Initially, every hero starts out with selfish reasons. Then he or she eventually learns to like and understand others. Finally in the end, the hero isn’t just fighting for his or her goals, but to save the lives of loved ones as well.
In “The Terminal,” Tom Hanks plays a man trapped in an airport terminal. Eventually, he makes friends with the airport workers and when the villain threatens to hurt all of his friends by firing them, Tom Hanks makes the decisions to leave so his friends will be protected. Not only does protecting loved ones help make the hero more sympathetic, but also more noble as well, which makes the audience want to root for him even more.
In “Star Wars,” Luke isn’t just trying to blow up the Death Star for personal glory but to save Princess Leia and the rebel alliance as well. Even in a quirky comedy like “Little Miss Sunshine,” the hero decides to perform in the beauty pageant, which helps bring her family together, thereby changing them for the better.
In Act III, your hero always needs to take action to save someone else. In “Legally Blonde,” the hero isn’t just trying to win a court case, but to save a falsely accused women from a murder charge. In “Sleepless in Seattle,” the hero isn’t just trying to find love, but to find his son who has escaped and flown to New York City. In “Avatar,” the hero doesn’t just want to defeat the villain but to save the alien’s way of life that respects nature.
Even in “Groundhog Day,” the hero no longer wishes to win the heart of the woman as much as he learns to appreciate the people around him. When he finally acknowledges this, then he can finally be free from his perpetual hell.
The hero always goes from being selfish to selfless in some way. That makes the hero more sympathetic and endearing, which makes us want the hero to win even more. Nobody cares about a selfish hero achieving a selfish goal, but everyone loves a selfish hero who wants to help others. Make sure you hero protects a loved one in Act III and you’ll go a long way towards making your story much stronger as a result.