Wednesday, May 25, 2022

The Ultimate Story Checklist: Does the hero find out who his real friends and enemies are?

Only in a crisis do we discover who we can really count on and who has been sabotaging our efforts all along. 

Warning: The easiest way to drop a huge reversal on your hero is to reveal that his “success” is actually part of the villain’s plan, as seen in movies like Total Recall or Flightplan, but this is never a good idea. It inevitably creates huge plot holes and makes the hero seem way too stupid and predictable. Instead, reversals should come about because of the hero’s blind spots and hubris.
  • A lot of heroes get betrayed at this point. Richard realizes that his best friend ordered his death in The Fugitive. Tony gets his heart ripped out by Stane in Iron Man, only to realize what Pepper really means to him. 
  • Sometimes it can be positive: Bart befriends Mongo and Lili Von Schtupp in Blazing Saddles. Max finally realizes that Helen is a natural ally in Rushmore.

The 40 Year Old Virgin

YES. He realizes that he’s his own worst enemy


YES, she realizes that the company is not her friend, Ash is evil.

An Education

YES. Eventually, yes. All relationships are turned on their heads, except with the headmistress.

The Babadook

YES. Claire cuts her off and the man stops coming around, but the next door neighbor turns out to be reliable, and Samuel turns out to the one who can save her …by stabbing her, knocking her out and tying her down.

Blazing Saddles

YES. He finds out the nature of Hedly’s schemes, and wins over Mongo and Lili.

Blue Velvet

YES. he finds out that a cop is in on it, and that Sandy is better able to straddle both worlds than Dorothy is. 

The Bourne Identity

YES. he realizes that his fellow killers aren’t really the problem, it’s the boss, and realizes that Marie really loves him.


YES. Finds out Helen isn’t so bad, Megan is a good friend. 


YES. he discovers he can trust Renault and Ilsa.


YES. Eventually figures out Evelyn isn’t bad. 

Donnie Brasco

YES.  realizes that he’s in more danger for being a mobster than being a fed.

Do the Right Thing

YES. When Sal spits racist invective at Radio Raheem, Mookie decides that Sal is unacceptably racist after all, and the chasm cannot be crossed.  

The Farewell

YES. Her father switches to her side, but is still outvoted.  She feels betrayed by Nai Nai herself, when Nai-Nai’s sister tells her that Nai Nai lied to her husband about his cancer. 

The Fighter

YES. he realizes that he should trust Charlene more than his family.


YES. she realize that Hans is evil and she really loves Kristoff. 

The Fugitive

YES. It takes a long time to figure that out, but he does right before the beginning of the 4th quarter.

Get Out

YES. Very much so. 

Groundhog Day

YES. He realizes that he really loves Rita, and the town.

How to Train Your Dragon

YES. Yes.

In a Lonely Place

YES. finds out cop has stood by him, but Laurel is unwilling to.

Iron Man

YES. Stane tries to kill him, Pepper and Rhodey back him up, Agent Coulson goes from annoyance to ally.

Lady Bird

YES. Both of those relationships are unsatisfactory and she goes back to Julie.

Raising Arizona

YES. The brothers and the brother-in-law turn on Hi.


YES. he feels betrayed when Mr. Blume starts sleeping with Ms. Cross.


YES. Johnson turns on him and has the FBI send the tape to his wife (though it’s never clear if King blames Johnson for this).  Of the two SNCC leaders, he makes peace with one and breaks permanently with the other.

The Shining

YES. Jack realizes that the spirits want him to kill his wife.  Danny realizes he needs Tony.  Wendy realizes she can’t trust Jack.


YES. Realizes he should have been loyal to Maya, not Jack. 

The Silence of the Lambs

YES. She discovers that Chilton is even worse than she thought and Lecter had secret plans. She also learns to trust Crawford, despite his toughness and possible sexism.

Star Wars

Not in this one. Good and bad are readily evident.  Betrayals and redemptions will come in later movies.

Sunset Boulevard

YES. he realizes that Norma is his enemy and Betty is his real salvation.

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