Five Plot Point Breakdown: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction/Family

Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: Melissa Mathison
Runtime: 115 min


After a gentle alien becomes stranded on Earth, the being is discovered and befriended by a young boy named Elliott (Henry Thomas). Bringing the extraterrestrial into his suburban California house, Elliott introduces E.T., as the alien is dubbed, to his brother and his little sister, Gertie (Drew Barrymore), and the children decide to keep its existence a secret. Soon, however, E.T. falls ill, resulting in government intervention and a dire situation for both Elliott and the alien.


Elliot tries to convince his family that there’s something unusual living in their shed but to no avail. Determined to find out what it is, Elliot camps out in the backyard. He inspects the cornstalks and runs into E.T., an extra-terrestrial that has been accidentally left behind on earth by his own kind.

LOCK IN (End of Act One): 13:00

With the help of a trail of Reese’s Pieces, Elliot leads E.T. inside the house, into his room, and, effectively, into his life. (21:00)


After E.T. spends the day home alone, he gets the idea to try and contact his home planet to let them know he’s still here. Elliot figures out that this is what E.T. wants and now makes it his mission to help E.T. “phone home.” (55:00)


The emotional connection that Elliot and E.T. share is beginning to hurt both of them – both are sick and dying. But as Elliot gains strength, E.T. grows weaker and ultimately, E.T.’s heartbeat stops. Elliot is distraught. (1:26:00) 


Thinking it’s over and that E.T.’s body will now be taken away by the authorities to be dissected, Elliot spots E.T.’s flowerpot. The dead flowers are quickly growing back to life. Elliot rushes over to E.T., sees that his heart is glowing and that he’s alive! With the help of his brother and friends, Elliot steals E.T. away from the authorities and rushes him to the forest to meet his own kind. (1:36:00)