Back to the Future

Question: When Marty returns to 1985, we see that the "Twin Pines Mall" sign has changed to "Lone Pine Mall," but then Marty sees himself travel to the past. Wouldn't we see it alter the instant the DeLorean vanishes, not before he goes back (because technically, he hasn't changed the past yet)?

Answer: This is a time loop type of question that could be argued for a lifetime. Basically, he did already change the past in the "universe" the movie is set in, so seeing the sign is correct.

Grumpy Scot

Question: I'm not going to list this as a mistake since apparently it didn't happen, but George obviously changed his, his wife's, and Biff's future (at least) when he knocked Biff out in 1955. Since right there the timeline would have changed, what are the odds that Marty would still have been in the parking lot driving from the Libyans and going back to 1955? Couldn't Marty have accidentally caused a paradox to destroy the universe?

Answer: Yes, he could have. But some theorize that the function of the universe itself cancels out paradoxes. For example, Larry Niven proposed that time travel can never be developed because by its nature it would constantly cause paradoxes, so natural accidents and twists of fate prevent time travel from being discovered. In this case, it's possible that Marty's life was rewritten to insure that he was in the right place at the right time to prevent a paradox.


Question: Are we ever given any suggestion as to what offence Lorraine's brother was incarcerated for?

Answer: Not in any official, canon source. In the Back to the Future comic books published by IDW he is an aspiring member of Biff's gang and gets arrested breaking into the home of Doc Brown's mother in an attempt to steal a large sum of money. It must be reiterated that the comics are non-canon and this should be taken with a grain of salt.


The comic books are so skewed from the movie events, they cannot be considered canon. "Jailbird Joey" was only a baby in a playpen when Biff and his gang were seniors in highschool. Unless Biff and his highschool buddies were still recruiting gang members into their mid-30s, there is no way Jailbird Joey would be trying to join their gang.

Charles Austin Miller

While the answer does state the comics aren't cannon, it's the only place that really delves into Uncle Joey's criminal history since the film's didn't need to spend time discussing the exact nature of his crimes. However, it would not be unreasonable (or even unheard of) for Biff to be recruiting members for his "gang" at 35. Plus, Joey wanting to be part of Biff's gang wouldn't necessarily require Biff or his high school buddies to be personally involved in recruiting young Joey.


Question: When Marty and Jennifer are sitting in front of the clock tower in the park and Jennifer asks Marty if his mother knows he is taking her up to the lake, during Marty's response, he seems to put something in the inside pocket of his jeans jacket with his left hand. What was he doing or what did he put into his jacket pocket? (00:10:00 - 00:11:00)

Answer: It was the audition tape of Marty's music that Jennifer gave him. She wanted him to send it to a record company.

raywest Premium member

Answer: There's a mistake entry about the scene where Marty is holding the tape in his left hand and then disappears in the next shot, so Marty's hand is empty at the point in question. To me, it honestly looks like Michael J. Fox rehearsed the scene so many times when he was putting the tape into his jacket that he did the same movement without the tape to stay consistent.


Question: What is the significance of having four tardies in a row? Is there a special penalty of some sort for that?

Answer: In some schools I've worked at, 3 tardies equalled 1 unexcused absent. This school may have a similar policy, where a set number of unexcused absents results in detention.


Answer: Well first, it implies that Marty is irresponsible, and it also doesn't do any favors for his reputation since people already doubt him. And second, at least when I was in school, having too many tardy-slips or unexcused absences could get you into more serious trouble. (Suspension, etc).


When I was a kid, four tardies was grounds for detention. Marty might not have got a detention for being late four times since he's later seen with Jennifer after band auditions but there's always a possibility he might get detention or temporary suspension if he was late one more time.

His detention could also be on Saturdays, as was practised in Shermer Illinois in the 80's.

Question: In this film, Marty suddenly appears and spends one week in 1955. So, how does Marty freely roam the hallways and cafeteria at Hill Valley High School (even getting into a physical altercation with another student) without challenge from teachers and administrators such as Mr. Strickland? All the kids are talking about Marty, but nobody in authority questions the fact that he's not enrolled, he's completely undocumented, he doesn't attend any classes, and he's apparently a troublemaker.

Charles Austin Miller

Answer: High school in the 1950s was different from today, which has tight security and students are more closely scrutinized. Not every teacher, and even Strickland, knows every student, so Marty would not necessarily be immediately suspected as an outsider. And though the students are talking about Marty, that doesn't mean the adults are aware. Teens have their own closed-off society. Being as Marty was only in the past for a week, and he isn't at the school all that much, he could conceivably move about mostly unnoticed. If he was there any longer, the school would eventually wise up about him. Also, it's a movie, and suspension of disbelief is employed here. The audience just accepts the plot's premise.

raywest Premium member

Thanks. But I also remember (giving away my age) that teachers and administrators back then were very much aware of students "playing hooky" (skipping classes and wandering around the halls and off-campus during school hours). Back then there were even "truant officers" who patrolled the streets looking for school-age kids skipping school. With all of the attention to 1950s detail in this film, I was really kind of surprised that no-one apparently suspected Marty of truancy.

Charles Austin Miller

I also remember those days. As I mentioned, since Marty was only briefly at the high school during the one-week period he was in the past, he hadn't yet attracted enough attention to be considered a problem or a truant. It can be seen that Strickland notices Marty, but had not yet considered anything as being amiss.

raywest Premium member

Question: At the dinner table in 1955, Marty's grandfather is there. It has always appeared to me that there is something off about his appearance. He seems to appear as if he was not actually there, and that he was spliced into the footage from another movie. The lighting on his face, his style of hair, the quality so to speak of him, just seems off from everyone else. He almost seems like he is from a black and white movie, spliced in and colorized a bit Is it supposed to be that he was to look this way, or did they actually take this actor's scene from another movie and splice it in?


Answer: I just pulled up this scene on YouTube, and I think it is just the lighting. The shadow from his wife's head is casting onto his right shoulder in a realistic way, which suggests the actor was there for filming. It would also be impractical logistically and economically to insert him after the fact, because they could simply hire another actor for the part if he was unavailable.

Phaneron Premium member

Continuity mistake: When Marty chases after Biff on the borrowed 'skateboard', Marty is wearing a dark grey belt and a red/blue print shirt under his red/beige jacket. However, when Marty is hanging on to the front of Biff's car as they turn a corner (and in another shot), Marty (stunt double) is wearing a light brown belt and solid tan shirt. (01:07:00)

Super Grover Premium member

More mistakes in Back to the Future

Dr. Emmett Brown: Don't worry. As long as you hit that wire with the connecting hook at precisely 88mph the instant the lightning strikes the tower... Everything will be fine.

More quotes from Back to the Future

Trivia: The farm where Marty arrives in 1955 belongs to a man called Peabody, and he calls his son Sherman; the names are a tribute to "Sherman and Mr. Peabody," two cartoon time travellers from a 1960s American TV show.

More trivia for Back to the Future

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