Hero’s Journey Goodfellas (1990)

Goodfellas is another successful story that follows the Hero’s Journey template. Mirroring this template allows the screenwriter to write effective screenplays and stories.

The Fade In introduces the context of the story. In Goodfellas we hear Billy Batts begging to be let out of the trunk. The protagonists respond by stabbing and shooting him some more. This Fade In is equivalent to the famous Star Wars text based roll-on. It is incredibly common, for example, in Al Pacino Scarface, we learn context through narrative and visuals (the expulsion of cuban criminals by Fidel).

Next we meet the hero in his Ordinary world and his motivations for wanting to embark on the journey.

The third sequence introduces us to the antagonist – headed by Paul Cicero, who is to be the hero’s supernatural aid.

The fourth sequence further enhances the rewards of the journey for the hero [“I was the luckiest kid in the world.”]

The fifth sequence presents the Interdictor and the Interdiction to the journey [Henry’s Dad].

In the sixth sequence the interdiction is overcome [the postman gets beaten up].

Now that there are no obstacles, we journey to meet the supernatural aid and mentor [Paul Cicero].

Again, the benefits of embarking on the adventure are extolled [“at thirteen I was making more money than the grown ups in the neighbourhood.”]

In the ninth sequence, the hero consciously agrees to the journey [Henry dressed in the gangster uniform].

The tenth sequence demonstrates that Henry, our anti-hero, still has a lot to learn [he tries to help and cleans up after the guy who is shot].

In the eleventh sequence the supernatural aid guides the way – he introduces the hero to the Shape Shifter [Jimmy]. We are meeting the allies that will accompany the hero on his journey.

We learn about the Shape Shifter.

The (dangerous) Joker [Tommy] is introduced.

A Threshold Guardian bars entry into the First Threshold [Henry gets busted].

There are warning of the new rules before entering the First Threshold [“never rat on your friends.”]

A celebration as the hero embarks into the First Threshold [Pauly et al greet Henry outside the courtroom].

The 106 stage Hero’s Journey and complete analysis of Goodfellas and other story structure templates can be found at

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Kal Bishop, MBA


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Kal Bishop is a management consultant based in London, UK. His specialities include Knowledge Management and Creativity and Innovation Management. He has consulted in the visual media and software industries and for clients such as Toshiba and Transport for London. He has led Improv, creativity and innovation workshops, exhibited artwork in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and written a number of screenplays. He is a passionate traveller. He can be reached at

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