Story Comparison


A Quick Summary:


Barry is introduced as a CSI.
Mike Ross is introduced as a stoner.
Lester is introduced as a loser.
Walt is introduced as a chemistry teacher.
Tony is introduced as powerful mob boss.


Barry gets powers, and fails.
Mike gets job, and fails.
Lester gets rid of bully.
Walt is diagnosed with cancer and gets into cooking meth to make money.
Tony and his associates each tackle a problem.


Barry defeats Weather Wizard.
Mike learns from his mistakes and wins the case.
Lester kills his wife and gets away with murder.
Walt kills drug dealers.
Tony and his associates take care of all the problems.

Side Story:

The only significant side stories appear in Fargo and Sopranos.

You could argue Fargo has three main characters as we follow each of their perspectives. I have chosen Lester as the Main Character to compare as he is the most relatable and comparable to the other two.

The Sopranos has several story lines stemming from Tony, but Tony’s main story line is saving Artie Bucco’s restaurant and dealing with his problems.

Dan Harmon’s Story Circle

Here is Dan Harmon’s Story Circle applied to the pilots. I have changed the second last heading to be more reflective of the nature of the pilot.

Story Structure Circle

A character is a zone of comfort. 
Mike Ross is an pothead.
Barry Allen is a CSI.
Walter White is a chemistry teacher.
Lester Nygaard is an insurance salesman.
Tony Soprano is a Mob boss.

But they want something. (Need)
Mike wants to be a lawyer.
Barry wants to free his dad.
Walt wants money for his family.
Lester wants respect.
Tony wants control.

Go into an unfamiliar situation.
Barry gets superpowers.
Mike becomes a lawyer without a degree.
Walt gets cancer and cooks meth.
Lester orders a hit on his bully.
Tony is starting to pass out due to stress.

Search and adapt to it.
Mike learns how to be a layer.
Barry learns how to use his powers and be a hero.
Walt learns about cooking meth and gets a partner.
Lester learns how to stand up for himself and be a man.
Tony learns to delegate his problems.

Find what they wanted.
Barry finds a way to save dad using his powers.
Mike finds a way to help clients through the law.
Walt finds a way to make money.
Lester finds freedom to be his own man after killing his wife.
Tony finds his problems resolved.

Take, pay the price.
Barry may not save everyone.
Mike has to give up friends and old habits.
Walt has to kill someone.
Lester gets the police chief killed as well.
Tony has to talk to a psychiatrist.

Return and go back to where they started. (Harmon’s)
(New Situation is now the norm) (Mine)
Star Labs Superhero
Pearson Hardman Lawyer
Meth Cook
Free Man
Problems are resolved for now.

Change, now capable of change. 
Superhero now capable of saving people.
Lawyer now capable of winning a case and helping people.
Meth Cook that can kill if necessary and make money.
Confident man after outsmarting the police.
Mob Boss who can rely on his associates to take care of some problems and share his feelings with his psychiatrist.