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Herald Archetype | Who is the Herald? Examples and Use

The Herald archetype serves as a catalyst for narrative transformation, igniting the journey of the protagonist and driving the plot forward.

This archetype (what is an archetype?), often brings news, challenges, or opportunities that propel the protagonist into action. It serves as a vital link between the ordinary world and the extraordinary adventure that awaits.

In this article, we will delve into the depths of the Herald archetype, exploring its psychological and symbolic significance, its role in plot development, and its impact on the transformation of the protagonist.


What is a Herald archetype?

The Herald archetype in storytelling is a character or event that brings a call to adventure or signals a significant change in the protagonist’s life. It serves as a catalyst, pushing the main character to embark on their journey or quest.

Herald archetype characteristics

Acting as a messenger of change, the Herald brings news or events signaling a significant shift in the story, impacting the Hero’s journey and the overall narrative. In some instances, the Herald takes on the role of a mentor or guide, providing the Hero with advice, knowledge, or supernatural aid to equip them for their journey.

As a symbol of disruption, the Herald signifies a departure from the ordinary, prompting the Hero to face the unknown. Frequently associated with destiny or fate, the Herald’s messages suggest the Hero has a predetermined role in unfolding events, adding a sense of purpose to the narrative.

The Herald archetype can manifest in various forms, adapting to the story’s context. This adaptability allows them to appear as wise sages, supernatural beings, ordinary persons with crucial messages, or even as events triggering change.

The role of the Herald archetype in storytelling

The Herald in storytelling plays several pivotal roles, each contributing to the narrative’s richness and thematic development. Primarily, the Herald acts as the initiator of the Hero’s journey, catalyzing self-discovery, growth, and transformation through prophetic messages, significant events, or personal revelations.

A key function of the Herald is to issue the call to adventure, disrupting the Hero’s ordinary world with an invitation, challenge, or opportunity that sets the journey in motion. This call serves as a beckoning to embark on a quest, marking the beginning of the Hero’s transformative odyssey.

As a harbinger of change, the Herald signifies shifts in the story’s dynamics, introducing events or information that prompt the Hero to face new challenges. Additionally, the Herald may offer vital information, guidance, or supernatural aid, arming the Hero with the tools necessary for navigating the impending obstacles.

Heralds are adept at foreshadowing, providing glimpses into the Hero’s future encounters and creating anticipation that builds tension throughout the narrative. In some stories, the Herald guides the Hero across a threshold, symbolizing entry into a new and unfamiliar realm—a fundamental step in the Hero’s journey.

One crucial aspect of the Herald’s role is creating narrative tension. Their arrival or message introduces challenges and dilemmas for the Hero to confront, propelling the story forward and maintaining audience engagement.

Integral to plot progression, the Herald’s actions or messages trigger events that shape the narrative arc, influencing character decisions, conflicts, and resolutions. Through these multifaceted roles, the Herald guides both the Hero and the audience through the intricacies of the unfolding events, enhancing the depth and pacing of the story.

Relations between the Herald and other archetypes

The Herald archetype, a vital character in storytelling, engages in dynamic relationships with various other archetypes, contributing to the narrative’s depth and progression:

Hero vs Herald archetype

The Herald establishes a dynamic connection with the Hero, kickstarting their journey and prompting a reevaluation of their perceptions. By introducing obstacles or challenges that deviate from the ordinary, the Herald brings depth and complexity to the Hero’s journey.

Additionally, the Herald serves as a mirror for the Hero’s internal struggles, embodying facets of their potential for change or deception.

Mentor vs Herald archetype

The Mentor may offer guidance to the Hero on navigating the Herald’s messages and challenges, providing insights into the nature of change. The Mentor and Herald may collaborate, combining wisdom and the ability to influence the Hero’s growth.

Shadow vs Herald archetype

The Herald and the Shadow archetype may have an antagonistic relationship, as the Herald’s messages disrupt the status quo. In certain narratives, the Herald and shadow may collaborate to create challenges that test the Hero’s resolve.

Ally vs Herald archetype

The Ally’s perception of the Herald can vary, viewing them as either a supportive figure aiding the Hero’s progression or a hindrance that needs overcoming. The dynamic between the Herald and Ally adds layers of complexity to alliances within the Hero’s journey.

Trickster vs Herald archetype

The Trickster archetype may challenge the Herald’s role, disrupting expected dynamics and creating chaos. The Trickster’s unpredictable nature may reverse roles, turning the Herald into a figure to be outsmarted.

Threshold Guardian vs Herald archetype

The Herald can serve as an obstacle, introducing challenges that test the Hero’s readiness. Similar to the Hero, the Threshold Guardian may see reflections of their inner struggles mirrored in the Herald.

Shapeshifter vs Herald archetype

Interactions between Heralds and Shapeshifters emphasize shared adaptability, creating a dynamic landscape where trust and alliances can be fleeting. Heralds and Shapeshifters may either clash due to their similarities or collaborate, forming alliances based on their mutual understanding.

Tips for introducing the Herald archetype in a story

Introducing the Herald archetype in a story is a crucial step in setting the tone and propelling the narrative forward. Here are some tips for effectively incorporating the Herald.

1. Establish the significance

Clearly define the Herald’s role and significance in the story. Whether they bring news, present a challenge, or signify a major shift, their introduction should resonate with the overall narrative.

2. Foreshadowing

Utilize foreshadowing techniques to hint at the Herald’s impending arrival. This builds anticipation and curiosity among the audience, creating a sense of intrigue before the Herald formally enters the scene.

3. Symbolic elements

Consider incorporating symbolic elements associated with the Herald. This could be visual cues, atmospheric changes, or specific motifs that foreshadow their impact on the Hero’s journey.

4. Timing and pacing

Introduce the Herald at a strategic point in the story to maintain proper pacing. The timing should align with key plot developments, ensuring that their arrival propels the narrative in a meaningful way.

5. Dynamic entry

Craft a dynamic entrance for the Herald. Whether it’s a dramatic event, an unexpected revelation, or a subtle but powerful introduction, make their entry memorable to capture the audience’s attention.

6. Personal connection

Establish a personal connection between the Herald and the Hero. This could involve a shared history, a mentor-student relationship, or a deep understanding of the Hero’s background, making the Herald’s role more emotionally resonant.

7. Dialogue and interaction

Use meaningful dialogue and interactions between the Herald and other characters to convey essential information. This not only advances the plot but also provides insights into the Herald’s motives and the challenges that lie ahead.

8. Visual impact

Consider the visual impact of the Herald’s presence. This includes their appearance, attire, or any unique characteristics that set them apart. Visual cues can enhance the audience’s perception of the Herald’s importance.

9. Dual nature exploration

Explore the dual nature of the Herald. While they may bring guidance and wisdom, there could be an undercurrent of ambiguity or hidden motives that add layers to their character.

10. Consequences and stakes

Clearly define the consequences and stakes associated with the Herald’s message or challenge. This helps raise the stakes for the Hero and adds urgency to their journey.

The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.

Joseph Campbell

Herald archetype examples

The Herald archetype takes various forms in literature and film, contributing significantly to narrative development. In J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings“, Gandalf serves as a wise guide for Frodo’s epic quest, while Professor Dumbledore plays a similar role for Harry Potter in J.K. Rowling’s series.

Morpheus in “The Matrix” presents Neo with a pivotal choice, symbolizing the Herald’s role in shaping destiny. The White Rabbit disrupts Alice’s ordinary world in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland“, initiating her extraordinary journey.

Mr. Beaver in C.S. Lewis’s “The Chronicles of Narnia” informs the Pevensie siblings about Aslan’s prophecy, acting as a guiding herald. Haymitch Abernathy in Suzanne Collins’s “The Hunger Games” trilogy provides crucial guidance to Katniss and Peeta.

Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” features the ghost of Hamlet’s father as a herald, revealing truths and prompting Hamlet’s quest. Ed Harris’s character in “The Truman Show” challenges Truman’s reality.

The three witches in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” act as heralds, delivering prophecies that set tragic events in motion.

Create your Herald by using the innovative tool of bibisco

We know that creating a character from scratch is not easy. Giving life to a Herald is even more difficult, be it a person, an animal, or an event. He must have the ability to strike a chord of the Hero but also the reader, so that he feels the same sensations of strength and need for action as him.

With bibisco’s novel writing software you can create the Herald your Hero’s Journey needs. Use the easy and useful interview mode to understand what kind of archetype you need to create. With bibisco, you will know exactly what characteristics it has to have.

bibisco character development tools in article Herald Archetype | Who is the Herald? Examples and Use
character development tools in bibisco

The interview with the characters gives you the tool to allow you to give life to a new archetype, without leaving out any detail.


In conclusion, not all the most important characters in a story are the most powerful ones. Neither who appear throughout the development of the narrative or to whom you become more attached.

The Herald is someone or something that initially seems marginal but without which the narrative would have no reason to exist.

bibisco character development tools in article Herald Archetype | Who is the Herald? Examples and Use

So, at first, we do not remember the letter that Cinderella and her family received announcing the ball at the castle. But thinking more carefully it becomes the moment without which the story would never have begun.

The herald archetype belongs to the archetypes defined by Campbell. Additionally, explore 12 Jungian archetypes.

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