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- Big Brother Bully: In order to make sure Gertie doesn't tell their mom about E.T, Elliot and Michael invoke this by threatening to torture her toy doll.
- Coy, Girlish Flirt Pose: Elliot is a deceptively good ladies' man.
- Kid Hero: At the end, he pulls off the entire escape plan to get E.T. back to his ship.
- Middle Child Syndrome: Invoked because he's the middle child between Michael and Gertie.
- Badass Adorable: He's Ugly Cute, but has formidable Psychic Powers.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: Background dialogue from the doctors (see Cast the Expert) indicates that E.T.'s DNA uses six nucleotides instead of four. (This may help explain why he got sick: Earth's food doesn't provide him sufficient nourishment.)
- Curious as a Monkey: Goes to explores the house when left alone.
- Far-Out Foreigner's Favorite Food: Loves Reese's Pieces (M&Ms in the novelization).
- Four-Fingered Hands: Has four fingers on each hand.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Surprisingly, considering he's a botanist: He builds a wind-operated emergency beacon, transmitting in his own language, out of common household items (and a Speak and Spell). What's more, his ship hears his transmission and comes back for him!
- Healing Hands: His famous finger.
- Heart Light: Probably the Trope Codifier. His species feature a huge heart that glows red under certain condition.
- Innocent Blue Eyes: Has a huge pair of them.
- Insufficiently Advanced Alien: Elliot's brother thinks E.T. may just be a worker, and isn't necessarily a great scientist or anything. E.T. is actually a botanist, but has more than enough engineering know-how to make a communication device. Then again, he ran away screaming when a can of pencils fell over and the kids did initially think he was a hairless monkey.
- Internal Reveal: The kids obviously have to explain things to their mother when Elliot falls ill from E.T.'s Psychic Link. And this is moments before the government stepped in and placed their entire house under quarantine.
- Learnt English from Watching Television: Learns some basic words (y'know:"phone" and "home") from Sesame Street in a fairly well justified way: the show had basic words sounded out next to a picture of what it was talking about. It is a show directed at preschoolers, after all.
- Long Neck: He is able to make his neck longer. Usually does this when he is frightened, but near the end when he has to say goodbye to Elliott's older brother he does this too.
- Messianic Archetype: Right down to the resurrection and the Michelangelo touching of fingers between man and the Divine. So blatant was the parable it was spoofed on The Simpsons:Rev. Lovejoy: I remember another gentle visitor from the heavens, he came in peace and then died, only to come back to life, and his name was... E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial. (cries) I loved that little guy.
- Spielberg himself has said he never intended the film to be interpreted as a religious fable, and has himself joked about it.
- No Biological Sex: Gertie's not so sure whether E.T. is a boy or a girl, while Elliot insists he's a boy. While they all end up going along with Elliot on this, the obvious complete lack of any kind of genitals in all of E.T.'s people makes that a purely arbitrary designation. The books, of course, pretty much confirm this.
- No Name Given: E.T. is the nickname Elliott gave him. Justified in the fact E.T. knows limited English and we never see him interact with any of his species. (In the sequel novel, The Book of the Green Planet, even after E.T. returns to his home planet the narration always calls him "E.T." His own people are only ever described referring to him as "The Doctor of Botany".)
- Plant Aliens: Word of God states that E.T.'s species is plantlike in their anatomy and are asexual.
- Psychic Powers: Telepathy and telekinesis.
- Sweet Tooth: Quickly develops a fondness for Reese's Pieces candy.
- Taught by Television: He learned English mostly by watching TV.
- Vague Age: According to the novelization of the film he's over 10 million years old. Other sources put him at about 800 years old, and he's shown to be a child in the book E.T: The Book of the Green Planet.
- Verbal Tic: In the film's novelization, E.T. is able to speak much more coherently (rather than only knowing a handful of words), but due to learning English from a Speak-'n-Spell, he usually starts sentences with the command to "Spell..."
- You No Take Candle: "ET Phone Home".
- Big Brother Bully: At first Michael teases Elliot mercilessly, until he shows Michael E.T for the first time.
- Big Brother Instinct: In the beginning of the film, he bullies both Elliot, and Gertie (the latter to a lesser extent), but becomes far more protective of them as the film progresses.
- Skewed Priorities: "We're all gonna die and they're never gonna give me my license!"
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Elliot tends to think she is this more so than Michael.
- The Baby of the Bunch: Justified as she's the youngest out of her siblings.
- Girlish Pigtails: She has her hair in pigtails throughout the film.
- Little Miss Snarker: She's very snarky for a five year old.
- Outnumbered Sibling: She's the only girl with two older brothers.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: Justified as she's a 5 year old girl who's just seen an alien for the first time.
- Tomboy: Given that she's 5 years old, with two brothers who are 10 and 16, it's not surprising that she is one. She wears a baseball cap and for Halloween she sports a cowgirl costume.
"Keys" (and other government figures)
- Hero of Another Story: Something must have happened to Keys to get him interested in aliens, since he claims he's been waiting for something like E.T. to appear since he was 10. (While his claim that "[E.T.] came to me too" seems unlikely, he might be rationalizing this as being the truth From a Certain Point of View.) He and the rest of the government investigation team are just given very quick (and sinister-looking) scenes where they investigate the remains of E.T.'s and Eliot's shenanigans up until they converge on the house.
- No Name Given: He begins the film as a nameless, faceless figure distinguished by the bunch of keys hanging from his belt; later in the film, when he becomes a more sympathetic figure, his face is shown, but his name is never revealed. He's even listed just as "Keys" in the ending credits.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: The police and government agents are the villains of the film, but even then they are very reasonable, never actively trying to harm the children when they find out and even giving Elliott time to grieve after E.T. dies. This is particularly true of Keys, who gently talks to Elliott to try and figure out what's wrong with E.T., while declaring to Elliott that E.T.'s presence on Earth is nothing short of a miracle.