The work became a lot more well-known after George Lucas cited the work as a major source of inspiration when writing the first six Star Wars movies (which also served as a pretty big Colbert Bump for the work as a whole). Since then, it has become a major source of School Study Media for anyone involved in creative writing careers, and its themes are commonly discussed in many literature courses.
The Hero with a Thousand Faces discusses the following tropes:
- Back from the Dead: The hero usually dies and returns, either literally or figuratively.
- Big Bad: Every journey needs one to drive the plot.
- Deity of Human Origin: Buddha, Jesus, and others become this after apotheosis.
- Eternal Hero: This is what the phrase "hero with a thousand faces" describes, the idea being that all mythological heroes are facets or reflections of one heroic archetype.
- Eternal Recurrence: In many cosmologies the world is in cyclical decline and improvement.
- I Choose to Stay: The hero is tempted to but usually doesn't and instead brings the boon back to their people.
- Messianic Archetype: The classical hero is often one or at least aids one.
- Standard Hero Reward: The boon they find is often represented by a woman.
- The Underworld: The hero might wind up here, either while spending time dead or entering it themselves without dying.
- Vision Quest: Again, the hero might find themselves on one.