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.
How many books follow the hero’s journey?
27 books in the Hero’s Journey series
Do all novels follow the hero’s journey?
Not every story is a Hero’s Journey, but every story fits into the structural concepts outlined in the Dramatica theory of storyif it has something meaningful to say.
What games follow the hero’s journey?
Through video games, the Hero’s Journey is explained.
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess’ The Call to Adventure.
- Assassin’s Creed II’s Refusal of the Call.
- Metal Gear Solid’s Supernatural Aid.
- Fallout 3’s The Crossing of the First Threshold.
- Kingdom Hearts’ The Belly of the Whale.
- Luigi’s Mansion’s The Road of Trials.
What Disney movie follows the hero’s journey?
Mulan closely follows each of the twelve steps of the hero’s journey, which includes the ordinary world and the crossing of the threshold into the unknown world.
What are the 12 stages of a 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 the resolution in the hero’s journey?
When the main problem is solved, there is little room for the story to continue in an engaging way; when a story reaches resolution, conflicts are resolved in some way (for better or worse), and loose ends are sufficiently tied up.
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.
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.
Why do authors follow the hero’s journey?
Show your readers what your characters are made of, and following the hero’s journey, regardless of the criticisms it’s received over the years, is a fantastic way to tease out those elements. Not sure if your book is compelling enough, with interesting conflict, a sound plotline, and complex characters?
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.
Is The Hunger Games an example of the hero’s journey?
The Hunger Games is a perfect example of a hero’s journey plot, as Katniss must win the Hunger Games and return to her family. Katniss eventually befriends Peta, and the two of them defeat all obstacles and win the Hunger Games together.
What is Katniss’s call to adventure?
Call to Adventure In true Campbellian fashion, Katniss is doing it to protect the people she’ll be leaving behind, in this case, her sister Prim, who has been chosen as Tribute and whom Katniss will go to any length to protect.
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 last part of the hero’s journey?
The Hero has been resurrected, purified, and has earned the right to return to the Ordinary World and share the Elixir of the Journey. The true Hero returns with an Elixir to share with others or heal a wounded land.
Who is the best Disney hero?
The Top 10 Disney Heroes of All Time
- 1 Mulan – Mulan (1998)
- 2 Aladdin – Aladdin (1992)
- 3 Simba – The Lion King (1994)
- 4 Beast – Beauty And The Beast (1991)
- 5 Quasimodo – The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1996)
- 6 Hercules – Hercules (1997)
- 7 Tarzan – Tarzan (1999)
- 8 Pinocchio – Pinocchio (1940)