main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Characters: Back to the Future


Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox)

This is heavy!

Emmett Lathrop "Doc" Brown (Christopher Lloyd)


  • Absent-Minded Professor
  • Adorkable: Especially in Part III, when he sees Clara at the dance.
  • Age Lift / Dawson Casting: Christopher Lloyd was only 48 when he filmed the role for the 71 year old Doc Brown. Probably done on purpose so when Marty goes back to 1955 and meets the 41 year old Doc Brown they look the same, except for aging make-up in 1985, which was dropped in the other parts as Doc underwent a rejuvenating process. They also replaced his spleen and colon.
  • Badass Longcoat: In Part III.
  • Berserk Button: Two, each corresponding to an important person in his life.
    • When Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen implies he's going to sexually assault Clara, Doc wrestles away from Tannen's Mooks, curses at him, and strides forward like he's about to start something.
    • When Tannen shoots Marty and then laughs about it, Doc looks like he's about ready to bite his head off.
  • Bungling Inventor: Strictly speaking, the time machines are the only inventions of his that work.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He may be eccentric but he's also on par with his scientific heroes in terms of intelligence.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: All it takes is a single shot of whiskey, and he's out like a light.
  • Catch Phrase: "Great SCOTT!!"
  • Cloudcuckoolander: He is famous for his quirky and eccentric personality.
  • Cool Old Guy: The guy's built a Time Machine out of a rather poor car, for starters.
  • Deuteragonist: Although, Doc is arguably the main character of the third film.
  • Einstein Hair: How did he get his hair to stick out like that?
    • The game expends on this. During the 1931 HV Science Expo. Young Emmett is driving his flying rocket powered car, which explodes violently. When Emmett exits the expo, his hairs became like his movie counterpart, as a result of the explosion ( which he didn't have before ). He comments that after when happened, he's banned from the expo for at least 50 years.
  • Fan of the Past: Particularly the Old West.
  • For Science!
  • Five-Temperament Ensemble:Sanguine
  • Friendless Background: at the time of the films, he has only Marty and his pet dogs, because no one in Hill Valley wants to come near "crazy old man Brown."
  • Gadgeteer Genius
  • Gentleman Adventurer
  • Going Native
  • Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: Played with. Doc is rarely seen without a tacky luau shirt, and he is a tourist.
  • Herr Doktor: Doc technically falls under this, as his father is German.
  • Hot-Blooded: Even more so when he's 17.
  • If My Calculations Are Correct: When Doc's baby hits 88 miles per hour, you're gonna see some serious shit.
  • Indy Ploy
  • Intergenerational Friendship: It's a credit to the actors that we, as viewers, don't question why a skater punk and some old guy would hang out together.
    • The original script had a line by Marty explaining that Doc hired him to clean his garage. Marty, being a music aficionado, was impressed with Doc's vintage record collection. The rest is history.
    • The screenwriter decided it wasn't necessary to explain how they first met. Doc is a local pariah and a weirdo, and Marty is clearly a rebel. It's inevitable that Marty would snoop around Doc's garage at some point.
    • Bob Gale himself finally gave a rather heartwarming explanation over on Mental Floss.
  • Large Ham: What would you expect from Christopher Lloyd?
  • Literal-Minded: This comes up a couple of times in the first movie, where he takes Marty's use of slangnote  at face value.
  • Love at First Sight: Though skeptical of it, it comes true when he meets Clara, which is reciprocated. Becomes a bit of a problem when he and Marty need to get back to the future.
  • May-December Romance: Played with. Historically speaking, Clara was around 60 years older than him, but biologically speaking, Doc was about 30 years older than her when they first meet.
  • Meaningful Name: His first name is "Time", pronounced backwards. His ambition is to travel in time.
  • Older than They Look: he's nearly one hundred years old in the game, yet still look like a man in his sixties. Justified by the fact that he took advantage of future medicine to rejuvenate himself and increase his lifespan. They also replaced his spleen and colon.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Aside from inventing a time machine with an on-board nuclear reactor, he's also managed to build a working refrigerator (well, it can produce ice, anyway) using 1885 components, and a second time machine that runs solely on steam power (again, using components available around 1885). Also, when he meets Clara and lets slip that he's a scientist, he mentions that he's a student of all sciences.
  • Only Friend: Marty.
  • The Professor: In the original draft, he'd been called "Professor Brown" before it was recommended that he'd be called "Dr. Brown" or "Doc". This new nickname became so iconic that during the filming of The Frighteners years after BTTF, Michael J. Fox kept calling the Judge character "Doc".
  • True Companions: To Marty. Especially after the game.
  • Reluctant Mad Scientist
  • Sdrawkcab Name: His first two names. His first name Emmett is "time" pronounced backwards, and his middle name Lathrop is "porhtal", as in "time portal".
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Especially in the animated series. In the DVD commentary, it's lampshaded that Doc will use a bigger word when he could easily use a smaller word, such as calling a dance "A rhythmic ceremonial ritual" even though the word "dance" was clearly written.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: "If My Calculations Are Correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour, you're gonna see some serious shit."
  • Symbol Motif Clothing: He's wearing a shirt decorated with locomotive trains in Part II. The same shirt becomes his bandanna in Part II.
  • Took a Level in Badass: His first appearance in Part III involves him rescuing Marty from being hung by shooting the rope holding him up, then proceeds to get Buford and his goons to run off.
  • The Von Trope Family: In Part III Doc explains that his family use to be the "Von Brauns". He goes on to explain his father changed it to Brown because of World War One.
  • Word of Dante:invoked Bob Gale guesses that Doc was involved with the Manhattan project, but became an outcast and spent the remainder of his life trying to invent something beneficial for humanity. Hence the portable nuclear reactor which he sank his entire fortune into. This would also explain his cynical predictions for the future in 1955 ("Of course! Because of all the fallout from the atomic wars!")

Lorraine Baines-McFly (Lea Thompson)

George McFly (Crispin Glover, Jeffrey Weissman)

  • Adorkable: A nerd who is more comfortable watching or writing sci-fi than he is with social interaction and who takes notes on what to say to the girl he likes.
    • As he introduces himself to Lorraine as her "density", she seems amused by it. This probably would've succeeded if Biff hadn't shown up.
  • Berserk Button: When Biff pushes Lorraine to the ground, it prompts George to react with violence for probably the first time in his entire life.
  • Eating Lunch Alone: George sits by himself at the cafeteria during lunch in 1955, writing ideas for his stories.
  • Extreme Doormat: Before taking a level in Badass.
  • Fake Shemp: In the sequels, especially Part II.
  • Flashback with the Other Darrin: It may not be particularly noticeable most of the time due to clever camera work and tech, but the shots with George in Part II that aren't stock footage are played by Jeffrey Weissman.
  • Five-Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic
  • Happily Married: To Lorraine.
  • Hollywood Nerd: To the nth degree, before time got altered.
  • Kick Me Prank: George is the victim of a particularly cruel prank when some of Biff's friends tape a sheet of paper with the words "KICK ME" on it on his back.
  • Most Writers Are Writers
  • The Other Darrin: Since Glover refused to participate in the sequels, this was practically forced.
  • The Peeping Tom: In 1955 and the Citizen Brown timeline of the game.
  • Playing Gertrude: Glover is actually 3 years younger than Michael J. Fox. (averted with Weissman, who is 3 years older). Justified for the same reason this trope is listed in Lorraine's list.
  • The Southpaw: An early draft had George discover he could punch very strongly with his left hand. The final film has George's desire to protect Lorraine cause him to unleash his inner strength, but close observers might notice he knocked out Biff by punching him with his left hand.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Marty basically helps him rise to this point. As soon as Lorraine is shoved to the ground, the fire is lit.
  • You Leave Her Alone: Said word for word by George.

Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson)

What are you looking at, butthead?!

  • Arch-Enemy: To the McFly Family in general, but mostly Marty in the first movie.
  • Berserk Button: He really hates manure. When Marty told him he heard about the manure incident in 1985-A he seemed more angry than confused.
  • Big Bad: Of Parts I and II.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The new "nicer" Biff that appears at the end of the first Back to the Future is pretty much an act given that he returns to being a massive Jerkass when he's an old man. It's unknown if he's still this way in Part III, after the timeline's fixed.
    • The Biff of 1985-A cultivates a philanthropist image in his rise to power.
  • The Bully: Biff to George, and to Marty, and to Lorraine.
  • The Caligula: In 1985-A.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: Biff is constantly, err, biffing his attempts at wordplay with lines like "Why don't you make like a tree and get out of here"note  and "That's as funny as a screen door on a battleship."note  Presumably everyone is too afraid of him to correct him. He is berated for this by his older self in the second movie.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : That's two coats of wax, Tannen!
  • Catch Phrase:
    • "Hello! Hello! Anybody home?! Hey, think, McFly, think!"
    • "Butthead"
    • "Hey McFly!"
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: In 1985-A, as the founder of Biffco.
  • Egopolis: Alternate Hill Valley is a gigantic Shrine to Self. The front of his casino (formely the Clock Tower) is a museum dedicated to Biff's life, with a life-size wax statue and film reel describing his rapid rise to fortune.
  • Evil Is Petty: Exhibit A — Stealing a ball from some neighborhood kids and hurling it onto a nearby roof. And then he strolls away cackling to himself.
    • In the alternate present, we see a headline describing George's murder; Biff, the actual gunman, crows that the police would never arrest him. The article explains that George was headed for a meeting to protest the environmental policies of Biffco.
  • Evil Laugh: Icing on the cake.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: In 1985-A, thanks to Grey's Sports Almanac.
  • Five-Temperament Ensemble: Choleric
  • Freudian Excuse: His grandmother sounds like a case.
    • In the Telltale game, his father is revealed to be a notorious bootlegger.
  • Future Loser: The altered timeline had him waxing cars, most often for the McFly family, in contrast to his supervisor job in the original timeline.
  • I Am Not Spock: Thomas F. Wilson actually wrote a song about it.
  • I Hate Past Me: "It's LEAVE!! You idiot! 'Make like a tree and leave.' You sound like a damned FOOL when you say it wrong!"
  • In the Blood: Descended from an outlaw, he's pretty much more of the same. And in the game, it's revealed that father was a notorious bootlegger.
  • Jerk Ass
  • Malaproper:
    • In Part II:
    Young Biff: [to old Biff] Now why don't you make like a tree and get outta here.
    Old Biff: ([slaps young Biff]) It's "LEAVE", you idiot! "Make like a tree and LEAVE". You sound like a damned FOOL when you say it wrong!
    • Also in Part II:
    Biff: That's about as funny as a screen door on a battleship.
    Marty: (hiding in Biff's car) That's a screen door on a submarine, you dork.
    • And in Part III, we find out that it runs in the family:
    Buford: I'll hunt you and shoot you down like a duck!
    Buford's Henchman: It's "dog", Buford, "shoot him down like a dog".
  • Large Ham
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: Thomas F. Wilson based Biff on his own experiences being bullied. In high school, he was more like George McFly.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: In 1985-A, to George McFly.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Word of God says the 1985-A version of Biff was inspired by Donald Trump. The portrait in Biff's office was even based on one of Trump.
  • Our Founder: Has a wax statue of himself standing in 1985-A's museum.
  • Outdated Outfit
  • Retgone: A deleted scene from Part II shows Old Biff fading away when he returns to 2015.
  • Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: In the original timeline, he's still at it, holding power over George. In 1985-A, he has power over Hill Valley, as well as California itself.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: In 1985-A.
  • Would Hit a Girl: In the first film, he pushes Lorraine to the ground, and in the alternate 1985 of part 2, he abuses her along with Marty, among other things making her get breast implants.
  • Villainous Breakdown: After the second time he crashes into a manure truck. He screams about how he hates manure, and looks like he's about to cry.
  • Villainous Crush: For Lorraine.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: In 1985-A, he's even got his own museum dedicated to his life story.
  • You Killed My Father: He killed George, Marty's father, in 1985-A.

Jennifer Parker (Claudia Wells, Elizabeth Shue)

  • Agent Mulder: At the start of the second movie, when she learns that the DeLorean is a time machine, she doesn't question it once (although she does sound pretty freaked out when she asks if they're in 2015).
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: In the alternate!1986 in the Telltale game, she's dating an ugly, stupid tool rather than Marty - just because he plays electric guitar in a band (the Marty in the alternate timeline is apparently a grade-A nerd who plays the ukulele rather than guitar). This trope is how the real Marty wins her back, along with showing off his guitar talents.
  • The Cheerleader: Averted. It's implied in Part II that she may have been a cheerleader in high school (a maroon and white school jacket can be seen in the closet she's hiding in in 2015, with the name "Jennifer" and an emblem consisting of a megaphone over the "HV" letters), but she's the Girl Next Door type, and doesn't seem like an Alpha Bitch or The Ditz as is usually seen in this trope.
  • The Chick
  • Deadpan Snarker: In the game. Well, the punk-rock delinquent version of herself, anyway.
  • '80s Hair: Especially with her first actress.
  • Five-Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic
  • Flashback with the Other Darrin: It's even the page image!
  • Good Girl Gone Bad: In the game, she's a bitchy, sarcastic, delinquent rocker in the alternate-1986; this is implied to be a form of rebellion against Citizen Brown's rule.
  • Guest Star Party Member: Her most significant role was in the second film. Which involved her running around her future home in a controlled panic. The Bobs have noted that if they'd intended on making a sequel, they would not have had Jennifer go to the future with Marty and Doc as they had no idea what to do with her.
  • Girl Next Door
  • High School Sweethearts: Is this with Marty - we see that they're married with kids in 2015. But the original timeline isn't very happy, much like George and Lorraine in their original timeline. Lorraine even says that she thinks that she married her son out of pity! Fortunately, it's heavily implied that her and Marty's future becomes much better/happier after Marty prevents the incident that ruined his life from happening thanks to his Character Development.
  • In-Series Nickname: Is called "Jen" a couple of times by Marty in Part III and in the game.
  • The Load: Bob Zemeckis and Bob Gale never had a character development in mind for her, stating that had they planned to make a sequel to the original film, they would not have put "the girl" in the car at the end. Sure enough, less than five minutes into Part II, she's sedated and pretty much spends the rest of the series that way. Her actresses aren't even given top billing in the film credits, even though those who play even smaller roles are.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: It's quite clear that she has absolutely NO idea what's going on when she climbs into the DeLorean with Marty.
  • Love at First Sight: With Marty, according to him when explaining that the trope is possible to Doc.
  • Satellite Love Interest: She appeared very little in the first movie and apparently existed only so that Marty would have someone to spill exposition on in the opening scenes. Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale tried to write her out of the sequels, but the way they ended the first movie made that difficult; she did get some development in the second and third movies.
  • The Other Darrin: From Claudia Wells, to Elizabeth Shue, and back again. The opening scene of the second film is actually a painstakingly exact recreation of the end of the first, with the actress as the only difference.
  • Secret Keeper: She becomes this once Marty tells her about (and shows her whats left of) the Doc's time machine.
  • Static Character: Through no fault of her own, she comes off as this.

Clara Clayton (Mary Steenburgen)

Vice Principal Gerald Strickland (James Tolkan)

Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson)

  • Badass Mustache
  • Berserk Button: Calling him by his nickname "Mad Dog" has apparently been Buford's for a long time as the moment Marty says it in the Palace Saloon, every single person in the saloon either silently runs away or makes themselves scarce.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: He's first mentioned in the video playing in Biff's Museum in 1985-A.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Originally, he shoots Doc in the back over a matter of 80 dollars, involving a horse that threw a shoe (which Buford shot) and the bottle of whiskey that broke as a result. He also shot a newspaper editor who printed an unfavorable story about him in 1884, which made everyone stop keeping track of his kills.
  • The Dreaded: Everybody gets apprehensive around him. So much so that the newspapers stopped keeping track of all his kills after he'd shot an editor who printed an unfavorable story about him.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: He thinks shooting Marty is funny.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: One of the reasons he's nicknamed "Mad Dog", and a major reason why everyone is scared of him.
  • In the Back: How in the original time Buford kills Doc. In a deleted scene, Buford does the same thing to Marshal Strickland when the marshal tries to stop him as he heads into town to duel with Marty.
  • Identical Grandson: A bit tricky to pin down the usual features of a Tannen through that mustache, but he has 'em.
  • Jerkass: Well, he's a Tannen. What else would you expect at this point?
  • Malaproper: "I'll hunt you and shoot you down like a duck." "It's dog, Tannen."
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: Again, he's played by Thomas F. Wilson, so Biff's character traits are seen with Buford.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: "He once bragged that he'd killed 12 men, not including Indians or Chinamen."
  • Would Hit a Girl: And did it to Clara, which roused Doc's ire considerably.

The 2010 Game

Edna Strickland

Sister of Gerald Strickland. Even less tolerant about morality and law than her little brother.

Emmett "First Citizen" Brown.

An alternate Emmett Brown created by Marty's errors in the game. As different from the original Doc as you can get.

Irving "Kid" Tannen

Biff Tannen's father and a famous mob boss in 1931's Hill Valley. Owner of the Speakeasy that was blown the same year.

Trixie Trotter/Sylvia Miskin - McFly

Kid Tannen's singer and girlfriend. As well as Marty's grandmother, George's mother and Arthur's wife

Arthur McFly

Marty's grandfather and George's father. Almost George's spitting image.

AvatarCharacterSheets/Live-Action FilmsBad Taste

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy