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He's Back!
aka: Shes Back

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...and this time, It's Personal!

"I've killed the demons, they haunt me no more
I'm loaded and charged to the core
Unholy poisons depraving my soul
Now I am back in control

DRAGON, ARIIIIISE"
Iron Savior, "Dragons Rising"
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Something bad has happened to our character. Really bad. It's shaken his faith in himself and in everything else. He may have hit the bottle. He's letting his enemies walk all over him as he rolls around in self-pity and despair, like Achilles in His Tent.

No matter how long it lasts, it won't stick. Sooner or later, our hero is going to shake off his funk and become the man he used to be. After that, we will never mention his low times again (except as a motivator). This is sometimes triggered by some sudden threat he must rise up to face, but when it's done well, it's really more the result of a long healing process finally reaching critical mass. Therefore, the sudden threat is generally used in tandem with a 10-Minute Retirement, whereas He's Back more properly describes the end of a character arc, but the distinction can be blurry, such as in cases in which the 10-Minute version falls across a season break. He's Back is not usually the result of a Whoopi Epiphany Speech, but is often the result of "Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!"

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Works best if the tragedy was on-screen, but sometimes this is relegated to his backstory. Also, emotional impact is maximized if the character in question is The Woobie.

Often timed to coincide with a Rousing Speech. It could also be punctuated with a "No More Holding Back" Speech just for good measure.

Should be the climax of a long-term character arc, but a lightweight version happens at the end of, eg., a 10-Minute Retirement. He may have been down, and maybe you counted him out, but now he's back, and it's about time.

Note that villains are perfectly capable of doing this as well. In fact, for any good Arch-Enemy, the cue to do so will be the discovery that the hero himself is back — enough moping around, your one and only Worthy Opponent has returned!

The distinguishing mark between 10-Minute Retirement and Passing the Torch. The 'good' ending of We Used to Be Friends. It is also sister to Back in the Saddle which is about a person who is physically out of the fight, either retired, promotion, or some physical injury inhibiting the person, where as this is about a Heroic BSoD. See Conscience Makes You Go Back and Changed My Mind, Kid. See also The Cavalry and Big Damn Heroes, which can overlap with this.

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Not to be confused with a character who has returned from being Put on a Bus; in that case, you want The Bus Came Back. This character was never actually "gone", just out of commission until this moment.


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Other Examples:

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    Comic Strips 
  • In Bloom County, Steve Dallas was turned by aliens from a drinking, smoking, chauvinist womanizer into a caring, sensitive, "enlightened" man... but it seems it went too far, as his attempt not to offend, hurt, or impinge on anyone resulted in some people he cared for (okay, the women whom he enjoyed mutually exploitative relationships with) losing interest. Eventually, after the Last Straw Dumping, he ended up sitting naked on top of a fire hydrant in a near-foetal ball. Shortly afterwards, he asked Milo to "fetch them" ("them" apparently being his Cool Shades), who tried to talk him out of it — leading Steve to repeat the request more forcefully ("Steve — they don't deserve this..." "Yes they DO. Now GET THEM!")... When he transformed, Milo screamed, in terror and warning, "He's BACK!" in a tone more suited to a horror sequel trailer. To which Steve replies in a thought balloon: "He's BAD."

    Fan Works 
  • At the end of the first chapter of Ace Combat: The Equestrian War, Firefly returns to Equestria to help in defending it from the griffin invasion. Granted, she also has a personal motive for coming back.
    • Rainbow Dash returns to action in Chapter Twelve (after suffering a Heroic BSoD) in a glorious fashion.
  • Code Geass: Paladins of Voltron: Having spent quite a bit of time off Earth, Lelouch makes sure that the world knows that Zero has returned in Chapter 23.
  • Evangelion 303: After being put through the wringer in Part 2, Asuka ran away in chapter 13. She returned in chapter 15 thanks to Shinji's intervention, and according Misato she was totaly rebuilt, free from her latest traumas and looking better than ever.
  • Higher Learning:
    • After the dummy plugs were tested successfully Shinji believed he was no longer needed and he was free to start his own life far from NERV, so he left. However, when Zeruel came along and started to blast Tokyo-3, Shinji returned to fight it.
    • In chapter 48 Asuka finally recovers from her breakdown. When she appears in the battlefield, riding her giant robot and surrounded by enemies and destruction, she says:
      "I'm back."
  • The Immortal Game has several examples:
    • First, Rainbow Dash breaks free of the Insanity and Nihilus' mind control in order to save Pinkie Pie from falling to her death. In the process, she performs a Sonic Rainboom that restores her fur and mane to their normal color (which had previously been turned black and white, respectively, by Nihilus' spell).
    • Then, Twilight Sparkle — who had previously had her mind split and been reduced to an unstable Actual Pacifist by the trauma of being turned into Nihilus — is tortured by Titan, which causes her personalities to reintegrate. She pulls a My Name Is Inigo Montoya and proceeds to annihilate Titan's forces, personally leading the charge in the Final Battle.
    • Then, Princess Celestia, who spent most of the story Brought Down to Normal and being tortured by Terra, has her power restored by the Elements of Harmony. She chases Terra back to Canterlot and joins in the final duel with Titan.
    • During the second Battle of Ponyville, all of the Mane Six get a variant of this, as they manage to reignite the neutralized Elements of Harmony and even the playing ground with Terra.
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, there's a villainous variant with ProtoMan in Episode 11.
    • Mega Man himself does the same one chapter later.
  • Mega Man Reawakened has this in the Arc Three finale, as Robert lets go of his hatred.
  • Pony POV Series:
    • This happens to Twilight in the Dark World when she finally frees herself from Discord's control with the help of Cadence's spirit, followed up with a "No More Holding Back" Speech.
    • Happens again shortly after when Applejack/Liarjack is likewise freed of Discord's control thanks to a Vision Quest and help from Applebloom's spirit and The Father of Alicorns. Like Twilight, she gives an impressive "No More Holding Back" Speech, which ends with a Badass Boast promise to go after Discord.
    • Rainbow Dash's comes a bit later. Unlike the others, after she's freed from Discord's control, she's suffered so much emotional and mental suffering, she's left suicidal, going into a Deep Sleep to repair her damaged soul. She finally wakes up and flies towards Discord's palace to help the others arriving just in time to pull a Big Damn Heroes and save the heroes from Odyne!Cruelty's Mega Stare, ultimately reigniting her Element of Loyalty so the group can defeat her.
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: After being Mind Raped by Arael Asuka thinks she is a worthless failure and a bratty girl who never deserved to have powers and decides to quit being a super-heroine. However, when the next Angel attacks, she dons her Supergirl costume again, joins the battle and blows Armisael up. After that, she decides that she will not give up again.
  • Paul breaks out of his Drowning My Sorrows “Depression Era” when he finally gets his magic in With Strings Attached. He is imbued with it when he is turned into a diamond statue, then blown up and reformed. Though he's a bit dismayed to discover that he's been Blessed with Suck and now has Power Incontinence.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic / Transformers: Prime crossover Friendship Is Magic: Prime: Act II, Discord comes to Earth, Discords nearly everybody, and takes over. Megatron, one of the only sane individuals left, attempts to form an Enemy Mine with Optimus Prime to stop him, but Optimus has been Discorded and doesn't care anymore. Megatron angrily gives him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech and tries to stop Discord on his own. Megatron's words, along with Miko's sketchbook, which details all their past adventures, help remind Optimus of his reason to fight. He shakes off the brainwashing and returns to the battle.
    Optimus Prime: Discord! I have seen through your ruse, and will tolerate your treachery and deceit no more!
  • Turnabout Storm has an antagonist variation when Trixie pulls herself together after Sonata's "The Reason You Suck" Speech to pull an Enemy Mine. The trial's Mundane Made Awesome levels are particularly strong here.
    Trixie: You need to be taught some manners, you impudent hussy! Nopony, and I mean NOPONY, disrespects the GREAT and POWERFUL Trixie!
    Sonata: This is exactly why she shouldn't be prosecuting...
  • Naruto in Escape from The Hokage's Hat. After spending 20 chapters on the sidelines and Tsunade reworking his lackluster skills from scratch (both due to a Game-Breaking Injury), he finally gets his time to shine. And shine he does ladies and gentlemen.
  • In Robb Returns, the Call sparks something in Robert Baratheon, starting to bring back the energetic, powerful man of action he was before the Rebellion.
  • In The God Squad, the second season opens with Tydal having renounced violence and become a pacifist. He is seconds away from enlightenment when Celestia (who is his adopted daughter in this reality) is attacked and, for the first time in the story, calls him 'daddy'. He instantly goes on a literal roaring rampage, taking out the attacker in brutal fashion and telling all the rest gathered that he will kill anyone who touches his children. Celestia invokes this trope, crying out that he's back.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: Twilight Sparkle finally acknowledges her true self and breaks out of the Smarty Pants identity she's withdrawn into during her thousand years of imprisonment, an act which forces Reality itself, and all of the Powers, to take notice of the event.
  • Brock in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines suffers pretty bad after his parents die, which affects his performance as a Gym Leader and puts him at risk of getting his Gym shut down. However, after he meets Pike Queen Lucy, she offers to train him to get back to his game. Not only he improves his winning rate to over 90% in half a month, but the two eventually start dating and become engaged.
  • After driving himself well past his limits to the point of nearly killing himself and being pretty much Driven to Madness, Stephen Strange of Child of the Storm at first seems almost broken by the end of the Forever Red arc in the sequel, Ghosts of the Past. But after some time and medical attention and the immediate crisis has been averted, he does some explaining of what has been happening and (part of) his plans for what's happening next.
    "For the first time in a while, that wicked little smile, the one that said that its owner had it all worked out and that, moreover, if you were in his way, you were beyond screwed, spread itself across his face. And if any of the assembled wicked witches and wizards, demons, dark lords, and darker gods that menaced Earth had been there to see it, they would have shuddered.
    Doctor Strange was back."
  • In 'A Prize for Three Empires'', Carol Danvers quits The Avengers and tries to lead a normal life until she sees a villain beating Iron Man down on TV.
    Carol cursed. Why did they both have to be in Seattle? Why couldn't he have stayed in New York City with all the rest of the super-freaks? Why couldn't she get off this merry-go-round of heroes and villains?
    Because there were more villains than heroes.
    And because she couldn't let a friend get killed, while she could do something about it.
  • In Taylor Varga, Danny Hebert had been someone that people in Brockton Bay knew not to piss off. Annette's death caused that aspect of him to disappear for a while. Then he learned that Taylor needed him...

    Films — Animation 
  • Cars 3:
    • Lightning McQueen has spent most of the movie in a funk trying to build up speed to beat the new generation Jackson Storm and move past his horrible crash. He's been training with his mentor's mentor Smokey and practice racing against his younger trainer Cruz as practice. It's harshly subverted when even with all of the training throughout the film, Lightning can't catch up to his trainer in their final practice run. He's noticeably shaken afterwards and struggles through thanking everyone for mentoring him.
    • This is played straight however after the final race after Cruz takes over for him midway through and wins. Since he started the race and she finished it under his number, he is considered a winner along with Cruz and decides to keep racing and becomes her personal mentor.
  • Cats Don't Dance: After Darla's manipulations get all the animals fired from Mammoth Studios, Danny gives up completely and decides to just get on the bus back to Kokomo. However, after listening to the bus driver's negative comments on how animals would never reach the top and seeing all of the other animals suffering on the streets, he quickly regains his confidence and gets off the bus, triumphantly declaring, "See you in the movies!"
  • Mr. Incredible from The Incredibles fits the trope very well. And, by extension, Elastigirl and Frozone.
  • Happens at the end of Kung Fu Panda 2 when Po returns from near-death and learning the truth about his Dark and Troubled Past for the final confrontation with Lord Shen.
  • The Lion King: "The king...has returned."
  • Madagascar: Europe's Most Wanted: Vitaly the tiger has been in a deep depression ever since he was badly burned during his ring-jumping act, bringing down the morale of the whole circus with him. After a pep talk from Alex and with the help of nonflamable hair conditioner, he makes his big comeback and helps make the circus successful again.
  • "You dare challenge Megamind?" After Metro Man saves Roxanne and Megamind from a rampaging Tighten. Except that it turns out it's just Megamind disguised as Metro Man, and Minion was disguised as Megamind.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: "I AM the Pumpkin King!"
  • In Sing, the eternally optimistic Buster Moon is crushed into a Heroic BSoD after his beloved theatre is destroyed. However, when he hears the usually stage-shy Meena singing beautifully, it inspires him to get back on his feet, and he organizes the other performers to rebuild the theatre's stage and put on a comeback performance so that all their hard work won't have been for nothing. This ends up getting them the money needed to rebuild the theatre.

    Literature 
  • In The Dinosaur Lords, after Karyl has a prolonged period of non-communication and complete self-loathing, he's brought back by combination of Rob pushing him to start acting again, Melodía lending him a shoulder to cry on and Karyl himself finally opening to other people. We learn that he's back when provides Jaume's side with The Cavalry in form of Triceratopses.
  • Discworld: Sam Vimes, after reluctantly retiring, and then giving into despair and falling Off the Wagon halfway through Men at Arms, returns to the Watch for the finale, as signalled by his demanding someone give him a helmet.
    "Right ... helmet ... sword ... badge ... Now ..."
  • The Dresden Files:
    • In Cold Days, Harry finally returns to Chicago after more than a year of being dead and recovering (it's a long story) and immediately proceeds to go out there and fight one magical bad guy, who nearly craps his pants when he realizes that, yes, Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden is back.
      • Discussed and Played With in Skin Game, however. Harry may be back in town, but he's more brooding, isolates himself from his friends, and is now working for Mab, who may be a Noble Demon but is still pretty damn evil. Several of his allies believe that he's Come Back Wrong, though eventually even the most skeptical come to see that yes, despite his problems and his brooding, he is the same old Harry.
    • In Skin Game, Michael Carpenter is now a Retired Badass, following his injury on Demonreach. When Nicodemus presents him with a Sadistic Choice, Michael agrees to swap himself for his friends. But then Butters runs around the corner with Michael's old sword Amoracchius, and Uriel loans Michael his Grace, temporarily healing Michael's injury.
      Michael: I said I would come out to you. [kicks down the garden door] I'm out. In nominae dei, Nicodemus, I have come to face you.
  • In the Paladin of Shadows book A Deeper Blue, Mike snaps out of his funk when he learns that an operation has Gone Horribly Wrong.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has Tyrion Lannister. He reaches his lowest point when he's being auctioned off as an amusement at a slave market after a truly terrible Trauma Conga Line. By the next time we see him he's worked himself into a position of power with one of the most powerful mercenary groups on the continent. There is no specific moment when he revives himself, but there is no doubt that the series' Ensemble Dark Horse extraordinaire is back on track.
    • Another example is Davos Seaworth, who has been completely broken by the disaster at the Battle of Blackwater, but once he drags himself back he is as loyal and resourceful as he's ever been.
    • Stannis himself following his defeat on the Blackwater seems to have been knocked out of the game. His appearance at the Wall proves there's life in him yet.
    • Cersei could be a villainous example. The Humiliation Conga at the hands of the High Septon seems to have broken her, but the last chapter we get from her perspective ends with a return of her old confidence.
    • Varys disappeared for quite a long time and apparently fled, but his one reappearance at the end of ADWD proves in truly spectacular fashion that he is still a force to be feared.
    • Theon Greyjoy gets horribly tortured until he forgets who he really is and thinks he's just a servant named Reek. He eventually manages to regain his identity. One day, he prays, and in response hears a voice whisper his real name, cheering him up greatly and he casts aside the Reek identity permanently.
  • Star Wars Legends: In Destiny's Way, Admiral Ackbar comes out of retirement to effectively run the Republic Navy, in a reference to the Churchill example below, the Fleet sends out the message "Ackbar is back", and the cheering goes on for more than an hour.
  • In The King's Avatar, Ye Xiu was forced to retire by his old team and leave the professional Glory scene, to the shock and disappointment of many fans and the other rival teams. Come the All-Star Competition, due to certain circumstances, Ye Xiu was able to take part in the fan versus pro event and use "Dragon Raises Its Head", his Signature Move, something he has not used in two years. By doing so, this single event becomes a declaration of his intent to return to the competitive scene in front of his rivals and millions of viewers across the country.

    Music 
  • Yusuf Islam's release of Roadsinger on 5th May 2009. He released An Other Cup, his first album in 28 years, in 2006, but Roadsinger is much better and often considered his true return.
  • Death Magnetic has been recognised as Metallica's "He's Back" moment after their Dork Age in the Nineties.
  • After Lupe Fiasco's third album LASERS failed to live up to expectations, many fans felt he had lost his edge and finally given in to Executive Meddling, but that changed with the release of American Terrorist III, and his new mixtape Friend of the People: I Fight Evil.
  • Alice Cooper's album Constrictor, his first in three years and his first good one in even longer, was considered a comeback album and the subsequent tour was Alice's true return to his gory, violent, shocking and downright nasty roots. Whats the name of one of the singles? "He's Back (The Man Behind the Mask)". Some fans weren't satisfied with the new hair metal sound though and to them the true "He's Back" moment came with 1994's The Last Temptation.
  • The Mighty Mighty Bosstones have a song called He's Back.
  • While X Japan's reunion was somewhat of this trope for the entire band (or at least for drummer and bandleader Yoshiki Hayashi) in 2007, a true example came in 2010 with the announcement of vocalist Toshi's exit from Home Of Heart., bringing back both of the original founders of the band working together as they once did, and the 2010 return of original bassist Taiji Sawada (although his playing only one song led to some backlash). What prevented this from being a complete example of this trope were the deaths of both hide and Taiji.
  • Many bands that broke up in the 70s and 80s released their first album in twenty years or more in the late 2000s or early 2010s. Among these are Mission of Burma, Swans, The Feelies, Steely Dan, The New York Dolls, Devo, Throbbing Gristle, The Vaselines, Big Star, Eagles, Bauhaus, The Slits, The Stooges, and The Who. Unfortunately, only the first couple really exemplify this trope; the others' comeback albums were regarded as trivial at best.
  • John Lennon's "He's Back (or "They're Back" if you appreciate Yoko Ono's work as well) was cut short by his murder. After five years of retirement, they'd recorded and released Double Fantasy in the fall of 1980. They had a lot more work planned and demo-recorded, much of it now available.
  • Vashti Bunyan and Levon Helm (of The Band) were among the '70s singer-songwriters (along with the aforementioned Cat Stevens) to release comeback albums in the 2000s. Both albums were critically acclaimed.
  • In 2004, David Bowie was forced to cut his Reality Tour short due to heart problems that required emergency surgery. His appearances on stage, screen, and records grew fewer and fewer, ceasing after 2008. The world came to accept that he was a quietly and happily retired Reclusive Artist. On January 8, 2013 (his 66th birthday), he announced he was releasing his first album in nearly ten years (The Next Day) in March, and its first single and video were released to the public. The news made entertainment headlines worldwide, in part because absolutely no one in the media or his fanbase saw it coming. (On top of this, the album received good-to-great reviews and topped the sales charts in many countries once it arrived; it was his first album to reach number one in his native U.K. since 1993.)
  • After a seven-year wait, upon which he pursued an acclaimed acting career, former *NSYNC lead singer Justin Timberlake would return in 2013 with a new single, "Suit And Tie", a follow-up album called The 20/20 Experience, and an well-received appearance performing his new single at the 2013 Grammys.
  • Appears on the faux newspaper headline in the clip for for Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi": "SHE'S BACK!"
  • Van Halen had one in the form of A Different Kind of Truth, the album that heralded the return of David Lee Roth into the fold.
  • No mention of Neil Peart? After suffering the loss of his daughter, then his wife less than a year later, he drove 50,000 miles on his motorcycle through North and Central America. His bandmates Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson thought he was done with music, and therefore would be the end of Rush. However, Neil resettled in California, met his new wife, and got back in the game. Rush's 2002 comeback album Vapor Trails was an exercise in catharsis for Neil, his lyrics a form of expression regarding his pain. The opening track, "One Little Victory", starts heavy on the drums, proclaiming to the world that Neil Peart is, indeed, back.
  • As far as actual songs that embody this trope, there's the Thin Lizzy classic "The Boys Are Back in Town".
  • Embodying the trope as well as a band's reunion is the opener of Soundgarden's comeback album, "Been Away Too Long".
  • In-universe example with Mega Man in the work of The Megas. While he wins all of his battles, he never gets any comfort from them, slipping deeper into despair — to the point where, by "Fly on a Dog", he can barely remember why he fights at all, and even the most optimistic song he gets in the entirety of History Repeating — Blue, "History Repeating, Part 2 (One Last Time)", is about how little he wants to be doing this. Then he encounters Proto Man in "Make Your Choice" on History Repeating — Red and it's like a switch is flipped from "angsty" to "unstoppable". He takes out the giant "peacekeeping" robot Gamma while having a philosophical argument with Proto Man, kicks Doctor Light off the self-destructive and vengeful path he was on, delivers a Kirk Summation that helps Proto Man find some measure of peace, takes down Wily for good measure, and finds an ideal that he can live and fight for. This takes less than two songs.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Odysseus was away at war for many years. During that time his palace had filled up with suitors trying to gain the attention of his wife. On his return he disguised himself as an ancient beggar and sneaked back in, then whipped off the disguise, revealing himself even bigger and stronger than ever. For even more awesome, he and his son were armed to the teeth, and they had stolen all of the suitors' weapons beforehand. Oh yeah, and Athena, the goddess of battle, was on Odysseus' side. Needless to say, the suitors shat bricks. And then he killed all of them.
  • Jesus. As in back from the dead and powered up. Although in his case, it was all part of the plan.

    Podcasts 
  • We're treated to a few near the end of the Balance Arc of The Adventure Zone.
    • The Red Robe, a mysterious figure that has been following the Tres Horny Boys throughout their adventure, finally reveals his true identity when they see him possess a clone of his body. Despite him being a relatively minor character before then, Griffin still manages to make Barry Bluejeans's return one of the most memorable moments in the campaign.
    • After the Stolen Century, the Bureau of Balance is attacked by the Hunger, and Angus casts Scorching Ray, a spell that he doesn't know. After multiple events of the Umbra Staff acting weird and casting fire spells (a staple of its creator and Taako's beloved twin sister, Lup), Taako decides to snap the staff over his knee. We get treated to a scene of the mysterious fate of Lup, who was trapped in the Umbra Staff due to its own powers. Lup then reappears in all of her blazing glory, and proceeds to kill ''every remaining enemy on the battlefield''.
  • Things seemed fairly hopeless during Welcome to Night Vale after the radio station is taken over by the StrexCorp shills Kevin and Lauren. That is until a certain subversive radio host makes his triumphant return. Cecil takes his rightful spot behind the microphone for the rest of the episode.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • During the lead-up to the Invasion PPV, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin had changed from his familiar ass-kicking self into a different man, one who frequently hugged Vince McMahon and had walked out on Mr. McMahon's pleas to have "the old Stone Cold." He's spent the better part of one show down at the local bar, ignoring the pleas from other wrestlers as The Alliance runs roughshod on the WWF. Then Austin throws down his beer, snaps a pool cue, and storms out of the bar. The next time he's seen, he comes roaring up in his pick-up truck, lays out every Alliance wrestler in sight on his way to the ring (while Alliance mastermind Paul Heyman is freaking out at ringside). And then — *glass shatters*— here comes the OLD Stone Cold, hitting the ring with a vengeance, where he delivers a Stone Cold Stunner to any Alliance wrestler that's put in front of him. Ultimately subverted however, when he betrays the WWF and joins the Alliance at the PPV.
  • Shawn Michaels has had a few but perhaps the greatest was after his one-off return (after four years of being laid up with a broken back) to fight Triple H at SummerSlam (supposed to be a one-time comeback), he's mangled so badly as to be confined to a wheelchair. But after giving an uncharacteristically stoic promo, warning the "Don't hunt... what you can't kill." To prove his point, he started to struggle to stand up out of his wheelchair, trying and failing a few times. Then, he shrugs, easily stands up, kicks over the chair, and starts dancing. A few weeks later, in his first match in three months (and second in the last four and a half years), he beat Kane, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, Chris Jericho, and, in the big finish, Triple H himself in the first ever Elimination Chamber to win the World Heavyweight title.
  • Veteran wrestlers returning to their older gimmicks. The Undertaker once again becoming the "Dead Man Walking", Kane regaining his mask, are generally met with a huge pop.
  • Shane McMahon returning to RAW after an absence of almost seven years. Not only was this to a huge pop, but a complete surprise. The WWE had teased a special guest, but no one pegged Shane O'Mac coming back.
  • Bryan Danielson went into voluntary exile from Ring of Honor and for a time, most regions encompassing the pro wrestling circuits outside of Europe and Japan, out of frustration with his inability to take the Ring of Honor World title from Austin Aries in 2005. There was news that TNA was interested in him but after missing the end of Aries's reign and the entire world title reign of CM Punk, Danielson returned to ROH to defeat James Gibson and finally become World Champion, to become The Best In The World.
    • What was thought to be Bryan Danielson's final independent pay per view appearance, his final any kind of pro wrestling appearance not under the WWE banner was in 2009 in Dragon Gate USA, where he requested the hardest possible match up he could get, and after losing to Open The Dream Gate Champion Naruki Doi, told fans he didn't think he could remain the best in the world while in WWE and urged them to continue to support independent pro wrestling, assuring them new wrestlers would take over his position as such, if they had not already. Well, WWE fired Danielson for being too violent, so he returned to DGUSA the next year, ready to once again become, Best In The World.
    • All of the above would be nothing compared to returning to the ring in 2018. Bryan was forced to retire in 2016 due to multiple concussions and spent his post-wrestling career as the General Manager of SmackDown, in addition to co-hosting Talking Smack with Renee Young and calling the Cruiserweight Classic with Mauro Ranallo. Then on March 20, 2018, it was announced that he was cleared by doctors to return to in-ring competition. He made his in-ring return at WrestleMania 34 (at the same arena he triumphed at four years prior, no less) and performed like he never left.
  • 3/27/2015: For the first time in seven years an ROH legend returns, and unlike last time, you'll actually get to see it... he went back out the door after four more dates but it was nice while it lasted.
  • Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome, THE HOST of Wrestlemania 27... *zap zap zap zap zap zap zap zap*...........*all the lights turn off*...........*more electricity, this time on the titantron...........*titantron goes completely white, then blacks out*....................
    • To make it official, That Other Wiki has confirmed that he has signed a multi-year contract with the WWE. Ladies and Gentlemen, it's official: ''THE ROCK HAS COME BACK! HOME!'
  • After having been missing from TNA for almost a year, The Monster Abyss returns during the Darkest Hour of the Aces & Eights angle. By the end of the night he managed to layout the entire stable singlehandedly, becoming the Hope Bringer for TNA.
  • Months later, as the Main Event Mafia is down a man against the Aces & Eights in a match where whoever gets pinned is ousted from the company, "My Evil Ways" starts playing and AJ Styles walks out...at which point the music cuts out, 2 familiar drum beats hit, and 4 words that hadn't been heard in a year hit the speakers: "GET READY TO FLY!" The Phenomenal One has returned.
  • Here comes the pain again!
  • In 2015, Oedo~tai jumped on World Wonder Ring STARDOM's first USA tour, bringing Hudson Envy back to the EWF arena, where she got her start, for the first time in three years, only to see her and Thunder Rosa's thunder stolen by Melina Perez coming behind them to end an eleven year absence.
  • Here's a big surprise in the November 12th, 2019 episode of WWE Backstage.
    <the sound of static and a guitar rift not heard in five years>
    • Punk's return to Backstage (where he was just being employed by Fox as a panel commentator) was nothing compared to the reaction when, seven years after he'd walked out of WWE and the wrestling industry, he actually signed with All Elite Wrestling, making his epic return on the second episode of AEW Rampage in his home town of Chicago. The pop when his music hit was insane beyond belief, a packed arena of 15,000 people screaming and cheering and chanting Punk's name and singing along to 'Cult of Personality' for almost five straight minutes. People were in tears.
  • Prior to the 2020 Royal Rumble, there had been rumours that Edge would make an appearance backstage or on the pre-show. Then during the men's rumble, the clock ticked down to number 21, and all of a sudden — "You think you know me" — and the crowd went insane. At this point, Edge had been away from wrestling for nine years, and it was looking highly unlikely he'd ever make another appearance inside the squared circle. You can tell how sorely he was missed (and, going by the look on his face, how sorely he'd missed wrestling).

    Roleplay 
  • The Gamer's Alliance has a villainous version when Ronove regains his memories of being a higher demon during the Battle of Vanna. As soon as he's back in the game, he shows everyone why he was once called the Walking Death by defeating the seemingly invincible demon Dreadlord with ease.
  • A villainous variation occurs with Survival of the Fittest character Julie Mikan. After killing a fellow classmate she goes into a Heroic BSoD, before somewhat reforming. However, a couple of days later, Julie finally breaks down due to the heat and sleep deprivation, signifying a return for her villainous self.

    Theatre 
  • The final act of Hamlet is a classic example, with the title character defiantly returning home to confront Claudius after his months spent abroad in England, despite knowing full well that Laertes is out for his blood. After four acts of angsting about Death and the Meaning of Life, and ultimately being forced to his lowest point after accidentally murdering Polonius and driving the love of his life to madness, the Prince of Denmark is back — and no force in Heaven and Earth can stop him from having his revenge.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Miles Edgeworth in the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney trilogy. At the end of the first game, he gets framed for murder, accused and linked to forgery of evidence, and nearly loses his freedom before Phoenix saves him, and decides the most mature reaction to this in the second game would be to bugger off to Europe, leaving what appears to be a suicide note. He returns during the last case of the second game, having found the true meaning of a prosecutor and gotten some snazzy new theme music in the process.
    • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, guess who's regained his attorney badge and makes a Big Damn Heroes entrance in the very first case, clad in a nifty new version of his familiar suit? Phoenix Wright himself, after seven years of unjust disbarment, has returned to the courtroom. An even better example is the DLC case, Turnabout Reclaimed, which shows Phoenix's first trial after getting back his attorney's badge. He not only proves his client innocent, he proves that NOBODY was guilty. He held the Judge's verdict just to prove that the witness on stand was innocent as well and the deceased died by accident.
  • Steins;Gate: After suffering many a Heroic BSoD, Okabe is finally shaken out of it when Suzuha shows him the video of his future self explaining how he can save Kurisu, which catapults him right back into Large Ham territory, turning his Narm speeches into a Badass Boast he can make into reality.

    Web Animation 
  • In CPU Championship Series, Skillshare Kirby hadn't won a single round since he was sponsored. But in ENDGAME, he shows why he was the first sponsored character, beating numerous Dark Realm inhabitants, and defeating Blood Falcon, who had already killed Captain Falcon, Vincent, and King Dedede, and proceeds to win the tournament, beating his rival, Zelda. He's back INDEED.
  • After his Heel–Face Turn in Ducktalez 3, Vegeta loafs around Scrooge's mansion and acts like a nuisance. Near the end of 7, Scrooge snaps at him, which causes Vegeta to have a Heroic BSoD. After a revelation from Huey, Vegeta shows up and helps Scrooge beat the Beagle Boys.
  • In the Halo 3 Machinima Deus ex Machina, Deus resolves to give up crime-fighting when things don't work out at all for him. He is forced back into his usual routine when a huge threat rears its ugly head. Though this "He's back" turns very tragic...
  • RWBY:
    • Yang spends the Time Skip between Volumes 3 and 4 in a Heroic BSoD following the events of Volume 3 before she's able to pull herself back together. Her disastrous defeat at the hands of Adam Taurus during the fall of Beacon leaves her struggling to find a road to recovery throughout Volume 4, while her sister Ruby travels the world trying to find out who was responsible for the destruction of Beacon. She begins to take the first steps only when she realises her father had to choose which of his two daughters to protect because he can't be in two places at once. By the end of the volume, she's mastered the cybernetic arm General Ironwood commissioned for her, color-coded it to suit her style, and is racing through the wilds of Anima on her motorcycle to reunite with Ruby.
    • When Ozpin's secret is revealed in Volume 6, all of the heroes lose their trust in him; when even Qrow turns on him, Ozpin tearfully accepts their recriminations and abandons the fight against Salem. It takes him some time to pull himself back together and return. He seals himself so deeply inside Oscar's mind, even Oscar cannot reach him. However, Jinn stated in her vision that, no matter what happens or how crushing his burden becomes, Oz always returns to the responsibilities the Gods have given him. When Ironwood shoots Oscar off a ledge in Atlas' Vault, shattering his Aura in the process, Oscar resigns himself to death. Ozpin's voice calling him is accompanied by his eyes flashing gold the way they do when Ozpin takes control before returning to their normal colour. Oscar then reaches for his cane and activates it, allowing him to summon powerful magic and survive falling all the way from Atlas to Mantle's surface. Upon landing, Oscar realises that the power and memories he now has are proof that Ozpin truly has returned. He then asks Ozpin to help him save Atlas.
    • After being traumatized and mauled in the volume 3 finale, Cinder Fall loses a great deal of the cunning and manipulative prowess that made her so dangerous in the first place, focusing instead on trying to brute force her way through everything. Her plan to topple Haven fails and she's beaten and nearly killed by Raven Branwen, manages to be a Spanner in the Works in volume 7 but fails to claim the Maiden powers she was after, and in Volume 8 she foolishly races off after the Maiden power even when Salem told her to stay put and gets humiliated. After Arthur Watts gives her a vicious "The Reason You Suck" Speech on her motives and how poorly her plans have turned out as of late, she takes it to heart and proceeds to wrap him and her Enigmatic Minion around her finger, counter the heroes' plans near perfectly, net herself two Relics, destroy both Atlas and Mantle, and kill Watts and Penny while tossing all of Team RWBY into a void with only her lack of knowledge of how the void worked preventing her from killing all the protagonists in one fell swoop. After four volumes of increasingly trying and failing to maintain her menace, she creates the single biggest victory yet for Salem, who welcomes her back with open arms.
  • Nabi gets one of these in Step 5 of There she is!!, kicking off the Race for Your Love to the finale.

    Webcomics 
  • Brawl in the Family's 2009 "A Mushroom Kingdom Carol" (here) has Bowser defeat Mario by seemingly leaving the Mushroom Kingdom forever and then sending Bowser Jr. to lead an assault years later when Mario was too old and out of practice to fight. Mario degraded to a sour Scrooge of a hermit over the next number of years as a result of his humiliating defeat. But after the visitation of three ghosts that ultimately reminded him just who he was, he donned his old hat and jumping shoes and went back to Bowser's castle with a vengence... and an army of Yoshis.
  • The Oracle from Dragon Mango. Initially she looks like a confused seer and Harmless Villain, but as soon as she learns the one bit of information she lacked, she figures everything out instantly, gets her Vision back in full force, and promptly orchestrates a Thanatos Gambit.
  • Aradia from Homestuck. Prior to the events of the story, she was quite friendly and happy... until she was killed and came back as a ghost. She spends most of the series (aside from Act 5 part 1) sitting around moping about how the trolls are doomed to die and that there's no way they can stop the demon that's rampaging through their session, and only contacts Rose to flip out at her to try and keep her from going through with Doc Scratch's plans. Then Derse blew up, awakening Aradia's dreamself, allowing her to rise to the god tiers and timestop Bec Noir. She's back to her old self again now.
    • Rose was one of the smartest and most confident characters among the kids. By the meteor intermission she's been manipulated by Scratch and the Horror Terrors to make their session worse and lost her Mom to Jack. She's less confident in herself and deals with it by drinking to alleviate her nervousness and to pass the boring 3 years. The result has dulled her once sharp wit, and left her a wreck, nearly failing at her relationship and failing to auspisitice between Gamzee and Terezi. She pulls herself back together after an argument with Kanaya, and when the battle flares up on LOFAF she pulls a wand (the first time doing so since Jack killed her) and once again tries to auspistice, showing the confidence in her actions she used to have.
  • The Order of the Stick
  • After Steve had been on a bus ride for a while in Questionable Content, he retroactively became a parody of this trope. He had originally disappeared after breaking up with his girlfriend and drinking himself silly. In the middle of his binging, the government hires him and he spontaneously transforms into James Bond, blows up some bad guy's Volcano Lair, etc., and afterward he inexplicably goes back to being a normal guy. Or maybe none of that really happened. But it probably did. Maybe. The author's not telling.
  • Bun-Bun has one of these in Sluggy Freelance after a head injury left him acting like a normal rabbit. The instant he regains his memories, he holds a family of telemarketers hostage over a piranha tank and re-declares his revenge on Santa Claus. That's the bunny we love.

    Web Original 
  • Protectors of the Plot Continuum:
    • Agents Suicide and Dio disappeared after the Subjugation mission failed, but were back for Ring Child.
    • Makes-Things got skewered by a huge macrovirus trying to infect him, but recovered by still-unknown means.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender makes a triumphant reappearance in the finale, destroying Ozai's airship as it enters the Earth Kingdom.
      Suki: What just happened‌?
      Sokka: It’s Aang! He’s back!
    • In the sequel series The Legend of Korra, his successor Korra follows suit at the beginning of Book 4 after being tortured, traumatized, and poisoned by the Red Lotus at the end of Book 3. Notably, it took a 3-year Timeskip and 4 episodes to do it. Unusually for this trope, Korra has to come back multiple times on different levels. First she has to physically remove the poison from her body, and then she has to emotionally confront the root of her trauma.
  • An excellent moment occurs in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "I Am the Night." Already wondering if his crusade is doing any good at all, Batman snaps when Commissioner Jim Gordon is wounded after he's late helping Gotham Police during a bust, due the the Dark Knight visiting the site of his parent's death as it happens to be the anniversary. He's so broken by this, he considers hanging up the mantle of the bat even when Dick Grayson comes by to give him some moral support. Later on, word gets out that the man who put Gordon in the hospital is now looking to finish what he started. Dick attempts to rally Bruce to the scene, but he is unresponsive, and in the end Dick heads out as Robin to guard Gordon himself. And then just when Robin's getting ready to leave the the Bat Cave, he's stopped by Bruce, decked out once again in his Batman costume.
    Batman: No, Dick. This is my hunt.
  • When Danny Phantom is powerless and being attacked by thousands of ghosts, his ghostly abilities get shot back into action, resulting in this;
    Danny: Well, there's good news and bad news. The good news? My powers are back. The bad news? My powers are BACK!
  • In "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back" an episode of Futurama, there were two examples. Bender's personality chip was removed by Morgan Proctor and hidden in the Augean files of the Central Bureaucracy, leaving Bender unable to say anything other than "I am Bender; please insert girder" in an emotionless monotone. It was explained that, in order to find it in time would require an atomic powered sorting machine, at which point Hermes calls out from the balcony "You rang?", his confidence having been restored. Then, when Bender's personality is successfully restored, he declares "I am Bender, baby! Please insert liquor!"
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983): In "The Problem With Power" Skeletor devises a plan to make He-Man think he's killed a villager resulting in such a giant Heroic BSoD that He-Man throws away his sword and quits being He-Man forever, resulting in the good guys being left with no alternative but to send Teela on a suicide mission to try and save the day. Orko finds out about the plot and manages to enlighten Prince Adam just in time for He-Man to make a Big Damn Heroes come-back to save both the day and Teela.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic :
  • Samurai Jack:
    • After spending the first half of the final season battling with depression, Samurai Jack is reminded by a Heel Face Turned Ashi just how much good he's done. It works — he regains his Heroic Resolve just when he was on the edge of committing Seppuku. This is followed up in in the next episode, as he undergoes a Vision Quest wherein he finally vanquishes the inner rage and despair that have been haunting him all season, finally earning the right to have his sword returned to him, which fully restores him to how he was in the previous seasons.
    • After spending most of the final season battling his own depression and refusing to even spy on Jack out of perceived uselessness, Aku himself finds his fire rekindled when his damaged minion Scaramouche finally arrives at his fortress after his battle with Jack in the first episode to tell him Jack has lost his magic sword and thus the only way to kill him. Aku is so elated he restores Scaramouche and heads off to confront Jack only to find Scaramouche was too late with the information and kills the robot. However, this act lets him figure out Ashi's relationship to him as his daughter and at last disarm and have his greatest opponent at his mercy. Thus, Aku is fully restored to how he was in the previous seasons as well.
    • In a meta example, the tagline for the advertising heralding the long, long awaited proper conclusion to Jack's story is simply: "Jack is back."
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Adora spends most of the episode "Beast Island" wrestling with her self-doubt, her guilt over her damaged friendship with Glimmer, and the depression-inducing Signal that pervades the island — and it doesn't help that the Sword of Protection isn't working. When she, Bow, Swift Wind, and Micah are all succumbing to the Signal, their eyes dulling, creepy vines wrapping around them, Adora gets a montage of memories of Glimmer, starting with their time at loggerheads but gradually being overtaken by memories of happier times. Then, her eyes start glowing, and her Transformation Sequence begins…
  • An interesting inversion comes in the middle of the 15th season of South Park. Stan turns ten, and suddenly begins to view everything around him in a much more… erm… crappy light. At the end of the two-episode long arc, he's back… but only with a bit of help.
  • Sponge Bob Squarepants: In the episode, "Pickles", Spongebob has his confidence shaken after failing to provide the exact order Bubble Bass wanted. So much so, that he completely forgets how to make a Krabby Patty and takes a temporary leave from the Krusty Krab. Soon after though, he returns to confront Bubble Bass once again to thunderous applause, this time exposing the fact that he had a pickle under his tongue the entire time and restoring his honor as a fry cook.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003):
    • Leonardo spends half of the fourth season of the 2003 Ninja Turtles cartoon in a funk after a huge near-miss with the Shredder. His increasingly maniacal training schedule, surly attitude, and short temper culminates in Splinter kicking him out to train with Hamato Yoshi's old master in Japan. Once he gets over his self-blame, Leo is able to return home… to find the lair in ruins. But the turtle in blue is back. He has little trouble finding and gathering the scattered Turtles and Splinter. He even confronts the new leader of the Foot one-on-one while running errands for his battered comrades, and delivers a clear message of "don't bother my family again or else."
    • Leo gets an earlier instance of this halfway through the first season, when the process of reforging his swords, with Raphael's encouragement, helps him regain his spirit after being defeated and badly beaten by the Shredder and his minions. When he comes out at the end of the episode to announce that they're taking the fight back to the Shredder, it's a very clear declaration of this trope.
  • Transformers:
    • Beast Wars:
      • Optimus Primal returns with guns blazing after a brief bout of being dead. It's a nicely satisfying big slagging hero moment. His return is marked by him blowing a hole through the wall of their base for no reason other than to be awesome.And he gets to be a metal gorilla which flies on a flying surfboard.
      • He also gets another one earlier, after being released from an alien probe that he'd been trapped in.
    • Of course, there's also "The Return Of Optimus Prime" from G1. After the heartbreaking death in the movie... he came back. And wiped the Hate Plague from existence. Because he's Optimus. Slagging. Prime.
      Sky Lynx: "It's true.. our leader is back!"
      Optimus Prime: "Yes, Sky Lynx. And this time, no force in the universe can stop me."
    • Transformers: Prime:
      • If you think that's something, Transformers: Prime one-upped it in "Orion Pax Part 3". In the season finale, Optimus lost his memories and reverted to his pre-Prime state after using the power of the Matrix to save the Earth. When his memories are restored, it's shown when he Bare Handed Blade Blocks Megatron, complete with this one liner:
        Optimus: "Megatron, be gone!"
      • Then it one upped the one up in the fourth episode of Season 3 where Optimus, after being badly hurt due to the Decepticons destroying the Autobots' base, gets a Came Back Strong with a new, bigger body and pulls a Big Damn Heroes moment to save the others and help them bring down Megatron's fortress.

 
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Alternative Title(s): Shes Back, Im Back

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Simon the Digger

After Kamina's death, Simon falls into depression. He eventually returns back to save the day in the most over-the-top way ever, showing off his character development.

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