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Back to the Future: Lingering Questions 30 Years Later


Today we’re going to look at one of the biggest, most loveable movie franchises in our lives, the Back to the Future trilogy. Let me get this out of the way first… I love the first movie, really like the second movie, but the third movie, let’s be honest, is at best a C+ movie.

The first movie is one of the best movies of all time. It seems they don’t make movies like Back to the Future anymore…non-epic (think Lord of the Rings series) comedy/action/sci-fi films that appeal to so many different people of all ages and really become a part of our popular culture. The movie itself, being almost thirty years old, still holds up pretty well and doesn’t feel completely dated. I love this movie!

Now, with all that said, as I have gotten older, there have been some lingering questions about the series that I can’t seem to shake, so I thought it would be therapeutic to write about them. Keep in mind that I do love the series and all these questions; they don’t take away from my overall love for this series…aka…the first movie and 65% of the second movie. Below is the personal list of questions I have regarding this series. Maybe some of you share these same questions and maybe some of you could not care less and will not even read any more of this post. I hope you enjoy them…Now, let’s all jump in our cocaine-funded DeLoreans and take a look at this mess I have created: “The Top 13 Questions from Back to the Future That Still Linger.”

13. Besides date rapes, how many attempted murders did Biff try to commit throughout the movie and why was he never arrested?

At the very least, we can say that he tried to commit vehicular manslaughter at least twice, once in the first movie at the cafe, and then again in Part II when Marty and Doc make the no-way-in-hell-that -sports -almanac -book-is-that-small attempt. You can say that the second attempt maybe was unseen, but the first attempt in Part I, was in front of the whole goddamn town. There is no way that the police at the very least wouldn’t detain him and scare the shit out of him before releasing him. Did Biff have Johnny Cochran on retainer? How could he possibly not be charged with something? He crashed into the manure truck whose owner I’m sure would have called the police or something.

12. How jarring is it to see footage of Eric Stoltz playing the part of Marty McFly?

I mean, it’s like watching a home movie that you were a part of, only one of your brothers is now played by somebody else. It’s just really odd to see. According to stories from different podcasts, I have picked up from the actors in the movie that not only was Stoltz horrible, but he also took himself wayyyyyyyyyyy too seriously. I guess he was what you call a “method actor,” where he would stay in character off and on camera. I guess being a method actor is cool if you’re Daniel Day Lewis and you’re playing Abraham Lincoln or Mean Oil Guy in There Will Be Blood, but when you’re playing Marty McFly a character that at the time meant nothing to anybody, how and why would you need to stay in character?  He was probably feeling really actory coming off of playing Rocky Dennis in Mask with his awful, long monologues:

11. Was Mayor Goldie Wilson the worst mayor in the history of mayors?

In any of the universes that we come across in the Back to the Future world, we see a city that needs a change in leadership. In Part I before Marty goes back in time, there’s a porn theater in plain view when he’s chilling by the clock tower, before he gets C-blocked by the old lady hitting him up for change to save the clock tower. Also, on his watch a semi-terrorist attack with the Libyans aimed at Doc happened at the mall in Hill Valley. Seriously, a terrorist attack happened on his watch. In the Biff timeline in Part II, the city is like the world from Escape from New York. Can we assume that Mayor Wilson took huge payoffs from Biff to legalize gambling and assume that also included legalizing prostitution? Isn’t it kind of weird to include that in the first movie? Goldie Wilson is a bus boy we’re supposed to root for because his racist boss says something like “A colored mayor… that will be the day.” You would then think that he would go on and become a great mayor, but instead he becomes an awful mayor who is corrupt and horrible. It’s kind of awkward looking back…a little bit at least. Why even include the mayor sub-plot if he’s going to become a horrible mayor?

10. Did the director/film crew expend the least amount of effort in the history of film trying to convince us Michael J. Fox was singing?

Go back and listen to him “singing”; it’s the biggest case of a voice not matching the body/person since Rick Astley:

Plus, isn’t it kind of weird in the movie that the band would ask him to sing another song after they just watched him completely spazz out and start to disappear? I mean, seriously didn’t one member of the band look over during “Earth Angel” and see that Marty’s hand was disappearing? Wouldn’t that have prompted the band to stop playing and see if he was okay, or at the very least, wouldn’t they have been so startled they would just be paralyzed with fear?

Would that band really be eager to continue playing with Calvin Klein? You would think they would have treated him the way Van Halen treated David Lee Roth and would have just kicked him out of the band immediately. It seemed a little weird that they rolled the dice and gave him a green light to play his own song.

9. Why does Marty only give himself ten f***ing minutes to go back and save Doc from the drive-by shooting?

If you remember in the movie (the first one) that when Doc tears up the letter that Marty wrote him which warns about the Libyans shooting him, he Michael-J.-Foxes out and says something along of the lines of: “Hey, I have a time machine; I can go back and warn him.” So knowing that Doc is going to be shot to death, he gives himself ten minutes? I mean, that’s really douchey of Marty, right? What the hell would Marty have been able to do with ten minutes? Hey, jerk-off, your friend is about to die a horrible death; why don’t you give yourself more than ten goddamn minutes? Maybe give yourself a couple of hours to play it safe and to know you won’t run into yourself.

It seems as if he is playing a little fast and loose with Doc’s life. Giving yourself ten extra minutes is something you do for a work meeting or doctor’s appointment, but not for saving your friend from a gruesome death at the hands of terrorists. This questions leads right into our next question.

8. Why doesn’t Doc take a wee bit more precaution when finding out that he’s going to be murdered by the Libyans?

So, we all know that Doc changes his views on knowing his own destiny or future when we find out that he taped the letter that Marty had written him in 1955 back together. Knowing that…his only precaution is to wear a bullet proof vest? What if they shot him in the head? Was he really willing to gamble on that? Was Doc suicidal and we just didn’t know it? He was basically playing Russian roulette like Walken in The Deer Hunter.

Maybe don’t steal plutonium for them, or come up with another plan altogether. You would think in his place that you would avoid any chance whatsoever of being shot with automatic weapons, vest or no vest. You would think that with thirty years to plan for this situation, you would come up with a better plan than doing everything the exact same way except getting a bullet proof vest that may or may not save your life.

7. Why are the Hill Valley Telegraphs headlines so trivial?

It seems like this is a paper that covers the national news because in the first movie, when Marty first goes back to 1955, he finds the newspaper with Eisenhower on the front page. As the movies go on it seems like the front page of the Telegraph gets more and more ridiculous.  Why would an article commending Doc be a front page story? Have you ever picked up a newspaper that had a doctor getting commended being the front page story? That seems like a pretty lame story. Or how about the huge headline “BIFF WINS AGAIN”? Would that really be the headline of a newspaper? I mean, on the same page, you have a story about Khrushchev and missiles, so you know it’s more than just some mom and pop newspaper; it seems weird to have a headline about a gambler that did well at the track. Wouldn’t Calvin Klein’s disappearance be a front page story in the paper as well? I mean, Biff’s winning at the track is, so you would think that a teenager going missing would grab some headlines, right? Maybe I’m wrong, but does lightning striking a clock tower really warrant front page news? The fun doesn’t stop at the Hill Valley Telegraph, though. In Part II, we get the USA Today (obligatory corporate sponsorship) headline, “Gang Jailed,” in regards to Marty McFly, Jr. destroying the courthouse. USA Today wouldn’t sell a single paper with a story about some teen who slightly damages a courthouse. I mean, it’s a national newspaper, right?

6. Was there a serious case of incest in the McFly family tree?

There’s not a lot to talk about here, but let’s just assume based on what we see in Back to the Future 3 that at the very least the incest started then.!quotes/

Can we just assume that cousins married cousins as the best case scenario with the worst case scenario being brother marrying sister grossness happening? And why in Back to the Future 3 would the ancestors look like Marty and Lorraine but not George McFly in any way. I’m sure it had nothing to do with Crispin Glover being a weirdo and the movie producers not wanting to have anything to do with him moving forward after Part I, but still…I mean, couldn’t they have made an effort and cast Charlie Sheen or Josh Brolin in the role of Seamus McFly with maybe Kelly Preston as Maggie McFly?

5. Why was the sports almanac so small?

Seriously, look how thick that thing is!!!!! If you remember in Back to the Future 2, old Biff has to prove to younger Biff that he is telling the truth with the almanac; he turns on the radio to a random college football game and correctly predicts the score. So, are we to believe that the almanac had the results of every sporting event from that century? I mean, if you just look at a college football season, there are twelve games played (not counting bowl games) each year. How many colleges have a football team in this country? I would guess three hundred, which means, in 1955, there could be 3,600 scores multiplied by 45(years) for just one sport! You would already have a pretty big book. Now take into account that the almanac is supposed to have the result of every sport for the next forty-five years…we would be talking about a pretty big book, certainly bigger than the fourteen-page paperback that gets passed around in this movie. Even horse races are covered in that book, which we know because it’s implied that Biff won all his money at the track, but do you know how many horse races there are in a week? There are a lot. There is no way in hell a sports almanac would cover horse races that aren’t named the Kentucky Derby.

A book that truly had all that we’re to believe it has would probably weigh about one hundred and sixty pounds. It would be a pain in the ass to carry around. It would, in fact, probably take two to three fairly in-shape guys to carry around a book like that and there would be no way in hell that an old, decrepit Biff would be able to steal that book and bring it back to 1955.

4. What was the lingering aftermath of Biff trying to date rape Lorraine?

Obviously, we know (according to Back to the Future 2) that Biff, after getting knocked out, went driving and crashed into the shit for the 18th time in the series. What happened the next day? Did Lorraine not press charges? Did she press charges, but due to a lack of evidence, the police decided not to press charges? Did Biff’s gang of street toughs think he went too far and overthrow him as leader, naming Billy Zane as leader in a coup d’état?  Wouldn’t Biff want another piece of George McFly, like literally, the next day? I mean, I wouldn’t call George’s punch a sucker punch, but you would think Biff wouldn’t underestimate him again in a McFly vs. Tannon Rumble in the Jungle 2, right? I mean, half the school, it appears, saw what happened that night with Biff, and so you would think Biff’s reputation would have taken a major hit. At some point he had such a dramatic shift that he became the wimpy guy that waxes the Mcflys’ cars? Would that mean that he made amends with George sometime in the late 70’s/ early 80’s?

3. Was George McFly f***ing furious when he noticed his youngest son looked identical to Calvin Klein?

At that point did he decide to hire Biff (more on this soon) to get back at Lorraine? I mean, how would George McFly not immediately divorce Lorraine when it’s clear that Marty is the love child of Lorraine and Calvin? Or how would he not figure out that something was amiss when Calvin asked them not to go too hard on their kid if he accidently burns the carpet one day….wouldn’t that have been one huge f***king trigger for George? I mean, Calvin would be someone they wouldn’t forget about over time like he was just another classmate or something; he was the guy that got him together with the supposed “love of his life”. He would remember Calvin forever.

Every story they would tell about their love would have to include Calvin Klein. God forbid that somebody took a picture of Calvin in 1955 for the yearbook or something; George would come across that at some point and realize that not only is Calvin alive, but he secretly knocked up Lorraine after they already had a couple of kids.

2. What was the aftermath of Calvin Klein’s absence after the Enchantment under the Sea dance?

Was there an investigation? Was Doc Brown a suspected child murderer? You would think that the investigation would focus on Doc since he was known to have been housing Calvin. This would have led to a lot of uncomfortable questions for Doc, which would have led to him probably being charged because you don’t need a body to be charged with murder; at the very least, it would have made him the town pariah. There’s no way Doc would have been able to live in Hill Valley after that, right? He would have had to move, which then would have altered the future, meaning Marty would never have met Doc, which in turn would mean that Marty would never have gone back to the future, which would mean……I just confused myself and I don’t know what that means if Doc and Marty would never have met…Somebody help me, please.

Do you think that Calvin Klein’s disappearance would have put a strain on George and Lorraine’s relationship or brought them together more? Do you think they had a candle-light vigil for Calvin in front of the school? I would like to think Calvin’s disappearance really rallied Hill Valley together. Maybe that story would have been covered in the town newspaper? Maybe everybody in the town would have started wearing “Where’s Calvin?” shirts?

The biggest lingering question I have about Back to the Future is:

1. Why would George McFly hire the guy who attempted to date rape his wife?

Why would he want an attempted rapist around his kids? Why would he want to put his wife through that on a regular basis? I’ve briefly talked about this in some past blog, but was George McFly playing some mental warfare against Lorraine Baines-McFly because he saw that Marty grew up to look identical to Calvin Klein? Was he trying to send her some creepy message? Why else would he want to do that to the love of his life? I mean, I would guess almost getting raped would trigger some pretty negative emotions for Lorraine, so having the perpetrator at her house casually washing their cars seems like it would be problematic.

I know the McFlys have a daughter, and maybe she’s not the best looking girl in the world, but as a parent would you want your kid around somebody that tried to date rape your mom? Did they talk to Marty and the rest of their kids before Biff would come over saying: “Hey kids, Daddy hired this guy I went to high school with to come over and wash the cars. Now back in high school, this man was quite the bully, and in fact, one night he drank a little and tried to date rape your mother, but all that is water under the bridge now. Here’s some rape whistles.”

This just seems like the biggest stretch in the whole trilogy to me because there is no way a father is going to put his wife and children in the presence of a person who tried to sexually assault their mother and who was witnessed trying to kill someone with their car. It just wouldn’t happen under any circumstances.

So there is my list. I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know in the comment section below if you have your own questions that linger from this movie. Thanks again for reading!!!

  • jeremiahp

    Great job Scott! I will never look at the series the same again!

    • Scott Gallagher

      Thank’s dude, i appreciate it.

  • fotopoulosalex

    Good questions, but here’s the most important question in my opinion. At the end of BTTF 1 we see Marty return to 1985 to watch himself be sent to the past. However the Marty we see in that scene is a completely different Marty. That Marty grew up in the new and improved timeline. That Marty grew up hearing stories about Calvin Klein and his dad punching out Biff. So whenever that Marty get’s sent to the past he has to have a completely different experience right? That’s the question I have pondered for years and years.

    • Scott Gallagher

      Yep, I almost covered that one but my head started exploding thinking about all the ramifications….

      • smeddy

        This really need to be covered though! If you ever do, please re p my to this message!

  • Samantha

    I believe I have various times questioned why Marty only chose 10 minutes. But this article really made me wonder. I sort of shrugged it off or didn’t notice.

  • Samantha

    More questions I have while watching:

    -What happened to the Lybians after they crashed? Just left them there?

    – Also same question lots wondered about the alternate future and how many timelines there were. Bob said it was one timeline, but then that theoretically would cause multiple Marty’s showing up ten minutes before Doc was shot. Apparently this is possible seeing that throughout the series characters are able to be in the same location w/ their other selves. The explanation given is that it just somehow corrected itself and Marty meshed with the other Marty from the alternate future and he will eventually gain the memories as well. Okie doke