Proof That Every Story Is the Same as Every Other Damn Story

It’s not exactly a shiny new concept that stories get recycled and retold, or that movies borrow liberally and sometimes steal from other movies, or that people like watching and hearing the same thing over and over again. But this video, by Will Schoder, illustrates just how similar the stories are to each other. They all essentially descend from order to chaos and from stasis to change.

The guiding principles of these stories is broken down by Dan Harmon, creator of the TV show Community, as such. Harmon actually simplifies Joseph Campbell’s idea of The Hero’s Journey thusly:

  1. A character is in a zone of comfort
  2. They want something
  3. They enter an unfamiliar situation
  4. Adapt to it
  5. Get what they wanted
  6. Pay a heavy price for it
  7. Then return to their familiar situation
  8. Having changed

Schoder uses clips from movies like Star Wars, The Lion King, Cast Away, Zootopia, Mad Max, and so many others to show how they follow those rules to progress their story. The video is a tad long but for anybody interested in storytelling, it’s a really fun watch.

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I think we really need to slightly reword the concept to “...every boring story designed for easiest mass consumption is the same...”

Because a lot of the best stories are great because they don’t follow this pattern. Some of the most obvious examples in fiction are Warren Ellis, Iain M Banks, Neil Gaiman, etc.