The Heroine's Journey Versus the Hero's Journey

People often mistakenly believe that the Heroine’s Journey (or the Anti-Hero’s Journey) is separate and distinct from the Hero’s Journey. This is incorrect. The Hero’s Journey is about transition (The Road of Trials), illumination (Apotheosis), movement from one conscious state to another, challenge and so forth – these are not gender specific.

A good example to illustrate this point is a deconstruction of Million Dollar Baby – Academy Award Winner (2004). There are, in fact, two heroes in this story (Maggie and Frankie). In this story Maggie’s outer challenge is to become a professional boxer and win the Title, her inner challenge is to overcome her White Trash background and her romantic challenge is encompassed in her interaction and relationship with Frankie.

The point to note is that though Maggie and Frankie both have their challenges, the PROCESS towards apotheosis and beyond is the same.

Call to Adventure: Maggie asks Frankie to coach her.

Refusal of the Call: Frankie refuses on the basis that this is not an adventure for a girl of her age.

First Threshold: Maggie is persistent in the gym. There is no going back for her, with or without Frankie.

Physical Separation (Belly of the Whale): Willie leaves Frankie, who is made redundant and drifts into teaching Maggie.

Transformation (Road of Trials) x3: Maggie transforms into a boxer and moves up a league; she makes the right choice in not leaving Frankie; she beats the British Champ; the completion of the transformation is signified by the receiving of a new name (Macushla).

Seizing the Sword: Maggie buys her family a house; Frankie warms to the role of father (the gaining of a new daughter);

Rebirth Through Death: Eddie saves Danger from the gym bully.

Atonement with the Father: Maggie takes on the Blue Bear.

Apotheosis: Maggie should have heeded the lesson – always protect yourself.

Ultimate Boon: Maggie gets a father and Frankie gets a daughter; they each get a new family.

Refusal of the Return: Frankie refuses to go back to the gym.

Magic Flight: Frankie searches for the best doctors and takes her away from the hospital in the desert.

Rescue from Without: Maggie’s family arrive and pull her back toward the old challenges.

Crossing the Return Threshold: Maggie loses her legs; she asks Frankie to kill her.

Master of the Two Worlds: Frankie consults with the priest and makes a decision to kill Maggie; Maggie wants to die remembering who she was.

Freedom to Live: Frankie doesn’t return to the gym.

The Complete 188 stage Hero’s Journey and FREE 17 stage sample and other story structure templates can be found at

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Kal Bishop, MBA


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Kal Bishop is a management consultant based in London, UK. His specialities include Knowledge Management and Creativity and Innovation Management. He has consulted in the visual media and software industries and for clients such as Toshiba and Transport for London. He has led Improv, creativity and innovation workshops, exhibited artwork in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and written a number of screenplays. He is a passionate traveller. He can be reached at

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