The Hero’s Journey in 17 Steps

hero journey

It’s the oldest of ancient yet magnificent. The hero’s journey shows the path a man walks through trails, adventure and danger to save the day and become a hero. Here are the 17 stepping stones.

hero's journey


The Hero’s Journey Phase 1: The Departure

1 The call to adventure

The hero is presented with a problem, challenge or adventure. The hero must face beginning of change. This call must be accepted, this can happen willingly, reluctantly, consciously or accidentally.


  • LOTR: Gandalf visits Frodo
2 Refusal of the call

The hero doesn’t accept the call right away. This can happen for all sorts of reasons, such as being unwilling, being in denial or being kept from being able to respond. The hero finds motivation and or opportunity to answer the call.


  • The Matrix: Neo refuses Morpheus' advice
3 Supernatural Aid

The hero is now committed to the quest (consciously or unconsciously) and his guide/ helper becomes known. Often, the mentor will present the hero with a talisman or artifact to aid him later in the quest.


  • Harry Potter: receives the cloak of invisibility
4 The crossing of the First Threshold

The hero crosses into the field of adventure, leaving behind all that is known and stepping into the unknown. Here, the limits, rules and limits are not yet known. There is no going back, this is where the adventure gets going.


  • LOTR: Sam says "...the farthest away from home I've ever been."
5 Belly of the whale

The belly of the whale represents the final separation from the known world of the hero. In this stage, he shows willingness to undergo change and adaptation.


  • Star Wars: the heroes are sucked into the enemy space by a tractor beam

Hero's journey

The Hero’s Journey Phase 2: Initiation

6 The road of Trails

This is a series of tests, tasks and ordeals that the hero must undergo in order to begin his transformation. Often the tests occur in threes and the hero usually fails one ore more. Sometimes, the heroes lose their mentor in this stage (e.g. LOTR and Star Wars).


  • LOTR: fighting their way through the mines of Moria
7 The meeting with the Goddess

The hero experiences a love that is all-powerful, encompassing and unconditional.


  • Harry Potter: Quirrel cannot touch him due to the love of Harry's mother.
8 Woman as Temptress

The hero faces temptation (physical or pleasurable) which make lead him to stray from his mission or even abandon it. This temptation does not necessary come from a woman.


  • Star Wars: Han Solo claims the reward money
9 Atonement with the father

The hero confronts the ultimate power in his life. This is the centre point of the story. All previous steps have brought him here and the steps to come move him away.


  • Matrix: meeting the architect
10 Apotheosis

There is a period of rest, peace and fulfilment before the hero begins his journey home.


  • Star Wars: Obi-Wan becomes part of the Force himself
11 The Ultimate Boon

The achievement of the goal or quest. The hero gets what he came for.

small HERO's journey

The Hero’s Journey Phase 3: The return

12 Refusal of the return

The hero may not want to return to the ordinary world.

13 The magic flight

Sometimes the hero must escape with the artifact he came for (e.g. the holy grail) and others come after him to claim it back. In this case, the journey back can be just as dangerous and full of adventure.

14 Rescue from without

The hero often has (and needs) guides and helpers, sometimes the helpers are the one that need to bring him back to every day life. Especially if the hero has been severely wounded.

15 The crossing of the return threshold

Now that he gained all this knowledge and experience, he needs to retain it and integrate it into his human life and or share it with the world.

16 Master of two worlds

This step occurs if the hero is a transcendental hero such as Jesus or Buddha. If the hero is human, this may be simply achieving a balance between the material and spiritual world. The hero becomes comfortable and competent in both the inner and outer world.


  • Matrix: Neo makes a call from within the matrix at the end
17 Freedom to live

Mastery has lead to freedom to live and living in the moment without anticipating the future nor regretting the past.

hero's journey

Variations of the Hero’s Journey

The Hero’s journey in 8 steps by P. Causineau:

  • The Call to Adventure
  • The Road of Trials
  • The Vision Quest
  • The Meeting with the Goddess
  • The Boon
  • The Magic Flight
  • The Return Threshold
  • The Master of Two Worlds

Another eight-step formulation by D. Adams Leeming:

  1. Miraculous conception and birth
  2. Initiation of the hero-child
  3. Withdrawal from family or community for meditation and preparation
  4. Trial and Quest
  5. Death
  6. Descent into the underworld
  7. Resurrection and rebirth
  8. Ascension, apotheosis, and atonement