Jaws – The hero’s journey breakdown

Ordinary world Sheriff Brody lives on an island with his family and he’s afraid of water

Call to Adventure He discovers the dead body of the girl on the beach. It’s not the opening action piece where she is torn apart by the shark. It’s the moment when the hero, Brody is presented with the discovery of her body which will result in him confronting the shark that is the Call to adventure.

Refusal of the call Amity is an island town which survives of summer dollars from tourists. The sheriff reluctantly follows along with the mayor and the coroner and pass the girl’s death off as a boating accident.

Supernatural Aid Brody calls in Dr Matt Hooper, an expert in sharks. And to a lesser extent Quint, who is also an expert in hunting sharks

Belly of the whale The shark kills the Alex Kintner, this is his first real baptism of fire. Watch it here

Crossing the First Threshold Now the whole town knows there is a shark out there, the sheriff must take action.

The Road of the trials Dealing with the idiots attracted by the bounty on the shark and antagonism from the Mayor who refuses to acknowledge there is a danger from the shark and the beach needs to be closed.

Meeting with the Goddess This is a broader interpretation of the Meeting with the Goddess stage. The person who inspires and motivates the Sheriff to do the right thing is Mrs Kintner, Her son was killed by the shark and she publically slaps Brody. Brody has been shamed and guilted into taking heroic action.

Woman as Temptress Mayor Larry Vaughn is only concerned about the financial effect of the shark if it became known that a shark was hunting in the waters. He is able to talk the Sherrif into turning a blind eye and agreeing to allowing the beach to stay open even though he knows the right thing to so was to shut it down.

Atonement with the Father Brody fears the water. Quint tells him the story of the USS Indianapolis which went down and the sharks ripped apart the survivors. Brody fears the water and Quint tells him he’s right to fear it.

Ultimate Boon The Ultimate Boon occurs very early, just after the Mid point when the sheriff is throwing bait into the water and the Shark appears. The Call to Adventure is the discovery of the dead girl and the Ultimate Boon is the face to face confrontation with the shark that did it.

Apotheosis The Apotheosis is entwined with the barrels sequence. The shark has been harpooned and they now have the ability to track it’s movements. Apotheosis is a raising of consciousness or ability in order to complete the goal.

Rescue from without There’s no rescue from without. Quint has been killed and Hooper is out of action at the bottom of the ocean. Do the air tanks count as rescue from without? Not really, Rescue from without is a product of Karma, do good things for other people and you will get good things in return when you need it.

The Magic flight They try and escape the shark and head back to shallow waters

The crossing of the return Threshold Coming up with the idea to blow the shark up with the air tanks. He’s bringing together everything he’s learnt i.e. the tanks are explosive and this is no ordinary animal that he could just shoot with a gun. He’s got to blow the beast up.

Death of the mentor Quint is killed by the shark and Hooper

Master of two worlds Kills the shark, overcomes his fear, saves the town.

Freedom to live He swims back to shore with Hooper and celebrate being on dry land once again.



I highly recommend watching this documentary on the making of Jaws. https://vimeo.com/68400837

If anyone has any thoughts on Jaws or alternative views on the stages please use the comments below.

The Next Star Wars films

Lord Fitzroy Richard Somerset Raglan studied ancient Myths in a similar way to Joseph Campbell, his best known work, The Hero, A Study in Tradition, Myth and Drama, was published in 1936. He broke down myths and came up the 22 common traits of god-heroes. Let’s have a look at the list and see how well it fits with the Star Wars Sage and what it suggests would be traditional themes for the next movies to explore.

  1. The hero’s mother is a royal virgin;
  2. His father is a king, and
  3. Often a near relative of his mother, but
  4. The circumstances of his conception are unusual, and
  5. He is also reputed to be the son of a god.
  6. At birth an attempt is made, usually by his father or his maternal grandfather, to kill him, but
  7. He is spirited away, and
  8. Reared by foster parents in a far country.
  9. We are told nothing of his childhood, but
  10. On reaching manhood he returns or goes to his future kingdom.
  11. After a victory over the king, and/or a giant, dragon, or wild beast,
  12. He marries a princess, often the daughter of his predecessor, and
  13. Becomes king.
  14. For a time he reigns uneventfully, and
  15. Prescribes laws, but
  16. Later loses favor with the gods and/or his subjects, and
  17. Is driven from the throne and city, after which
  18. He meets a mysterious death,
  19. Often at the top of a hill.
  20. His children, if any, do not succeed him.
  21. His body is not buried, but nevertheless
  22. He has one or more holy sepulchers.


How they apply to Star Wars

  1. The hero’s mother is a royal virgin; Padme was the Queen of the Naboo
  2. His father is a king, and   Vader was not a true King as he was in service of the Emperor, but he was the Dark Lord
  3. Often a near relative of his mother, but     This one doesn’t fit
  4. The circumstances of his conception are unusual, and   Yes, Luke and Anakin had unusual births and conception
  5. He is also reputed to be the son of a god.   This one fits better with Anakin than Luke
  6. At birth an attempt is made, usually by his father or his maternal grandfather, to kill him, but   Anakin attempts to kill Padme just before their birth
  7. He is spirited away, and      Obi Wan hid Luke and Leia from Darth
  8. Reared by foster parents in a far country. Uncle Owen and Aunt Peru
  9. We are told nothing of his childhood, but    Very little is known
  10. On reaching manhood he returns or goes to his future kingdom. This journey begins in A New Hope
  11. After a victory over the king, and/or a giant, dragon, or wild beast,  This is when he defeats The Emperor at the end of Return of the Jedi
  12. He marries a princess, often the daughter of his predecessor, and
  13. Becomes king.
  14. For a time he reigns uneventfully, and
  15. Prescribes laws, but
  16. Later loses favor with the gods and/or his subjects, and
  17. Is driven from the throne and city, after which
  18. He meets a mysterious death,
  19. Often at the top of a hill.
  20. His children, if any, do not succeed him.
  21. His body is not buried, but nevertheless
  22. He has one or more holy sepulchers.


The steps from 12-22 are what the new series would touch on according to stages of the God-hero. The first eleven steps fit the Star Wars saga nicely, no story has all of the stages, but these are the stages which appear in God-hero stories on a regular basis.

12. Unlikely Luke marries Leia, although they have already kissed. But Han certainly would have married her.

13. Han would be a good King in the traditional sense, whereas Luke would most likely play a role of King as the man who restored the Jedi order.

14 and 15 This would be the period of the back story for the sequels

16. This would be an interesting beginning for the sequels, the dark side of the force could rear it’s head again and turn popular opinion against the Jedi

17. This would be some sort of revolution and the rebels are the bad guys

18. Luke is killed, at the hands of a dark Jedi

19. At the top of  hill is any place of significance symbolic of being close to God. In the context of Star Wars, God is represented by The Force.

20. If there is a revolution, the children of the former King are hunted and executed. This could be Luke’s children or Han and Leia’s. 

21. I’d expect his body to become one with the Force as did Obi Wan

22. Again, in Star Wars, Sepulchers are a monument where dead people reside, a tomb, but he would most likely play the ghost sage.

The hero’s journey – Death of the mentor

Death of the mentor

Joseph Campbell never listed this as one of his seventeen stages, however it is an extremely common step which usually occurs around the end of Act II. It’s significant because it marks the separation from the shelter of the mentor and that the hero must face the rest of the quest alone.

Star Wars – Darth Vader strikes down Obi Wan in front of Luke as they and now he must finish the journey without him.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie – Merrick is Buffy’s watcher, he’s killed by the vampire Lothos, at the end of the film Buffy had to face her mentor’s killer.

It doesn’t have to be a literal death either, it can mean that mentor has revealed his true self and is not someone the hero should follow.

Batman Begins – Henri Ducard was Bruce’s mentor and trained him to be the Batman. However when he revealed himself to be the true Ra’ Al Ghul at the end of the second act Bruce had to fight him and the League of Shadows.

Silence of the Lambs – When Hannibal escapes from his cell, Clarice is no longer able to call on him for the final act and must complete the search for Buffalo Bill without any more help.


Death – the act of dying or being killed

end, termination, cease, demise, release


Mentor – an advisor who trains

teacher, coach, authority, tutor, trainer


How to use it in your writing

If you want to make things really bad for your hero, kill off his teacher and then make him face that killer.

Flip the mentor so that the hero has learned the mentor was not just and righteous and make the hero go head to head with his former teacher who knows his weaknesses and his strength.

Return to the Hero’s journey Main page


Predator – The Hero’s journey breakdown


Ordinary world – Dutch is the leader of a team of mercenaries.

The Call to Adventure – They have to rescue some officials who went down over the border in enemy territory and they must take someone else with them. (Not the complete truth but it’s what they are told)

Refusal of the Call – Dutch is against it. His team works alone and they don’t want to take someone with them.

The Mentor/Talisman – There is no true Mentor in this story. He learns some things about the Predator from Anna and Indian Tracker Billie but he gets very little assistance and must rely on his skills as a soldier to suvive.

The First Threshold – A butterfly lands on the skin of the Predator and hint of it’s high tech camouflage is revealed. They are being hunted.

Belly of The Whale –.They attack the enemy camp and kill them, however, Dutch discovers that Dillon lied to them about the mission.  This marks the destruction of his relationship with his past.

The Road of Trials – The Predator begins killing them, but they can’t see it. They figure out it has camouflage and moves through the trees. They lay a trap for the Predator but it kills most of them, and chases after Dutch and Anna as they race towards the helicopter.

The Goddess – The closet person to the Goddess is Anna the prisoner, she inspires protective heroic acts in Dutch but this is only slight at best

Temptation – Dillin has succumbed to temptation. He used to be friends with Dutch but he’s ben corrupted by the system and has put the lives of the team in danger because he believes them to be expendible.

Atonement with the Father – Dutch disarms Anna to protect her when the Predator is about to kill her. This shows he knows the rules and he’s learnt how to play the game, He’s reconciled the two worlds of being a soldier and being the prey in this hunt.

Apotheosis – Dutch gets covered in mud and becomes invisible to the Predator. This is a God-like ability.

The Ultimate Boon – Dutch has discovered the Predator’s weakness and sets traps for the final confrontation.

The Magic Flight – Dutch fights the Predator, this time he has the advantage of being invisible. This is the big third

Rescue from Without – Comes from the Predator – The Predator could have killed him easily but instead gives him a chance by removing his advanced weaponry and armour to fight Dutch to the death in hand to hand combat.

The Return Threshold – The water washes the mud off Dutch and the Predator strips down to fight without armour. He’s lost his special ability and is now an ordinary human again.

Master of Two Worlds – Dutch kills the Predator

Freedom to Live – Dutch is rescued in the helicopter.




The Hero’s journey – Freedom to live

Freedom to live

Freedom to live means freedom from negative emotions which pull the hero away from living in the moment. Negative emotions such frustration, sadness, shame, fear, depression, doubt and despair are banished and instead he is able to celebrate the victory.

They are awarded with some high level of success as dictated by the world in which he lives, it may be that he becomes king, he gets the girl, gets the promotion, sees the bully get dragged off to detention.


Star Wars has the big medal ceremony to acknowledge their bravery and success in destroying the Death Star.

Aliens – Ripley escapes with her life and her loved ones.

And they all lived happily ever after.


Freedom – the power to think, speak, act as you wish without restraint. Not imprisoned or enslaved.

Liberty, independence, abandon


Live – to enjoy being alive

Delight, prosper, experience, love, pleasure, thrive


How to use it in your writing

What is success for your hero? Have you set up from the start? Is this moment a reflection of what he was like in the opening scene of the film?

Has your hero truly earned this moment?

The Hero’s journey – Rescue from without

Rescue from without

Hero’s don’t live in a vacuum, they are heroes because of us. They sacrifice their lives for us but they are not alone. Others should not stand idly by and watch the hero do everything. The Hero must do all the heavy lifting but his friends and allies should be what give him the slight edge over the enemy.

It’s function in a story is to take the hero as close to the moment of death as possible.

Keep in mind it’s not a random event, it’s an action from another character that’s been earned by the earlier actions of the Hero, it’s Karma, you do something good and something good happens back to help you when you need it.

Also, it seems to work best when it appears as a surprise rather than letting the audience know what’s coming. In Transformers 4 this stage was flagged early, dragged out and lost impact. Alfred Hitchcock often spoke about confusing the use of surprise and suspense in films, this is a beat where it is better served by surprise.

Star Wars –Just before Luke fires the shot to destroy the Death Star and Darth Vader is about to kill him, Han Solo appears and takes out the fighters attacking Luke. Han “You’re all clear kid, now let’s blow this thing and go home.”

The Avengers – Iron Man has made the heroic sacrifice and is falling to his death after taking out the enemy with the nuclear missile. Hulk saves him and cushions his fall.

Jurassic Park – Just before the Raptors kill them, a T Rex appears and kills the Raptors letting the heroes escape. This particular example is not true Rescue from withoug as there was no karma and takes it over the line in Deus ex machina which generally should be avoided but there are numerous incidences in film where it has occurred in film and has been successful

Raiders of the Lost Arc – The Nazis open the Arc and the Angels unleash the power of God on them. Indy is saved because he keeps his eyes shut.

Avatar – Avatar uses two, the first is for the overall battle between the soldiers and the Na’vi when Eywa sends the Pandorian wildlife in to turn the tide of the battle and again when Sully fights Quaritch in the final battle, Neytiri kills him with arrow.


Rescue – To save someone from a dangerous or distressing situation

Deliver, save, relive, pull through


Without – the outside of a place or area

Outside, external, extrinsic


How to use in your writing.

I think it’s important not to allow this stage to become deus ex machina. Focus on the hero being very active at this stage. The friend or ally who gives assistance is usually only just enough to give the hero the edge over his opponent so the hero can triumph. Don’t allow this outside help to replace the action of the hero.


The Hero’s journey – Magic Flight

Magic flight

Once the Ultimate Boon has been achieved, the antagonist chases after the Hero or a big final fight. In film this is the big, exciting climatic piece.

It’s either a fight or a flight. The Hero goes head to head with the villain.  A chase with the enemies in hot pursuit or reversed and the Hero is chasing the villain. How many romantic comedies end with the guy chasing the girl before she gets on a plane to Paris or running in the rain to her house.

Like all the stages in the Hero’s Journey it’s not a literal magical flight.

Star Wars – The assault on the Death Star

The Avengers – The fight over New York

Toy Story – Buzz flies into Andy’s car after defeating Sid.

Avatar – Huge fight in the air and on the ground between the Na’vi and the soldiers.

Magic – Impressive, wondrous, explosions, boom

Flight – Chase, pursuit, run, fight,


How to use it in your writing

A ticking time bomb of some sort adds to the urgency.

Make it as big as possible as the world will allow.

It can be a fight, a chase or both.

The Hero’s Journey – The Ultimate Boon

The Ultimate boon

The Ultimate Boon is the specific direct response to the call to adventure.

The Ultimate boon does not necessarily happen at the end of the film, often it happens around the end of the second act. Very clearly Joseph Campbell indicates the Ultimate boon happens before the Magic flight stage and what some people consider the Ultimate Boon stage is actually the Mastery of two worlds stage.

In Star Wars the Call to adventure is the Princess is in peril and needs rescuing “Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.” Leia is rescued at the end of the second Act, That’s the Ultimate boon. Luke’s response to the Call to adventure is at the end of Act one when he decides to join Obi Wan, learn the ways of the force and become a Jedi like his father. That happens at the end of Act three when he trusts the Force and makes the shot. That’s master of two worlds

In The Avengers, the Call to adventure is Tony is asked to join the Avengers, and when the Avengers unite at the end of Act two, that’s the Ultimate Boon. However, when Tony guides the missile through the hole and destroys the invasion fleet, that’s not the Ultimate Boon, that’s Master of Two worlds

In Kung Fu Panda, the Call to adventure is when Po is selected to become the Dragon Warrior and learn the secret to unlimited power from the Dragon scroll. He learns this at the end of Act two when he discovers ‘the secret’ is belief. That’s the Ultimate boon. However he still has to fight Tai Lun with this knowledge. When he defeats Tai Lun and the Furious Five bow in respect and call him Master, that’s the Master of Two world’s stage.

Ultimate – The Best achievable or imaginable

Final, last, terminal, utmost, extreme


Boon – A Thing that is helpful or beneficial

Blessing, benefit, favor, God send, gift


If you just look at the word Ultimate – it does mean the end but when you combine it with the word Boon, a thing that is helpful or beneficial or even a God send,  it means what is needed to be able to finish the quest.


How to use it in your writing

Usually, not always but usually, The Call to adventure or Inciting Incident happens to the hero, it is not usually an action from the hero. The first turning point, Crossing the first Threshold, Break into Two moment is an active choice made by the hero in response to the Call. Usually, not always.

And the Call to adventure has a resolution at the end of the second Act but the quest is not yet over because obtaining the ultimate boon means you are worthy to complete the journey.

The decision made at the first turning point sets off a chain reaction which is completed at the end of the third act.

Sometimes people set up a Call to adventure where it is completed at the end of the third act and struggle trying to fill act two. If this is the case for you perhaps you can tweak these moments.

If your story is working as it is then don’t force it in just because Joseph Campbell says so but keep in mind this set up is common and works in a number of stories.

The Hero’s journey – The Temptress

The Temptress

The Temptress is the opposite of the Goddess, the Goddess compels the hero on but the Temptress, provides a distraction or a detour. Rather than performing the role of a blocker or threshold guardian the Temptress presents a situation for the hero where he must make a choice.

This is an internal, moral battle rather than a physical battle. After enduring the grueling road of the trials, the Temptress throws up an option to take the easy way out, to give up on the quest. But by demonstrating he has the ability to refuse this offer, he is more heroic because of it.

The Temptress role may also be played by the Goddess but is not necessarily female.

Star Wars Temptations

Han Solo “Why don’t you come with us? You’re a good pilot, we could use you.”

Darth Vader “Join me and together we can rule the universe as father and son.”

Leia “Run away, far away, if he can feel your presence then leave this place.”

Emperor “Fulfill your destiny and take your father’s place at my side.”

Sirens would lure sailors to death by singing beautiful songs which would attract the ships  to the shore where they would break up on the rocks. They are not true Temptresses as their call is irresistible; they give the hero no choice.

Temptation in the Garden of Eden. They were warned by God not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge but a snake convinced Eve there was no harm in eating the fruit so she does,  she offers Adam some and he eats it as well. God finds out banishes them from the Garden of Eden and dishes out some eternal punishments. The dilemma they faced was their curiosity to find out what would happen if they ate the fruit versus obeying God, they choose the former and as a result, suffered the consequences.

Tempt – to attempt to persuade or entice to do something, especially something morally wrong or unwise

Lure, seduce, invite, charm persuade, magnetize


Dilemma – A problem offering at least two possibilities but to choose one means you lose the other and this loss causes pain

Difficulty, problem, bind, puzzle, quandary

How to use it in your writing

Identify a moment in your story after the hero has experienced some difficulty and hazards and present him with an opportunity, from another character, to leave the quest. If he is able to resist this temptation we admire him as a hero. If he cannot resist, he is punished and made to suffer, it is a hard lesson learned.

Most often, but not always, the temptation will come from either the Goddess or the Antagonist of your story. Is this the case or does it need to come from another character, such as one of the hero’s allies?


Star Wars A new hope Hero’s journey


Star Wars Hero’s Journey

Ordinary world

A rebellion is struggling against the might of a ruthless empire and Luke is a humble farm boy yearning for a more exciting life

Call to adventure

Inside a droid he just bought, Luke discovers a hidden message to save the Princess

Meeting the Mentor

He is rescued by OBI Wan





Refusal of the call

Obi Wan asks him to become a Jedi but he refuses

Answering the call

His uncle and Aunt are killed and theres nothing left for him now

Crossing the Threshold

Going to Mos Eisley

Threshold Guardians

Empire Starships


Road of trials

Escape Tatooine, Jedi Training,


Captured by Death Star

Meeting the Goddess

Rescuing Princess Leia

Entering the belly of the whale

Jumping into the garbage compactor.

Dragon Battle

Attacked by the monster in the garbage crusher

Ritual death or dismemberment

Luke taken under water for a long time and believed dead

Sacred Marriage

He has become emotionally attached to Obi Wan

Atonement with or recognition by the father

Obi Wan allows himself to be killed because he knows Luke is ready


They have the plans the Death Star and used it to discover a weakness in construction

Ultimate Boon/Magic elixir

Luke is fighter pilot in an X-wing for the rebellion



Magic flight/pursuit

Flying along the surface of the death star trying to make the shot with Darth Vader in pursuit

Rescue from without

“You’re all clear kid now lets blow this thing and go home.”

Crossing the return threshold

Embraces Han and Leia back at the rebel base

Master of two worlds

Receives medal

Freedom to live

Death star destroyed and his friends have survived

This is my painting of Luke and his Uncle. See more of my Artwork of Girls and Comics