Act IV of the Hero’s Journey

We arrive at Act IV of the Hero’s Journey. The Hero has set the antagonist back and overcome the Darkest Cave. The Sword, now seized, guides the Hero to the last dregs of the quest. The Hero begins the Road Back and commits to finishing the Journey. This leads to the final battle, where Resurrection of the Hero transpires. The Hero then returns to their Ordinary World with the Elixir.

Note, this article is written from a hero-as-protagonist perspective. Some stories have the Hero as an antagonist or an anti-hero/split-protagonist.

With Act III over, the story should address any outstanding conflicts in character or plot arcs. Promises are fulfilled to the readers in full. This should leave readers satisfied with the ending, or excited for the sequel.

The Road Back

Despite the victory over the Cave, the Journey is not yet finished. Now having seized the Sword, the Hero confronts the consequences of their actions and recommits to saving their Ordinary World. The final battle looms to test the Hero again. Like the Darkest Cave, this final trial takes everything to overcome it—and it should push the protagonist to their limits.


During their final ordeal, the Hero experiences an all-is-lost moment. The whole Journey is at risk, and the Ordinary World is in peril. In fact, most screenwriters are required to kill off the protagonist for a few pages to follow this formula.

The Hero has failed in their quest. Evil has won.

Or has it?

The protagonist experiences a second resurrection or spurt of growth in this desperate moment. This cumulates in a true victory over the defeated Enemy using the skills, allies, and equipment the Hero has developed during the quest.

Return with Elixir

The Hero, now successful in their Journey, returns to their Ordinary World with the Elixir. Unlike the Sword, a tool or means to continue the quest, the Elixir is the panacea to the problems of the Ordinary World. The Elixir embodies what the World lacks, what may cure its ‘diseases’ or fix its problems.

With the World restored, the Hero may retire or they may assume a new role in society. Many writers use this to branch into new series via offspring of the Hero. Times when Evil stirs again.

Variations in the Hero’s Journey

There are many takes on the Monomyth. Some split the Journey into three Acts, others into four. Some skip over a section, or merge parts like the Darkest Cave and the Resurrection ordeals into one. Often, trilogies incorporate multiple Journeys throughout the series.

The Hero’s Journey is a solid guideline for story writing, but it is flexible in its application. An author or screenwriter should gauge the story’s needs, then tailor the Monomyth formula accordingly.

Act IV finishes what Act III began, and addresses the Conflict of Hero versus Enemy. The big payoff for readers. Character growth is completed with the plot arcs. The story ends with the Hero back in their Ordinary World, both changed in new and better ways.

And that concludes the Hero’s Journey series. From Act I to IV, the Hero grows, developing into a savior figure for their world. Evil is defeated, peace restored, and the Monomyth ends. The Monomyth is a reflection of our own lives, the struggles and Journeys we experience from fetus to grave. It is a formula written into our genetic code—how life grows.

And that is why we shall never tire of it.

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