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Something bad has happened to our character. Really bad. It's shaken his faith in himself and in everything else. He may have hit the bottle. He's letting his enemies walk all over him as he rolls around in self-pity and despair, like Achilles in His Tent.
But it's not going to last. Our hero is going to shake off his funk and become the man he used to be. After that, we will never mention his low times again. This is sometimes triggered by some sudden threat he must rise up to face, but when it's done well, it's really more the result of a long healing process finally reaching critical mass. Therefore, the sudden threat is generally used in tandem with a Ten-Minute Retirement, whereas Hes Back more properly describes the end of a character arc, but the distinction can be blurry, such as in cases in which the Ten Minute version falls across a season break. He's Back is not usually the result of a Whoopi Epiphany Speech, but is often the result of a Bright Slap.
Works best if the tragedy was on-screen, but sometimes this is relegated to his backstory. Also, emotional impact is maximized if the character in question is The Woobie.
Should be the climax of a long-term character arc, but a lightweight version happens at the end of, eg., a Ten-Minute Retirement.
He may have been down, and maybe you counted him out, but now he's back, and it's about time.
Not to be confused with a character who has returned from being Put on a Bus; the trope you're looking for is The Bus Came Back. This character was never actually "gone", just out of commission until this moment.
- An excellent example of this comes from Dragonball Z, when Goku comes back after his first death. First Nimbus scoops Gohan up right out of the blue. Then everyone turns around to see Goku looking all Badass as he's standing a few feet away.
- Cell has a villainous example when he's back as Super Perfect Cell.
- A perfect example of this would be Simon in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, who completely breaks down following Kamina's death only to snap out of it several episodes later in a manner that is completely and utterly awesome. For all those who wished to be exposed to said awesome, check it out. Warning, spoilers!
- After Lelouch lost a critical battle and was rejected by his sister Nunnally early in the second season of Code Geass, he abandoned his troops and fell into a deep depression, even resorting to drug use. Later, when the Black Knights' submarine has been surrounded by Britannian Navy vessels and they have all but given up hope, Lelouch shows up with a handheld radio and some marine charts and singlehandedly leads them to victory against the entire Britannian fleet. Oh yeah, he's back.
- Earlier, when he gets his memories back at the beginning of R2, you watch as his Geass comes back into his eye and he repeats the first scene where he got it. He even makes a gloating, over-the-top speech.
- Judai's return to Duel Academia in Season 2 of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX after recovering from the side-effects of a failed mind control spell.
- Shinji of Neon Genesis Evangelion has at least three such moments. Asuka also has a major one in End of Evangelion. (And if you expect them to subvert the trope, you're right - she's back, but it still isn't enough; rather than actually win, Asuka merely goes down fighting impossible odds.)
- Trinity Blood: Abel's self-esteem drops dramatically after he fails to save a colleague (who had just revealed that she was in love with him) from being crushed by rocks in a cathedral collapsed by the bad guys. It gets so bad he completely slides into apathy, convinced that he isn't capable of saving anyone, up to the point when he attempts to quit AX. He shakes it off sharply when he learns that Caterina is now in danger and rushes off to save her.
- It's even better in the novels. After failing to save Noelle, Abel disappears for a while, only to reappear in Rome trying to stop the bad guy on his own. After basically quitting AX and rejecting two of his friends, he's confronted by Caterina. The two share a rather touching scene together, during which Caterina reminds him that, when they first met, he said he wanted to save humanity, and that in that struggle, he's not alone (meaning, among others, her). Abel gets his He's Back scene immediately after that.
- After getting beaten to a pulp during his encounter with his brother and having to be bailed out on multiple occasions by his scrappy formerly-underachieving rival, Sasuke is able to regain his badassery after the timeskip of Naruto. Unfortunately, it involves him betraying his friends, defecting from his village, and joining up with the Big Bad, Orochimaru.
- Actually, this is an inversion, as while Sasuke may figuratively 'come back', he literally LEAVES the team to do so, and the first scene of him afterwards was not him coming back to his team, but his team finding him; so it's less like He's Back, and more like 'We found him'.
- Simoun: Neviril, after mourning Amuria's death for approximately six million episodes.
- Rurouni Kenshin: Kenshin recovers from his Heroic BSOD when Tsubame pleads with him to save Yahiko. He races off to do that while an old man (later revealed to be his father-in-law mentions that a cry for help, not for vengeance, is what spurs him on. He finally arrives and performs the Kuzu-Ryusen to save Yahiko. The good guys arrive, and all see that Kenshin has made his dramatic entrance, with the last bit of dialogue emphasizing who came back:
- During Blood Plus , David begins drowning his sorrows after a major tragedy, but recovers and reverts to his old Badass Normal self when Saya returns.
- In Gundam Seed Kira Yamato has one of these, gaining a kickass new Humongous Mecha and dropping his Wangst for good.
- Eiji Date from Hajime no Ippo spent years outside the ring after horribly losing to the World Champion, suffering several injuries and seeing his Ill Girl wife suffer a Convenient Miscarriage. After his spouse tells him to try it again one last time, he returns to the boxing rings most amazingly.
- Rock Lee in Naruto, after spending an annoying amount of time in the hospital while supporting characters tell him he will never fight again, undergoes dangerous experimental surgery. Pretty much immediately upon recovery he rushes out to save Naruto from Kimimaro, The Dragon of Orochimaru's Sound Five. He does better than the main character, and for a time is able to hold him off and even take the upper hand.
- Shishioh Gai in GaoGaiGar FINAL. After being forced to fight and destroy (clones of, though nobody knew at the time) Mamoru and Galeon, being left to fight alone thanks to the rest of GGG being taken out of commission via chemical warfare, finding Cain (the creator of Galeon and the G-Stones) in league with the enemy, losing to Palparepa, Gaofighgar's destruction, and being forcibly mind-controlled by the Sol Masters to fight his own allies in a replicant Gaofighgar, he had a pretty reasonable Heroic BSOD. Good thing he snapped out of it just in time to become the one force capable of stopping them: The God of Destruction, Genesic GaoGaiGar!
- Vash from Trigun at least twice he hangs it up, only to come back with basically "I don't have time for this Emo idiocy! I have to save the world!
- Tenma in Monster; the series is long enough to provide several instances, but the most moving instance happens at the very end, when, after a long battle of Idealism vs. Cynicism, he decides to stick to his original principles and save the life of the man who had put him through living hell.
- In second season of Darker Than Black, Hei is introduced in bad shape, drinking heavily, and acting like a jerkass. He starts to mellow a bit from roughly episode 3 onward, but what seems to mark him as being "back" is regaining his Big Eater habits in episode 8 which he had abandoned during his funk, and sticking to his promise to stop drinking.
- Negi in Mahou Sensei Negima. During the Eva story arc he runs away, convinced Asuna and the other girls are in danger because of his presence. Meeting up with Kaede changes his mind.
- Negi plays with this trope a lot, three times in the festival Arc getting freed from the prison, and waking up during the final battle, and after Yue's Bright Slap (although this one is told out of order so its hard to tell he was lost before the ((Hes Back)) moment) and many times so far in the current Arc after getting stabbed though the chest by fate, during the fight with Rakan, the current chapters have one coming if things continue
- It happened, and it was suitably epic for all the build up to it.
- Negi plays with this trope a lot, three times in the festival Arc getting freed from the prison, and waking up during the final battle, and after Yue's Bright Slap (although this one is told out of order so its hard to tell he was lost before the ((Hes Back)) moment) and many times so far in the current Arc after getting stabbed though the chest by fate, during the fight with Rakan, the current chapters have one coming if things continue
- Bleach: Performed by Ichigo during his final showdown with Aizen post-jinzen training. Having recovered from his The Reason You Suck-inspired BSOD at Gin's hands proceeds to apparently fight Hougyoku-evolved Aizen to a standstill before stopping Aizen's sword with his bare hand and revealing he's actually far stronger than Aizen which leads to an eventual Villainous Breakdown in the latter. Fans agree that Number One must absolutely be present for this.
- Again, one for Ichigo: Our hero has had a very bad day. His friends and little sisters have been Mind Raped into believing the arc's Big Bad is an old friend/relative/lover and loyally defend him when Ichigo tries to attack him. The way the Smug Snake's powers work is he inserts himself into their past, so there's no snapping them out of it. Ichigo's constantly been outpaced, outplayed, and outmaneuvered. And now the real Big Bad has revealed himself: Ginjo, the guy who's supposedly been on Ichigo's side all along and was the one guy left on Ichigo's side. Ichigo hits the Despair Event Horizon when Ginjo steals his Fullbring powers and leaves him to rot. When Ichigo staggers to his feet and demands his powers back with tears in his eyes, Ginjo mocks him, then Ichigo is stabbed through the heart from behind. He looks back and sees his father and Urahara standing there. You can see on his face Ichigo has given up completely, thinking his father and Urahara have been Mind Raped too, asking if that was how it was gonna be, when his father points out it wasn't him that stabbed Ichigo. It was Rukia. Think back to how Ichigo first got his powers at the very beginning. Yeah. Cue Giant Explosion of Power and Oh Crap looks on the part of Ginjo and Tsukishima. Ichigo's back in new Shinigami robes, Zangetsu's on his shoulder, and he looks pissed.
- A villainous version by Envy in Fullmetal Alchemist. After he's reduced to his true powerless form, May brings him to the underground of Amestris, where they encounter Mannequin Soldiers, mindless humanoid creatures powered by human souls. Envy slips out of his jar and right into the mouth of one of them, who proceeds to swallow him whole. Envy then takes over the creature (while yelling "I'M BACK!"), has it start devouring and assimilating the others, until he has enough energy to morph into his One-Winged Angel form, which then transforms into his default human form. At this point, he lets out a maniacal Evil Laugh and screams "I'M ALIVE AGAIN!!"
- Luffy in One Piece undergoes a Ten-Minute Retirement after Ace dies. Jinbe knocks him out of it relatively quickly, and he's back on his feet in no time.
- Pokémon: Ash's Grovyle's evolution into Sceptile coincides with a Heroic BSOD after being rejected by his love interest, losing his ability to use his attacks. After seeing Ash put himself in mortal peril just to save Sceptile two episodes later, Sceptile regains all his attacks, and uses them to save Ash.
- In Heartcatch Precure Yuri suffers from a massive Heroic BSOD due to her Mascot Partner dying, losing her fight against Cure Dark and losing her powers. She easily rebuffs Tsubomi and Erika's attempts to get her to help them and rejects Potpourri's request to be the third Precure. It isn't until the Great Heart Tree allows her to reunite with her partner's spirit and she asks the tree to restore her powers that she comes back and aids the rest of the Precures in style.
- In Soul Eater, Black Star is having trouble coping with his recent losses and not being able to master Shadow Star and the Uncanny Sword mode, so he and Tsubaki decide to take a leave from school for a bit. Chapters later, during the DWMA's attack on Arachnaphobia at Baba Yaga's Castle, Black Star and Tsubaki arrive on the scene and are told to wait for their cue to head into the battlefield. Instead of waiting, Black Star chooses to enter in a fashion more suited to his style: tearing through the woods at extreme speeds while yelling at the top of his voice, ready to destroy anything in his way.
- In episode 84 of Fairy Tail, a heart-to-heart talk with Happy's parents allows Happy and Charle to regain their confidence and their ability to fly.
- Villainous example in Death Note. Following a Memory Gambit that ranks as one of the best in the history of the universe Light let's the audience know he's back on form.
- "I'll say it once more. I am the mad scientist Hououin Kyouma... and the world is in the palm of my hand!"
- Due to his crippling defeat at the hands of Bane, Batman was relegated to a wheelchair. Following his recovery and regaining of his old martial arts skills, he finally regained his confidence and put on the batsuit again.
Robin: Welcome back.
Batman: A little premature, Robin. I won't really be back until I've retaken Gotham...and that battle starts now!
- The character doesn't even have to be remotely heroic for this trope to occur. An interesting case of a hero's return causing a villain's return occurs in any number of the times the Batman has "died", causing the Joker to go temporarily sane or catatonic. Which always reverses itself upon Batman having his own He's Back moment.
- Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, had the "Demon in a Bottle" story arc where he developed and then suppressed his alcoholism. Years later in the Obadiah Stane Saga, he had a major relapse in which his alcoholism increased more and more, leading to him dumping the suit and handing it over to Jim Rhodes and Obadiah Stane taking over his company. Eventually he sobered up, manned the hell up, then suited up, proceeded to take back his company, and then face off against Stane in his Iron Monger battlesuit, killing the sunnovabitch. Way to go, Tone.
- Of course, Dan and Laurie in Watchmen.
- Judge Dredd went through this kind of character arc throughout the events leading up to "Necropolis" and the aftermath of those events.
- After the events of Identity Crisis the Elongated Man became "Un-Elongated" and began to verge closer and closer to despair and insanity. In Fifty Two he gets involved in the Cult of Connor and seems to step over the edge of insanity, he begins to perpetually carry a flask and lets his personal hygiene fade away, but in the climax of his personal story he reveals that he knew Felix Faust had been maniplating him the whole time and had actually been manipulating him. For the first time in weeks Ralph Dibny is clean shaven and wearing a neat suit and tie and reveals that everything has gone according to his plan.
- Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour gives us the page picture: After Ramona leaves Scott is an absolute wreck and withdraws from everyone and pretty much gives up on life... but after Gideon shows up in town Scott takes a wilderness sabatical to visit Kim who reveals that Scott's been a real bastard in his relationships. As if that wasn't enough Scott encounters his evil clone Negascott, who turns out to be his bad half. After merging with him Scott's better than ever and ready to finish what he started and... well see the page picture.
- Daredevil: Born Again has this when the Kingpin, knowing that Matt Murdock, whose life he completely ruined, sends the Super Soldier lunatic, Nuke, to attack Hell's Kitchen. As the maniac is laying waste to the slum, he is struck with a billy club as it ricochets back to Daredevil. There, back in costume after so long and framed by the flames, Matt ready to show the monster that there will be the devil to pay for all the harm he caused that night!
- A truly epic example in The Dark Knight Returns where Batman comes out of retirement after 10 years and is around his 60s. What we get are panels of him warring on horrified criminals, news reporters talking about a man dressed like a bat kicking the asses of criminals all over the city, among other reactions. And this is all in his first night back.
- Superman abandons humanity for ten years in Kingdom Come because he feels that society has become morally degraded beyond repair. When he finally makes a comeback, the first thing he does is rescue a cablecar full of civilians from warring gangs of vigilantes. The narrator puts the scene best:
And suddenly, there was a wind. No, not a wind. A blur of motion, bending the steel of their weapons and changing the very course of the mighty river below. Even before the bystanders freed themselves from the cablecar, they knew. We all did. We knew...and remembered.
Bystander: Look! Up in the sky!
- Paul breaks out of his Drowning My Sorrows “Depression Era” when he finally gets his magic in With Strings Attached. He is imbued with it when he is turned into a diamond statue, then blown up and reformed, so his He's Back moment is also quite the Crowning Moment of Awesome. Though he's a bit dismayed to discover that he's been Blessed with Suck and now has Power Incontinence.
- Ponies Make War has several examples:
- First, Rainbow Dash breaks free of the Insanity and Nihilus' mind control in order to save Pinkie Pie from falling to her death. In the process, she performs a sonic rainboom that restores her fur and mane to their normal color (which had previously been turned black and white, respectfully, by Nihilus' spell).
- Then, Twilight Sparkle -- who had previously had her mind split and been reduced to an unstable Actual Pacifist by the trauma of being turned into Nihilus -- is tortured by Titan, which causes her personalities to reintegrate. She then pulls a My Name Is Inigo Montoya, and proceeds to begin annihilating Titan's forces, personally leading the charge in the Final Battle.
- Then, Princess Celestia, who spent most of the story Brought Down to Normal and being tortured by Terra, has her power restored by the Elements of Harmony. She then chases Terra back to Canterlot, where she joins in the final duel with Titan.
- During the second Battle of Ponyville, all of the Mane Six get a variant of this, as they manage to reignite the neutralized Elements of Harmony and even the playing ground with Terra.
- Firefly returns to Equestria to help in defending it from the griffin invasion. Although she also has a personal motive for coming back.
- Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy: Ron, after being fired, becomes a mess, grows a beard and starts drinking. He cleans up well, though.
- The Color of Money. Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) was forced to stop hustling at the end of The Hustler - by the end of The Color of Money, Felson has a Crowning Moment of Awesome as he declares, "Hey, I'm BACK!"
- In Blazing Saddles, Jim was the fastest gun in the west, but the stress of having every gunslinger in the West gunning for him (culminating in getting shot in the hinder by a little kid) left him with shattered confidence, a shaky hand, and a drinking problem. When he comes back better than ever, he sits tall in his saddle and confidently shoots the guns out of everybody's hands, so fast that you never see his gun leave its holster.
- The Waterboy:
"Remember the time Bobby Boucher showed up at halftime and the Mud Dogs won the Bourbon Bowl, do ya?"
- The last half-hour or so of Hot Fuzz.
- In Wake Up Ron Burgundy, the DTV movie made up of deleted scenes from Anchorman, Brick Tamland snaps out of his idiocy to bark out a series of Vietnam-style attack orders, prompting Ron to remark, "Looks like the Captain's back!"
- The king... has returned.
- Spider-Man 2 does it with Spidey (who starts losing his powers due to stress).
- There's also the third movie where he dons his trademark red and blue suit again for the first time since ditching the black one.
- At the end of Men in Black, Tommy Lee Jones retires and wipes his memory. Early in the sequel, he returns, and the first two things he does are shoot an alien in the head (a Running Gag since that particular alien can grow it back) and say "I'm back."
- The Lord of the Rings has Aragorn doubting himself not wanting to deal with the pressure of being a king. Elrond shakes him out of it and he saves the day with his awesome influence.
- This trope is basically Rocky III in a nutshell.
- Hook is the Peter Pan edition of this trope.
- In Superman II when Superman regains his powers after giving them up to live a normal life with Lois.
- Top Gun ("Maverick is re-engaging!")
- And Days Of Thunder, given as it's essentially a remake of the above...
- Played with in the Weird Al movie UHF with Gandhi II.
"He's back! And this time, he's BAD!"
- "Oh no! Not that damn song again!"
- From the film adaption of Scott Pilgrim. After his band sells out and he dies at the hands of Gideon Graves (though he sort of deserved it), he mans up, uses the 1-up he received during the twins battle, and marches back in for take two: smashing the bouncer, snapping Ramona out of her trance, and tag teaming with Knives to bring Gideon down.
- In Thor, the eponymous god has spent the bulk of the movie depowered by Odin to learn a lesson. He proves he learned that lesson when he lets the Destroyer kill him to save his friends. At that moment, Mjolnir flies to his hand, breaking the sound barrier in the process, and by the time the dust clears he's back in action and a Curb Stomp Battle ensues.
- Sam Vimes, after reluctantly retiring, and then giving into despair and falling Off the Wagon halfway through Men At Arms, returns to the Watch for the finale, as signalled by his demanding someone give him a helmet.
"Right ... helmet ... sword ... badge ... Now ..."
- A Song of Ice and Fire has Tyrion Lannister. He reaches his lowest point when he's being auctioned off as an amusement at a slave market after a truly terrible Trauma Conga Line. By the next time we see him he's worked himself into a position of power with one of the most powerful mercenary groups on the continent. There is no specific moment when he revives himself, but there is no doubt that the series' Ensemble Darkhorse extraordinaire is back on track.
- Another example is Davos Seaworth, who has been completely broken by the disaster at the Battle of Blackwater, but once he drags himself back he is as loyal and resourceful as he's ever been.
- Stannis himself following his defeat on the Blackwater seems to have been knocked out of the game. His appearance at the Wall proves there's life in him yet.
- Cersei could be a villainous example. The Humiliation Conga Line at the hands of the High Septon seems to have broken her, but the last chapter we get from her perspective ends with a return of her old confidence.
- Varys disappeared for quite a long time and apparently fled, but his one reappearance at the end of ADWD proves in truly spectacular fashion that he is still a force to be feared.
- Eric Camden's return to the clergy in 7th Heaven.
- Josh got his when he turned a political defeat into a resounding victory at the same time in The West Wing episode "Shutdown".
- The President got his in the first season episode "Let Bartlet Be Bartlet", when he endangered his own re-election to take a stand on issues like campaign finance reform.
- Over the course of its fourth season, everyone in Andromeda went through one of these.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer had several
- The very first episode, deciding to resume slaying after it had gotten her kicked out of her previous school.
- Then again in "Prophecy Girl" (season 1 finale) when she heads out to fight the Master after initially being terrified by the prophecy that the fight will kill her.
- At the beginning of season 3 ("Anne") a brief trip to hell reminds her of her purpose, and she returns to Sunnydale. This after getting kicked out of her house and killing her boyfriend in the season 2 finale, at the start of the episode she is hiding out in LA waiting tables.
- "Beer Bad" near the beginning of Season four shows Buffy finding her power again after four episodes of being put way off-balance by College.
- "Primeval" at the end of season four has Buffy (plus a few other people) destroying the season's big bad after several losing battles that had pretty well convinced her she couldn't win against it.
- The beginning of the season 5 finale, "The Gift" has Buffy stepping up to the plate and deciding to go out fighting after spending most of the previous episode catatonic, mentally reliving over and over the moment she gave up on defeating Glory.
- An arguable example, the season six episode "As You Were" in which she decides her out-of-control relationship with Spike is unhealthy, and ends it even though she still wants him.
- Subverted in Bargaining, Part II when a traumatised Buffy starts kicking demon ass, causing her friends who are worried that she Came Back Wrong to think the old Buffy has returned. Instead she's just acting on instinct -- Buffy runs away leaving her friends alone with the demon leader and tries to commit suicide.
- After spending most of the second half of Season 7 in denial about all the people she was going to lost going up against the First, "Touched" has her deposed as leader of the potentials and kicked out of her own house by her sister, until Spike pulls her together and she decides she's going to take the Scythe from Caleb.
- Spike also has one in "Get it Done" when he puts on Nikki's leather duster again for the first time after his re-ensoulment and heads out to kill the demon.
- Anubis "Doggy" Cruger in the Power Rangers SPD episode "Shadow".
- And, arguably, Tommy Oliver in the first and second seasons when he left the team. The way he played up his last days both times was pretty depressing, leading one to assume he might have stumbled into a heroic ditch...
- Jack Bauer has undergone several such occurrences during 24's run, including the murder of his wife, a heroin addiction, and spending two years in a Chinese gulag.
- 24 pulled off one of the best Hes Back moments in the first episode of season 2 when Jack Bauer overcomes his grief following the events of season 1 and sets about saving the world again. Epitomized in the scene where a disheveled Bauer gets a shave and a haircut and once again looks like the official Badass he is.
- Third Watch had several of these: after Sully's battle with alcoholism in Season 4, and after Faith and Bosco got shot in Seasons 5 and 6 respectively and had to take a few months off work.
- Angel in "Epiphany" and again in "You're Welcome", though the second one doesn't become clear until some episodes later.
- Wesley slowly returned to the Fang Gang after he had his throat cut. There isn't a particular moment, though. He's back all the way by the beginning of season 5.
- Oddly, Sports Night attempted to do this with Casey in the very first episode. Unfortunately, this causes new viewers to think Casey is just a Jerkass until the very end of the episode.
- Garibaldi at the beginning of season 2 of Babylon 5. He gets shot in the back and left to die by his own second-in-command, in process foiling his chance to save the President from assassination, spends several episodes in a coma, is only brought out by use of a wacky alien healing device, and then is in his room contemplating suicide because he thinks of himself as a failure. Then he overhears a crisis, figures out where the bad guys have stashed Ivanova, brazens his way into the room, and proceeds to kick ass. Yup, he's back.
- Captain Sheridan does this during the beginning of season 4 after turning up during a major attempt to break up the coalition the Babylon 5 crew had created and run from a war against two major races. In addition to this, he was actually dead at the time.
- Oz. Tim McManus' return as Unit Manager of Em City (after having being fired after a series of personal and professional humiliations) is actually announced by him saying "I'm baaaaak!"
- At the end of season one in The Wire Omar leaves for New York while running from the Barksdale clan. In episode three of season two he comes back. And embarks on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- He does this again in Season 5 against Marlo.
- Having spent more than half of the first Doctor Who Christmas special in bed feeling ill, the Doctor is revived by a cup of tea and emerges from the TARDIS, in his pajamas, to save the Earth.
- Later, in the two-parter "Human Nature"/"The Family Blood", the Doctor is turned into a human, with a false life created around him, and no knowledge (save odd dreams) of who he was. Most of "The Family of Blood" involves trying to persuade him to return to being the Time Lord he was. And when he does, he's angry.
- Perhaps most gratuitously, this occurs in "Last of the Time Lords" however, when the Doctor has been aged almost to death, and is a shriveled, imp like creature kept by the Master in a birdcage. He doesn't just return to being the Doctor at the end of the story, he turns into a floating, incandescent, godlike being.
- The TARDIS and Donna get one in "Journey's End" when the metacrisis Doctor lands it inside the Crucible.
- In "Vincent and the Doctor", Vincent van Gogh gets one after a scene where he's suffering from an episode of depression. Next scene? Back in effect, Badass Longcoat and sweet hat in place, clearly ready to... paint some monsters.
- The Doctor gets another in "The Big Bang" after he gets brought back into existence by Amy.
- In "A Good Man Goes to War", Rory gets one returning to his "Last Centurion" persona, attacking the Cyberman fleet asking where his kidnapped wife is.
- Again in "Let's Kill Hitler"; the Doctor is poisoned, Amy and Rory are stuck inside a robot which is about to execute River, and the pain of his organs shutting down one by one is too much for him to try to help. Luckily a holograph of young Amelia Pond inspires him enough to change into a top hat, coat and tails and walking cane, along with a Heroic Second Wind.
- A team one for SG-1 occurs after their off-screen split at the end of season eight. They're finally reunited early in season nine, with Lt. Col. Cam Mitchell replacing Jack O'Neill, and the sort-of addition of Vala Mal Doran.
Mitchell: Looks like the band's back together.
Carter: Yeah. What's with the extra backup singer?
- Let's not forget Daniel's return from ascension at the beginning of season 7. Granted, he doesn't know he's back at first, but still.
- In series 3 of The Thick of It, Malcolm Tucker is sacked. We then see him slumped on his sofa looking depressed in between his futile attempts to find a fulfilling career outside politics. When he eventually returns to work in casual clothes and looking like he's spent most of his time off crying it is genuinely disturbing. Happily he's soon charged with managing the party's election campaign, and the minute he gets back into a suit he reverts to his usual intimidating self. His PA Sam's happy face says it all.
- During season 2 of Leverage, this happens with Sophie. After wondering who she really is due to her life as a grifter, she leaves for the second half of the season only to reemerge in the second season finale to save the team after Nate gets them in over their heads.
- After not being seen since Series 2 of Red Dwarf back in 1988, with the character (post-Hattie Hayridge) lost and presumed destroyed, Norman Lovett's version of Holly returned at the very end of Series 7 in 1997, in preparation for a full-time return in Series 8 (1999). In fact, one of Holly's first lines upon his return is, "He's back. Kicking bottom or what?"
- Spartacus: Blood and Sand: After episode 6, Spartacus is utterly depressed over the death of his wife Sura, so he gives up on trying to escape gladiatorial slavery and plunges into his role as Champion of Capua. After his best friend Varro dies in episode 10, he gets even worse. In episode 11, he has a Fever Dream Episode that lets him see that his master caused Sura's death so he would never want to leave. He recovers from his fever stronger than ever, and when his master asks if he's all right, he replies, "Yes, Dominus. I am myself again." As he remembers who he really is, and begins to sow the seeds for the Gladiator Revolt.
Cat StevensYusuf Islam's release of Roadsinger on 5th May 2009.
- He released An Other Cup, his first album in 28 years, in 2006, but Roadsinger is much better and often considered his true return.
- Death Magnetic has been recognised as Metallica's He's Back after their Dork Age in the Nineties.
- Similarly, this is one big He's Back for Thrash Metal in general.
- After Lupe Fiasco's third album LASERS failed to live up to expectations, many fans felt he had lost his edge and finally given in to Executive Meddling, but with the release of American Terrorist III, and his new mixtape Friend of the People: I Fight Evil, he's solidified his He's Back status.
- Alice Cooper's album Constrictor, his first in three years and his first good one in even longer, was considered a comeback album and the subsequent tour was Alice's true return to his gory, violent, shocking and downright nasty roots. Whats the name of one of the singles? "He's Back (The Man Behind the Mask)". Some fans weren't satisfied with the new hair metal sound though and to them the true "He's Back" moment came with 1994's The Last Temptation.
- While X Japan's reunion was somewhat of a He's Back for the entire band (or at least for drummer and bandleader Yoshiki Hayashi) in 2007, the band's true He's Back came in 2010 with the announcement of vocalist Toshimitsu Deyama's exit from Home Of Heart., bringing back both of the original founders of the band working together as they once did, and the 2010 return of original bassist Taiji Sawada (although his playing only one song led to some Internet Counterattack). The only thing preventing this from being a complete example of this trope is Author Existence Failure.
- Many bands that broke up in the 70s and 80s released their first album in twenty years or more in the late 2000s or early 2010s. Among these are Mission of Burma, Swans, The Feelies, Steely Dan, The New York Dolls, Devo, Throbbing Gristle, The Vaselines, Big Star, The Eagles, Bauhaus, The Slits, The Stooges, and The Who. Unfortunately, only the first couple really exemplify this trope; the others' comeback albums were regarded as trivial at best.
- Vashti Bunyan and Levon Helm (of The Band) were among the singer-songwriters (along with the aforementioned Cat Stevens) to release a comeback album in the 2000s. Both albums were critically acclaimed.
- Odysseus was away at war for many years. During that time his palace had filled up with suitors trying to gain the attention of his wife. On his return he disguised himself as an ancient beggar and sneaked back in, then whipped off the disguise, revealing himself even bigger and stronger than ever.
- For even more awesome, he and his son were armed to the teeth, and they had stolen all of the suitors' weapons beforehand. Oh yeah, and Athena, the goddess of battle, was on Odysseus' side. Needless to say, the suitors shat bricks.
- Jesus. Although in his case, it was all part of the plan.
- In Bloom County, Steve Dallas was turned by aliens from a drinking, smoking, chauvinist womanizer into a caring, sensitive, "enlightened" man... but it seems it went too far, as his attempt not to offend, hurt, or impinge on anyone resulted in some people he cared for (okay, the women whom he enjoyed mutually exploitative relationships with) losing interest. Eventually, after the Last Straw Dumping, he ended up sitting naked on top of a fire hydrant in a near-foetal ball. Shortly afterwards, he asked Milo to "fetch them" ("them" apparently being his Cool Shades), who tried to talk him out of it - leading Steve to repeat the request more forcefully ("Steve - they don't deserve this..." "Yes they DO. Now GET THEM!")... When he transformed, Milo screamed, in terror and warning, "He's BACK!" in a tone more suited to a horror sequel trailer. To which Steve replies: "He's BAD."
- Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome, THE HOST of Wrestlemania 27... *zap zap zap zap zap zap zap zap*...........*all the lights turn off*...........*more electricity, this time on the titantron...........*titantron goes completely white, then blacks out*....................
- To make it official, That Other Wiki has confirmed that he has signed a multi-year contract with the WWE. Ladies and Gentlemen, it's official: THE ROCK IS BACK!
- The sheer glory of this return absolutely must be seen to be believed. And people wonder why professional wrestlers do what they do.
- Shawn Michaels has had a few but perhaps the greatest was after his one-off return (after four years of being laid up with a broken back) to fight Triple H at Summer Slam (supposed to be a one-time comeback), he's mangled so badly as to be confined to a wheelchair. But after giving an uncharacteristically stoic promo, warning the "Don't hunt... what you can't kill." To prove his point, he started to struggle to stand up out of his wheelchair, trying and failing a few times. Then, he shrugs, easily stands up, kicks over the chair, and starts dancing. A few weeks later, in his first match in about six months (and second in the last four years), he beat Kane, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, Chris Jericho, and, in the big finish, Triple H himself in the first ever Elimination Chamber.
- Here comes the pain again!
- Cloud, who was the hero of Final Fantasy VII, is so upset that he failed to protect one of his allies that, once the world is saved, he isolates himself from the rest of the group. During The Movie Advent Children, when evil arises once more, Cloud at first refuses the call, but the combined encouragement from his friends manages to bring him out of retirement to save the day. In a totally Badass fashion, nonetheless.
- It also happened in the original game, after Tifa helps snap him out of his Heroic BSOD.
- In Final Fantasy VI, Terra finds herself unable to fight after the party gets separated in the World of Ruin. However, when Humbaba threatens the group of orphans that she cares for, and cuts down her friends who try to help, Terra snaps into her Esper form and stays in it for the entire fight. Asskicking ensues.
- Miles Edgeworth in the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney games. At the end of the first game, he gets framed for murder, accused and linked to forgery of evidence, and nearly loses his freedom before Phoenix saves him, and decides the most mature reaction to this in the second game would be to bugger off to Europe, leaving what appears to be a suicide note. He returns during the last case of the second game, having found the true meaning of a prosecutor and gotten some snazzy new theme music in the process.
- Will in Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. He breaks down after his mentor, Brenner, gets killed by what's implied to be a nuke. He gets over it just in time to save his men from the pursuing enemy and strike back, determinted to carry on.
- The Dark Side ending of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
- The Light Side ending as well, but in a more subtle fashion. Instead of being the galaxy-conquering variety of Badass, you're the galaxy-saving variety that you arguably were before the Mandalorian Wars and zero guidance got you Drunk on the Dark Side.
- The scene in the sequel where Kreia's coaching helps the Jedi Exile regain her confidence and powers. Beautifully rendered here, here, and here.
- In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Rahm Kota recovers from his self-pity and binge-drinking to become the mighty Jedi Knight he once was.
- In Metroid Zero Mission, after beating Mother Brain and escaping, you get captured by space pirates while suitless, so therefore you have to do a long (and potentially) frustrating semi-stealth sequence as Zero Suit Samus. Then, you reach a Chozo Ruins Test (an aggravating boss) which you have to beat. Once you do, you not only get your suit and all it's upgrades back, but the 3 upgrades which had compatability issues with your suit are resolved - you get the Space Jump, Gravity Suit and Plasma Beam AT THE SAME TIME. Then a fast paced remix of the Brinstar theme plays (only in this area mind, but it works). Cue ripping everything to shreds. Then barely a few minutes later, you get the Power Bombs and blow everything else up that you couldn't destroy.
- Marathon: "Suprised? You shouldn't be."
- In Tokimeki Memorial 2, this trope is an integral part of resident Broken Bird Kaori Yae's storyline. After a 2-years long Heroic BSOD due to a traumatic event that occured before the game's proper, she manages to overcome her past and turn back to the Genki Girl she was, thanks to her relationship with the protagonist. The change in her attitude and appearance after she takes her resolve is dramatic: she enters the Volley-Ball Club and fully involves herself in; her body language sprites change from unhappily talking-over-her-shoulder or holding-her-arm-and-looking-at-the-floor poses, to looking straight at you with a beautiful and cheerful smile; her clothes' fashion at dates become colorful, elaborate and varied; she regulary comes to you to invite you for dates; and her somber theme tune is replaced with a peppier variation of it.
- "They used to tell stories of a man who saved the world. Man whose very presence sent aliens running back to their motherships. The man who disappeared without a trace. When the invaders came back, they came back angry. They tore our planet apart bit by bit. But... they made one mistake: They shouldn't have gone after our women." HAIL TO THE KING BABY!
- Kingdom Hearts II: Upon arriving at Beast's Castle Sora, Donald, and Goofy are surprised to learn that their old buddy The Beast has a much larger stick up his ass than usual, as shown when he swats away both The Heartless and the heroes to make sure his precious rose is safe, then leaves without a word. After multiple attempts to get him to stop obsessing about the rose that Xaldin stole and the fact that he believes himself to be a monster now, you finally get the Badass you had in the first game back after Sora reminds him of how it was before Belle showed up.
Beast: I know one thing... This is my castle! Xaldin will never be welcome here!
- Belkar of The Order of the Stick, after spending hundreds of strips hampered by the "Mark of Justice" that prevented him from fighting effectively (not to mention killing), and dozens reduced to an ill, delirious puking wreck, proceeded to reclaim his title as "Sexy Shoeless God of War" as soon as he was finally free of the curse by savagely beating a group of a dozen rogues out to kill him in what amounts to a Foe-Tossing Charge, leaving 11 dead (though one of them was taken out by his cat, and two were killed by the Cleric who uncured him) and making out with the hot female bard among them (who does not mind this in the slightest). His final kill is an Offhand Backhand double dagger throw made while he was making out with said bard. He then leaves to go look for more things to kill, while drinking moonshine.
- Bun-Bun has one of these in Sluggy Freelance after a head injury left him acting like a normal rabbit. The instant he regains his memories, he holds a family of telemarketers hostage over a piranha tank and re-declares his revenge on Santa Claus. That's the bunny we love.
- Brawl in the Family's 2009 "A Mushroom Kingdom Carol" has Bowser defeat Mario by seemingly leaving the Mushroom Kingdom forever and then sending Bowser Jr. to lead an assault years later when Mario was too old and out of practice to fight. Mario degraded to a sour Scrooge of a hermit over the next number of years as a result of his humiliating defeat. But after the visitation of three ghosts that ultimately reminded him just who he was, he donned his old hat and jumping shoes and went back to Bowser's castle with a vengence... and an army of Yoshis.
- The Oracle from Dragon Mango. Initially she looks like a confused seer and Harmless Villain, but as soon as she learns the one bit of information she lacked, she figures everything out instantly, gets her Vision back in full force, and promptly orchestrates a Thanatos Gambit.
- Aradia from Homestuck. Prior to the events of the story, she was quite friendly and happy... until she was killed and came back as a ghost. She spends most of the series (aside from act 5 part 1) sitting around moping about how the trolls are doomed to die and that there's no way they can stop the demon that's rampaging through their session, and only contacts Rose to flip out at her to try and keep her from going through with Doc Scratch's plans. Then Derse blew up, awakening Aradia's dreamself, allowing her to rise to the god tiers and timestop Bec Noir. She's back to her old self again now.
- After Steve had been on a bus ride for a while in Questionable Content, he retroactively became a parody of this trope. He had originally disappeared after breaking up with his girlfriend and drinking himself silly. In the middle of his binging, the government hires him and he spontaneously transforms into James Bond, blows up some bad guy's Volcano Lair, etc., and afterward he inexplicably goes back to being a normal guy. Or maybe none of that really happened. But it probably did. Maybe. The author's not telling.
- Nabi gets one of these in Step 5 of There She Is, kicking off the Race For Your Love to the finale.
- In the Halo 3 Machinima Deus Ex Machina, Deus resolves to give up crime-fighting when things don't work out at all for him. He is forced back into his usual routine when a huge threat rears its ugly head. Though this "He's back" turns very tragic...
- A villainous variation occurs with Survival of the Fittest character Julie Mikan. After killing a fellow classmate she goes into a Heroic BSOD, before somewhat reforming. However, a couple of days later, Julie finally breaks down due to the heat and sleep deprivation, signifying a return for her villainous self.
- The Nostalgia Critic at the end of his Commercials Special. It involves singing.
- Spoony Gets one in his Skullduggery review by announcing "Oh and I'm back"
- Protectors of the Plot Continuum Agents Suicide and Dio disappeared after the Subjugation mission failed, but were back for Ring Child.
- Makes-Things got skewered by a huge macrovirus trying to infect him, but recovered by still-unknown means.
- Leonardo spends half of the 4th season of the 2003 Ninja Turtles cartoon in a funk after a huge near-miss with the Shredder. His increasingly maniacal training schedule, surly attitude, and short temper culminates in Splinter kicking him out to train with Hamato Yoshi's old master in Japan. Once he gets over his self-blame, Leo is able to return home... to find the lair in ruins. But the turtle in blue is back. He has little trouble finding and gathering the scattered Turtles and Splinter. He even confronts the new leader of the Foot one-on-one while running errands for his battered comrades, and delivers a clear message of "don't bother my family again or else."
- Leo gets an earlier instance of this halfway through the first season, when the process of reforging his swords, with Raphael's encouragement, helps him regain his spirit after being defeated and badly beaten by the Shredder and his minions. When he comes out at the end of the episode to announce that they're taking the fight back to the Shredder, it's a very clear declaration that He's Back.
- Optimus Primal of Transformers: Beast Wars quickly returns to Kicking Ass and Taking Names after a brief bout of being dead. To be fair, the situation the Maximals were in was a result of Rhinox's attempts to resurrect Optimus in the first place, so it's slightly less cheap than it seems at first glance. Cheap or not, though, it's a nicely satisfying big slagging hero moment.
- And he gets to be a metal gorilla which flies on a flying surfboard.
- His return is marked by him blowing a hole through the wall of their base for no reason other than to be awesome.
- Of course, there's also "The Return Of Optimus Prime" from G1. After the heartbreaking death in the movie... he came back. And wiped the Hate Plague from existence. Because he's Optimus. Slagging. Prime.
Skylynx: It's true.. our leader is back.
Optimus: Yes, Skylynx. And this time, no force in the universe can stop me.
- If you think that's something, Transformers Prime one-uped it in "Orion Pax Part 3". In the season finale, Optimus lost his memories and reverted to his pre-Prime state after using the power of the Matrix to save the Earth. When his memories are restored, it's shown when he Bare Handed Blade Blocks Megatron, complete with this one liner:
Optimus: "Megatron, be gone!"
- Mr. Incredible from The Incredibles fits the trope very well. And, by extension, Elastigirl and Frozone.
- When Danny Phantom is powerless and being attacked by thousands of ghosts, his ghostly abilities get shot back into action, resulting in this;
Danny: Well, there's good news and bad news. The good news? My powers are back. The bad news? My powers are BACK!
- Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender makes a triumphant reappearance in the finale, destroying Ozai's airship as it enters the Earth Kingdom.
Suki: What just happened?
Sokka: It’s Aang! He’s back!
- This happens to the main characters in the episode The Return of Harmony, Part 2 of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic after being emotionally broken and brainwashed by Discord.
- He Man and The Masters of The Universe: In "The Problem With Power" Skeletor devises a plan to make He-Man think he's killed a villager resulting in such a giant Heroic BSOD that He-Man throws away his sword and quits being He-Man forever resulting in the good guys being left with no alternative but to send Teela on a suicide mission to try and save the day. Orko finds out about the plot and manages to enlighten Prince Adam just in time for He-Man to make a Big Damn Heroes come-back to save both the day and Teela.
- An excellent moment occurs in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "I Am the Night." Already wondering if his crusade is doing any good at all, Batman snaps when Commissioner Jim Gordon is wounded after he's late helping Gotham Police during a bust, due the the Dark Knight visiting the site of his parent's death as it happens to be the anniversary. He's so broken by this, he considers hanging up the mantle of the bat even when Dick Grayson comes by to give him some moral support. Later on, word gets out that the man who put Gordon in the hospital is now looking to finish what he started. Dick attempts to rally Bruce to the scene, but he is unresponsive, and in the end Dick heads out as Robin to guard Gordon himself. And then just when Robin's getting ready to leave the the Bat Cave, he's stopped by Bruce, decked out once again in his Batman costume.
Batman: No, Dick. This is my hunt.
- Robert Downey Jr. fell into drug and alcohol abuse and dropped off of Hollywood's radar for the most part during the late 90's. Then came 2008 and Iron Man.
- 3rd of September, 1939. Britain declares war on Germany, and the Royal Navy receives a message: "Winston is back."
- Michael Jordan retired from basketball in 1993 after the murder of his father. After a couple of unproductive seasons playing minor league baseball, he announced his return to the NBA in 1995 with two simple words: "I'm back."
- General Douglas Mac Arthur on returning to the Philippines in 1944, fulfilling a vow he made 2 years earlier to do so.