Goodfellas (1990)


Goodfellas (1990) Basic Hero's Journey Elements


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Ordinary World

The Ordinary World in Goodfellas (1990) is the young Henry Hill's home, where his father beats him for working at the cab stand.


Call To Adventure

The Call To Adventure in Goodfellas (1990) is the young Henry Hill's natural desire to enter the New World of the wiseguys. "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster."


Refusal of the Call

The Refusal of the Call in Goodfellas (1990) is the young Henry Hill's father's resistance to Henry working at the cab stand and therefore entering the New World / exiting the Ordinary World. This is the interdictor function, which is overcome by Henry's friend's putting the postman's head in the oven and warning him not to deliver any more letters from the school to the house.


Supernatural Aids / Meeting The Mentor

The Supernatural Aids / Meeting The Mentor in Goodfellas (1990) is Henry meeting Jimmy Conway (and the young Tommy DeVito).


Crossing The First Threshold

Crossing The First Threshold in Goodfellas (1990) is the moment we meet the grown up Henry Hill and Tommy DeVito waiting at Idlewild Airport. They're both grown up gangsters now, stealing the airport truck.


Belly of the Whale

Remembering that the Belly of the Whale is a very general term, in Goodfellas (1990) it is:

Henry meeting and dating Karen, with whom he'll embark on the deeper change.

It's Henry going on a cruise with the stolen money, against Paul Cicero's wishes, which will lead to the eventual detachment.


Road of Trials

The Road of Trials in Goodfellas (1990) is the deeper change and loss of the older self.

Following the marriage, Karen turns from a nice girl to a mob wife. She moves from her parents house to her own home. She learns about Henry's criminality and accepts it to the point where she's absolutely comfortable with the FBI coming into her home.


Meeting with the Goddess

The Meeting with the Goddess is a metaphor for a number of things. One of those is the Return of Hope.

In Goodfellas (1990), it's Spider telling Tommy to go fuck himself. This is the Superego regaining the capacity to suppress the Id.


Woman as the Temptress

Woman as the Temptress is a metaphor for a number of things, including encouragement onto the Night Sea Journey and Near Death Experience, which in themselves are metaphors for further detachment.

In Goodfellas (1990), Karen attempts to shoot Henry, which causes him to move in with Janice. Which leads to Paul asking Jimmy and Henry to go to Florida, where they'll inadvertently get the FBI involved and get sent to jail.


Atonement with the Father

Atonement with the Father in Goodfellas (1990) is Henry's confrontation with Paul Cicero when they get out of prison - Paul doesn't want Henry to deal drugs. To Cicero, that's a hanging offence and will indeed lead to the separation from supernatural aids.



Psychological apotheosis in Goodfellas (1990) is Henry Hill's continued revenue from drug dealing after prison, which leads to his gradual letting go of his dependence on Paul Cicero. He's breaking away from, graduating past, the father figure. He's breaking the rules set by the father.


Ultimate Boon

The Ultimate Boon in Goodfellas (1990) is illustrated through Karen's new home after he's become a successful drug dealer.  The money he's making from the drug business. The Lufthansa heist - the biggest in history. The Christmas tree.


Refusal of the Return

One manifestation of the Refusal of the Return is the loss of transcendental aids - those supernatural aids which assisted within the New World. In Goodfellas (1990) Jimmy kills all the crew and Tommy is murdered as revenge for Billy Batts.


Magic Flight

The Magic Flight stage in Goodfellas (1990) is Henry Hill's drive through town, where he's convinced he's being followed by helicopters.


Rescue from Without

Rescue from Without in Goodfellas (1990) is Henry Hill's arrest for drug dealing. For the hero archetype, usually the Id comes calling. For the antihero archetype, the Superego comes calling. This is the beginning of the return of the Id to suppression. Eventually, Henry will be out of the business and neutralised.


The Crossing of the Return Threshold

The Crossing of the Return Threshold in Goodfellas (1990) is Paul Cicero's refusal to take Henry back. He lets him go. This is the loss of the father figure, the loss of the most potent of supernatural aids.


Master of the Two Worlds

The Master of the Two Worlds in Goodfellas (1990) is Henry Hill's deal with the FBI, which he's provoked into entering into after the attempt on Karen's life and after he realises that Jimmy wants to send him to Florida to get killed. "That's when I knew I would never have come back from Florida alive."


Freedom To Live

Freedom to Live in Goodfellas (1990) is the freedom from the innermost fears and limitations. With all the wiseguys arrested, Henry Hill lives relatively peacefully in the witness protection program.


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