Simon Bridges has been underestimated and unfulfilled as a politician.
He never reached his full potential.
Politics will be a lot more boring without him.
His decision to quit now means he will forever be associated with "what-ifs" rather than any substantive legacy beyond the achievement of having been Leader of the Opposition.
The what-ifs will especially be relevant if National forms the government after the next election.
What if he had stayed on and had become Christopher Luxon's Finance Minister?
What if the National caucus had held its nerve and not replaced him in an election year with an unproven rookie and the political train wreck that ensued.
Bridges maintained a high poll rating for National, until Covid-19 appeared in election year, largely because he was able to pick and prosecute issues that mattered.
Not that that talent was appreciated within his own caucus.
The pandemic gave Jacinda Ardern a greater leadership opportunity than that handed to her by Winston Peters when he made her Prime Minister in 2017.
Bridges was consigned to irrelevancy and occasionally when his support for the patriotic war against Covid went off-key, opprobrium.
Bridges' initial win in the five-way leadership contest on February 2018 was a stunning victory against party heavyweights, including Steven Joyce and Amy Adams, soon after National lost power.
It was his finest political achievement by someone who had no powerful patrons in the party where such things matter. No one was whispering in his ear, telling him he could be Prime Minister one day.
The leadership vote in May 2020 by Todd Muller was close but Bridges could not muster enough loyalty to survive a challenge.
The path to redemption seemed to be suiting Bridges, not least because of the stunning success of his book, National Identity.
It was written in the raw aftermath of the leadership loss and was disarmingly frank about his sense of being an outsider, his identity as a Māori, a lawyer, a Christian, father and husband.
Bridges has been a better politician since then. He has been unconstrained and had the confidence of saying what he thinks instead of what he thinks he should say, and the experience to make it count.
He was more relaxed, and he was better liked – across the House.
He was going to be an important bridge between National and Māori voters.
When former leader Judith Collins tried to smear Bridges over an historic off-colour joke, there was immediate doubt about it. It precipitated her downfall as leader but Luxon replaced her and Bridges accepted Finance.
It must have been difficult for Bridges to sit in the leadership team, having been there himself, and having to work closely with two of the people who had toppled him, Nicola Willis and Chris Bishop.
Despite being only 45, Bridges' departure will leave a large hole in National. He is one of the most experienced MPs and held senior portfolios in the Cabinet.
But leaving now will give him the chance at the third career after the law and politics, in a role yet to be revealed.
Whatever the job is that lured him away from politics - and it was clear from his press conference that he has a job to go to – he is likely to have a high impact.