At heart, despite its infinite variety, the hero’s story is always a journey. A hero leaves her comfortable, ordinary surroundings to venture into a challenging, unfamiliar world. It may be an outward journey to an actual place: a labyrinth, forest or cave, a strange city or country, a new locale that becomes the arena for her conflict with antagonistic, challenging forces.
But there are as many stories that take the hero on an inward journey, one of the mind, the heart, the spirit. In any good story the hero grows and changes, making a journey from one way of being to the next: from despair to hope, weakness to strength, folly to wisdom, love to hate, and back again. It’s these emotional journeys that hook an audience and make a story worth watching.
– Christopher Vogler, The Hero’s Journey, introduction
Vogler encourages the reader of this book to think of films they have watched or stories they have read, but I suppose those of us who create our own stories naturally think of those, since we know those stories better than any.
This view of storytelling has been hugely influential, but in modern stories, there is rarely any such thing as ‘a call to adventure’. In television in particular, there is no time for characters to sit around waiting for a call. This is part of the reason why TV is so often set in settings such as police headquarters, schools and courtrooms — the ‘call’ comes walking through the door every single day.
In fact, the call to adventure has always been about young men. It seems youth plus testosterone is a combo required for wanting to go out and save the world. In the name of diversity, it’s probably just as well that this call to adventure story falls out of use.