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If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
—T. Bert Lance, Jimmy Carter's Director of the Office of Management and Budget

But, on the other hand, if something is busted up and you already have to fix it, why settle for making it as good as new, when you can make it Better Than New?

This trope has been around for ages, takes many forms and can be applied to many classes of objects (or people).

  • Applied to Inanimate Objects or Places:
    • TV shows like Pimp My Ride and its competitor Overhaulin' take viewers' beatup Alleged Cars and make them Better Than New Cool Cars, though they usually end up being Awesome but Impractical (e.g. with LCD screens in the mud flaps).
    • Alternately, Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares applies the same principle to failing, insolvent restaurants, making them over into high-class fine dining establishments that are far Better Than New.

The end result is generally that what once was not working (or broken) is now back and better than before it the problems arose. Typical gains are anywhere from a ten percent to a ten thousand percent improvement. The change is usually permanent.

This is a super-trope to things like Came Back Strong, We Can Rebuild Him, Stolen Good, Returned Better, to some degree Turns Red or One-Winged Angel and often Reforged Blade.

Compare with Status Buff, which may give a temporary bonus to The Hero but it wears off and he generally reverts to "normal" afterward. In some cases, the change is permanent but the initial effect is transitory until they learn to control their new power reliably.

Cases where someone tries to make something Better Than New (often with comically catastrophic results) may be a case of Tim Taylor Technology. If something doesn't work, all it needs is More Power (beware of Explosive Overclocking)!

Tropes used in Better Than New include:


Anime and Manga

Film - Live Action

  • Inspector Gadget -- John Brown is an average Joe security guard at Bradford Labs until Sanford Scolex raids the lab, resulting in a confrontation that leaves Brown with a broken body. Brown is re-built into a Better Than New, if bumbling, cyborg detective: Inspector Gadget. Gadget has all sorts of technology and comedic gadgets built into his rebuilt body.
  • Kung Fu Hustle -- The Hero gets fully healed (and becomes much more powerful than before) because being beaten so bad by the Big Bad turned out to awaken his Chi.
  • The Matrix -- After he gets killed by Agent Smith, Neo becomes The One and gets much more powerful than before because of being beaten by Big Bad which was prophesied earlier, in passing, by The Oracle when she remarked "...it looks like you're waiting for something ... your next life, maybe".
  • RoboCop -- After officer Alex Murphy is pronounced dead, OCP takes his remains and effectively resurrects him using cybernetic / robotic technology into the Nigh Invulnerable cyborg police officer RoboCop. Not only do they "fix" him, they make him about 1000% better. Granted, he ostensibly loses his memory in the process, but that eventually wears off.

Literature

  • In Max Barry's Machine Man, the protagonist Dr. Charles Neumann does this to himself. After accidentally amputating his leg, he designs a robotic prosthesis that he considers superior in every important regard. It Got Worse from there.

Live-Action TV

  • The Bionic Woman -- Jaime's chute fails on a parachuting date with The Six Million Dollar Man and she suffers catastrophic injuries. He convinces his boss to authorize bionic replacement surgery to restore Jaime's destroyed legs, right arm and right ear.
  • Kitchen Nightmares -- Applies a similar principle to Pimp My Ride when trying to resurrect failing, insolvent restaurants, making them over into high-class fine dining establishments that are far Better Than New. Sadly, the effects are sometimes transitory or the businesses are in such bad shape that they go out of business anyway.
  • Pimp My Ride -- Xzibit and the crew at West Coast Customs take in viewers' Alleged Cars and turn them into Better Than New Cool Cars, even though they often end up being Awesome but Impractical. In similar fashion, Overhaulin' takes a similar approach, except that the mark is unaware their beater is being overhauled until they're reunited with their car during some contrived comedic setup.
  • Power Rangers -- In several seasons, the existing Zords were So Last Season, and so got defeated and/or blown up by Bigger Bad and were then rebuilt into more powerful Better Than New versions.
  • The Six Million Dollar Man -- Seriously injured in a test flight, former astronaut Austin is given bionic replacements for his legs, his right arm, and one eye, leaving him with superhuman speed and strength and telescopic vision. He can run more than 60 MPH, jump several stories, see objects from miles away and in the dark, and lift impossible weights (the latter without the addition of a bionic spine).
  • At the beginning of Kamen Rider Black RX, the new Big Bad breaks Black's Keystone and throws him into space, causing him to come crashing to Earth like a meteor. However, as Kamen Rider Black is the 'Child Of the Sun', being exposed directly to the sun revives him as the far more powerful Black RX.
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