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Journey to Find Oneself

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Eugene: I would like to think of this trip as something more than seeing tourist sights or exotic scenery. This is my chance to connect with the inner-person. A journey to myself!
Bernard: Sounds like a pretty short trip.

Well, the series is over, and a whole lot of stuff happened. Battles, deaths, perhaps a betrayal or two; but now that's over and everyone can build their lives back, right?

Well, not for the person who figures it's too hard to deal with the events of the series. Maybe they were the Well-Intentioned Extremist, or maybe they were controlled by Puppeteer Parasite, or maybe one too many of their loved ones died. Anyhoo, it would take more time than the epilogue has to constructively rebuild with the rest of the cast, so they decide to go Walking the Earth until they feel better about themselves.

Usually with a promise that they and the others "will meet again, someday," assuming the others don't think they're dead. This reunion is rarely ever shown, though if pulled off correctly can result in a very good open ending.

Compare The Atoner, Leaving You to Find Myself, "Rediscovering Roots" Trip.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo ends with one by one friends departing for their own personal journey. The later reunion is shown in the sequel manga.
  • At the end of FLCL, Mamimi leaves her town and pursues a career as a photographer.
  • Touma in Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force goes on a trip by himself in order to come to terms with the destruction of his hometown, which leads to him encountering Lily and the events of the story taking place. It snowballs from there.
  • Moriarty the Patriot: While in New York, William spends a lot of time trying to figure out who he is and how he can atone for his prior actions, having given himself almost no thought or interest beforehand, before reuniting with his Criminal Found Family to discuss his conclusions.

    Comic Books 
  • During 52 both Batman and Wonder Woman take some time off superheroing to find themselves. Batman also brings along Tim and Dick who also need some time off to mentally and physically recover from recent events, but according to Wonder Woman (2006) Diana didn't tell her proteges what she was up to leading to Wonder Girl Cassie giving her quite the chewing out when she resurfaces.
  • The overarching plot of X-23's solo series consists of this as Laura goes "walkabout" in the aftermath of her stint on X-Force, in large part triggered by questions over whether she has a soul after an encounter with Hellverine. She leaves Utopia because she feels there are too many voices trying to tell her who she is, and wishes to find her own answers. It's relatively brief and ends with Laura deciding to attend Avengers Academy after an invitation from Black Widow. During this time, Laura makes substantial progress in at least coming to terms with herself, even if much of her emotional damage remains.

    Fan Works 
  • Better Bones AU: Fallenleaf leaves ThunderClan between A Vision of Shadows and The Broken Code, prompted by her disillusionment with the politics of the Clans and her son Hollylark's death to want to truly understand her powers as a new god.
  • Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail is a Crossover between Pokémon Journeys: The Series and Infinity Train in which Chloe Cerise of the former decides that instead of following everyone's expectations to be into Pokémon and finding herself on the eponymous Train, she's going to find herself across the train's multiple pocket dimensions.
  • The first installment of the The Myth of Link & Zelda: Survivors of the Calamity, The Myth of Link & Zelda: Breath of the Wild, has Link going through this as he did in canon. Unlike the game, it's presented with each of his memories obtained in sequential order, with Link learning more and more about his past. It stretches to the rest of the first installment, with him recovering little bits of information as he frees Divine Beasts. It's not until the very ending that he finally obtains all the memories of his life from 100 years prior.

    Live-Action Film 
  • Discussed in Pulp Fiction when Jules wants to "walk the earth" after they turn in Marsellus' briefcase.
  • Ricomincio Da Tre, Massimo Troisi's comedy, is about a young man named Gaetano, who leaves his home in Naples to travel. Not, as he insists, to "emigrate."
  • Wild is about Cheryl Strayed's 1100-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, following a period of destructive behavior (drug use, promiscuity) after her mother's death. Cheryl goes on her hike because she wants to be a better person, worthy of her mother's memory.

  • Taran's journey to find himself is 99% of the plot of the fourth book of The Chronicles of Prydain, ending with an epiphany about his identity inspired by a pool of water which is Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane.
  • Given short shift in Congo Mercenary by mercenary commander Mike Hoare. He notes that some of the recruits joined to 'find themselves' and says that they did—right back where they started. Hoare gripes that the modern male was ruined by too much amateur psychology, ending up with all kind of symptoms due to their half-understood readings.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Parodied in the finale of 30 Rock. Liz and Jack have a nice goodbye as he embarks on a yacht trip in the middle of the night to figure out what he wants to do now, but he doesn't get more than a hundred yards before having a brilliant new product idea (see-through dishwashers so you can see what's going on inside) and turning around. "I'm so glad I took that boat trip."
  • At the end of the seventh season of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon is feeling overwhelmed by all the changes in his life (the university won't let him change his field of study, Leonard is engaged to Penny and may leave him, the comic book store where he goes burns down) and decides to go riding aimlessly on trains to clear his head.
  • Oz leaves the show with one of these in Buffy the Vampire Slayer to learn to control his werewolf side. He returns for one last episode, seemingly able to control the transformation (not changing to a full moon). He finds his feelings for Willow, who has since moved on, can still trigger it against his will and leaves for good.
  • Deconstructed by Lily in How I Met Your Mother. She wanted to broaden her horizons and pursue her dream of being an artist in San Francisco, leaving her loving fiancee and friends behind. But when she arrived in San Francisco, she realized she'd broken up the love of her life in the cruelest way and alienated her friends. She spent her time there alone, bitter and afraid she ruined everything for herself. And her attempt to be an artist proved fruitless as her teacher criticized her work and told her she wasn't as talented as she thought. Lily's old life wasn't holding her back but provided her with happiness and stability. And when she did return to New York, her fiancee didn't take her back right away and her friends struggle to trust her again.
  • Sophie Devereaux of Leverage leaves to find her real self partway through the second season because she feels like she's getting lost in her many elaborately-constructed aliases. (Her absence coincided with actress Gina Bellman's pregnancy, and she rejoins the team at the end of the season.)

  • Playfully subverted in Lonestar's "No News," when a woman leaves her man to "find herself" and he agonizes over improbable things she must be doing ("Playin' guitar with the band / On the road with Pearl Jam") when the implication is that she's simply left him.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Promethean: The Created: Prometheans are reanimated corpses on a quest to Become a Real Boy, with various philosophies (called "Refinements") on how to go about this; the Refinement of Lead, Plumbum, is based around this trope: it teaches that a Promethean has to understand what they are now before they can change into something else. This is not a popular Refinement, as it's viewed as counterproductive, or just deeply uncomfortable for the oft-self-loathing Prometheans. They want to escape their undead existence, so spending years at a time contemplating that existence isn't an appealing prospect.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Craftworld Eldar live a strictly regimented lifestyle to prevent the hedonism and debauchery that brought down their original civilisation. Some of the younger of their kind who find this too overbearing, or older Eldar lacking a purpose in life, walk the Path of the Outcast: they leave the safety of the Craftworld and wander the galaxy. Some settle on planets and become snipers and hermits, some take to open space in small ships and become Corsairs. The whole point is to experience a little freedom and adventure that they wouldn't be able to experience on the Craftworld. Most get tired eventually and return to their Craftworld, but some don't: some go off and join Harlequin troupes, some stick to the life of piracy, and some embrace hedonism and savagery to such a degree that they seek out the fabled Dark City, Commorragh... and then, of course, some simply don't survive the harsh galaxy and die lost and alone.

    Video Games 
  • Azure Striker Gunvolt: The game ends with Gunvolt having killed his father figure, Asimov, in revenge for killing his Implied Love Interest Joule. Having effectively disbanded both the enemies he faced and his own team, he goes on the run. He continues his work dismantling the Sumeragi Group as an outlaw in the sequel and meeting new friends.
    • His rival, Copen, also leaves off on his own in the sequel, having a lot to think over about his one-man crusade against Adepts and leaving behind his now-amnesiac sister so she never has to find out about him, while still struggling to deal with the fact she had been an Adept this whole time.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Leon of Final Fantasy II leaves the party at the end for similar reasons, having been Easily Forgiven for his earlier villainy but considering himself unworthy of forgiveness.
    • Kain from Final Fantasy IV, who has a specific goal in mind — he is going to try to renounce his sins and become a Paladin, as Cecil did in the game.
  • The backstory of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is that Link left Hyrule after the events of A Link to the Past to go on a journey of self-discovery and training (some of which we later got to play through in the Oracle games). The game itself begins with Link returning towards Hyrule at the end of his journey, but along the way, he gets shipwrecked and washes ashore on Koholint Island.
  • At the end of Lugaru, Turner is Offered the Crown of the rabbit kingdom, but turns it down and chooses to wander the island in search of purpose.
  • Possibly the protagonist of the first Persona game, who we learn in Persona 2: Eternal Punishment had to leave his friends after the end of the first game for some undefined reason. It fits with the development of the other characters from the first game, as while the game involved a lot of "finding oneself," they still had a lot to do between games to actually become the person they realized they were and wanted to be (such as Elly turning from the image-conscious popular girl to the occult nerd she always hid from others). It's strongly implied at the end of Eternal Punishment that the first game's protagonist has finally come back, though we only see the door open on the reunion before he walks in.
  • Pokémon Black and White: N Harmonia does this at the end. The protagonist eventually leaves to look for him. He returns in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, having gained some perspective and direction in life... but the previous games' protagonist is still out looking for him.

    Visual Novels 
  • The Labyrinth of Grisaia: Protagonist Yuuji goes on to one of these after his master's death, to figure out where and how to move forward.
  • At the end of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, prosecutor Miles Edgeworth, having found out his mentor and a figure he greatly admired were both truly amoral, leaves on a journey to understand true justice. In the second game, Justice For All, he is briefly assumed to be dead but returns to prosecute the final case, having learned what he sought out to find.

  • Ben of Darths & Droids does this in-between the events of Episode III and Episode IV. However, he makes the mistake of not keeping in contact with everyone and they all think the worse.
  • Hannelore in Questionable Content goes Walkabout after calling out her mother for using both her and Tilly (the personal assistant she tried to force on her daughter) to further her own business goals. The comic has cut back to her occasionally, showing Hanners brushing a yak, helping out at a deep-sea research station, and visiting the space station she grew up on and finding out that Tilly and the Station AI are a couple now.
  • Tower of God: After successfully making his sister a princess but still feeling dissatisfied, Khun Aguero Agnes decided to climb the Tower to search for what he really desired.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: After defeating the Earl of Lemongrab, Lemonhope decides that, rather than lead the lemon people, he will Walk the Earth to find himself, even if it takes a thousand years. He returns a thousand years later to an abandoned Ooo.
    • Ironically, the reconstructed Earl of Lemongrab goes on a journey of his own later on in "The Mountain."
  • An episode of Family Guy ends with Brian going to LA to find himself. The next episode begins with a slew of action movie cliches, none of which even remotely resemble anything that happened in the previous episode. The sequence then ends with Lois exclaiming "Brian's gone to LA to find himself!", but even that line didn't appear in the previous episode.
  • Gravity Falls: While there’s also looking for scientific anomalies and reliving childhood dreams involved, Stan and Ford’s seafaring trip at the end of the series is also this trope, as the events of the finale cause them to sort out their issues and they decide to reconnect after spending most of their adult lives apart and estranged from each other.
  • Steven Universe: Future: In "The Future", Steven decides to leave Beach City and travel the country, hoping to get in touch with his human half.