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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 the Hero:
- During the Final Battle with the Hero-Killer Multiversal Conqueror or Omnicidal Maniac, The Hero is dealt a death blow. As Big Bad gloats over his Worthy Opponent's corpse, our hero comes back strong, Better Than New, taking a level in badass often with new powers he didn't have before.
- Occasionally, The Hero doesn't have to die of his wounds, but instead goes into a Heroic Coma, often due to a bad case of Heroic RROD from overusing a Dangerous Forbidden Technique or Super Mode (especially after claiming "I Can Still Fight!" when he can barely stand), a serious life-threatening injury, poison or an exotic disease, from which coma or bed rest he emerges some time later rejuvenated and often Better Than New (for example, throwing around those dangerous forbidden techniques like they were candy with no ill effect).
- In a few cases, The Hero may be made Better Than New by way of external medical or technological intervention involving Applied Phlebotinum, Artificial Limbs or an all-out Emergency Transformation. Such ministrations may lead to our hero becoming a Super Soldier or just a louder more Badass fighter.
- Applied to the Villain: This trope is morality-neutral and can be applied to Big Bad just as easily.
- Sometimes the Evil Overlord has been given a good whack that seemed impossible to survive but it turns out he's Not Quite Dead. In a few instances, external forces decide they can rebuild him and he shows up again later Better Than New, often with a cybernetic red right hand.
- Taken to an extreme common in anime and video games, once the hero administers his ass kicking, beating Big Bad to within an inch of his life, Big Bad may reveal a more powerful form (AKA, One-Winged Angel), sprouting extra mouths, heads, limbs or Spikes of Villainy and taking a level in badass, despite having been critically injured moments before.
- In video games, Big Bad may simply decide to Turn Red, becoming Bigger Bad, getting their own diabolical Level Up Fill Up and new abilities.
- Applied to Weapons: In some cases, the Infinity-1 Sword just isn't up to the task of defeating Big Bad. Perhaps Big Bad even somehow manages to break our hero's Loyal Phlebotinum. Never fear, our hero need only take it to the local Ultimate Blacksmith who will reforge the broken blade into a bright shiny new Infinity+1 Sword, often Better Than New with upgraded power or new abilities sufficient to administer a proper beating to Big Bad.
- 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.
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)!
- Dragonball Z -- This is a trope used repeatedly throughout the run of Dragonball Z, mostly in regards to Saiyans. When they are severely injured, they become stronger once they've fully recovered, which is the primary reason why Goku and Vegeta become as obscenely powerful as they do (the other half of it being Training From Hell).
- Yu Yu Hakusho -- Yusuke appears to be dead, however he eventually wakes up Better Than New as his demonic half awakens.
- In Durarara, Shizuo Heiwajima's noticed that he seems to be prone to this: not only was he never crippled by his constant, severe childhood injuries like other people would be, but he'd always come out of them stronger than he was before.
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.
- 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.
- 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.