The Empire strikes back and Return of the Jedi – The Hero’s journey breakdown

Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi

The Empire Strikes Back is an unusual film because the big action piece which usually ends the third act happens in the first act and the ending of the film has one of the main heroes frozen in carbonite – you can’t finish a film with Han in carbonite. It’s two part story with the next film, Return of the Jedi. Whereas Star Wars – A New Hope is a stand alone film.

Call to adventure

Luke has a vision from Obi Wan to seek out Yoda and be trained in the ways of the Jedi

Refusal of the call

Instead of rushing off straight away he stays to defend the Rebel alliance

Supernatural Aid

Luke meets Yoda and although he refuses to train him at first, he eventually agrees with Obi Wan

Crossing of the first Threshold

Landing on the planet

Road of the trials

Learning the skills of the Jedi

Belly of the whale

He enters the cave, kills Darth Vader who turns out to be himself.


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

Atonement with the father

He is defeated and realizes that Yoda was right, he was not yet ready to face Vader.


He has lost his hand and discovered the evil dark Lord Vader is his father. Instead of joining Vader he makes a suicidal leap down the ventilation shaft.

The Ultimate Boon

The Ultimate boon takes place in the first act of Return of the Jedi. All his friends are captured and he has to use all his Jedi skills to rescue them.

Meeting with the Goddess

Finding out he has a sister, Leia.


He assists his friends on the mission to deactivate the deflector shield on Endor. Yoda has told him he will only be a Jedi once he faces Vader. The temptation comes from Leia, “Run away” but Luke turns himself over to Darth Vader.

Crossing of the return Threshold

Facing the Emperor and fighting his Father on the Death Star


“Your hate has made you powerful. Now fulfil your destiny and take your father’s place at my side”

Master of two worlds

He has defeated his Vader but he did not turn to the dark side.

Rescue from without

Just before the Emperor can kill Luke, Darth steps in and throws the Emperor to his death.

Atonement with the father

Luke “I’ve got to save you.”

Vader “You already have. You were right about me.”

Magic flight

As the Death Star explodes Luke escapes in the shuttle.

Freedom to live

The Empire is defeated, he is a Jedi and the universe can live happily.


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