It is probably the ultimate goal of all aspiring musicians who try out for televised talent competitions that they will one day become so successful, their reality TV stints will be mere footnotes on their multi-page résumés. Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood are great examples of this sort of crossover phenomenon – but let’s face it, even those singers will forever be associated with American Idol.
What’s actually even more impressive are the ex-contestants that have been able to establish themselves outside of their respective TV shows – and often without those shows’ help in any way. Here are eight such rare cases. (All photos Getty Images, except Todrick Hall, Fifth Harmony, and Danny Noriega courtesy of Fox.)