Study Guide

The Rocky Horror Picture Show Hero's Journey

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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

It's bright and sunny at the beginning, when Brad and Janet's friends are happily married. They have a happy normal wedding, attended by happy normal people, and Brad proposes to Janet so they can be normal, happy, and married too.

How boring.

Call to Adventure

On a dark and stormy night, which is how all good adventures should start, Brad and Janet get a flat tire, and must trek through the rain to a creepy castle in order to use the phone. If that place turns out to be normal, we'll be really disappointed.

Refusal of the Call

Janet makes a literal refusal when she tells Brad she doesn't want to hang out at the creepy castle anymore.

JANET: Brad, let's go back, I'm cold and I'm frightened...

But Brad doesn't listen. He's going to regret it.

Meeting the Mentor

Frank-N-Furter is an unlikely mentor, but he makes an incredible entrance. From the moment he descends in the antique elevator in a sparkly lace-up corset, fishnets, and pearls, you can't take your eyes off him. A mentor generally teaches people something, and Brad and Janet are in for quite the education.

Crossing the Threshold

Janet and Brad's clothes are removed and they're brought into the mad doctor's laboratory. Even if they wanted to leave, at this point, they wouldn't be able to. They'd catch their deaths of cold in the rain.

Tests, Allies, Enemies

Who are these freaks? What's going on? What have Brad and Janet, those two goody-goodies from Denton, Texas gotten themselves into? They have to find out if Dr. Frank-N-Furter; his minions, Riff Raff and Magenta; and his groupie, Columbia, are harmless weirdos or something more sinister.

Approach to the Inmost Cave

When Frank-N-Furter reveals a mummy in a glass case, his true plan begins to take shape. Like his similarly sounding namesake, Dr. Frankenstein, he's going to make a man, and Brad and Janet will witness something they previously thought impossible.


Rocky is born. Eddie is killed. Brad and Janet have no idea who to trust, and they end up not even able to trust each other after Frank-N-Furter seduces them both. All this because of a lousy flat tire, too.

Reward (Seizing the Sword)

Janet experiences a sexual awakening after being seduced by Frank-N-Furter and realizes that Brad has also succumbed to his advances. She decides to take matters—and other things—into her own, um, hands, and pursue the hunky stud muffin, Rocky.

The Road Back

When Dr. Everett Scott shows up, he brings with him the potential to rescue Brad and Janet and bring things back to normal. But he's also looking for his nephew, Eddie, and he finds him at dinner. Actually, Eddie is dinner, sending Janet screaming for the exit—any exit.


The gang is turned into marble statues with the Medusa Transducer, but soon resurrected to perform as backup singers in Frank-N-Furter's swan song.

Return With the Elixir

Brad, Janet, and Dr. Scott are finally able to leave the mansion after Frank and Rocky are killed and Riff Raff and Magenta return to their home galaxy. But our three heroes don't return with an elixir, they return with hopelessness after being ejected from a weird world of magic and back into the mundane dirt of earth.

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