In 1994, Tom Hanks starred in Forrest Gump, a movie about an incredibly kind but intellectually disabled man who accidentally becomes part of several major historical events.
The Forrest Gump movie is based on the 1986 novel by Winston Groom, also called Forrest Gump. It’s one of the rare occasions where the movie is better than the book it’s based on.
Decades later, viewers still adore the movie. The movie’s biggest draw is Forrest himself, the central character who is an unexpected source of wisdom.
Viewers today still repeat his many memorable quotes (along with lines from the colorful cast of supporting characters). It’s an amazing piece of screenwriting.
Here are some of the best Forrest Gump quotes from the movie.
1. “My mama always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. you never know what you’re gonna get.’”
This is the most famous quote from Forrest Gump!
Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) repeats this line several times throughout the movie, including at the beginning when he is sitting at a bus stop with a box of chocolates (that is true to his character; he shares with strangers).
This line introduces us to the whole premise of the movie. Forrest Gump goes a long way from being the disabled child of a single mother in the rural South and his life takes some unexpected turns.
He never knew what he would get, but he accepted life’s curveballs gracefully and kept pushing on.
The line also introduces us to the close bonds between Forrest and his mother (played by Sally Field). Her love and wisdom helped him get through life.
2. “Stupid is as stupid does.”
This frequent Forrest Gump mantra is another line that movie fans repeat repeatedly. It’s also another quote that Forrest received and passed down from his mother.
We never get the details of Forrest’s disability, only that he had a hard time fitting in because of it. However, his mother never let him feel inferior.
The line means that it doesn’t matter what others call you smart or stupid, but what you do. This wisdom encouraged Forrest to look inside himself (and others) before judging.
3. “Run, Forrest, run!”
Jenny (played by Hanna R. Hall in the childhood scenes) yells this at young Forrest (played by Michael Conner Humphreys in the childhood scenes) when bullies start beating him up.
Although Forrest has bulky leg braces and cannot walk properly, through sheer force of will, he starts running, breaks his braces, and escapes.
The line introduces a recurring theme in the movie: Forrest’s speed (a contrast to the child who couldn’t walk properly due to a disability).
It shows us how Forrest won’t let outside limits stop him. Plus, it’s pretty fun to say!
4. “So then I got a call from him saying we don’t have to worry about money no more. And I said, ‘Good. That’s good! One less thing’.”
Forrest (Tom Hanks) says this after learning that he is a wealthy man thanks to Lieutenant Dan (played by Gary Sinise) investing their money in “some fruit company” (actually Apple, one of the biggest companies in the tech industry).
Forrest plays a part in all of the big American developments of the 20th century, including the tech boom.
The quote also gives us an insight into Forrest’s values. He doesn’t care about money at all but values the more important things in life.
These values were also passed down to him by his mother. As he says in the full quote below,
“Mama said, ‘there’s only so much fortune a man really needs, and the rest was just for showing off. So I gave a whole bunch of it to the Forrest Square Gospel Church.Forrest Gump
And I gave a whole bunch to the Bayou La Batre fishing hospital. And even though Bubba was dead and Lieutentant Dan said I was nuts, I gave Bubba’s mama Bubba’s share.
You know what, she didn’t have to work in nobodys’ kitchen nomore. And ’cause I was a gazillionaire and I liked doing it so much, I cut that grass for free.”
5. “Mama always said dying was a part of life. I sure wish it wasn’t.”
Forrest (Tom Hanks) says this heartbreaking line while standing over Jenny’s (Robin Wright) grave. The two only got to be happy together for a very short time.
In times of trouble, Forrest always clings to his mother’s wisdom and reminders to accept life’s hardships and move on.
However, some things are too difficult to move on from, such as the death of his beloved.
Forrest Gump is a funny movie with plenty of goofy quotes and scenes, but the main character goes through more than his fair share of heartbreak.
6. “It happens.”
Forrest Gump unintentionally makes his mark on pop culture multiple times, including when he coins the famous phrase “Sh*t happens” while on his run across America.
Countless people flock to his mysterious journey, hoping for wisdom or insight.
When a man looking for a bumper sticker slogan follows him (and accidentally runs through a pile of poop), Forrest’s calm acceptance of the situation inspires a phrase that graces car bumpers for the next few decades.
Here’s the hilarious exchange:
Bumper Sticker Business man: ‘Hey man. Hey, I was wondering if you might help me, huh? Listen, I’m in the bumper sticker business, and I’ve been trying to think up a good slogan, and since you is a big inspiration to the people around here, I though you might be able to help me jump into … WOUW…. man, you just ran into a big pile of dog shit.’
Forrest Gump: ‘It happens.
Bumper Sticker Business man: ‘What? Shit!?’
Forrest Gump: ‘Sometimes.’
7. “Shrimp is the fruit of the sea.”
Bubba (played by Mykelti Williamson) is a simple boy from the South who serves alongside Forrest in Vietnam, but all he wants to do is go shrimp fishing with his family.
This line begins a very long speech about how many ways there are to serve shrimp, which Bubba continues listing even as they experience the worst of Vietnam.
In Bubba, Forrest finds a kindred spirit who shares his appreciation for the simple life.
8. “I don’t know if we have a destiny, or if we’re all just floatin’ around accidental-like on a breeze, but I think maybe it’s both.”
Forrest delivers this line in his poignant speech at Jenny’s grave at the movie’s end. It’s part of the same monologue as the part about death being a part of life (quote number 5 on this list).
He reflects on the strange circumstances of his life and Jenny’s, the push and pull of life that pushed them together, then kept them apart.
The full quote about destiny goes,
I don’t know if Mama was right or if it… it’s Lieutenant Dan. I don’t know… if we each have a… destiny… or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze… but l – I think… maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happenin’ at the same time…Forrest Gump
His life was full of happy (and unhappy) accidents but also going towards a larger purpose.
Although Forrest seems like a simple character, his musings are key to uncovering some of life’s deeper truths.
9. “You’re gonna have to figure that out for yourself.”
Forrest’s musings about destiny pop up throughout the movie, for example, when he asks his dying mother about his destiny.
While his mother always guided him, there are some things that she can’t decide for him, and she’ll no longer be able to help him once she’s gone.
Forrest Gump : What’s my destiny, Mama?
Mrs. Gump : You’re gonna have to figure that out for yourself.
Although Mrs. Gump, on her deathbed, reflects on her destiny as Forrest’s mom, she can’t tell Forrest about his future because he has to forge it himself.
10. “Jenny and me was like peas and carrots.”
Forrest uses this line to explain his friendship with Jenny, one of the most important relationships in his life, starting from the day they met as children.
He references this expression to show how close they were because peas and carrots combined are a common side dish, particularly in the South.
Forrest and Jenny are outcasts in their town and spend their childhood defending each other.
Even as adults, when they can’t help each other in the same way, they find their way back to each other.
11. “Bubba was my best good friend. And even I know that ain’t something you can find just around the corner.”
Forrest suffers a lot of loss throughout the film, and he says this line when reflecting on the loss of Bubba during the Vietnam War.
Forrest is sad about the loss of his friend, who was one of the few people in his life who understood him, and about the tragic loss of Bubba’s potential—instead of fulfilling his dream as a shrimp boat captain, he died in a war neither of them understood.
The line also shows that Forrest is smart enough to understand life’s important things, such as the value of friendship.
12. “I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is.”
Forrest says this line to Jenny after she rejects his proposal. Forrest is so used to everyone underestimating him that he assumes Jenny rejects him because he isn’t smart.
However, when Jenny says, “you don’t want to marry me,” she’s not doubting Forrest’s love, but her worthiness of his love due to her trauma.
This heartbreaking line shows us how even people who know each other so well sometimes misunderstand each other, and it shows us again how Forrest has an innate understanding of life’s important things.
13. “You can’t keep trying to rescue me all the time.”
Jenny (Robin Wright) says this to Forrest after he attacks some men at the club where she works.
Forrest loves Jenny, but his love makes him overprotective and sometimes forgetful that she’s independent.
This line gets at an important problem that the two have to work through before they can be together. It also gives us an insight into Jenny—she doesn’t believe she deserves to get rescued.
14. “My mama always said you’ve got to put the past behind you before you can move on.”
Forrest quotes another of mama’s wise lines when discussing his cross-country running. Forrest starts running out of despair when Jenny rejects him, and after crisscrossing the country several times, he suddenly decides to stop.
While running, Forrest was physically putting distance between himself and the memory of his heartbreak, but he wasn’t emotionally moving on from the past.
He can only truly heal once he accepts the past and stops dwelling on it, which means ending his attempts to run away. These are just a few of the most memorable lines from Forrest Gump.