As Breaking Bad concluded its epic television run, one fan mapped out the epic TV series as a Dan Harmon story circle.
Community creator Harmon writes using a story circle, making sure that every script meets his eight steps of a satisfying story. As you can see by the chart embedded above (filled with spoilers), Breaking Bad contained all eight elements and can help aspiring storytellers master the elegant structure. Here’s more from Wired about Harmon’s method:
So he watched a lot of Die Hard, boiled down a lot of Joseph Campbell, and came up with the circle, an algorithm that distills a narrative into eight steps … Harmon calls his circles embryos—they contain all the elements needed for a satisfying story—and he uses them to map out nearly every turn on Community, from throwaway gags to entire seasons. If a plot doesn’t follow these steps, the embryo is invalid, and he starts over. To this day, Harmon still studies each film and TV show he watches, searching for his algorithm underneath, checking to see if the theory is airtight.