Despite trailing 10-4, Mark Selby recovered to take 10 of the next 11 frames en route to victory on Monday at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.
Higgins took three successive frames from 16-12 behind but Selby answered with a century and a break of 75 to claim his third World Championship in four years.
World No. 1 Selby thus completed back-to-back title wins in the tournament, the fourth player to do so after Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Aside from taking home the record prize money of £375,000, Selby also gained revenge for his defeat by Higgins in the 2007 final.
A four-time champion from Scotland, Higgins had now lost two finals. Despite that, he moved to No. 2 in the world rankings behind Selby.
An ecstatic Selby said after his win: “I can’t believe it, I am still pinching myself now. From 10-4 to get to 10-7 yesterday, I was over the moon as I had nothing left. He outplayed me yesterday. Today I came back fresh and was a lot better.”
He added that when he was 10-4 down, he was “missing everything” and had “nothing left”, but he did kept his poise and delivered down the stretch.
Selby also said that having three world titles is “unbelievable and to be one of only four players to defend it is something I could only dream of.”
Called “The Torturer” by O’Sullivan for his amazing victory in 2014 from 10-5 behind, displayed the same never-say-die attitude with his relentless display.
The third session proved to be the turning point when he won six out of the seven frames to hold the advantage by two frames.
He made breaks of 71, 70 and a 131 clearance in the final session following a contentious decision in the 31st frame.