Terms of Endearment (1983) - Plot Summary Poster

Plot Summary

  • Aurora and Emma are mother and daughter who march to different drummers. Beginning with Emma's marriage, Aurora shows how difficult and loving she can be. The movie covers several years of their lives as each finds different reasons to go on living and find joy. Aurora's interludes with Garrett Breedlove, retired astronaut and next door neighbor are quite striking. In the end, different people show their love in very different ways.

    - Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>
  • Approximately ten years in what is the complex relationship between long widowed Houston-based upper middle class Aurora Greenway and her adult daughter Emma Horton is presented. There is general love and affection between the two, which is nonetheless characterized by Aurora's overbearing and judgmental nature and Emma's need for acceptance from her mother regardless. Aurora's focus on being a constant influence on Emma's life was strengthened upon the death of Aurora's husband/Emma's father Rudyard when Emma was an adolescent. Despite allowing a few ardent but rather undistinguished admirers into her life, Aurora did not actively pursue romance following being widowed, again turning that energy largely to Emma. This phase of Aurora and Emma's story starts when Emma marries Flap Horton, of who Aurora openly disapproves as a man she considers ambitionless (as he wants to be an academic). Aurora and Emma's relationship hits some further challenges when Emma, Flap and their children at whatever given time make moves away from Houston for Flap's career advancement. Although Aurora and Emma talk frequently on the phone due to the distance, Emma, a stay at home mom, is largely left to deal with the issues in her and Flap's less than perfect marriage on her own. Meanwhile, with extra time without Emma nearby and the hands of time slowly passing, Aurora eventually decides to take a chance and ultimately accept a date with her longtime next door neighbor Garrett Breedlove, an aging astronaut to who she never really even talked over the years due to their outward differences. While Garrett is miles away from the gentility that Aurora seems to admire in others and in herself, Aurora is conversely unlike most of the women Garrett pursues, he using his celebrity status to chase after nubile young women half his age.

    - Written by Huggo
  • Widow Aurora Greenway and her daughter, Emma, have a strong bond, but Emma marries teacher Flap Horton against her mother's wishes. When the marriage grows sour due to Flap's cheating, Emma eventually splits from him, returning to her mother, who is involved with a former astronaut. Soon, Emma learns that she has terminal cancer. In the hospital, supported by Aurora, she tries to make peace with Flap and her children.

    - Written by Jwelch5742
  • Follows hard-to-please Aurora looking for love and her daughter's family problems.


Aurora Greenway (Shirley MacLaine) and her daughter Emma (Debra Winger) are both searching for deep romantic love...

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