Times Characters Were Exiled And Came Back Even Stronger

Movies bank heavily on the heroes' journey, which includes going up against the odds to battle the villains in a climactic clash for redemption. Quite a few films focus heavily on these fictional characters' return from exile, as it perfectly sums up the end of their struggles from their initially weak position to how they conquer their foes to either gain vengeance or dole out justice.

It's interesting to check out how the protagonists change over the course of their story and the impact they make once they return from exile to give their foes their just desserts. Of course, certain stories go the other way to present the villains as the ones who pursue the heroes in their antagonistic quest, which is equally fascinating to see unfold. 


  • T'Challa In 'Black Panther'

    Reason for Exile: T'Challa is challenged by his evil cousin Erik Killmonger in ritual combat for the throne of Wakanda. T'Challa never yields but is defeated and thrown over a waterfall to his supposed doom.

    How the Hero Returns: T'Challa is found in a comatose state by an allied tribe of Wakanda, who nurse him back along with T'Challa's family. The protagonist dons the Black Panther suit and arrives to confront Killmonger just in time to stop him from initiating an invasion - since T'Challa didn't yield, he gets another chance to vie for the throne.

    How the Hero defeats the Villain: T'Challa's comeback motivates the Wakandans still loyal to him to turn the tide and initiate a battle between them and Killmonger's factions. 

    T'Challa's use of the Black Panther suit and renewed resolve provide him with greater abilities to tap into to use against Killmonger, whom he slays to become the definitive King of Wakanda.

    The Impact of the Hero's Return: T'Challa decides to open the Wakandan borders to every country and acknowledges their status as a technologically advanced country to avoid another person such as Killimonger invading Wakanda. 

  • Reason for Exile: Simba's wicked uncle Scar orchestrates the passing of his father through a stampede, convincing the young cub that he's responsible. Simba flees out of shame and resolves to stay away from the Pride Lands. 

    How the Hero Returns: Simba is taken in by Timon and Pumbaa and grows up in a lush jungle, where he became a fully grown lion. Simba reunites with his childhood friend Nala who motivates him to return to the Pride Lands and confront Scar to end his evil rule. Simba is guided by the spirit of his father and arrives back home.

    How the Hero Defeats the Villain: The younger lion overpowers his uncle and initially banishes him until Scar tries a sneak attack and is knocked down - he's then devoured by hyenas. 

    The Impact of the Hero's Return: Simba's triumphant return ushers a golden age for the Pride Lands, as it ends a long-running drought. He takes over as his father's successor and is crowned the new king.

  • Reason for Exile: The Godfather, Vito Corleone, is shot by his enemies, which initiates a mob war. As Vito's only son not involved in the criminal empire, Michael decides to meet Vito's would-be assassins on the pretense of a peace offering - he ends up slaying the men by shooting them and flees to Sicily to avoid the fallout from the crime families backing the assassins.

    How the Hero Returns: After the demise of Vito's eldest son, Sonny, he comes to a resolution with the other families to ensure Michael's safe return after more than a year. But this is a ruse since Vito and Michael also plan on taking down all the heads of the families. Michael comes back and is named the new Don.

    How the Hero Defeats the Villains: Michael puts on an act of weakness and allows the families to chip away at Corleone territory. The mob bosses buy into this false sense of security and let their guard down, which is when Michael orders a hit at each man at the same time.

    The Impact of the Hero's Return: Michael becomes the unchallenged Godfather of the criminal world after all his enemies are defeated. The Corleone family wrests control of the city before expanding their operations to Nevada. 

    Michael saves the family from ruin, although his return from exile makes him a cold man who's nothing like the warm, sweet person he once was.

  • Obi-Wan Kenobi In 'Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi'
    Photo: Disney+

    Reason for Exile: Obi-Wan's apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, is seduced by Sheev Palpatine into the dark side of the Force and becomes Darth Vader. Obi-Wan battles Vader in a climactic clash that ends with the latter being severely burnt and placed on permanent life support.

    Obi-Wan goes into exile to hide from Palpatine's Empire forces who still hunt the Jedi - he loses some of his Jedi powers due to the lack of belief he has in himself. He also seeks to watch over Anakin's son Luke on Tatooine while keeping tabs on his daughter Leia who resides in Alderaan.

    How the Hero Returns: Obi-Wan is requested to rescue Leia 10 years later by her adoptive father when she's kidnapped. He manages to save Leia but is confronted by Darth Vader when he learns of Obi-Wan's return from exile.

    How the Hero Defeats the Villain: Obi-Wan regains his full Jedi powers upon learning that the Darth Vader persona has fully taken over Anakin. He uses the Force on the boulders around him to slam into Vader before using his lightsaber to destroy his helmet which also acts as Vader's source of breathing.

    The Impact of the Hero's Return: Obi-Wan takes Leia back to Alderaan, while Luke's uncle on Tatooine agrees to let Obi-Wan have a connection with him. Vader and the Empire decide to stop actively pursuing Obi-Wan down, while the people that Vader's minions were hunting are also able to escape due to Obi-Wan's heroics.

    Obi-Wan once again goes into exile but the return of his Jedi abilities enable him to perceive his master Qui-Gon Jinn's Force ghost as his guide.

  • Reason for Exile: Thor becomes arrogant and boastful due to his impending coronation as king. He takes his friends to Jotunheim to ambush the Frost Giants after they break into Asgard, which escalates to the point of war. 

    Rather than regret his actions, Thor insults his father Odin to his face for stopping his rampage. The latter strips Thor of his powers and banishes him to Earth - he sends the hammer Mjolnir with the enchantment that Thor can only lift it and regain his powers if he proves himself to be worthy.

    How the Hero Returns: Thor's evil adoptive brother, Loki, takes over the role of the king after Odin is incapacitated. Loki sends the Destroyer armor to accost Thor. But the hero's sacrifice to save his new friends empowers him once more and he regains his godly powers.

    How the Hero Defeats the Villain: Thor returns to Asgard with a renewed outlook - he prevents Loki's plans of destroying Jotunheim in a misguided attempt to win Odin's approval. Thor destroys the Bifrost bridge to stop Loki's charge, and the latter falls into the chasm of space when Odin admonishes him for his actions.

    The Impact of the Hero's Return: Thor's exile turns him into a changed man who resolves to seek peace. He becomes more powerful as a warrior due to living up to the worthiness enchantment, while Odin admits that he's the hero that Asgard needs.

    Thor's experiences on Earth also result in his joining the Avengers, with whom he later saves the universe. 

  • Moses In 'The Prince of Egypt'

    Reason for Exile: Moses learns of the mass infanticide of Hebrew slaves by his adoptive father, Seti, and is disillusioned by his status as a royal. He decides to go into exile because he feels it's hypocritical to remain with his royal family when they are so openly antagonistic.

    How the Hero Returns: Moses receives a message from God to free the Hebrews under Pharoah's command. God bestows Moses's shepherding staff with his power and commands him to return to Egypt.

    By this point, Moses's adoptive brother, Ramses, is the Pharoah and refuses to free the Hebrews despite the incredible miracles Moses does with God's power. 

    How the Hero Defeats the Villains: Eventually, Moses leads the Hebrews out of Egypt when Ramses sends his army against them. Moses uses the staff's power to split the sea and enable his people to cross over - the army is swept away when the sea closes on them.

    The Impact of the Hero's Return: Moses's return from exile frees the Hebrews of the terrible conditions they had lived in for decades. Ramses loses his power due to the drowning of his army, while Moses leads the Hebrews to Mount Sinai where God praises him for his success.