25 Comebacks In History That Were Completely Unexpected

Posted by , Updated on November 15, 2022

Comebacks come in all shapes and sizes. Possibly the most popular type of comeback is the verbal retort. It’s what you say to somebody when they make a comment that you don’t like. They’re memorable, funny, witty, and typically lead to the creation of memes.

There are other comebacks too though. These fall more into the “underdog” category. They happen quite often in sports and competition. It’s when one team is beating another team by a large amount, and then the losing team comes back to win. That’s the classic example. The thing about our list, however, is that we stretch the term to its more colloquial sense. What we mean is that everything from sports teams to actors to entire countries are included. This means that our list touches on anything or anybody that was at one point doing well, then fell from their relatively secure position, and then somehow managed to climb all the way back up.

Now, that’s not to say that the country/person/thing is necessarily at the top right now. For example, the Spartans were doing great, then the Persians came and started beating them, then the Spartans beat the Persians, and now Sparta is just a memory. So, as you can see, the key point in our list is the comeback and the comeback alone. These are 25 Comebacks In History That Were Completely Unexpected!


Featured Image: pixabay



GreeceSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

A couple thousand citizen soldiers defeated the overwhelmingly superior Persian army. Not once, but twice. You can thank them for democracy.


John Travolta

John TravoltaSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Everybody thought he was over until he did Pulp Fiction.



AerosmithSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Few bands have ever come back the way Aerosmith did in the 90’s.


The American Revolution

The American RevolutionSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

In terms of numbers, there was no way that the colonies should have won that war, but they did.


Beck Weathers

Beck WeathersSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

During the 1996 Everest Disaster, Beck was left alone on the mountain but managed to make his way down to base camp. Nobody thought he would survive, so they made him comfortable in a tent where he nearly froze to death…again. He survived the second night in spite of losing his arm, both legs, and his nose.



AppleSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

In the late 90’s they were pretty much done as a company, at least until Steve came back and turned everything around. Also, Microsoft bailed them out for various reasons.


Muhammad Ali

Muhammad AliSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Specifically his fight against George Foreman. Nobody thought he would win.


OJ Simpson

OJ SimpsonSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, everybody thought that he would get convicted. Somehow though, the defense managed to pull out all the stops.


1980 Olympics

1980 OlympicsSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

During these Olympics, the US beat the Soviet Union in the ice hockey game that’s come to be called The Miracle On Ice. The craziest part is that the Soviet players were all professionals while the Americans were all amateurs (as per law).


Battle of Midway

Battle of MidwaySource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Japan had destroyed a sizable portion of America’s Pacific fleet, but somehow the US still pulled through to defeat the Japanese.


The United Kingdom

The United KingdomSource: wikipedia, Image: pixabay

More specifically, the United Kingdom during World War II. The Battle of Britain was looking pretty grim, but somehow that stiff British upper lip pulled them through.


Nelson Mandela

Nelson MandelaImage: lasanta.com.ec via Flickr, Source: wikipedia

He went from a 27 year stint in prison to being the first black president of South Africa.


Visegrad Group

Visograd GroupImage: freestockphotos.biz, Source: wikipedia

They went from being some of the most powerful kingdoms on the block to being overrun several times during the 20th century. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, however, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland began to rebound significantly faster than most former-soviet aligned states. Today they are still modernizing rapidly as part of the European Union.


Saudi Arabia

Saudi ArabiaSource: wikipedia, Image: pixabay

While the Middle East was the cradle of civilization, it definitely lost its flair for several thousand years…until they found oil.



RomeSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

In spite of constant defeats and eventually barely even having an army, Rome somehow pushed back the Carthaginians.


Michael Jordan

Michael JordanImage: Jason H. Smith via Flickr, Source: wikipedia

We can see you rolling your eyes, but we just had to include some comedy in our list. It was getting too heavy. In all seriousness though, this was a pretty hyped up comeback that led to a lot of disappointment.


Apollo 13

Apollo 13Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

There has probably never been more of a successful failure in history.



NapoleonSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

He was exiled, came back, and had to be exiled again.


Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey JuniorSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

He was messed up for a long time, but as of this writing, he is more popular than ever.


Virtual reality

Virtual realitySource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

They tried to do stuff with it in the 90’s but mostly failed. These days it’s a fast rising aspect of technological advancement.


Comic books

Comic booksSource: wikipedia, Image: youtube

For those of you that don’t know, Marvel almost went bankrupt at one point.


The Soviet Union during World War II

The Soviet Union during World War IISource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

With one of the most powerful armies the world had ever seen on the doorstep of their capital, the Soviets managed to push the Nazis all the way back to Berlin.



GermanySource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

On a similar note to the Soviet Union, Germany as the world’s 4th largest economy in spite of being the epicenter of two world wars is quite amazing.



JapanSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Of course, we can’t forget to mention Japan. It was devastated twice through nuclear warfare, and today it’s right up there with Germany.


Jeanna Giese

Jeanna GieseImage: Alachua County via Flickr, Source: wikipedia

This teenager from Wisconsin is the first known person in human history to have survived rabies without the vaccine.

Note: For those of you who don’t know, this happened in 2004 when she was treated with an experimental method known as the Milwaukee Protocol. Basically, she was put into a medically induced coma and injected with antiviral drugs.

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