The Hero’s Journey Explained + Free Printable

Hero's Journey Explained


The Hero’s Journey archetype was identified by Joseph Campbell, the author of The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

The journey that the hero takes may be a physical or psychological one.

This archetype is seen in Star Wars, The Hobbit, The Hunger Games, The Lord of the Rings, The Lion King, The Matrix and Harry Potter.

The Hero’s Journey has twelve stages.

The Hero's Journey Template.jpg

  1. Ordinary life – The Hero lives a normal life.
  2. Call to adventure – He/she gets a message or inner calling.
  3. Refusal of the call – He doesn’t want to go on the quest. The character may feel like they have responsibilities they will neglect if they go on this quest.
  4. Meeting with the mentor – The Hero meets a mentor or someone who can help them fulfil their quest.
  5. Crossing the first threshold – Some distress happens to the Hero and he is forced to heed the initial call to adventure.
  6. Tests, Allies and Enemies – He meets allies and they face various tests and make enemies along the way.
  7. Approach to the Inmost Cave – The Hero and his allies prepare for battle.
  8. Supreme ordeal – The Hero finds himself in an extremely difficult position where they confront death or face their biggest fear.
  9. Reward – He reaches his goal. There is a sense of celebration and fear that the hero will lose his reward.
  10. The Road Back – The Hero has to make his way out of the inmost cave to bring the reward home. This has its own challenges.
  11. Resurrection – The challenges on the road back cause the Hero to come close to death one last time, but they return triumphant. All the conflict that caused the journey has been resolved after this final challenge.
  12. Return with elixir – The Hero and his allies return home or continue their journey with the reward that will change their world.

There are various character archetypes involved in the Hero’s Journey. Here’s a basic guide to them:

The protagonist: The Hero of the tale.

The herald: The person who initiates the call to action.

The mentor: A wise person who prepares the Hero for their journey and advises them along the way.

The threshold guardian: The character who tests the hero by getting in their way.

The shapeshifter: The character who has unclear motives. The Hero is unsure if they are an ally or foe. They help heighten the suspense in a story.

The trickster: They provide comic relief or bring change in the story.

The shadow: The character who represents the dark side and proves to be the hero’s biggest challenge.

The Hero's Journey Character Archetypes

You don’t have to follow this model 100% when writing your story, but it can help you plot your novel.

Here is a free downloadable printable of questions to ask yourself when writing a Hero’s Journey story:

Questions to ask yourself when writing a hero's journey 1.jpg

Questions to ask yourself when writing a hero’s journey

Have you written a Hero’s Journey story? Do you plan on writing one? Which Hero’s Journey story is your favourite? Mine is definitely The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Let me know by commenting below!


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Lindsay Sign Off New


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9 thoughts on “The Hero’s Journey Explained + Free Printable

  1. Lord of the Rings – but with Sam as the true hero. I suppose the young adult fiction I’m working on would fall under this mode as well.
    Great post

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The new Disney/Pixar movies are actually good: in Brave the princess isn’t out to find a prince, just to find herself (and by doing that, she heals her relationship with her mother); in Frozen, though there’s the potential for romance, it’s actually about the relationships between the sisters. The best part of these movies, though, is the fact that these princesses aren’t waiting to be rescued 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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