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Characters / Forrest Gump

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    Forrest Gump
Portrayed by: Tom Hanks, Michael Conner Humphreys (child)

Though at an early age he is deemed to have a below average IQ of 75, he has an endearing character and shows devotion to his loved ones and duties, character traits which bring him into many life-changing situations. Along the way, he encounters many historical figures and events throughout his life.

  • The Ace: Star track runner, war hero, tennis champion, and successful shrimp businessman.
  • 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 only ran back into the combat zone to try and find Bubba but continuously stumbled upon other wounded soldiers, whom he then carried to the riverside. While he didn't intend to save four others and be awarded the Medal of Honor, he nonetheless deliberately brought them back one-by-one, while being fully 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.
  • Adaptational Curves: Inverted; he was very muscular in the book, but while he's no stringbean in the movie, he doesn't have the same herculean physique.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In the book, Forrest was more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold; in the movie he's a straight up nice guy.
  • Adaptational Ugliness: Downplayed. Few would call his movie incarnation ugly, but he's not an Adonis like in the book.
  • 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 the University of Alabama, which he ends up doing for free because he likes it so much. Hey, at least he's keeping busy.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Grows one on his cross-country jogging spree.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Forrest's defining trait is that he manages to affect the course of history without realizing it. The trope was originally named "The Gump" after him.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Well meaning in general, but if you do anything to hurt Jenny...
  • Born Lucky: Forrest just falls ass-backwards into multiple jaw-dropping accomplishments, any one of which other people could spend their whole lives trying to achieve.
  • Buffy Speak: Forrest's Verbal Tic.
  • Catchphrase: Forrest is rather good with these (many of which have become pop culture icons):
    • "Life is like a box of chocolates... you never know what you're gonna get."
    • "Stupid is as stupid does."
    • "My name's Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump."
      • Alternatively, "Hi, I'm Forrest. Forrest Gump."
    • "And that's all I have to say about that..."
    • "And just like that, my [x] days was over..."
    • "But most of all, I thought about Jenny..."
    • "A-GAIN..."
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Eventually becomes this with Jenny.
  • Disappeared Dad: "He's on vacation."
  • Drink Order: He loves Dr Pepper.
  • Dumb, but Diligent: Forrest is mentally handicapped, but was able to run without ankle braces, get multiple successful jobs, enlist in the army and fight in the Vietnam War, and ran cross-country completely on foot.
  • The Dutiful Son: He's eternally dedicated to his mother.
  • The Fool: One thing for certain about this movie is that Forrest has pure luck on his side (or fate, whichever one you prefer to call it).
  • Genius Ditz: In the books.
  • Good Ol' Boy: ...from Greenbow, Alabama.
  • Good Parents: Forrest absolutely adores his son and does everything a loving, devoted parent would, including nurturing Little Forrest's love of reading.
  • The Hero: The movie focuses on his entire life.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: He and Bubba seemed destined to be this until Bubba's death. Forrest and Lt. Dan become a variation of this afterward.
  • Idiot Houdini: Forrest is cognitively impaired, yet all his decisions lead to success, wealth and fame. He becomes a star footballer just by running into a stadium during a match. He survives an ambush and napalm strike in Vietnam, saving some of his fellow soldiers, and emerges with nothing more than a stray bullet in the ass. He becomes a world table tennis champion because he was bored while recovering from his bullet wound and wanted to occupy himself. He makes millions as a shrimp boat captain despite having no skills, experience or success until a freak storm wipes out the local industry leaving him miraculously unscathed. He inspires the creation of the smiley face and the phrase "shit happens". He meets three different presidents and exposes the Watergate break-in by pure accident. He fumbles and stumbles through life pursuing on a whim whatever seems like a good idea at the time, yet nothing he ever does throughout the film leads to negative consequences for him. One film review describes it thusly:
    "...demonizing social awareness and activism, lionizing apathy and outright retardation, and reducing all of American history to quips, clips, and humorous anecdotes. That it transforms a supreme dolt to the level of hero is beyond debate... Civil rights marches, anti-war protests, and even literacy itself led one to drug abuse, violence, disease, and death, while an all-consuming self-absorption typical of the brain damaged brought down the angels from their heavenly perch. Arguably the most reactionary motion picture ever conceived, it ruined the world most of all because it made deep, unshakable idiocy acceptable, even valued..."
  • Kavorka Man: Downplayed; he meets Jenny in the Kennedy-era 1960s and gets a scholarship to the University of Alabama. After enlisting with the Army, he briefly meets Jenny again at an anti-war rally, and she declines his proposal, which leads him to run across the country for 3 1/2 years, becoming a celebrity, and they ultimately marry, with Jenny giving birth to a son, Forrest Jr. before she dies a year later.
  • Kindhearted Simpleton
  • Literal-Minded
  • Lonely at the Top: Forrest cares deeply about his loved ones and friends, but most of them tend to leave him or die.
  • Modest Royalty: A millionaire variant. Lives the same lifestyle despite his money. The most expensive things he has are a pair of sneakers Jenny bought him.
  • Momma's Boy: Forrest dearly loves his mother.
  • Mooning: President Johnson found out how Literal-Minded Forrest is the hard way when he joked that he would like to see his "million dollar wound."
  • Named After Someone Famous: His mother named him after Nathan Bedford Forrest, founder of the Ku Klux Klan and his supposed ancestor, as a reminder to others of the stupidity of mankind.
  • Nice Guy: The sweetest and nicest man you will ever meet.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Thanks to his Army training kicking in, Forrest acts very different during the ambush in Vietnam. He intentionally tries to harm other people by shooting at them (understandable given the circumstances), acts very professionally with his weapon, and is actually fully aware of what's going on, rather than his usual slight obliviousness. The moment the U.S. warplanes arrive to drop their payload is one of the few times he looks genuinely frightened as he knows full well what an air strike entails.
  • Oh, Crap!: When he realizes he left his entire platoon, including Bubba, behind.
  • Potty Emergency: "I gotta pee!" Drinking 15 Dr Peppers will do that to you.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Puppy Love: With Jenny, as children.
  • The Quiet One: In his childhood, until he met Jenny.
  • Seemingly Profound Fool
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Forrest never seems to notice any women other than Jenny, from when he was a kid.
  • So Proud of You: Forrest is ecstatic to learn that his son is very intelligent and doesn't hesitate to encourage and boast about Little Forrest's accomplishments.
  • Super Speed: A mundane version, but a lot of Forrest's talents and accomplishments such as his football stardom, his super-fast gun-loading, his war heroism, and his uncanny talent for ping-pong, all come from being able to move and act extremely fast.
  • Too Quirky to Lose
  • Uptown Guy: Zig zagged. He and Jenny grew up in similar backgrounds (excluding the abuse Jenny suffered at the hands of her father). Things changed when they became young adults — Jenny was kicked out of high school, became a junkie, and ended up as a waitress when they meet again; on the other hand, Forrest became a high school graduate, a Vietnam veteran/war hero, and a successful shrimp businessman.
  • The Vietnam Vet: For Forrest, it was just a stage in his life that he remembered; this contrasts with Lt. Dan, who lost his legs and suffers from PTSD.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Gender-flipped. Lay a hand on Jenny while Forrest is around. Go ahead, try it.
  • 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.

    Jenny Curran
Portrayed by: Robin Wright, Hanna R. Hall (child)

Forrest's childhood friend whom he immediately falls in love with and never stops loving throughout his life. A victim of child sexual abuse at the hands of her bitterly widowed father, Jenny embarks on a different path than Forrest, leading a self-destructive life and becoming part of the hippie movement in the 1960s and the 1970s/1980s drug culture. She re-enters Forrest's life at various times in adulthood. Jenny eventually becomes a waitress in Savannah, Georgia, where she lives in an apartment with her (and Forrest's) son, Forrest Jr.

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Justified since she was raised in her early life by an abusive father. Deconstructed when all of her boyfriends were complete assholes who only hurt her in some way. note 
  • Animal Motifs: She's always associated with birds, from the moment she asks Forrest to pray with her.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Eventually becomes this with Forrest.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: In the words of Forrest, who didn't quite understand what was going on in the Curran household: "Her father was a very loving man. He was always kissing and touching her and her sisters..."
  • Death by Adaptation: Jenny survives the original novel, although she is killed off at the beginning of the sequel novel, Gump and Co.
  • Defiled Forever: Likely feels this way about being sexually abused by her father, hence her string of abusive boyfriends and promiscuity coupled with her refusal to marry Forrest until near the end of her life.
  • Driven to Suicide: The first time is after her nude guitar show when she is standing on a bridge and talking to Forrest about the time they prayed together. She is about to leap out of her shoes until she slowly steps back down. The second is when she's high on drugs and standing on an apartment balcony, ready to do a swan dive into the streets below... but comes to her senses at the last moment and climbs off the ledge.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: In the sequel novel, Gump and Co., when she dies quite early.
  • False Soulmate: To Forrest until the end.
  • Granola Girl: Becomes a hippie.
  • Hate Sink: Invoked. Forrest was made nicer in the film, while some of his negative personality traits were given to Jenny, mostly to contrast their respectively simple, stable, and extravagant and dangerous lifestyles.
  • The Hedonist: Becomes this in her adulthood.
  • Insecure Love Interest: The reason she didn't want to get with Forrest. She didn't feel like she was good enough for him because of her past mistakes, and the abuse she suffered from her father.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: She joins the movement during the 60s.
  • No Last Name Given: Her last name, "Curran", is never spoken in the film; we only find out that it's "Curran" from a batch of letters Forrest gets in the Army.
  • The Not-Love Interest: Subverted.
  • Promiscuity After Rape
  • Puppy Love: With Forrest, as children.
  • Rape as Backstory: Her father sexually abused her and her sisters.
  • Really Gets Around: Which she's not proud of. Mostly due to having a lot of Bastard Boyfriends.
  • Significant Birth Date: Perhaps. See the entry on the film's page.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Jenny finally goes towards after numerous disastrous relationships, and falls in love and marries Forrest Gump.
  • Soap Box Sadie: Becomes an activist in her adulthood.
  • The Stoner: As an adult.

    Lt. Dan Taylor
Portrayed by: Gary Sinise

Forrest and Bubba Blue's platoon leader during the Vietnam War, whose ancestors have died in every American war, and he regards it as his destiny to do the same. After losing his legs in an ambush and being rescued against his will by Forrest, he is initially bitter and antagonistic towards Forrest for leaving him a "cripple" and denying him his family's destiny, falling into a deep depression. He later serves as Forrest's first mate at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, gives most of the orders, and regains his will to live.

  • The Alcoholic: Post-Vietnam. The apartment he's living in when he and Forrest reunite is littered with beer bottles.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Lt. Dan loses his legs in combat and winds up with Magic Legs (prosthetic legs)!
  • Beard of Sorrow: Grows one when he and Forrest catch up after the War.
  • Berserk Button: "Don't you ever call him stupid!"
  • Deadpan Snarker: Just look who plays him.
  • Death Seeker: He's had a family member die in every single war America has fought in, and thus feels it's his duty to do the same in Vietnam. He actually has a nervous breakdown after Forrest rescues him, because not only has he lost his legs, he doesn't know what to do now. He eventually gets better.
  • Disabled Snarker: Having no legs breaks his morale, but doesn't take away his sense of sarcasm.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: In the sequel novel, Gump and Co., when he gets killed by friendly fire during Operation Desert Storm.
  • A Father to His Men: He's pretty welcoming to Bubba and Forrest when they first arrive in Vietnam, with his two rules being to take care of their feet and not to do anything stupid that will get them killed. Despite not quite grasping what's really going on in Vietnam, Forrest still knows he's lucky to have Lt. Dan as his commanding officer.
  • First-Name Basis: Forrest always calls him "Lt. Dan", even after the War.
  • Handicapped Badass: Losing his legs doesn't make him any less of a badass while working alongside Forrest in the shrimping business.
  • Heroic BSoD: After losing his legs.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Downplayed, but he's contemptuous of the proselytizers at the V.A., and it of course stems from his experiences in Vietnam.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: As much as he belittles Forrest after they come home from Vietnam, he absolutely will not tolerate anyone else insulting Forrest, especially if they call him stupid.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • In the second half of the movie. It's understandable why he was so hostile to Forrest, though, seeing as how he thought Forrest had "cheated" him out of dying. Even when he tries to stop Forrest from rescuing him, when Forrest gets shot, he shoots back at the shooter.
    • Forrest's internal thoughts lead him to believe Lt. Dan didn't want to be called a cripple, but his actual Berserk Button was when someone called Forrest stupid.
  • The Lancer: Becomes this to Forrest after Bubba's death.
  • My Greatest Failure: He was a Death Seeker during the war and wanted to die in battle. However, he wanted his men to stay alive. Losing nearly his entire platoon, his legs, and not dying in battle gave him PTSD that took years to overcome.
  • Screw Destiny: He's eventually glad he didn't die in Vietnam.
  • Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter!: Has a moment of this when the Jenny gets caught in Hurricane Carmen.
  • Took a Level in Idealism: He regains his sense of living again thanks to Forrest. This occurs mainly because a terrible storm they went through that should have sunk their ship, instead ended up making them rich because they had one of the few functional shrimping boats left after it.
  • Try Not to Die: One of Lt. Dan's two standing orders for his platoon (the other one is to always, always change your socks for clean ones regularly).
  • The Vietnam Vet: Unlike Forrest, the Vietnam War was a traumatising period in his life. He was a Death Seeker going in, then had to live with losing most of his men and both his legs.

    Benjamin Buford "Bubba" Blue
Portrayed by: Mykelti Williamson

Bubba is Forrest's friend whom he meets upon joining the Army. Bubba was originally supposed to be the senior partner in the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, but due to his death in Vietnam, their platoon leader, Dan Taylor, took his place. The company posthumously carried his name. Forrest and Dan later gave Bubba's mother Bubba's share of the business.

  • Adaptational Personality Change: In the novel, Bubba was more intelligent and perhaps a little snarkier, and also more like a big brother figure of sorts for Forrest. He was also apparently supposed to be this in the original screenplay, but Bubba's actor Mykelti Williamson suggested that he should only be a tad smarter than Forest but also have a heart of gold, making them more similar and leading to a tighter connection between the two.
  • Alliterative Name: Not just first and last, but his middle and even nickname all start with "B."
  • Black Best Friend: For Forrest.
  • Blatant Lies: When Forrest finds him bleeding out from his wounds, Bubba tries to assure him it's Only a Flesh Wound. Even Forrest didn't buy that one.
  • The Ditz: One reason that he and Forrest got along well was that Bubba himself was not all there.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: He gets shot during an unexpected platoon attack during the Vietnam War, and doesn't even get to live out his dream as a shrimp boat captain.
  • Genius Ditz: He knows everything there is to know about the shrimping business.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: He and Forrest seemed destined to be this until his death.
  • Ironic Nickname: He's black, but his nickname "Bubba" is commonly associated with white rednecks, which he lampshades in his intro scene.
  • The Lancer: To Forrest until his death. Lt. Dan takes over the role after that.
  • Nice Guy: Bubba is just as kind and good-natured as Forrest.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Granted, he tells Forrest his given name during their first meeting, but is OK with being called Bubba.

    Mama Gump
Portrayed by: Sally Field

Forrest's devoted mother, who raises him after his father abandons them.

  • Mama Bear: Was willing to have sex with the sleazy principal of Forrest's school to get him a good education.
  • Noble Bigot: She did seem to be quite a racist, naming her son after the leader of the Ku Klux Klan. This part is justified due to the time period she was raising her son in. When you take that part out, she really genuinely loves her son, and it's likely Forrest became a good person because of her.
    • Besides, Forrest mentions that his mom told him he was named after the KKK leader because "sometimes people did things that made no sense" which indicates that she may not have been that racist after all.
  • No Name Given: Her first name is never referred to in the film.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Forrest only calls her "Mama."
  • Playing Gertrude: Sally Field is only ten years older than Tom Hanks. Justified, however, since in most of her scenes, Forrest is a child, and for scenes where he is an adult, Field wears significant aging make-up.

    Forrest Jr.
Portrayed by: Haley Joel Osment

Forrest and Jenny's son.


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