Forrest Gump, a middle-aged man seated on a bus bench in Savannah, Georgia, offers a chocolate to an African-American nurse beside him. He tells the nurse an old saying of his mother’s: “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” Forrest explains that he was named after an ancestor, General Nathan Forrest, who started the Ku Klux Klan, a racist organization. By naming her son "Forrest," Mrs. Gump wanted him to remember that people sometimes do things that don’t make any sense. Decades earlier, in Greenbow, Alabama, young Forrest lives with Mrs. Gump, his single mother, in a large, rural house where she rents out rooms to travelers. Born with a crooked spine, Forrest is made to wear a pair of leg braces to straighten his back. One day, a school administrator, Mr. Hancock, tells Mrs. Gump that Forrest cannot attend public school because his intelligence quotient of seventy-five is too low, but Mrs. Gump changes Hancock’s mind by having sex with him. Later, while a musician houseguest plays his guitar, Forrest dances, moving awkwardly due to his leg braces. Afterward, Mrs. Gump and Forrest spot the houseguest on television – it is Elvis Presley, a famous rock n’ roll musician, emulating Forrest’s style of dancing. On his first day of school, Forrest is shunned by all the kids on the school bus except by Jenny, a young girl who is abused by her alcoholic father. Forrest and Jenny become close friends, and, one day, when bullies throw rocks at Forrest, Jenny instructs him to run. Forrest runs so fast that the braces come off of his legs. From that day forward, Forrest runs everywhere he goes and eventually his athletic abilities earn him a football scholarship to the University of Alabama. When Forrest visits Jenny at her all-girl college, he embarrasses her by interrupting a date with a young man. Later that night, Jenny places Forrest’s hand on her breast, and he apologizes after ejaculating inside his pants. When he is selected for the All-American football team, Forrest meets President John F. Kennedy at the White House in Washington, D.C. Upon graduation, Forrest joins the United States Army and befriends Bubba Blue, another recruit who hails from a long line of shrimp fishermen. One night, a soldier hands Forrest a Playboy magazine with nude pictures of Jenny. On leave, Forrest goes to the topless bar where Jenny is working in Memphis, Tennessee, and when a man splashes Jenny with his drink, Forrest hits him and carries Jenny offstage. Afterward, she reprimands Forrest for trying to save her. Forrest tells Jenny he loves her, but she replies that he doesn’t know what love is. After they are sent to fight in the Vietnam War, Bubba suggests to Forrest that they start a shrimp fishing business when they return home. Sometime later, Forrest’s troop is ambushed in the jungle and Forrest saves several injured men, including his troop leader, Lieutenant Dan, by carrying them to safety. Although he is shot in the buttocks, Forrest heads back into the line of fire to find Bubba. Discovering that his friend is fatally injured, Forrest cradles Bubba in his arms as he dies. In the Army hospital, Forrest convalesces next to Lieutenant Dan, who has lost both his legs and resents Forrest for saving his life. Meanwhile, Forrest receives a stack of letters that were returned, unopened, from Jenny’s address in Greenbow. When he is awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor, Forrest returns to the White House and meets President Lyndon B. Johnson. During an anti-war protest outside the Washington Monument, Forrest is invited onto the stage to talk about the war, but an Army official unplugs the speaker system so that Forrest’s speech is inaudible. Spotting Forrest from the crowd, Jenny runs into the Reflecting Pool where Forrest joins her. Jenny takes Forrest to the headquarters of the Black Panthers, an African-American militant group, and one of the members lectures Forrest on the Vietnam War. When her boyfriend slaps Jenny across the face, Forrest attacks him. Later, Forrest tells Jenny that he would never hit her, saying he would like to be her boyfriend. However, after walking around with Forrest all night, Jenny returns to her abusive boyfriend. As she and the boyfriend board a bus, Forrest gives Jenny his Medal of Honor. Forrest, who spent countless hours playing ping-pong during his convalescence, travels to Army hospitals and teaches wounded soldiers how to play. Upon winning an international ping-pong championship in China, Forrest becomes a celebrity in the United States and is interviewed on The Dick Cavett Show alongside John Lennon of the famous rock n’ roll band, The Beatles. Leaving the show, Forrest runs into Lieutenant Dan who is now a bitter, wheelchair-bound alcoholic. After spending Christmas together, Forrest and Lieutenant Dan celebrate New Year’s Eve at a bar in New York City. Forrest daydreams about Jenny, who is in California, sneaking away from yet another abusive boyfriend. Traveling with the U.S. Ping-Pong Team, Forrest meets President Richard Nixon, and Nixon recommends that Forrest stay at the Watergate Hotel. There, Forrest notices flashlights inside the adjacent Watergate office complex one night and calls security, thus uncovering the infamous Watergate break-in. After he is discharged from the Army, Forrest receives $25,000 for endorsing a ping-pong paddle and uses the money to start a shrimp fishing business called Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, in honor of Bubba. Forrest names his boat Jenny and hires Lieutenant Dan to be his first mate, raising Dan’s spirits. Elsewhere, Jenny takes drugs and contemplates suicide. Although Forrest and Lieutenant Dan initially encounter obstacles at sea, their luck changes when a hurricane washes in an abundance of shrimp, making Bubba Gump an overnight success. One day on the boat, Forrest learns that Mrs. Gump is sick and he rushes home. Shortly after his return, Mrs. Gump dies from cancer. Since Lieutenant Dan invested Bubba Gump money into Apple Computers, Forrest receives windfall profits and gives his money away to churches, hospitals, and Bubba’s family. Forrest moves back into his mother’s house and cuts the grass at Greenbow’s high school football field for free. One day, Jenny arrives, and Forrest provides her with a room. First, she sleeps for a very long time, and after that, they walk around Greenbow together. When they come upon her father’s old house, Jenny becomes angry, throwing things and crying. On the Fourth of July, Forrest asks Jenny to marry him, but she refuses, saying he doesn’t want to marry her. Later that night, however, Jenny declares her love for Forrest, and they make love. The next morning, Jenny leaves without saying goodbye. Lonely in her absence, Forrest puts on a pair of running shoes that Jenny gave him and runs from his house. He doesn’t stop running and eventually reaches California, where he turns around and heads back East. Forrest runs cross-country multiple times, and after he receives attention from the press, other runners begin to follow him. Jenny sees Forrest on television and sends him a letter, asking him to visit Savannah, where she now works as a waitress. While still waiting for the bus in Savannah, Forrest learns from another passenger that he can walk to Jenny’s house. Finally, he leaves the bench where he first spoke to the nurse. At her apartment, Jenny apologizes for how she has treated Forrest, saying she was “messed up.” Forrest meets Jenny’s son, also named Forrest, and learns that he is the father. Forrest panics, asking if the child is smart, and Jenny assures him that he is. At a playground, Jenny tells Forrest that she is sick with a virus that has no cure. Forrest invites her and their son to stay with him in Greenbow, promising to take care of her. Jenny asks Forrest to marry her and he agrees. After they are married in Greenbow, she dies, and Forrest has her father’s house razed. Forrest continues to live in his mother’s house, sending his son to school on the same bus where he first met Jenny.