These people once had it all. They were wealthy and powerful, sycophants hung on their every word, and it seemed like the world was their oyster. Then they fell, hard. Now their empire has crumbled, their money is gone, and they are scorned by the people who once admired them; there's nothing left for them to do but long for the Glory Days.
Other characters may shake their heads in pity and comment, "How the mighty have fallen."
Someone powerful and prideful who suffers a Humiliation Conga or Break the Haughty can have this fate waiting for them at the end. However, it can just as easily happen offscreen, or to someone who wasn't excessively prideful.
Depending on how sympathetic the character is, this can be played for comedy, tragedy, or karmic justice. It may even prove to be a Happy Ending; he avoids Lonely at the Top for true friendship and true love.
The Trope Namer comes from the Second Book of Samuel, as the soon-to-be-King David laments the death of King Saul.
The Fallen Princess copes with it; the Princess in Rags pretends it hasn't happened. Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair is when it happens to civilization, or Vestigial Empire when it happens to a nation-state. Compare Villain Decay. Riches to Rags is related but involves the loss of money rather than power (though there is frequent overlap).
- The first 2017 UFO Kamen Yakisoban ad is about former 90's hero Yakisoban falling from grace, unable to hold a job, and his once-adoring public finding him washed-up, weird, and annoying. He turns evil as a result.
- Accel World: Noumi is introduced as one of the most powerful antagonists of the series. His Brain Burst avatar, Dusk Taker, has the power to permanently steal another avatar's powers and abilities, such as Haru's trademark wings, as well as access to the powerful Incarnate Ability. In addition, thanks to an illegal brain chip, he's able to access the Accelerated World without using his neural linker, which means he can disappear at will from match lists without losing connection to the internet (and cheat on tests). He's also high placed enough in the Accelerated Research Society that he can call in favors from the group's leader Black Vise. Plus being crafty enough to maneuver Haru into a position where he is a virtual slave to the dirty brat. By the end of his arc, Noumi has been reduced to a wiggling torso in the virtual world after losing an all of nothing battle against Haru, begging those he'd maliciously mocked for the points necessary to prevent Brain Burst from uninstalling itself from him. When we next see him in the real world, he's become nothing more than a normal twelve-year-old.
- The Animatrix: As shown in the euphemistically-named short film, The Second Renaissance, humanity entered a new age with the birth of artificial intelligence in the 21st Century, and then showed a profound lack of appreciation for their offspring, treating them as slaves. Despite efforts to show appreciation and cooperation, the AI gathered in the world of Zero One eventually formed an army, soundly defeated humanity and turned the roles about, enslaving humanity with a similar level of prejudice and contempt as biomechanical batteries for the Machine City and the virtual world known as The Matrix. A few humans and Machines regret the error.
- In Black Butler, Sebastian says this of Ash/Angela in the first Season Finale. In this case, he's referring to three things exactly: first, the Irony that someone who adored Purity is now drawing power from human corruption, second that is a literal Fallen Angel, and third, that s/he is about to go DOWN.
- In A Certain Magical Index, this ends up happening to Othinus, a virtually unbeatable Magic God, who gets all of her powers taken away by even stronger Magic Gods after her Heel–Face Turn.
- Chainsaw Man: The "Hero of Hell" and the "Terror of all Devils", Pochita, aka Chainsaw Devil, was reduced to a small dog-like creature after a massive battle while escaping Hell, now living as the pet of a poor, starving, deep-in-debt boy on the verge of death. Living situation aside, Pochita seems to have been perfectly happy with this, as his new form made it easier to receive the hugs he dreamt of having for a long time.
- The life of Fallen Prince Lelouch Lamperouge/vi Britannia in Code Geass. Even his Zero persona goes through this.
- Cross Ange kicks off with this as part of its Downer Beginning, when the titular Ange goes from a beloved, popular princess to a Norma stuck in Arzenal.
- Death Note's ending leaves Light broken both physically and mentally, with all his sycophants either dead or not having a clue who he is. The anime scene with him running sobbing from the warehouse only for Ryuk to unceremoniously write his name on the Death Note a few minutes later is the nice version of his death, and within a few years, the world's gone back to normal. In the original manga, he's killed while writhing in agony and begging that he doesn't want to die.
- In The Devil is a Part-Timer!, the titular Devil is transported from his world (where he is the commander of a massive army of demons and possesses extraordinary magical power) to our mundane world, where he is no more powerful than a regular human and has to take a job at a fast-food restaurant to survive. The same winds up being true for the Hero that tried to oppose him, as well as his most powerful subordinates.
- However, unlike most cases of this trope, he doesn't seem overly distressed about his fall from power. Instead, he sees it as an opportunity to climb the ranks and amass power in this world just like he did in his original world. When the destined Hero also shows up, she has a similar attitude towards her own position in this world.
- Doraemon: Nobita and the Haunts of Evil have Nobita adopting a stray dog, who later turns out to be a sentient, Talking Animal and the Prince of Bauwan named Kuntakku, a Small, Secluded World of dog-people in the heart of Africa. In the past, the King of Bauwan was murdered by a usurper who then took over the throne and had the Prince hunted down. Barely escaping his pursuers, Prince Kuntakku loses his armour, weapons, and eventually dives into the Zambezi River before ending up in an African port, where the Prince then hitches a ride on a Japanese ship and ends up in Tokyo as a stray dog scavenging for food in the city's alleys.
- Dragon Ball:
- Goku more or less expresses this when he mocked Frieza's final attack after he deemed him too weak and Not Worth Killing. He states this again after Frieza was cut in half by his own attack. Finally, after being forced to blast Frieza after he tried to shoot him in the back, Goku has an expression that practically embodies this trope. For someone who was once called the most powerful being in the universe, it was indeed a mighty fall.
- Vegeta's demise during the Frieza Saga has shades of this. He's the Saiyan Prince and the strongest his race has to offer... and is left helpless and reduced to tears against Frieza's power. After being beaten to a bloody pulp, Vegeta is given an anti-climactic end by being shot through the heart and spends his last moments tearfully begging Goku, a lower-class warrior, to defeat Frieza and avenge their race.
- In both Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' and Dragon Ball Super, this has happened to Frieza's entire empire. They went from being the most feared and powerful force in the universe, who controlled 70% of the known universe, to barely qualifying as an army after not only losing Frieza and his father but all their best fighters on Namek. According to Sorbet, they're on their last legs and are considered a laughing stock. By the end of Super and the beginning of Broly, Frieza and his empire has gained some of their clout back, but are still struggling to regain the foothold they had earlier.
- Frost, Frieza's Universe 6 counterpart. He's initially depicted as the Emperor of his universe, beloved by all as a hero, but during the Universe 6 Saga, it turns out that he's, in fact, a villain just like Frieza who does such things as start wars so he can end them and gain good publicity, which he openly brags about. Upon this reveal, he's one-shotted by Vegeta, beaten up by Hit after trying to steal Champa's cube, and becomes a fugitive on the run. Come the Universe Survival Saga, Hit finds him huddled in an alleyway, with nothing but a worn cloth to protect him from the elements.
- Fairy Tail: The titular guild itself suffers a tremendous one following the Time Skip. After their master and strongest members go missing, most of the guild's remaining members leave the guild out of frustration or shame, the ones left behind are forced to foreclose their guildhall as it has become too expensive (the replacement building not-withstanding), they are constantly being hit up for money that they borrowed from a neighboring guild filled with jerkasses, and they lose their reputation by losing six consecutive years of the Grand Magic Games in a row. The lost guildmates finally return after seven years and things begin to improve.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Yoki. He goes from leader of a prosperous mining town to Scar's snivelling lackey.
- In the anime, he is reduced to scavenging in a junkyard to survive.
- Fushigi Yuugi: Nakago and Tenkou used to be the most powerful enemies who could almost conquer the world. But, the Suzaku warriors successfully botch their Evil Plan by depowering them.
- Ghost Sweeper Mikami: Doctor Chaos was once a renowned alchemist, exorcist, and inventor with a genius-level intellect, his greatest achievements being attained immortality and the creation of Maria. In the series proper, he's a senile old crackpot living in a cheap, rundown department and working on a bunch of odd jobs for peanuts to survive.
- The core premise of The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated! is how Jahy, the second-in-command of the Demon Realm gets reduced to Perpetual Poverty after the Demon Realm's destruction.
- Several of the countries from Hetalia: Axis Powers have moments like this. The Roman Empire himself, for starters, is said to have had everything, but then vanished one day (although, as a young Italy remarks, he had many scars and was in pain beforehand, probably for a long time). Prussia used to be a great fighter, and now, he isn't a nation anymore. During the Revolution, America remarks on how England "used to be so big." Kind of played with in the case of France, when he isn't invited to one of the Allies' meetings and tries to remember some of his "finest hours," all of them ruthlessly destroyed/parodied (in the cases of Joan of Arc and Napoleon, because of England, and in two cases he just jumped into the fight when the enemy was already weak).
- Portugal cheerfully says to Spain's face that he's happy that Spain's fallen into dire straits since his empire days since it makes him feel better about his own fate.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Joseph Joestar, main character of Part 2 (1938), was almost as powerful in Part 3 (1987). But in Part 4 (1999), time has finally done its dirty work to him — he's withered, nearly deaf, partly senile, and generally on death's door. Josuke, his illegitimate son, can't bring himself to accept Joseph as his father for several reasons, and one of them is, "How could that seduce my mother?"
- Legend of the Galactic Heroes: A common theme when it comes to wide-spanning empires and nations. Chronologically, the first one is the United Earth Government, which is naturally the birthplace of humanity and focal point of all human civilization. However, shortly after colonization, they had already become decadent as their military grew way too large, their resources exhausted, and the native people lacking any intelligence and imagination as they focused more on financial and military power than self-sufficiency. As a result, the government became corrupt with Earth financiers and military lobbyists technically owning the government, allowing them to abuse colonies however they pleased. When the colonists had enough and rebelled, the military itself had become so decadent that they were more interested in killing people and plundering for jewels and treasures rather than hunting down the insurgents. By the time the colonies finally regained the upper hand, they were drastically on the receiving end of the abuse that was a hundred times worse than theirs. When the story finally starts, the Earth is barely recognizable and nearly uninhabitable to the point it's almost completely forgotten.
- Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force, the fourth season manga of the Nanoha franchise gives this treatment to Signum in spades. Fortunately, after recovery, she's working her ass off to subvert this.
- One Piece:
- The death of his crew at the hands of Kaido left Gekko Moriah really screwed up — by the time the protagonists first meet him, he's let himself go and uses others' strength instead of his own to get the job done. His Badass Decay eventually got him kicked out of the Seven Warlords of the Sea by Doflamingo, as he was deemed too weak for the position.
- Earlier on, during Usopp's introduction arc, Kuro, upon seeing his crew struggling against the Straw Hats, almost says this trope word for word expressing his frustration/anger at their "inexcusable" weakness.
- During the Baratie Arc, it's stated that Don Krieg had a fleet of 50 ships with 5,000 men... which he lost when he entered the Grand Line and ran afoul of "Hawk-Eye" Mihawk. When he first appears, Krieg's Pirate Armada has been reduced to one battered ship and about 100 starving men. Krieg's motivation for stealing the oceangoing restaurant is using it to build a new fleet.
- Donquixote Doflamingo and his crew in the Dressrosa Arc. During the end of Punk Hazard Arc/beginning of Dressrosa Arc, Doflamingo was the well-respected King of Dressrosa and one of the 'heroes' who helped to get rid of the tyrannical ruler whom he and his crew framed with Doflamingo being a World Noble; and his crew was wildly popular, so much that even the underlings had followers and fans of their own. By the end of the day (and 2 and a half real-world years) and a lot of chaos later, Doflamingo is exposed as the mastermind behind the above-mentioned tragedy and is given a thorough Humiliation Conga by Law and Luffy, stripped of his Warlord status and his World Noble status is rendered void with his last appearance in said arc being a Villainous Breakdown regarding how he was the lynchpin of the New World and no one in particular listening to him; and his top executives defeated by Luffy, the gladiators and the rest of the Straw Hats, and arrested (with the less evil members pulling a Heel–Face Turn and getting away).
- A recurring element in the Wano Arc, to show just how badly things have gone in Wano since Kaido took control. Hyogoro was one of the most powerful yakuza, but is now just a malnourished, small elder imprisoned in Udon. Queen lampshades how pathetic a legendary yakuza has become. Shinobu was once a beautiful kunoichi, but went to seed and is now an obese old woman of questionable skill. The country itself used to be a picturesque Theme Park Version of Feudal Japan, but Kaido's factories have poisoned the landscape, turning the entire nation, bar the Flower Capital into a polluted wasteland. Luffy, the Straw Hats and the Ninja-Pirate-Mink-Samurai alliance later help the mighty rise again once more.
- Slayers: NEXT has Martina, a princess whose kingdom is blown up by Lina, and who takes to following the heroine around seeking revenge.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Viral at beginning of season 2, Simon (by choice) at the end.
- This happened to Kotetsu's old boss in Tiger & Bunny. Ben Jackson was the director of TopMag's HERO division before it closed down and he became a mere taxi driver. Unlike most examples of this trope, he was a genuinely caring boss to Kotetsu. Later episodes show that he doesn't mind it though he still looks out after Kotetsu especially when he realizes that Kotetsu is losing his powers. In the epilogue, this is ultimately subverted as he becomes the new president of Apollon Media.
- Tokyo Ghoul: When first introduced, Rize Kamishiro is The Dreaded "Binge Eater," having thrown several wards into chaos by herself. After her attempt to eat Kaneki results in him getting an organ transplant from her that turns him into a Half-Human Hybrid, she's used as a kakuhou farm by Dr. Kanou; by the time she's rescued from such a fate, Rize is now nothing more than an insane shell of her former self who can do nothing more than cry, drool, and beg for food.
- Yume no Shizuku, Kin no Torikago: Mahidevran Gulbahar. She was the mother of Prince Mustafa, the first and only son of Emperor Suleiman, giving her the second-highest position in the harem — surpassed only if Suleiman had a legal wife, and the current Valide Sultan, Suleiman's mother. She used her status and manipulation to strike fear into the other women in the harem, ruling them with an iron fist, and had any pregnant concubine killed to ensure her status as mother to the only heir remains. When Hurrem enters the harem, Gulbahar begins to lose her status as Hurrem ends up liked by most of the other concubines, and she has such good protection through Grand Vizier Ibrahim that Hurrem even manages to give birth to a son for Suleiman. Gulbahar loses her unique position, and her influence lessens until Hurrem is not only on par with her in terms of position, but Hurrem also becomes the first-ever Hasekinote to the emperor, putting her position above Gulbahar's. The former only mother now has little to no power left in the harem, resting her last hope of retaining anything worth the status she's fought for into making her son Suleiman's chosen successor.
- In The Zashiki Warashi of Intellectual Village, the Youkai-policing organization Hyakki Yakou was once the most powerful shadow organization in Japan. However, after the Zashiki Warashi left, they went into a steep decline. While having their headquarters on a massive flying wing seems impressive at first, it actually demonstrates just how far they've fallen: Hyakki Yakou no longer feels safe to maintain a single base on the ground and must instead constantly stay on the move.
- In Common Grounds, the once-prominent superhero Blackwatch is now a slovenly homeless man after serving a long prison term for accidentally killing newbie hero Snowflame in one of those superhero fights.
- Death of the Family: While the Penguin was distracted by the Joker's return, his Number Two, Ogilvy, took advantage of the situation to steal his boss' position as top crime boss of Gotham, coercing the loyalty of Penguin's lieutenants and buying out all his assets. By the time Penguin realizes what's happened, he's been rendered homeless, powerless, and completely broke.
- Judge Dredd: Chief Judge Silver was once the highest authority of Mega City One. He fell from power hard after the defective Judge Kraken, whom he approved against the wishes of the retiring Judge Dredd to take his place, fell under the control of the Sisters of Death and released the Dark Judges. After the fiends took over, Judge Death decided to make Silver a zombie so that his torment would never end. When Necropolis ended, Silver hid out of fear that he'd be burned as an abomination. When he finally tried to take back power, Dredd ruled in his favor on being entitled to his old post, but then executes him for criminal neglect of duty. Silver is incinerated and ignominiously disposed of by the sweepers.
- In Lucifer, when Perdissa thinks she's killed Lucifer, she indulges in a bit of Evil Gloating by quoting Isaiah 14:12 - "Oh how art thou fallen from grace oh Lucifer, son of the morning."
- Lord Drakkon in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (Boom! Studios) was once a feared monster who took over his world and nearly destroyed the multiverse in the name of power. When he returns sometime later, he's a babbling madman talking to the ripped-off head of Saba after having seen... something. Even worse, his heroic counterpart, Tommy Oliver, drops him in one punch and this was the guy who killed him temporarily.
- Lester Majak of Revival got famous decades ago for his fitness book Strong Century. He's still a local celebrity and quite fit for his age, but he's been coasting downward from that one success ever since.
- Thanos is like this for a while after Thane depowers him. The once god-like Galactic Conqueror is left to scrabble together a living in the ruins of Titan, eating vermin just to survive and getting his ass kicked by other scavengers, people who he once could have killed without even noticing.
- Count Dracula in Marvel's The Tomb of Dracula was the Lord of Vampires after being blessed by Varnae himself until he was stripped of his vampirism one time and was so distraught by his loss of power that he begged his hated vampire daughter Lilith to turn him; she refused but he would regain his lost power later on. In a more recent example, after a crushing defeat at the hands of Old Man Logan (who was displaced from his reality and ended up in the prime Marvel universe), he was retreated to an old lady's home and became a Basement-Dweller that plays video games all day long. Quite the step down from the guy that ruled his own nation.
- Ratbat's fall from Cybertronian senator to Casetticon minion is chronicled across the IDW Transformers line but concludes in The Transformers: Robots in Disguise where an attempt to seize control of the defeated Decepticon army and restart the war ends in his murder.
- Arkhalla, the titular Queen of Vampires, is the first vampire, and as the "Undying Queen", she created armies of vampires and a terrifying empire where humans are food and slaves. But when her inner circle tries to kill her, she escapes but loses everything. Reduced to a lone, injured, starving, sickened, naked fugitive, the overthrown queen suffers further degrading from a gang of men who capture and imprison her as their rape slave. Although she eventually kills and feeds off them and regains her strength to begin plotting to take back her empire, the ugly experience adds to the Heel–Face Turn that she is already feeling due to having experienced love and loss just when her followers turned on her. And then later she also makes the first real friend she's ever had. When a human mob capture and prepare to burn her to death, Arkhalla is nearly a Death Seeker by then.
- Chloe's Lament:
- The story opens with Chloe triumphing against the heroes as Miracle Queen, using her Mind Control wasps to turn Ladybug, Hawk Moth, Mayura, and practically everyone else into her servants. Then Adrien, Tikki, and Plagg's calling her out on her callousness and cruelty spurs her to make a poorly considered Wish to trade places with Marinette. The resulting reality strips her of her status as the Mayor's daughter and all the protection that afforded her, leaving her as a social pariah who's one infraction away from getting booted out of Francoise Dupont for her bullying.
- Played With with her father. Andre goes from being the Mayor of Paris to running a bakery with a somewhat average reputation. Unlike his daughter, however, he doesn't recall his original circumstances, and seems content enough with his lot in life, regarding his work with pride. Mostly he's concerned about Chloe, not knowing how to help her... while Chloe regards him with dismay, thinking that he deserves so much better than his current position.
- Evangelion 303: When the history starts Asuka is the best pilot of all Children and she openly declares that she is the best there is. Several events later her self-confidence and self-esteem were shattered, she (mis)blamed herself for the failure of several missions and her friend's death and she saw herself like a pathetic failure.
- In Hail To The Queen, after Amity ran off to join the rebellion, the Blight family progressively lost status and prestige, especially in comparison to Boscha's family, who are now further ahead than they ever were. Blight Industries productions took major nosedives, and with Edric and Emira unlikely to become coven leaders, the family became the butt of many jokes among the elite.
- In the backstory, Asuka went from considering herself the top pilot and a prodigy child to regarding herself as an ugly, scarred, worthless freak and a failure due to being repeatedly beaten, humiliated, mind-raped, brutally scarred and nearly killed.
- In chapter 10 SEELE kidnaps Gendo. While one of their members is torturing him, he mocks him quoting the line verbatim:
The SEELE member looked in disdain at the quivering piece of humanity before him. "How the mighty have fallen. The Commander of NERV. Once a powerful man before whom nations and peoples trembled. Now reduced to this," he sneered noting that Gendou's right forearm was missing. An old injury. 'Pity,' he thought, 'five less fingers to break.'
- Hunters of Justice: Cinder Fall went from the Fall Maiden and the woman who would have made Beacon Academy fall to Strapped to an Operating Table as Brainiac's lab rat.
- Long Lost Loud: Lynn is hit HARD by this trope. Before, she was an all-star athlete, winning trophies and games with her abilities. However, thanks to her unwillingness to take a loss, Lincoln runs away and she spiralled to despair, quitting her clubs, getting low grades, hanging with drug users and even taking them just to relieve herself of the pain and guilt. Poor Lynn, but you can't help but think she had it coming.
- one day at a time:
- In the first flashback arc, David Cain. Formerly a master assassin, The Dragon to Ra's al Ghul and the man who created Lady Shiva, in the present he's a Jaded Washout well past his prime who regularly gets his ass kicked at the local fight club for money. Cass, who still loves him despite everything, is saddened by his current state, while Jason, who is far less sympathetic, finds it so pathetic he almost pities him.
- The First Families of Gotham were once the five richest and most powerful families in Gotham, who helped the city recover from the American Revolution. Fast forward three hundred years later and only the Waynes are still thriving. The Crownes have died out, the Kanes are on the verge of dying out due to only having two female heirs, and the Elliots have only one male heir who has shown no interest in continuing the family line. Worst off is the Cobblepots, who lost almost all of their fortune by Bruce's time and have diminished to one male heir like the Elliots. That one male heir then rebuilt the family fortune with his connections as a crime boss and a supervillain, permanently shaming the Cobblepot name and ensuring that history would only ever remember them as a family of crooks. In Jason's timeline, all of the families (sans the Waynes) went extinct by the next generation.
- The One I Love Is...: Asuka was the best Eva pilot, a genius and a beautiful girl. She gloated about it because her very fragile self-esteem depended on being the best at all that she did. However, throughout the fic, she got routinely beaten by her teammates, defeated by the Angels and the guy she loves is incapable to choose between her and another girl. When she is mind raped, that is the final blow and humiliation and she feels that she is worthless and she has nothing to live for. She even quotes the line verbatim:
Asuka: "How the mighty have fallen. Look at me... I'm crying... I hate crying... only a weak person cries. I hate Wonder Girl... she showed everyone how pathetic I was. I hate you... you made me cry, now you can see how disgusting I am. I hate everybody... but most of all... I hate myself..."
- A side story of Pokémon Reset Bloodlines pits a young Professor Oak and Elite Four Agatha as rookie trainers against the Ghost-type Pokémon lurking in Drowning Woods led by an evil Gengar who kills Agatha's younger brother Tony and turns his soul into a Gastly, and they're only saved by the timely arrival of an Elite Four patrolling the area. Decades later, Agatha encounters the Gengar again, who is now but a shadow of its former self, old and weakened due to time and malnourishment, with just a few followers remaining after Agatha caught most of the Ghost-types living in the woods so they won't harm anyone ever again.
- The Raven's Plan: Tywin Lannister. Once The Dreaded and the true power behind the Iron Throne, post-Remembering he's lost all the respect and fear people once had for him. Two-thirds of that is due to his notoriously undignified death and the antics of the other Lannisters, particularly Cersei and Joffrey, in the previous timeline. The last third is due to everyone being too scared of other threats (mostly the Others) to really be concerned about him — to the point that he only Remembers himself because Bran Stark forgot about him. This culminates in Tyrion usurping his authority in a couple of hours with a bloodless coup and interring Tywin in his own rooms. The icing on the cake, however, is when it's revealed that Tywin was an Unwitting Pawn to the Conclave, who were using him to bring down the Targaryens. So it turns out he was never quite the great manipulator he and everyone else thought he was to begin with.
- Adam Taurus starts out as the deadliest member of the White Fang in Remnant Inferis: DOOM. Come Chapter 20, and he gets beaten by the Doom Slayer, his Semblance stolen by Marcus Black, and he's made into the demon cult's errand boy. He's reduced to a pathetic wreck who can no longer fight and has lost any and all respect within the White Fang.
- In the Triptych Continuum fic Bitter / Sweet, Worthy's Chocolate was the oldest chocolate shop in Equestria. Its founder and the first few generations of the family gave Worthy's Chocolate a reputation for perfect chocolate. Over the centuries, they expanded their operations and became renowned across all of Equestria. But in the last couple of centuries, the Worthy family prioritized making bits over making chocolate (with Cutie Marks to reflect that). It all came crashing down when new customers actually tasted their chocolate and realized it was terrible — a consequence of embracing automation, cheaper ingredients, and unskilled labor. The Worthy brand name had lost its appeal and became a joke. By the time the fic takes place, the first and now last Worthy's Chocolate shop is closing down for the night for the last time.
- In This Bites!, Gecko Moria's state as this is emphasized compared to his depiction in One Piece, with an increased attention to how psychologically scarred he was by seeing his companions slaughtered by Kaido. Even Luffy bluntly assesses that Moria is, to all practical purposes, dead and simply hasn't had the decency to lay down in his coffin yet, instead continuing to sail the seas and hurt others in a hollow attempt to avoid his own pain and misery. Not even undergoing a Traumatic Superpower Awakening can help Moria overcome just how damaged he is, and he's ultimately left broken and defeated for the second time.
- Becoming a True Invader: By the end of the story, the Tallest have completely lost their empire and power, their legs have been cut off (rendering them short), and they've had to go into hiding doing menial work on Foodcourtia.
- Ruby Pair: Tenn was one of the Empire's finest Invaders, but after failing to conquer Meekrob she was exiled and ended up reduced to working as a bar waitress on Cyberflox. She considers working with Zim (the most despised Irken ever) on Earth as barely an improvement over this.
- Murderer's Row: Tucker starts off as one of the most feared inmates in the prison and a major player in prison politics. After being blinded, he gradually loses his status and by the time of Volume 3 he's a frail old man who's only still alive because of Church's protection.
- The Longest Road : Have Erika going from Celadon Gym Leader to prisoner on Orange Islands, with ban for life in Pokemon Leauge and both Gym Leader and Trainer licenses revoked.
- Stars Fade begins with Commander Shepard being flung into Kirkwall - and almost immediately being mistaken for a corpse and robbed of all her gear by the locals. Though she survives, the saviour of the Citadel and the champion of the free galaxy is left as a penniless nobody on an alien world, struggling to recover her gear, and with almost none of the resources she had as a badass commander. Plus, in place of her state-of-the-art warship, she's living in a shack and pissing into a bucket. However, Shepard being Shepard, she soon finds a way to claw her way back to badassery.
- Not That Kinda Fired: Bakugo entered U.A. as The Bully and a hot-shot would-be hero with the belief that he would become the Number One Hero. Three years later, he just barely graduates from U.A. and has been stuck as a sidekick that keeps getting passed between agencies because his horrible attitude is not enough to strip his license. Meanwhile, not only have several of his classmates achieved high rankings as heroes, but his main bullying victim has become the current #1 Hero's senior analyst and one of the few people Endeavour trusts. And when he learns about the latter, he blows his top inside Endeavor's agency and gets his last chance to clean up his act before his hero license is pulled revoked.
- At the end of Cats Don't Dance, child actress Darla Dimple loses her career and becomes a janitor.
- A hash demotion awaits the Mayor of Frank at the end of Osmosis Jones, and as one last bit of humiliation, he's accidentally expelled from Frank's body when he inadvertently causes him to fart.
- Yzma from The Emperor's New Groove, who goes from scary sorceress of the palace at the start of the movie to itty bitty kitten by the end.
- Inverted in The Swan Princess with Jean-Bob, a frog who only thinks that he is a prince when in actuality, he is not.
- Avengers: Endgame: After the Time Skip, Thor's depression and trauma have made him into a shell of his former self. He's drastically out of shape, living on pizza and alcohol, and almost never leaves his house, trading in noble battles against the forces of evil for threatening children who beat his friends at Fortnite. Bruce and Rocket are especially taken aback.
- The French war movie Captain Conan (1996) ends with the title character, a fearless soldier and leader of men, as a debilitated shell of a man from illness.
- In Creed II, Ivan Drago, the walking Soviet propaganda device from Rocky IV and one of the strongest boxers of his time, has been reduced to living destitute in the streets of Kiev, Ukraine with his son Viktor in the decades since he was defeated by Rocky on Soviet ground. His downfall culminated in his wife divorcing him, forcing him to raise Viktor alone. He now tirelessly trains Viktor to be a boxer hoping to restore his reputation.
- For Your Eyes Only: At the beginning of the film, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, James Bond's biggest Arch-Enemy, suddenly resurfaced years after laying low with a plan to exact revenge on 007 for foiling his numerous Evil Plans and causing the downfall of his criminal organization. By this time, he's not only lost a lot of money and resources, but he's also permanently crippled, bald, and wearing a neck brace, presumably from the injuries he sustained from the exploding oil rig at the end of Diamonds Are Forever. In a few minutes of screentime, he tries to kill Bond while the latter is visiting the grave of his dead wife, kills one of his own men and sadistically toys with Bond by attempting to kill him via a remote-controlled helicopter. But when Bond naturally manages to gain control of the chopper by disconnecting the wire which allowed Blofeld to control the helicopter, Blofeld goes into Villainous Breakdown mode, pathetically pleading with 007 to spare him (but all he can offer is a delicatessen with stainless-steel fittings), but Bond won't have any and drops him off an industrial smokestack, killing him for good and finally getting his revenge for killing his wife in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
- Happens to the entire Dwarven race in The Hobbit. Their kingdom in the mountain, Erebor, was once one of the (if not the) wealthiest, mightiest and most industrious city-states in Middle Earth. Then the dragon Smaug came and sacked it single-handedly, leaving the Dwarves as a destitute and scattered people, wandering the wilderness. Their prince, Thorin, is shown ironically labouring away in a human smithy just to scrape enough money to get by.
- In the slowly dying future Earth of Interstellar, the New York Yankees have been reduced to a barnstorming team of college-age players and local stars.
- Truth in Television example from The Last Emperor, in which an aging Puyi returns to the Forbidden City as an ex-convict tourist, to view the throne from which he'd once reigned.
- The Magnificent Seven (1960): Two of the Seven have wound up on the scrap heap and take the job to defend the villagers for lack of better options.
- Bernardo O'Reilly was a well-paid Bounty Hunter who, after some unknown event, was reduced to being a woodcutter.
- Lee was once a dangerous gunfighter whose life has led him to become paranoid and lonely, reduced to living in stables because innkeepers are afraid of the losses they'll incur if they let him have a room. His skills have washed up as well; while observing three flies he muses that in his prime he would have caught all three.
- Shadow of the Vampire. Schreck reads the book Dracula in order to study for his role 'playing' a vampire and is saddened by the scene where Dracula leaves a meal for Jonathan Harker. Schreck then remembers when he used to have servants to do such tasks for him, which reminds him of when he had a wife, family, estates, etc, whereas now he's just a scavenger living in a ruined castle.
- One scene in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon shows the burial of one of the older enlisted men of the regiment. He is revealed to be a former Confederate general.
- Khan in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. He went from being a leader in the Eugenics Wars and ruler of India to being stranded on a dead world, leading to his desire for revenge on Kirk.
"On Earth, two hundred years ago, I was a prince with power over millions..."
- A recurring theme in Star Wars:
- The Jedi go from the mighty mystical guardians of the Republic to fugitives being hunted down by a tyrannical Empire they unwittingly helped create, all because of the schemes of a single Sith Lord. If they were lucky enough to survive Order 66 to begin with. Obi-Wan serves as microcosm of their fall from grace; during the Prequel era, he's one of the greatest, most beloved Jedi around, but by the time of A New Hope, he's a destitute hermit in a desert carrying a lonely vigil over the son of the man who ruined his life.
- The Republic itself was once a bastion of freedom and peace in the galaxy. By the time of the Prequel Trilogy, it has begun falling into decay and obsolescence as it grows far too byzantine and fraught with corruption to function properly. Palpatine takes advantage of this decay to conquer the Republic from within. Even after the Empire's fall, the newly reformed Republic is still a shadow of its former self, too caught up in slowly rebuilding to deal with the rising threat of the First Order.
- Darth Maul's character arc over the course of the franchise sees him go from being the right hand of one of the greatest Sith Lords in history to a pathetic, broken-down old man who's lost everything he ever cared about and is mostly kept going by an utterly pointless quest for revenge. In the end, he dies on a backwater planet in the arms of his hated nemesis, having accomplished nothing but hurting himself and everyone around him.
- Throughout the Sequel Trilogy, General Hux gradually falls from an intimidating and powerful leader who commands the respect of legions to a pitiful loser who is abused and hated by allies and enemies alike as everything that could possibly go wrong for him does. Eventually it pushes him over the deep end and he winds up sabotaging his own side for no other reason than pure hatred and spite, which ends in him being executed for treason.
- The Third Man. Baron Kurtz now works as a black marketeer in post-war Vienna.
- Megatron in the Transformers Film Series, by the third film, he's been left grievously wounded by Prime at the end of the previous film, scheming and hiding out in Africa.
- Unforgiven: According to Word of God, William Munny is the Man with No Name. That means the fastest gunman in the west, who once had a bounty of 100,000 Confederator dollars to his name and killed the entire El Indio Gang for their bounties... is now just an old pig farmer with arthritis who can't get on a horse or even shoot straight anymore. The film is the last, tragic chapter in the old gunslinger's story.
- You Can't Take It With You. Russian Grand Duchess Olga Katrina works as a waitress at Child's restaurant. Her uncle the Grand Duke is an elevator operator.
- The same sentiment was also expressed in The Aeneid: "quantum mutatus ab illo / Hectore" note
- The Age of Fire series has several examples of this:
- When Auron first meets the dwarven Chartered Company, his friend Djer describes it as being more powerful than some nations. However, after their devastating war with the Wrymmaster's forces, they are left as a shadow of their former self.
- Which is nothing compared to their rivals, the Wheel of Fire. After Wistala engineers their downfall, all that's left is small groups huddling in filthy squalor and starvation, hiding from the many vengeful enemies they've made over the years.
- By the end of the fifth book, Dragon Rule, this is the case of the Copper, as he's ousted in a coup and exiled from his own empire, with his mate held hostage to ensure he stays gone. This leaves him in a depression that lasts twelve years until he learns of a group of dragons living independent of the empire, which inspires him to take back what's his.
- An incidence of this being the Happy Ending occurs in Juliet E McKenna's Aldabreshin Compass with warlord Kheda having lost two separate kingdoms but is now free to be with the woman he loves and travel as he wishes instead of being tied to his throne.
- The third act of A Clockwork Orange operates on this for Villain Protagonist Alex, a vicious criminal (in the first act) whose "treatment" in jail has rendered him incapable of even thinking about a violent act without becoming cripplingly ill. It becomes particularly noticeable when some of his old peers find him being mercilessly beaten by the elderly and then decide to beat on him themselves — all of these people he'd easily crushed earlier in the story.
- Edgedancer (a novella of The Stormlight Archive): A retroactive example — after facing Nale, Lift gets a glimpse of what he was like before immortality and guilt drove him insane. The difference between the intelligent, honorable Herald he was and the Ax-Crazy lunatic he is now is rather dramatic.
- In Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips, the Greek Gods are holed up in a dilapidated house in contemporary London, much diminished in power because no-one believes in them anymore, what with "the upstart carpenter" and all.
- Harry Potter: Mrs. Rowling may like this trope.
- Grindelwald was the most powerful dark wizard of his era, so dangerous only Dumbledore stood a chance at defeating him. When Voldemort goes to question him about the Elder Wand, he's been kept in prison for so long that he's little more than an emaciated wreck, possessing none of his former power.
- This happens to Voldemort twice. Before the story proper, a miscalculation on his part leaves him as little more than a shade, powerless and desperately clinging to life. Had Quirrel not found him, it's likely the story would have ended there, but he manages to regain both his power and followers as well as a physical form. Then Harry defeats him again, and the last we see of him is little more than an ugly, misshapen thing trapped at the threshold of death and unable to move on.
- One of the two fates offered by Historia Brittonum for King Vortigern, the supreme ruler of Britain blamed for bringing the Saxons to Britain, is that he was dethroned and ostracized by his former subjects, so
"... that, deserted and a wanderer, he sought a place of refuge, until broken-hearted, he made an ignominious end."
- The Authors of The House of Night tend to favour the Break the Haughty method:
- Aphrodite went from being the most popular fledgling, High Priestess-in-training, dating the hottest guy at the House of Night to being friendless, completely powerless, and spending her meal times sitting out in the courtyard eating alone.
- Rephaim — "The favourite son of an ancient immortal reduced to hiding in refuse and talking to the ghost of a human child."
- Kentucky Fried Politics: Post-reelection in a landslide, the Denton administration is riding high on both the capture of Gaddafi and managing the US through the dissolution of the Soviet Union, with an approval rating of 91%. Then, an avalanche of scandals involving members of his Cabinet come to light along with his part in covering them up, and after a mid-term "donkey tidal wave" turning both chambers of Congress Democratic, Denton decides to resign before he can be impeached, with an approval rating of just 25%.
- Antichrist villain Nicolae Carpathia in the Left Behind book series went from being a terrifying Evil Overlord who ruled the world with an iron fist and Satan indwelt to a pathetic and humiliated rotting shell of a human being who has to suffer for eternity in the Lake of Fire.
- According to the Legend of Belisarius, the Eastern Roman general Belisarius ended up as a blind beggar on the streets of Rome.
- In the historical short story Limes the protagonist is a Roman patrician visiting the city two centuries after the fall of the Western Empire. He laments how Rome is in ruins: the once-mighty senators, those who have made and decided history, are now deprived of their meaning and doing just mundane burocracy, the ancient forum is in a state of disrepair with sheep and goats grazing there.
- The Lord of Bembibre: During a tense discussion with the Abbot of Carracedo, Don Álvaro smugly gloats that obliterating the Templar Knights' fortress is an undertaking beyond of their enemies' forces. Annoyed, the abbot leads him to a window and shows him a heap of ruins upon a nearby hill— Bergidum, which was one of the most important and wealthiest cities in the Spanish Northwest during the Roman occupation, ten centuries ago. Mercilessly the abbot points out that the Romans were powerful and arrogant, right like the Templars, and still their mighty empire fell and was destroyed.
"Take a good look," said the monk, "take a good look at one of the great and many sepulchres enclosing the skeletons of that town of giants. They, too, in their pride and injustice turned against God, as your Templars have done. Go therefore, as I have gone amid the silence of the night, and ask these ruins about the greatness of their lords. The whistling of the wind and the howling of the wolf will not fail to give you an answer."
- In The Lord of the Rings, Saruman starts out as the leader of the White Council, the strongest of the wizards, and a divine agent of sorts. When he undergoes a Face–Heel Turn, he manages to rally an army numbering in the tens of thousands and come close to laying low a powerful kingdom, for the sake of a larger plan to reshape the fate of the entire world and lay dominion over all men. However, over the course of only a few days, his army is destroyed, as is his base of operations, and a newly-strengthened Gandalf strips him of his rank and casts him out of the order, taking away most of his power in the process. Overnight, he is reduced to having to beg and barter his way back to the Shire (a land he dismissed as an insignificant backwater) and ends up reorganizing his old spying network to take the place over. Effectively, he ends up going from a leader of armies who sought to bend the world to his vision to the head of a gang of ruffians with no greater motive than spite. Even that doesn't last long before it crumbles.
- This is the premise for the protagonist of Lucifer's Star by C.T. Phipps. Cassius Mass is the greatest starpilot in the galaxy, a genetically engineered superhuman, and a nobleman who might as well be a Prince. The first chapter strips him of everything and then it is a Trauma Conga Line after that, culminating in him becoming a Broken Ace who works as an alcoholic navigator on a freighter.
- The Machine Gunners: Having received a crushing defeat from schoolyard rival Chas McGill, Boddser Brown finds his followers have deserted him, people are no longer afraid of him and openly mock his turban-like bandages and his position of power and popularity at school is gone.
- Young George Amberson Minafer of The Magnificent Ambersons suffered this when his 'rich' grandfather died and it turned out that he had lost all his fortune and he just didn't tell him for the sake of pride. He went from living in a gorgeous mansion to living in a boarding house with a job involving explosives.
- Kallor in The Malazan Book of the Fallen once ruled a kingdom that spanned two continents, but was such a monster that his mages were willing to destroy a continent in the hopes of killing him. He survived the devastation and was later cursed to live forever and fail at whatever task he took upon himself as punishment for exterminating his own huge empire; man, woman, and child by the millions when he knew it would be taken away by beings more powerful.
- Arch-Imager Vagel from Mordant's Need. Once the most powerful Imager in the world and arch-enemy of Big Good King Joyce during the founding of Mordant, at the start of the series, many believe that he's the mastermind behind the recent troubles. Once he actually appears, it turns out that he's a wreck, passively serving the real mastermind Eremis in the dreary hope that by doing so he'll at least get to see the people who brought him low fall. In the end even his final defeat is anticlimactic. While Gilbur goes down fighting and Eremis gets satisfyingly Hoist by His Own Petard, Vagel is last seen fleeing in panic from a crazy old man, who then kills him off-screen by impaling him on a tree branch.
- A recurring theme in the Nightside books; John Taylor notes that even gods can end up living on the streets. Herne the Hunter is one of the biggest examples.
- William Wordsworth's poem, "On the Extinction of the Venetian Republic":
"And what if she had seen those glories fade,
Those titles vanish, and that strength decay;
Yet shall some tribute of regret be paid
When her long life hath reached its final day:
Men are we, and must grieve when even the Shade
Of that which once was great is passed away."
- Paradise Lost goes for both of them because John Milton loves his erudition: "If thou be'est he but oh how fallen / How changed..."
- In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Phoenix on the Sword", Thoth-amon used to be a powerful magician, until he lost his Ring of Power. Then he had to flee for his life and ended up being Made a Slave.
- Vicar Zahmsyn Trynair starts the Safehold series as one of the driving members of the antagonistic church leaders known as the Group of Four. His position as Chancellor makes him the man in charge of Mother Church's diplomacy. As the series progresses, he never loses that position but between the escalation of the war with the protagonist Empire of Charis being managed by Captain General Allayn Maigwair, fear of reprisal following the naked power grabs by Grand Inquisitor Zhaspahr Clyntahn, and Treasurer Rhobair Duchairn being the only one willing to stand up to Clyntahn, Trynair's relevance vanishes to the point that he is essentially another of Clyntahn's lackeys. Duchairn notes by that point that for all intents they've become the Group of Three. In the end, he ends up arrested and executed for heresy after saying that they've lost the jihad and need to reach a negotiated settlement with Charis now if the Group of Four wants to survive within Clytahn's hearing.
- Ozymandias in Percy Bysshe Shelley's famous poem (the point being that such a fate is inevitable):
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away
- Soon I Will Be Invincible: Baron Ether. Not only the most powerful villain of his generation, he was the first recorded supervillain in history, being active during the Victorian Era. He once even held the entire nation of England hostage in a ploy to conquer the world. When he's introduced during the story proper, he's been imprisoned in his own mansion by his archenemy the Mechanist, though other villains seem to have little problem breaking in to ask his advice. He's also been crippled by rampant mutations and mystical maladies from his years of dabbling in evil science to the point that any further attempts at arch-villainy are well beyond his capability.
- Snow Crash: Chuck Wrightson. Once the president of Kenai and Kodiak, now a homeless drunk.
- The anthology book Super Heroes features a short story called "A Clean Sweep" by Laurell K. Hamilton about a superhero named Captain Housework. Once a paragon of cleaning justice who fought the Dust Bunny Gang, Johnny Oil-Slick, and The Scuzz, these days the Captain has been relegated to cleaning up messes normal people make, including acting as a cleaning service for wealthy socialites too lazy to clean their own homes before parties. Faced with such a future, the good Captain snaps and massacres the party-goers, leaving behind the cleanest, most well-polished bones the coroner had ever seen.
- The German ballad "Trutz, blanke Hans!" by Detlev von Liliencron, about the rich city Rungholt wiped out by the Northern Sea. ("Blanke Hans"note is an Affectionate Nickname for the sea.) You may mentally exchange Rungholt with Atlantis, Vineta, etc.
- In Updraft, Tobiat, a scruffy, mad-seeming vagrant in Kirit's home tower, was once one of the exalted Singers, the closest thing the city has to rulers.
- In the fourth The Wheel of Time book the recently overthrown former Amyrlin exploits this trope in order to get past a guard and flee the city:
Yesterday, I was perhaps the most powerful ruler in the entire world, able to summon kings and queens and have them answer; today, I must hope I can find a farm where I will be allowed to sleep in the barn. Whatever crimes you think I have committed, isn't this punishment enough?
- In Will Save the Galaxy for Food, star-pilots lost their purpose after quantunnelling made the job obsolete. Those who were once heroes who explored space and saved worlds were now homeless bums who either gave cheap transport for tourists or have "gone to the black" and were now space pirates.
- The Wrath of God, a novel by Jack Higgins (this trope seems to involve lots of wrath!) Janos, a grossly overweight ex-soldier in the Hungarian imperial guard, now working as an Arms Dealer in 1920s Mexico, curses the glandular problem that caused his fall from grace.
- In Angel, Illyria used to be worshiped by millions and held dominion over multiple dimensions. Due to her reincarnation in a mortal body, as of series' end, she's capable of being defeated by a minion of creatures she previously barely noticed. And the closest thing she has to a worshiper just drinks a lot and called her a smurf.
- Arrow: Malcolm Merlyn was once a billionaire and a well-beloved citizen of Star(ling) City, while also a diabolical mastermind that was planning to destroy the Glades for revenge for his wife's murder and a skilled enough combatant to hand Oliver Queen (who was no slouch in Season 1) his ass in one-on-one combat. By the end of Season 4, he's legally dead and has lost his company and reputation "post-mortem", his plan to destroy the Glades has killed his son, his daughter hates him, and Oliver has become so skilled that he can casually curb-stop him in a sword duel, to the point that he has to hold back so he doesn't accidentally kill Malcolm, and settles for cutting off his hand instead. In Legends of Tomorrow Season 2, when Eobard Thawne and Past!Damien Darhk arrive at his dilapidated apartment to recruit him, he's on his couch, nursing a drink, and lamenting his status as a Jaded Washout. His existence has become so pitiful that after the Legion of Doom is defeated, Sara doesn't even bother punishing him further and instead just sends him back to his crappy apartment. Not long afterwards in the Season 5 finale, he commits a Heroic Sacrifice to save Thea's life and kill Digger Harkness.
- Breaking Bad: Walter White is hit HARD by this in the series' antepenultimate episode, fittingly titled "Ozymandias". After spending five seasons building up his drug empire and sacrificing all of his morality to do so, we see every sin and mistake he's made in the series come back all at once. By the end of the episode, a former close family member is dead, the rest of his family have all had their lives ruined, all of them despise him (or in the case of his baby daughter, would rather stay with her mother), and he becomes one of the most wanted men in America and is forced to go on the run. Its use of this trope was so hard-hitting that it's led to it being called one of the best episodes of television ever made.
- The prequel series, Better Call Saul also does this to Saul Goodman, Chuck McGill, Howard Hamlin and Kim Wexler.
- As we have seen in Breaking Bad, Saul used to be the criminal lawyer you can go to if you wanted to get away scot-free, which Walt and Jesse used in order to cover up their growing criminal enterprise, with Saul also being a genuinely good lawyer to use the law as per the client's needs, if required. The opening of Better Call Saul reveals that "Gene Takavic" has become a mere shell of the bombastic, larger-than-life character we saw earlier, instead becoming a paranoid wreck who always has to look over his shoulders for any signs of the Heisenberg Empire's crimes catching up to him.
- Chuck used to be one of the greatest lawyers in America, to the point that HHM, a law firm he founded with a partner is a legitimate powerhouse in New Mexico. Rival firms appreciated his input and knowledge, and employees looked up to him, including his brother Jimmy (future Saul Goodman). He is introduced having to stay due to his electromagnetic hypersensitivity. After conning Jimmy into admitting forgery, Jimmy humiliates him in front of a bar hearing after exposing his EHS as a mental illness, and then after tipping the insurance company about Chuck's problems, he gets kicked out of HHM after threatening to sue, days after which he kills himself. A few years later, Howard is fondly reminiscing about Chuck to an intern in front of Chuck's portrait, only for the intern to sheepishly ask who the old guy in the portrait is. Chuck's legacy has faded into such obscurity that even people working at the firm he founded have never heard of him. Howard answers that he was the greatest lawyer he's ever known, and the intern, impressed, says he hopes someone says that about him someday. Howard suddenly gets very quiet as he turns back to the portrait and solemnly remarks that "maybe there are more important things" for the intern to aspire to.
- Howard Hamlin similarly is introduced as the leader of HHM, commanding a lot of respect and stature. After Chuck is exposed at the bar hearing, Howard's reputation slips due to hiding his condition from the clients. And later on, as Kim and Jimmy con him due to siding with Chuck earlier, he gets framed as a coke addict who frequents prostitutes, which also becomes his permanent legacy after Lalo kills him. At least until the series finale, where Kim's guilt gets the better of her and she finally confesses everything she and Jimmy did to him. Though since the finale takes place after Breaking Bad, and therefore Howard's reputation has had a good few years in the toilet, it's unlikely to make much of a difference.
- Kim is introduced as a highly capable lawyer who wanted to make a difference for the little guy, eventually rising to become the head attorney for Mesa Verde, and partnering up with Schweikart and Cokely so that she can not only help Mesa Verde but also fulfill her dreams as a defender capable of giving poor people justice. After Howard angers her over a minor slight, Kim decides to ruin his life to show him, which results in Howard's death at Lalo's hands while Howard was calling them out on it, leading to a long Villainous Breakdown for her as Lalo manipulates her into try and kill Gus in hopes that Mike and his men get rid of her as well, at Howard's funeral, Kim gaslighting his widow is the final straw, leading her to retire from law, divorce Jimmy and distance herself from him, eroding all her progress in the series, with Saul only mentioning her in passing in Breaking Bad.
- The prequel series, Better Call Saul also does this to Saul Goodman, Chuck McGill, Howard Hamlin and Kim Wexler.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- When first introduced in Season 2, Spike is a well-established Hero Killer and a very dangerous threat to Buffy and the Scoobies. Come Season 3, he's a drunken wreck after Drusilla dumps him, and it's taken even further in Season 4; after being captured by the Initiative and implanted with a cerebral microchip that prevents him from harming humans, he becomes the series' Butt-Monkey and tries to stake himself.
- Angel/Angelus suffered a similar fall. In the past, he was the most evil and brutal vampire in recorded history... until his soul was restored by a Gypsy Curse. From there, he began a downward spiral while Walking the Earth, until Whistler finds him on the streets of New York, living in the gutters and feeding on rats. Seeing Buffy and her struggles as the Slayer inspires Angel to claw his way back up and make something of himself again.
- Conan O'Brien discussed this trope in his opening skit to the 2006 Primetime Emmy Awards, mocking NBC in the Broadway-style musical number "Trouble At NBC". As he sang in the song, NBC was once a powerhouse with Seinfeld, Frasier, and Friends. By 2006, the network was fourth among the big networks, with scripted programs being cancelled left right and center and the sole big name — that wasn't considered a complete washed-up has been — on the primetime roster was Howie Mandelnote .
- The Flash (2014): Around a year or so before the beginning of the series when Barry Allen was a Junior CSI, Ralph Dibny was a handsome and well-respected detective of the CCPD. Then, during a case eerily reminiscent of Nora Allen's murder, he planted evidence to get the primary suspect (who he believed to be guilty) convicted. While Ralph was being lauded as a hero, Barry, suspicious of how suddenly that evidence popped up, analyzed it, found it fabricated, and busted Ralph, getting him fired. Now, in the show's original timeline, Ralph's troubles more-or-less ended there because he was killed by the Particle Accelerator Explosion. However, he was revived thanks to Flashpoint, and life continued downhill for him. When we finally meet him in Season 4, he's a sleazy Private Detective whose once-chiseled physique has turned into a beer belly and is so poor he can't even afford bus fare, plus spending most of his debut episode as a Butt-Monkey. Barry's reappearance in his life is a bitter reminder of how bad things have been for him for the last few years, and ironically the moment when things finally start to turn around for him.
- Game of Thrones universe:
- Game of Thrones:
- House Targaryen was once a mighty dynasty ruling Westeros for hundreds of years (as seen in House of the Dragon) using dragons. The dragons went extinct, and the Baratheon-led rebellion reduced the family to just Viserys and Daenerys, with Viserys even begging for an army in Essos in the hope of reconquering the Iron Throne. It's ultimately Daenerys who has the biggest shot at doing the latter, starting when she magically makes the three dragon eggs she owns hatch.
- After Jaime loses his hand, this happens to him both figuratively and literally.
- The entire series is essentially this for all of House Lannister. At one point the true power behind the Iron Throne, come the series finale they have practically lost everything. Their gold mines have run dry, leaving them impoverished, their name has been shamed thanks to the antics of Joffrey and Cersei (among which include Cersei's Open Secret affair with Jaime and spectacular destruction of the Sept of Baelor using Mad King Aerys' wildfire caches), and finally, they're borderline extinct, with the sole remaining Lannister, Tyrion, having become celibate in the wake of his former lover Shae's death. As if to rub even more salt into the wound, Tyrion is pressganged into becoming Hand of the King to Brandon Stark, the same boy Jaime threw out the window in the first episode, which started the Disaster Dominoes that led to House Lannister's downfall.
- Happens as Foregone Conclusion to some families seen in the prequel House of the Dragon, namely House Hightower, House Velaryon and House Strong. None of them is a power player anymore over a century and a half after the events of the series (they're hardly even mentioned in Game of Thrones).
- Game of Thrones:
- The Glory: As a famous wealthy and influential family, Park Yeon-Jin, along with her mother, Young-Ae, thought they could forever be untouchable as they spent season 1 and earlier episodes of season 2 "buying everyone's silence" to get away from their crimes. Even she ever gloated to Dong-Eun that no matter how hard the latter tries to seek helps and justice, Dong-Eun would remain a loser. Nevertheless, when their crimes/sins start coming to surface, Yeon-Jin eventually lose one by one of everything she holds dear or takes pride on; her colleagues, her career, her friends, her own family; her husband divorced her and her daughter disowned her. Even her mother eventually decides to sell her out when Dong-Eun blackmails the former, much to her chagrin. To rub salt into her wound, despite Yeon-Jin and her mom are sent to the same jail and running into each other, her mom consciously ignores her (implied to have disowned her), much to Yeon-Jin's utter dismay. Thus, Yeon-Jin ends up utterly alone in jail.
- Invoked in NBC's Hannibal when Dr. Lecter is finally behind bars. Facing the new warden, Dr. Bloom, he gets a speech warning him to stop toying with Will Graham:
"I know what you're afraid of. It's not pain or solitude. It's indignity. You're a little bit like a cat that way. I'll take your books, I'll take your drawings, I'll take your toilet. You'll have nothing but indignity and the company of the dead."
- House of Saddam: Saddam spends the last episode hiding from US forces outside his own hometown on the Euphrates river, becoming unlikely friends with a local boy who doesn't know who the now powerless old man with the scraggly beard really is.
- A recurring theme in The Mandalorian is how the fall of the Empire has devastated a lot of people and factions, both those affiliated with the Empire and those who weren't, leaving the galaxy in turmoil as the New Republic transitions into power. The Bounty Hunter's Guild has been reduced to a bunch of scumbags and misfits chasing bail-jumpers, Mos Eisley Spaceport is a Ghost Town, high-ranking Imperials like the Client are reduced to glorified thugs hiding in the shadows of society, and so on. On a larger scale, the Empire's Collapse has led to an economic recession thanks to credits suffering massive devaluation, leaving many wealthy people destitute.
- Married... with Children: In high school, Al Bundy was a football prodigy who scored four touchdowns to win the city championship in an amazing come-from-behind win. He was the Big Man on Campus due to his football prowess, was a Chick Magnet who went steady with his beautiful redheaded girlfriend Peggy, and was almost certain to become an NFL superstar on the level of John Elway or Tom Brady. Then he broke his leg and lost his football scholarship, was forced to marry Peg after drunkenly proposing to her and was stuck in his Soul-Sucking Retail Job selling shoes because he thought School Is for Losers and didn't have any other skills or education. In the present day, Al is a pathetic Jaded Washout who's had to spend the last 30 years letting fat women shove their stinking feet in his face while he whines about his Glory Days and thinks his four-touchdown victory still actually means something.
- In general, MTV. First showing music videos by new artists 24/7, then moving to original programming that broke barriers and experimented with new animation styles and subject matter, they now mostly show reruns of 'Ridiculousness, Catfish, and Jersey Shore.
- The last two episodes of the second season of Narcos show how far Pablo Escobar fell. Once the biggest drug kingpin in the world, the terror of Columbia, in the second to last episode Pablo spends his time puttering around his dad's isolated farm, and at one point gets covered in goat's blood and denounced by his father. In the last episode, Pablo returns to Medellin, but only has the one henchman as he hides out in his safehouse, and has to disguise himself just to get some ice cream. In both episodes, he's clearly gotten fatter and grown a nasty Beard of Sorrow.
- Our Miss Brooks: Said by Stretch Snodgrass (of all people) of Mr. Conklin, in the episode "Letter From The Board of Education. Walter Denton speaks the line in the television remake, "Spare That Rod". Walter Denton had forged a letter threatening Mr. Conklin with dismissal for being "flagrantly dictatorial" in his disciplinary methods. Mr. Conklin was forcing himself to be meek and humble as a result.
- Pennyworth: At the end of the pilot, Raven Society leader Lord Harwood is captured by the government and spends the next two episodes being tortured, at the end of which he's left heavily maimed (missing a foot and his nose), brainwashed into forgetting his identity, and tossed out into the street to live as a homeless beggar. Though this gets subverted shortly after, as his lieutenant Bet Sykes finds him and nurses him back to both physical and mental health, setting him on the path to reclaiming his position as the Big Bad.
- It ends up happening to him again in Season 2, when Colonel Salt gaslights him, turning him into a paranoid maniac whose own troops eventually put him under indefinite house arrest until he commits Suicide by Cop in order to spite Salt.
- In Rome, the defeated king of the Gauls, Vercingetorix, is thrown before Julius Caesar, stripped of his clothes, and made to kiss the Imperial standard. Then he's dragged to Rome in a cage, displayed in a triumph and strangled.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: Said by Guinan of the recently depowered Q in the episode "Deja Q".
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Obsidian Order was Cardassia. Enabran Tain was the Obsidian Order. Not even the Central Command dared challenge him, and Garak was his official protégé. In Cardassia, it doesn't get much more powerful than that. Then Garak ended up in exile for an unrevealed crime, and now the Cardassians have this view of him. Gul Toran even quotes this trope verbatim to him in the episode "Profit and Loss".
- Supernatural: At the end of the series, God himself gets stripped of all his power and is doomed to live a mortal life, grow old, get sick, and die. And considering everything he did in the series, he deserves it more than anyone else.
- By the Grand Finale of Star Trek: Picard, this is the ultimate fate of the original Borg Collective. Once feared across the cosmos with trillions strong and held a large portion of the Delta Quadrant, Admiral Janeway's introduction of the neurolytic pathogen caused the Collective to collapse, leaving the collective down to one barely-functioning Cube, most other Cubes having been put into sleep mode due to the disconnection. The Borg Queen survived inside this Cube but barely. Over twenty years later, it allied itself with a group of rogue Changelings also wanting revenge on Starfleet and set about a plan to secretly assimilate Starfleet via altered genetics. The plan almost succeeds before Picard and the command crew of the Enterprise-D stop her one final time, eradicating this threat once and for all.
- Several Bruce Springsteen songs, most notably "Glory Days", which is the Trope Namer for another trope.
- "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay tells the story of a fallen king. He had money, power, and an admiring kingdom, but he soon became corrupt. Upon realizing how far he had fallen, he became disillusioned with his position of power and allowed himself to be removed from the throne and (assumedly) spent the rest of his days looking back on his reign and laments his fate.
- The Depression-era number "Brother Can You Spare A Dime", famously performed by Bing Crosby.
- Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone":
Once upon a time you dressed so fine,
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you?
People’d call, say, “Beware doll, you’re bound to fall”
You thought they were all kiddin’ you.
Now you don’t talk so loud,
Now you don’t seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal.
- The Laura Marling song "Failure" starts like this:
He used to be the life and soul of everyone around.
You'd never catch him looking up and never see him down but oh, la laa.
He couldn't raise a smile oh, not for a while, and he's a failure now.
- "Fortune Plango Vulnera" from Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana".
"Fortune rota volvitur;
alter in altum tollitur;
rex sedet in vertice
nam sub axe legimus
(English translation: "The wheel of Fortune turns/I go down, demeaned/another is carried to the top;/far too high/the king sits at the summit/let him fear ruin/for under the axis is written/Queen Hecuba.")
- Trope Namer is The Bible; the phrase occurs in 2 Samuel 1:19, 1:25, and 1:27.
- Interestingly, not quite an example despite being the Trope Namer. The mighty in question, Saul, has actually fallen in battle, not merely fallen from power.
- See also Isaiah 14:12 — "How are you fallen from heaven, O Shining One, son of Dawn! How are you felled to earth, O vanquisher of nations!"
- In the book of 1st Maccabees, when Judah Maccabee was slain in battle, his brothers Jonathan and Simon, as well as all Israel, lamented for him, saying "How is the mighty fallen, the savior of Israel!" Although, like in the case of King Saul, Judah has only fallen in battle instead of in power.
- Classical Mythology:
- Theseus, the King of Athens, lived a life full of adventure and was considered up there with Heracles and Achilles in terms of Greek heroes. His accomplishments include: 1) Killing the Minotaur single-handedly and liberating Athens from Crete's control, 2) Disposing of his step-uncle and his fifty sons from Athens and ending their mafia-esque control of the kingdom, 3) Uniting the region of Attica under a single kingdom with Athens as its capital, 4) Defeated the Amazons, 5) Sailed with the Argonauts, 6) Participated in the Calydonian Hunt, 7) Fought in the Centaur wars, 8) Made the roads to Athens safer by personally hunting down every single bandit he could find. So what became of this legendary warrior king and adventurer? Due to a series of bad life choices and personality flaws, he lost his position as king, having been usurped by a political rival of his, banished from Athens, and dumped on an island to rot, having lost everything he had ever had. To add insult to injury how does he die? The king of the island he was on, fearing that Theseus might overthrow him, shoved Theseus off a cliff while the latter's guard was down. Not exactly a death befitting a king.
- Similarly, Jason escaped his murderous uncle, was the only mortal Hera ever showed favor towards, assembled the Argonauts, made it past the sirens, found the golden fleece and gained the love of Medea, defeated Talos (well, Medea did anyway) and returned triumphantly to his home to remove his usurping uncle. And a few years later, after dumping Medea, the gods withdrew their favor, leaving him to wander around and stumbling upon a half-buried, rotting ship. He realizes it's the Argo, once a magnificent ship carrying heroes to glory, and as he sits under the prow weeping for all that he's lost, the rotten wood finally breaks off and crushes his head.
- An almost literal version with Bellerophon, a hero who killed the Chimera while riding Pegasus. Unfortunately, his success went to his head, and he announced his intent to join the gods on Mount Olympus. As he was flying towards the mountain, Zeus sent a horsefly to sting Pegasus, who bucked Bellerophon off. Bellerophon survived thanks to a bush breaking his fall... a thorn bush, which scratched out his eyes, leading to him living out the rest of his life as a blind beggar.
- Marcus Manlius Capitolinus, according to the mostly-mythical early History of Ancient Rome, became illustrious for saving the Capitol from a Gaulish invasion (hence his cognomen). A few years later, he was accused of aspiring to kingship and was condemned to be hurled to his death from the Tarpeian rock. This story was the origin of the Latin saying, Arx tarpeia Capitoli proxima ('the Tarpeian Rock is close to the Capitol'), a warning that one's fall from grace can come swiftly.
- A WWE RAW angle had Shawn Michaels so broke that he was reduced to working for John "Bradshaw" Layfield.
- Long before that, Nikolai Volkoff had fallen on hard times and wound up working for "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase.
- In a real-life example, Ric Flair was a 16-time world champion and considered one of the greatest wrestlers ever. Between bad investments, messy divorces, and living the jet-set lifestyle character he played on TV left him seriously in debt later on in life.
- Hulk Hogan has exhibited some similarities to Flair above. Recognized as the icon of professional wrestling (known not just in his own industry but as a beacon to non-viewers as well just because he's so damn iconic), the 2000s have been less than kind. Divorcing his wife and the legal problems that hounded his son following an accident that took the life of the passenger in his car has seen the Hulkster looking less-than-stellar. A lot of the opportunities he's taken in the 2000s are often seen by longtime wrestling fans as desperate grabs to keep him in the spotlight and otherwise give him a recurring income flow (such as his stint on American Gladiators and the fact he came to WWE one night just to shill it). It's even worse when a tape about him uttering a racial slur was discovered, which caused him to be released from WWE and then have his records there erased, though he was eventually reinstated.
- TNA. While not as mighty as, say, WCW, for many years it was indisputably the #2 Professional Wrestling promotion in the United States. Many recognized that the company had the potential to one day compete with the WWE. Hoping to capitalize on that, they decided to bring in Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff — and what followed can amount to as "WCW-lite", including but not limited to: a failed attempt to restart the Monday Night Wars, a massive amount of financial mismanagement, much of the younger talent being pushed down the card, and the Power Stable Immortal, which was nWo: Take 2.
- After Hogan and Bischoff left four or so years later, the company was in such disrepair that they lost their TV deal with Spike, while many of the TNA Originals (most notably AJ Styles) quit when they were told they were to face significant pay cuts; in spite of A: the fact that their talents were already being misused during the Hogan-Bischoff era and B: Many wrestlers under their promotion were struggling to make the ends meet as is! Some really nasty examples: Awesome Kong just wanted a raise to buy a car, Taylor Wilde was seen working at a Sunglasses Hut (and she was the Knockouts Champion at the time, too), Jesse Neal was able to qualify for food stamps, and Gail Kim was only bringing in $30,000 a year for her work (garbagemen make more, with better benefits to boot), in spite of the fact that she and Kong had the highest-rated segments on the show.
- Jeff Jarrett, the original founder of the promotion, tried to buy the company back, but his offer was rebuffed since Dixie Carter's position in the corporate structure would not be as secure — he eventually ended up starting another wrestling promotion instead. TNA is now desperately trying to grasp the glory that was once so closely in its grasp, only to continuously fall short and be eclipsed by ROH. If all this weren't humiliating enough, PWI no longer considers the TNA World Heavyweight Championship a world title, declaring that to them, the company has dropped to indy status. There was a time when this company was lauded as the future of Professional Wrestling; today, many wrestling fans are just begging for it to be put out of its misery.
- Chyna. It seemed like a lifetime ago when this woman was a superstar with an assured future in the Hall of Fame. The only women from her time period that could ever compare to the impact she had were Sable, Trish Stratus, and Lita. At one point an international sex symbol, her fall from grace has reduced her to doing porn. That's only scratching the surface of how much the former Joanie Laurer's life has fallen apart, and she couldn't recover from it until her death in 2016 at the age of 45. Ironically, it's only after that event that WWE finally got her into the Hall of Fame.
- WCW. At one point the most successful wrestling promotion in the world, the only promotion to ever drive Vince McMahon to the brink of defeat, its disastrous twilight years are what it's best remembered for (where it became infamous among fans) — that, and having a book that illustrates everything that could go wrong in a wrestling promotion by outlining the circumstances surrounding its fall, and the eventual impact it had on the industry. It's history, more or less.
- Matt Hardy had a mental breakdown after Lita cheated on him with Edge. At one point one of the most popular wrestlers of the early '00s, Matt entered a downward spiral that lasted years, culminating in him faking a suicide note for cheap publicity. It utterly destroyed his reputation, to the extent that his drug-addled younger brother, who, earlier that same year, arrived at a PPV he was main eventing stoned out of his gourd, forcing the match to end in ninety seconds just so he wouldn't hurt anybody, was regarded as more responsible than him. While Matt has worked to get his life back together since then, his legacy will forever be marred by his actions. All the same, he was able to hang on to a bit of his popularity on the independent circuit, particularly as a part of SCUM and The Kingdom in ROH, and ended up regaining his popularity after TNA gave him a second chance.
- The career of Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP) from 2006 to 2010 followed a complicated trajectory. Originally introduced as an "all-talk-no-action" blowhard who could (fairly) beat only people much weaker than he was, MVP eventually proved he really could be as tough as he said he was, surviving an Inferno match with Kane and competing afterward even though he still had burns on his body. Then he won the United States Championship in 2007 and held on to it for quite some time, even getting some clean wins while still being a heel - which encouraged him to become even more arrogant. Then, in the summer of 2008, he began losing every match and continued his losing streak for the rest of the year; this led to him being denied the trademark inflatable tunnel through which he entered arenas. MVP finally starting picking up some wins in January 2009, resulting in a face turn.
- Another Real Life example would be Vince McMahon. Vince dominated the American wrestling industry for nearly 40 years, through everything from the collapse of the old territory system to his being indicted on federal charges to the Montreal Screwjob to the Monday Night Wars and the threat of WCW. Despite many fans viewing him as increasingly out of touch and criticizing the quality of WWE shows, most observers thought The Grim Reaper was the only thing that would end Vince's career. Then, in the summer of 2022, a massive bombshell dropped in the form of allegations that Vince had spent nearly $20 million on hush money agreements with multiple women to cover up his affairs, and questions about whether that money came from Vince's own pocket or corporate funds. The ensuing investigation forced Vince to abruptly resign from his position at the top of WWE, leaving his daughter Stephanie McMahon to take over as co-CEO and his son-in-law Triple H to handle creative duties and talent relations. Vince's reputation is now in shambles, and his days running the WWE are almost certainly over.
- In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Finn used to be at the top of the school's social ladder thanks to his father's position as the City Mayor. Then it was discovered that his father was embezzling city funds. He was arrested and Finn plummeted down in popularity, leaving him now as an outcast who collects gossip on others.
- Many factions get hit with this in BattleTech, Clan Smoke Jaguar was once one of the most powerful Clans to invade the Inner Sphere, now there are only a few Jaguars left eking out in existence where ever they are hiding.
- Forgotten Realms has an adventure describing the destruction of Netheril named How the Mighty Are Fallen. The undead walk the land, driving orcs and humans before them. The Phaerimm has no choice but to bring the empire down or die out. The Tarrasque wakes up. And just in case they somehow manage to survive all this, the greatest archwizard of them all prepares to cast Karsus' Avatar (which in canon meant death to himself and the goddess of magic, and turning off all magic in the world long enough for Netherese flying cities to reach the ground — "fallen" here is meant quite literally).
- In Magic: The Gathering, planeswalkers were massively depowered following "the Mending" of the Time Spiral block. Most of the post-Mending planeswalkers don't even know what they've lost; but Nicol Bolas, the oldest remaining planeswalker, remembers the power and longs to regain it.
Nicol Bolas: We were gods, once.
- Pick a Warhammer/Warhammer 40,000 backstory. The galaxy-spanning Empire of Mankind? Broken, with the Messiah on life support. Glory days of the Dwarfs? Now just another page in the Book of Grudges. The era of the High Elves being the greatest race in the Old World or lording it over the void of space as the Eldar? Enjoy your fall from grace, shattering your empire into fragments as a dying race as well as creating a God of Squick. And the Old Ones, creator race of possibly the entire universe and practically godlike in power? Either dead, hiding, or moved on. But do remember the universe/world we're talking about here.
- Yu-Gi-Oh!: There was once a Kami, "Bujin Emperor - Susanoo", who once dwelled in the heavenly realm of Takama-ga-hara, alongside many other Kami. He possessed incredible power, power so great that many began to plot and scheme against him. This cast suspicion on him, causing him to ultimately incur the wrath of the Supreme Kami. He was banished to the surface and his power was sealed inside the five "Bujin Relics".
- One of the most prevalent themes in Greek tragedy; it'd be easier to list the exceptions, which are very few indeed.
- Oedipus the King is an especially good version of this. Over the course of the play, he goes from King of Thebes to a blind beggar who everyone knows killed his father and slept with his mother.
"Men of Thebes, look upon Oedipus
the king who solved the famous riddle
and towered up, most powerful of men.
No mortal eye but looked on him with envy,
yet in the end ruin swept over him."
- The song "King of the World" from the musical Songs for a New World is about this — the singer used to be very powerful and is now in prison. (Beyond this, the details are open to interpretation.)
- In the musical The Producers, Max Bialystock reminisces about once being "the king of all Broadway" rather than, as now, a producer of serial flops. (But then the chorus responds with "We'll believe you - thousands wouldn't.")
- Grizabella's story in Cats ("Grizabella the Glamour Cat") gives this vibe. Former celebrity, now a common, old stray shunned by the Jellicle tribe.
- Ace Attorney: In their prime, Troupe Gramarye was an incredibly popular and famous magician troupe, becoming a staple of many TV shows and theater stages, even getting a special commemorative stamp commissioned in their honor. Sadly, it was not meant to last. Several scandals rocked the group: the ousting of a member under mysterious circumstances, the disappearance of the sole female of the group, also under mysterious circumstances, the murder of the founder of group Magnifi Gramarye with the two remaining members accused of the crime and finally culminating with one of said members, Zak Gramarye, being found guilty of the crime and for him to also disappear without a trace from the courtroom just before the judge could read the verdict. By the time the events of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney take place, the troupe is all but forgotten. Prosecutor Klavier Gavin says that if one were to ask anyone about the troupe nowadays, they'd be lucky to get more than just blank stares. Though their rebirth has a long seed placed in by their last daughter Trucy who's set to inherit all their tricks and carry on their legacy.
- Batman: Arkham Series: As revealed in Origins, Black Mask was once one of Gotham's top crime lords, having most of Gotham under his thumb and most of the GCPD on his payroll. This all came to a crashing halt for him when the Joker came to town, usurped his position, and stole his identity and operation, and from that point on, Sionis is little more than the Arkhamverse's Butt-Monkey; Aaron Cash even mentions in Knight that Black Mask never managed to recover from the events of that night. And then, in Knight DLC, Red Hood murders him and destroys his gang.
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided: The promising future of mechanical augmentation which was a major win in the previous game is reduced to this due to the fallout of the Aug Incident. Sarif Industries, the pioneer of human augmentation with a multi-billion dollar empire across the globe and on the verge of a major breakthrough, collapses and is bought out by Tai Yong Medical, a company of the Illuminati within weeks of the Aug Incident, with a similar fall of David Sarif, its CEO. Cities boasting massive Aug-friendly locales are either destroyed (Dubai) or segregated (Prague), and these are implied to be the tip of the iceberg. And it's stated to get worse in the future, by the original game, nano-augmentation is about to become the go-to method for enhancement, a death knell for mechanical augmentation.
- Valvatorez was one of the most feared and powerful demons in his Netherworld. By the time Disgaea 4 rolls around he's a shadow of his former self, serving as an instructor to lowly Prinnies. Valvatorez doesn't mind and carries himself with the same humility and honor he had as the Tyrant.
- Killia of Disgaea 5 exhibits this as well, known across the Netherworlds as "Tyrant Overlord Killadia" before the events of the story. In the present, he's a drifter without an Overload ability.
- Dota 2 has a minor case in Zet the Arc Warden. In his backstory, he was part of the primordial mind that existed before all else until it splintered into three fragments. Zet was one of them, almighty until he expended much of his power to seal the two other fragments away in a prison, which they escaped from. With that said, he's still powerful enough that he can casually grant Zeus a piece of his godhood back.
- Pre-incident, the protagonist of Double Homework is (arguably) the best skier in the world, with a clear shot at an Olympic gold medal. Post-incident, he spends months shut away in his room, and when he comes out, he’s not nearly as serious about training as he was before. At the end of the main story, he loses his Olympic spot to Rachel, who has less natural ability but more discipline.
- Dragon Age: Origins:
- This is a common theme in the Human and Dwarf Noble origin stories, both of which begin with the player character as a scion of a very powerful family (either that of the in-universe equivalent of a duke or that of the King of Orzammar). Both end with the player on the run and forced to join the Grey Wardens to escape. You do rise to prominence again at the end, but that is to be expected.
- This happened to the Dalish long before the story started. Granted, the initial falling was their fault. The subsequent centuries of oppression by humans didn't help matters, though.
- The Tevinter Imperium used to rule most of Thedas, but now it's a crumbling remnant of its former glory with its one remaining claim to Bad Assness being that the Qunari are trying to destroy it, and yet it's still managing to continue existing.
- Dragon Ball Fighter Z has Nappa. An elite Saiyan warrior and serious threat when he appeared in Z, but by the time the game takes place, So Last Season has set in hard. No one, not even his victims among the Z-Fighters, is afraid of him anymore, and Yamcha can pay him back in a Dramatic Finish by turning his memetic Death-by-Saibaman back on Nappa, and everyone mocks him for being the only Saiyan in the game unable to turn Super Saiyan (even Bardock, who died before the original Dragon Ball, can do it), despite there being, to quote Cell, "A bit of a bargain sale for Super Saiyans going on." Goku can't even remember his name, and calls him 'Nappy'.
- The Elder Scrolls
- The Dark Brotherhood, an illegal organization of assassins whose membership mostly takes a sadistic glee in killing and who practice a Religion of Evil, once had a near-monopoly on the assassin-for-hire market with agents and sanctuaries throughout Tamriel. Come the time of Skyrim however, they're down to one remote sanctuary and have lost contact with the Night Mother, their unholy leader. As such, they're forced to get their contracts through rumors about the Black Sacrament being performed rather than from the Night Mother herself. It's up to you in Skyrim whether they recover, or get completely wiped out.
- Similarly, the Skyrim branch of the Thieves' Guild has fallen on very hard times. Their influence is limited to one city (Riften) and they've had to drop many of their standards to get by. As it turns out, this is the result of Guildmaster Mercer Frey's stealing of the Skeleton Key, leading to the Daedric Prince Nocturnal cursing the Guild with bad luck. It's up to you to help them rebound or leave them to their fate.
- Dunmeri Great House Hlaalu was once the most powerful of the Great Houses. House Hlaalu had the closest ties to The Empire and, as a result, were the most powerful and wealthy Great House during Morrowind's time in the Third Empire. During Morrowind, both the King of Morrowind and Duke of Vvardenfell hail from House Hlaalu. Following the events of the Red Year and the withdraw of Imperial influence from Morrowind, they were reduced to becoming the weakest House and lost their seat on the council by the time of Skyrim's Dragonborn DLC.
- The line is used in Eternal Darkness as Pious kills Mantorok in the second chapter. Considering he just punched out that story's equivalent of Cthulhu and consigned it to a slow and inevitable death, it is probably fitting.
- The Nightkin were once the best and brightest of the Master's army but a century after his death they have it worse than the regular super mutants as the use of stealth boys has altered their brains and driven them insane. Now they roam the lands looking for more stealth boys or just trying to avoid being seen.
- The west coast Brotherhood of Steel was once the most powerful and technologically advanced society in the wasteland but the world rebuilt around them while they became more insular and xenophobic. Eventually, they went to war with the New California Republic and were reduced to a few surviving cells.
- The Enclave were the descendants of America's political, corporate and military leaders who hid out on an offshore oil rig while the mainland got blasted and had technology that put the Brotherhood to shame, that is until some tribal savage fixed up an old tanker and sabotaged their reactor forcing the survivors to flee. These survivors went to the Capital Wasteland and while they were not what they used to be, they still had an edge over everyone else until an exiled vault dweller and the east coast Brotherhood of Steel destroyed their Base Crawler with their own Kill Sat. They've since been reduced to scattered survivors trying to eke out a living and keep their heads down but there have been rumors of a base in Chicago.
- Lahabrea in Final Fantasy XIV is an Ascian who aims to destroy Eorzea in order to cause a Rejoining. He's incredibly smug, arrogant, and sees mortals as nothing more than mere playthings that cannot comprehend his greatness. He remains defiant until his death in the Heavensward scenario, which his comrades later on describe him as a colossal idiot that screwed up royally and they think very little of him. The Shadowbringers expansion reveals that Lahabrea was once a highly esteemed and well-respected scholar whose creation magicks were the best of the best. After the Ascian's homeworld was sundered, Lahabrea did not take it well and he fell from grace since that event.
- And then, there's the Garlean Empire. A mighty empire built from the ground up to survive the frozen wastes of Ilsabard, their fearsome Magitek and warmachina brought fear to the Eorzeans as their military might took over the lands of Doma and Ala Mhigo, nearly taking Eorzea itself were it not for the fall of Dalamud and Bahamut's rampage. As A Realm Reborn makes way for the other expansions, we see the empire slowly fall apart: the original Emperor, Solus zos Galus, dies of old age (but not really, as he's an Ascian), plunging the empire into a brief civil war until his grandson Varis takes the throne. In Stormblood, the Scions are able to bring about the liberation of Doma and Ala Mhigo, leading to the death of Varis' son, Zenos. However, Zenos is able to come back to life and ruin both the Ascians and Varis' plans to defeat our heroes, killing Varis in the process. However, he refuses the throne, preferring his fight with the Warrior of Light. This plunges the empire into a second civil war that ultimately leads to the empire's complete and utter downfall as one last Ascian uses it to fuel his mad Taking You with Me plot.
- The Kingdom of Daein is shown to have an impressive military might in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. King Ashnard launches an unprovoked attack on neighboring country Crimea, killing the royal family and forcing Princess Elincia into exile. For a whole year, Crimea remains conquered. It seemed no one in the continent of Tellius could challenge Daein. But Elincia slowly gathered allies in Gallia, Phoenicis, and the Begnion Empire. Her army counter-invaded Daein while King Ashnard was sitting on Crimea's throne, and then the princess marched on her homeland to finally slay Ashnard and get back her country. Due to a lack of resources, she leaves Daein's future in Begnion's hands. Three years later, Daein is being oppressed with an iron fist by Begnion's occupation army: the denizens are constantly attacked, watched, and mocked by Begnion for being a beaten country. The surviving soldiers were sent to work camps. Daein's might was no more. However, a resistance group manages to drive out the occupation army and regain Daein's independence. The country still has a decent-sized army after all of that, but nowhere on the scale of Ashnard's war. It is further decimated in another war with Crimea, Gallia, and Phoenicis, but not completely.
- A recurring theme in FromSoftware games. Mighty rulers are reduced to pathetic husks of their former selves and lose everything because of their obsessions:
- King Allant of Demon's Souls. Once a proud king of a great kingdom, his obsession with the power of souls eventually turns him into a helpless blob feebly clinging to his sword wishing for nothing but his own death. Meanwhile, the demonic doppelganger he left behind to rule in his stead leads his kingdom to ruin and his only son is Driven to Suicide unable to bear the truth.
- Gwyn, Lord of Sunlight of Dark Souls. He was once a lightning-wielding God-Emperor who ushered in a new age by defeating the Everlasting Dragons. In a desperate attempt to prolong the Age of Fire when the First Flame started to flicker and die, he split his own soul apart and made himself kindling for the First Flame. This turned him into a Hollow shell of his former self bereft of his former powers. In the end, Gwyn was nothing more than a crazed and lonely old man afraid of change.
- King Vendrick of Dark Souls II. The backstory builds him up as a powerful ruler who built the kingdom of Drangleic over the corpses of an army of Giants. He is constantly hyped up as the ultimate challenge the player character must overcome. His attempts to stave off the Undead Curse led him to be afflicted with it himself. His own beloved queen manipulated his downfall and the ruin of his kingdom. When he is finally met in person, he's a giant naked Hollow wandering aimlessly in his tomb.
- Dark Souls III turns the whole trope on its head by focusing on and deconstructing the Chosen Undead, the character you created and played during the first 3 games in the series. Unlike the previous games, it's the once-mighty Chosen Undead who are hunted and killed, because at some point they didn't want to complete their obligation of rekindling the flame. It comes to a head when you fight Soul of Cinder, who is a combination of all the Chosen Undead that ever existed beginning with Gwyn. In an ironic twist, this trope applies to the player as well. Many have spent hundreds of hours building up their characters in previous games, only to kill them all off in the final game in the Soul's trilogy.
- Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice continues this trend with the fate of the Ashina Clan. When Isshin Ashina was in his prime, he was able to take back his ancestral lands and made them prosperous. But not even two generations later, it's all falling apart. Isshin himself is a sickly old man (though still very skilled with the sword), the Interior Ministry's armies are invading and clearly outmatch Ashina's forces, and the current leader of the Ashina Clan, Isshin's adoptive grandson Genichiro, is going down a dark path out of desperation to save Ashina. What's even sadder is that Isshin himself has more or less made peace with this downfall and very much doesn't want Genichiro to damn himself this way, but cannot stop him. Though in a way he's better off than the others before him. Isshin never loses his sanity or his humanity even as everything falls apart around him.
- The Lost MC in Grand Theft Auto V. Once a feared group of Badass Bikers, V reduces them to strung out, aimless, desert-dwelling meth addicts, who get massacred by Trevor.
- Joseph "Swing King" Clarence in Hitman: Blood Money. According to his obituary, the Swing King was once a much-beloved local personality: rich, successful, handsome, and witty, no social event was complete without him making an appearance. By the time 47 catches up with him, Swing King has been reduced to a flabby, neurotic, washed-up recluse.
- In Hot Dog Bush, former U.S. President George W. Bush gets expelled from the White House as punishment for failing his duties and desperate for money, he sinks down to street vending hot dogs and burgers.
- Kingdom Hearts has Ventus, who in Kingdom Hearts χ is revealed to have once been one of the five leaders of the Keyblade wielders in the time immediately after the ancient Keyblade War almost destroyed the world. Some unclear events and a spell of Laser-Guided Amnesia later, his world shrunk down to just the Land of Departure and its three other inhabitants, all of who are considered better-trained and more powerful than him. Though the end of Kingdom Hearts III suggests he might be starting to remember.
- Overwatch itself. Once a shining beacon of good around the world. In the present time, it's banned by the government, 3 of its most legendary figures (Ana, Soldier:76, and Reaper) are presumed dead by the public, and its agents are scattered around the globe.
- The Shimada Clan. At one point in the past, they were one of the fiercest Yakuza clans in Japan. Then they forced Hanzo to (supposedly) kill Genji. After doing such a horrible thing, Hanzo ditched them. With both heirs gone and no leadership, the Shimada Clan of the game's present time is a barely functioning shell of what it once was.
- From Portal 2:
- The middle chapters take the player on an exploration of the old Aperture Science Innovators test facilities, far beneath the more modern chambers that you start the game in. You get to see what Aperture was like when its eccentric founder, Cave Johnson, was in his heyday, full of money and enthusiasm and with "astronauts, Olympians, and war heroes" jumping at the chance to test his products. Then you get to see it as a company struggling to survive and hiring bums off the street due to Congressional inquiries over the "missing astronauts". Lastly, you get to hear Cave's final recordings as a bitter, bankrupt old man dying of moon dust poisoning and trying desperately to preserve some kind of legacy. Aperture may have recovered and gone on without him, but he's gone, his memories buried along with the empire he built.
- Appropriately, the chapter where you're first introduced to the crumbling remains of Old Aperture is called "The Fall".
- GLaDOS when Wheatley takes over her body and uploads her consciousness into a potato battery. Though she gets back up again.
- The middle chapters take the player on an exploration of the old Aperture Science Innovators test facilities, far beneath the more modern chambers that you start the game in. You get to see what Aperture was like when its eccentric founder, Cave Johnson, was in his heyday, full of money and enthusiasm and with "astronauts, Olympians, and war heroes" jumping at the chance to test his products. Then you get to see it as a company struggling to survive and hiring bums off the street due to Congressional inquiries over the "missing astronauts". Lastly, you get to hear Cave's final recordings as a bitter, bankrupt old man dying of moon dust poisoning and trying desperately to preserve some kind of legacy. Aperture may have recovered and gone on without him, but he's gone, his memories buried along with the empire he built.
- Splatoon 3 has this happen to DJ Octavio. He's gone from The Generalissimo and master of the Octarian regime to a lone villain desperately trying to refight a war that's been over for decades. His Octobot King mech is a broken down shell of itself, and most of the Octolings he used to control have abandoned him for a new life in Splatsville.
- This applies to Penelope Mouse in the Sly Cooper series. At the end of the third game, she's in a happy relationship with Bentley, with the two of them planning on a bright future in technology advancement. When the fourth game rolls, she and Bentley are arch enemies after a nasty break-up, and Penelope is disgraced in the criminal underworld, has no friends, homeless, living in poverty, and hunted down by Interpol for countless crimes. She had it coming for betraying the Cooper Gang out of ambition and jealousy.
- In Starcraft II, after spending almost the entire series as the dominant race, the Zerg are decimated and scattered at the end of the Terran campaign, and you spend the entire next campaign helping them recover from the disaster.
- Tomb Raider (2013): Lara's father, Richard Croft, as revealed in Rise of the Tomb Raider. He was once a well-known and respected archaeologist, but his obsession with researching immortality eventually destroyed his reputation and turned him into a laughingstock. Eventually, he was Driven to Suicide.
- This is where Starscream ends up by the end of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. His Decepticon faction is almost wiped out and the few survivors abandon him once Megatron returns.
- The whole point of the game and its relations, really. The Cybertronians have gone from nigh-immortal lords of technology to rats fleeing a sinking ship. Except rats know better than to fight when they should run.
- Yakuza: The Dojima Family in general, and Sohei Dojima in particular. In the '80s, the Dojima Family under Sohei's leadership was a driving force behind the Tojo Clan's rise to prominence among the yakuza of Kanto. However, by the time the first game rolls around, the Dojima Family has been reduced to a shred of its former self, leaving Sohei a broken man capable of little more than yapping about the Glory Days. Ironically, his son Daigo eventually becomes Chairman of the Tojo Clan, though his rule can be considered unstable at best.
- The first three games follow the rise and fall of the Nishikiyama family. In the first game, Akira Nishikiyama manages to build the family up from nothing into a powerhouse that threatens to upend the status quo within the Tojo clan. In the second game, Nishikiyama is no longer a patriarch, replaced by his lieutenant Koji Shindo, and while the family is still large, it is lagging behind financially, and Shindo's blithering incompetence and self-serving nature do nothing to alleviate its problems. In the third game, the power vacuum left by Shindo's removal left an even more unsuitable leader in place, and the family reduced to providing muscle for better-led outfits. In the fourth game, it is all but stated that the Nishikiyama family is defunct and the Majima family has absorbed the remnants.
- Yakuza: Like a Dragon shows that eventually this finally caught up to the Tojo Clan as well in 2019. The constant wars that they've had both outside with the Omi Alliance as well as infighting, along with Kazuma Kiryu faking his death in Yakuza 6 means the police were not only able to squash a lot of Tojo businesses, but the Omi finally took over Kamurocho.
- Minilife TV: Goshua reigns supreme as Legondo's god, but after showing Chris and Ian their true purpose in "Parting Rose", the other deities punish him by stripping him of his godly powers and banishing him to Legondo in "Life with Death", forcing him to temporarily stay with his Grim Reaper, Gregory.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: On the heroes' side, The Earth Kingdom, the only world power to even come close to rivalling Fire Nation, is overrun by the latter at the end of the second season. On the villain's side, Fire Lord Ozai and Princess Azula start off as the God-Emperor and The Chessmaster, respectively. By the end of the series, Ozai loses his firebending, is mocked by children for being the "Loser Lord," and is thrown in prison at the mercy of his hated son aka the new Fire Lord. Meanwhile, Azula loses her mind after being chained up by Katara, and has to be sent to a mental hospital in the tie-in comics. At least Azula gained some of her power and faculties back after fighting Zuko and Team Avatar; Ozai doesn't get that, hopefully not for the foreseeable future.
- Subverted by Vilgax in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. Ben mocks his old foe's fall, but Vilgax has every intention of regaining everything he lost and more. In fact, he turns out even more dangerous than he used to be with his empire, as he is smart enough to take over a cult of human followers, and eventually manipulate Dagon, making its power his own.
- DuckTales (2017): At the height of her power, Magica De Spell was a powerful sorceress and considered to be one of the most dangerous members of Scrooge's Rogues Gallery. She loses everything in the season one finale, ending up homeless and performing for children's birthday parties at the local Suck E. Cheese's in order to make ends meet. Her niece Lena loses all fear of her after seeing just how pathetic she's become.
- Final Space: The Lord Commander. All through season 1, he is the Big Bad with a huge army and various Psychic Powers. Come season 2, and (following a huge battle in the season 1 finale) he has lost all his forces and is himself on the brink of death since his powers are Cast from Lifespan. He can't even put up a fight anymore when Nightfall comes to finish him off.
- Azul Falcone of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law is introduced as partner at the law firm. He's more successful and popular than Harvey, despite being a much less competent lawyer. However, after his first appearance, he slides down the firm's pecking order until he is a mere bathroom attendant.
- This trope seems to inform both this series and its sister series Space Ghost Coast to Coast. Hanna-Barbera stars long past their respective heydays trying to survive post-fame.
- This happened to Mandarin in the second season of Iron Man: The Animated Series. After losing the Ten Rings of Power in the first season finale, Mandarin was reduced to working as a laborer, whipped daily by a cruel overseer. Then he notices the overseer's ring... and after regaining his power, he falls even harder in the series finale. Half of his rings are destroyed, his memories are gone, and he loses the other five rings when lowly mountain bandits chop off his hand.
- Valmont from Jackie Chan Adventures goes from a major villain in the first two seasons to a homeless petty criminal in the third. By the fifth season, he's resorted to becoming a bus driver with a small cameo in the last episode.
- Johnny Test villain Dark Vegan started out as an alien warlord, but after his second appearance, he ends up stuck on Earth and another member of Johnny's Harmless Villain Rogues Gallery. He even lampshades this; "I used to be ruler of my planet, but now I'm an unemployable loser!"
- Blossom in The Powerpuff Girls (1998) episode "A Very Special Blossom". She steals a set of golf clubs to give the Professor for Father's Day then tries to frame Mojo Jojo for it. When the jig is up, we see her in an orange prison suit performing community service.
- Samurai Jack: Jack's father was once the emperor of Japan and the one who originally defeated Aku. When Aku later returned, he made sure to abduct the aged emperor before he could retrieve his sword again, allowing Aku to Take Over the World. By the time Jack returns, his father has been reduced to an old, emaciated slave, thoroughly weakened in both body and spirit.
- The Simpsons:
- In "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?", Homer reunites with his long-lost half-brother Herb. Herb was a Self-Made Man and the wealthy head of a major auto corporation until he foolishly trusted Homer to design a car for "the average American". The end result was such a farce it drove Herb's already-troubled company out of business. By the time we see Herb again in "Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?", he's living as a hobo.
- In "The Old Man and the Lisa", Mr. Burns lost his fortune and the Power Plant, and Lisa helped him get it back, much to her regret.
- Maul throws this Obi-Wan Kenobi's face when they face each other for the final time in Star Wars Rebels. Kenobi's fallen from Jedi Master and hero of the Clone Wars to forgotten hermit, hiding on a backwater world from the government he used to serve. For his part, Obi-Wan turns this right back on him, a former Lord of the Sith reduced to a half-crazy drifter abandoned by his former master and galaxy at large.
Maul: Look what has become of you; a rat in the desert.
Obi-Wan: Look what I have risen above.
Maul: I have come to kill you, but perhaps it's worse to leave you here, festering in your squalor.
Obi-Wan: If you define yourself by your power to take life, your desire to dominate, to possess, then you have nothing. [Maul growls angrily]
- Invoked by Slithe in ThunderCats (2011)
"How quickly things change for the cats. From top predator to endangered species... in a single day!"
- Many, many characters and institutions in The Venture Bros., but Thaddeus "Rusty" Venture is perhaps the best example. Formerly, a famous and successful boy adventurer and heir to the prodigious Venture Industries, he is now a bitter, unsuccessful CEO of a floundering science firm.
- In the first season of Young Justice, Orm, younger brother of Aquaman, was Prince of Atlantis, and, in his guise of Ocean-Master, held a high-ranking position with The Light. However, after being discovered, disgraced, and left to rot in an Atlantean prison for six years, he returned in the third season; impoverished, physically ragged, and emotionally deranged. At least he didn't have to stay that way for long, before he could prematurely carry out The Light's Nuclear Option.