Continuity mistake: When Marty goes back from 1955 to 1885 and meets the Indians, note that none of the Indians shoots any arrows nor do any arrow hit the car. You can see that when he drives the car back into the cave. But when he gets back to the cave after the Cavalry ride, a long arrow sticks out on the side of the car.
00:18:10 - 00:20:00
Factual error: At the end of the train scene just before Marty travels to 1985, the train busts through a road block warning that there's only 1/4 mile of track left before the ravine. Keep in mind that the train is travelling at approximately 70-80 mph by this time. At 70 mph (and not even accelerating) it would only take the train 13 seconds to reach the ravine. The actual time in the movie is at least a minute.
Deliberate mistake: When Marty is being chased by the Indians, a wide shot with the DeLorean at the bottom of the screen coming towards us and the Indians following reveals the entire background for a mile or two. However, there are no cavalry visible anywhere despite the fact that they pass over the cave in the following shot only five seconds after the last Indian does.
00:19:15 - 00:20:20
Revealing mistake: When Marty and Shamus are sharing a meal at the dinner table, Shamus passes Marty the plate of rabbit. As Shamus hand moves away to let go of the plate, to the bottom right hand corner of the plate, a purple patch appears briefly where the two M. J. Fox actors interact, an error with the Vistaglide camera tech used back then. Easier to spot on Blu Ray Version, better than DVD.
Continuity mistake: When Doc's about to send Marty back to 1885 from 1955, and Marty's dressed up...when Doc's walking back and forth loading up the car - look at the shadow from the building. You see it changes by several feet in a few seconds as the scene was obviously shot throughout the day.
Factual error: In 1885, Hill Valley and its surrounding areas are shown as having a desert climate, when in both 1955 and 1985, the climate is grassland. In reality, Nevada County, California (where Hill Valley is supposed to be located) is and always has been grassland and forests, not arid desert.
Revealing mistake: At the very end of this film, Doc appears in his locomotive time machine. In every shot the plate which says 'ELB' changes color. From red to orange. You would say this is a change in light angle, but when the locomotive rises and turns, you can see every angle of this plate and in every angle this plate is red.
Other mistake: When Marty returns to 1985 from 1885 the time machine is destroyed by a train. What is strange is that not only does the train not stop (which is mandatory in the event of an accident) but there is also no reaction from people nearby, such as those in the vehicles waiting to cross the track at the level crossing. Later, when Marty returns to the site with Jennifer, there is still no sign of police officers or other officials.
Continuity mistake: When Marty is inside the cave (where he hides the DeLorean), keep a close eye on the huge landscape and very large mountains behind Marty when he is screaming at the bear. The entire background changes when he runs out of the cave to just a few hundred yards of ground before it drops down, where Marty falls into the fence. What happened to the vast landscape and mountains?
Factual error: When the red Presto-log is burning, rivets begin to blow out of the locomotive, supposedly from the pressure. The rivets in the boiler, which would be subjected to pressure, are not visible on the outside of a locomotive. The rivets which are seen to blow out in the movie are in the smokebox, an area which is subjected to heat and smoke, but no steam pressure.
Factual error: Each time one of the special Presto-logs begins to burn the locomotive suddenly accelerates. In real life the logs would heat the water faster and generate more steam, but there would be an appreciable time-lag between the time the logs begin to burn and the engine accelerates. Also, train engines must accelerate slowly. If too much power is applied the drive wheels merely spin on the rails.
Continuity mistake: When Doc has just consumed the 'wake up juice' and runs out of the bar and dunks his head in the horse trough, Marty and the bartender come out after him. You can see that Doc is now soaked and a trail of water is on the ground behind him from a previous take of Marty dragging him back in the bar, which hasn't happened yet at this stage. Only really noticeable in the cropped version.
Continuity mistake: When Doc and Marty are chasing the train on horseback, Doc gets on the train first and his horse pulls forward. Then when the camera shows Marty on his horse, another horse can be seen in front of him. When Marty jumps on the train, his horse falls back. But in the next shot you can still see the horse as it moves off camera.
Visible crew/equipment: After Marty runs out of the saloon in 1885 into the street he gets dragged by Buford. As he is being dragged you can see a film crew running beside him. If you have the box set you can kind of see shorts, legs and sneakers, but if you have an older version or see the movie on TV you can see 2 people and the camera.
Factual error: The steam locomotive in the film is of a 4-6-0 wheel arrangement and is lettered as Central Pacific no. 131. The Central Pacific did have 4-6-0 engines in 1885, but according to the company's locomotive roster, the number 131 belonged to an engine of a 4-4-0 wheel arrangement. Also when the locomotive is uncoupled it shows a Janney (fist style coupler) - that style wasn't invented until 1890. The locomotive would have used a pin and link style connection.
Continuity mistake: When the Doc enters the destination time into the time circuits when he is sending Marty to 1885 from 1955, the time/date etc. Go in as he's typing it. However, in the previous films and later in the 3rd film when traveling back to 1985, the enter button must be pressed before anything appears for the destination time.
Factual error: In the scene where Doc and Clara are playing with a telescope at night, the moon is seen twice. The phase of the moon appears to be a waning gibbous. Though the phase of the moon on the night of September 5th, 1885 at pacific time was waning, it was actually a waning crescent, a much different looking phase of the moon. I looked this up on the United States Naval Observatory website.
Continuity mistake: In the scene where Marty is driving the black Toyota pickup at the end of the movie, the truck's registration plate is missing - it can be seen when the truck is in the garage at the start of the film. Also the driver's door quarter light (vent window) is open. When we see the inside of the door it is closed.
Character mistake: At the ravine, upon learning that the bridge doesn't exist yet, Marty states to Doc "We can't wait a year and a half for this to be built". If you carefully look at the sign, it says the bridge is opening Summer 1886. That's under a year away, not a year and a half from Sept. 1885.
Continuity mistake: In the end scene where Doc's train comes back to 1985, Marty and Jennifer are literally blown away by the re-emergence of the train. While they are flying in mid-air, the front of the train is passing them by and gets just about to the cab (where the ELB is). However in the next cut, Marty and Jennifer are on the ground watching as the train just starts passing them again, and the train comes to rest at a point before the previous "blown away" cut scene.
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