Film: Forrest Gump
"Hello. My name is Forrest. Forrest Gump."Forrest Gump is a 1994 film starring Tom Hanks and directed by Robert Zemeckis. It is based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom.It's the tale of a good-natured but simple-minded man from Greenbow, Alabama, telling his life story to other people while waiting at a bus stop. As the story continues, you find Forrest touching important events and people from the 1950s to the 1980s (ranging from Elvis Presley to several Presidents), rising to his own measure of fame and fortune in the process, mostly by just being himself. Because he is so simple-minded, he doesn't fully understand the significance of everything that he has done and just sees himself as an average person just living his life. But he's forever pining for his childhood sweetheart Jenny (played by Hanna Hall and Robin Wright).Forrest's journey takes him from his native Alabama to the jungles of Vietnam, from walking in corrective leg-braces to running across North America, from misunderstood country boy to college football star to champion ping-pong player to shrimp tycoon, without ever quite losing the undying optimism of the era. On the other hand, Jenny's life takes her from a Catholic Schoolgirl to being in one of the early issues of Playboy, from a flower child of the '60s to a hippie protester of the '70s. Between her and Forrest, they cover all the significant cultural emblems of that time period, all the while their lives intersect with each other repeatedly.
My momma always said, "Life is like a page of tropes. You never know what you're gonna get."
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Implied that this is how Lt. Dan kills time after losing his legs.
- Forrest: And because he didn't have no legs, he spent most of his time exercising his arms.
- Abusive Parents: Jenny's father was sexually abusive.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: The novel Gump was described as being 6 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 242 pounds, in contrast to Hanks's portrayal. Original author Winston Groom stated that he had envisioned John Goodman in the title role.
- Adaptation Personality Change: Does this with Jenny (making her a vapid party girl), Forrest's mom (who loved her son but was much less in charge), and to an extent Forrest himself, who in the books is an idiot savant and much less Inspirationally Disadvantaged. For example, in the novel, it's Jenny who winds up pressuring Forrest to stop meandering from one weird occupation to the next and finally settle down, Lieutenant Dan is arguably just using Forrest's abilities in a series of money-making schemes, Bubba has no mental deficiency at all, and Forrest himself is much more crass and outspoken. The movie has been accused of promoting a conservative agenda, but this may have just been an attempt to turn it into a nostalgia trip for Baby Boomers without getting political at all. For example, Forrest refers to the Vietnam war as "a bunch of shit" multiple times in the novel, farts in public, and uses racial epithets toward both blacks and Asians.
- Accidental Athlete: Forrest ends up as a running back on Paul "Bear" Bryant's University of Alabama team when a couple of bullies chase him and he ends up running through the school field when the team was practicing. It helps when you consider exactly who he was seen by. For those of you unaware, Bryant is universally considered to be one of the greatest American football coaches of all time.
- Accidental Hero: Played with. Forrest ran back into the combat zone to find Bubba, only to be called upon by other soldiers to rescue them, which he did by carrying them to the river. What he did was technically heroic, but he didn't intend to save four others and be awarded the Medal of Honor. On the other hand, he did intend to save Bubba, and he was aware of the danger of the situation.
- Achievements in Ignorance: Forrest is so dense that he routinely attempts things other people wouldn't even consider, and so single-minded that he puts his maximum effort into everything he does. As a result, he meets spectacular success while the skeptics are left scratching their heads.
- Almighty Janitor: After his myriad accomplishments that leave him a war hero, shaper of history, and gazillionaire, Forrest accepts the prestigious job of groundskeeper at his old high school football field, which he ends up doing for free because he likes it so much. Hey, at least he's keeping busy.
- A Million Is a Statistic: The storm that destroyed every ship in the harbor undoubtedly ended or destroyed the lives of dozens of people. It's considered a good thing because it benefited Forrest's shrimping business.
- Ambiguous Ending: The novel concludes with the familiar image of Forrest sitting on a park bench in Savannah, GA, not long after an encounter with a passerby with whom he has just shared much of his life story. In a scene very similar to one in the film, in which a man scoff's at Forrest's claim to own the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, Forrest's story is regarded as simply unbelievable, leaving the reader to wonder weather the story is true or if Forrest is an Unreliable Narrator, an eccentric sitting on a park bench telling tall tales.
- And I'm the Queen of Sheba:
- Lt. Dan: If you're ever a shrimp boat captain, that's the day I'm an astronaut!note
- Angry Black Man: Jenny's Black Panther acquaintances, to the letter.
- Animal Motifs: Jenny is associated with birds, from the moment she asks Forrest to pray with her:
- The prayer itself:Jenny: Dear God, make me a bird, so I can fly far. Far, far away from here.
- Which is recalled in a conversation after he sees Jenny performing on stage:Jenny: Do you think I could fly off this bridge?
Forrest: (worried) What do you mean?
Jenny: (after a moment of silence) Nothing.
- Later, we see her contemplating suicide again, ready to jump off a high-riser, with Free Bird's solo wailing in the background.
- Finally, after Forrest finishes talking to Jenny's gravestone, a flock of birds flies out of their tree as Forrest walks away.
- The floating feather which opens and closes the film also fits in with the bird motif.
- The prayer itself:
- Arc Words: People are always telling Forrest to "Run".
- An Arm and a Leg: Lt. Dan Taylor loses his legs in combat, and eventually gets prosthetics.
- As Himself:
- Both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson play themselves posthumously and interact with Forrest through the use of archival footage. The same technology was also used with Richard Nixon note , Alabama Governor George Wallace, and John Lennon. A more straight version of this occurs in the Lennon scene, where Dick Cavett plays himself, made to look younger through make-up.
- This was before easy computer manipulation, so these scenes where Forrest was integrated were a huge special effects triumph at the time.
- Barefoot Suicide: Subverted. Jenny absentmindedly slips out of one of her shoes while standing by a bridge, asking if she'd fly if she jumped off. Forrest is a little worried to hear her say that. Later on she actually does try to commit suicide, but doesn't take her shoes off and ultimately grows too scared to jump off.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: As noted in the Foreshadowing entry, Jenny tells Forrest that her dream is to "be up on a stage with just my guitar and my voice…" She gets that dream, all right, but she neglected to mention whether she'd be wearing anything, and when the time comes she isn't.
- Beard of Sorrow:
- Forrest ends up with one on his cross-country jogging spree.
- Lieutenant Dan also has one when he first meets Forrest again after the war.
- Been There, Shaped History: Forrest does a lot of this, from teaching Elvis Presley his hip-swinging dance to inadvertently exposing the Watergate scandal.
- Berserk Button:
- Call post-Vietnam Lieutenant Dan a cripple all you want, but he will hurt you if you dare call Forrest any variety of "stupid."
- Try to even lay a hand on Jenny whenever Forrest is around.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Forrest is the most even-tempered individual you could ever hope to meet, but he has a Berserk Button when it comes to anyone hurting Jenny. He is also incredibly strong due to being a football star and war hero.
- Bittersweet Ending: Lieutenant Dan finds the strength to live and love again, Jenny has a son with Forrest, and Forrest's dream of being with Jenny finally comes true as they get married. But shortly after, Jenny dies, and leaves her son in Forrest's care, with Forrest passing on his torch to Junior and raising him.
- Black Best Friend: Benjamin Buford "Bubba" Blue's role in this story is to be Forest's fellow soldier and comrade. He's also the reason Forest gets into the Shrimping business.
- Black Dude Dies First: A poor nameless Red Shirt dies of Boom, Headshot at the start of the ambush that also kills Bubba (who ironically ends up being the last of the squad to die).
- Bookends: The Object Tracking Shot of the feather and Forrest waiting for a bus.
- Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Jenny leaves Forrest several times and each of these is shown to be a mistake. Coming back to him are the few instances where she is truly happy.
- Brick Joke:
- Bubba's momma serving dinner, then being served to.
- At the beginning of the movie, Forrest tries to get to know the bus driver, Dorothy Harris, because his mother has told him not to take rides from strangers and - Forrest being as dense as he is - to him, introducing themselves will make them not strangers anymore. At the end, Forrest Jr. immediately says upon being greeted onto the bus: "You're Dorothy Harris, and I'm Forrest Gump."
- Broken Bird: Jenny. Engaged in a lot of self-destructive behavior and was very cynical due to her unhappy childhood.
- Buffy Speak: Forrest's general Verbal Tic. This leads to a nice Historical In-Joke when he ends up being a shareholder in "some sort of fruit company" (Apple Computers).
- Calling Your Bathroom Breaks: Forrest announces this while meeting JFK of all people.
- Carload of Cool Kids: A group of kids in a pick-up truck torment Forrest, which causes him to run.
- Cassandra Truth: Forrest's revelation that he's the owner of the wildly successful Bubba Gump Shrimp Company sends one listener off in unbelieving hysterics. The old woman was unbelieving at first, until he shows her a picture of him and Lieutenant Dan on the cover of Fortune.
- Catch Phrase: Forrest has a lot of these.
- "My name is Forrest, Forrest Gump."
- The one time he introduces himself differently (to Bubba), he does so in a spectacular Shaped Like Itself fashion: "My name's Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump."
- "Stupid is as stupid does."
- "Momma always said 'Life was like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're gonna get.'"
- "And that's all I have to say about that..."
- "...But most of all, I thought about Jenny."
- "My name is Forrest, Forrest Gump."
- Character Development: Seen in both Forrest and Jenny. But even more clearly in Lt. Dan.
- Chewing the Scenery: Forrest to Jenny, as she's about to leave with her radical boyfriend:Forrest: You know what I think? I think you, should go back, to Green-Bow, AL-A-BAM-A!
- Childhood Friend Romance: Forrest and Jenny, though the romance is unrequited by Jenny until the end of the movie.
- Cluster F-Bomb: According to Forrest, Abbie Hoffman enjoyed dropping these at the Vietnam War protest rally, and that everyone at the rally enjoyed hearing him dropping them. Being a PG-13 movie, however, we only hear one instant of the word if you don't count a preceding one that is obscured by Hoffman's microphone feedback.
- Comically Missing the Point: Forrest is so naïve that he regularly misinterprets what is going on around him.
- He assumes Elvis Presley died from singing too much songs, or something.
- He notices Jenny performing as a nude stripper and thinks her dream of becoming a singer has come true.
- After giving a guy named Wesley a beating at a meeting of the Black Panthers he and Jenny are sent away. He then apologizes: I'm sorry I had a fight at your Black Panther party.
- During his time in the Vietnam War he notices they were looking for somebody named Charlie and assumes that the money of his so-called million dollar wound was kept by the army.
- He notices people in the Watergate Hotel keeping him awake with their flash lights, asks the hotel receptionist to do something about it, but never thinks much of it.
- He assumes Apple is some kind of fruit company.
- Cult: Forrest mistakenly forms one merely by jogging across the U.S.A. and growing a giant Charles Manson beard. Only in the seventies.Gump Groupie: I mean, it was like an alarm went off in my head, you know?! I said, here's a guy that's got his act together! Here's somebody who's got it all figured out! Here's somebody who has the answer! I'll follow you anywhere, Mr. Gump!
- Daylight Horror: Forrest's platoon was ambushed in broad daylight.
- Deadpan Snarker: Lt. Dan has a dry and bitter wit that is all the more apparent next to the plain and literal Forrest.
- Death by Adaptation: Forrest's mother and Jenny die during the events of the film, but not in the novel. Forrest's mother dies between the ending of the novel and its sequel Gump and Co., and Jenny dies in the beginning of Gump and Co.
- Death Montage: Forrest explains Lt. Dan was from a long military tradition. Then we see a montage of Gary Sinise (the actor playing Lt. Dan) playing a different ancestor just at the moment of his death, in a different battleground, with a war uniform more modern that the last.Somebody from his family had fought and died in every—single—American war.
- Death Seeker:
- Lt. Dan, who's lost an ancestor in every major American war. He gets over it after surviving Hurricane Carmen.
- In the book's sequel Gump and Co., he gets killed by friendly fire during Operation Desert Storm.
- Deep South: Most of the film takes place in Greenbow, Alabama.
- Destroy the Abusive Home: Jenny throws rocks at her abandoned childhood home. Forrest later bulldozes it on her behalf.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: While not in a supernatural sense, during the Hurricane Carmen scene, Lieutenant Dan raises his middle finger to the sky while cursing God.
- Disappeared Dad: Forrest's father is unmentioned and unseen.
- The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: It's debatable whether or not it's a fictional disease, but Jenny mentions that the virus she's suffering from is a terminal disease, in which it's left up to the audience on whether or not it is AIDS.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Forrest. Jenny abandons him multiple times throughout the film and generally treats him like crap yet he thinks about her a lot and always welcomes her back.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: A downplaying is that he frequently praises Forrest for his dedication and obedience in the exact same tone of voice he'd use to berate anyone else. Of course, he does offer some backhanded compliments along the way:Drill Sergeant: WHAT IS YOUR SOLE PURPOSE IN THIS ARMY?
Gump: To do whatever you tell me, Drill Sergeant?
Drill Sergeant: GODDAMNIT, GUMP! YOU'RE A GODDAMN GENIUS! THAT'S THE MOST OUTSTANDING ANSWER I'VE EVER HEARD! YOU MUST HAVE A GODDAMN I.Q. OF 160! YOU ARE GODDAMNED GIFTED, PRIVATE GUMP!
- Here's another one:Forrest Gump [having just completed assembling his weapon]: DONE, DRILL SERGEANT!
Drill Sergeant: GUUUUUUMP! WHY DID YOU PUT THAT WEAPON TOGETHER SO QUICKLY, GUMP?
Forrest Gump: ...You told me to, Drill Sergeant?
Drill Sergeant: JESUS H. CHRIST! This is a new company record! If it wouldn't be a waste of such a damn fine enlisted man, I'd recommend you for OCS, Private Gump! YOU ARE GONNA BE A GENERAL SOMEDAY, GUMP, NOW DISASSEMBLE YOUR WEAPON AND CONTINUE!
- This is how a Drill Sergeant is supposed to act - having a favorite may inspire people to turn on them, destabilising the team. The Drill Sergeant is just letting them know that Forrest is getting it right, but at the same time lets the team know nobody's getting any slack.
- Here's another one:
- Driving a Desk: Mostly averted, as Forrest is almost seamlessly integrated into the historical footage, but they did a much better job digitally erasing Gary Sinise's legs. In fact, there's only one scene in the entire movie where the digital erasure of Sinise's legs fails: when he's picking himself up after the party girls leave on New Year's Eve. Watch carefully and you can see Sinise is clearly propping himself up on supposedly nonexistent legs.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Lt. Dan wanted to die in combat, so naturally, he doesn't take living with amputated legs too well. Watching Forrest receive a Medal of Honor from the President himself made all that worse.Lt. Dan: They gave you the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Forrest: That's Lt. Dan … [turns around and sees Lt. Dan] Lt. Dan!
Lt. Dan: They gave you the Congressional Medal of Honor!
Forrest: Yes sir, they sure did.
Lt. Dan: They gave you, an imbecile, a moron who goes on television and makes a fool out himself in front of the whole damn country, the Congressional Medal of Honor?!
Forrest: Yes, sir.
Lt. Dan: Well, then, that's just perfect! Yeah, well I just got one thing to say to that. Goddamn bless America.
- During the War: Vietnam.
- Dumb Is Good: Forrest is "stupid is as stupid does" which in practice means that he is polite to everyone he meets, and never considers sinister undertones in what he hears or sees.
- End of an Age: Many have interpreted Jenny's death from a disease that might be AIDS as being symbolic of the death of the 1960s/1970s counterculture in the early 1980s.
- Engineered Public Confession: Inverted: During Forrest's stump speech during an anti-Vietnam rally that he somehow got convinced to go to, a large percentage of the speech involving things he was going to admit to the people about his experiences in Vietnam during the speech actually ended up missed because a Pro-Vietnam police officer pulled the plug on the mike, and the mike's sound output was only restored right when Forrest finishes up the statements.
- According to Tom Hanks, the actual censored portion of the speech was "Sometimes when people go to Vietnam, they go home to their mommas without any legs. Sometimes they don’t go home at all. That’s a bad thing." Arguably, seeing Abby Hoffman (who apparently heard the whole thing) moved to tears by Gump's speech was effective enough.
- Exact Words:
Forrest: They called it a "million dollar wound" but the army must keep that money 'cos I still haven't seen a nickel of that million dollars.
- When he receives the Medal of Honor from Lyndon B. Johnson, Johnson jokingly expresses interest in seeing the wound on Gump's butt. Gump interprets this as literal, and… obliges his request. (LBJ, never the most reserved or well-mannered individual, absolutely loves it.)
- Jenny gets caught by this too, after she tells Forrest "I wanna be up on a stage with just my guitar and my voice..." She later gets that dream. But she never specified whether she'd be wearing clothes at the time, and ends up with just her guitar and her voice.
- Jenny also tells Forrest that when he's in Vietnam, if he finds himself in danger, she wants him to run. As it happens, he ends up doing just that... running back and forth carrying wounded soldiers to a river bank during an ambush, earning himself the Medal of Honor.
- Forrest thinks his Vietnam wound was literally worth a million dollars.
- Fly-at-the-Camera Ending: The feather.
- Foil: Forrest (the cheerful, innocent man) serves as this to Lt. Dan (the grumpy, disillusioned, emotionally broken man).
- The Fool: Forrest is good natured but naturally dim witted, most importantly though, he appears to be quite lucky throughout the film.
- "I wanna be up on a stage with just my guitar and my voice..."
- At the very beginning of the movie, Forrest opens his suitcase and we see not only the Curious George book (which Mama reads to him and Forrest Jr. takes to show-and-tell) but also his Bubba Gump hat and his ping-pong paddle. We also see he's wearing muddy Nikes, which he wore when he ran for two and a half years. Even the box of chocolates shows up in his story when he gives Jenny a box at college.
- A subtle example. Lt. Dan pokes fun at Forrest over his aspirations of captaining a shrimping boat, saying, "If you're ever a shrimping boat captain, I'll be an astronaut." Later, Lt. Dan shows up at Forrest and Jenny's wedding, sporting titanium legs which Lt. Dan explains "is what they made the space shuttle out of."
- Framing Device: Most of the movie is Forrest telling his life's story to people at a bus stop.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: When we first see Forrest's platoon in action, they are walking through a rice paddy. You can see plumes of smoke behind, indicating they torched a village on the way over.
- Genius Ditz: Forrest in the book has savant syndrome. In the film, his natural talent is running but he's also really good at putting guns together.
- The Ghost: Jenny's sisters are spoken of but never seen.
- God Is Good: After coming back from Vietnam, Lt. Dan is told stuff like this. One example is, "If I let Jesus into my heart, then I will walk beside Him in the kingdom of Heaven". He thinks it's bullcrap for a while, but after Hurricane Carmen, the two of them come to an understanding. Forrest notes that he "made his peace with God".
- Good Ol' Boy: Forrest and many other folks from Greenbow, Alabama are honest and hardworking, but many others are not.
- Handicapped Badass: Lt. Dan has no legs and he can still work on a shrimp boat and survive a hurricane from a ship's mast.
- Hard Work Hardly Works: Forrest is a natural runner, a natural table tennis champion, and his drill sergeant is amazed that he can take a gun apart and put it back together so quickly.
- "Have a Nice Day" Smile: According to the film, Forrest is the originator of the design. He wiped his face on a yellow shirt and the person who handed him the shirt saw the design.
- The Hedonist: Jenny becomes this in her adulthood: drugs, sex, you name it.
- Hippie Van: Jenny's radical friends pick her up in a van.
- Historical-Domain Character: Forrest meets various celebrities who were historically, culturally or sociologically important to the history between 1945 and 1981: Elvis Presley, George Wallace, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Abbie Hoffman, John Lennon and Richard Nixon.
- Historical In-Joke: So many that not all of them made it to the movie. Forrest inspired and named for a while the trope that is now Been There, Shaped History.
- History Repeats: A lot of scenes mirror each other.
- Forrest meets Jenny on the bus, where nobody wants him to sit next to them. Later when he joins the army by bus the same situation happens again, but this time its Bubba who allows him to sit next to him. Later when Forrest's son goes to school by bus he also introduces himself to the bus driver first.
- Forrest being chased by bullies with Jenny defending him occurs both when he is a child, as well as when he is a teenager. The only difference is that they chase him by bike as child and by car as an adult.
- Forrest's mother dies in bed in his house, mirrored later by Jenny dying in the same bed.
- Forrest meets a President of the USA: Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.
- Forrest beats up men who mistreat Jenny.
- Forrest walking or running past the same barbershop.
- Honor Before Reason: Lt. Dan started off as this as his main goal was to die with honor, and was appalled at surviving as a cripple. Eventually he came to terms with this and became grateful that Forrest saved him.
- Hourglass Plot: Bubba's mother and female ancestors had served as cooks for wealthy white people. When Forrest gives her and her family riches from Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, she becomes wealthy enough to hire a white woman to cook for her.
- How We Got Here: Twice. The framing narrative is Forrest talking with people at a bus stop.
- I Gave My Word: Lieutenant Dan was being sarcastic when he said that if Forrest ever became a shrimp boat captain, he'd be his first mate. But when Forrest does become a shrimp boat captain, Dan becomes his first mate.
- I Was Just Joking: It was strongly implied that LBJ's "desire" to see the wound on Gump's behind was actually intended to be a joke. Forrest, being Forrest, interprets this literally, and proceeds to oblige his "request" on live TV, causing Johnson to chuckle to himself and say "Goddamn, son!"
- Identical Grandson: Lieutenant Dan's ancestors are all played by Gary Sinise; all of Mrs. Blue's ancestors are played by the same woman who plays Mrs. Blue, Forrest's namesake General Nathan Bedford Forrest, the founder of the Ku Klux Klan, is also played by Tom Hanks.
- Idiot Hero: Forrest Gump becomes, among other things, a war hero and a successful shrimp boat captain based on single minded determination and a lack of sense to know that what he's doing is stupid/crazy/dangerous etc.
- Imagine Spot: When Forrest talks about Lieutenant Dan and Bubba's ancestors, and then happily inverted when Bubba's mom uses Bubba's share of Forrest's shrimping venture.
- Innocent Inaccurate: Among other things, Forrest doesn't quite understand what the big deal is with desegregation, the war protesters, or the Black Panther Party. Also, he calls Jenny's father a "very loving man" because he was "always touching her".
- Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Forrest (spine problems and a mental disability) and later Lt. Dan (crippled). Both of them come to terms with their conditions and reach success.
- Insult Backfire: "Stupid is as stupid does."
- Ironic Echo:
- Bubba's mother being served lunch by a white lady, using the exact same shot as the Imagine Spot of Bubba's mother's ancestors doing the same thing for their white employers. "…and so they shot him" is sort of one as well, considering the famous people Forrest has met (does the man have a death god following him?).
- A less straightforward example is when Forrest's mother had to sleep with the principal just to allow Forrest to have a regular school environment instead of a special needs environment. During the mom and the principal's … "pleasure time", The Principal is faintly heard panting from outside. When the Principal afterwards asks Forrest whether he says anything at all, Forrest's response is to mime said panting (without realizing what it meant).
- It Began with a Twist of Fate: In the original book version most of Forrest's adventures start with some variation of the following: "So I was just sitting there minding my own business and a guy comes up to me and says 'Do you want to [join the army/be in a play/play college football/get shot into space/star in a movie/etc.]?' Well, I had nothing else to do that day so I said OK."
- It Will Never Catch On: Forrest doesn't seem too impressed by the "fruit company" Lt. Dan suggested he invest in, which we see is really Apple Computers, now Apple Inc.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Lieutenant Dan in the movie is a rude hardass but also a patriot who wants to be the only casualty in his group. Perhaps surprisingly to some, Forrest in the original novel was more violent than the one in the film.
- Just Following Orders:
"Run Forrest, Run", "[Because] you told me to, Drill Sergeant?", "The secret of ping pong is never taking your eye off the ball", "I got it — The Medal of Honor — just by doing what you told me to do."
- A staple of Gump's character, and why he sits at the core of a Reactionary Fantasy:
- Defied in that Gump ignores Lt. Dan's order not to rescue him and chooses Good over Lawful, which leads to him winning that Medal Of Honor.
- Kids Are Cruel: None of the kids, except Jenny, would let Forrest sit next to them on the school bus. A few in particular made a hobby of chasing Forrest around after school and throwing rocks at him.
- Kissgusting: One of the hookers kisses Forrest on the lips and he pushed her away and spits, prompting her to ask if he's stupid (pissing off Lieutenant Dan). After they left, Forrest apologizes for ruining his good time, saying that she tasted like cigarettes.
- The Klan: Forrest says he was named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
- Let the Past Burn: Forrest eventually does Jenny a favor by having her abusive home demolished.
- Literal-Minded: Forrest has no concept of metaphor. For example, he thinks that "Recon plan Charlie" means looking for a guy named Charlie.
- The Long List: "Shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo ..."
- Luke, You Are My Father: Forrest finds out he has a son via Jenny. Epileptic Trees say this might not be the case, but Forrest is the only reliable parent Jenny can find.
- Meaningful Echo: When Forrest tells Jenny he loves her, she annoyingly tells him he doesn't know what love is. Years later, he proposes to her, but she declines, telling him he doesn't really want to marry her. His response: "I'm not a smart man, but I know what love is."
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: Lt. Dan tries to be this to a T, as he gives Forrest and Bubba advice on how to survive Vietnam (concluding the mentor part) and then tries to die fighting in the war, believing that it was his destiny. However, he didn't count on Forrest to defy that.
- Mooning: Forrest does this to President Johnson. See Exact Words for more details.
- Narration Echo: On multiple occasions, due to Forrest's thoughts being so straightforward.Forrest: *narrating* When I got home, I had no idea, but Mama'd had all sorts of visitors.
Mrs. Gump: We've had all sorts of visitors.
- Nice Guy: Forrest, it's this character trait that makes him the ideal hero for this film because there are few other nice guys. The summary calls him "an innocent in a nation losing its innocence".
- Noodle Incident:
"Sometimes when people go to Vietnam, they go home to their mommas without any legs. Sometimes they don't go home at all. That's a bad thing. That's all I have to say about that."
- Forrest's speech during the Vietnam protests, lost to everyone except those standing near him because the microphones have been sabotaged, but it moves those people to tears. According to Tom Hanks, it goes something like this:
- Bubba's montage talking about how shrimp can be cooked ends with him and Forrest scrubbing the floor with toothbrushes, which is a punishment. Why is never is explained.
- No Infantile Amnesia: Averted: Forrest explicitly states that he has absolutely no recollection of his birth.
- No One Gets Left Behind: Forrest's Crowning Moment of Awesome is running back and forth in hostile territory and under fire to recover all the injured people from his unit.
- Only a Flesh Wound: Forrest gets shot in the buttocks in Vietnam and suffers no long-lasting ill effects. In fact, he gets all the ice cream he can eat. This is about the only part of the body where this can realistically happen (thus, why it's called a "million-dollar wound"). It also happens to infantrymen a lot, as one's natural inclination when crawling is to stick your butt in the air. Army training tries to curtail this but not everyone remembers.
- Overly Long Gag: The Long List of shrimp recipes and the imagine spots for Lieutenant Dan and Bubba's ancestors.
- Phrase Catcher: "Are you crazy, or just plain stupid?"
- Pinball Protagonist: Forrest just does whatever he feels like doing at the time. At one point, he becomes sort of a running guru and unintentionally leads a group of literal cross-country runners for months. At one point, he stops running ("Listen, he's about to say something!") and he just says "I'm kinda tired. I'm going to go home now," and just walks home (from the Nevada desert).Runner: What are we going to do now?
- Playing Gertrude: Sally Field, who plays Mrs. Gump, is just ten years older than Tom Hanks. And on top of that, they previously played love interests in the film Punch Line.
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: The storm that took out every ship is considered to be a good thing since it allowed Forrest's shrimping business to thrive. This ignores how many lives the storm would have ruined or possibly ended. Though it is justified by Forrest's stupidity making him unable to consider the effects that the storm had on anyone but himself and those close to him.
- Protagonist Title: Forrest Gump.
- Potty Emergency: Happens to Forrest, simply saying "I gotta pee!" as he meets President Kennedy. Drinking fifteen Dr. Peppers will do that to you.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: While the screenplay stays fairly close to the novel's structure (mostly as it relates to Forrest getting involved in life events), the character of Forrest is, in the novel, fairly smart; he just has extreme difficulty articulating his thoughts. The book is also rather dark and mean-spirited in several instances.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
Lt. Dan: "YOU'LL NEVER! SINK! THIS! BOAT! AAAA-HAAHAAAAW!"
- Lieutenant Dan's Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter! antics.
- Also:Abbie Hoffman: "The war … in Viet-FUCKING-NAAAAM!"
- Rage Against the Heavens: Lt. Dan in the storm scene is basically him venting all his frustration about being denied his "destiny" of dying in battle at God.
- Rape as Backstory: It's heavily implied that Jenny and her sisters were sexually abused by her father.
- Real Award, Fictional Character: Forrest is awarded the Medal of Honor for saving four members of his platoon in Vietnam and getting Shot in the Ass in the process.
- Reactionary Fantasy: This is the story of how a Good Ol' Boy who sincerely believes he lives in Eagleland type 1 finds happiness and wealth by Just Following Orders, because Dumb Is Good. It is mirrored by the story of a more rebellious girl who Really Gets Around, and who was driven to such behavior by her Abusive Parents. She sincerely believes she lives in Eagleland type 2, becomes a Soap Box Sadie trying to change things for the better, and lives a life that goes From Bad to Worse, because she should have been content with her bucolic and All-American origins (and it's implied she meets Death by Sex).
- Reality Ensues: Forrest jumps off his boat and swims over to Lt. Dan. The unmanned Jenny promptly slams into a dock.
- Rich Idiot with No Day Job: Forrest's silent partnership in Bubba-Gump Shrimp and his investing in Apple means he never has to worry about money ever. He works as a gardener for free.
- Running Gag:
- It's subtle, but in every photo of Forrest, his eyes are closed.
- In a darker extent, many celebrities that Forrest met or talked about end up getting killed, most of them getting shot.
- Sex for Services: A rather loose variation.Hancock: "Your mama sure does care about your schooling, son!"
- Scenery Porn: Many shots in Alabama are beautiful to look at. When Forrest decides to go running you see marvelous natural landscapes in various places in the USA.
- Seemingly Profound Fool: A lot of people take Forrest's words at greater value than he does. The cross-country running, for instance. There's nothing political, social, or philosophical about it; he just "felt like running".
- Seen It All: After a while, Forrest finds it hard to work up enthusiasm for meeting Presidents after meeting virtually each one during his life.
- Sexy Discretion Shot: Invoked in the film, where Jenny climbs into Forrest's bed and the scene fades to black.
- Shot in the Ass: "I got shot in the butt-tocks."
- At various times we see archival footage or well known TV series play on TV sets, such as Bob Hope greeting the American troops at New Year's Eve 1971, and Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street.
- When Forrest is pushing Lt. Dan across a street after they reunite in New York and a cab almost hits them, Dan shouts "Hey! Hey! I'm walkin' here!"
- Significant Birthdate:
- Jenny's date of birth ( which can be seen on her tombstone) is July 16, 1945, the date of the Trinity test in New Mexico, the world's first successful test of the atomic bomb. Her date of death, March 22, 1982, is also the date that the Space Shuttle Columbia launched on its 3rd mission (STS-3) … which landed at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico.
- The latter would at first glance seem not so significant within the film's context as the Columbia disaster happened long after the film's release. However, the backup commander for mission STS-3 was Ken Mattingly, who was portrayed by Gary Sinise (Lt.Dan) in Apollo 13, which also starred Tom Hanks.
- Single-Target Sexuality: Forrest has eyes for Jenny. No one else.
- Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter!: Lieutenant Dan rides out Hurricane Carmen clinging to the mast of a small boat, challenging the lightning and waves to kill him while giving God the middle finger. Which, according to Forrest after, results in Dan's religious epiphany.
- Still Wearing the Old Colors: Forrest meets some anti-Vietnam activists who mostly wear their old uniforms, but made into Non Uniform Uniforms.
- Sweet Home Alabama: The film takes place in Greenbow, Alabama. Also, when Jenny and Forrest are at Forrest's home they are dancing to Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
- Take Our Word for It: Abbie Hoffman's reaction to Forrest's cut-off speech.Abbie: You said it all, man.
- Tear Jerker (in-universe):
- The old lady that Forrest is narrating his story to has this reaction, to the point where she sticks around after missing her bus.
- Forrest's speech when getting his medal also causes this reaction in those that can actually hear him.
- Tempting Fate:Lt. Dan: Where's this god of yours now?Forrest: (narrating) It's funny Lt. Dan said that, 'cause right then, God showed up.
- This Is My Story: "Hello, my name is Forrest, Forrest Gump. Would you like a chocolate?"
- Try Not to Die: One of Lieutenant Dan's two standing orders for his platoon (the other one is to always, always change your socks for clean ones regularly).
- Unflinching Walk: While carrying the somewhat heavyset Bubba to the shore in Vietnam, an airstrike is raining bombs down just behind Forrest's heels. The only acknowledgement he gives of the explosions is a slight increase in walking speed near the end of the shot. It's made especially impressive considering he has a fresh bullet wound in his buttocks. Which may sound vaguely humorous, especially remembering Hanks' pronunciation of the word, but just take a moment to think about what it actually means. He either has a bullet or a jagged piece of debris lodged in a part of his body that is moving and flexing around with every step he takes, even moreso for the fact that he's running over difficult terrain and he still never even considers stopping. Unflinching indeed.
- Unfortunate Names: Forrest is named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, the founder of the KKK. This is awkward, seeing as how he would describe Bubba as "my best good friend." Forrest being Forrest, he didn't really understand what the KKK was.
- Unreliable Narrator: Played straight for laughs, and for drama. The naive Forrest incorrectly describes events he witnesses through his life. Examples:
- He believes that Charlie was someone the Army was looking for, as opposed to the codename for the Vietcong; and that Apple (Computers) was a fruit company.
- A few darker examples occur, as well - like describing Jenny's father as "a very loving man," unaware that what he witnessed were signs of sexual abuse.
- The novel ends with the iconic image of Forrest sitting on a park bench in Savannah, GA, not long after an encounter much like the one with the incredulous man in the movie ("Boy, I've heard some whoppers in my time..."), leaving open the possibility that Forrest is nothing more than a halfwit telling tall tales to strangers on a park bench. Consider the story from that perspective for a moment...
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
- During the live broadcast of the first moon landing, everyone at the Army hospital is watching Forrest play Ping-Pong with himself and no one is watching the TV.
- When Reagan is shot, the footage is playing on TV but he is not even watching the screen.
- When we first see Forrest play football, he's just zoned out unaware of the game he's participating in.
- Unwanted Rescue: Lt. Dan was furious that Forrest saved his life, rather than leave him to die. He eventually gets over his rage. Later in the film, when Lt. Dan fiercely defends Forrest after their female companions call him "stupid", the implication becomes that while Lt. Dan loses his legs, gets lost in his own misery, and spends decades watching the world fly apart, Forrest is his polar opposite — innocent, kind, confused and, above all, happy. Lt. Dan doesn't want anything to spoil that.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Forrest doesn't see it but Lt. Dan has a lot of anger towards him and generally treats him with contempt. But underneath it is an appreciation that Forrest holds no grudges and will do anything to help a person in need. By the end, there is no doubt they are best friends.
- Wealthy Philanthropist: Forrest Gump's shrimp business really takes off and Lt. Dan wisely invests their money in Apple Computer. Following his mom's philosophy, Forrest starts giving money to various projects in his town and state, like renovating their town church or founding a new hospital department.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Jenny's sisters were never mentioned again. Were they sent to live with their grandma like Jenny?
- Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Abby Hoffman wears an American flag-patterned shirt at the Vietnam protest rally.
And that's all I have to say about that.
In the Heat of the Night AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) All the President's Men