Hero’s Journey 101: Definition and Step-by-Step Guide (With Checklist!)
The Hero’s Journey is an age-old story structure that can be found in everything from Theseus and the Minotaur to The Lion King. In this post, we’ll show you how to make this classic plot work for you u2014 and summarize everything in a handy infographic.
What is the Hero’s Journey?
The Hero’s Journey, also known as the monomyth, is a common story structure. In 1949, Joseph Campbell coined the three stages of the hero’s journey, and in his book The Writer’s Journey, Christopher Vogler refined Campbell’s original structure, defining 12 stages.
The 12 Steps of the Hero’s Journey
The Hero’s Journey is a story structure that applies across mediums and genres, and we’ve used the 1976 film Rocky as an example to show how it can be used outside of your average sword-and-sorcery novel.
1. Ordinary World
Before our Hero discovers a strange new world, we must first comprehend the status quo: their ordinary, mundane reality. It is up to this first leg to set the scene, introducing the Hero to readers and setting the stage for the rest of the story.
2. Call to Adventure
The Hero is confronted with a problem or challenge that they can’t ignore, which can take many forms, as Campbell points out in Hero with a Thousand Faces. The stakes of the adventure and the goals become clear.
Rocky: Call to Adventure:
The undisputed World Heavyweight Champion is Apollo Creed.
3. Refusal of the Call
In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker initially refuses to join Obi-Wan on his mission to rescue the princess because it is risky and there are perils u2014 such as spiders, trolls, or a creepy uncle waiting back at Pride Rock.
4. Meeting the Mentor
Mentors are people who help the Hero avoid making a fool of themselves by providing practical training, profound wisdom, or a kick in the pants. Mentors can take many forms, ranging from witches to hermits to suburban karate instructors.
Rocky: Meeting the Mentor
Mickey “Mighty Mick” Goldmill, a former boxer, sees potential in Rocky and begins training him for the fight to save his life.
5. Crossing the First Threshold
The Departure stage is when the Hero’s speed really picks up, and there’s no turning back now. Take a moment to re-assess your bearings before continuing into unfamiliar territory.
6. Tests, Allies, Enemies
Spencer, Bethany, “Fridge,” and Martha run into a herd of bloodthirsty hippos in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, while Marlin and Dory encounter three “reformed” sharks, are shocked by jellyfish, and are swallowed by a blue whale in Harry Potter.
7. Approach to the Inmost Cave
The “inmost cave” in Star Wars refers to the most dangerous location in the other realm, and it is almost always where the quest’s ultimate goal is located. This stage covers all of the necessary preparations for defeating the villain.
Rocky: Approach to the Inmost Cave
Rocky’s Inmost Cave is his own mind, where he fears he’ll never amount to anything, as evidenced by his butting heads with his trainer, Mickey, in his apartment.
The Ordeal is the main event of the second act, and if the Hero survives it, they will be transformed. It is sometimes not the climax of the story; there is more to come, but it can be thought of as the main event of the second act.
9. Reward (Seizing the Sword)
The “reward” is the object or knowledge that the protagonist has fought for throughout the journey, and once they have it, it usually has greater ramifications. Luke rescued Princess Leia and captured the Death Star plans. Dorothy uses the broomstick to escape the Wicked Witch’s castle.
What are the 12 steps of the hero’s journey?
The Hero’s Journey Has 12 Stages
- Call To Adventure.
- Refusal Of The Call.
- Meeting The Mentor.
- Crossing The Threshold.
- Tests, Allies, and Enemies.
- Approach To The Inmost Cave.
What is a good example of the hero’s journey?
The journey home – Odysseus returns home to find his wife being courted by many suitors. Resurrection of the hero – Odysseus is patient and disguises himself as a beggar to test his wife’s fidelity.
What are 3 examples of a hero’s journey?
Two Case Studies of the Hero’s Journey in Movies
- Luke lives on a farm on Tatooine with his aunt and uncle.
- The call to adventure.
- The call’s refusal.
- The mentor.
- Crossing the threshold.
- The ordeal.
- The return.
What stories follow the hero’s journey?
The hero’s journey is depicted in six iconic films: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), Star Wars (1977), The Matrix (1999), Spider-Man (2002), The Lion King (1994), and The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003).
What are the 8 steps of a hero’s journey?
There are eight terms in this set.
- Return with a gift.
- The call. A problem is presented, and the hero cannot remain in the ordinary world.
- The call.
What are the two worlds of the hero’s journey?
7. The Master of Two Worlds. After completing the journey out and back in, the hero is now a master of both the natural and supernatural worlds, allowing him to cross the threshold between them without difficulty.
What are the four parts of the hero’s journey?
The Hero’s Journey was his all-encompassing metaphor for the deep inner transformation that heroes appear to share throughout history, a path that leads them through great movements of separation, descent, ordeal, and return.
How do you use the hero’s journey?
What is the best way to write a hero’s journey?
- First, create your hero. Forget about the traditional meanings of the word ‘hero,’ and let your imagination run wild.
- Then, give them a goal. Remember, stories exist on a literal level first and foremost.
- Finally, lay out the four quadrants of the story cycle.
Is the Wizard of Oz a hero’s journey?
The Wizard of Oz is a classic Hero’s Journey that begins with Dorothy’s decision to leave home, and ends with her refusal to return home after being duped by the soon-to-be-wizard.
What is the treasure in a hero’s journey?
The Hero receives the reward/treasure he earned by facing his greatest challenge, indicating his victory over the Antagonist; this reward/treasure is what the Hero set out on the journey to obtain (it does not have to be material).
Are all stories hero’s journey?
Unfortunately, not every story follows this path; not every story is a Hero’s Journey, but every story fits within the structural concepts outlined in the Dramatica theory of storyif it has something meaningful to say.
What books use the hero’s journey?
Books about the Hero’s Journey
- The Hobbit, or There and Back Again (Paperback)
- Ready Player One (Ready Player One, #1)
- The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)
- Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (Hardcover)
- The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)
- Divergent (Divergent, #1)
Why is the hero’s journey so universal?
The point of this stage in the Hero’s Journey is that the Reward is never enough; no matter how much we hope they will, life’s physical rewards never satisfy us as deeply as we hope; the Hero’s Journey reflects this universal human truth by continuing the story even after the Hero appears to have gotten what they want.
What movies do not follow the hero’s journey?
5 Movies That Demonstrate The Monomyth
- The Matrix, Men in Black, The Hunger Games, The Lion King, and Star Wars are just a few of the movies that come to mind.
How is the Lion King a hero’s journey?
The Lion King is a true hero’s journey set in the African savannas, with Simba as the main character who reclaims his kingdom and defeats evil. The main character’s archetype is “king,” and he takes responsibility for his actions and his kingdom, restoring order and control.