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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."
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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!

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See also Win Back the Crowd and Popularity Polynomial. Contrast Star-Derailing Role and Creator Killer. It should also be noted that examples can range from individuals to entire companies and organizations.


Examples with their own pages:

Examples:

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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, along with dubbing for Loki, 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).
  • Veronica Taylor was famous in the early 1990s/2000s for being the iconic English voice of Ash Ketchum, along with many other characters in Pokemon and other shows dubbed by 4Kids Entertainment. But when Pokemon Company International licensed the show, she and the rest of the cast were replaced, and the fall of the voice acting industry in New York, especially for anime, left her without work. But she moved to LA a few years ago and has started to come back to voice acting, with her first major LA-based anime role being Sailor Pluto. Since then, she's started climbing back into prominence, and her most recent role is Manuela.
  • 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 Dino Trux.

    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.
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    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 (and became a Star-Derailing Role for Hilary Swank on top of it). 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 he 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, but it was not kosher in the minds of the public, and the backlash drove Lowe to check into rehab and become sober. In the early '90s, Lowe started to rebuild his reputation with comedic films Wayne's World and the Austin Powers series, before landing long-term 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 been nearly as successful as she was in escaping Pie's shadow). She subsequently appeared in another Netflix show, Russian Doll, that put her unmistakably in the starring role.
  • 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 thanks to his acrimonious breakup with Julia Roberts (see above) and his own troubled personal life, 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 show... at 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. This resurgence brought him back to primetime network TV with Man with a Plan, which ran for a respectable four seasons before it ended.
  • 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 1972 with The Joker's Wild, with Barry as host. The show ran for a combined 12 years on CBS and syndication, 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, coinciding with the 1989 cancer death of his wife Gilda Radner, that continued through the '90s until 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.
  • Deborah Norville on Inside Edition. Norville first gained national prominence when she was transfered from NBC's owned and operated Chicago affiliate to anchor NBC News at Sunrise in 1987. It was there, that the ratings for NBC News at Sunrise jumped to 40 percent. Naturally, this eventually lead to Norville being asked become the news reader on Today in 1989. Later that year, longtime co-anchor Jane Pauley announced that she would be stepping down at then end of the year, with Norville being named her successor. What proceeded was one of the most notorious missteps network television history, with the press accusing Norville of pushing out a beloved anchor like Jane Pauley outnote  and serving as a proverbial "homewrecker" between Pauley and her co-anchor Bryant Gumbel. Consequently, Today's ratings with Norville now at the helm, began to plummet as critics felt that she lacked chemistry with Gumbel and many loyal viewers began turning to rival ABC's Good Morning America. After only 14 months, Norville was gone and replaced by Katie Couric. While Norville would soon land gigs with ABC Radio and CBS News as a correspondent for the newsmagazines Street Stories and 48 Hours, it wasn't until she succeeded Bill O'Reilly as anchor of the syndicated series Inside Edition 1995 that she experienced her true comeback. 25 years later, Norville still hosts Inside Edition, in the process, becoming the longest-serving anchor on U.S. television.  
  • Winona Ryder on Stranger Things. After taking a few years off from acting while she was on probation for shoplifting from Saks Fifth Avenue, she starred in a film rendition of Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly, which was critically acclaimed. From there, she would manage to pop up in acclaimed independent projects (Black Swan, Experimenter, Show Me A Hero) and occasionally have small parts in more high-budget features (Star Trek, Frankenweenie). However, her comeback really seemed to take hold in a higher profile when she accepted the role of single mother Joyce Byers in Stranger Things, earning much press and support upon the show's release and even earning nominations for a Golden Globe and a SAG.

    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, 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 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. From 2014-2018 however, his presence eventually dried up, especially after Cody quit the company. Instead of languishing with no direction however, he joined Cody in All Elite Wrestling, where at their inaugural pay-per-view Double or Nothing, he went back to being Dustin Rhodes and fought his brother in a gruesome and emotional match. Despite being in his 50's, he had arguably the best match of his career, winning acclaim from fans all over and proving age doesn't always matter.
  • 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 squashed 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, which was a disaster second only to Tadao Yasuda's run in the company, 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.
  • Tony Schiavone was WCW's main announcer throughout the Monday Night Wars. After WCW was bought out by the WWF in 2001, Tony stepped away from the business apart from brief stints in XWF and TNA, and seemed to consider his wrestling career Old Shame. However, in 2017, he started a podcast with Conrad Thompson called "What Happened When" where the two discussed Tony's memories of WCW. This re-ignited Tony's passion for the business, leading him to return to wrestling commentary, first for MLW, then for All Elite Wrestling.
  • Jon Moxley was a successful act in multiple independent promotions before signing with WWE in 2011 and competed in its developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) under the new ring name Dean Ambrose. He made his debut on the main roster the following year and formed The Shield with Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, in which they became one of the most successful stables in the history of the promotion. After they disbanded in 2014 and despite championship success, especially becoming WWE Champion in 2016, he tolled away in the upper midcard and and lost his edge as a character. Upon departing in 2019 due to Creative Differences, he reverted back to being Jon Moxley and debuted in AEW and NJPW both in spectacular fashion, feeling revitalized and showing fans how he should've been booked in the WWE. He became a two-time IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion and the second ever AEW World Champion, becoming arguably the wrestler of 2020 in the process.

    Sports 
  • 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 the sports blog 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 into 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 so much of an MLS legend that since 2015, the league's MVP receives the Landon Donovan MVP Award. 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. Donovan lasted only five months in Liga MX, but then returned to the US, joining the San Diego Sockers of the Major Arena Soccer League in 2019. Donovan ended his playing career again after the 2019 MASL season, but remains in the game as principal owner and head coach of San Diego Loyal SC, which began play in the second-tier USL Championship in 2020.
  • 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 had a good career in the outfield, 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 picked up eight more wins and remained a constant contender for the Cup until he dialed back his schedule from 2013 on to focus more on his family. When he turned 50 in February 2017, he began easing onto PGA Tour Champions (i.e. the senior tour), and while still spending about half of his time on the regular tour, won two senior major championships in 2019. He'll also be the (non-playing) captain for Team USA at the 2021 Ryder Cup (delayed from 2020 due to COVID-19) in his home state of Wisconsin.
  • 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. He led the Cavs to the Finals the next two seasons, losing out to the Warriors each time, and then left for the Los Angeles Lakers... though this time, he left on much better terms, given that (1) he handled his second departure in a far more mature and classy manner than in 2010 and (2) it was clear to even the Cavs' most avid fans that their title window had closed. And in 2020 he guided the Lakers to their first championship since 2010, becoming the first Finals MVP for three teams.
  • Alex Smith became the first overall draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2005, but was written off as a draft bust for a while due to mediocre play. Then in 2011, which was initially expected to be his last year on the team, he finally broke out, 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 Team Then Known as the Redskins, a team with bad luck at the QB position.
    • Smith would later take this trope beyond eleven. He had led Washington to a 6–3 record in 2018 before suffering a severe leg fracture—the same type that ended the NFL playing career of former Washington QB Joe Theismann in 1985—in a game against the Houston Texans. While Theismann only needed one operation on his injured leg, further complications with sepsis that nearly killed Smith eventually led to him needing 17 of them. Two years and endless hours of rehab later, Smith made the Washington roster as a backup in 2020 and returned to the field in midseason. Given his situation, just playing again almost certainly qualifies as a resurrection, but he proceeded to put the icing on the cake by leading Washington to the NFC East division title after a 2-5 start.note  Smith was named 2020's Comeback Player of the Year, and he retired after that season.
  • 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.
  • As of December 2019, Dwight Howard is enjoying a "less is more" Career Resurrection like Harper and McAdoo, and just like the latter, he's also doing it with the Lakers. Once a regular MVP candidate and arguably the best defensive big man in the NBA while playing for the Orlando Magic, Howard's first stint with the Lakers in 2012-13 was a disaster, one marred by bad chemistry with fellow superstar Kobe Bryant, among myriad other issues. This led to a six-year journeyman period where Howard played for the Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, and finally the Washington Wizards, with each season yielding solid, albeit diminishing returns — with the Wizards, Howard played just 9 games due to injuries, but still averaged over 12 points and 9 rebounds a game. After returning to the Lakers as a free agent in the summer of 2019, Howard accepted a role off the bench and showed a noticeable increase in maturity, averaging career-lows across the board but serving as a meaningful component for the team that won the 2020 Finals.
  • The man starting ahead of Howard on the Lakers, JaVale McGee, enjoyed a Career Resurrection of his own in recent years. After enjoying a solid first few years in the NBA, McGee eventually turned into meme fodder for his penchant for making boneheaded plays, becoming a two-time Shaqtin' a Fool MVP on Inside the NBA for all his troubles. He then became a certified NBA journeyman, bouncing from team to team and playing limited minutes, but his performance in the 2018 Playoffs for the championship-winning Golden State Warriors showed that he still had it in him to be a productive player. As such, the Lakers took a chance on him in the summer of 2018, as he was one of the few bright spots during LeBron James' disappointing first season in Los Angeles, averaging a career-high 12 points (also his first double-figure season since 2011-12) and finishing among the league's Top 10 in blocked shots. As of 2019-20, McGee's numbers have dipped a bit, but he still deserves credit for turning things around so late in his career.
  • 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! And, to take his resurrection Up to Eleven, he won 164 of his 288 career wins after his surgery.
  • 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 had several NFL teams attempting to work out a trade with the Eagles so he could become their starting quarterback. The trade never came, and after the 2018 season, the Eagles picked up the option year of his contract. He exercised a clause in his contract that allowed him to buy out that option, becoming a free agent and signing a few weeks later with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
  • Os du Randt,note  a South African rugby star whose career straddled the turn of the 21st century, pulled one of these off in 2003. A prop (front row of the scrum) with the mobility of much smaller players, he had previously come back from a torn ACL in secondary school that could have ended his career, going on to become part of the World Cup-winning Springboks in 1995 (immortalized in the 2009 film Invictus, though he wasn't mentioned in it). Then in 1998, he suffered a hamstring injury, which led to a recurrence of his knee problems and forced him into retirement in 2000. He went back to his farm, but had trouble supporting his family without rugby, and also felt like he had unfinished business in rugby. Three years later, one of his former Boks teammates Rassie Erasmus, who had by then become coach of the Free State provincial side, offered him a return to the pitch. The next year, new South Africa head coach Jake White called him back for the Boks, and he continued to defy his age and injuries for another three years. His playing career ended with a second Rugby World Cup winners' medal in 2007, and he was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2019.
  • Dave Parker, who became a superstar with the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1970's. At the end of the 1979 season (when he helped lead the Pirates to winning the World Series), he had a career .317 batting average (with two batting titles), was the 1978 NL MVP, and averaged 23 home runs and 17 stolen bases during the previous five seasons. He also had three Gold Gloves and was the 1979 All-Star Game MVP. However, the early 80's were a lost period for "The Cobra"; injuries and off-field issues (particularly cocaine addiction) took their toll on his numbers. By the time he signed with the Cincinnati Reds after the 1983 season, he had clearly worn out his welcome in Pittsburgh. However, once signed with the Reds, Parker got back in shape, cleaned himself up, and averaged 27 home runs per season during his 4-year tenure with Cincinnati (which included two more All-Star Game appearances). And if he was a bit well-travelled toward the end of his career, he was still a productive hitter who played for contenders seeking a veteran bat for their team.
  • Kurt Busch definitely fits this trope, as he blew top tier rides at Roush and Penske. He was fired from the former team in 2005 with two races left in the season. (although he was leaving for Penske at season's end) after getting a DUI. He was fired from Penske after the 2011 season finale, in which he made obscene gestures at reporters, and allegedly made some at First Lady Michelle Obama as well. After a couple of years racing for middle of the pack teams, he cleaned up his act and signed to race for Stewart-Haas. He almost lost his ressurrected status in 2015, as he was suspended indefinitely after allegations of domestic violence came out from his ex-girlfriend. But after successfully NASCAR's reinstatement program, he was able to race again with both Stewart-Haas and Chip Ganassi Racing,including picking up a Daytona 500 victory in 2017.
  • Kyle Larson was fired from his ride at Chip Ganassi when he was found to have said the N-word on a Twitch livestream, and as a result, missed the remainder of the 2020 season. But after completing NASCAR's reinstatement program, he became a hot commodity on the free agent market and was signed to drive Hendrick's flagship #5 car for the 2021 season, winning at Las Vegas in his 4th start with the team.
  • Antonio Brown's NFL career looked to be on ice after a rash of the off-the-field issues, including rape, sexual assault, and nearly hurting a 22 month baby as he was throwing furniture from his Pittsburgh apartment onto the sidewalk. But Tampa Bay took a chance on him and he appears to have cleaned up his act and helped Tampa Bay win their second Super Bowl.
  • Ndamukong Suh was once called the NFL's dirtiest player by his peers, fans, and analysts for his reckless style of play early at Detroit. But in recent years, he has cleaned up his play, and as a result, his teams are winning games, even helping Tampa Bay win their second Super Bowl.
  • Formula E is quickly becoming known for giving several Formula One rejects/flops a new stage to rejuvenate their careers. All but one of the FE champions (Piquet Jr., Sébastien Buemi, Lucas di Grassi, Jean-Éric Vergne) were primarily known for unimpressive F1 stints prior to joining the electric car series.

    Theater 
  • 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 CompanySondheim. 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. Their handheld, the Nintendo 3DS only did modestly outside of Japan, while their home console, the Wii U, was a massive flop. This left them locked out of the club of the major warring consoles of the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, and Mobile. Nintendo tried to bring back fans with Wii U games such as Splatoon and Mario Kart 8, and 3DS titles such as Pokémon X and Y, Pokémon Sun and Moon, and the Japanese phenomenon Yo Kai Watch (Yo-kai Watch in particular ended up failing miserably outside of Asia) but they were still heavily crippled, with only the 3DS holding them up (but not by much due to more people having smartphones and tablets in their hands), 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.
    • It's not the first time this has happened to Nintendo. Following the less than stellar sales of the Gamecube, many analysts and journalists had given Nintendo up for dead (despite Nintendo's more than ample cash reserves and handheld dominance), and there were numerous "experts" predicting Nintendo would soon leave the home console market and begin to make 3rd party games. Nintendo's next console, the Wii, only went on to revolutionize gaming, went on to sell over 100 million units, and a testament to it's wide-spread appeal, Sony and Microsoft rushed to make clumsy copycat attempts at replicating the motion-controls that made the Wii such a huge success.
  • 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.
  • SNK used to have very strong arcade presence thanks to their Neo Geo system. And they also became a fan favorite thanks to their stellar fighting games which rivalled even Capcom's own series and enough to make them duke it out in a Capcom Crossover. At 2000, however... they suffered financial troubles thanks to their underdog status and the decline of arcade scene thus they had to declare bankruptcy, selling some of their assets to the Korean companies and entered a Dork Age. They came back a bit as 'SNK Playmore', but their games tends to be either a hit or miss and not exactly packing the similar punch as before, so they also had to produce mini-games, mobile games and pachinko titles. It took them 10+ years to eventually re-gather their resources and once again became just 'SNK' and released The King of Fighters XIV and Samurai Shodown (2019), which gained great acclaim and earned them a spot in the EVO championship series, something that they never quite achieved before. And thus, SNK rose back from the grave like a phoenix and given a similar prestige that usually only given to their rival.
  • Teyon really did themselves no favors when they released the universally panned Rambo: The Video Game, a title that was bashed to high heavens, and the studio, themselves already seen as a no-name, fell even further from grace, practically to the point of being considered a shovelware developer. Then in 2019, out of nowhere, they proceeded to release Terminator Resistance with virtually no marketing or fanfare. Despite a mixed reception from professional critics, the general gaming populace embraced the game with open arms, praising its gameplay, atmosphere, and clear respect for the franchise, with many even considering it to be better than the film it released alongside. Needless to say, it more than repaired Teyon's reputation, further helped by their solid support of the title in the months that followed, with the announcement of an enhanced edition for the PS 5 being greeted with solid approval.

    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, an attempt at avoiding Typecasting via The Big Red One didn't pan out after executives butchered the original cutnote . As his film career cooled, he turned to theater roles. In 1992, Hamill re-established himself in pop culture by becoming a voice actor starring as The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series and creating one of the definitive portrayals of the character.
  • Rocio Mallo in the Latin American Spanish dub of Winx Club. In the late '90s, she was a rising star in the Lat Am 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.

    Other 
  • Lee Iacocca with Chrysler's K-cars. One of the Ford Motor Company's most promising engineers in The '60s after designing a slew of cool cars like the Ford Mustang, the Lincoln Continental Mark III, and a revival of the Mercury brand, he quickly rose through the company's ranks and became its President in 1970, only for his career at Ford to be destroyed by the Ford Pinto debacle, leading to his termination in 1978. The only company in Detroit willing to work with him was the near-bankrupt Chrysler Corporation... which he turned around so successfully upon becoming their CEO that he became a national icon and a modern symbol of American industry. His K-cars, a pet project of his at Ford that he finally got to implement at Chrysler, proved that American automakers could build small family cars that weren't pieces of junk, with the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager in particular pioneering an entirely new type of vehicle, the minivan that soon displaced the station wagon as the symbol of suburbia.

    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 (2013). 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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