“Your future is what you make it,” Doc Brown tells Marty, “so make it a good one!” Then he zooms off in his whimsical flying train. Happy ending!
Except no, no it’s not. Marty McFly has no future, because of two big issues hanging over his head at the end of the trilogy:
1. He doesn’t know anything about his own life.
In the first film, Marty’s actions led to his dad standing up to Biff. When he returns to the present, Marty is shocked to discover that George is now a self-confident author, his mom is thin, and his siblings are well-adjusted. It stands to reason that virtually everything that’s happened in the past eighteen years is different than what Marty remembers. We see an example of this when Marty thinks the car has been totaled, and his parents think he’s crazy. In effect, the family Marty has known has been replaced with four strangers that look exactly like his family, which is pretty horrible.
But it gets worse. Marty doesn’t even know who he is in this reality. If his parents are different people, then he was probably raised in a different way – after all, his brother and sister are completely transformed. Perhaps the Marty in this timeline is a straight-A student instead of a slacker. Maybe he’s an All-State trombonist instead of a rock guitarist. He apparently still is dating Jennifer in this reality, but the details of their relationship might be totally different – for all his knows, they could have both taken a virginity pledge.
Marty very well may not have a single memory that’s accurate as far as everyone else is concerned. How long can he live that way? How long will he want to live that way?
But that may be a moot point, because…
2. Every law enforcement agency in California is probably looking for him.
When the police discover a group of dead, heavily-armed Libyan terrorists in the parking lot of the Hill Valley Mall, it’s not going to take them too long to come knocking on McFly’s door. First of all, there may be a security tape that shows Doc and Marty at the scene. Even if there’s not, the terrorists probably have some sort of document on them that shows they were looking for Emmett Brown.
Investigators will quickly find that Brown has apparently vanished off the face of the earth (he’s completely absent from 1980’s Hill Valley after the events of the trilogy). They’ll also learn that Marty is Doc’s only friend, and that Doc called him mere hours before the terrorists were discovered dead. And when they turn Doc’s home inside out and find evidence he’s been in contact with the Libyans for months about building a bomb, they’re going to go over every aspect of Marty’s life with a fine-toothed comb. They’ll grill him and discover his amnesia (see Point #1) and that will only further their suspicions.
Basically, Marty’s screwed.
Back to the Future IV
EXT. HOSPITAL – DAY
Establishing shot of a sign that says “Hill Valley Hospital.”
INT. HOSPITAL – DAY
A DOCTOR sits behind a desk. Facing him is a middle-aged couple, GEORGE AND LORRAINE MCFLY.
DOCTOR: Mr. and Mrs. McFly, I’ve never seen a case quite like this. When did you first notice the memory loss?
GEORGE: Two days ago. He woke up that morning and seemed confused. He thought my car had been destroyed for some reason.
LORRAINE: Is it amnesia, doctor?
DOCTOR: It’s more complicated than that. He knows who you both are. He just doesn’t remember any of the details of his own life.
MARTY (O.S.): Okay, let me try and explain this again…
Pan over to reveal MARTY MCFLY sitting in the corner, in a straight-jacket.
MARTY (cont’d): I come from a parallel universe. In the world that I know, my dad works for Biff.
GEORGE: Biff? The car waxer?
DOCTOR: What I find fascinating is that while his memories of the present are delusional, he has these vivid “recollections” of the two of you in the 1950’s.
LORRAINE: How is that possible?
MARTY: Because I’m Calvin Klein!
GEORGE: The fashion designer?
MARTY: No, the mysterious stranger who brought you two together!
DOCTOR: I’m afraid he may have some sort of dissociative personality disorder…
MARTY: Don’t you think it’s odd that I look exactly like him?
LORRAINE: Marty, that boy had blond hair!
MARTY: No he didn’t! That was me! I traveled through time in Doc Brown’s DeLorean!
DOCTOR: And what happened to this “time car?”
MARTY: It was hit by a train.
GEORGE: What were you doing driving on the train tracks, young man?
DOCTOR: That behavior concerns me. He could be suicidal.
LORRAINE: Oh Marty.
The door opens. BAILY, a man in a dark suit, enters and closes the door.
DOCTOR: Excuse me, I’m in the middle of something right now…
BAILY: I’m afraid it’s a matter of national security, doctor. Mr. and Mrs. McFly, my name is Richard Baily, FBI. What I’m about to tell you is highly classified. Hill Valley has been infiltrated by terrorists.
LORRAINE: Oh my God.
BAILY: Two nights ago, a van of heavily armed foreign nationals crashed in the empty parking lot of the Hill Valley Mall.
Baily tosses some photos onto the doctor’s desk. The top one is a still from Back to the Future, of the terrorist van upside down in the parking lot.
BAILY (cont’d): They have refused to speak to us so far, but we believe they might be Syrian.
MARTY: No! Those are the Libyans!
GEORGE: Marty! What do you know about this!
BAILY: Our investigation indicates the terrorists may have been trying to build a bomb with the aid of Doctor Emmett Brown, a known associate of your son.
MARTY: Okay, that bomb was just pinball parts. Doc would never…
BAILY:And since Doctor Brown seems to have fled the country, your son may be the only person who can tell us what the hell is going on.
LORRAINE: Are you saying my son is a terrorist?
Baily gets right in Marty’s face, growling.
BAILY: I’m saying your son picked a very convenient time to lose his mind!
MARTY: This is heavy.
The door suddenly bursts open. DOC BROWN is standing there, holding a gun.
DOC BROWN: Nobody move!
DOC BROWN: I’m sorry Marty. I came as soon as I got to the future and read about your execution.
MARTY: My what?
BAILY: Brown, you traitor. I’d have figured you were smart enough to be in Argentina by now!
DOC BROWN: Come on, Marty! We have to go back… to the past!
INT. LABORATORY – DAY
Doc Brown sits in a swivel chair and talks on a corded phone.
Supertitle: 2 Years Earlier
DOC BROWN: Hello, is this Sheikh Abdul Muhalla? Hi there. I was told you might potentially have access to large amounts of weapons-grade Plutonium?
The door to the lab bursts open. Another version of Doc Brown and Marty run in, wearing their clothes from the previous scene. Marty’s straight jacket is unstrapped now, and he carries a skateboard.
Doc Brown 1 drops the phone.
DOC BROWN 1: Great Scott! It’s me!
DOC BROWN 2: What the hell do you think you’re doing?
DOC BROWN 1: I need Plutonium to generate the 1.21 jiggowatts of…
Doc Brown 2 punches him in the face.
DOC BROWN 2: Do not offer to build the Libyans a bomb, you idiot!
DOC BROWN 1: But… but…
Marty hits him with a skateboard.
MARTY: The time machine project is over, got it?
Marty and Doc Brown 2 begin pummeling Doc Brown 1 mercilessly.
DOC BROWN 2: Take a teaching job or something!
EXT. DOC’S HOUSE – MINUTES LATER
Marty and Doc walk out of the house.
DOC BROWN: Now we head back to 1984. Your dad will once again be a spineless wimp, I’m afraid. But at least neither of us will be wanted terrorists.
They begin to walk towards the “time train” from Back to the Future 3, which is parked on the front lawn.
MARTY: So what are you going to do now that time machine is off the table?
DOC BROWN: I have an idea for a great new invention. I call it… a “Terminator!”
That’s Twin Pines Mall/Lone Pine Mall, not Hill Valley Mall!
LOL that would actually be a great BTTF IV!
“Hello, Mr Spielberg?”
“Yes, there’s a script here for Back to the Future IV if you’re interested.”
“What? You’re already making it?”
“With Shia LaBeouf as Doc Brown’s long lost son?”
its hilarious how possible that is!
It’s called creativity (pronounced sell-ing OUT).
It’s probably a mathematical certainty that given enough time, they either remake BTTF or make some sort of loose sequel to it. (A sequel would be tricky, because it’s now clear that REAL 2015 will be NOTHING like the fictional 2015.) They’d have to decide whether it’s set in the real world, or a world in which hoverboards are real.
Well, but the fictional 2015 is in a timeline that they had to get rid of. Maybe after Biff made a fortune on sports bets, he made some INCREDIBLE tech-stock investments, completely altering the history of scientific progress. Now that he’s not rich, we’re all stuck with our crappy non-hovering skateboards.
No, the 2015 we see is actually in the regular timeline. We never really see 2015 post-almanack.
I think it’s pretty clear from the way that Jennifer says “How about a ride, mister?” that there are no virginity pledges involved.
there is a very important plot error here…
If they went back in time to stop Doc 1 from ever starting the time machine project and succeeded, when they went back to the time machine IT WOULD NOT BE THERE. There would have never been a time machine so no time train either.
They begin to walk towards the “time train” from Back to the Future 3, which WAS parked on the front lawn…
Marty: “Doc, where the hell is the time machine?”
(alternatively, since the two could not have travelled back in time in the first place, they both explode and rip a hole in the space-time cont.)
Who cares. It’s fiction. Entertainment. Doesnt matter whether it makes sense or not. What matters is that you enjoy the flick while you’re watching.
Well done! Sounds almost like a real BBTF movie!
And I agree with Mike. Who cares if it makes sense? That’s the beauty of it. It doesn’t make any sense at all, but you can always soemhow spin it so that it seems to make sense. That’s what they did, anyway.
Ha! That’s funny stuff. Now I feel like going back and watching the whole trilogy again.
Well, at least you gave the name of the website a proper, well-thoughtout name with “overthinking”
Seriously, you spent time thinking about this, esp. lame thoughts that don’t add up? (the only worse is that I read this article)
(1) Marty has a past to base his thoughts and knowledge off of. It’s the original one he got when George McFly was still a milquetoast, weak man. It may not be a great history, but it’s a history. It’s real simple, Marty takes whatever experiences he received in his original up-bringing and to understand what happened in his new alternate upbringing with a confindent dad you do a 180 to all things.
(2) Terrorist most likely DO NOT LEAVE DOCUMENTATION AND MEMOS AROUND! Why would they even do such a thing?!?!?! Do you think the Libyan terrorist have a home office somewhere with file-cabinets, a desk, and a water-cooler? The terrorist would not leave links and clues. They are involved in highly illegal activities.
It not clear that the terrorists were dead at the end of BTTF 1. All they did was crash into a Fotomat…. Still, the FBI might come after Marty if for no other reason than to find the missing plutonium.
Although I agree that all of the “facts” in a movie like this don’t have to make sense (it’s sci-fi, after all. And I won’t even go into the many possible options of how Marty will adjust to his new 1985 – I’m sure he’ll turn out just fine.), I feel compelled to point out an obvious fact:
Doc STILL HAS A TIME MACHINE. When we last see him, he has a flying time machine train and two kids, for crying out loud! A significant amount of time clearly has passed in his life. Isn’t it realistic that Doc simply went back to 1985 and cleaned up the mess? (He DID say that he had to pick up Einstein) Why couldn’t he swing by the mall to get rid of the truck and its contents (who cares about the dead terrorists?), close up the house, leave a “goodbye” note for anyone looking for him, discontinue his newspaper delivery, etc.
The author clearly needs to overthink his overthinking. (But again – does it really matter?…maybe a little)
@Mike – Oh, I enjoy these movies plenty. But here at OTI, we express our love through nitpicking (pity our loved ones).
@GJE – Oh, I’m not saying investigators are going to find Doc Brown’s business card tucked into one of the terrorists’ pockets. But I do think that when the CIA finds them, the trail of breadcrumbs will lead straight back to Doc. Think about it, how did the terrorists find them at the mall? Presumably, they went to Doc’s house first, ransacked it, found some sort of clue as to where Doc was (given Doc, probably a scale model of the parking lot). If any neighbors saw the break-in, there’s your connection right there.
And bravo on your use of “milquetoast.”
@Keeper – I think you just came up with a WAY better ending to BTTF3. Marty and Jennifer go to the train tracks to see the destroyed time machine. Suddenly, shots ring out! Marty looks behind him, and there’s one bloody, broken, but still alive terrorist coming at him with a machine gun! It looks like the end… and then suddenly the time train materializes out of nowhere and completely flattens the guy.
@Jeremy – That’s some nice overthinking of my overthinking. Virtual high five.
Wait, that’s just lazy storytelling.
We accept that Bill and Ted are going to do a lot of post-movie time traveling to clean up a lot of messes (hide the keys, etc.) because it’s an explicit plot point and they make jokes about it.
I think a blanket answer of “Well, Doc has a time machine and can take care of it when the movie ends.” — might absolve the writes of more inconsistencies than I’m comfortable with.
Back to the Future IV needs Michael Cera and Jonah Hill traveling back in time on a boat to rescue the doc (their uncle) and his wife from terrorists who want to go back in time to change shit so they can kill western swine and rule the world. Of course Harold and Kumar will play the terrorists, Will Ferrell and John C. Rielley will be the two bumbling cops chasing after Hill and Cera, and Seth Rogan and Bill Hader will play the two boy’s future versions of themselves. Throw in Christopher Mintz-Plasse as the tag-a-long nerd who supes up the time-traveling boat and maybe James Franco as a Sultan from the past and you have an EPIC Back to the Future!!!
It’s certainly a better thought idea than that new Dr. Who crap the Brits made.
>>When the police discover a group of dead, heavily-armed Libyan terrorists in the parking lot of the Hill Valley Mall, it?s not going to take them too long to come knocking on McFly?s door. <<
Uh, except the Libyans didn’t die. They shoot Doc Brown, chase Marty, Marty goes back to the ’50s, Marty leaves Doc Brown the note, Marty returns to the present to witness Doc’s “death” only for Doc to reveal that he read Marty’s note and was prepared.
This isn’t even something one needs to rewatch the movie to know, unless for some reason you have an image in your head of Doc Brown shooting up the Libyans while being blown apart a la Scarface.
Way to half-ass and Underthink it.
Why are the terrorists dead? We never saw anything that showed they died…
@Cody – I’ve watched the scene, and I’d say the guy who was poking his head out of the van right before it rolled over onto its roof is probably in need of some serious chiropractic help. They’re all either dead or wounded enough so they’re not getting up while Doc and Marty have a tearful moment in the parking lot.
And you’ll notice that in my sketch, I made them alive, but in CIA custody. Either way, I still say police are going to have some serious questions for Marty and Doc. Mmmkay?
He simultaneously existed in two time lines and is now in the other, what happened to the guy who everyone else was talking to in the new timeline? Poor [email protected]@rd.
One part always bothered me. in 2015, Marty’s life is falling apart. He gets fired, and his younger self is watching it happen. Wouldn’t the older Marty remember that he was watching himself when he was younger? Or did he just jump to parallel universe as well as another time? Kind of like Sliders. If it was the same universe, the past Marty does change the future…so why wouldn’t his future self remember? I know…I’m overthinking it.
Umm… you need to watch the movie again. Marty is not watching this all happen to his future self. It is the younger Jennifer trapped in the house trying to find a way out who witnesses all of this. Marty is supposed to be waiting by the DeLorean while Doc goes to retrieve Jennifer but instead wanders off, thus allowing the elder Biff to steal the DeLorean.
Re: “If it was the same universe, the past Marty does change the future…so why wouldn’t his future self remember?”
Star Trek explains this as temperial (sp?) time travel. You travel forward or backwards in time removing yourself from that moment. No memory of you until you show up again, except it does not work in Marty’s case in BTTF 1 as he clearly was part of this timeline.
Thinking about this a little more it seems as if going forward in time, future Marty, Doc, et al, tend to not know about their past lives along the timeline.
Just my observations…
People people….. look up the word PARADOX. lol stop asking questions there is no logical answer to because we have no grip of temporal paradox as of yet…. exept spielberg who managed to make millions from it lol….
lol if they ever made bttf 4 i would like to see some wookies making there way in there.
(it would make more sense than Indiana Jones 4.
How bout making indina a psycho killer who creates a city for his flock.. “JONES TOWN”
A lot of this was already posted on Cracked
When Marty goes back to 1955 and changes events, they have a direct effect on him, causing him to slowly disappear as the event that he prevented from happening catches up to the point in time where he came from. Therefore, whatever he changed would also eventually catch back up to him in 1985 after he travels back, and either all of his old memories would be replaced by the new ones, or more likely, he would now have a double-set of memories, one old, and one “new”.
Also, Doc Brown was the sort of meticulous guy that he would have definitely tied up any loose ends regarding his property, and the terrorists before going wherever he decided to go to live his life with his new family. A writer named Mary-Jean Holmes actually wrote an amazing series of fanfics with a possible explanation of how Doc went about cleaning up his life, raising his family for a time back in 1885, and eventually moving his family back to the early 1990’s to explain why he suddenly has children. Really good stuff, if you dig fanfic, I suggest you check it out.
That’s funny, but BTTFIV was already made. (Granted, it was a class project done by a bunch of kids, but it was made)
Re: “People people….. look up the word PARADOX.”
Have you ever tried doing that on wikipedia? Seriously, it may be the greatest thing ever. Go and do it, you can get lost in there for hours. WARNING: Your brain may implode.
This is no directly related, but I have an issue with one plot hole on BTTF 3. When Marty travels to 1885 and hide in the cave, another Delorean had to be there. Why they don´t try to take fuel from that car? Why mi god? Whyyyyy…
great article…also…does it ever bother anyone that Biff is essentially a rapist? One that they will let hang around their home around their kids and such for the next 20 years. He tried to rape Lorraine. RAPE!!! hahaha…rape isnt funny, but BTTF is my favorite movie of all time and when my buddy pointed it out to me that biff, left unattended, would have become a rapist it just made me laugh because I had never thought of that. He was a murderer, why not a rapist?
One reason Doc doesn’t disturb the buried Delorean is fear of causing a paradox (if they were to damage it while uncovering it, how would Marty have made it back?).
Another reason is that Doc would have drained the fuel before storing the Delorean for an extended period of time (I don’t know much about cars, but I’ve been told this is a standard thing). It’s been a while since I watched BTTF3, but I believe 1955 Doc actually tells Marty he refuelled the car while they were getting ready at the drive-in theatre.
It’s a fun article and argument. But since Marty has had to adapt and change and tippy-toe around what he says while time-travelling, he will not be in a straight-jacket. There are two possibilities:
a) Marty enjoys the improved 1985 and fits right in because of his new confidence
b) The ripple effect catches up with him and he has loses memory of his adventures and the alternate time-lines.
There are a couple of items I’d love to hear addressed by Gale and Zemeckis, which are not well answered on the DVDs.
1. Other than the cute term “McFly Farm,” why didn’t they consider identifying Seamus’s family as Banes to explain the resemblance of his wife to Loraine? That would have been an easy fix.
2. The flux capacitor or some other element must compensate for the rotation or the earth and its orbit around the sun in order to give Doc’s passengers the impression of travelling only through time but not through space. Piers Anthony’s Bearing an Hourglass may be the only time I’ve seen this issure brought up:
Funny ass website. Great article. Keep up the good work.
Movies using time travel are always full of “what if” plot holes thought up by viewers with over-active imaginations and too much time. The storyline is at the screenwriters discretion. If you don’t like it, stick to documentaries. I think the key to BTTF that we need to remember is the photograph Marty had of himself and his siblings. The older brother and sister completely disappeared from the photo. They ended up with different personalities. They were confident, independent, and successful. However, they still lived at home. Marty only just began to disappear when all was made right with the teenaged version of his parents. He remained the same. His brother still knew he often fell asleep in his clothes. His mother still knew Jennifer was his girlfriend and that they were planning a big date. Jennifer still knew him, etc. Maybe there wasn’t any surveilance cameras in the parking lot. Maybe there wasn’t anything to connect the Lybian terrorists with the good Doc. As someone said below, it’s fiction.
Anyone who says “this is a waste of time”, etc. is utterly missing the point, which is, at the risk of pointing out the obvious, “overthinking”. Some of you may perchance have noticed the blog’s name? “Overthinking It”?
Kuddos for whoever wrote this (besides getting the name of the mall wrong). Besides being extremely funny, I can actually see the characters saying those lines. P.s. Speilberg wouldn’t touch this. This is definatly a J.J. Abrams crime if it does happen (BTF 4, I mean).
When Marty returns to 1985, if his entire past has changed you’d assume the parking lot/terrorists incident also changed – perhaps not even happened.
I’m pretty sure that all of these questions were answered in the brilliant, yet short-lived, animated series.
Okay, maybe not. But there was an episode where Doc recalls his career as a wrestler in the fifties (or forties?).
Is the content of that animated series “canon?”
If Doc Brown can send a letter that is delivered 70 years later a very precise time, he could conceivably manipulate the events of 1985 from 1885 erasing the whole Lybian incident.
Also, given the change in the McFlys at the end of BTTF 1 in terms of class and status, do you think they would have let Marty hang around with Doc Brown as a high schooler? That too might have erased the Lybian incident.
The question is, if Doc Brown eventually read Marty’s letter, why the hell did he ever buy plutonium from the Lybians? How did he know they weren’t going to shoot him in the head? You think he would have found another outlet for his fuel.
The thing I’ve always wondered about is what happens to the “other” Marty, the one that vanishes from the Lone Pine Mall at the end of BTTF?
Given his different previous life experiences, would he have the same experience in 1955? Or would he accidentally create a third (or even a duplicate of the first) timeline?
Right. This is more proof that BTTF doesn’t follow the Star Trek “Yesterday’s Enterprise” model of time travel, where the measure of reality is internal consistency.
BTTF follows the action-comedy “what the hell” model of time travel (and ethics, by the way), where the measure of reality is consistent awesomeness.
Mike and Maggy seem to think this is just any fanboy website. Guys, it’s called OVERTHINKING IT.
OVERTHINKING IT. It’s the point. The raison d’etre. It can just go on and on and that’s why it is what it is and not bloody AintItCool.
Geddit?? Good. Now, wipe up that drool.
Steve, you win. Not sure *what* exactly, but it’s totally yours.
Wait, hold on a minute. If Marty and Doc go back in time to convince Doc not to make the time machine, how do they get back, or even go back in the first place. If they’ve convinced the Doc not to build the time machine, it should cease to be and everything related to it would be undone. They’d have created a paradox.
and thats the way the fourth movie should end in a paradox, complete chaos.
Just found this article through Stumble Upon.
I have over-thought BTTF as well. My biggest problem with it is that when they travel to 2015 at the start of BTTF2. In the first film, when Einstein travels one minute into the future Doc says that he jumped over that minute to arrive in the future, so they must have jumped over the thirty years into a future where Marty, Doc and Jennifer have been missing for all that time.
Your conclusions on the implications of Doc and Marty’s time travel are short sighted. If you had considered time travel further, you realize that it is logically impossible to alter the past in a linear or block universe. Anything that portrays an alteration of the past as having an effect on the present is a fantasy and as such, is subject only to the whim of the creator. Because the world of BTTF allows for changing of the past, it bears no resemblance to our own and it is therefore foolish to expand on the possible storyline.
In your BTTF IV scenario, you introduce the idea of a “parallel universe,” but parallel universes aren’t tied by cause and effect. If Marty originally traveled to a “parallel” universe and introduced his parents, then that is a separate universe that is similar, but unrelated to his own. He did not “change” the past, he acted upon the present of a universe remarkably like his own twenty years earlier.
So yeah. Sorry to rain on the parade, but if you’re going to point out flaws in Back to the Future, it’s only too easy to point out the flaws in your assessment. Yes, I’m a nerd, but for a website called overthinking it, I thought I’d give it some thought. I didn’t explain why altering the past is logically impossible. If you care, you might want to start here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grandfather_paradox. You could also read some real science fiction. Heinlein has a slew of stories dealing with time travel and its paradoxes.
Word. Have I overthought it?
I sit somewhere in the middle with you, my friend. You present valid thoughts worth pondering. All the naysayers on either side are nitpicking for the sake of argument. Some of them likely waste a lot of their philosophy profs’ time.
I have a tack-on that has niggled at my brain for nigh on fifteen years:
His siblings have high-profile jobs that pay well, but they still come to mom and dad’s for breakfast? Even IF we need to see his brother out of the fast food uniform to believe he’s not a zero, I don’t.
(I like that one comment someone made about there being two DeLoreans in the old west… I didn’t consider that.)