Episode 40: The Companions

On April 27, we held a workshop so we had to pre-record this third installment of the Hero’s Journey discussion. Here are the show notes:


Dr. Kasie Whitener, Clemson Road Creative, fiction writer

Rex Hurst, English Instructor, fiction writer

Theme for the day

The Hero’s Journey Part 3: The Companions


  • Review of the Hero’s Journey
  • The role of the Companions
  • Why at least 1 companion must die
backlit dawn foggy friendship
Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

Segment 1

This is our third episode on the Hero’s Journey so ICYMI here are the other two episodes (one and two) and here’s the outline of the Hero’s Journey:

  • The Call — being chosen to undertake the journey
  • The Companions — who will accompany the hero?
  • The journey itself — distance, obstacles, treachery
    • Monsters
    • Temptations
    • Deadly opposites or opposing dangers — think colliding armies
    • The underworld — death itself or a glimpse of the other side in the form of visions and insights gleaned by ghosts and spirits
    • The helpers — maintain posts along the path and assist the hero and companions in some way
  • Arrival and frustration — within sight of the goal but a new and terrible series of obstacles presents
  • The final ordeal — the last test of the hero’s personal transformation
  • Achievement of the goal — life affirming, it was all worth it finale of the story.

Here’s a great breakdown of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey lesson. With an infographic featuring a Luke Skywalker-looking cartoon.

In today’s episode we’re going to talk about the Companions and what they offer the Hero’s Journey. Then we’ll go over some pretty famous Companions and how they impacted their stories. Lastly, we’ll talk about how and why one of the Companions needs to die. Let’s do this.

The Archetypal Characters of the Hero’s Journey are:

  • The Hero, of course, a flawed but destined being
  • The Herald who instigates the journey with a call or summons
  • The Mentor who teaches the hero and has probably tried and failed this quest before
  • The Threshold Guardian or lesser villains who put up obstacles for the hero to overcome
  • The Shapeshifter or friends you don’t trust and mythical beings who pretend to be one thing while really being something else
  • The Ally or companion who provides a travel buddy, someone to offset the hero’s spontaneity, the person who balances or acts as foil to the hero
  • The Trickster or clown who serves as comic relief but is often in possession of important information
  • The Shadow who provides the hero’s most dangerous obstacle, could be a magical creature, an actual villain, or a memory or past sin that’s haunting the hero and preventing achievement of the goal

Segment 2

So let’s focus on the Companions and talk about how they come into the story, how they contribute, what they’re expected to do, and how they succeed and fail.

Here are some great movies with Hero’s Journey structures. We can take examples from them:



The Princess Bride

Almost Famous

Garden State

Shakespeare in Love

Fight Club

American Beauty

The Goonies



Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Finding Nemo


Wreck it Ralph

The Karate Kid

Field of Dreams

Pride & Prejudice

Another take on the character archetypes suggests “Distract the guards, hack the mainframe, or carry their gear” as the companion’s primary tasks.

How do the characters arrive?

They are lifelong friends (Goonies)

They meet in a seemingly fortuitous way (American Beauty – kid moves in next door)

They were enemies (The Princess Bride)

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