15 Insane differences between Forrest Gump the movie and book

The Oscar-winning film Forrest Gump is one of the most beloved movies of our time where Tom Hanks plays our loveable, simple character Forrest – a man with a low IQ but with good intentions and who wants nothing more than to end up with his childhood sweetheart, Jenny.

However, what a lot of people don’t realise is that this classic film is based on Winston Groom’s novel, Forrest Gump, which has a sequel novel, Gump and Co.

The film version of the story performed a lot better than its novel counterpart. According to the book’s author, the film adaption of Forrest Gump “took some rough edges off” his novel (which I suppose is actually a good thing) but screenwriter Eric Roth argued that this made the character of Forrest seem much more genuine and warmer in the film.

If you thought the film was packed, the book was even more so. There is a lot more that goes on in Groom’s version and there are a lot of differences between the film and the book.

Here, we list 15 of the most insane differences between the two.

  1. Language and Hobbies

In the film, Forrest is a loveable character who comes across rather childlike. Although this is mostly true in the book as well, the way he talks is different and his hobbies are different. Despite having a low IQ, he preforms incredibly well in physics and swears a lot when he talks. Both of which is missing from the film.

2. Chess Champion

Along with so many other things Groom managed to pack into his novel, Forrest was also a world-class chess champion. A talent which lead him to travelling around the world on numerous adventures.

3. Jenny stays alive

In both the film and the book, Forrest’s love for Jenny is the most consistent thing throughout the storyline, pretty much from the moment they met as children. At the end of the film, Forrest gets what he’s always wanted as he and Jenny get to be together and raise their child before Jenny sadly passes away. In the book, however, Jenny doesn’t die. Which leads to the next difference…

4. Forrest doesn’t get to raise his child

After Jenny dies in the film, Forrest is left to raise his child. In the book, since Jenny didn’t actually die, after having Forrest’s child, she actually raises the child with another man, and doesn’t end up with Forrest at all.

5. Forrest works for NASA

One of the strangest differences between the film and the book is that Forrest works for NASA, which – thankfully – is left out the film entirely. In the book, we see Forrest travel to space with another astronaut and an ape. Which is probably the least believable thing in the book.

6. Forrest held hostage

On his return to planet Earth, Forrest and his team crash and end up being held hostage in a jungle filled with cannibals. Although Forrest and his ape, Sue, manage to leave, his astronaut counterpart decides to stay after declaring that she has found true love. This is, of course, missed out of the film.

7. The Shrimping Business

Since Forrest didn’t go to space and didn’t have an ape friend in the film, his Shrimping business turned out slightly different. In the book, Forrest and his ape look for shrimp in shallow waters but then gives up shrimping and hands his business over to Lieutenant Dan to focus on his one-man-band. In the film, Lieutenant Dan is with him from the start with the business and together the search the sea for shrimp on their boat, Jenny.

8. No leg braces

The film starts off showing Forrest’s need for leg braces after his crooked spine leaves him with an inability to walk properly. This was never mentioned in the book.

9. Forrest takes on the bullies

From the beginning of the film, Forrest is a great runner, which stems from being able to avoid those who bully him by running away from them. In the novel, however, Forrest doesn’t run from his bullies – instead he punches them all.

10. Run? What run?

Arguably the most iconic scene from the movie is Forrest’s massive run. Which was actually never in the book at all. There was no big run. Of all the strange things Groom added to his book, this wasn’t one of them.

11. Forrest meets Bubba in university… not the army

One of our favourite characters in Forrest Gump is, of course, Bubba. But Bubba the film character was very different from Bubba the book character. In the book, Bubba is described as white and he meets Forrest at university when Forrest is in the football team. Whereas in the film, Bubba is black and meets Forrest in the army.

12. The iconic line

As pretty much everyone knows, the film’s most iconic line is Forrest’s mother’s phrase: “life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get”. In the book, however, Forrest says “being an idiot is no box of chocolates”, which makes much less sense.

13. Forrest’s mum is alive

Speaking of Forrest’s mum… in the film she dies of cancer. In the book she doesn’t die at all.

14. Forrest’s other activities

Forrest also partakes in a lot of other strange activities which is completely left out of the film – thankfully. These include being a stuntman in Hollywood with a naked Raquel Welch, and also being a professional wrestler nicknamed, “The Dunce”.

15. The ending

The film ends with Forrest having to look after his son without Jenny, however the book ending is entirely different. The novel ends with Forrest ending up with Lieutenant Dan and his ape, begging for change in his one-man band whilst sleeping on a green bench.

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