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 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 Avengers Save the cat beat sheet



1. Opening Image

The Tesseract, another world, aliens and the world burning.

2. Theme Stated  

“As of this moment we are at war”

3. Set-Up  

SHEILD, a military organization, has no idea of what is going on with the Tesseract and when Loki arrives through a portal they are easily defeated. This is no ordinary opponent and they are going to need help.

4. Catalyst

Loki has arrived from another world and has stolen the Tesseract, they are hopelessly outgunned and Nick Fury wants to assemble his response team The Avengers

5. Debate

Gathering the individual members of The Avengers.

“I can’t I’m in the middle of an interrogation” Black Widow

“What if I don’t want to” Bruce Banner.

Iron Man doesn’t want to meet with Coulson or get involved.

“You should have left it in the ocean” Captain America

6. Break into Two

The team are united on the Helicarrier but it is false unification because “We’re not a team, we’re a time bomb”

7. B Story

The A story is stop Loki and recapture the Tesseract. The B story is the heroes having to learn to work together as a team.

8. Fun and Games

Fights between members of the avengers and themselves and against Loki

9. Midpoint

Loki’s plan has been uncovered, gather the Avengers together and unleash the hulk on them. The Avengers argue with each other until the Helicarrier is attacked.

10. Bad Guys Close In

Led by Hawkeye, a group of soldiers attack the Helicarrier and Iron Man and Captain America have to repair the ship

11. All Is Lost

The Hulk and Thor have been removed from the group. The Helicarrier is disabled.

12. Dark Night of the Soul

Agent Coulson has been killed and Loki has escaped. Tony tells Cap they are not soldiers.

13. Break into Three

Tony Stark figures out the invasion will be in New York and they have to get the team there.

14. Finale

They can’t stop the portal from opening and the invasion begins

Rally the troops The Avengers unite

Storm the castle The Avengers battle the army and hold their own against them.

High tower surprise; When victory is in the balance they get betrayed by SHEILD command and a nuclear missile is launched on New YorkThis is when A and B stories unite as Fury goes against orders to protect The Avengers.

Dig down deep; Iron Man makes the self sacrificing move and goes through the portal hole on a one way mission

Victory or defeat: Iron Man sends the nuclear missile into the mother ship and the Hulk rescues him before he crashes into the ground.

15. Final Image

Loki is captured, the Tesseract secured and The Avengers are a team, ready to answer the call next time it comes


You may also like to look at the other breakdowns of The Avengers;

The Avengers – The Hero’s journey

The Avengers – John Truby’s 22 steps


The Avengers Hero’s journey stages


The Avengers Stages of the Hero’s journey


Ordinary world

Tony Stark is self obsessed billionare, genius, superhero

Call to Adventure

Nick Fury wants to assemble a response unit known as The Avengers Initiative. Tony Stark’s call to adventure comes from Agent Phil Coulson asking him to join.

Refusal of the call

He doesn’t accept this offer, in fact he rattles off reasons as to why S.H.E.I.L.D. thinks he can be part of the team – unreliable, selfish and can’t work in a team

Answering the call

Even though he refused to accept the offer, we see him begin studying the information. The next time we see him is when joins Captain America in the fight against Loki.

Supernatural Aid

Iron man suit


Nick Fury, he organizes, supports and motivates The Avengers


Obviously, the rest of The Avengers

Crossing the Threshold

Without any warning Iron Man supports Captain America to help subdue Loki

Threshold Guardians

There are none

Road of the trials

Loki’s plan is a one of deceit designed to give The Avengers a false sense of control. Tony  enters the Helicarrier and acts like a rock star, he’s willing to become part of the group but he still wants to do everything his way, secretly planting a virus in the computer system, playing with fire by messing with the Hulk and butting heads with Captain America.

Brother Battle

When Thor and Iron Man meet, they should be allies against Loki but they fight. And as Tony Stark, he locks horns with Captain America over his attitude

Meeting the Goddess

This is an unusual one, Meeting the Goddess is symbolic of meeting a character with special beauty and power. In this instance it’s when he meets Dr Bruce Banner. He admires him “especially the way you turn into that rage monster” They relate with one another because they are both geniuses and share a moment about the differences between them. Iron man has to wear armor but the Hulk is completely exposed. (they even drive off together at the end of the film)


Hawkeye is abducted at the start of the story and returns to the ship and attacks them, once he is defeated he rejoins the group.

Night or Sea Journey

They go on a voyage on the Helicarrier

Dragon battle

The helicarrier is attacked and he suits up.

Entering the belly of the whale /Ritual death or dismemberment

Iron man is caught in the rotary blades of the helicarrier whilst trying to repair them and is nearly torn apart. You could also look at the entering of the belly of the whale moment as when Iron man flies inside one of the Leviathans just after he makes a line about Jonah and the whale.

Sacred Marriage

Previously Iron Man and Captain America didn’t get along but now they have a blood bond having saved each other’s life whilst trying to repair the helicarrier.

Atonement with the father

A father represents power, in this instance the father figure is Nick Fury, Iron man is now committed to working in The Avengers which is ‘at one with’ Nick Fury’s intention.


Tony works out Loki’s plan he’s going to use Stark tower and open the portal in New York

Ultimate boon/magic elixir

Finally The Avengers are ready to function as a cohesive team.  Loki “What have I to fear?”     Stark “The Avengers”

Magic flight/Pursuit

The fight over New York against the Chitauri

Crossing the return threshold

Tony selflessly guides the nuclear missile through the portal to destroy the army.  Iron man is now the perfect hero, someone who gives his own life to save others

Rescue from without

He falls helplessly to Earth unconscious and The Hulk jumps in to save him.

Master of two worlds

When he recovers from the fall he wants to take the team for a Shwarma and take tomorrow off.

Freedom to live

The Avengers go their separate ways but they are ready to be called upon if they’re ever needed again.


The Avengers John Truby 22 steps breakdown

The Avengers John Truby 22 Steps


1.    Self revelation, need and desire

  1. Self revelation – Tony realizes what it truly means to be a hero by being part of The Avengers
  2. Psychological need – over come his narcissistic behavior
  3. Moral need – Tony needs to become a team player to be the best superhero he can be
  4. Desire – to save the world

2.    Ghost and story world

  1. Ghost World– Because of his genius, wealth and power he’s never had to rely on anyone
  2. Story World – It’s a world where superheroes, advanced technologies and aliens exist

3.    Weakness and need

  1. Weakness – volatile, self obsessed narcissist
  2. Psycological need – overcome his narcissistic behavior
  3. Moral need – Tony needs to become a team player to be the best super hero he can be
  4. Problem – Loki and his army are a greater threat than he can handle by himself

4.    Inciting incident

  1. Tony Stark is asked to join The Avengers

5.    Desire

  1. He wants live the billionaire lifestyle and he’s enjoying creating a clean energy power source for the world. He’s taken himself “off the grid” making himself independent

6.    Ally or Allies

    1. The Avengers

7.    Opponent and or mystery

  1. Loki and his mission to conquer Earth. His plan involves tricking The Avengers into fighting each other

8.    Fake Ally opponent

  1. SHEILD and Nick Fury – Although Nick Fury wasn’t completely honest with them, he protects them when SHEILD command abandons them and launches a nuclear missile against them

9.    First revelation and decision: Changed desire and motive

  1. Revelation – Tony studies all the information SHEILD gave him and realizes they are all in over their heads.
  2. Decision – Join The Avengers
  3. Changed desire – Get the Tesseract cube off Loki
  4. Changed motive – Protect the world from the dangers the Tesseract presents in the wrong hands

10. Plan


  1. Help catch Loki and then track down the location of the Tessearact

11. Opponent’s plan and main counter attack

  1. Activate the Tesseract
  2. Lull the Avengers into a false sense of security by allowing himself to be captured
  3. Have the Avengers fight amongst themselves
  4. Unleash the Hulk to destroy everyone

12. Drive

  1. Track down the Tesseract
  2. Come in take control like a rockstar
  3. He’s trying to work out what SHEILD’s real plan is
  4. Nick Fury’s plan Torture Loki to reveal information

13. Attack by an ally

  1. Ally Criticism – Captain tells Iron man “The only thing you really fight for is yourself. You’re not the guy to make the sacrifice play, to lay down on the wire and let the other guy crawl all over you” and “You may not be a threat but you better stop pretending to be a hero”
  2. Hero’s justification – “(I’m a) genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.” And “Following (orders is) not my style.”

14. Apparent defeat

  1. Hawkeye disables the Helicarrier
  2. The Hulk is unleashed and fights Black Widow and Thor and in the process is destroying the Helicarrier
  3. Agent Coulson is killed
  4. Thor is dropped to Earth in the glass cell
  5. Loki escapes
  6. Computers down and lost track of Tesseract
  7. “Your heroes are scattered. Your floating fortress falls from the sky”

15. Second revelation and decision: obsessive Drive, Changed desire and motive

  1. Revelation – Stark works out Loki’s plan of divide and conquer and that he is going to use Stark building in New York to open the portal
  2. Decision – Get to New York
  3. Changed desire – Be a hero
  4. Obsessive drive – Faces Loki without armor and then takes on the invading army by himself
  5. Changed motive – Stop the army invasion

16. Audience revelation

  1. Fury used Coulson’s death as motivation to unite them

17. Third revelation and decision

  1. Revelation – The team has been assembled
  2. Decision – Truly become part of the team “Call it Captain” and he’s ready to take orders

18. Gate, Gauntlet, visit to Death

  1. Iron man flies through the portal and launches the nuke into the mothership

19. Battle

  1. Avengers battle the invasion army and Loki

20. Self revelation

  1. Psychological self revelation – He has within him what it takes to be a hero
  2. Moral self revelation – A hero must be willing to sacrifice everything to save others

21. Moral decision

  1. Take the nuke through the portal even though this is a one way ticket

22. New Equilibrium

  1. The Avengers are a team which can be called upon when needed