Back to the Future Part III

Question: I have a question, I don't know if it's true or not but I have heard about this for years after Part III was released. Had Crispin Glover decided to do the sequels, would he have had the role of Shamus McFly in Part III, or once Glover turned down the sequels, then it was decided that Michael J. Fox would play the part of Sheamus once Part III was greenlit? Or was it always going to be Fox playing the role of Sheamus regardless if Glover came back for the sequels or not?

Answer: In an interview, actor Jeffrey Weissman (the actor who replaced Glover as George McFly) mentioned Glover was slated to play Shamus since Lea Thompson, who played Lorraine (Marty's mom) also played Maggie (Shamus' wife). So it made sense the Mom and Dad would play the great-Grandparents. However, without the heavy makeup and prosthetics to look like Glover, the film makers thought having Weissman playing the role would look too unrecognizable that the audience wouldn't know who he was. In a side note, the scene of elderly George hanging upside down in BTTF 2 was written with Crispin Glover in mind as payback.


Question: On the movie timeline website it says that on November 6 2012 America elected a female President, and that this fact comes from Back To The Future Part III. Where in the film is this mentioned?

Answer: It's actually mentioned in Part II, when Marty and Doc are reading the newspaper. If you look at the headlines on the left side of the page, one of them reads, "President says she's tired of..." As this is in 2015, pending changes to US election dates, she must have been elected on November 6th 2012.

Question: What is the name of the music that plays right after the mayor gives his speech at the clock dedication?


Answer: The song is called "Battle Cry Of Freedom" written in 1862 by American composer George Frederick Root during the American Civil War.

Chosen answer: The song (right after the mayor's speech) is actually "Nearer, My God, to Thee" of Titanic infamy, but with an upbeat tempo. This plays the moment the clock is engaged and ends after the photograph is taken.

Question: Doc seemed hell-bent on destroying the DeLorean. So why did he go to the future and get a hover conversion done on the train? Why didn't he just build the train, return to his own time and then destroy the train?

Answer: Quite a bit of time has passed for Doc since Marty went back to the future; he and Clara are married and have two children who look between six and ten years old. Plenty of time for him to change his mind and decide he likes the time traveling life with his family.

Answer: He didn't return to the Old West, both of them had a desire to go to the final frontier. Their favorite author is Jules Verne, who wrote "From Earth to the Moon."

Answer: Doc was happy living in the Old West but returned to the future to collect his dog, Einstein, and he didn't want Marty to worry about him. He probably also wanted to make sure that Marty had made it safely back to his own time, to properly say goodbye, and make sure the DeLorean was never used again. He never indicated he would destroy the train, only the DeLorean. The hover conversion on the train would have been done in the Old West, not in the future.


I doubt he was able to make the train hover in the old west, whilst he could easily go to the future with it and do it there, like he did with the DeLorean. He did say he has been to the future with it, so it's logical to assume that's where he upgraded it.


Doc never says he went further into the future with the train or did the hover conversion there. If he could build a time-traveling locomotive in the 1880s, then he could create a hovering one, as he had the knowledge. Marty asks if he's going back to the future, and Doc says no because he's already been there. That could be interpreted a number of ways. It's a sci-fi movie, and there is a lot of suspension of disbelief employed here.


While the movie isn't explicit about when or where the Time Train was built, other sources do indicate its hoverconversion was done in the future. While Doc could invent a machine that was capable of time travel (the mechanics of which aren't really discussed), he had to travel to the future to convert the DeLorean and couldn't even fix the DeLorean in the past.


What 'other sources' indicate Doc travelled to the future for the hover conversion? Any fan speculation is invalid. I also don't get the argument. While Doc was unable to fix the DeLorean when Marty was in the Old West, he could, and did, in later years, build the time-travel train in the past. He could not otherwise have gone anywhere into the future to do anything. Time-travelling without the hover ability would be extremely difficult as a locomotive would be noticeable and require taking off and landing on empty train tracks. Doc would have to hide the locomotive while converting it. He would also have to know before time-travelling that the railroad tracks he took off on still existed in the future, as he could possibly arrive smashing into what became an urban development. This should be considered as both a deliberate plot hole and a plot device using "suspension of disbelief" solely intended to give the series a spectacular finale.


The comics reveal that Doc Brown traveled to 2017 in a prototype time machine and purchased materials which he brought back with him to the 1890s to use on the Time Train.

Question: Just before Doc shows his plan with the DeLorean and the train Marty checks the walkie-talkies and Doc confirms it that they work. How are they able to get the walkie-talkies to work in 1885? I'm thinking Doc invented something so Doc and Marty can communicate with each other with them.

Answer: Doc from 1955 told Marty "just in case, fresh batteries for your Walkie-Talkies."

Kevin l Habershaw

Answer: Given Doc's scientific ability (and some suspension of disbelief) it would be easy enough to rig up a makeshift battery that would last long enough. Or indeed they've just got lucky and the walkie-talkies' batteries still have enough life in them. They're not mobile phones, they don't need masts or any infrastructure, they just connect directly to each other.

Jon Sandys

Like you said, walkie-talkies work independently of any infrastructure, which is what I think the question was more about. However, the battery was invented way before 1885 with the first lead acid rechargeable battery being invented in 1859 with pasted electrode batteries being invented in the 1880's. So it's less about Doc rigging up a battery and just using what's already available or charging the batteries it came with (if we are assuming the batteries ran out of power).


The best batteries they had in those days were crude, wet batteries made out of earthenware and filled with sulphuric acid. They were cumbersome, dangerous and didn't have a lot of voltage or low current. Hardly suitable for a walkie-talkie that needs at least 9 volts. But I suppose it's possible Doc had some charged self-made batteries sitting at home to keep them going.


Definitely not "crude", certainly not as advanced as today, but the lead acid battery is the same technology a lot of batteries use today. They even had electric vehicles prior to 1885. My point was Doc didn't have to invent technology that didn't exist (as opposed to what some say he would have to do to get an 80's camcorder to play on a 50's TV). They had rechargeable batteries back then so it wouldn't be a stretch that Doc could recharge the batteries he had.


Answer: 1955 Doc got him some new batteries ("Just in case, fresh batteries for your walkie talkie. Oh what about that floating device?") They only used them on the train so the batteries would still be charged. In regards to how they work, they don't rely on phone masts, satellites, WiFi etc as they send radio waves to each other and not to any sort of base station.

Question: Marty shows Doc in 1885 the image of the tombstone, and he says that he wished he'd paid Buford off. Why can't he just round up 80 dollars to give to Buford and apologise for not doing that in the first place?

Answer: Adjusting for inflation, $80 back in 1885 is equivalent to about $2,143.65 today. Not something you can just conjure up easily, least of all back then. And Marty couldn't just take 1985 money back to 1885 and expect people to accept it.

Quantom X

Except that Doc was in 1885 and could have just gone to the bank and withdrew the $80's.

How? He arrives in 1885 and magically has the equivalent of $2,100 already in a bank account? He presumably borrowed it from Buford in the first place precisely because he didn't have that much cash available.

Doc didn't borrow money from Buford. He time-traveled with a briefcase filled with currencies from different time periods, including the 1800s. Doc had shoed Buford's horse for $5, for which Buford never paid him. When one shoe later came off later, causing Buford to be thrown, Buford shot the horse and demanded Doc pay him $75 for it and $5 for a broken bottle of whiskey.


Where would have get the $80 from? You're assuming he had the $80 available to him. The bank wouldn't just give out the money for free.

You can't take out $80 in 1985 money, and give it to someone in 1885. It would look like play money to them. U.S. currency looked a lot different back then.


Well he could technically get that amount worth in gold or silver.


And, as stated, since Doc was in 1885, more specifically, eight months in 1885, he could have just taken the money out of the bank considering he had a job as a blacksmith.

In Back to the Future 2, Doc shows Marty a briefcase full of money from different time periods, including various mid-1800 currencies, that he carried with him in the DeLorean. (There are online screen shots of the contents.) Doc refused to pay Tannen the $80 because he never owed it to him. Tannen was extorting him.


Answer: Buford was a crazed gunfighter, even if they paid off the $80 that wouldn't have satisfied him. He loved to shoot and kill. He wanted a showdown to show people he is to be feared and not messed with.

Question: At the end of the film, which Clint Eastwood is Dave McFly referring to when he tells Marty "Who are you supposed to be, Clint Eastwood? Was he referring to the real Clint Eastwood or to 1885 Clint Eastwood? (Marty's alias in 1885).

Answer: Since Marty is dressed the same way Clint's character in the spaghetti westerrns was, I pretty sure he was referring to the real Clint Eastwood.

Gavin Jackson

Answer: The joke is that Marty as Clint Eastwood has become a historical figure, known probably only in their town. His clothes are probably most remembered, so Dave thinks he is impersonating him.


Question: Why does Doc send Marty back to September 2nd? Doc gets shot on the 7th, so this is a very short timetable to work with.

Answer: The letter that Marty received in 1955 was dated September 1st, 1885; sending Marty back any earlier than that date could potentially cause a time paradox, which was something Doc took great care to avoid throughout the majority of the film trilogy.


Marty can go back anytime in the 8 months and tell Doc that he will be murdered and to send a letter that was dated September 1st.

Answer: No one expected that the DeLorean's fuel tank would end up becoming damaged. If it weren't for that, Doc and Marty would had been able to return back to 1985 immediately.


Question: If Doc doesn't have a gravestone in the end, how is Marty from the beginning of the movie aware that he must go save his friend in 1885 instead of jumping straight to 1985?

Answer: The BTTF universe establishes time and again that time travel does not change the existing timeline, but rather creates alternate timelines. So even if Marty changes the past, it creates a new timeline independent of the one he left. So he can erase the gravestone that led him to 1885 without causing a paradox.

Answer: Even if the other answer is true, he wouldn't have needed to know that his friend died to go back and get him. Before you say Doc wouldn't have wanted to go back because he had settled in 1885, he only settled because he found that he couldn't fix the Delorean.

Question: In 1955 when Doc and Marty are in the outdoor cinema and Marty is accelerating to 88mph to jump back in time to 1885, doc shouts something to him in celebration as Marty Drives past him, he also fires his gun in the air... Do you know what he shouts? The subtitles just say "shouts something in Spanish" but id love to know what he said and what it means?


Chosen answer: "Vaya con dios!", Spanish for "Go with God".


Answer: The subtitles are wrong! I always heard him shout "to the ends of the Earth " A reference to Jules Verne (keeping that theme running all through the third movie) and to Marty's adventures. Not only is this what I've heard every time I've watched this film, but it makes much more sense.

This is incorrect. He does in fact yell "Vaya con dios." The scene is available on Youtube and he can be seen and heard saying it at the 2:47 mark.

Question: I don't know if this is true or just an urban legend, but did Michael Jackson body double (from the waist down) for the moonwalk/dance moves that Marty did during the scene where Mad Dog Tannen shot at his feet?

Answer: There appears to be purely an urban legend. While the repeated use of lower-body shots does suggest that Michael J Fox didn't perform the moves himself, there's no evidence that indicates that it was Jackson himself who stepped in. In the end, the moonwalk is not actually a particularly complicated dance move; if Fox didn't do it himself, it would not have been difficult for the production to locate somebody with a matching build who could do the steps.


Question: Doc Brown shows up at the end of part three with his wife Clara, his two boys, and a time-traveling, hovercraft-converted train. How did he build it? There was nothing in 1885 that could even begin to help him build another time-machine! And don't tell me that he used Marty's 'hoverboard' as parts, because that doesn't wash.


Chosen answer: Time machines don't actually exist, so who are we to say whether or not the parts to build another time machine are available? Doc Brown is an inventor. Doc had the knowledge of how to build a time machine having built the original machine into a DeLorean, Doc also appears to have had a few years to come up with a way of building a time machine into a train, given that he now has children who appear to be around 5 years old. Plus, remember that the fridge in Doc's shop was much bigger than a modern fridge, and a steam train is way bigger than a DeLorean.

Blair Howden

Answer: Doc's consistent problem was finding high-energy power sources for his inventions. But, actually, materials and technology did exist in the late 19th Century to construct extremely high-energy components. If Doc Brown had contacted electrical geniuses of the day (such as Nikola Tesla, who was already working in high-energy physics, radio and and X-ray technology in the 1890s), he could have certainly acquired the materials to reconstruct the Flux Capacitor and back-engineer hover pads for his time-travelling locomotive. As we saw earlier in the film, he was quite capable of back-engineering 1980s electronics using 1950s components (when he repaired the DeLorean).

Charles Austin Miller

Question: Why does everyone say that using parts of the DeLorean that Doc had buried in the abandoned mine could create a time paradox? Firstly, that is never stated in the actual movie. Secondly, if say Marty and Doc use the part on the buried DeLorean to fix the DeLorean that broke due to the explosion caused by the extremely strong alcohol and then again try to run the DeLorean using alcohol that's not so strong, the 1955 Doc would be able to obtain the missing piece of the buried DeLorean. So, technically, there's a plot hole. Why then does everyone say that that's not possible?

Answer: If they dug up the buried DeLorean and stripped it for parts to repair the other one, then it would become non-functional. As such, with no replacement parts being available in 1955, Marty would not then be able to use it to come back in time to rescue Doc - which he's already done. There's your paradox.


Answer: But it's not a paradox is it. They blew the fuel injection manifold which Doc says would take him a month to rebuild, that's using 1885 technology and parts. Simply swap out the manifold off the buried car, put the broken one on the seat, and 1955 Doc would inspect it and figure out that it needs repairing (which would take far less time using 1955 technology and parts). They could also go to Western Union and change the letter to read that the fuel injection manifold needs a repair as well. If they stole the DeLorean' engine then yes they'd be a paradox as the very earliest replacement wouldn't be available until 1974. But stealing parts that would be available in 1955 would not cause any paradox as they could simply replace them.

Question: After the pie tin toss, why does Tannen call Marty Mr. Parsley after he say "mighty strong words, runt"?

Answer: You misheard the line: Buford Tannen says "You man enough to back 'em up with more than just a pie plate?" - "just a pie plate", not "Mr Parsley".


Question: When they discover they have no gasoline for the DeLorean, they go through all sorts of trouble to get it up to 88mph. Now it's obvious things fade away and into existence in this movie, as it did with the newspapers and matchbook. Wouldn't it have made more sense to go to the mine where the time machine was buried and write on the wood, "Bring can of gas"? Wouldn't a can of gas then materialize in the trunk of the DeLorean and they could go home?

Carl Missouri

Chosen answer: There's already been enough meddling with the timeline without deliberately resorting to that sort of thing. If they can get the car up to speed with the stuff they've got available to them in that time period, it's the safest option to take.


Question: Why did Clara go mental at Doc for saying he was from the future? He'd dropped a few hints! He'd told her he has an interest in science, he had a huge refrigerator in his building, he had another big thing covered up under a sheet, he said he read Jules Verne when he was a boy despite it only been recently published. Was she not even a little bit curious? Doc could have easily stopped her during her rant saying he can prove it but didn't.

Answer: Because she thought he didn't like her and was making a bizarre excuse to avoid her. Come on. 'I'm a man from the future, so we can't be together ' sounds like a pretty flimsy excuse.

Brian Katcher

Question: Doc gets Marty back home. Then seconds later Marty appears again. He shows Doc the letter he wrote. So Marty goes back to 1885 to save him. They make a big deal of having to repair the DeLorean that was buried in the cave. But why can't they use the DeLorean that Marty just used to get back to 1955?

Answer: Because Marty didn't "just" arrive, he was already there, having come back from the alternate 1985 with Doc in the previous film. The DeLorean they used to get to 1955 is the one that is struck by lightning while Marty's on the ground, and sent Doc to 1885. He cannot repair it with the resources available in 1885, so he hides it in the cave with instructions that his 1955 self will use to fix it.

Question: When towing the car across the desert, why did Marty keep checking the speedometer? Did he really expect a horse to gallop at 88MPH?

Answer: At that point in the film, Doc and Marty were looking for any possible means to move the DeLorean regardless of how fast it could actually go; while using horses may have been an unlikely option, Doc and Marty were just grasping at straws at that point and were willing to try anything.


But then Doc says that even the fastest horse in the world could only run at 35 mph so why even try it.

Answer: They were using the horses to get the DeLorean from the cave to the town. Why not test the speedo at the same time?

Question: When Doc and Marty hijack the train, they are both wearing masks. Marty zooms straight ahead as the train behind him goes off the tracks and explodes at the bottom of Shonash Ravine. When he comes back to 1985 there's a sign that says Eastwood Ravine. How could the people of Hill Valley know Clint Eastwood was on that train when he immediately took off and disappeared after defeating Buford Tannen?

Answer: In the novelization, the people of Hill Valley believed that 'Clint Eastwood' died trying to save the train from the bandits and was remembered as a hero.

Answer: Presumably, Doc, who remained behind in the 1880s, and Clara gave their version of the story about "Clint Eastwood" and influenced the naming of the ravine.


Question: Marty tells Doc that they are out of fuel as the fuel line ripped on the car. Wouldn't it have made more sense for them to uncover the DeLorean that Doc buried, put a piece of paper on the seat with a note saying something like... "Oh Marty, I forgot to mention in my letter that the car needs some extra fuel. Keep a can of gas with you in the car at all times" - Hey presto, Marty would have arrived with extra fuel! Now obviously I hear you shouting "continuity" and "It would be an alternate timeline like in part 2" - But that didn't stop Biff taking the car back to the 2015 Doc and Marty were in, despite Doc later saying if they travelled into the future it would be the rich Biff reality.

Answer: Although Biff in part 2 is its own set of problems, the answer to your question actually doesn't have anything to do with continuity or alternate timelines. They can't risk disturbing the Delorean that Doc burried in any way. It has to remain exactly as it is, otherwise at best Marty is stuck in 1955, or at worst they create a paradox that destroys the universe. It is best to ignore the buried Delorean, any attempts to get to it could lead to it being damaged, or even worse could lead to it being discovered in the 70 years it has to remain in that mine.


Answer: It would have been easier for Marry and Doc to go down to Western Union and ask for a second letter to be delivered with the first. The letter would say "Ignore the comment in the first letter about not going back to 1885, please come to 1885 and bring some extra fuel with you"

Factual error: When Marty goes to meet Mad Dog Tannen for the duel, in the background on the right side is the current flag of California. But that flag did not become the state flag of California until 1911, so would not have been around in 1885.

More mistakes in Back to the Future Part III

Doc: Marty, the idea that I could fall in love at first sight! It's romantic nonsense. There's no scientific rationale for it.
Marty: Come on, Doc. It's not science. You meet the right girl it just hits you. It's like lightning.
Doc: Marty, please don't say that.

More quotes from Back to the Future Part III
More trivia for Back to the Future Part III

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.