The Hero’s journey – Refusal of the return

Refusal of the return

The Hero has achieved the Ultimate Boon and has proved himself worthy to complete the journey. He now must return, bringing with him what he has learnt and what he has become.

However, sometimes the hero wants to remain in the moment and enjoy the feeling of bliss and enlightenment that the Ultimate Boon has brought.  The pull of being Hero is too strong and this diversion will not last. A Hero puts others ahead of himself.

Frodo Baggins, on he brink of throwing the ring in the fires of Mount Doom, refuses to throw it in and claims the ring as his own.

After examining many films to extract the Hero’s journey, I find this stage almost always omitted. I find the stage Death of the Mentor far more common and more worthy of inclusion in the journey.

Refusal – An act of unwillingness to do something

Rejection, denial, not accepting


Return –  To come back to an earlier condition or place

Homecoming, arrival, reunification


How to use in your writing

This is the least most common stage of the Hero’s journey as once they have achieved the Ultimate Boon it means they are ready to go on. However, your story may need a moment where the hero is consumed by the sensation of achieving a higher level of enlightenment and he may need something further to shock him out of it.

5 Replies to “The Hero’s journey – Refusal of the return”

  1. Thank you for your writing about how our hero can wish to stay in the presence of the gods. “Why return to such a world.” I speak often in public on topics I originally found in HWATF’s. It was a great resource for me when I had to do work with my own father. I discovered that truly we are one. Thanks again.

  2. This is the stage that is most common in real life. In life, we call it the comfort zone. We fight so hard to obtain a goal – and once we get it, we stay put. This where the story ends for us regular humans.

    These descriptions are so helpful! I got twisted up in my story and I knew something wasn’t right. So, I searched for “rescue from without” and I found your website. Thank You!

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