Back to the Future (film)

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Marty McFly: "Are you telling me you built a time machine... out of a DeLorean?!"
Doc Brown: "The way I see it, if you're gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?"

An extraordinarily successful 1980s trilogy of Time Travel Movies starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd (with an animated Spin-Off series) which has received several homages. They combined Fish Out of Water comedy with high-stakes drama, making deft use of threatened Temporal Paradox.

In Back to the Future, Marty McFly, a teenager from 1985, accidentally sends himself to 1955 in the time machine Doc Brown built out of a DeLorean. To return home, he needs 1.21 gigawatts of power. Conveniently, a bolt of Lightning Can Do Anything has at least that much power. After initial confusion, the 1955 Doc Brown agrees to help Marty, but they soon discover another complication. Marty has inadvertently stopped his parents from marrying. Now, he has just one week to put history back on track before he and his siblings are erased from existence. He manages it, and in the process invents rock 'n' roll and skateboarding.

In Back to the Future Part II, Doc Brown takes Marty to 2015, a glittering wonderland of flying cars and 100% accurate weather forecasting (possibly via weather control), where Marty impersonates his son to keep him out of trouble. While Marty and the Doc are busy, an elderly Biff Tannen discovers the DeLorean, and uses it to go back to 1955 and give his youthful self a sports almanac with results of major games up to the year 2000. When Marty and Doc Brown return to 1985, they find it transformed into a Dystopia, ruled by a Corrupt Corporate Executive -- Biff Tannen, who grew rich with the aid of the almanac. Now Marty has to return to the same 1955 school dance where he saved his parents' marriage, and Set Right What Once Went Wrong, without being seen by his past self or his parents. At the end, Doc is sent back to 1885 when a bolt of lightning, from the storm that sent Marty home in the first film, hits the DeLorean and accidentally catapults it back in time, stranding Marty in 1955... until he receives a letter by Western Union, from Doc Brown, explaining his situation after the DeLorean disappeared.

In Back to the Future Part III, Marty and the 1955 Doc exhume the DeLorean, mothballed by the 1885 Doc Brown in a closed mine. To their horror, Marty discovers 1885's Doc Brown's tombstone, learning that he was shot by Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen, Biff's ancestor. Originally told to go to his proper time and let him be, Marty instead goes back to 1885 to rescue his friend, but the fuel line is damaged in the trip. Since the DeLorean can't time travel unless it's accelerated to 88mph, both Marty and the Doc are now trapped in 1885 (high-octane gasoline being hard to come by in those days). They only have a few days to find a way to go back to the future, before Doc Brown's appointment with death - but things get complicated when Doc Brown accidentally saves and almost immediately falls in love with school teacher Clara Clayton who was supposed to have fallen into the ravine, going against his stance on not changing history, and Marty finds himself facing a showdown with Tannen.

All three films share many running gags; similar scenes occurring in each of the time periods. These films solidified the career of Robert Zemeckis, who has gone on to make other classic films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Forrest Gump, Contact and the CG films The Polar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol.

An Animated Adaptation, Back to The Future The Animated Series, followed, in which Marty and Doc, along with Doc's now-wife Clara and their kids Jules and Verne, met identical Tannens and McFlys in many other time periods. Universal Studios also hosted a motion simulator ride for many years, where the guests play Doc's volunteers testing out his eight-seat DeLorean, who have to track down another time machine stolen by 1955 Biff. It has since been replaced by The Simpsons Ride, which features a cameo from Doc Brown as an act of courtesy. A cinematic rerelease happened in 2010 to celebrate the 25th anniversary, along with several spinoff products.

In June 2010, Universal and Telltale Games announced plans to develop an episodic Back to The Future Point and Click Game; the fandom rejoiced at the news that Bob Gale and Christopher Lloyd would be involved. The first episode, which begins a new chapter in the Back to the Future series, was released on PC and Mac in December 2010 to solid reviews, and subsequent episodes have been equally well received. Its plot revolves around working with a teenaged Emmett Brown to save Doc from Prohibition-era Hill Valley and how Marty's efforts accidentally create a new timeline.

A card game has also been produced by Looney Labs; essentially a slightly-simplified version of their Chrononauts time-travel card game, the players are alternate-timeline descendants of various characters from the movies, who need to change time to make 'their' universes the real one, before stopping Doc from inventing time travel in the first place and thus preventing anyone changing history again. Yes, you need to use time travel to stop time travel from being discovered. Roll with it. Adding to the confusion is that Verne Brown, who exists because of time travel, is a playable character.


The Back to the Future films provide examples of:

Series-wide:[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Alliterative Name: Marty McFly, Clara Clayton, Marty McFly Jr., Marlene McFly, Maggie McFly, S. S. Strickland.
  • All Just a Dream: Subverted once in all three films. In each one Marty gets knocked out and comes to in a dark room being nursed to health by a woman he thinks is the mother he knows, believing his recent hardships were a nightmare. The woman inevitably reassures him in a way that tells Marty (and the audience) that it actually wasn't a dream.
    • Subverted in the opening of the first game, where it actually was a dream.
  • All There in the Script: The names of the goons from Biff and Griff's gangs, as well as Lorraine's friends.
    • As well as other info of the characters' backgrounds. Including Doc's mother's side of the family growing up in Hill Valley.
  • Almost Kiss: This happens three times in Part I, between Marty and Jennifer (though they did share a brief kiss before she went home with her dad). Towards the end of Part III, the two are finally able to kiss more definitively.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The Delorean. Expected to be the next great car line in 1985, it soon proved a dismal failure, and it's now entirely thanks to this series that anyone remembers it.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The flux capacitor makes time travel possible. Never mind figuring out how, it just does.
  • Artistic License Nuclear Physics: You can't run a fission reactor on pure plutonium.
    • You also can't run a fusion reactor on garbage (well, maybe on organic matter and/or water if you have a way to extract the hydrogen, but Doc threw a metal can in there too). It's a good thing that "Mr. Fusion" is just a brand name, and a play on "Mr. Coffee."
    • Although, he does pour Miller in there as well.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The Libyan terrorists in the first film speak vaguely Arabic-sounding gibberish. In the second film, future-Marty works for a "Mr. Fujitsu"; "Fujitsu" is the name of a Japanese company, but it's short for "Fuji Telecommunications Equipment Manufacturing"[1], not a surname.
  • Berserk Button: "Nobody... calls me chicken."
    • The variation in Part III, where he said "nobody calls me yellow."
    • Also, do not call Buford Tannen "Mad Dog." Just don't.

"Mad Dog?! I hate that name! I hate it, you hear?! NOBODY calls me Mad Dog! 'Specially not some duded-up, egg-suckin' GUTTERTRASH!"

  • Big No: Marty after Doc is shot by the Libyans in Part I, and after finding out that Biff-A married Lorraine-A in Part II.
  • Book Ends: The first time the DeLorean travels through time, it leaves its registration plate spinning on the spot behind it. After the DeLorean makes its final journey and gets destroyed by an oncoming train, the car's registration plate from 2015 is left doing the same thing.
    • In the original film's climax, Marty returns to the shopping mall just moments before his past self warps to 1955.
    • "The Power Of Love" by Huey Lewis & The News is played in both the second scene of the first film, and the second-to-last scene in the final film.
  • Boring Return Journey: Nobody ever bats an eyelash at Marty's return. Justified since he's only been gone for a few hours of real time.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In 2015, we find that Marty's life is not going too well, but the main plot then kicks in. We only return to the issue of Marty's future at the end of Part III.
    • Remember when Marty saw a scene from A Fistful of Dollars in the alternate timeline where Biff pretty much controlled everything? Clint Eastwood (whose name Marty adopts later, aptly enough) survived being shot because he had the door to a small furnace under his clothes as an impromptu Bulletproof Vest. Guess what Marty does in Part III when faced with the same situation.
    • In Part I Doc holds his experiment at the Twin Pines Mall, casually mentioning it used to be farmland, and that the owner tried to grow pine trees. When Marty travels back in time, he arrives at said farm, knocking over one of the "twin pines" while trying to escape the gun-wielding farmer. Upon returning to the present, the mall is now Lone Pine Mall.
      • This brick makes a second appearance in the third film. When Doc is explaining his choice of time travel location to Marty, he says he picked open desert because there would be nothing to run into. After all, he wouldn't want to run into any trees.
    • The name of Clayton Ravine: Marty says that it's named after Clara Clayton, who fell to her death there - at least, she did until the Doc rescued her. When Marty returns to the future, the ravine is now named Eastwood Ravine, presumably because people believed Marty (who was using the name 'Clint Eastwood') fell into the ravine.
  • Bulletproof Vest: In all three movies; they seemed to like this trope.
  • Burning Rubber: The car leaves twin trails of fire in the "old" time period after it jumps to the "new" time period.
  • Butterfly of Doom: Most of the first film, and much of the sequels. The newspaper revealed that in 1985-A, Nixon was in his fifth term as President, and the Vietnam War was still ongoing.
  • Call Back: Several set pieces (Such as a Tannen and his gang chasing Marty in front of the Clock Tower) are reused throughout the trilogy, to show that history repeats.
    • Lampshaded by 2015 Biff: "There's something awfully familiar about all this."
    • There's also the moments which are used to serve as Fan Service - Doc Brown telling Marty "Where we're going, we don't need roads" in the third film.
      • Also, Doc justifies sending Marty to 1885 in the middle of the desert by saying "You don't wanna crash into a tree that once existed in the past". In the first film, one of the first things Marty did after arriving in 1955 was (accidentally) run down one of Old Man Peabody's twin pines.
  • The Cameo: Huey Lewis is the teacher who tells Marty that his music was too loud. ZZ Top is the Old West band playing during the town party in 1885. (playing an acoustic version of the song on the end credits)
  • Car Fu: In Parts I and II, Biff tries to run Marty down with his car. Both times he crashes into a truck carrying large amounts of manure.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • Doc's "Great Scott!" and Marty's "This is heavy!." Inverted in Part III, where they once exchange lines.
    • In the second and third films Marty also developed the Catch Phrase "Nobody calls me chicken!" (or "yellow" in the Western setting) in response to his personal Berserk Button.
    • Also hilariously lampshaded in the first film: "Weight has nothing to do with this!", "There's that word again, 'heavy'. [...] Is there a problem with the Earth's gravitational pull?"
    • In the second and third films, Biff and Buford have good reasons to say,"I hate manure. " His gang also subverts this in the first movie when they collide with the manure truck with a cry of "SHIIIIIIIIIIIT!"
    • Strickland seems to think that EVERYONE'S problem is that they're a slacker.
    • When Doc Brown makes a model of Hill Valley in the first movie, he apologizes to Marty that "this is not to scale." Lampshaded in the third movie when Marty interrupts him and says, "Yeah, I know. It's not to scale."
    • Marty's variations on "What's that?" followed by a punch.
    • Various Tannens as well as Vice Principal Strickland tend to refer to Seamus, George, Marty, and Marty Jr. by their last names.
  • Celebrity Endorsement: Michael J. Fox, and Pepsi. (Which he has difficulty ordering.)
  • Changed My Jumper: Marty's clothes in both 1955 and 1885 cause people to remark about them.
  • Chekhov's Gag: The jokes about Uncle Joey.
  • Chekhov's Gun: For all the times it's invoked in the series, the trope may as well be called "Chekhov's DeLorean":
    • If you see a manure truck anytime during the trilogy, a Tannen is SURE to get covered deep in it before the movie's end.
    • The hoverboard: used in the second film multiple times (and in different eras), the device is used again (by Marty) to save Doc and Clara during the climactic train sequence in the third film.
    • Early on in Part I, Marty is given a flier by a woman who (along with other volunteers) is attempting to raise money to save the historic clock tower. The scene is played for laughs, but the clock tower becomes a significant part of the movie's climax.
      • The flier comes in handy, too.
      • And in Part II, we see that the fundraisers did, indeed, manage to save it. (Either that, or diverting the lightning bolt to power the deLorean prevented it from being damaged in the first place.)
    • Also in Part I, when Marty hides the DeLorean shortly after arriving in 1955, he is shown putting the walkman he later uses as part of his alien impersonation in the car for no other reason than to establish he has it.
    • Marty's "auto accident": first referred to in Part II (during the 2015 segment), then narrowly averted during the finale of Part III.
    • In Part II, Marty watches a scene from "A Fistful Of Dollars" during the 1985-A segment (at Biff's Casino). The scene is question is the part where Clint Eastwood uses steel plating under his poncho to protect himself during a gunfight. Marty then uses this trick (with a boiler plate) in Part III to survive his confrontation with Mad Dog Tannen.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Marty holding onto cars while skateboarding (skitching) in Part I, he uses the same trick (on a hoverboard) in Part II to steal the Almanac from Biff, and to Travel along a train in Part III.
    • Marty didn't do much of that in Part III. Doc, on the other hand...
    • In Part II Marty demonstrates his skill with a gun-based arcade game. This becomes important in Part III, giving him a sporting chance in an actual duel.
  • Click. "Hello.": Happens to Marty in Part 2 when Mr. Strickland mistakes him for a thief in 1985-A. Happens twice in Part 3; first to Buford Tannen by Marshall Strickland, and shortly afterward to Doc by Buford.
  • Clock Tower: Which is used in the clock tower finale.
  • "Close Enough" Timeline: There are not too many changes to 1985 when Marty returns there in Parts I and III.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Marty has no problem sucker-punching Biff, and Strickland's ancestor has no problems leveling a doubled-barreled shotgun at someones back.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: Doc eventually comes to view the DeLorean as a menace. He's not far off.
  • Compressed Vice: Marty's "chicken" problem, a key element of the sequels, is never even referred to in the first film.
    • There is a scene from Part I where Lorraine, in the car with Marty, says "anyone who's anyone drinks." Marty then takes a sup from the bottle. Of course, this is so he can do a Spit Take, but it could also be theorised that Marty is reacting to indirectly being called "chicken".
    • Another theory posits that the "chicken" thing is a side-effect of the altered 1985 (cf. "the ripple effect") from the first movie--Marty's father (and, by extension the whole family) is more confident; for Marty, this became overweening arrogance.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Doc Brown had the revelation for the flux capacitor on the exact same day Marty's parents met. Exactly one week later on November 12, there was the school dance where the two kissed for the first time, and lightning stuck the clock tower. It also happens that the day of the school dance was also the day Old Biff traveled back in time to change the past. This is virtually lampshaded in the second film.

Marty: "That's right, Doc. November 12, 1955."
Doc: "Unbelievable that old Biff could have chosen that particular date. It could mean that that point in time inherently contains some sort of cosmic significance. Almost as if it were the temporal junction point for the entire space-time continuum! On the other hand, it could just be an amazing coincidence."

    • Old Biff's choice of date might be justified in the fact that it was, in theory, the day everything fell apart for him due to getting owned by the school dweeb. Considering Biff's actions in 1985-A towards George and Lorraine, Biff might have been obsessing about that date for a good long while.
      • Actually, there is a deleted scene where in 2015, Terry (the auto mechanic who cleaned out the manure from 1955) explicitly mentions the date 11/12/55 in front of Biff. The commentary indicates this was to be the explanation behind the coincidence, but got left out due to time constraints.
  • Convenient Slow Dance
  • Cool Car: The DeLorean. Anyone who grew up in The Eighties and enjoyed the BTTF movies will invariably hold a sort of unrequited love for them, even though in their unmodified form they're underpowered and don't handle too well. (Arguably, that's part of the joke -- getting a real DeLorean up to 88 miles per hour is about as likely as getting it to travel through time.)
    • The Alleged Car: The films don't hide the fact that despite the cool looks the DMC-12 was a troublesome car which broke frequently.
    • Other examples: Biff's '46 Ford Super DeLuxe convertible, Marty's tricked-out 1985 Toyota 4x4, and Doc Brown's 1948 Packard Victoria convertible.
  • Cool Old Guy: Doc Brown.
  • Cool Shades: Doc's steel glasses at the end of Part I/start of Part II.
  • Cool Train: The Time-Travelling Hover-Train at the end of Part III. Currently provides the picture for that page, even!
  • Cue the Rain: It starts raining soon after lightning strikes the time machine and Marty is left stranded in the past again. Justified, of course, in that this is the same storm that played a role in sending Marty back to the future in the first film, and there were all sorts of signs of a storm brewing the whole time anyway.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Marty. Doc can be it as well, but not on Marty's levels.
  • David Versus Goliath: George vs. Biff in the school parking lot. Or, alternatively, Marty vs. Biff and his assorted relatives.
  • Date Rape Averted: Invoked. Doubly subverted in Part I.
  • Delayed Ripple Effect: Marty fading out of existence. Later echoed by 2015!Biff (in a deleted scene) and Doc in the Telltale game.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: In Part I, "A colored mayor? That'll be the day..."; and in Part III, "What's that writing? Nee-Kay? What is that? Some sorta injun talk or somethin'?"
    • Also "Tannen bragged that he killed 12 men, not counting Indians or Chinamen."
  • Diner Brawl: At least as far as Part I and II are concerned, every time a McFly (or two) goes to the local diner, a Tannen is sure to be there with his cronies to cause grief along for the victim.
    • Part III also invokes the trope, though in a bar instead of a diner, as evident when Buford walks into the bar and mistakes Marty for Seamus.
  • Double Vision: Used frequently and well.
  • Dramatic Irony: Due to the time-travel heavy plot, we get a lot of this. One notable example from Part II: In alternate 1985, it is established that Lorraine ends up marrying the obscenely rich Biff. Then in 1955, when Biff torments Lorraine, she responds that she wouldn't marry him even if he had a million dollars.
  • The Eighties
  • Einstein Hair: Doc. And in a way, Einstein the dog...
  • Everyone Went to School Together: George, Lorraine and Biff. Justified by Hill Valley being a small enough town for this to be likely.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Video games bases on the series feature enemies that are often out of place.
  • Everytown, America: Hill Valley.
  • Exty Years From Now
  • Fake Shemp: George McFly in the sequels. Any shot of him is either a lookalike (faraway, or upside-down) or stock footage from the first film.
  • False Start: George with Lorraine in 1955.
  • The Fifties
  • Fish Out of Temporal Water: Marty, everywhen but 1985.
    • In a way, he was also one of these in (the alternate) 1985!
  • Flashback with the Other Darrin: The ending scene of Part I is also the opening scene of Part II. Since Elisabeth Shue had replaced Claudia Wells as Jennifer, the scene was refilmed for the sequel. The re-shot version is nearly identical, with the only difference being that Doc Brown now hesitates momentarily before responding to Marty asking whether he and Jennifer end up as "assholes". You'll notice that they didn't even bother to match Shue's hairstyle with Wells'. Sure, most people didn't notice at first because of the four-year lag in Real Life, but if you watch the two films back to back it can be pretty jarring.
    • Crispin Glover also didn't return, so in all refilmed 1955 scenes in Part II, George is always seen from behind (except one shot of recycled footage viewed through Marty's binoculars).
    • The Spear Carrier couple ("Who is that guy?" "That's George McFly...") also get replaced in Part II's 1955 scenes, as do most of the other 1955 extras.
    • Speaking of 1955 extras, the character Lester ("I think he took his wallet") was played by an unnamed extra in Part I, who could be seen crouching over Biff. Obviously, as Lester became a marginally Ascended Extra thanks to Marty's interference in Part II, he was Other Darrin'd for the sequel.
  • Fly At the Camera Ending: The first Back to The Future ends with the DeLorean flying up in the air, turning around, then warping through time just as it hits the camera.
    • The third movie ends the same way, except with the train in the place of the DeLorean.
  • Foreshadowing: And plenty of it.
  • Future Loser: Everyone at one point, notably Biff and Marty.
  • Future Slang

Marty: "This is heavy!"
Doc: "Weight has nothing to do with it!"

    • Then, in the actual future and to the writer's credit, the audience could get the meanings of most of them:

"What's the matter, McFly? You got no scrote?"
"Hey McFly, you bojo, those boards don't work on water!"
"Hilldale, nothing but a breeding ground for tranks, lobos, and zipheads."
"Don't drive tranq'd, low-res scuzzball!"

  • Gang of Bullies: Biff, his ancestors, and his successors lead a small group of thugs.
  • Generation Xerox: Many examples.
  • GASP: Doc Brown. Doubles as an Actor Allusion for Christopher Lloyd who has done it in several other movies.
  • Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: Subverted in Part I, double subverted in Part III.
  • Hero Stole My Skateboard: ...or hoverboard. At least Marty gives them back afterwards.
    • "Keep it. I got a Pit Bull now!"
  • Hidden Depths: A recurring theme.
    • Part I gives us George, who starts out as a nerdy loser. Marty is surprised to find that George was very creative as a teenager, and EVERYONE is shocked that George has it in him to stand up to Biff.
    • Played straight in Part III, where we find that the eccentric Doc Brown is quite charming when around his love interest, and is a pretty good dancer to boot. Lampshaded by Marty:

Marty: The Doc can dance??

  • High Concept: One of the average film critic's examples -- normally on the level of "Young man goes back in time and Grandfather Paradoxes himself, has to play cupid to his own parents."
  • High School Dance: The Enchantment Under The Sea Dance.
  • High School Rejects: Biff, in the "Lone Pine 1985/2015."
  • High School Sweethearts: Marty's parents and Marty himself with Jennifer -- possibly subverted slightly that, the first time we see either marriage, neither is especially happy.
  • Historical In-Joke: Plenty of them.
  • History Repeats
  • Homemade Inventions
  • Hover Board: Picked up in 2015, used in both 1955 and 1885.
  • Hubcap Hovercraft: The DeLorean receives this upgrade at the end of the first movie.
  • Identical Grandson: Plenty of them, and an identical daughter. Yes, it's Michael J. Fox in drag.
  • If My Calculations Are Correct: Trope Namer.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: Marty is a crack shot, thanks to whiling away his youth playing Wild Gunman. Established and mocked in the second, used straight in the third.
    • The movie does try to point out that Marty wasn't automatically good with a real gun because of the game... his first shot seems to miss as much due to the recoil as using his off hand. He adjusts quickly, but recoil isn't too bad on revolvers anyway.
      • Actually if the Single Action Army he is using was a .45 Colt, that was the most powerful handgun cartridge available until the development of the .44 Magnum in 1955. It does have some substantial recoil.
  • I'm Mr. Future Pop Culture Reference: "Clint Eastwood," "Calvin Klein," "Darth Vader," an extra-terrestrial from Planet Vulcan.
    • Calvin Klein is actually a subversion, as Lorraine sees it written on his underwear and believes it's his name. Marty goes with it to avoid arousing further suspicion.
    • Clint Eastwood, on the other hand, is played completely straight. Marty can't even back out of a duel because it would tap his personal Berserk Button and pre-emptively ruin Clint Eastwood's career in Westerns by associating his name with cowardice.
  • "I Know What We Can Do!" Cut: Marvin Berry declaring that the school dance is officially over -- unless Marty "knows someone else who can play a guitar?" [cut to Marty on-stage]
  • In Spite of a Nail: Only Doc, the McFly family and Biff Tannen have changed upon Marty's returns to 1985; everything else is exactly the same as "before."
    • Notable exception: Before Marty travels through time, he meets Doc in the parking lot of the Twin Pines Mall. After Marty runs over one of Old Man Peabody's pine trees in 1955, he finds himself and Doc fleeing the Libyans at the Lone Pine Mall.

Old Man Peabody: "Take that, you mutated son of a bitch!"

    • Another exception: In Part III, the ravine the train is supposed to cross over is originally called "Shonash Ravine" but was supposedly called "Clayton Ravine" after Clara fell in it (which Marty and Doc stopped from happening). After the train crashes into the ravine and Marty goes home at the end, the DeLorean rolls along the tracks and past a sign that says "Eastwood Ravine." Marty was going by Clint Eastwood in 1885, so "Clint Eastwood" fell into the ravine instead. This is supported: in the Telltale game, if Marty looks at Edna Strickland's newspapers enough, he finds a headline: "Clint Eastwood plunges to death on runaway train."
  • In the Blood: The Tannens.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Marty and Doc.
    • Word of God explains that the friendship started when Marty was around 13-14 years old. After being told for years that Doc Brown was a dangerous, crackpot, lunatic, he snuck into Doc's lab to see for himself and instead was fascinated by what he saw in there and thought Doc's inventions were cool. Doc found him and was happy Marty thought he was "cool and accepted him for what he was". Doc then gave Marty a part-time job helping out with experiments, helping in the lab, and feeding Einstein. Read for yourself here.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Amongst other examples: "Ronald Reagan? The actor?" in Part I; "Clint Eastwood? What kinda stupid name is that for a cowboy?" in Part III.
    • Part III: "Run for fun? What the hell kinda fun is that?"
  • It Runs on Nonsensoleum: It's never really explained how the Mr. Fusion device Doc adds to the DeLorean from 2015 is able to generate the requisite 1.21 gigawatts of energy - not to mention undergo nuclear fusion - using an aluminum can and some other bits of garbage.
  • Jerkass/JerkJock: Biff Tannen, as well as his whole family line.
  • Just Eat Gilligan: A lot of complex plots and quick thinking have to be used; the simple solution cannot because it might cause a Temporal Paradox, although eventually both Marty and Doc choose Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right instead. Part of the adventure is the lengths the characters have to go to in order to preserve the timeline(s).
  • The Key Is Behind the Lock: Marty gets locked in a car trunk, along with the keys to the trunk.
  • Lady Drunk: Lorraine, at the start of the first film and during the 1985-A scenes of the second film.
    • Also in episode 3 of the Telltale game.
  • Large Ham: Christopher Lloyd in spades.
    • Most versions of Biff to a certain degree, but none moreso than his future offspring Griff.
  • The Law of Conservation of Detail: The first twenty minutes or so of Part I, as well as 2015 McFly house portion of Part II.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything
  • A Little Something We Call "Rock and Roll": The Johnny B. Goode scene in Parts I and II.
  • Look Behind You!: Works on most Tannens, although Griff's got some really neat cybernetic implants. He almost seems a bit surprised when he looks back and finds that his hand's caught Marty's fist.
  • Mad Scientist: Emmett Brown is the poster child for this trope, but only when he's inventing or planning; because of great writing it's just one facet of his character. He can also be quite lucid and/or calm.
  • Malaproper: Biff Tannen: "Make like a tree and get out of here!"
    • Lampshaded by, none other than the Biff Tannen from 2015: "You sound like a damn fool when you say it wrong!"
    • In the now-closed theme park ride, 1955 Biff uses marbles to trip up the security staff coming after him and gleefully quips "Have a nice trip, see you next winter!" As he runs off, one of the fallen men says "It's 'see you next fall'!"
    • Biff thinks pointing out his malapropisms is about as funny as a screen door on a battleship!
    • Buford Tannen in Part III is also prone to this:

Buford: (to Marty) "Eight o'clock Monday, runt. If you ain't here, I'll hunt you and shoot you down like a duck."
Gang Member: "It's dog, Buford. Shoot him down like a dog."

Marty: You're really instilling me with a lot of confidence, Doc.

  • My Car Hates Me: The DeLorean has a tendency to fall into disrepair at the exact moment Marty lands in another time period.
    • Sometimes, however, justified: in the first movie, the plutonium needed to power the flux capacitor isn't available, and in the third movie, the fuel line is damaged and the gasoline leaks out, which the car needs to accelerate.
    • The DeLorean's habit of stalling in the middle of a road has prevented possible time paradoxes: In the original movie, Marty is forced to disguise the car behind a billboard, being unable to drive it openly through 1955 Hill Valley. At the end of the film, the DeLorean stalls again, preventing Marty from interrupting the shootout at Lone Pine Mall (thus avoiding direct contact with his past self).
  • Newspaper Dating: Marty in 1955 and 1985-A, Doc in 2015.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: Aside from the iconic Paramount set, "Hill Valley" is a mix of various SoCal communities.
  • No Man Should Have This Power: Doc Brown repeatedly promises to himself to destroy his own time-travelling technology, which finally happens at the end of movie 3. (And then it almost immediately turns out that he had built a new one.)
  • No Pronunciation Guide: For "gigawatts." Not so noticeable to the general public at the time, but over 20 years on, the prefix "giga-" (beginning with a hard "g") has become commonplace for computer-related terms[2], so nowadays it's bound to give even non-engineers pause.
    • Made even worse in the subtitles almost any time the movie is shown on Dutch TV, where a kind of phonetic Dutch spelling of the mispronunciation is usually given, instead of simply "gigawatt" (since the correct spelling is the same as in English). In other words: you don't actually have to know anything other than the language to be a translator, it seems.
  • Nobody Calls Me Chicken: Trope Namer.
  • Non-Singing Voice: Michael J. Fox did not sing "Johnny B. Goode", although he did learn to play it so he could "mime" the guitar.
  • Noodle Incident: Marty setting fire to the living room rug at the age of eight, mentioned in Part I -- and Doc's alcohol incident on the Fourth of July, mentioned in Part III.
  • Oh Crap: The look on Doc's face when his return home simulation fails spectacularly (and starts a fire) in Part I is utterly priceless.
    • The look on George's face when he discovers it is Biff, not "Calvin", in the car with Lorraine.
    • Biff-A's reaction to seeing Marty standing on the flying DeLorean in Part II.
    • The look on Doc's face when Buford comes to shoot him on Saturday, and he realizes that just because he died in the original timeline on Monday doesn't mean that's when he got shot.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Doc Brown. He even identifies himself a "student of all sciences" in the third movie.
  • Once an Episode: All films have Marty being chased by a Tannen, a Tannen covered in manure, Marty thinking it was All Just a Dream, a estabilishing shot of Hill Valley...
  • Our Time Machine Is Different because it is a car, and a cool one at that.
  • The Peeping Tom: In Back to the Future, the then-teenage George McFly spies on his future wife, Lorraine, from a tree next to her window. This becomes a crucial plot point as this is the point where Marty alters history. When George falls out of the tree, Marty pushes him out of the way of an oncoming car...accidentally preventing his parents' original meeting.
    • He even says, "I'm more of a peeping tom." in the Telltale games.
  • Pimped-Out Car: Doc made a time machine out a car, and later a train, not to mention the flying abilities.
  • Playing Gertrude: Lea Thompson is just nine days older than her onscreen son Michael J. Fox (and Crispin Glover is actually younger than Fox!). Justified in that, for the bulk of the first movie, she's playing the character when she is Marty's age.
  • The Power of Love: Trope Namer: Powerful enough to defeat Temporal Paradoxes, apparently.
  • Pretty in Mink: In the first two films, there is a girl wearing a white fur shoulder wrap among the crowd gathering around a knocked-out Biff. This is notable because the actress is noticeably different in the two films.
    • Trixie Trotter askes Marty for a fur in the Telltale games.
  • Prince Charming Wannabe: Biff with Lorraine in Part I and Part II.
  • The Professor: Doc Brown.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!
    • "Read. My. Fax!"; "Gray's. Sports. Almanac!" (Part II)
  • Race Against the Clock: Former Trope Namer - the clock tower finale for Part I reappears in both sequels, and Part III tries to outdo it with its own take.
  • Recurring Location: Courthouse Square.
  • Rescue Romance: George and Lorraine in Part I and Part II; Doc and Clara in Part III.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: Trope Namer - Doc and Marty throughout the trilogy.
  • Running Gag: It doesn't matter what Marty and Doc do to the timeline for good or ill, Lorraine's brother Joey will end up a jailbird.
    • Marty seems to wake up assuming he's at home with his mother. And of course always thinks it was a dream.
    • "I hate manure!"
    • Marty's inability to get the fashions of the period right. Taken to the extreme with the cowboy outfit in Part III.
  • Say My Name: Doc and Marty do tons of this throughout the movies. And regardless of the decade, or even the century, Marty will be addressed by a Tannen with "Hey, McFly!."
  • Screw Destiny: Prevalent throughout the series as Marty and Doc change reality by time-traveling, but comes to a head two times. First, Doc, despite his misgivings, has his life saved by knowing how and when he is going to die, and Marty narrowly avoids a crippling accident that would change his life forever, thus changing the future they had just worked to save to the one we have now. At the very end of the trilogy, Doc says that it proves that there's no such thing as fate.
    • Actually the point about Marty avoiding his accident is less Screw Destiny and more learning a lesson while in the past/future and avoiding the situation on his own.
      • Invoked at the ending of the Telltale Games series, in which three older Martys from three timelines all beg younger Marty for help. Doc can help but tells Marty to ignore them, and just worry about the present.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Time travel needs 1.21 gigawatts -- the only source of which is supposedly plutonium or a lightning bolt. A lightning bolt actually generates three whole orders of magnitude more power, peaking at just over one terawatt, and a plutonium powered fission reactor kinda wouldn't generate any power whatsoever.
    • Fridge Brilliance: when running on plutonium, the DeLorean takes a few seconds to time travel, with sparks and so on. When hit by lightning, it happens instantly, reflecting the enormous increase in power.
      • This also qualifies as You Fail Physics Forever, since watts measure power (energy per unit of time), not energy itself. If a power source has a power emission of 1.21 GW, that only means that, if the emission lasted one second, it would emit 1.21 gigajoules of energy. But if an emission from the same power source lasted 1 microsecond, it would only emit 1.21 kilojoules of energy, that is a million times less.
  • Second Episode Morning: Numerous examples, including the "Mom, is that you?" scenes.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: A major theme in the trilogy.
  • Shout-Out: Tons throughout the series.
    • Two to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: Doc owns dogs named after famous scientists (Copernicus in 1955, Einstein in 1985), just like how Caractacus Potts owns a dog named after a famous inventor (Edison). And they both make flying vehicles. The time machine train in Part III even sprouts wings like Chitty.
      • Another Chitty shout-out is how they both have breakfast-making machines in Part I and Part III.
    • In Part II, the nostalgia curio shop window has a plush Roger Rabbit doll (another Amblin movie directed by Zemeckis).
    • The Y-shaped flux capacitor was designed to resemble an upside-down Oscillation Overthruster.
    • Blink and you'll miss it, but the StarCar from The Last Starfighter can be seen in 2015. You can catch it just as the Jeep rockets down from the sky in the chase sequence.
  • Shown Their Work: Definitely.
  • Snowball Lie: Doc and Marty are the undisputed masters of using this technique to preserve their cover.
  • Spear Carrier: The couple at the dance amazed at George standing up for himself in Part I, the kids unimpressed by Marty's gun skills in Part II, the train engineer in Part III who asks if it's a robbery and Doc answers, "It's a science experiment."

"I think he took his wallet!"

    • Don't forget Red the Bum, who calls Marty a "crazy drunk driver" towards the end of Part I, and a "crazy drunk pedestrian" in the alternate 1985 in Part II.
  • Stable Time Loop: Interestingly, according to Word of God, as a general rule of thumb, the past is never 'already altered' (hence the inclusion of You Already Changed the Past below). So officially, if it seems like a time traveler has become the cause of something that already existed, he has merely replaced that cause, possibly using information gained from the result of a cause that now never happened. So originally, Clint Eastwood and Chuck Berry were truly original, Goldie came up with the idea to run for mayor himself, there wasn't a strange sequence of events at the 1955 school dance (let alone two), and Doc Brown was killed by Libyans. Then Marty happened.
  • Stealth Joke: A stock De Lorean DMC-12 only got about 130 horsepower. It would go 0-60 in about a day and a half. That, of course, is before you dump a fusion reactor in the back seat, with the requisite lead shielding to keep everyone inside from dying of a radiation overdose, easily doubling the weight of the car. So the notion that the car ever got up to 88 is hilarious.
  • Stock Sound Effects: BTTF loves Castle Thunder, especially in the first two installments. It appears literally dozens of times, mixed in different ways, during the big Clock Tower Finale.
  • Take That: Biff Tannen and the Tannen family are named after then-Universal Studios executive Ned Tanen, who gave the Bobs a hard time during the making of their previous movie I Wanna Hold Your Hand.
  • Technicolor Science: The lightning bolt.
  • Techno Babble: Lampshaded. "English, Doc!"
  • Temporal Paradox: Perhaps the most tropeworthy ontological example is how there are four DeLoreans present in Hill Valley on November 12th, 1955 - the one that Marty traveled back in time with in Part I, the one 2015 Biff traveled back in time with in Part II, the one Marty and Doc traveled back with also in Part II, and the one taking The Slow Path sealed up in the mine shaft shown in Part III.
    • Averted in that each time the DeLorean makes a trip through time, a new timeline is created, one whose primary difference begins with the appearance of the car itself. This perfectly preserves the Law of Conservation of Matter. Calculating all the trips made in the entire series, there are about nine timelines, with Doc and Marty occupying the ninth one by the third film's end.
    • The old Biff of 2015 was going back in time to 1955 and changed the history, however when he went to the future from 1955 to 2015 he is still in the normal 2015. He should have landed in a 2015 that is controlled by himself, while Marty and Brown should have been stuck in the normal 2015.
  • That Was Not a Dream: "Mom? Mom, is that you?"
  • Theme Naming: Doc's dogs are named after famous scientists.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: "The Power of Love" in all three movies.
  • Thermal Dissonance
  • Time Travel (of course)
  • Time Travel for Fun and Profit: Doc is the former, Marty and Biff seem to be the latter.
    • Though Marty quickly gives up on the latter after Doc catches him red-handed and sermonizes him.
  • Title Drop (quite frequently)
  • Two-Part Trilogy: Marty's "chicken" problem was added for the sequels, as well as nemesis Douglas "Flea" Needles.
    • Justified in that the second and third part were originally intended to be a single movie, titled Paradox.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance
  • Unfamiliar Ceiling: In every film, Marty wakes up with his mother (or great grandmother) ministering to him.
  • Vague Age: Doc's age in 1955 and 1985 is never mentioned in the films. The novel places him at 35 and 65 (born 1920), but the animated series suggests a 1922 birthdate.
    • The Game shows Doc as a teenager around Marty's age in 1931. Assuming he was actually 17, that would mean he was born in 1914, making him 41 in 1955, 71 in 1985, possibly 72 when Marty catches up to him in Part III (he spent several months living in 1885), in his early 80s by the end of Part III (to give his children time to grow up) and mid-to-late 80s in the game (he mentions at least one of his sons is a teenager). Officer Parker also mentions that he let an "80-year-old suspect" get away.
      • Of course, he also got himself some surgery in the future that made him 20 or so years younger, physically.
  • Villain Decay: Actually invoked with Biff. In the first film, he goes from being George McFly's bullying co-worker to the family's submissive mechanic, all because of George's punch in the 1950s. He Got Worse in the sequel but went back to being subservient by the end of the third movie.


Part I:[edit | hide]

  • Attempted Rape: Biff with Lorraine in 1955.
  • Blatant Lies: Marty's mother in the beginning of the first movie tells him that she never went chasing after boys. When we see her younger self, it turns out that she was instantly enamored with his dad and, due to Marty taking his dad's place due to an accident, all but attempted to force herself on him.
  • Blown Across the Room/Gale Force Sound: Marty hooks up an electric guitar to a ludicrously huge speaker. He plays a single chord and is physically hurled backwards by the sound (the speaker is destroyed in the process).
  • Buffy-Speak:

Marty: "Time circuits, on. Flux capacitor....fluxing."

  • Casting Gag - Huey Lewis, playing the audition judge in 1985, tells Marty's band that they're "just too darn loud." The band was playing Lewis' own song, "The Power of Love."
  • Celebrity Paradox: Huey Lewis exists in the BTTF universe, as proven by Marty's posters in his room - and so does the audition judge, played by... Huey Lewis.
    • Even better: at the end of the movie, Marty's clock radio plays "Back in Time" by Huey Lewis and the News. The song was specifically written for (and contains a TON of references to) a little movie called Back to the Future.
  • Chekhov's Gun: At the start of the film, Marty is conveniently given a flyer which provides the exact date and time that the clock tower was struck by lightning.
    • Lorraine also tells the kids that if her father hadn't hit George McFly with his car in 1955 before the dance, none of the kids would've been born. She also says that she and George fell in love after they had their first kiss at the dance. It's all seemingly useless information that parents just say for no reason, right?
  • Clean Up the Town: Goldie Wilson.
  • Clown Car Base: Biff's goons make the mistake of insulting one of The Starlighters outside his Cadillac, causing four others to exit the car.
  • Common Knowledge: In-universe example, when Doc Brown is showing Marty how to set the target date on the time machine: "Say you wanted to see the signing of the Declaration of Independence. (sets date to JUL 04 1776) Or witness the birth of Christ! (sets date to DEC 25 0000)" Not only did neither event take place on the given date, "0000" isn't even a year on any calendar — the year before AD 1 was 1 BC.
  • Contrived Clumsiness: Marty "accidentally" trips Biff when they're in the diner in 1955 Hill Valley.
  • Covert Pervert: Believe it or not, Doc Brown. In a deleted scene, the audience is shown some of the contents of the briefcase 1985 Doc was planning to take with him during his time travel expedition; among them was a Playboy Magazine. Upon finding it, the 1955 Doc responds thus:

1955!Doc: "Suddenly the future's looking a whole lot better!"

  • Delayed Ripple Effect: Trope Namer - Marty has a week to get his parents together before he'll be erased from existence.
  • Dies Wide Open: Subversion, towards the end.
  • Disney Death: Doc Brown in the revised timeline.
  • Diving Save: Marty pushes George out of the way of Lorraine's father's car.
  • Dysfunctional Family: George and Lorraine at the beginning of the movie
  • Eating Lunch Alone: George in 1955.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Marty's Spit Take wasn't because he saw Lorraine smoking a cigarette, it's because the bottle Michael J. Fox was drinking out of was filled with actual alcohol without him knowing. The DVD contains the full take in the blooper reel, complete with his reaction afterwards.
    • While there was a take with alcohol in the bottle in one take, the take we see in the movie was NOT the one with the alcohol. If you check out the clip widely available online of him drinking the alcohol and compare it to the final cut of the movie, you can see that it was a different take.
  • Everything's Better with Cows: After Marty crashlands in the barn in 1955.
  • Evil Redhead: "Dixon", the cackling punk who cuts in on George's dance with Lorraine.
  • False Start: George with Lorraine in 1955.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: How Marty's mother fell in love with his father... and how Marty accidentally ends up replacing his father in her affections. Squick.
  • Foreshadowing: Among many things, Doc commenting on how Marty's 1985 photo is obviously a forgery, since his brother's hair is missing.
    • The following exchange at the beginning of Part I:

Strickland: "No McFly has ever amounted to anything in the history of Hill Valley!"
Marty: "Yeah, well, history is about to change."

    • Lorraine says to her children at the dinner the following, all of which she ends up doing to "Calvin Klein":
  • Former Teen Rebel: Lorraine.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In the first movie, 1955!Doc has no less than four separate watches (one's built into his clocktower model as the clock).
  • Funny Background Event: Stella keeps taking off Milton's coonskin hat, while Marty is taking in the surroundings of the Baines' dining room.
  • Garage Band: Marty McFly's band, which auditions for the school dance.

Audition Judge: "Hold it, fellas. I'm afraid you're just too darn loud."

Biff: "You want it, you know you want it, and you know you want me to give it to you."

    • During the scene where Marty and George are going over the plan of how they're going to get George with Lorraine we have this exchange while George is doing his family's laundry:

Marty: "Because George *voice begins to stutter* Nice girls get angry when not nice guys take advantage of them."
George: Hoh! You mean you're going to touch her on her- *holding a bra in his hand*

  • God Guise: Marty uses his radiation suit and Walkman stereo to dress up as "Darth Vader from the Planet Vulcan". He frightens George and threatens to melt his brain if he doesn't take Lorraine to the school dance.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Sam Baines.
  • The Gump: Back in 1955, Marty McFly plays Chuck Berry's Johnny B. Goode when he steps in for Chuck's cousin, Marvin Berry. While Marty is playing, Marvin calls Chuck up so he can listen in on this "new sound." This is arguably more of a Temporal Paradox, though (specifically an example of a "predestination paradox"), as it raises the question of who actually created the "new sound."
    • The series has established (among other places in the DVD commentaries) that it's not a paradox (at least not the universe-shattering kaboom type) if it establishes a stable time loop. Thus, Chuck Berry created Johnny B. Goode... because Marty went back in time and played Berry's creation.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Referenced in a deleted scene:

Marty: "What if I go back to the future and I end up bein' -- gay?"
Doc: "Why shouldn't you be happy?"

Lorraine: "I don't know what it is, but when I kiss you, it's like I'm kissing my brother."

Doc: "If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits eighty-eight miles per hour...you're gonna see some serious shit."

  • Prince Charming Wannabe: Biff with Lorraine.
  • Psycho Strings: The musical score gets screechy as Marty fades from existence.
  • Punch, Spin, Gape: Biff catches one of these in the end.
  • Quip to Black: "Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads."
  • Rescue Romance: What happened with George and Lorraine in the original timeline and in the scene where Biff tries to rape Lorraine.
  • Ret-Gone: Dave, Linda and Marty in the photograph.
  • Retroactive Precognition: "That's right, he's gonna be mayor!"
  • Rewind, Replay, Repeat: "They found me... I don't know how, but they found me... RUN FOR IT MARTY!" replayed by a Doc Brown who was told not to by Future Boy Marty.
  • Right Place, Right Time, Wrong Reason: "...He's a peeping tom!"
  • Ripped From the Phone Book
  • Rockers Smash Guitars: Marty ruining the mood of his song by acting like a Heavy Metal singer.
  • Scary Black Men: "Who you callin' "spook", peckerwood?!"
  • Science Marches On: Played with in Doc Brown's apparently sincere assumption that "plutonium is available in every corner drugstore" in 1985, among other assumptions.
  • Seemingly-Wholesome Fifties Girl: Lorraine, much to the horror of Marty.
  • Sequel Hook
  • Shout-Out: The farmer is Old Man Peabody, and his son is named Sherman.
    • In Doc's lab in the beginning, the amplifier is labeled "CRM 114", which was the code name for a radio device from Dr. Strangelove.
  • Slow Electricity: Near the end of the film, the lightning crawls down the wire at roughly a walking pace.
  • Stopped Clock: The clock tower stopped after being stuck by lightning, giving Marty and Doc a precise time to use the lightning to time travel.
  • Time Is Dangerous: the DeLorean has to be traveling at 88 miles per hour. Which means that unless you know what's going to be in front of you when you arrive in the new timeline, you're going to crash.
    • By the third movie, Doc seems to be acknowledging this. Marty's a little less sure, but both times Doc assures him that the obstacle he's seeing in the present won't be there in the destination time.
  • Title Drop: Doc declares he has to send Marty "Back! To the future!"
    • And again at the end of the movie when Doc comes back from 2015, to pick up Marty and go back to...you know.
  • Technology Porn: The DeLorean when Doc introduces it.
    • Also the opening, showing off various gadgets Doc has at home.
  • Took a Level in Badass: George standing up to Biff is a critical moment thats fill him with self-confidence and changes the destiny of his whole life and family.
  • Turn Out Like His Father: Played with in every possible way. People tell Marty he's going to be a loser like his dad, then the past changes and his dad is not a loser but Marty is still destined to be a loser, then that future is possibly avoided presumably letting Marty succeed at a creative pursuit like his dad.
  • Values Dissonance: An in-universe example: "A colored mayor, that'll be the day."
  • Vanity License Plate: The DeLorean has the tags OUTATIME.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: George's method of ordering a milkshake.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The Libyans. They come charging in, shooting at Doc Brown from the van, they hit a kiosk and the van tips over. Then Marty, Doc, and the film forget about them completely, even having a joyful reunion at the end without bothering to see what's going on with the homicidally angry terrorists in the van a few yards away.
    • It is said they were arrested. And Doc leaving for the future in case they try to rat him out.
    • What happened to Doctor Brown's remaining plutonium? did he use it all before fitting Mr Fusion or did he just throw it in a bin somewhere? (which given the general recklessness he displays during the Trilogy is not that much of a stretch)
  • Who's on First?: Marty's attempts to get a Tab, and then a Pepsi Free, at Lou's Cafe in the 50's.


Part II:[edit | hide]

  • All Bikers Are Hells Angels: In 1985-A.
  • Alternate History: 1985-A.
  • And Your Little Dog, Too: Biff-A to Lorraine-A, in 1985-A.
  • Angry Black Man: The dad of the family living in Marty's house in the alternate 1985. To be fair, he did catch Marty breaking into his daughter's room, so the anger was justified. His wielding a bat made him into a Scary Black Man.
  • Apocalypse How: Several potential paradoxes in this film could destroy the entire universe, which would be a Class X-4, worst-scenario. (The effect might actually be localized to their own galaxy, which is a Class X-3.)
    • Well, that's a relief.
  • Bad Present / Crapsack World: 1985-A.
  • Balls of Steel: There is a clang when Marty punches Griff in the groin. Subverted in which he feels the blow.
  • Batter Up: Griff, attacking Marty in 2015 with his baseball bat, even says the phrase.
  • Binocular Shot: When Marty uses binoculars at the dance in 1955 and later when the DeLorean is flying above Biff's car.
  • Biting the Hand Humor: "Shark still looks fake."
  • Book and Switch: Biff hides a girly magazine inside the dust jacket of the sports almanac, which Marty mistakes for the real thing. An earlier scene in 2015 established the dust jacket for the purpose of this scene.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Apparently, Old Biff told his younger self if some kid or some wild-eyed old man who claims to be a scientist shows up asking about the book, he should sit him down, tell him in exacting detail the event of getting the book, and only then try to shoot him.
  • Breast Expansion: Lorraine-A's implants in the second film:

Lorraine-A: "You were the one who wanted me to get these, these.....things!"

From the Actual DVD Commentary: "No, kids, that's not CPR."

(THUMP!) The easy way.

  • Egopolis: 1985-A. A Vatican City of vice, with Biff as Pope.
  • Fake Shemp: Word of Bob Gale says that Crispin Glover got an ego and started making outlandish demands for his return in the sequels. Gale and Zemeckis decided to forget Glover and get creative by using a double actor and some nifty tricks with stock footage and computer effects. It backfired on the producers and Glover sued. The suit was settled out of court and the Screen Actors Guild revised their rules on stock footage use.
  • Flying Car
  • Five-Bad Band: Griff's gang:
  • Foreshadowing: When the "DESTINATION TIME" readout on the time circuits flash to "JAN 01 1885 12:00AM" and Doc remarks "Damn, gotta fix this thing." By the time Marty catches up with Doc in the third part of the trilogy, he had already been there for nine months.
    • Biff-A is watching A Fistful of Dollars, and crows when Clint Eastwood showed he was wearing a stovetop under his jerkin, "A bullet-proof vest! Ingenious!" Guess how the showdown in III is resolved?
  • Forced Perspective: The Lyon Estates site, and the tunnel.
  • Futuristic Superhighway: The movie begins with Doc, Marty, and Jennifer arriving in the year 2015 inadvertently flying against traffic on a highway specifically designed for Flying Cars.
  • Gilligan Cut: Marty needs to get some Fifties clothes:

Doc: "Something inconspicuous!"
Cut to Marty wearing a not-so-inconspicuous leather jacket, hat, and shades.

  • God Test: Biff challenges his future self to prove that the Gray's Sports Almanac has the results of every sporting event in the next 50 years.
  • Timeline-Altering MacGuffin: Former Trope Namer: Gray's Sports Almanac.
  • Guess Who I'm Marrying: We don't actually see when Lorraine-A tells her kids who she is going to marry in 1973-A, but the reaction of the Marty from our timeline fits the bill.
  • Half-Identical Twins: Marty Jr. and Marlene, possibly. Some scripts have both children mentioned as being 17, and both were played by Michael J. Fox - so they're commonly believed to be twins.
  • Help Your Self in the Future
  • Heroic BSOD: Doc at the end, when all of the Unfortunate Implications to Marty's return from the future hit him. He faints.
  • Hesitation Equals Dishonesty: At the end of the first film, Doc lies about Marty and Jennifer not being "assholes in the future." When the scene was reshot for the start of the second film, Doc hesitates before answering their question.
  • I Hate Past Me: Old Biff isn't all that thrilled to be giving anything to the idiotic, amoral, young Biff, but is willing to do so because then he'll be rich in the future. This backlashes in the form of him vanishing, implying that Biff-A died (possibly being murdered) before 2015.
    • This was confirmed in the Making Of tape bundled with the original VHS release as well as the 2002/2009 BTTF III DVD/2010 DVD Bonus Disc "FAQs about the trilogy"; Lorraine-A shot him in 1996.
  • I Have to Wash My Hair: Said by Lorraine in 1955 when Biff "invites" her to the dance with him.
  • I Remember It Like It Was Yesterday: Marty, when he returns to 1955. Doc mentions that he was there yesterday. In fact, it was approximately a week earlier.
  • Improvised Weapon: Lorraine communicates her distaste for Biff by clocking him with the box carrying her prom dress. That must be some hefty dress.
  • It's All My Fault: Said by Marty when he realizes Biff stole the almanac.
  • I Want My Jetpack: 2015. We'd better be seeing our damn flying cars soon, engineers.
    • You mean like this?
    • Flying cars? How about hoverboards? People were practically frothing at the mouth for those back when the film came out, not at all helped by Zemeckis' tongue-in-cheek claim that they were real. Made by Mattel, no less.
  • Japan Takes Over the World: 2015 was partly based on the assumption that the Japanese economy would have overtaken the US one by the early 21st Century.
    • Yes, well, just as Gale and Zemeckis couldn't have predicted Princess Di's death in 1997, they also could not have predicted Second Impact.
  • Jaws Is About To Eat You: Marty encounters an animated holographic movie advert.
  • Just Keep Driving: You'd think a DeLorean that appears out of nowhere in the middle of heavy traffic would grab some attention. You'd be wrong.
    • It's the future. Everything is crazy in the future.
    • Plus, the time machine reappeared in the middle of a thunderstorm. From what we could see, visibility was already pretty low due to the rain, so do you think any of the other drivers would have paid much heed to a flash of light and some booming sounds?
  • Kick the Dog: There's a scene in 1955 where Biff gets a hold of a ball belonging to a bunch of kids, and while listening to them plead to have it back, mocks them and then throws it onto a second story balcony.
  • Mega Corp: Biffco.
  • Money to Burn: Biff's image is depicted on the front of his casino doing this.
  • Mood Whiplash: Going from the bright, lively Hill Valley of 2015 to the dark, terrifying "Hell" Valley of 1985-A.
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet
  • The New Tens
  • Nice Hat: Marty and Doc get nice hats past the movie's second half.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Word of God says the 1985-A Biff was inspired by Donald Trump. The portrait in Biff's office was even based on one of Trump.
  • No Doubt the Years Have Changed Me: Parodied.
  • No-Paper Future: Averted, at least in the case of faxes and "dust-repellent paper."
  • Not-So-Great Escape: Marty finds himself trapped in Strickland's office while trying to retrieve the almanac and has to desperately hide beneath the desk and in other spots to avoid being discovered; including getting his hand crushed by Strickland's chair.
  • Off to Boarding School: The alternate Marty in 1985-A.
  • One-Scene Wonder: "Wallet Guy."
  • The Paid for Harem: Biff-A's harem.
  • Plot Hole: Old Biff heads back to 1955, hands young Biff the almanac, and returns to 2015 where Marty and Doc are. If you think about it, this shouldn't be, as after handing out the almanac, he would have started the chain of events leading to the dystopian 1985, and thusly 2015. Therefore, Marty and Doc would have been lost in time, and Old Biff would have emerged in a future where he was on top of the world!
    • Going by the logic established by the first film, where Marty's siblings faded before him instead of all at once, one could utilize the old 'time ripple' effect, that the future is changing slowly and that, by using the time machine, Old Biff overtook it and ended up in the time period he knew before it changed.
    • Or that history changes around Doc and Marty as they carry Jennifer back to where they parked the DeLorean (and they just don't notice). Recall this is what happens to Jennifer and Einstein after they're left in 1985-A in Part II; Jennifer wakes up in the right timeline once Marty gets back in Part III.
    • While not explicitly canon, there is a deleted scene of Old Biff collapsing painfully and fading away after returning to 2015, the explanation being that Lorraine shot and killed him sometime around 1995. It's plausible that with Biff dead, his empire dissolves and things slowly return to "normal" by 2015 so that Marty and Doc never know the difference. This would go along with the series' convention that time is always trying to "right" itself, get back on track.
    • There's a deleted scene where Old Biff fades away. Was the removal of that scene confusing to hardcore fans? Yes. Was it justifiable? Jesus CHRIST, yes.
  • Prince Charming Wannabe: Again, Biff with Lorraine in 1955.
  • Product Placement: Most are for "future" products. Mattel hasn't gotten around to making hoverboards...yet. The futuristic Pepsi glass makes it look awfully good, though.
  • Putting on the Reich: S.S. Strickland - Discipline
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The concept of an altered "bad present" where George McFly was murdered came about due to Crispin Glover's refusal to take part in the sequel.
  • Ridiculous Future Inflation: Doc gives Marty $50 for a bottle of Pepsi.
    • However, this is later subverted when Old Biff steps out of the taxi, and the driver charges him $174.50 for the ride. While this is still expensive relative to the time of the movie's release, it suggests that a future taxi ride only costs three sodas.
  • Ridiculous Future Sequelisation: A holographic advertisement for Jaws 19, directed by Max Spielberg, with the tagline: "This time it's really, really personal." All Marty has to say is, "The shark still looks fake."
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money:

Biff: "I OWN the police!"

Marty: "Let's land on him, we'll cripple his car."
Doc: "Marty, he's in a '46 Ford; we're in a DeLorean. He'd rip through us like we were tinfoil."

    • Absolutely Truth in Television: DeLoreans feature a fiberglass body overlaid with relatively thin sheet metal (which would sometimes crack during manufacturing). Some of the crash tests show an unbelievable amount of crumpling when hitting a solid wall, so the Doc is quite accurate with his observation.
    • Cars were generally made a lot more durable before the modern safety systems like automatic brakes and air bags were invented. Nowadays cars are designed to crumple on impact to absorb some of the kinetic energy and rely on the bags to protect the passengers, when back in the 1950's they tried to simply endure such hits.
      • It would be more accurate to credit the reduction in brute strength in car bodies to computerized engineering aids, that allow the designers to accurately simulate the loads any given piece will experience. Before widespread computer use in design, rough estimates with extremely generous margins (on the order of 200-300%) were used. The notion that a car should try to absorb an impact to protect its passengers, rather than survive as intact as possible (with mixed results) also didn't exist when the '46 was built.
  • Time Travel Tense Trouble:

Doc: (after Marty realises that he's responsible for Biff's actions) "Well, it's all in the past."
Marty: "You mean the future."
Doc: "Whatever!"

    • There's another one, in the middle of the movie:

"While we were in the future, Biff got the sports book, stole the time machine, went back in time and gave the book to himself at some point in the past."

1955!Doc: "No! It can't be; I just sent you back to the future!"
Marty: "No, I know; you did send me back to the future. But I'm back - I'm back from the future."
1955!Doc: "Great Scott!" (faint)

  • To Be Continued: Audiences were upset they actually showed scenes from III. Thanks for the Spoiler Alert, Zemeckis.
  • Took a Level in Badass: 1985A Mr Strickland. Living in a crapsack world infested with trigger-happy gangs doesn't help.
  • Trophy Wife: Marty's mother has been coerced into becoming Biff Tannen's trophy wife, complete with unwanted breast augmentation. Though Marty is eventually able to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, the viewer sees that she would have eventually shot him to death.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Michael J. Fox plays all of Marty's future family, including his daughter.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: A weird case; the Cafe 80's scene, (remember, this movie was made in 1989), invokes this trope directly. The result was rather bizarre at the time, and still is.
  • Unstoppable Mailman: The Western Union man at the end manages to arrive at exactly the time he was told to.
  • Video Phone: The Future McFly household's video phone is connected to the television set. Personal information about the individual on the other end of the line is scrolled through on screen, including name, age, occupation, home address, spouse, children, and assorted hobbies and preferences. Video calling is also sponsored by AT&T.
    • Becomes Hilarious in Hindsight when you note that Needles' favorite sport is Slamball, which didn't exist in 1985, but it does now.
  • Which Me?: A few times.
  • Women's Mysteries: Doc mentions this while musing that he won't get to visit The Wild West.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: Even though Doc's copy of USA Today is a localized edition (the joke seems to be that they took over the whole newspaper industry), "Youth Jailed" is not exactly cover story material. Especially when you see the other stories from that day.
    • Similarly, though perhaps less severe, later in the movie we see the papers from the alternate timeline where "Hill Valley Man Wins Big At Races" is the main headline on a 1958 copy of the local paper, over "Khrushchev Becomes New Soviet Premier." In the same scene we also see that "Emmet Brown Committed" has pushed a story about Nixon running for office for a Fifth time (!!) and vowing to end the Vietnam War. It seems the local press in Hill Valley really doesn't care for anything going on beyond their little town!
  • You!: Biff to Marty, after awakening from being knocked out by George.
  • You Just Had to Say It: Just after Marty warns Doc not to get struck by lightning at the end of the movie, he does.
  • You Killed My Father: Biff-A murdered George-A.
  • Zeerust/Twenty Minutes Into the Future: Done on purpose; the filmmakers didn't want to try to accurately predict the future, so they just combined Jetsons-esque devices with some obvious jokes (the McFlys have a fax machine in every room of their house, which apparently all print the same message at once). One thing they probably didn't count on, though, was Pontiac no longer existing. As well as Princess Di's death, one newspaper has an article about her becoming Queen.
    • Ironically, some of their predictions actually came pretty close. Things like 16:9 flat-screen TVs with the ability to watch multiple shows at once don't sound too crazy in a world with Google TV. Hell, think about Marty Jr watching about eight shows at once, then ask yourself: how many tabs do you have open in your browser right now?
      • Also, it's all subverted by the fact that Marty changes the future in 1985, and the zeerust future became an Alternate Timeline.


Part III:[edit | hide]

  • Acting for Two: Michael J. Fox once again, this time as Marty & his Great-Great-Grandfather Seamus McFly. Also, Thomas F. Wilson portrayed Biff & Buford.
  • And Starring: Lea Thompson.
  • Back for the Finale: George, Lorraine, Dave, Linda, Biff and Jennifer all return for the final scenes.
  • Badass Longcoat: Doc.
  • Bag of Spilling: The DeLorean lost its flying abilities when it was struck by lightning in the last movie.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Marty defeats Buford Just in Time to stop him executing Doc; meanwhile, Doc swoops in Just in Time to save Marty from getting hanged AND Clara from falling. Lampshaded by Marty: "Why do we have to cut these things so damn close?"
  • Bilingual Bonus: In the scene with the broken telescope, when Doc says "Everything becomes....clear." Clara is Latin for clear, which can be seen in English words such as clarity or clairvoyance. It may not have been intentional, but this Latin nerd appreciated the extra touch of sweetness.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Averted. Initially, it looks like a Bittersweet Ending because Doc Brown is stuck in the 1800s, but he is with the woman he loves, and Marty is reunited with Jennifer in his own time, but it looks like he will never see Doc Brown again. However, they are reunited in the end anyway because the Doc builds a steam-powered train time machine
  • The Blacksmith: Doc sets himself up as one when trying to repair the DeLorean until giving up and hiding it in the Delgado Mine. By the time Marty comes to 1885 to rescue Doc, he's still operating as a blacksmith.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: Doc wishes he lived in the Wild West.
    • Although he wishes he still had Tylenol.
  • Bullet Dancing: Spoofed, as Marty turns this into the Moon Walk. And it is awesome.
    • Then he accidentally hits Buford with a spittoon, and all hell breaks loose.
  • But Now I Must Go: Doc tells Clara he must leave 1885, forever.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Trope Namer- well, Trope Page Quoter with Real Life being the Trope Namer, and anyway Doc passes out after a single shot of whiskey.
  • Cassandra Truth: Clara doesn't believe Doc when he tells her the truth about the time machine.
    • And neither do the cowboys in the saloon; they just figure Doc having his heart broken has made him crack up.
  • Cattle Punk: Being from the future, Doc has been able to invent things using his advanced technological knowledge, but keeps it hidden from the townspeople.
  • Cool Train: Admit it, a steam-powered time-traveling train is cool.
    • I see your time-traveling train and raise you a flying time-traveling train.
  • Could Say It, But...: Doc's caginess with regard to Marty's future.
  • Cowboy Episode
  • Creepy Child: At the end, as Doc Brown talks to Jennifer, his younger son, Verne, issues a come hither gesture and points to his personal flux capacitor.
    • The actor is clearly trying to be a Funny Background Event, since after he's done gesticulating he even does an Aside Glance at the camera. But apparently no one in the production was paying attention, or they thought it was funny.
  • The Creepy Undertaker: The undertaker who measures Marty up for his coffin while he's still alive.
  • Did Not Do the Research: Doc obviously wasn't thinking straight when he picked out clothes for Marty to change into upon arriving in 1885.
    • Marty calls him out on it when he said that Clint Eastwood never wore anything like this. But Doc probably thinks Roy Rogers when he thinks of cowboys, and Rogers did wear clothing like Marty's.
    • Also makes sense when you realize that the 1955 Doc has not yet learned to be Crazy Prepared. The 1985 version (who, remember, was capable of designing a replacement for a motherboard just by memory of what they had in 1955) had spent thirty years preparing himself mentally and to a certain extent physically for time travel, which would have involved copious research. 1955 Doc only invented time travel a week ago.
  • Doomed New Clothes: Marty's original "western" outfit, particularly the boots and hat.
  • Drive-In Theater: Featured in a Played for Laughs scene before Marty leaves for 1885.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Doc, in the saloon - subverted in that he doesn't actually touch his shot glass. When he finally does gulp it down, he passes out instantly.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole: Not exactly a plot hole per se, but Doc's last line "Already been there [the future]" is sometimes dubbed to "I already am in the future". The original line is meant to be the lead-up for the Time Train's flying capability. The dubbed line turns it to a character moment, showing that whatever time he can go to, his heart is still in the Old West. Both versions work in their own way.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Buford 'Mad Dog' tannen.
  • Eternally Pearly-White Teeth: Averted; Buford and his gang notice and remark on Marty's white teeth.
  • Everything's Worse with Bears
  • Explosive Overclocking: The train, near the end.
  • Fan Service: Michael J. Fox's partially exposed rear in his 1885 pajamas.
  • Fashions Never Change: Spoofed.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: Impressively averted. At the film's climax, the hoverboard -- which had been important to the previous movie -- gets reused.
  • For Science!!:

Train Engineer: "Is this a hold-up?"
Doc: "It's a science experiment!"

  • For Want of a Nail: A non-standard example for a time-travel story; the fuel line being punctured by rough terrain leads to the complex plot of getting the DeLorean up to time-travel velocity. One would think that packing an extra can of gasoline for a trip to pre-petroleum times would be a no-brainer, but 1955 Doc is not as Genre Savvy about time travel as his 1985 counterpart.
    • The Doc didn't intend to go to 1885; he was in the DeLorean when it was struck by lightning and sent him back.
    • People do get confused into thinking it was the Indians because Marty pulls an arrow out of the bodywork immediately before noticing the dripping fuel under the car.
  • Funny Background Event: When Doc and Clara return in the time machine train, Doc in the foreground tells Marty and Jennifer to make their future a good one. In the background, for whatever reason, the child playing Verne points to his crotch. It's been hypothesized that the child actor was trying to signal to someone (possibly director Zemeckis) that he needed to pee.
    • Marty complains that Clint Eastwood never wore such a ridiculous getup, and Doc doesn't know who that is. They have this conversation in front of a drive-in theater, with a poster for Revenge of the Creature, Eastwood's first film.
  • Gilligan Cut: "We may have to blast!" BOOM!
    • This little gem from trying to find where to get the car up to 88

Marty: There is no bridge."

    • Cut to them standing at the unfinished bridge.

Marty: "Well Doc, we can scratch that idea."

  • Going Native: Doc has adjusted to life in 1885 very well.
    • Well he did mention how the Old West was his favorite time period.
  • Greek Chorus: The three old-timers who hang out at the saloon.
  • Held Gaze: Doc and Clara have one.
  • Hideous Hangover Cure: The "wake up juice."
  • I Always Wanted to Say That: Doc with the train whistle - "I've wanted to do that all my life!"
  • I Lied: In a deleted scene, Buford says this after shooting Marshall Strickland.
  • In the Back: Is where Buford Tannen was meant to shoot Doc.
    • Buford likes doing this, apparently. In a deleted scene, he shoots Marshall Strickland in the back too.
      • As Garak said, it's the safest way.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Subverted.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to Part II.
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse: The "Bobs" (Zemeckis and Gale) claim that McFly men are attracted to women who look like Lea Thompson, to explain why Marty's paternal great-great-grandmother looks so much like his mother.
  • Logo Joke: Old Universal logos appear during the opening, in honor of the 75th anniversary of Universal Pictures Film Company, Inc.
  • Love At First Sight: Doc and Clara, though Doc's skeptical before they meet.
  • May-December Romance: If you're being very gentle with how old Doc must be, he still must be at least twice Clara's age.
  • Mood Whiplash: One of the reasons why the scene where Buford shoots Marshall Strickland was removed. The producers thought it was too depressing, and after doing it, it didn't seem right that Buford not die. They were worried it would make audiences want Marty to kill Buford, and he can't, because Buford needs to live long enough to extend the Tannen family line.
    • Though they could have kept the scene, and had him die, by simply stating that he already had a kid, or had a brother who continued the line. Though this would have made Marty a killer, which may have been just as bad.
    • This leaves a minor plot-hole in the scene when Bufford is arrested by a different Marshall.
    • In 1985-A in Part II, Buford was explicitly identified as Biff's great-grandfather, meaning Marty couldn't risk killing him.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Jules and Verne, named after.... guess who.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: Heard when Marty confirms to Doc that he returned to 1955 even after being sent to the future. What makes this a Crowning Moment of Funny (as well as Sorry I Left the BGM On) is that it's in-universe: backed up against the organ in his house in terror at Marty's apparition, Doc's groping hands just happen to play a series of dissonant and ominous chords.
  • Prophecy Twist: The photograph of Doc's tombstone accurately predicts the date and the cause of his death if history continues on the same course. What Marty and Doc don't realise is the cause (being shot in the back) wouldn't necessarily happen on the same day as the resulting death. Mad Dog Tannen subsequently shows up to kill Doc two days earlier than expected.
  • Race For Your Love: Clara's race to get to Emmett before he leaves.
  • Railroad Tracks of Doom
  • Rescued From Purgatory: After a certain fashion when Marty goes back for Doc.
  • Rescue Romance: Doc and Clara.
  • Schizo-Tech: Invoked; 1955 Doc fixes the DeLorian's time circuits with 1955 components, so the time machine powered by a portable fusion reactor does the math needed for time travel with vacuum tubes.
  • Schoolmarm: Clara Clayton.
  • Shaped Like Itself: "You got a backdoor to this place?" "Yeah, it's in the back."
  • Shoot the Rope: Doc does this with a personally-modified lever-action rifle to save Marty from a hanging.
  • Shout-Out: Doc's time machine train was modeled after the Nautilus submarine in the 1954 Disney adaptation of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.
  • Showdown At High Noon: Subverted.
  • The Slow Path: The DeLorean between Part II and Part III. Also the letter Doc wrote to Marty explaining the situation.
  • Steampunk: The time train from the end, as well as Doc's refrigerator in the blacksmith shop.
    • The sheer size and complexity of the refrigerator, along with the difficulty of getting a conventional steam locomotive up to eighty-eight miles per hour (easily done with an internal combustion engine), illustrate more "realistic" applications of Steampunk tech. The time train at the end throws all realism out the window, but as Doc once said, "If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything."
  • The Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer / I Know Mortal Kombat: While Marty is only a teenager who has probably never used a real gun in his life, he is an expert at quick draw and pistol shooting because he played a shooting video game in 1985.
  • Time Travel Romance: Between Clara and Doc Brown.
  • Title Drop: Last lines of the film.

Marty: "Hey, Doc! Where you goin' now? Back to the future?"
Doc: "Nope. Already been there."

Doc: "It's a science experiment!"

  • The Unseen: Joey the "Wake Up Juice" man.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The Indians' reaction to the Delorean when Marty arrives in 1885. True, they are being chased by the US Cavalry and one of the Indians hits the Delorean with an arrow, but you would think at least a few of them would stop dead. Fridge Brilliance sets in, however, when you realize that they were riding horses. Even if they got distracted by the sudden appearance of a car, the animals don't care, and just keep going.
  • Urine Trouble: The first McFly born in America greets his future descendant with this trope.
  • What Could Have Been: 1955 Doc remarks that there were "plenty of worse places to end up than the Old West."

Doc: "I could have ended up in the Dark Ages."

Marty: "You're not far off, Doc."
(indicates Doc's 1885 grave with his flashlight)


And notably avoids:[edit | hide]

  • Meanwhile in the Future
  • No New Fashions in the Future
  • Only Child Syndrome: Both Marty and Lorraine have numerous siblings that aren't that important to the plot, and of course Doc and Clara have 2 children together. George and Jennifer are only children however.
    • As far as we know, anyway - we never actually met George or Jennifer's family.
    • We meet George's family in the novel, and it is implied he is an only child.
    • Biff is confirmed to be an only child in the Telltale game, which ends up foreshadowing the existence of Biff's brothers Cliff and Riff in an alternate timeline where Kid Tannen never went to jail.
  • Politically-Correct History:
    • Part 1: Lou: "A colored mayor, that'll be the day."
    • Also in Part 1, one of Biff's gang calls one of the band's members a "spook", which is a largely forgotten racial epithet for a black person.
    • Part 3: Saloon Patron: "Where'd you get that outfit, off'n a dead Chinee?"
      • Not averted in the video game, however. Trixie Trotter sings the classic song "I Don't Care," but the lyric "Of a clever race descendent" is changed to "I am my own superintendent."
  • San Dimas Time:

Marty: "If only I had more time...wait a minute, I have all the time I want; I got a time machine!"

    • He then proceeds to screw it up by giving himself only a few extra minutes, thus allowing him to make it back to the mall parking lot just in time to see Doc get shot. Justified Trope in that he was worried about screwing up the present timeline as badly as he had just screwed up the past (if he prevents himself from going back in time, for example, he would not exist anymore). Doc mentions the implications earlier in the film.
  • Time Crash: In the films, Doc was concerned that causing an unresolvable time paradox or having someone encounter his or her past self could potentially destroy the timeline. In the Telltale game, he implicitly admits that he was wrong and that time is stronger than that. Now, history, on the other hand...
  • What Year Is This?: In the movies, Marty looks at newspapers instead. And of course, the DeLorean has a bright digital display that tells you exactly when you are. (Exceptions occur in the Telltale games - see this trope's entry in that folder.)
    • Finally used by Edna Strickland in Episode 5 of the Telltale game when she returns to 1931 after a quick jaunt into the past.
  • You Already Changed the Past
    • Although, Doc Brown's letter at the end of Part 2 sort of plays this trope straight (the only part of the Trilogy to do so), though Rule of Cool applies for obvious reasons.
  1. Fuji Tsuushinki Seizou if you're wondering, but parsed down to Fuji-Tsuu Kabushiki-Kaisha(Stock Company) nowadays
  2. Gigabyte and gigahertz likely being the most commonly known among the average computer user
  3. It's a chest that young girls used to keep in preparation for their marriage. The joke here is that Lorraine was already fantasizing about marrying the young man that she did not realize was her future son.