We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Has-Been?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
PublicPeople is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At PublicPeople, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A has-been is someone who once enjoyed fame and popularity, but does so no longer. There are a wide variety of situations which can cause someone to become a has-been, ranging from losing the physical traits necessary for popularity in image-based industries like the world of film to committing an egregious act which leads to widespread social rejection. A has-been's life can be quite depressing, as he or she may be tempted to relive glory days which cannot be recovered.

Celebrities and politicians are most at risk of becoming has-beens, due to the high profile lives that they lead. When people are constantly under the scrutiny of media and fans, it can be increasingly easy to slip up, turning a sometimes successful and fruitful career into a thing of the past. A has-been is viewed as no longer interesting, popular, successful, or valuable in society, and he or she may come to internalize these ideas, experiencing depression as a result.

The term “has-been” is also used to describe people who experienced popularity early, and then lost it. People who are extremely popular in high school or college, for example, sometimes become has-beens later in life, as the people around them grow and mature, becoming interested in the talents and abilities of others. Such has-beens are sometimes used as fodder for novels, becoming figures of mockery as they struggle to cope with their newfound lack of popularity or relevance.

For people who make their living on the basis of image, such as models and film stars, the risk of becoming a has-been is very real. It can be difficult to turn an image-based career into something more stable and long term, as many actors and models are viewed simply as pretty faces. Actors might try to branch out into producing and filmmaking, while models may experiment with their own fashion lines and branded consumer goods in the hopes of capitalizing on their names long enough to branch out into careers based on something other than their physical appearance.

Politicians can also struggle with the specter of becoming a has-been. Mistakes made early in life often come back to haunt people over the course of a political career, especially when they become famous, because every possible attempt will be made to dredge such information out of the past. If a politician comes to be viewed as untrustworthy or lacking in moral fiber, his or her career is essentially over.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a PublicPeople researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon193109 — On Jul 03, 2011

This pretty much describes me. I was popular in high school but due to very bad luck in college I ran and hid. I had the best high school experience ever but the worse college life imaginable. I feel betrayed. All that hard work and sacrifice since freshman year to get into the school of choice, and this had to happen?

To this very day I am struggling to overcome my problems and am yearning that one day I can come out again. It's been five years since misfortune hit me. I miss everything that I was. I miss my friends. I miss that great person I used to be. I'm still fighting, and I hope I will win. Five years is a long time. I miss my friends so so much. Please pray for my success.

By allenJo — On Jun 24, 2011

Other terms to describe such individuals are “washed up” or “flash in the pan.” When I think about actors and politicians, I actually feel kind of sorry for them.

They live on image. Yet no matter how successful they are, they will eventually be replaced; those actor’s faces will wrinkle, those votes will no longer be there to keep the politician in office. Then they will be looked at nostalgically.

It will only be said that this has been was once an important person whose life meant something. That has to hit you where it hurts.

It’s no wonder many of these people go into drugs and alcohol, after they lose their fifteen minutes of fame, because they can no longer reclaim the past. I say it’s better to be nobody in the world’s eyes, and be somebody to people closest to you.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.