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Going Home Again

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"I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it's like I'm someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself."
— "The House that Built Me" by Miranda Lambert

The protagonist was once a no-name average joe who enjoyed playing their favorite game at the local sandlot, community park, or with the local Wildcats. This individual always had incredible natural talent, which has in fact taken him or her to the next level: the big league. This of course has two immediate effects: the protagonist becomes the hero of many of their friends and community members, but at the same time also engenders hard feelings from friends who feel jealous or abandoned.

Whatever the protagonist has done with their skills in the big league, something invariably goes wrong —they score an Own Goal or get a bad case of Paralysis by Analysis— and they lose their focus. They can't seem to make the big plays or come through in a clinch. In other words, the protagonist has lost their groove. Sometimes it's a momentary case of Every Year They Fizzle Out. Even worse, it almost always happens before the Big Game.

So what is the remedy for this loss of grooviness? The protagonist will customarily return home to rediscover themself, renew relationships and resolve differences (cue Friendship Moment), and remember why they loved the game in the first place.

Usually, this trope is used as Stock Aesops about not forgetting where you came from and/or the importance of friendship. It can also be a commentary on how the big league distorts the purity of sport. Contrast Throwing the Fight, when the character is paid to purposefully lose the Big Game. Compare and contrast I Coulda Been a Contender!, a character who retires just when they could have achieved something great.

Not to be confused with How Did We Get Back Home?, which is when the main characters get transported back to their home without there being an explanation.


Anime & Manga

  • Saki Achiga-hen: When Harue Akado's professional mahjong team is disbanded, she returns to her hometown and becomes the coach of her old high school's team, hoping to exorcise her semi-final loss in the inter-high tournament years ago.
  • Tomorrow's Joe: When Joe accidentally kills his Worthy Opponent of a rival during their long-awaited encounter, he falls into a deep depression and he's haunted by PTSD in any subsequent fight; always fearing he'd cross-counter his contenders and thus avoiding hits on the head. This leads to him losing match after match until he renounces boxing altogether and returns to the San'ya slums.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS: In "Parallel Paths", Takeru reveals that he intends to return home and once again lead a normal life after the situation with Ai wraps up in its entirety.

Fan Works

  • Ancienverse: Ash and his friends return to Pallet Town after the end of The Kalos Trilogy.
  • The Camera Eye Series: Serena exiles herself back to her home at the end of Any Color You Like.

Films — Live-Action

  • The Mighty Ducks:
    • In the first film, Gordon's backstory is that he's a rising, talented hockey player who scored 197 goals in a season just before clanging what could have been the 198th off the goalpost. This turns him off hockey and he goes into law. His return back to Hans' sports equipment shop after the disastrous start to his Pee-wee coaching career ends with a quiet nighttime skate that brought back old memories of him and his dad in a frozen backyard pond, rekindling his love of the game and prompting him to begin the long road to repairing the Ducks.
    • D2: The Mighty Ducks:
      • At the beginning, Bombay returns from his minor league hockey stint after his Career-Ending Injury by bus on a rainy night alone (mirroring his departure at the end of the first film by bus on a clear day with his team and Charlie's mother cheering him off) —he comes home unsure about what to do now that he's injured but doesn't want to go back to being a lawyer (the eggs Jans makes helps a little, but doesn't solve the problem) until he gets the Team USA offer.
      • Bombay goes back to the house he's staying at courtesy of his sponsor Hendrix after getting caught up in the Hollywood spotlight —with Jans flying in to cook him the same egg dish— before he goes rollerblading on the beach and reconciling with the team.
  • The Natural: Roy Hobbs finishes his lone season of Major League Baseball after hitting a dramatic, pennant-winning homerun to be with his Childhood Sweetheart and son at his family farm.
  • Rocky Balboa: The film's plot is kickstarted because Mason, The Antagonist, feels like this. He's the Heavy Weight Champion but can't find either respect or a worthy opponent in the ring, so he goes home to his old gym.
  • Series 7: The Contenders: Inverted. Dawn is less than thrilled that Series 7 of The Contenders is taking place in her hometown. This is because Dawn's mom kicked her out of the house at 17 for having an abortion and the guy who knocked her up is one of her new opponents.


  • Tsurune: In middle school, Minato causes his team to lose in the finals of a tournament due to his hayake. This frustrates him and causes him to quit his old club (which belonged to a private middle school) and the sport. He then goes to his local public high school and eventually joins the archery club there, reuniting with his old friends begins to regain his confidence in archery, and aims for that same tournament again.

Live-Action TV

  • Iron Chef: Hiroyuki Sakai returns to his hometown on the eve of a milestone battle, meeting up with classmates and cooking for them, even reconnecting with his high school teacher. He ends up getting a letter from another classmate, Isao Makio, who wishes to challenge him.
  • Make It or Break It: Emily does this after getting kicked out of the gym.
  • O11CE: When Francisco figures out that Gabo's poor performance on the pitch has to do with his being homesick, he brings a piece of Gabo's home to the IAD, inviting his grandmother and Felipe to the first game of the season. Gabo immediately performs better.
  • Quantum Leap: In "Deliver Us from Evil", Sam's narration remarks that he absolutely loved Jimmy LaMotta and the rest of the LaMotta family, explaining why he's so happy to find himself back in their lives again.
    Sam: [narrating] Leaping is a lonesome business. Just when you start to feel comfortable, to fit in somewhere, you're gone. But today I was back with people I knew and cared about, people who cared about me.
  • The Shield: Defied. A pro basketball player tries to go home again and just hang out with his buddies. He gets caught up in a Strike Team warrant sweep, and they hold him hostage in a hotel room so that they can win a bet on the Lakers. Then it gets much, much worse.


  • American Idiot: This is how the Myth Arc plot ends. JOS, after being stuck in a dead-end job and becoming a rebel without a cause, ends up going home and forgetting about his old girlfriend, Whatsername.
  • Miranda Lambert: "The House that Built Me" is about returning to where one grew up and made herself because by returning to one's roots, to those happy memories and feeling one's parents' hopes, we can heal. Memories of the journey that brought us today are important and soothing.
    "I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
    This brokenness inside me might start healing
    Out here it's like I'm someone else
    I thought that maybe I could find myself."

Video Games

  • Granblue Fantasy: The plot of her Grand version's episode. After visiting her sister's grave on the island where she spent her last years, Ferry returns to Tramont Island to hold a solitary funeral service for her. As she's still grieving at the time, she then enters her family's mansion and begins sorting through her family's belongings and cleaning the rooms, in an attempt to find some emotional closure.
  • LEGO City Undercover: Chase gets Reassigned to Antarctica due to revealing Natalia's anonymous witness identity to Rex Fury. When Fury breaks out of prison, he's called back to Lego City, where his confidence and case-solving track start to slowly recuperate.
  • The New Order Last Days Of Europe: Taking his overdue seven-day break from work, Lam goes back to the small seaside fishing village to reconnect with his family that he hasn't heard from in over a year.
  • Sakura Wars: Sakura goes back to Sendai repeatedly for various reasons, some of which include repairing the Arataka or undergoing swordsmanship training.
  • Sdorica: Pang decides to return to the Eastern Alliance during Eclipse, after hearing that his friend Yao may be alive and connected to the ongoing instability there.

Web Animation

  • Sonic for Hire: In "We're Home", the gang decides to return home now that Sonic Mania has been destroyed. After a while, Tails and Sonic set up to create their own game.

Western Animation

  • South Park: In "Guitar Queer-O", Stan is unable to handle the wealth and fame he attains through playing Guitar Hero. He stops playing with Kyle on the advice of his manager, and eventually, the stress leads him to an addiction to Heroin Hero, until the end of the episode when he quits his contract, reunites with Kyle, and abandons his fame. Together, they finally manage to get a million points (but are less than thrilled with the reward).