Transposable elements (TEs) can be maintained in sexually reproducing species even if they are harmful. However, the evolutionary strategies that TEs employ during proliferation can modulate their impact. In this review, I outline the different life stages of a TE lineage, from birth to proliferation to extinction. Through their interactions with the host, TEs can exploit diverse strategies that range from long-term coexistence to recurrent movement across species boundaries by horizontal transfer. TEs can also engage in a poorly understood phenomenon of TE resurrection, where TE lineages can apparently go extinct, only to proliferate again. By determining how this is possible, we may obtain new insights into the evolutionary dynamics of TEs and how they shape the genomes of their hosts.