When Harry met Sally – The Hero’s journey breakdown

Ordinary world

Harry and Sally have just graduated college and drive to New York to start the rest of their lives

Call to Adventure

Harry and Sally aren’t that compatible. Harry tells her that men and women can’t be friends. In romantic comedies there’s always a problem that keeps them from getting together, otherwise it’s a pretty short and boring movie – two people meet, fall in love, the end. But these two are destine to be together.

Refusal of the call

They meet again a few years later and Harry and they have some playful banter but they are involved with other people. Harry asks to have dinner ‘as friends’ but she reminds him of his earlier comment and he tries modify his position but she’s still not interested in having any sort of relationship with Harry.

Supernatural Aid

Their friends Marie and Jess are the ones who offer relationship advice throughout the film.

Crossing the First Threshold

They meet again after their relationships have just ended and become friends as they share the same pain of lost love

The Road of the trials

Falling into friendship then love. Each of them has quirks that they’re shared, tolerated, and understood with each other.

Meeting with the Goddess

They both serve as the Goddess for each other. This was a fairly evenly balanced romantic comedy and we go on the journey following both of them. They each have flaws needing fixed

Woman as Temptress

There were a few various temptations pulling them away from each other in the form of other potential and actual partners. The strongest one is when they recommend their best friends Marie and Jess for each other.

Death of the mentor

Marie and Jess end up marrying each other – their best friends are no longer single.

Belly of the whale

There’s no real Belly of the whale moment – there’s no scene which fits this concept neatly. The morning after they have sex would be the closest thing. They commit to challenge of Act II and it’s dangers are revealed. Belly of the whale can be a reminder they have to proceed with caution.

Atonement with the Father

They’ve slept with each other and it’s destroyed the friendship – This is exactly what Harry said would happen at the start of the film. This principle that he has lived with all of his adult life was correct

Ultimate Boon

This is a reversal of the Ultimate Boon. Harry implies that he slept with her out of pity, Sally slaps Harry in the face and tells him F U. Their relationship as both lovers and friends is over.


Apotheosis can be a stage about learning, in this instance Harry learns he really does love Sally and he wants to spend the rest of his life with her and he wants the rest of his life to begin right now.

The Magic flight

Harry runs to Sally to be with her. (The guy running to the girl

The crossing of the return Threshold

Harry pleads his case that the reason they should be in a relationship is because of their friendship, and lists a heap of reasons why their friendship is the perfect foundation for their relationship

Master of two worlds

They learn they can be both friends and lovers

Freedom to live

They sit on the couch being interviewed just like all the other old loving couples in the film and they demonstrate their affection and compatibility for each other.


When Harry met Sally along with Annie Hall are the defining examples of the romantic comedy genre. Often copied, never beaten. The stories of old couples talking about their relationship to camera being capped off with the final scene of Harry and Sally on the couch as a married couple was clever.  This story also uses a technique used by sitcoms where they have things happening off screen, like when they went out on dates with other people and instead of showing those dates like a normal film they have the two main characters talking to each other about the disastrous dates and set it somewhere visually interesting.



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