VOTD: Every Story Is The Same [Video Essay]

It's now been six years since Kirby Ferguson released his Everything Is A Remix video series showing how the visual media of film and television have always borrowed from what came before them. Now a new video essay helps illustrate how this is also the case with storytelling across all sorts of media.

If you've ever had more than a passing interest in narrative storytelling, then you've probably heard of the concept of The Hero's Journey. Coined by Joseph Campbell, it's the general template for any given story where our hero ventures out from home on some kind of an adventure, encounters obstacles to overcome, and returns a changed person. A new video essay takes a cue from Community and Rick and Morty creator Dan Harmon to break this concept down into even simpler pieces that apply to all kinds of stories, and thus illustrates that all stories are the same at their core.

Here's the video essay Every Story Is The Same by Will Schoder:

There are 17 steps in Joseph Campbell's The Hero's Journey, but Dan Harmon has broken that down into these eight more simple parts:

  • A character is in a zone of comfort,
  • But they want something.
  • They enter an unfamiliar situation,
  • Adapt to it,
  • Get what they wanted,
  • Pay a heavy price for it,
  • Then return to their familiar situation,
  • Having changed.
  • Harmon thinks you can easily apply this to movies, TV shows, books, plays and even songs and it holds up. Of course, when you break down anything to its bare bones, you're going to find a lot of similarities, so this isn't necessarily anything earth shattering. But it's a simple way to think about storytelling for anyone who might be having trouble sorting out their own ideas.