Follow TV Tropes

Please don't list this on a work's page as a trope.
Examples can go on the work's YMMV tab.


Vindicated by History

Go To

"Some are born posthumously."
Friedrich Nietzsche, The Antichrist

Most works that are well-received remain so, long after they get released, eventually being acclaimed as classics. However, some works that are well-received at their debut will fade into the mists of time as the public moves on to the newest thing, doomed to obscurity.

Then there are these.

A few exceptional (or lucky) works with unexceptional debuts will be rediscovered and reanalyzed and become critical darlings after about 20 years, as well as timeless classics in the eyes of the public, usually when their authors/producers are no longer around to bask in their belated fame. Unconventional and gloomily-themed works that star little-known actors are the most prone to this.


Inevitably causes most critics to rush to hail them as classics that were grossly misunderstood in their time, but now can be worshiped as the masterpieces they truly are. Oftentimes people in general forget that they were bombs to begin with. Parodies and Hype Backlash inevitably follow in their footsteps.

This is mostly a film/literature phenomenon: TV mostly avoids this, as how great or awful a series is tends to become clear during its longer run (or at least a few years later on DVD).

Of course, there are historical events that were controversial at the time, but later are felt to have been the right decision. Values Resonance is prevalent in many instances of this trope, as they were simply too far ahead of their time.

The Real Life counterpart of It Will Never Catch On. It can also lead to Follow the Leader, Hype Aversion, Hype Backlash. A Sub-Trope is Vindicated by Cable and Vindicated by Reruns; also arguably, as already mentioned, Better on DVD. Often these works were the victim of an Award Snub.


Compare Germans Love David Hasselhoff, where a different country does this instead of time, and Cult Classic, where something gains popularity but not on a widespread/mainstream scale (although the two tropes sometimes overlap). See also Popularity Polynomial. Additionally, see Dead Artists Are Better for cases where the belated popularity occurs because the artist is no longer around to bask in it. When this happens to a single character, it's Rescued from the Scrappy Heap. Nostalgia Filter may factor into this, although anyone that hasn't grown up with the work will still likely see it for what it is. Contrast Deader Than Disco (something that goes from insanely popular to a popular target of mockery), And You Thought It Would Fail (a work that's expected to be a flop instead becomes a smash hit). Compare Acclaimed Flop, when the work is a critical success but a commercial failure when it comes out. Contrast with "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny, where a work was beloved in its heyday, but is seen as boring or stale (at best) by history, though usually with the appreciation that the work was revolutionary at the time.


Beware the risk of Overly Narrow Superlatives or Gushing About Shows You Like. Practically anything could seem vindicated by history if the reference pool is small enough.


    open/close all folders 

  • The original World Trade Center in New York City was incredibly controversial when construction on it first began in the late '60s. The aesthetic of the boxy Twin Towers was compared to filing cabinets and "the boxes that the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building came in", its massive amount of office space was seen as merely compounding the problem of office vacancies that the city was facing, and its 'superblock' was criticized for bulldozing most of the still-bustling Radio Row neighborhood, disrupting traffic in Lower Manhattan, and limiting access to the waterfront. By the time it was completed in 1973, it was regarded as a potent symbol of The Big Rotten Apple, a landmark to the city's downward spiral more than anything, and many New Yorkers probably would've welcomed its destruction by terrorists. By the time it experienced just that on September 11, 2001, it had come to be recognized as a true landmark in the proper sense of the term, such that one of the most popular proposals to replace it was to just rebuild them as they were, albeit with modern construction techniques.
  • The Eiffel Tower in Paris, built for the Exposition Universelle in 1889, was similarly hated when it was first built, especially among the city's art community, who regarded it as an eyesore and a symbol of industrial modernity thrust into the heart of a city synonymous with artistry and romanticism. Guy de Maupassant frequently ate lunch at the Eiffel Tower's restaurant, specifically because it was the only place in the city where he couldn't see it, and he and forty-six other Parisian artists and writers attached their names to a "Protest against the Tower of Monsieur Eiffel". Others, however, embraced it as a symbol of avant-garde modernity, and its Mundane Utility as a broadcast tower saved it from the wrecking ball in 1909 when Gustave Eiffel's lease expired. Nowadays? It is arguably the symbol of Paris, such that we even have a trope named after it.

  • This happens periodically in (painting) art especially between the Renaissance and the 20th century. A rising new art movement is at first derided, and as it becomes accepted the preceding movement turns into the target instead. A couple of centuries later, the art world and scholarship see them both having merits.
  • Pieter Bruegel the Elder was merely dismissed as a light weight during his life time. He painted so many peasant scenes that people looked down upon his art, solely because of the subject matter. Only centuries later has his work been added to the pantheon of history's greatest painters.
  • El Greco was seen as an incompetent painter during his lifetime. Only in the 20th century did the modern art movement embrace his work as a visionary and personal style.
  • Caravaggio was obscure to infamous until the 1920s. It did not help that he painted the equivalent of Doujinshi. His normal works were considered so blasphemous that some tried to kill him. Nowadays, his Calling of St Matthew is practically the Trope Codifier of Baroque painting.
  • Piero Della Francesca was fairly obscure until the 1920s as well. He is now considered one of the greatest quattrocento artists.
  • Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the few truly relevant Renaissance female painters, was for a long while looked down and seen as dependant of the fame of her father. Then the Feminist Movement came by. What's that you say, a Renaissance woman painter that focuses on pictures on women and whose masterpiece depicts the biblical Judithnote  violently decapitating King Holofornes a.k.a. in a position of strength? There's also speculation that King Holofornes was painted in the image of Agostino Tassi, a man that had raped her and who had failed to be punished by the courts due to the values of the day.
  • The Impressionists (Claude Monet, Pierre-August Renoir, Édouard Manet, etc.) were ridiculed at first (at their first joint exposition, the public came en masse to mock their work; the name of the movement was even originally coined by a sarcastic Caustic Critic), even though they were more successful later on. Today, well let's say that many of the world's most expensive paintings are from them...
  • Vincent van Gogh is a popular example of this, but he is actually not a great example. There was only four years between Van Gogh's visit to Paris in 1886 (when his signature style started to emerge) and his early death in 1890. This is an incredibly short time by the standards of the art world, but Van Gogh was already beginning to attract serious attention before his death, and was highly regarded by influential artists such as Gauguin. Had Van Gogh lived just a few years longer, people would likely be telling the story of his meteoric rise to prominence; the fact that he was not recognized until after his death has more to do with his early death than with his reception in the contemporary art world.
  • The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, painted by John Singer Sargent, was originally disliked by critics for being too big, having too much empty space in it, and having the subjects scattered about randomly. Now it is considered one of Sargent's better works, and is used in a couple of plays, poems, and mystery novels.
    • Also, Portrait of Madame X, when originally exhibited, caused a great deal of scandal in the art circle. Sargent was forced to leave Paris as a result. The painting would become one of his and the era's most iconic pieces.
  • For most of M. C. Escher's life, he was looked down upon by "serious" artists (as were all artists who specialized in lithography). He is now a fixture of art history textbooks (as well as poster shops) and your math teacher's walls.

    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: No one really cared about the English dub when it originally aired on some countries' Disney Channels. No one made much of a note of it and very few people shared stuff relating to it online. After Disney stopped airing it, people became interested in it and they set out to find the dub and learn more about it. They were successful since Creative Power Entertaining decided to upload it due to an increase in fan demand.

    Comic Books 
  • X-Men wasn't a particularly strong seller in the 1960s, and in the early 1970s, the title was languishing in reprints... until someone at Marvel noticed that sales were going up, and decided to revamp the series. The revamped title became Marvel's biggest seller.
  • Jack Kirby's New Gods titles sold poorly (though there is some controversy about just how good or bad the sales figures were at the time, and how much of that was due to a line-wide price hike and format change). Since then, Kirby's work on New Gods, Mister Miracle and The Forever People have become widely-acclaimed as among his very best, with characters who have been used again and again, in multiple media (e.g., Super Friends, Justice League, and Smallville). After all, just try and think of The DCU without one of its biggest, baddest bads, Darkseid.
  • Gotham Central sold poorly during its monthly releases (Possibly due to it being a Batman book that rarely featured Batman). Though it has now found popularity being sold in hardcover and trade paperback.
  • Carl Barks who worked anonymously during his active years for Disney. Though his comics were always lucrative, he only received recognition after retiring. Comic book fans noticed that certain Donald Duck comics were better than others, so they tracked him down and discovered who had made all those masterful comic books over the years. Luckily, Barks would live long enough to see this recognition during his lifetime.
  • Some major crossovers, universally panned at first, have gone on to garner popularity. In particular, Spider-Man story arcs Maximum Carnage and The Clone Saga have been reappraised as good despite being initially being panned. Part of this is due to the stories working slightly better when read all at once in a trade collectible, rather than one at a time over a period of months/years (many of these were written before Writing for the Trade became a thing).
  • Similarly, both Countdown to Final Crisis and Civil War were given huge boosts while Sinestro Corps War and World War Hulk were largely treated as filler events. However, both Sinestro Corps and World War Hulk are now considered to be classics, whereas as Countdown and Civil War are seen as two of the worst big events of the 00s.
  • At the same time the Civil War series was running and had all of the Marvel publicity machine behind it, a small Crisis Crossover event called Annihilation was being published that was largely ignored by Marvel and by readers. The event also led to short-lived books for Nova and the Guardians of the Galaxy, which were both cancelled due to low sales and finished out via The Thanos Imperative. While readers may have ignored these books at the time, the fact that the post-Annihilation Guardians of the Galaxy run was such a huge influence on the mega hit movie has since led to many people discovering the series for the first time.
  • Final Crisis was incredibly hard to follow back when it was released, due to the series' "channel flipping" method of storytelling, the Schedule Slip that affected the essential tie-in Superman Beyond 3D, and significant Executive Meddling (particularly in regards to Countdown to Final Crisis). Now that the series has been collected properly and the readership has had time to properly digest it's contents, it's much more well regarded, with a number of readers considering it a modern classic.
  • Black Panther:
    • Christopher Priest's run didn't sell well at the time, but today, it's regarded as one of the best Marvel books of the 90's. Many fans even argue that Priest has earned My Real Daddy status over the character at this point, and his depiction is often considered to be the definitive take on Black Panther.
    • Likewise, while it didn't sell very well at the time, Don McGregor's Jungle Action run ended up having a major impact on the character. It was the first series to actually do serious World Building for Wakanda and flesh out T'Challa a supporting cast, and also introduced Erik Killmonger, who would later become one of his most prominent and popular foes. It was also one of the first mainstream comics to have a self-contained, multi-issue arc, with some critics calling the "Panther's Rage" storyline Marvel's first graphic novel.
  • De Kiekeboes was considered a mere curiosity in its early run and you had to be a hardcore comic book fan to have even heard about it. After J. Hoste NV (the publisher of the comic book series) crashed the series got owned by De Standaard. They originally did not really have a lot of enthousiasm for selling the comic and for a long time it was one of their least selling properties (often it would be the very final story in MEGA, their comic book compilation). Its sales however continued rising and rising to the point that nowadays it may as well outrival Suske en Wiske in terms of popularity.
  • Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Jack Kirby, William Moulton Marston, and Stan Lee amongst others are names known in the Comics industry and even by a surprising amount of non-readers. Nowadays, they are given proper dues for the characters they helped bring to life (even if harsh battles are still fought over in terms of rights and royalties). One particular name however has taken a much longer time to get the recognition it deserves: Bill Finger the co-creator of, and an early writer for Batman - and the one who many would argue gave the Dark Knight more of his iconic features than his much more famous and outspoken partner, Bob Kane. Starting in 2016, DC Comics would finally give Bill Finger his much overdue credit by having his name appear next to Bob Kane's in any new Batman-related media going forward from that time.
  • In the early 1980's, the Superman books were going through a sales slump that was attributed to the focus on Krypton and the existence of Silver/Bronze age characters such like Superboy, Supergirl and Krypto the Superdog, whose comics had been cancelled at the time. It was then decreed that the Krypton stuff had to be excised, banned from continuity and replaced with non-Kryptonian substitutes. Flash-forward fifteen years, and the franchise is going through a slump again, and none of the replacements except for the Superboy Kon-El have caught on with the fandom or been successfully translated to other media. This situation prompted DC to revoke the "Superman is the only Kryptonian survivor" policy and reintroduce the Pre-Crisis versions of the characters. Since then, those characters have been featured in several successful comic storylines as well as animation, live-action series and games, becoming more popular than ever.
  • In early 1990's, the Green Lantern wasn't a big seller, and several creatives decided the franchise needed a shake-up such like turning Silver Age "relic" Hal Jordan into a villain in order to replace him with a newer and "cooler" character. Several years later, enter Geoff Johns, rehabilitates Hal Jordan and makes him the centerpiece of a massively popular, best-selling run.
  • Tintin in North America. While they were held in high regards, they had a very limited run in North America. This resulted in them failing to find an audience since you had to find them in libraries (where they were placed in the kids section before Graphic Novel sections became a thing) or pay exorbitant prices on eBay auctions. While the Nelvana adaptation did air in the States and Canada, it was on Nick Jr - at a time when most viewers were in school or at work. More people were interested in works that were inspired by it (Such as Indiana Jones) than the actual license. However, after The Adventures of Tintin, the comics received a much needed reissue, which allowed it to finally get it a bigger audience.

  • John Yudkin was a scientist who, during the crusade against fat, found that sugar was one of the biggest causes of obesity. Over three decades after his findings were discredited, and his reputation ruined, the populace wised up to sugar being the true enemy instead of fat, and his findings were brought back into scientific consensus.
  • In Cricket, bowlers can legally use certain methods to keep one side of the ball smooth and shiny while the other side becomes rougher due to wear and tear as the innings progresses. This allows swing bowling, where the ball swings in the air. For regular swing, the ball swings toward the rough side — however, in the 90s, Pakistani bowlers such as Wasim Akram were able to produce reverse swing, swinging the ball the other way. At the time, members of the press accused them of illegally tampering with the ball, but as the mechanics of reverse swing have become better understood, they are now seen as being simply ahead of their time.
  • Some Cambridge scientists claimed that it was impossible for a cricket ball to swing in mid-air. Then a batsman replied that any scientist who believed that should try facing up to Alec Bedser on a damp July morning.
  • In his early years in practice, Sigmund Freud, along with his colleague Joseph Breuer, began to theorize that the condition referred to as "hysteria" was not an affliction of the uterus as was commonly believed at the time, but was actually rooted in psychological trauma. Freud was pressured into retracting and from there morphed into the sex-obsessed persona that many ascribe to him, but these early works were ultimately vindicated when, decades later, people began discussing the same concepts under a new name — Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Six Flags was originally hated by the coaster community after its bankruptcy, but people have softened up within the decade since.

  • Bettie Page. Almost completely forgotten by the 1980s, she has emerged as the Fifties pinup queen, as well as a highly memetic mascot for the neo-rockabilly culture currently popular in Southern California.
  • The freakish photos of '50s/'60s cult photographer Diane Arbus have gained a reasonably wide following only in the past decade or so.
  • Vivian Maier lived in obscurity unknown and unpublished, pursuing a photography as her hobby. Now she is considered a major street photographer of 20th century.

  • The South Park pinball machine initially got a lot of complaints, both because of its offensive content and because of its layout and rules, so much so that SEGA, the company that made it, quit the pinball business. Due to changing attitudes, with the controversy over the show dying down, the South Park pinball machine now brings in good money when out in public (even where lots of kids are present), is one of the more sought-after South Park items for collectors, and is genuinely liked by pinball fans who get its numerous Shout Outs and thus why the machine plays the way it does. (It's a different story altogether for those who dislike or are indifferent to the show, however.)
  • High Roller Casino came out a year after the well-liked Star Wars Episode I and fell into obscurity as victim of a Tough Act to Follow. Whereas Star Wars: Episode I used a monitor, was full of voice clips, displayed live-action footage made just for the machine, and a rather complicated set of rules, High Roller Casino used an old-fashioned dot-matrix display, the rules were seen as overly simplistic, and the miniature slot machine was unimpressive. On top of that, High Roller Casino was released in 2001, right at the nadir of modern pinball's popularity, so despite its lower price, few people were interested in putting it up for public display and thus few people had even heard of it. High Roller Casino machines were then used in competitions in 2013, where it gained new popularity now that the machine can stand on its own merits (as well as pinball players learning the machine exists) and that its rules are not so much simplistic as they are uncluttered. Much demand now exists for High Roller Casino to be included in the compilation video game The Pinball Arcade, and it was indeed added in 2014. Meanwhile, Star Wars: Episode I fell out of favor due to its monotonous gameplay and corny acting (the movie's bad reputation didn't help either), and it would be near impossible to find a pinball fan nowadays who prefers Star Wars: Episode I over High Roller Casino.
  • The Twilight Zone is so well-liked among pinball fans that it may be hard to believe that it was not that popular when it was new. It currently ranks at or near the top of lists on various pinball sites. The result of Pat Lawlor getting carte blanche privileges after the success of The Addams Family, the machine is crammed full of things and has among the most complicated sets of rules to have ever been in a pinball game, even compared to today's digital pinball. It was this complicatedness, and ruthless difficulty, that scared passers-by away from playing more than a few games before swearing it off. In addition, because it had so many parts, it broke down easily and frequently, the game designed in such a way that if even one thing is slightly below maximum capacity, the game was rendered barely playable. The Twilight Zone only started getting respect when large amounts of them started entering private use. As the player can play it as much as he or she wishes, the complicated rules go from intimidating to a source of tremendous Replay Value, and if it ever breaks, the owner is always on hand to act upon it.
  • Iron Man was a rather rapid case of this. Released in 2010, this was Stern Pinball's opposite of High Roller Casino: coming off a series of mediocre releases like NBA and 24, people did not think too highly of the straightforward playfield layout of Iron Man, which made operators and home buyers alike hesitant to buy Iron Man. It didn't help that the build quality was so poor that the screws would come loose in as little as six months. However, eventually, people modded their Iron Man machines for increased sturdiness and found that its rules complemented its play-field very well, and the game eventually became popular enough for Stern to issue a re-release in 2014.
  • Safe Cracker was a highly gimmicky machine: It was shorter than usual, with smaller flippers. It had a timer-based system in which once time ran out, draining the ball instantly ended your game. But most importantly, it had a token system in which you could either collect them (with 25 of them in all) or put them back into the machine to play a bonus mode called "Assault on the Vault." All of this came together for a disastrous release, with the unconventional size throwing people off, the timer-based system meaning newcomers would get hosed, and it turned out people preferred to collect tokens, and with Williams Electronics issuing only one run of the tokens due to low sales of the machine itself, the machines quickly ran out of tokens and whatever appeal Safe Cracker had was lost. Things changed many years later though, when, like with The Twilight Zone, Safe Cracker machines entered home use. With them set to play for free, there was little loss on games that end quickly, and with these owners dedicating themselves to learning its rules and how to maximize the time bonuses (as well as discovering there were ways to restore time even after it's reached 0), as well as having access to tokens so they could play "Assault on the Vault," the games found themselves a lot more respect. It is still a ravenous and unforgiving quarter-eater though, and because of the tokens system, it is very rare to find a Safe Cracker for public play.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • One of the biggest cases of this in wrestling history is Mildred Burke. Burke had been married to NWA promoter Billy Wolfe; they'd had a bitter falling out that saw Burke frozen out of the NWA even though she was the reigning Women's Champion. When a match between Burke and June Byers (Wolfe's daughter-in-law) was finally booked, it was a two-out-of-three-falls match. Because Burke and Byers legitimately hated each other, the match was (allegedly) a real shoot-wrestling match. Burke was injured at the time and quickly gave up the first fall to conserve energy for the second, the second fall ran for an hour and was stopped by the referee without a decision. Both Burke and Byers believed they were the champion, but Wolfe pulled strings in the NWA and it sided with Byers. Both Burke and her splinter promotion the WWWA took a massive blow in credibility over the loss. However, decades later the full story came out. Burke is now considered the godmother of women's wrestling in the USA and Byers is best known as the woman who helped Wolfe and the NWA ruin Burke's life.
  • Big Van Vader's run in WCW, his first with a major promotion in the US since the American Wrestling Association, wasn't a favorite of his fans, mostly because he had a slow start with Sting and Hulk Hogan later no sold his moves, drastically reducing Vader's Wrestling Monster aura. However, after even more embarrassing feuds with Shawn Michaels (this was before Shawn got injured, found religion, and learned some humility), Goldust, and Kane in the WWF, people instead looked back more fondly on what went right for Vader with Sting, as well as his matches with Ron Simmons and Cactus Jack.
  • Edge and Lita: In 2005, word got out about the two having an affair, cheating on Edge's second wife and Matt Hardy respectively. This and Hardy's reaction which got him fired over it caused a lot of fan backlash towards both of them at the time, which WWE decided to make into an angle (first involving Lita's storyline husband Kane, then rehiring Matt) to take advantage of the situation. This especially lingered on with Lita to the point it played a hand in her decision to retire toward the end of 2006, receiving a less-than-admirable sendoff from the company on the way out. In the years since then, Edge has entered a Screw the Rules, I Have Sickeningly Sweethearts storyline with Vickie Guerrero for about a year or so which worked to the point that if Lita had returned to take Edge back it would've been a Heel–Face Turn less than two years later. Hardy has increasingly gone Jumping Off the Slippery Slope as a career-midcarder, and began excusing his brother and friends' every mistake while taking four years to clearly define that his legit heat with Edge was over. Edge has become a modern day legend through great feuds and matches with the likes of The Undertaker, John Cena, CM Punk, Jeff Hardy, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Batista, Randy Orton, so on and so forth, still being the generally all-around awesome guy backstage (seriously, even Cena has the rare dirt sheet article or shoot interview saying he's treated someone like crap. Edge? NOTHING outside the love triangle scandal. In fact, Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder still praise him on Twitter a fair deal for helping them in their formative WWE years, and Hawkins has had a subtle nod to Edge's "Easy Bein' Sleazy" shirt as the logo on his ring jacket). The WWE Women's/Divas Division has plummeted into 2/3-minute snooze-fests on Raw and SmackDown, and took such disrespect at WrestleMania XXV that Lita and Trish Stratus refused to be among the returnees for that night's show because they saw it coming.
    • Edge is a first ballot Hall of Famer living a mostly quiet life and loving every minute. Lita has people begging for her return after just showing up at Axxess and later joined the HOF herself in 2014. Matt Hardy is widely derided as an egotistical Hollywood Pudgy Attention Whore, who has been arrested on drunk driving charges multiple times in 2011, got fired from TNA after the first of said DUIs (and not just for the DUI, as Kurt Angle and Christopher Daniels can attest to), and faked a suicide note after said firing, just to get more attention. "The Reason You Suck" Speech Edge gave Hardy in 2005 in response to his return promo would never have been listed for long without a counterpoint back then even if this wiki had been as huge as it is now, but now it's taken (along with Lita's statement in one Byte This! interview that something had to be wrong for her to go to another man) as a prophetic deconstruction of everything about Matt, at least prior to him getting his life back together.
  • Matt Hardy: After years of being viewed as the lesser Hardy Boy compared to his main eventer brother Jeff Hardy and getting the worst fallout from the Edge and Lita situation, Matt has reinvigorated his brand with the So Bad, It's Good gimmick of Broken Matt, sprouting catch phrases like "DELETE, DELETE, DELETE!" and "OBSOLETE" as well as giving Jeff the moniker of "Brother Nero" in a terrible unidentifiable accent. The Hardy Boyz even got a monster pop at WrestleMania 33. He also has a new loving wife and children as well. So in essence, everyone involved in the Matt, Edge, and Lita scandal somehow came better off than before.
  • After the Brawl For All, it seemed that "Dr. Death" Steve Williams had faded into obscurity, never living down the moment when he got knocked out by Bart Gunn. Until he got cancer, rebuilt his friendship with Jim Ross that fell apart after Doc's WWF run and became Dr. Life. As a result, Steve Williams is still considered one of the toughest wrestlers that ever walked despite The Brawl For All.
  • John "Bradshaw" Layfield. When Bradshaw shifted into his wealthy tycoon gimmick in 2004, the backlash was fast and furious for numerous reasons, not the least of which was that Bradshaw had rarely been seen as a future main eventer up until that time. As JBL, however, while fans still agreed he was never the greatest in the ring, he did reveal a knack for getting under the skin of fans just by being a gleefully hammy, Politically Incorrect Villain - in fact, he quickly became one of the best promos in the business. He cemented this reputation during his stint as a color commentator with Michael Cole, with the bonus of an encyclopedic knowledge of old school wrestling. Now that he's retired, fans who previously decried him for being unworthy of his push now miss him for his memorable (if sometimes off-color) promo work.
    • His return to commentary since Jerry Lawler's heart attack has only further cemented this trope, at least until he became just another Vince mouthpiece with the passage of time.
  • Kayfabe-wise: Many of the casual fans probably wince whenever they think about CM Punk's SES run after his feud with Chris Jericho, which kind of justifies why Punk was so hardcore about it. Subverted with those who watch Ring of Honor, where Punk talked more freely about his family's past.
  • Even those who HATE the Invasion storyline agree that its ending at Survivor Series 2001 was the closest thing to a epic Grand Finale (even more so than WrestleMania) that the WWE has ever put out on pay-per-view.
  • Doink the Clown's initial heel run originally drew little more than shrugs from hardcore wrestling fans. An evil wrestling clown was bound to be another failure in the world of Wrestling Doesn't Pay. But once Matt Borne left the WWF and his personal life flew off the rails, Doink was turned face and made into a comic relief character, and the company got saturated with more embarrassing gimmicks, smarks looked back at Borne's work in a more positive light. The consensus on heel Doink is that Borne took a gimmick that sounded stupid on paper and actually made it work, making him one of the New Generation era's greatest unsung heroes.
  • What did fans think of Drew McIntyre in 2010? He's a boring, two-dimensional wrestler who is being pushed too fast and protected by Vince and the gang (the irony being that was actually his gimmick but it just came off too strong). What do fans think of him since his return? He proved his worth in the indies, in hard-core matches in ICW, became champ, became grizzled, and in the 2020 Royal Rumble finally got the rocket strapped to him, as he kicked Brock Lesnar's ass, eliminating him and winning the Rumble to set up the Wrestle Mania main event, with the fans chanting along every time he hits his finisher. Not bad for a guy fired for being slapped by his girlfriend.
  • The Anonymous RAW general manager. People quickly got sick and tired of him and wanted the angle to be killed off as quickly as possible. Let's just say when his identity finally was revealed, fans were not happy and would have been happier if it remained anonymous.
  • Mark Henry's 2006-2008 heel work has been viewed in a noticeably more positive light after his 2011 "Hall of Pain" heel run.
  • Gorilla Monsoon was considered a terrible commentator back in the day, winning a whopping six Worst Television Announcer awards by the Wrestling Observer newsletter. Nowadays, he's practically a Sacred Cow.
  • The Hulk Hogan vs. André the Giant match at WrestleMania III was panned by critics in 1987, but all of that criticism has since been obscured by its historical importance in wrestling history and for its enormous box-office draw. The quality of the match itself, however, is still fair game.
  • Goldust was named the worst gimmick of 1995 by Wrestling Observer, but is today looked back upon as one of the greatest gimmicks of all time.
  • Samoa Joe. Turning Point 2007. Scott Hall no-showed the event and Joe, given a live mic to announce his replacement in the match, used the oppurtunity to shoot on his frustration of how "superstars" are starting to flood into the promotion and take away the spotlight from the homegrown talent. At the time he was denounced as a whiner. Today, fans who look back on it see it as one of the forewarnings of the major problems TNA had later on, which would reach its zenith at the start of the Hogan-Bischoff era, where everyone got shoved down the card to make room for their buddies and ex-WWE and WCW wrestlers. Joe is now seen in a much more sympathetic light, especially as his TNA career slowed down to midcard hell.
  • John Cena:
    • The wrestler spent years vilified by the smarks and hardcore fans for his stale, kiddy-pandering "Superman" gimmick. However, when Cena began to transition into a part-timer role and do other things, Roman Reigns effectively got booked into his place with the same character. It didn't fit him. Reigns' push as the new face of the company has gone so terribly that many began to look at Cena and his push to the top more objectively. Cena was called up as part of the famous OVW class of 2002 (Lesnar, Orton, Batista, and Cena), and out of all his class, he's the one who had the least amount of help from the company. Orton and Batista joined Evolution with Triple H and Ric Flair, while Lesnar got Paul Heyman and was hotshotted to the main event in his first year. Cena was left on his own, floundered, and if it hadn't been for Stephanie McMahon hearing him rap, might have gotten fired. Then he developed the "Doctor of Thuganomics" gimmick and spent time as a midcard heel, who became more and more popular to the point they had no choice but to turn him face and push him to the moon, especially after Lesnar left and Orton's initial face push didn't pan out well. Case in point, Cena got over organically — it was his booking after he won his first world title that ruined him for many fans, and even then it was a testament to his talent as a performer that he managed to make such a terrible gimmick bearable and watchable for 8 years. When Reigns, with his manufactured push (he was the well-protected "hot tag" guy in The Shield, to build up his popularity) and much more inferior mic skills, got booked in his place as the chosen new face of the company, the fans shunned him to the point that they began to pine for Cena, and realized that Cena was a much more talented performer than they ever gave him credit for.
    • When Cena lost the WWE Championship to Brock Lesnar at Summerslam 2014, many hoped he would then go away for good because they didn't want to see him win the world title for a 16th time, tying Ric Flair's record. All of the aforementioned with Reigns happened after that, so when Cena DID win the title again at the 2017 Royal Rumble (in a match vs AJ Styles that many felt stole the show that night), many fans gave him cheers and respect for it.
  • Michael Cole's heel commentator run from 2010 to 2012 was widely despised by many wrestling fans, who believed he was merely serving as a mouthpiece for Vince's unpopular opinions, and many felt his obnoxious personality and ubiquitous presence brought down the quality of the product. Nowadays, Cole's heel run is seen in a much more positive light, who felt that his outlandish persona was hilarious, appreciated his more penetrating approach at criticism of faces than previous heel commentators, and believed that he really knew how to rile up any fan who heard him speak. His positive reception over handling Jerry Lawler's heart attack in September 2012 and Lawler starting to be seen as an out-of-touch and corny color commentator afterwards certainly helped improve his reputation. That being said, you still won't find many people defending his creepy Miz obsession or his feud with Lawler in 2011; even the moments in the feud that Lawler had the upper hand that the fans were initially ecstatic about are nowadays seen being as no less embarrassing as the rest of it.
  • It's hard to believe that Mr. Fuji was an eleven-time winner of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter's "Worst Manager" award given he's today universally regarded as one of the greatest heel managers of all time.
  • Michelle McCool was popular during her heyday but had a massive smark hatedom who accused her of being pushed just because she was dating, and later married to, The Undertaker. The hate has mostly died off since her departure, and her matches are remembered more fondly. She is less inclined to be thought of as a Creator's Pet once stories came out that she suffered the same Chickification as her fellow Divas - having to refilm matches, being told off for spots that looked too good etc.
  • Nikki Bella was the more popular of the Bella Twins for years, but like McCool above she gained a massive smark hatedom when it became known that she was dating John Cena. Things only got worse during her second reign as Diva's Champion, when she surpassed AJ Lee as the longest reigning Divas champ despite being injured and rarely defended the belt at all during the second half of her reign. By the end of 2015, she had taken time off to have neck surgery and by the time she returned nearly a year later, her in-ring work had improved significantly, she stayed away from the now Women's championship and helped put newcomer Carmella over, winning back respect from the fans and that she wasn't totally undeserving of her Diva's title push. Brie has been vindicated also, but not to the degree of her sister.


    Visual Novels 
  • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney followed similar game mechanics to the previous Ace Attorney games (cross examinations in the courtroom, investigations in various areas, etc.), but it starred Apollo Justice as the main character while Phoenix Wright, the main character from the last three games, was punted off as a hobo that had his license to practice law revoked due to forged evidence. People and critics alike panned the game just because Apollo and the rest of the cast replaced Phoenix Wright and his crew. However, years later, people gave the game another chance and have seen just how deep the background of Apollo and his sidekick Trucy go, and Apollo makes a comeback as a playable character in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies.
    • For a long time Justice For All was (aside from the final case and even that has its share of detractors) seen as the worst game in the whole Ace Attorney franchise, for lacking the tight storyline of the first or third games, or the novelty factor of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney or the first Ace Attorney Investigations game. Since then, opinions toward it have warmed considerably, to the point where it's actually now considered one of the better games in the series, only really let down by a poor third case and Franziska being a rather one-note adversary. Even the game's Sequel Difficulty Spike is looked on more favorably when compared to some of the newer entries, which have been criticized for being too easy.
  • Saya no Uta originally sold very poorly and since it's a messy Deconstruction of concepts like Cute Monster Girl and Magical Girlfriend, it got fairly bad reactions as well. When people warmed up to this Monster Sob Story, it started to sell and has sold consistently ever since. Nitroplus CEO Takaki Kosaka stated it has become one of the best-selling Visual Novels in the company's history.

    Web Original 
  • Certain countdown artists were not all that popular during the time they came, mostly because others were stealing the spotlights, but because they survived the transition from text-based to vocal some of their older content suddenly got more views.
    • joshscorcher for one. His older videos were not watched all that much during the time of their release, but due to his bursting popularity with his vocal countdowns they subsequently got more views.
    • Animalguy001 (now Fawful's Minion) is also one of those people. He went unnoticed by the countdown community, until he started releasing his first vocal countdowns.
  • NC17Productions was once one of the most hated video game reviewers on the internet (to the point that everyone riffed on him). As however time passed though he dumped his old review series, made better reviews, tried out new stuff (such as Let's plays) and he nowadays has a strong cult following.
  • The Nostalgia Critic episode "Let's Play: Bart's Nightmare" has become this over time. When it was released in 2011 many consider it the worst video Doug Walker had ever done, either because you thought the completely different departure from his normal videos was jumping the shark and/or his style of commentary wasn't suited for Let's Plays. But almost a decade later many fans have now warmed up to it, especially with the backlash to his review of The Wall.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: