Study Guide

The Lion King Hero's Journey

Hero's Journey

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.)

Ordinary World

Simba is a little cub who gets to live in his ordinary world doing ordinary-world things. You know, just stuff like being a prince and using the entire African savanna as his playground. Super ordinary.

Call to Adventure

Scar banishes Simba from the Pride Lands.

Refusal of the Call

Instead of challenging Scar, Simba runs away with his tail between his legs. He lives for many peaceful and wondrous years in a jungle sanctuary with his friends, Timon and Pumbaa.

Meeting the Mentor

Simba has a fateful conversation with the ghost of his father, who tells him fatherly things like "be responsible" and "seek revenge on your evil uncle."

Crossing the Threshold

Simba returns to the Pride Lands.

Tests, Allies, Enemies

Simba does battle with Scar's henchmen. Scar tries to deceive the other lions into thinking that Simba is a patricidal maniac, but Simba corrects that misconception quickly.

Approach to the Inmost Cave

Simba and Scar circle each other, preparing for their final showdown. Simba tries to banish Scar from the Pride Lands, but Scar kicks some flaming embers into Simba's eyes, starting a fight.

Ordeal

Simba fights Scar and wins, throwing his uncle into a pack of hungry hyenas.

Reward (Seizing the Sword)

Simba climbs Pride Rock, his role as king restored.

The Road Back

The Pride Lands return to their normal lush and green state.

Resurrection

Simba is accepted as the rightful king of the Pride Lands.

Return with the Elixir

Simba and Nala welcome a son, the new prince, into the world.

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