and making the Hall of Fame in 2004 in his first year of eligibility.
  • Rudy Distrito warmed the bench for the dominant Crispa Redmanizers in the Philippine Basketball Association in 1981 and 1982 before putting up solid numbers for a series of bad-to-mediocre teams from 1983 to 1986. His pro career was seemingly over in 1987, but crowd favorite Ginebra San Miguel signed him from the amateurs midway through the 1987 season, as he soon established his legacy as "The Destroyer", a combo guard who played with the ferocity of an NFL linebacker, and had a knack for hitting big shots.
  • Bogs Adornado is considered one of the PBA's top shooters of all time, but he was pretty much washed up early in the 1980 season, demoted to the bench after he suffered a career-threatening injury in 1977. Released by Crispa after only a handful of games, he joined the U-Tex Wranglers for the rest of 1980, and promptly returned to his old form, making the Mythical 5 (the PBA's all-league team) that same season. He followed that up by becoming a three-time MVP in 1981 and continued putting up big numbers for most of the remainder of his career, which ended in 1987 at the age of 36.
  • Nick Foles had a breakout year in 2013 where he had the NFL's best passer rating and touchdown to interception ratio, resulting in a playoff berth for the Philadelphia Eagles and a Pro Bowl selection for him. Unfortunately, he suffered an injury midway through 2014 and, in a very controversial decision, head coach and general manager Chip Kelly decided to trade him to the St. Louis Rams. Foles struggled with his new team and was eventually released. After spending one season with the Kansas City Chiefs as a backup to Alex Smith, Foles considered retiring until he was persuaded by new Eagles GM Roseman to come back to Philadelphia in 2017 and serve as a backup/mentor to their second-year starter Carson Wentz. In Week 14, Wentz, who was having an MVP season, went down with an ACL injury and Foles led the Eagles to clinch the division and eventually top seed in the NFC. Foles did very well in the playoffs and led the Eagles to the Super Bowl, scoring 34 points on the top-ranked Minnesota Vikings defense along the way. In Super Bowl LII, Foles out-dueled the great Tom Brady in a 41-33 shootout that brought the Eagles their first Super Bowl victory in team history. Foles was named the game's MVP and now has several NFL teams attempting to work out a trade with the Eagles so he can become their starting quarterback.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Hulk Hogan. THE biggest wrestling star of the 1980s, Hogan's career stalled in the mid '90s after a combination of steroid allegations (promptly ridding him of his reputation for being a good role model for children), a disastrous movie career, and especially jumping to WCW while still retaining the tired gimmick he'd held for a decade. Seen as old hat, boring and having gotten involved with a group of poor angles and feuds, Hogan's popularity was at an all-time low when the decision was finally made to turn him Heel by being a founding member of the nWo faction. The move sparked interest in wrestling that it hadn't seen since the turn of the decade. Hogan once more became one of the biggest names in wrestling as a leader of the nWo.
    • Hogan's second career resurrection came after his legendary Wrestlemania 18 with The Rock. Booked as a heel as part of an attempt of a nWo resurrection, the Toronto crowd decided they just didn't want to boo the legendary Hulkster. They cheered Hogan and booed The Rock. The Rock switched on the fly, wrestling a more heel style than he'd planned once the crowd turned on him. The next night, also in Toronto, Hogan cut a promo thanking the fans, who at times drowned him out with their ovation. Shortly thereafter Hall and Nash turned on him, and he started coming out in his signature red and yellow to "Real American" once again. He enjoyed a short resurgence and even recaptured the WWE World Title from Triple H in 2002. He briefly left WWE in 2003 after a contract dispute, but returned in 2005 and finished up with WWE in 2007. His in-ring career ended shortly thereafter.
  • "Macho Man" Randy Savage was second only to Hulk Hogan in the 1980s. The 1990s weren't much kinder to him than they were to Hogan. First, he suffered a lot of Badass Decay during his time as "Macho King", his wife Miss Elizabeth divorced him in 1992 and he had a falling out with Hogan. Afterwards, Randy took a lesser role in the company as a color commentator and ambassador, only wrestling part-time and never a big spectacle when he did. By 1994, Savage was ready to make a full-time return to the ring, but Vince McMahon wouldn't allow it because he believed Randy to be too old and broken down to compete with the "New Generation". Savage's contract expired in late October and he jumped ship to WCW in December to resurrect his in-ring career. While his WCW run paled in comparison to his WWF heyday, he did put on some good matches, won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship four times, and joined the New World Order to feud with Diamond Dallas Page in 1997, which was voted "Feud of the Year" by Pro Wrestling Illustrated and was DDP's Star-Making Role.
  • Shawn Michaels is easily this. In The '90s, he was acclaimed for his great ring work but run down for his drug use and constant showboating and backstage politics. In 1998, a bad back injury forced him out of the business and it looked like he was done. In 2002, after some replacement surgery and having undergone a religious conversion, HBK returned for "one more match" against Triple H. To the shock of everyone, Michaels wrestled a fantastic brawl that soon got him back into the swing of things. Indeed, it's arguable that Michaels was actually better after his injury than before it, winning titles and creating classic Match of the Year battles against John Cena, The Undertaker, Chris Jericho, and more. Also, Michaels was hailed for changing his attitude, more accepting and giving the rub to others. He finally retired in 2010 but his comeback established his legacy from a one-time great to one of the true icons of the entire business.
  • Tina Ferrari tried to keep with wrestling after GLOW was cancelled, but eventually left it. Several years later she was asked to join WWE to help rebuild their women's division. She's now better known as Ivory and - while her career had plenty of ups and downs - she's still recognized as a 3-time WWE Women's Champion, and one of the best women to wrestle for the company. In 2018 she was announced as an inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame.
  • Eddie Guerrero was a popular star in CMLL, AAA, NJPW, ECW, Wrestling/{{WCW }}and then-WWF, until drug abuse caused him to lose his job and his family. After finding religion, getting clean, and reclaiming his wife and kids, a rehired and rejuvenated Eddie reached new heights in the WWE as a world champion and fan favorite before his passing in 2005. His entertaining performances and real-life story, finding salvation in his life before his death, has made him one of the most beloved figures in wrestling history.
  • Yumi Ohka was a Tag Team wrestler best known for her comedy routines and "idol" performances in the offbeat JD Star promotion. After four years with little to claim besides a tag title reign Cut Short and one day possession of the infamous Ironman Heavymetalweight Belt, Yoshimoto decided it was ready to push Ohka as The Ace of the company only for her ACL to be broken and require multiple surgeries over the course of two years to repair. In 2007, JD Star announced it was going out of business and the act of its final day was showcasing the resurrection of Ohka's career after her long absence to let everyone know she would be available in their absence. Pro Wrestling Wave was founded in April of the same year with Ohka as a regular in the main event...unfortunately for her, her gimmick would be Every Year They Fizzle Out for six years until continuous insults from Misaki Ohata and The World Famous Kana finally lit a big enough fire in her to beat them both and become a double champion.
  • Mark Henry was long looked as a financial bust for the WWE, often injured and lethargic in the ring while his long-term contract was an albatross for the company. In 2011, with the company's roster getting thin, they gave Henry another shot as a monster heel. A motivated Henry, backed with great booking as an unstoppable force and the best ring and mic work of his career, won the world title and SmackDown's ratings went up during his reign. Although injury derailed his title run, the fact that Henry was a popular centerpiece of the company for half a year was an accomplishment few saw coming.
  • Samoa Joe was at one point considered to be one of the best wrestlers in North America and pretty much put Ring of Honor on the map with his classic trilogy of matches with CM Punk as well as having epic encounters with the likes of Kenta Kobashi, Bryan Danielson and Austin Aries. He then moved to TNA and had an 18-month long winning streak that cemented him as one of the top stars in the company and his match with Kurt Angle led to TNA's highest PPV buy rate at that time(25,000). However, after that it all seemed to slowly fall apart for Joe as a disappointing World Title run, poor angles and a dose of Badass Decay had completely destroyed Joe's aura. It didn't help when TNA retooled Joe into an Ax-Crazy Wild Samoan, which seemed to provoke more laughter than fear. Eventually, TNA stopped trying and Joe's matches, save a great triple threat match with AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels, took a nosedive. Once Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff joined TNA, Joe floundered between the mid to low card and was pretty much irrelevant in TNA for a year and a half. Until he formed a tag team with fellow struggling wrestler Magnus and eventually, they became tag team champions, which made Joe relevant again in the eyes of fans. After the team broke up Joe's matches took a notable increase in quality resulting in show-stealing matches against old rivals Austin Aries and Kurt Angle. He hasn't reached his 2005-2006 peak, but Joe is quickly climbing back up the TNA ladder again. He left TNA in 2015 and went to WWE NXT, becoming the first two-time NXT Champion and becoming a top monster heel.
  • The Undertaker was one of the biggest stars in the WWF during the 1990s. However, after his transformation into a biker character in 2000, his career went pretty much nowhere. Then, in 2004, he revived the "Deadman" gimmick for the first time since 1999. After that, his feuds became main-event storylines, he won the Royal Rumble and three world titles, and his streak at WrestleMania has been built up as a big deal.
  • CM Punk was the hottest heel in the WWE for a period of time in 2009, but after he lost his World Heavyweight Championship to The Undertaker, he found himself in mid-card angles involving the Straight Edge Society, where he was constantly beaten by Rey Mysterio and The Big Show. After he took over the New Nexus in 2011, he got put in a boring, one-sided feud with Randy Orton. As his WWE contract was about to expire, he was going to have one last feud with John Cena. Then, on June 27th, 2011, CM Punk sat down on the Raw stage and cut an epic worked shoot promo attacking WWE, Vince McMahon, and John Cena. This led to a classic match at that year's Money in the Bank where he won his first WWE Championship and left the company with the title. When he came back a week later, he proved himself to be the successor to John Cena's throne as the face of WWE. While he was never able to get that far, he still became one of the company's most popular superstars — to the point that fans are still cheering his name years his sudden departure in January 2014.
  • AJ Styles was always considered the face and most recognizable wrestler of TNA by most but the company never truly got behind him as the main guy. After an ugly disagreement over his contract and tired of the way his character was done being looked over in favor of former WWE guys coming in despite doing everything for the company for eleven years, AJ left TNA in late 2013 with many thinking he’d be back soon or he was going to retire. Instead, AJ heads to New Japan Pro-Wrestling and shocks many when he wins The IWGP Heavyweight Championship, the top prize in the promotion. AJ would go on to win the crowd there with his stellar performances including his 2014 Match of The Year bout he had with Minoru Suzuki that at the end had the entire crowd on their feet and cheering and chanting his name having accepted him as one of their own. The Phenomenal One is Phenomenal once again. This translated to AJ Styles being signed by WWE in early 2016. He was allowed to keep his name, he went straight to the main roster, quickly became a main eventer and even had a run with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship all in less than a year despite being the antithesis of what Vince sees in potential stars. And to prove that he's not slowing down anytime soon, he won the World Title a second time in 2017 and held it for a year.
  • Goldust was one of many outrageous gimmick wrestlers to show up in the mid-90s. While people liked his act, his ring abilities were less than stellar. He was in an out of the company a few times, but the year 2010 saw him receiving rave reviews for his improvement. He departed again but a return in 2013 was hugely well-received - as he and his brother Cody Rhodes formed a tag team and were eventually the ones to dethrone The Shield for the Tag Team Championships (in the main event of Raw no less). Rather than becoming known as a faded Attitude Era star, it was widely accepted that Goldust was in the best shape of his career.
  • The Bella Twins left WWE in 2012 after a modest career. While they had both been champion, neither were what you'd call stars. They returned a year later and were announced as part of the cast of the reality show Total Divas. When the show proved to be a smash hit, they and the rest of the cast found themselves receiving more airtime (a rarity for females in WWE). Both twins notably put in lots of work to improve, as well as differentiate their previously identical characters. Brie got a big boost in popularity when she got to feud with Stephanie McMahon, main eventing Raw twice and having a high profile match at the 2014 SummerSlam. Although Nikki suffered a career-threatening shin injury, she was back in the ring within a few months. The year after she won the Divas' Championship, and eventually clocked the longest Divas' Championship reign of all time. Brie retired in 2016 but Nikki returned after suffering a neck injury and enjoyed many high profile feuds and storylines - also finally managing to shake off the smark hate that she had acquired over her career.
  • Becky Lynch: Rebecca Knox was a wrestling prodigy in her home country of Ireland. When all-women's promotions in America were just starting to take off, she took the indie scene by storm. Then she suffered a serious head injury and had to retire at the age of nineteen. Later at the age of twenty-six, she made a sudden return to wrestling and was signed to WWE instantly and quickly became the biggest she's ever been. She is held up as one of the 'Four Horsewomen' of NXT, alongside three much fresher talent, who helped put women's wrestling back on the map for a mainstream audience. In 2016 she became the first-ever SmackDown Women's Champion. She would experience this a second time towards the end of 2018. After losing the SmackDown Women's Championship, she finds herself gradually Out of Focus for the next year and a half in spite of her audible fan support. Then her Face–Heel Turn in SummerSlam 2018 happened, in which she attacked Charlotte Flair after her victory stating that Flair stole her spotlight and weaseled her way in the match that was originally just Becky's in the first place. Becky's subsequent Motive Rant (Flair always getting free opportunities, e.g.) would instead resonate with the fans instead of them turning on her. After defeating Flair to start her second reign, Becky was slated to face Raw Women's Champion Ronda Rousey on that year's Survivor Series in a Champion vs. Champion match. But what ironically cemented Becky's status as WWE's Breakout Character is the reason why the anticipated match didn't happen; on the final Raw before Survivor Series, the SmackDown women attempted an invasion in which Becky was legitimately busted open and concussed by a stiff punch from another wrestler. Becky shrugs off the injury to finish the segment, winning her the respect of Vince McMahon, everyone in the locker room, and the further adoration of the fans. Her popularity ultimately led her to be one of the first three women (along with Rousey and Flair) to main event WrestleMania in which she came out victorious.
  • Triple H was on the outs with the then-WWF in 1996 after the infamous "Curtain Call" incident where he and Kliq buddies Shawn Michaels, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash broke kayfabe in a group-hugging send-off for the latter two. As the only participant whom WWF could realistically punish (Michaels was WWF Champion while Hall and Nash were WCW-bound), the wrestler then known as Hunter Hearst Helmsley lost his planned push as King of the Ring, with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin winning the tournament and skyrocketing to stardom in the process. He did a series of jobs, including one at WrestleMania XII where he was {{squash}Match}}ed by Ultimate Warrior, who notoriously no-sold his Pedigree finisher. But Helmsley soldiered on without complaint, and by the fall of 1997, he had dropped his "Connecticut Blueblood" gimmick for good, launching an edgier, raunchier persona as he and Michaels founded the DX stable. The rest, as they say, is history.
  • While The New Day is a classic example of being Rescued from the Scrappy Heap, the stable itself has proven to be a Career Resurrection for Kofi Kingston. Prior to The New Day, Kingston was strictly being used as a jobber to the stars, rarely winning and not having taken part in any storylines of note since his last United States title reign. Kingston would get another resurgence as a singles competitor on the February 12, 2019 edition of SmackDown. Being a literal last-minute replacement for the injured Mustafa Ali in that year's Elimination Chamber PPV, a Gauntlet match was held to determine who will be the final entrant in the eponymous chamber. Kingston then proceeded to steal the show, first eliminating reigning champion Daniel Bryan, followed by Jeff Hardy, and finally Samoa Joe. He would eventually lose to AJ Styles, but the audience and his peers gave him a standing ovation for giving an excellent performance for over an hour. During said PPV, Kingston would steal the show again and became the final person eliminated by Daniel Bryan to retain the title, but the audience is on their seat during their match and once again gave Kingston a much bigger ovation for his showing. This ultimately led to him challenging for the title at WrestleMania 35 and finally winning it, becoming the first African-born WWE Champion (along with becoming the thirtieth Triple Crown Champion and twentieth Grand Slam Champion) in history.
  • The Miz floundered in mid-card hell after his brief run as a main eventer from 2010-2011. He made a face turn, which did nothing to refresh his character, then turned back heel under a Hollywood Prima Donna-type gimmick and was given a "stunt double" (Damien Sandow), that became more over than he was. 2016 was a turning point for him. His wife Maryse returned to the company as his valet and he truly began to shine during the second Brand Extension, cutting a Worked Shoot promo against Daniel Bryan that was so epic that even the smarkiest of smarks weren't sure if it was legit or not, followed by a series of well-received matches with Dolph Ziggler, a feud with John Cena where both men (and their women) cut loose on each other with promo-work that wouldn't be out of place in the Attitude Era and a series of Intercontinental title reigns. The Miz, who was seen as a complete joke the previous year, once again became one of the more entertaining parts of WWE television.
  • Sting. After becoming a breakout star in the late '80s, Sting became WCW's top guy in the early '90s, winning several world titles and being voted Most Popular Wrestler of the year in 1990, 1991, and 1994. Sting's momentum slowed down once Ric Flair returned in 1993 after a two-year run in WWF, and took an even bigger hit when Hogan and Savage came aboard. As a result, Sting got lost in the shuffle, wrestling mostly in the midcard or as the Ricky Morton to Hogan, Savage and Lex Luger in tag team matches. After Hogan's own resurrection (see above), Sting knew he had to change his character or else he'd suffer the same fate as pre-heel turn Hogan. He changed his look from a bleach-blond surfer dude to a dark, ghostly avenger reminiscent of Eric Draven from The Crow, stopped cutting promos and took the fight directly to WCW's biggest threat via sneak attacks and theatrical mind tricks. He won the WCW World Heavyweight title at Starrcade 1997 (but not without controversy), which was his first world title reign since 1993, and was once again voted Most Popular Wrestler of the Year.
  • Kenny Omega was a fairly popular name in the indy scene for a while, but he was widely considered a B-lister at best and never had anywhere near the same reputation as the likes of Bryan Danielson, Claudio Castagnoli, or Kevin Steen. Once he left Ring of Honor in 2010, Omega became largely an afterthought in the minds of most wrestling fans. This all changed when he arrived in New Japan during the mid-2010s, where he quickly became a standout member of Bullet Club and provided five-star matches with the likes of Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, and Shinsuke Nakamura, including two with Okada that went above the five-star scale, and essentially becoming arguably the hottest name on the industry outside WWE.
  • The Hardy Boyz: were one of WWF's top tag teams in the Attitude Era and would pursue solo careers in the 2000s, but both men were derailed by their personal issues (various injuries, Jeff's drug addictions, and Matt's poor handling of his girlfriend having an affair with his best friend) and left WWE for TNA at the end of the decade. The low point for both men was 2011, when Jeff showed up to a TNA world title match against Sting doped to the gills (forcing Sting to shoot-pin him after about a minute) and Matt was fired due to a drinking problem, subsequently faking a suicide note, leading the wrestling fandom to completely turn on them both. However, both men spent the next few years cleaning up their act and their "Broken Hardys" gimmick redeemed them in the eyes of the fans, enough for WWE to give them another chance and re-hire them in 2017, with a RAW Tag Team Championship run to boot.
  • Kurt Angle made his WWF debut in 1999 with a lot of hype behind him, as he was the first Olympic Gold Medalist to enter a pro wrestling ring. Kurt lived up to the hype, winning dozens of championships and putting on many classic bouts. As injuries and addictions took their toll on him, WWE fired Angle in 2006 after he refused to go to rehab. He was quickly snatched up by TNA and while he was arguably more successful there than in WWE, many fans grew tired of Angle constantly hogging the spotlight and his personal life went even further down the shitter: his wife Karen left him for Jeff Jarrett and he was arrested several times for drug and alcohol-related offenses. Angle's second wife, Giovanna, convinced Kurt to enter rehab in 2013 and he dedicated himself to getting clean. Kurt left TNA in early 2016 and returned to WWE the following year, with a headlining Hall of Fame induction, a stint as RAW's general manager, and a return to the ring in October to fill in for Roman Reigns in a 3-on-5 handicap TLC match. Angle proved he still had it, and his past struggles have been forgiven.
  • Goldberg was arguably WCW's greatest pet project in the 1990s. Stepping into a wrestling ring straight out of the NFL, Goldberg quickly became a hot act despite his minimal ring ability, generic look (that was essentially a ripoff of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin) and lack of mic skills. What he did possess was intensity, charisma and a devastating Spear/Jackhammer combo that put 173note  wrestlers on their backs for the 1-2-3, while picking up a WCW United States and later Heavyweight championship along the way. Things started going downhill when he lost the championship to Kevin Nash via interference from Scott Hall and a taser. Goldberg floundered around for a bit before being given an ill-advised heel turn at the hands of Vince Russo.

    Following the closure of WCW and a brief stint in All Japan Pro Wrestling, Goldberg signed with WWE in 2003, which, despite a three-month world title reign, didn't do much for Goldberg or WWE. Goldberg's contract expired the next year and after both he and Brock Lesnar were booed out of the arena at WrestleMania XX, he retired from wrestling never to be seen again. At least not until 2016, when it was revealed that he was the Pre-Order Bonus character for WWE 2K17, which led to fans speculating that Goldberg might return to the ring, especially since this is the deal that led Sting to do the same a few years prior and Goldberg stated in an interview that he'd like to have one last match for his wife and son. The fans were proven right as Goldberg announced that he would return one last time in order to challenge Lesnar again, promptly squashing the Invincible Villain right in the middle of the ring, to thunderous approval from the fans. Goldberg extended the "last match" into a "last run", eliminating Lesnar from the Royal Rumble, defeating Kevin Owens for the Universal championship at FastLane, then dropping it to Lesnar at WrestleMania 33. Although fans turned on Goldberg again following the title win, and actually cheered for Lesnar after he beat Goldberg, Goldberg appeared the next night and thanked the fans for his last run while leaving the door open for another in the future. He was announced as the inaugural inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2018.

    Goldberg's WWE return also seems to have revitalized his acting career and mainstream presence, with him appearing in the aptly titled The Goldbergs, Nine Legends, American Satan, The Grand Tour, The Flash and a few commercials.
  • Brock Lesnar made his WWE debut in 2002 and quickly became one of its most prolific main event players. However, Lesnar eventually became burnt out due to WWE's hectic schedule and left in 2004 alongside Goldberg. After a failed NFL career, he returned to wrestling for New Japan and had a successful run in UFC despite being dismissed as a "fake wrestler". Lesnar returned to WWE in 2012 and quickly reminded both fans and wrestlers alike why he was such a force to be reckoned with.
  • Jeff Jarrett was a solid midcard act in the early to mid-90s, but once the Attitude Era kicked in, fans turned on him in droves and he was fired from WWF in 1999. The fandom's ire for Jarrett only worsened as he became a Spotlight-Stealing Squad in both WCW and TNA (the latter company being one he co-founded with his father Jerry). Even the death of his wife, Jill, and a reduced role in TNA did little to repair this damage since it was soon discovered that Jarrett was having an affair with Kurt Angle's then-wife Karen. It wasn't until Jarrett left TNA and mended fences with WWE that people started openly admitting to liking him again. His Hall of Fame induction in 2018, followed by a return to a WWE ring in 2019, cemented his resurrection.

  • Oscar Hammerstein II revived his weakening career in musical theatre with Oklahoma!. In the previous years, Richard Rodgers had been one of Broadway's most successful composers in a partnership with Lorenz Hart that he was reluctant to discontinue (though it ended soon after with Hart's death), whereas none of Hammerstein's pre-Oklahoma! musical plays had succeeded in New York or London since Music in the Air in the early 1930s, while he drifted in and out of Hollywood and wrote the occasional hit song (such as "The Last Time I Saw Paris," which won an Academy Award that he disowned because he hadn't originally written the song for a movie).
  • Stephen Sondheim recovered from a definite lull in his career with Company. In the years since his previous Broadway musical, Anyone Can Whistle, had finished its one-week run, Sondheim had returned to writing lyrics for other composers, including Richard Rodgers (with whom he split over Creative Differences) and his Gypsy partner Jule Styne, and also wrote songs by himself for teleplays that occasionally got produced.

    Video Games 
  • Back in the late '80s, Squaresoft was on its way out after a string of flops, so they decided to go out with a bang, one Final Fantasy. It wasn't the "final" fantasy.
  • Ed Boon of Mortal Kombat fame. While other fighting series have made a successful leap to 3D, Mortal Kombat had "hit and miss" luck there, and during the 2000s it was massively overshadowed by other fighting games. Then in 2009 Warner Bros. promptly picked up the studio that produces the series (now known as NetherRealm Studios), following Midway's bankruptcy. The end result: a complete Continuity Reboot in 2.5D. Mortal Kombat 9 was not only a critical and commercial smash but also earned a spot as one of the featured tournament titles at the Evo Championship Series, a first for a Mortal Kombat title.
  • Scott Cawthon with Five Nights at Freddy's. Before that game, he mostly made cheap app games. However, his last one (Chipper & Sons Lumber Co.) was heavily criticized for making the animal cast look like a bunch of creepy animatronics. This led Scott into a deep depression, and almost made him give up making games...until, in his words, "something just snapped in me, and I thought to myself- I bet I can make something a lot scarier than that...". Needless to say, it worked.
  • Working Designs utilized local talent instead of established voice actors for their voice acting roles. Thus, when the company went under in 2005, all of the voice actors stopped voice acting, with the exception of Chad Letts. Come 2017, and Working Designs' Spiritual Successor Gaijinworks produced an English dub for Summon Night 6, and managed to get many of the original Working Designs voice actors to return, giving them their first roles in over a decade. The establishment of Gaijinworks was also the return to video game localization for Victor Ireland.
  • Obsidian Entertainment very nearly went bankrupt in the early 2010s due to a string of cancellations and Bethesda denying them the bonuses for missing a target Metacritic score for Fallout: New Vegas by one point. By their own admission, Pillars of Eternity saved the company from going the way of its predecessor Black Isle Studios.
  • Nintendo seemed to be suffering tremendously during the early/mid-2010s. While their handheld, the Nintendo 3DS, was a great success, their home console, the Wii U, was a massive flop, leaving them locked out of the club of the major warring consoles of the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. Nintendo tried to bring back fans with games such as Splatoon and Mario Kart 8, but they were still heavily crippled, with only the 3DS holding them up, and were more often brought up over their controversial Fanwork Bans than their games. Then, in 2017, Nintendo released a hotly-debated successor to the Wii U, and their reception and popularity switched right on a dime.
  • Yoshio Sakamoto, one of the co-creators of the Metroid franchise, received major flak for the direction he took Metroid: Other M in; between the questionable voice acting, story direction, and even more questionable gameplay mechanics (not being allowed to use your abilities until you're literally given permission to do so for example) nearly killed the entire franchise. Sakamoto took the criticisms to heart and several years later, he helped create Metroid: Samus Returns, a game that went back to the classic 2D Metroidvania roots while having none of the voiced cutscenes or exposition that plagued Other M. The game was met with high praise and some have even forgiven Sakamoto.
  • PlatinumGames, while well known for their rather stellar action games, many of which are considered classics, they found themselves in quite the slump during the mid-2010s. This involved the development and release of several licensed games under Activision that were seen as quite sub-par coming from them, hitting the absolute low point with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan as well as the subsequent cancellation of Scalebound. They did release a few critically-acclaimed games during this time, such as Bayonetta 2 and The Wonderful 101, but they had the curse of being on the Wii U; not really PG's fault since Nintendo was the reason those two games could happen, but with relatively few people owning a Wii U, it was hard to get those games flying off of the shelves. According to Hideki Kamiya, Platinum was about to file for bankruptcy should their next title fail. Fortunately the next game, NieR: Automata, was not only a Breakthrough Hit for creative director Taro Yoko but also a massive critical and financial success, saving the company from bankruptcy and restoring their reputation in the eyes of gamers.

    Western Animation 
  • Mark Hamill in Batman: The Animated Series. Between 1977 and 1983, Hamill became a superstar as Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars trilogy. Unfortunately, a car accident damaged his looks, and he moved onto Broadway. In 1992, Hamill found new life as a voice actor, starring as The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series.
  • Rocio Mallo in Winx Club. In the late '90s, she was a rising star in the Latin American dubbing scene, with roles in popular shows like Super Cerdita (as Lassie Carlen/Karin Kokubu) and Spongebob Squarepants (as Karen's first voice). After she moved to Mexico in 2001, her career stagnated for a while, even after her return to Venezuela in 2006. However, getting the role of Roxy in Winx Club brought her career to new heights, leading to her most famous role to date, Garnet.

    Fictional Examples 
  • Troy McClure in The Simpsons undergoes one in the episode "A Fish Called Selma"; his career was ruined by rumors about his fish fetish, so he starts dating Marge's sister Selma for publicity reasons, and gets a starring role in the stage musical adaptation of Planet of the Apes. Following his divorce, he gets offered the funny sidekick role in the next McBain movie, but turns it down in favor of his pet project The Contrabulous Fabtraption of Professor Horatio Hufnagelnote 
  • The Artist. George Valentin, a fictional Silent Movie star, sees his career in ruins after the advent of sound cinema. In the end, after many trials and tribulation, he returns to acting once again.
  • Max Bialystock in The Musical version of The Producers. He starts all versions of the story as a Jaded Washout whose acclaim and success are far behind him, with seducing little old ladies as backers as his only means of staying afloat. In the original film, his Springtime for Hitler scheme lands him in jail (but with plans to try again), but the musical adaptation (and the musical's own film adaptation) expand on this by having him and his partners pardoned, and restarting his Broadway career successfully with a string of hits (with the titles implying they duplicate Springtime's So Bad, It's Good formula, albeit intentionally).
  • Parodied with Tugg Speedman in Tropic Thunder. An aging action star with little real acting talent whose signature Scorcher series is suffering from Sequelitis (the series is currently on the sixth movie, Scorcher VI: Global Meltdown, which, changed the concept of the Earth being turned into a giant fireball in the previous movies, to a frozen wasteland because the previous films had exhausted the previously mentioned concept). He put another nail in the coffin when he took the lead in a miserable Award Bait failure called Simple Jack. But the whole nonsense and resulting film surrounding the disastrous filming of the book Tropic Thunder ends up turning into a completely different movie, for which Speedman wins the Best Actor Oscar and gets his career back on track.
  • An episode of Drake & Josh had the boys befriending a washed-up magician called "The Great Doheney". He becomes famous again after Megan gives him an idea for his attempted comeback show: to fake his death and "come back to life" at his funeral.
  • The titular character of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. After success during the 80s, Burt's signature magic act runs stale after he becomes complacent and doesn't update it. After being displaced by a Darker and Edgier rival he is subsequently fired from his cushy Vegas show and has to invent a new trick to land a prestigious gig at a flashy new mega hotel. After rediscovering his passion and relearning the art of magic from his Childhood Hero, he rekindles his partnership with his best friend and designs a new trick to win the gig.
  • Vincent Chase (of Entourage) in The Great Gatsby. Aquaman had previously had the biggest opening day film in history (in the show's fictional universe), surpassing the real-world record set by Spider-Man, but his follow-up personal passion project Medellin was a critical, financial and popular failure. Despite its thirty million dollar budget and the legendary lengths, the production crew went to produce the film (including negotiations with the government and the drug cartels of Columbia to get the location and accuracy) the film ended up being released Direct-to-DVD after it was laughed out of the Cannes Film Festival. The subsequent disaster of Smokejumpers, which saw his role continuously shrunk by the director and with the entire production eventually shut down by the studio, seemed to officially signal the end of his career and he actually left Hollywood to recuperate in Queens, New York. However, Martin Scorsese called and gave Chase the title role in his adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic after he saw some of the dailies from Smokejumpers.
  • In Shirobako, the Show Within a Show Exodus! is this for both the production company Musashino Animation and the director Seiichi Kinoshita, after their disastrous Jiggle Jiggle Paradise seven years ago.
  • Subverted in The Wrestler (ironically, see Mickey Rourke under Film). Randy "The Ram" Robinson tries to relive his Glory Days, but ultimately his age, trainwreck of a personal life, and the half-healed injuries of his wrestling past catch up with him.
  • In a heavy dosage of Reality Subtext, Riggan Thomson in Birdman. As mentioned with Michael Keaton under Film, Riggan played a superhero twenty years ago and faded from the public eye after he stopped playing him. He attempts a comeback by writing, directing, and starring in a play based on Raymond Carver's "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" and, with some near Fatal Method Acting, manages to succeed with great critical acclaim.
  • The Week follows a once-beloved TV show host who's now stuck doing radio. The film ends with him being offered a new TV deal, but it's left open whether he'll take it or not.
  • Simon Trent in Batman: The Animated Series episode "Beware the Gray Ghost" was an actor known for starring as the titular vigilante in the Show Within a Show The Gray Ghost, which would inspire Bruce to become Batman later on. However, the show was subject to Keep Circulating the Tapes as a fire destroyed the studio that produced it, so the public largely forgot about it. Simon Trent is now old, broke and hasn't had an acting job in a while due to Typecasting (Reality Subtext, as he's voiced by Adam West) living in a run-down apartment and barely paying the bills by selling his Gray Ghost memorabilia to collectors. After an unknown criminal begins imitating crimes from the show, Batman convinces Trent to help him solve the mystery. After the culprit is defeated, Trent is revered as a real hero, The Gray Ghost finally gets a home video release (as Trent had copies of the original episodes stashed away) and Trent's career is presumably revived.
  • Mariya Yamamoto of Shining Song Starnova was once a member of Quasar, Japan’s largest and most popular Idol Singer group, but despite spending almost ten years with them she never achieved enough notoriety to make it into Quasar’s prestigious front row unit and found herself constantly overshadowed by much younger girls, and was ultimately fired for being too old. By the time the story begins she’s become a chain-smoking alcoholic working various jobs that she hates while struggling to find more idol work. Joining the newly-formed idol group Starnova helps to resurrect her career: she experiences a popularity resurgence in any route and in her own route she achieves her lifelong dream of becoming Japan’s most popular idol and performing live in the Tokyo Dome.


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