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  • Writer's pictureYoung Screenwriters

11 – Ultimate Test: Fighting the Big Fight

Ultimate Test is the thing the protagonist is most afraid of.

Up until now, the obstacles have been demanding. And, each time, the protagonist has risen to the occasion. It hasn’t been easy, but she climbed every fence, forged every river.

The Ultimate Test is the biggest fight of all. If obstacles have been demanding, this one is impossible. The Ultimate Test is, frequently, a life and death situation.

Building to this moment, the writer has been careful to identify this “monster”–that is, the thing the protagonist fears most.

For instance, in Up one of the first images we see is Charles Muntz. He’s formidable and happens to be young Carl’s hero. We have no idea he will be the Ultimate Test.

Who spit in Muntz's milk?

Dorothy lands in Oz and immediately meets Glinda, who tells her to look out for the Wicked Witch, who is out to get Dorothy.

Similarly, we learn about Jaws right up front. He’s a people eater and we meet him in the first five minutes of the film. Sheriff Brody is going to have to kill the beast or be killed.

As different as these films are (animation, fantasy, and action adventure), all three stories force their protagonist to a life and death situations.

Carl, in Up, fights Charles Muntz.

Arguably one of the best examples of Ultimate Test is Sheriff Brody in Jaws.

These scenes have one other key plot point in common: the protagonist has been isolated–forced to go it alone against the monster.


Because this is the protagonist’s story, his or her movie. Which means that they, and they alone, must fight big fight.

Ready for the next lesson? Jump over to Lesson 12: Resolution!



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