Ever notice that every blockbuster movie has the same fundamental pieces? A hero, a journey, some conflicts to muck it all up, a reward, and the hero returning home and everybody applauding his or her swag? Yeah, scholar Joseph Campbell noticed first—in 1949. He wrote The Hero with a Thousand Faces, in which he outlined the 17 stages of a mythological hero's journey.
About half a century later, Christopher Vogler condensed those stages down to 12 in an attempt to show Hollywood how every story ever written should—and, uh, does—follow Campbell's pattern. We're working with those 12 stages, so take a look. (P.S. Want more? We have an entire Online Course devoted to the hero's journey.)
We pick up right where we left off in the last film, with Hermione, Harry, and Ron staying at Bill and Fleur's. Oh, and Luna, Ollivander, and Griphook are there, too—they all escaped Malfoy Manor together.
Call To Adventure
We'd say Harry and his friends got that call seven movies ago, wouldn't you agree?
But yes, Harry is moving on to the next stage of that adventure: finishing off Voldemort's Horcruxes. To that end, he talks/bribes Griphook into helping him break into Bellatrix Lestrange's vault at the Gringotts bank. Harry believes there's a Horcrux hidden in there.
Refusal Of The Call
Before leaving on the Gringotts mission, though, Harry meets with Ollivander—you remember the wand-maker, right?
Harry learns that Ollivander gave Voldemort information about the location and owner of the Elder Wand. Ollivander never believed that Voldemort would get his hands on the wand, but Harry has news for him: Voldemort definitely has it. Ollivander basically tells Harry that, if that's true, he's toast.
Nonetheless, Harry being Harry, he still plows ahead with the whole Horcrux mission.
Meeting The Mentor
Griphook successfully guides Harry and the gang into Gringotts while perched underneath Harry's invisibility cloak. They encounter some difficulties, but with Griphook's help, they end up in Bellatrix's vault.
Of course, Griphook ends up betraying them and running off with the Sword of Gryffindor before helping them get out…so, he's not much of a mentor. Nonetheless, they all make it out of Gringotts safely.
Crossing The Threshold
After the escapade in Gringotts, Harry has one of his visions that take him inside Voldemort's thoughts. Voldemort has found out about the break-in at Gringotts—and so he knows that Harry is hunting Horcruxes. In the same vision, Harry realizes from the wanderings of Voldemort's thoughts that there's probably a Horcrux hidden at Hogwarts.
So, Hermione, Harry, and Ron head to Hogsmeade (the town outside of Hogwarts) to try to find a way into the castle. There, they meet Aberforth Dumbledore (brother of Albus), who helps them into the school by giving them access to a secret passage.
Tests, Allies, Enemies
Harry, Hermione, and Ron arrive back at Hogwarts, and everyone who hasn't seen them in months is thrilled. However, the action is heating up, and not in a good way. Voldemort arrives at Hogwarts and starts threatening the students and teachers with imminent death if they won't turn Harry over.
However, the teachers and students (well, except for the Slytherin students, perhaps) aren't planning to sell Harry out. McGonagall promises Harry that they will try to hold off the Death Eaters and Voldemort as long as they can so he can do what he needs to do in the castle (which is find that Horcrux).
Approach To The Inmost Cave
Thanks to a tip from Luna, Harry figures out that the Horcrux is probably Rowena Ravenclaw's lost diadem. So, he goes to visit the Grey Lady, the ghost of Ravenclaw Tower, who also happens to be Rowena Ravenclaw's daughter.
After some hemming and hawing, the Grey Lady gives Harry the intel he needs: the diadem is in the Room of Requirement.
So, Harry heads to the Room of Requirement, but he finds he's not alone when he gets there. Draco and his pals Crabbe and Goyle follow him in there because they want to get Draco's wand back from Harry (Harry won it from Draco at the end of the last film), and then Ron and Hermione show up fresh from destroying the Gringotts Horcrux with a basilisk fang.
And then one of Malfoy's buddies, Crabbe, unleashes a crazy Fiendfyre snake, and Ron, Hermione, Harry, Draco, and Goyle barely make it out alive (Crabbe, well, doesn't make it out at all. You know what they say about playing with fire).
Once they've escaped the fiery room, Harry and his friends destroy the crown…and Voldemort is muy angry. Harry actually feels Voldemort's anger when the crown Horcrux "dies," and gets yet another glimpse of the Dark Lord's mind.
As a result, Harry realizes that Voldemort's snake, Nagini, is the last Horcrux. Harry then voluntarily goes back into Voldemort's mind so he can find out where the Dark Lord (and the snake) are likely to be hiding out.
When Harry, Hermione, and Ron go to find Voldemort, they witness the Dark Lord murdering Snape in order to gain the allegiance of the Elder Wand. Voldemort leaves, and Harry tries in vain to help Snape.
Before he dies, though, Snape gives Harry one of his memories to view in Dumbledore's Pensieve. From the memory, Harry learns that Snape has been loyal to the good guys all along…and, in less happy news, that Harry himself became a Horcrux when Voldemort killed his mother.
What does that mean? Well, that Harry has to die in order for Voldemort to die. NBD.
Reward (Seizing The Sword)
Harry doesn't dilly-dally about what has to happen next. Voldemort has given Harry an ultimatum via a kind of magical loudspeaker over the grounds. It goes something like "Meet me in the Forbidden Forest, or all your pals will die."
After seeing Snape's memory, Harry heads straight out to the Forbidden Forest and faces Voldemort. Voldemort aims the Killing Curse at him, and everything goes blank.
The Road Back
When we see Harry next, he appears to be in some kind of limbo (and limbo looks a lot like London's King's Cross train station). Dumbledore is there, and he and Harry have a chat about what exactly is happening. Dumbledore explains that while the part of Voldemort that lived within him is dead, Harry himself…well, he can definitely go back to the land of the living, if he wants to.
Harry seems kind of into the idea of heading into the Great Beyond and leaving his worldly troubles behind, but since Voldemort is still out there, and his friends are still in danger…you know what he's going to do.
So, yeah, Harry is literally resurrected. He pretends to be dead for a little while to gain the advantage of surprise over Voldemort/the Death Eaters, but eventually he reveals that he's so not dead.
There's more dueling and drama among the good guys and the Death Eaters, Neville kills Nagini, and then Harry defeats and disarms Voldemort. Turns out, the Elder Wand wasn't loyal to Voldemort, so it's no match for Harry's spell.
Return With The Elixir
Having defeated the most evil dude in the whole Wizarding world, Harry heads back to the castle to be with his friends. And, as Porky Pig would say, th-th-that's all, folks.