The Homeward Journey

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"Woo, hoo, here I come! Woo, hoo, back to you! There is no home like the one you've got, 'cause that home belongs to you!"
Bolt, "Barking at the moon"

Basically, a story where the main goal is to get home.

These stories begin with some sort of displacement: The child is separated from his parents, or the family moves and accidentally leaves the dog behind. This is The Call to Adventure. From there, the story essentially follows the long, winding journey of The Quest, except there's usually no evil wizard to fight at the end—once our heroes reach their destination, that's the end of their Hero's Journey. Tropes frequently seen in this type of story: The Wacky Wayside Tribe, the Travel Montage, Hitchhiker Heroes.

This differs from Home, Sweet Home in that the focus here is on the journey to get back. Marty McFly wants to get back to his own time, but he stays in the same town the whole movie; Odysseus wants to get home, and he travels all over ancient Greece (and beyond) to get there. Structurally, the Homeward Journey is closer to The Quest than The Voyage and Return. It's common for works using this plot to be a Whole-Plot Reference to The Odyssey.

In an open-ended series, this inevitably leads to Failure Is the Only Option, because Status Quo Is God; films and series with a definite arc are more forgiving.

Contrast Boring Return Journey.

Examples of The Homeward Journey include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Legion Lost: A handful of Legionnaires end up in an unknown region of space and try to find their way back.

Film[edit | hide]


Literature[edit | hide]

  • The Odyssey: Ur Example and Trope Maker.
  • Also a lost epic, the Returns, which deals with the journeys home of other important Achaeans.
  • The Aeneid: Zig-Zagging Trope: Aeneas is both fleeing his dead city, Troy, but the gods order him to find a new homeland and found a new city, Rome. Unfortunately, the people already living there feel differently.
  • The Anabasis by Xenophon
  • Robert Heinlein's Job: A Comedy of Justice. While being beset by random shifts into Alternate Universes, Alexander Hergensheimer tries desperately to get home to his home state of Kansas.
  • Jack Vance's The Eyes Of The Overworld starts with the, er, "hero", Cugel falling foul of the wizard Iconnu and being flown thousands of miles northward by a demon to a desolate beach. The core of the story is his quest to return home. Painfully, Cugel muffs the final confrontation and while trying to target Iconnu for the same fate manages to get himself send right back to the beach, mere feet from where it all began. Getting home again is the meat of the next book, a Surprisingly Improved Sequel.
  • The Bible: The Exodus, the return of the Exiles, and the parable of The Prodigal Son.
  • Arabian Nights: Sindbad does this seven times.
  • Diana Wynne Jones' The Homeward Bounders. The main character, Jamie, witnesses somethings playing what look like a wargame... except the game they're playing is only a representation. They're actually playing the game with his world as a board, and people as pieces. So They exile him to wander through different worlds, with the proviso that once he finds his home, he no longer has to keep wandering. Or at least, this is the plot for the first 3/4s of the book... then Jamie discovers that because time moves oddly on different worlds, his world has moved on and his home no longer exists.
  • In Ribsy, a Beverly Cleary book, Henry Huggins' dog gets into the wrong family's car in a mall parking lot and has to find his way home.
  • Moonrise in the Warrior Cats series. The journey to the sea was hard, but the journey home is just as dangerous (In fact, one of them didn't make it back.)

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In the first episode of Star Trek Voyager, the ship gets flung about 70,000 lightyears from home and spends the rest of the show trying to get home.
  • The overriding theme of Battlestar Galactica (both versions) is this trope, though they're not heading for a home they know. Humanity is looking for its lost brothers and sisters, or at least a place to call home.
  • Farscape's John Crichton fell through a wormhole and just wants to find a way back to Earth.
  • Land of the Lost (both TV series)
  • H.R. Pufnstuf
  • Lidsville
  • Lost. They're on an island. They want to get home. In season five, however, some of the characters return home and realize after three years that they all have reasons to go back to the island.
  • Several epiosdes of The Prisoner
  • Sliders, first seasons: The cast tries to find their way to the home dimension.
  • Quantum Leap has this Opening Narration:

"... And so Dr. Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each time that his next leap... will be the leap home."

  • Lost in Space
  • Stargate Universe sends a large crew through a Stargate onto an Ancient spaceship in another galaxy with no way to get home. Though partially subverted by the fact that they could Body Swap with people back on Earth.
  • The Time Tunnel. The two scientists tumbling helplessly through time, with their Mission Control using the title device to try to bring them back to the present.

New Media[edit | hide]

  • Naka Teleeli's ongoing Minecraft: Journey Home series of vids, which focuses on him trying to get back home after the events of the Minecraft Survival Let's Play.

Video Games[edit | hide]

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • In Beyond Reality, Orion and Laura are traveling through worlds to get home.
  • Digger wants to go home, but doesn't have much of an idea how to go about it, and more pressing matters keep coming up. We never do find out if she gets home, as the comic ends right before she leaves town with the merchant, but given her tenacity it's a safe bet she does.
  • Sluggy Freelance uses this trope a lot, given its love affair with Trapped in Another World stories.
  • Para-Ten

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Re Boot. Enzo and AndrAIa spend a decent chunk of the third season "Game Hopping" from system to system and traveling through the web to find Mainframe.