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"You're losing altitude, Tiangong. You keep dropping and you're going to kiss the atmosphere. But not without me, because you're my last ride."
―Ryan Stone [src] 
Dr. Ryan Stone
Age 32
Gender Female
Occupation Biomedical Engineer/Mission Specialist
Portrayed by Sandra Bullock

Dr. Ryan Stone was the main protagonist of Gravity. She was portrayed by Sandra Bullock.

Character biography[]

Stone was a 32 year-old medical engineer who worked at a hospital in Lake Zurich, Illinois, USA where she specialized in x-ray imaging in medical devices. She mentioned that she was not married (Possibly divorced), but had a daughter. One day when she was driving home from work and listening to the radio, she got a call that informed her that her 4-year-old daughter slipped and fell at the playground, getting a head injury which killed her. On her daughter's death, Dr. Stone said: "That was it. It was the stupidest thing". Ryan was devastated by this and spent her evenings after work taking long drives listening to NPR which was the station that was playing when she first heard the news about her daughter’s death in an attempt to push away from accepting it. Stone fell into a deep depression which left her guilt-ridden and angry at the world. Stone became withdrawn and decided eventually that she wanted to die and be with her daughter.

Prior to the events of the film, Stone was most likely a secular humanist who wanted to believe in a higher power for the sake of her daughter. However, she seemed to believe in something more after the events of the film, having prayed for the first time.


"I hate space."
―Ryan Stone

Stone wounded up getting the opportunity of a lifetime after inventing a scanning device which was approved by NASA to be used on the Hubble Space Telescope. Stone really was indifferent to going into outer space and said that she only was enthusiastic because NASA did not cut the funding to her research. Stone trained and was offered to install the device and spend a week in space. While on her first space shuttle mission aboard the Space Shuttle Explorer, she was accompanied by a veteran astronaut named Matt Kowalski who was commanding his final expedition. Stone said that the best thing about space for her was the "silence" which she said that she could get used to. During a spacewalk to install her invention, Mission Control in Houston warned the team about a defunct Russian satellite self-destructing which caused a chain reaction forming a cloud of space debris. Mission Control ordered that the mission should be aborted, but shortly after, communications with Mission Control are lost, though the astronauts continued to transmit into the blind, hoping that the ground crew could still hear them.

The debris traveling at over 50,000 miles per hour struck the Explorer and detached Stone from the shuttle, leaving her tumbling through space attached to an arm. Kowalski ordered her to detach from the arm before she was carried too far and Stone did so, but was ejected into the void of outer space, tumbling around attached to nothing. Kowalski soon recovered Stone and they made their way back to the space shuttle. They discovered that the shuttle suffered from catastrophic damage and the crew was dead from exposure to the vacuum. They found Sheriff Dasari's corpse and Stone's eyes are transfixed on a laminated family photo on Sheriff's suit which reminded her about her own deceased daughter. They used Kowalski's thruster pack to make their way to the International Space Station which was in orbit only about 100 km (60 mi) away. Kowalski calculated that they had 90 minutes before the debris field completed an orbit and threatened them again.

"Roger that!" Stone regains the will to live.

En route to the ISS, the two discussed about Stone's life back home and the death of her daughter and her first name which she responded "Dad wanted a boy". As they approached the substantially damaged, but still operational ISS, they saw that it's crew evacuated in one of it's two Soyuz modules and the parachute of the other capsule was accidentally deployed, rendering it useless for returning to Earth. Kowalski suggested that the remaining Soyuz should be used to travel to the nearby Chinese space station, Tiangong and board one of it's modules to return safely to Earth. Out of air and maneuvering power, the two tried to grab onto the ISS as they flew by. Stone's leg got entangled in the Soyuz's parachute cords and she was able to grab a strap on Kowalski's suit. Despite Stone's protests, Kowalski detached himself from the tether to save her from drifting away with him and she was pulled back toward the ISS. As Kowalski floated away, he radioed her additional instructions and encouragement.

Nearly out of oxygen, Stone managed to enter the ISS via an airlock, but must hastily make her way to the Soyuz to escape a fire, grabbing a fire extinguisher on her way inside. As she maneuvered the capsule away from the ISS, the tangled parachute tethers prevented the Soyuz from separating from the station. She spacewalked to release the cables, succeeding just as the debris field completed it's orbit and destroyed the station. Stone aligned the Soyuz with Tiangong, but discovered that the craft's thrusters had no fuel. After a brief communication with a Greenlandic Inuit fisherman and listening to him cooing a baby which reminded her about her own baby, Stone resigned herself to being stranded and shut the oxygen supply down of the cabin in order to commit a painless suicide via hypoxia. As she began to lose consciousness, Kowalski appeared outside and entered the capsule. Scolding her for giving up, he told her to use the Soyuz's landing rockets to propel the capsule toward Tiangong. Stone realized that Kowalski's reappearance was merely a hallucination in her oxygen-deprived state. However, she realized that her consciousness manifested her memories from training in Kowalski and activated the flow of oxygen and the landing rockets to navigate toward Tiangong now with the will to live. In order to die willingly, she must be at peace with herself, but she was not ready to die yet.

Dr. Stone reaches land.

Unable to dock the Soyuz with the station, Stone ejected herself via explosive decompression and used the fire extinguisher as a makeshift thruster to travel to Tiangong. The space debris knocked Tiangong from it's trajectory and it began rapidly deorbiting. Stone entered the Shenzhou capsule just as Tiangong started to break up on the upper edge of the atmosphere. As the capsule re-entered the Earth's atmosphere, Stone heard Mission Control over the radio tracking the capsule. She told Mission Control that she was ready to live again and got over her daughter's death and moved on with her life. The Shenzhou landed in a lake, but an electrical fire inside the capsule forced Stone to evacuate immediately. Opening the capsule hatch allowed the water to rapidly fill the capsule which sank forcing Stone to shed her spacesuit underwater and swim ashore. She took her first shaky steps on land, still adjusting to the gravity of Earth.

Character traits[]

According to Sandra Bullock, Dr. Stone is a human being who has never fully recovered from the loss of her child. Bullock claims that Stone lost a major part of herself after the loss of Sarah and is simply functioning in everyday life. Bullock says that Stone's character arc completion where Dr. Stone makes peace with herself at the end of the film was partially completed by George Clooney. Bullock also says that the character was intentionally left with an unclear fate. She had survived and knew the value of 

Stone breaks down.

life, no matter how mundane, but she still had to overcome her problems. Bullock says that giving Dr. Stone hope for the future was more realistic than just having the character fully recover at the end. Overall, Dr. Stone was a broken woman who is on the path to recovery but not quite there. 

Another theme many viewers have noted is how helpless Stone seems at times, almost like an infant. Rebirth is a common theme in this film and making the scientist helpless in some parts makes her triumph all the more emotional.


  • "This is Mission Specialist Ryan Stone reporting from the ISS... All communication with Mission Commander Matthew Kowalski has been lost. Radio transmission is absent. Visual is nonexistent. To confirm, I, Ryan Stone, am the sole survivor of STS-157."
  • "Houston, Houston in the blind, this is Mission Specialist Ryan Stone reporting from the Shenzhou. I'm about to undock from Tiangong... and I have a bad feeling about this mission. Reminds me of a story... Never mind, Houston, never mind the story! Ah. It's starting to get hot in here. The way I see it, there are only two possible outcomes. Either I make it down there in one piece and I have one hell of a story to tell! Or I burn up in the next ten minutes. Either way, whichever way... no harm, no foul! Because either way, it's going to be one hell of a ride! I'm ready."
  • (To Kowalski's question) "Like a Chihuahua that's being tumble dried."
  • (to alarms in the Shenzhou capsule) "No hablo Chino."
  • "Five... four... now we're just driving. Let's go home!"
  • (To the alarms in the ISS) "What now?"
  • "Clear skies with a chance of satellite debris."
  • "Thank you."
  • "Oh, you are one clever son of a bitch, Matt."
  • "The tether broke, I'm detached! I'm detached!"
  • "I had you..."
  • (to alarms in the Soyuz Capsule) "Shut up!"
  • "Seven minutes to get out of here."
  • "Hey, Matt. Since I had to listen to endless hours of your storytelling this week, I need you to do me a favor. You're going to see a girl with brown hair. Her hair is probably a mess. That's okay, she doesn't like to brush it. Tell her mommy found her red shoe. She was so upset about that shoe Matt, but tell her it was right under the bed. You give her a big hug and a kiss for me and tell her mama misses her. Tell her she's my little angel and that she makes me so proud, so so so proud, and that I promise I'll try and make her proud too. You tell her that I'm not quitting, that I'm going to keep fighting. You tell her I love her Matt… I love her so much. Can you do that for me, Matt? Roger that."


  • In the script she is described as: "RYAN STONE is a medical engineer, specialized in hospital scanning systems. She’s focused on her work as though she’s all alone in the world. This is her first mission."
  • Angelina Jolie was originally cast as Ryan Stone, but dropped out later. Natalie Portman turned down the role shortly before she announced her pregnancy. Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts, Marion Cotillard, Abbie Cornish, Carey Mulligan, Sienna Miller, Scarlett Johansson, Blake Lively, Rebecca Hall and Olivia Wilde were all subsequently tested or approached for the role of Ryan Stone.
  • The spacesuit that Dr. Stone puts on in the Russian Soyuz capsule has the number 42 on the patch. In the novel "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" 42 is "the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything"
  • While trying to unhook the parachute from the Soyuz, Ryan hums "Daisy". This was the song HAL 9000 sang in 2001: A Space Odyssey.