While there are so many versions of this 1990 television miniseries, one thing remains the same. The quake hits.
Heather Winslow (Holly Fields)
Heather's first seen in the second scene of the movie, on a date with her boyfriend Tim (Michael Bendetti) at Universal Studios' earthquake ride, where she mentions that it scared her (of course this foreshadows the upcoming events).
Later that same day when her mother seismologist Dr. Clare Winslow (Joanna Kerns) comes home from a month-long trip to Mexico; Heather tells her that she had a date with Tim and couldn't get out of it. Deep down, Clare knows that Heather didn't want to meet her at the airport, but right now she's upset with her daughter because she's received a letter from her school counselor.
Heather brushes it off and tells her that the reason was probably because she had gotten a D on her midterm Algebra grade. Clare tells her that she can come to her for help, but Heather tells her she can't because she's always too busy.
This brat doesn't know that her mother is reaching out to her and is there for her. She doesn't want anything to do with Clare and even though she may be jealous of her career, she keeps finding ways to make everything about her.
Since Clare's data shows the potential of a major earthquake in the next few days, Heather does call out to her when a 5.7 quake hits in the middle of the night and she's coddled under the dining room table.
The next day, it's business as usual for Heather as she consistently runs late and mouths off to Clare, especially when Clare tries to do a quick check of the earthquake kit. For once, Heather's afraid of being late.
Secretly she's enjoying the fact that Clare's receiving a lot of flak over her wild earthquake prediction and on the day of the quake, her thoughts are on decorating for the prom (in the middle of a school day these kids are decorating) and after Tim gives her a message from the office, she tosses it once she realizes that it's from her mother.
When the quake hits, not only does she whine for most of her screentime, but some of that earthquake preparedness pays off when she turns off the gas and figures out how to put the answering machine tape into the tape recorder, all the while crying for her mother.
A few days ago, she was avoiding her like the plague and now she needs her.
But before we're rid of Heather, she gets into one more scrape as she pulls one last stunt by getting trapped under a shelf in the basement following her attempt to turn off water.
It's a great tribute to The Last Voyage (1960) and maybe something we had hoped for, for Jill Henderson (Tammy Marihugh).
Miguel (Jacob Vargas)
The complete opposite of Heather and the only one you really want to root for between the two of them.
In some versions, his family is cut out of the story, but with graduation right around the corner, he's excited about it and will be going to City College in the fall where he's going to study to become a teacher.
His mother, Sonia (Silvana Gallardo) is the Winslow's housekeeper and dotes on Miguel, always telling Clare how much she loves him and how good of a boy he is (maybe this is a dig at parenting skills) but she plans on giving him a watch for graduation.
And as she's always sacrificing herself for him, he comes home with his graduation gown one day to find that she's pawned her music box for the watch, which tugs at his emotions.
Unlike Heather, he's more self-sufficient and when the 5.7 strikes, he knows what to do and isn't coddled like Heather.
He also takes school seriously and treats his mother with respect since he knows just how hard she works to keep a roof over their head. He's working toward a future that she'll be proud of and hopes to take care of her.
When the quake finally does hit, it's during graduation rehearsal and he's struck by falling debris and is unconscious, a state which he'll be in for the rest of the movie.