Back to the Future

Question: The ending of Back to the Future, Marty says he's not going to the lake as the car is 'wrecked'. All the family react as if he's talking about the BMW. They rush out and see it is fine. But they know Marty has the Toyota truck - why would they not think he meant his car is wrecked'? I know he says car not "truck" but he's talking about going up to the lake - he wouldn't be going in his Dad's BMW. So is this a mistake or bad script writing? (01:49:00 - 01:51:00)

Answer: Why wouldn't he go in the BMW? Going to the lake doesn't mean off-road driving, it might be a nice paved road all the way to a touristy spot. I don't think it's a mistake or bad writing.

Actually, Biff comes up to him with the keys to his truck, saying it is ready for his trip. So he was going with his truck.


Answer: It would've simply been down to the pure shock of what Marty was saying. The second he said "The car's wrecked", they dropped what they were doing and went to check. They didn't even care about the first part of Marty's sentence at this point, as all that was going through their heads would've been "Has something happened to the car?"

Answer: Marty didn't know about the truck at that point. He was surprised when Biff handed him the keys, so it's not wrong that the family thought he meant the BMW.

Correct, but the family all knew he had the Toyota.

Question: When Biff and his gang are first chasing Marty on the skateboard in 1955, Marty escapes by grabbing the tailgate of a passing pickup truck which tows him around the corner. The gang jumps into Biff's convertible to continue the pursuit, and Biff's convertible actually has a rear-end collision with the pickup truck, barely missing Marty. How is it that the truck driver doesn't even react to all this insane activity and the rear-end collision? Rather than stopping and demanding an explanation, the truck driver continues away from the scene without even slowing down.

Charles Austin Miller

Chosen answer: It's likely any answer would be speculation at best, so it's hard to say. We can start with the fact that Biff barely taps the guy's bumper. He's seen stopping when Marty moves out of the way, although not enough, but I would not call it a "collision." Second, the style of the truck's metal bumper would have absorbed the impact to the point the driver didn't feel anything. In terms of if he actually felt an impact, in an era where you can't just call 9-1-1 on your cell phone to get police help, the man probably thought it prudent not to confront a car full of crazy teenage boys who just wildly rammed him for no reason. And if he did pull over, Biff had already turned the corner and so the man in the truck would have been off camera, so perhaps he does get out and inspect the damage and even sees Biff hit the manure truck, after which we don't know what happened.


Question: What is the make and model of the car that belongs to the McFly family, that Biff wrecks and had towed to the McFly house at the beginning of the film - not the 1941 Ford that 1955 Biff owned.

Answer: The wrecked car towed back to the house was a '78 Nova.

Question: Since Marty's actions led to him not existing, shouldn't no Marty mean that there would have been no Marty to get hit by the car in the first place, meaning that Marty would have just reappeared when he ceased to exist?

Answer: The simple answer is NO. According to the time travel rules established in the films, alternate realities are created when changes are made to the past. Marty continues to exist as long as there's the possibility that he exists in 1985. Small changes don't affect him. Marty only begins to disappear after the past has been altered so significantly that he would *never* exist in the present. But at the time he gets hit by the car, Marty hadn't impacted the timeline enough to assure his non-existence.

JC Fernandez

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: Was it ever revealed in this film, or in either of the sequels, what crime Joey was actually in prison for?

Answer: In film, no (or at least not that I saw). But USA Today released a special "front page wrap" for Oct 22, 2015 with some changes to the movie prop. For example, they expanded the article of Marty Jr.'s arrest, which for the prop was just repeated paragraphs (as newspaper props often have). On the side of the paper under Newsline (which as far as I can tell wasn't part of the original movie prop) it says "Parole Denied Again for Joseph "Joey" Baines, 61, currently serving a 20 year term for racketeering at Folsom Prison. Baines, originally from Hill Valley, has spent some 2/3 of his life behind bars. This is his 12th consecutive parole hearing to end in denial." In the comic book "Back to the Future: Time Served", by Bob Gale, he writes that Joey wanted to join Biff's gang. Biff had Joey break into Doc Brown's mother's home to steal money from her. Joey was caught and arrested for stealing $85K. Since Joey refused to give up Biff, he got a longer sentence.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Back to the Future mistake picture

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

More mistakes in Back to the Future

Marty McFly: Calvin? Why do you keep calling me Calvin?
Lorraine Baines: Well, that is your name, isn't it? Calvin Klein? It's written all over your underwear.

More quotes from Back to the Future
Back to the Future trivia picture

Trivia: In the battle of the bands scene, when Marty introduces The Pinheads, Huey Lewis, who provided "The Power of Love" for the film's soundtrack, plays the second judge from the left, and is the one who eventually says, "You're just too darn loud." (00:07:40)

More trivia for Back to the Future

Join the mailing list

Separate from membership, this is to get updates about mistakes in recent releases. Addresses are not passed on to any third party, and are used solely for direct communication from this site. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Check out the mistake & trivia books, on Kindle and in paperback.