The role that failed emigration and return play in settler fiction reveals seldom-discussed aspects of colonial culture and the development of English literature within nineteenth-century imperial networks. This chapter examines the narrative functions of back-migration and its ambiguous relationship to failure in nineteenth-century writing from Britain's antipodal settler colonies. It juxtaposes Elizabeth Murray's exposure of emigration propaganda in Ella Norman (1864), written after her return from Australia, with A Rolling Stone (1886) by New Zealand writer Clara Cheeseman, a novel that self-consciously rewrites persistent clichés in the representation of emigrants and returnees. Both novels critically engage with prevalent cultural myths that were circulating about emigration as a presumed easy new start. Murray's explicit indictment of emigration societies culminates in a reversal of the common narrative strategy to depict emigration as a pat ending. In an attack on the superfluity debates that permeated emigration discourses at the time, Murray suggests that genteel emigrants are regarded as superfluous in colonial settlements and ends her novel by letting all deserving characters escape back to England. Cheeseman, by contrast, deconstructs the motif of return to the imperial centre as a desirable ‘homecoming’. Instead, her domestic novel about colonial New Zealand dismantles the cultural mythologization of the sensational returnee, a figure that became epitomized by the Tichborne Claimant. In taking these two texts as case studies, this chapter shows how the figure of the failed emigrant haunted writing coming out of the settler colonies.