If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

(click to enlarge)

Most films follow the prototypical structure of introduction, rising action, climax, conclusion, but some go a step beyond that and some of our most beloved movies seem to share the ENTIRETY of their plots as seen above.

You wouldn’t think that The Lion King, Batman, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars had much of anything in common, but looking at this chart, it’s clear that there’s a general outline that seems to work pretty well for a franchise no matter the genre.

So all of you attempting to write the next big movie or novel, here’s a quick guide to be on the right path for success. Kind of useful, kind of sad.

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  1. Uh, that picture is pretty inaccurate. Let’s start, shall we?

    Simba never beat Scar with the Pride Rock. How is that even possible? I wouldn’t call Ron and Herminoe social outcasts. At all. Neither Alfred and Robin. And when does Batman beat the Joker with the Batarang? Darth Vader doesn’t try to take control over the Galactic Empire, neither was he defeated with a Lightsaber. 3CPO and R2D2 are NOT social outcasts either. The stepmother of Cinderella was not trying to take over the kingdom. She also wasn’t defeated with a shoe. The rats aren’t social outcasts. They’re rats. Plus, they were fairly popular amongst their rat friends. Sauron isn’t necessarily defeated with the ring per se and Frodo had at least the THREE friends, not counting the rest of the fellowship. Shere Khan wasn’t trying to take over the jungle. He just wanted to kill Mowgli. The only true link between all of these is that they’re orphans. They have friends. There’s a bad guy. He or she gets beaten. The last three are true to 99% of any movie/story out there. Weak.

  2. I’m basically with Ozy on this. And, aside from the blatant inaccuracies, saying that something this simple represents the ENTIRETY of any of these story’s plotlines is a little ridiculous.

    The graphic boils down to: An unlikely hero faces high stakes and overcomes them with the aid of newly acquired skills and friends. At that level of simplicity, you’re simply defining a dramatic situation, which most stories require at one point or another.

  3. @ Ozy

    “The only true link between all of these is that they’re orphans.”

    Simba was not an orphan. His mother was alive throughout the whole film.

  4. @Ozy

    Ron and Hermione not social outcasts? Hermione is a Mudblood and Ron is poor. People of mixed heritage and poor people are often social outcasts.

    Other than that, I agree with all of your comments.

  5. Ah, good point Major_Sam. Although! He did leave Pride Rock and basically became an orphan but I guess he didn’t REALLY become an orphan.

    As for Jim Jahey, you’re kind of right except that Hermione, Ron and Harry Potter are all LOVED at Hogwarts!

    @ Diva D, couldn’t have said it better myself.

  6. 1. Simba didn’t meet Timon & Pumba until AFTER Scar lied to him.
    2. Harry Potter sucks so I don’t care.
    3. Technically The Joker came before Robin, but I’ll let that pass.
    4 & 5. Spot-on with Star Wars & Cinderella.
    6. LOTR sucks so I don’t care.
    7. Spot-on with The Jungle Book.

  7. Absolutely useless chart.

    And why is Darth Vader always presented as the enemy in Star Wars, when it’s obviously the Emperor who is truly evil.

  8. I think this chart, even with the specific inaccuracies, is really just dumbing down Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, which is a basic format for many myths and stories across the world. Check it out, it’s kind of awesome how many things fit in to its structure (including those stories above):


    Also, nerd alert.

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